Ferg's Dambuster

Safari Ferg

Premier Member
#1
County Antrim Air Crew - Post Action Report.
Friday morning RV with Charlie (Splitter142) at the petrol station in Belfast docks in time for a coffee and tank top ups before the 0730 ferry using Stena's £49 - 3 day return, we had booked the Stena Plus lounge for an extra £10 each way (normally £15), made good use of the free snacks & soft drinks and a short doze on the sofas to build up the sleep bank. Landed at Cairnryan about 1000 and a straightforward run along the A75 to Gretna Green, we were planning on the A66 but north of Carlisle the gantry signs advised the road was closed at Bowes, re-routed towards Toon Town and turned south for Alston, we were really getting into the groove on some lovely roads when we were sadly diverted back onto the main road and had to go nearly as far as Hexham before turning south again. We stopped for nosh in Alston in a very biker friendly cafe (The Cumbrian Pantry) a well-worn hirsute gentleman arrived on a small powered two wheeler, we got to chatting and explained about the IBA and the planned Dambuster Ride, he had undertaken an apprenticeship as a young man and one of his instructors had supposedly worked on the hydraulic systems of the Operation CHASTISE bouncing bombs. From Alston it was over the fells in mist (small banks of snow beside the road) via Barnard Castle and down the road to Sunny Scunny, later than planned due to the two diversions and thus no afternoon siesta (NB for next trip - Get the 0430 sailing). Checked in to the hotel and rally, then wandered round to Morrisons for pens, blue tack (as per Phil's advice) packets of pork pies and various nuts for the Tupperware box for eating at fuel stops etc. A fine meal in great company, we were made to feel most welcome, it was great to meet up with those who had come to the Ballycastle RTE and to make new IBA acquaintances.
Early to bed as the 0115 alarm would and did come too early, simple run to RAF Scampton and then down the road to the big smoke, stopping to refuel at Dartford (at the higher speeds my K1100LT has about 180 miles) and then off to Folkstone, unfortunately the shuttle crew managed to split the party; whilst waiting for Charlie on the French side I refuelled and changed some clothing and socks since the DIN plug for my heated socks & jacket had lost it's +ve knob with a resultant lack of voltage (NB for next trip - Hardwire the heater leads and take plugged leads as back up). About 20 mins from Steenbergen we diverted to help a fellow Butter who was running on vapour, after a quick transfer of 5 litres of petrol and a chunk of time getting back to the motorway in the correct direction, we visited the graves, refuelled and off eastbound. It has been a good few years since I was last on the continent and had forgotten how quick the slow lane is, but also the excellent lane discipline, something that the 4-wheel pond life in the UK and Ireland find totally alien. It was delightful to turn off the autobahn for the ride down to Ftritzal, the roads put me in mind of some of my favourite roads on Salisbury Plain, but much longer, with better sight lines, no fecking potholes, virtually no traffic and superb surface (it would be worth emigrating to Germany for), on these roads the LT in the K1100's name changes from "Lardy Tourer" to "Light-footed on the Twisties" :). After the first dam we headed west along the lake shore rather than retrace our route, it was dark when we reached the Mohne but it was well illuminated with good information boards to identify the location, the Sorpsee was a different case with much less to identify it. Then it was time to get the penultimate compulsory fuel stop and head for Calais, a good run back with one intermediate fuel stop in the scruffiest petrol station I had seen for a long time, we phoned the Hotel Particular Richelieu to advise them that we would not be arriving until 0130ish and got entry codes etc. The petrol station was pre pay and with tiredness setting in I mis-judged the amount required with not a full tank, my mental arithmetic indicated I should just be able to make Calais, however the orange fuel warning light came on with 45 miles to go (normally 30ish on reserve) so I throttled back but started to hear the mouse like squeaking that my fuel pump makes when it is running on vapour, so pulled over and refuelled, aided mightily by the large LED light bar that Charlie had conveniently fitted to his Africa Twin (we have yet to check the rumours that you can toast marshmallows with it). Back up to speed and arrived at the final fuel stop at 0132 (just under 23hrs in the saddle and 1,100 miles completed), round to the Hotel Ibis to check in, quick chats to various folk and then off to the Hotel Particular, which initially looked a bit austere as it is being refurbished, but clean comfortable with toasty warm shower before a shortish sleep and up at 0730 for a superb breakfast (there is a large secure parking area at the back of the hotel, I would definitely use the hotel again) and then round to the Ibis and off to Le Shuttle, originally booked for 1020 but we got away early. Back in Blighty it was retrace steps up the M11 over the A66 (NB for next trip - Avoid Scotch Corner petrol at £1.40 a litre), we made an earlier ferry from Cairnryan (1930 rather than planned 2330 for an extra £10), a glass of (free) wine and a very tasty burger in the Stena Plus lounge, two hours fast asleep on their short but comfortable sofas and safely home by 2245.
A thoroughly great trip, with huge thanks for the organisation and the privilege to be part of something so special.
Next on the agenda is likely to be the IBA Ireland Compass Gold, and I have signed up for the Brit Butt Rally and Brit Butt Light.

Distance is the Drug
 

bmbob

IBA Member
#3
Hi Graeme
Excellent post action report, glad you made it back in time.
Loved the bit about lane discipline by 4 wheeled pond life in the uk.
I totally agree, coming up the M1 yesterday I passed a tiny person peering over the top of the steering wheel in a 4 wheeled 'tractor' doing 60mph in lane 3 !! with lanes 1&2 completely empty.
Ride safe
Regards Bob
 

Safari Ferg

Premier Member
#6
Well done Graeme, ya mile monster!
Thanks Joe, I could not have done it without the Seth Laamb seat; great recommendation.
How are your plans for the Iron Butt Rally in USA progressing?
I am planning to try the Compass Gold next month, and have signed up for the Brit Butt and BB Light :)
What was the small laptop you advised for rally planning?
Looking forward to meeting up at an RTE or Wolfhound Photo Rally.
Graeme
 

Safari Ferg

Premier Member
#9
Ewan Mcgregor of the various Long Ways has a brother who was an RAF Pilot. They made a nice documentary flying the last UK based Lancaster