Romania 2019
So this year we launched our Romania and Transylvania adventure and boy was it a popular trip! We had an overwhelming amount of interest and filled the first trip in less than 2 weeks, which must be a record here at Magellan. Due to the popularity of the tour we decided to launch a second trip date which left 6 days after the first trip finished. Billy, that’s me, decided to guide both trips with the help of a fantastic support rider on each. In light of this, I shall do this trip report based on the trip itself and of course give all the riders from both trips a mention at the end as I always do. After all, it would be very unlike me not to take the opportunity to give them a fair but proper pasting.

It never fails to blow me away how a group of riders who for the most part have never met before gel within the first few days of our tours. I probably say that in every report I do, but it’s for good reason as it goes to show that no matter what background you come from, if you have a bike, your in the gang and these two trips were no different. I’ve had everything from builders to arms dealers away with me over the years and I love watching everyone unwind from their daily madness and relax into their holiday. Our usual first introductions see everyone polite and making every effort to be the best versions of themselves, but lurking under the surface, just desperate to break out, there’s a bike nut who loves riding their carefully chosen well oiled machine. Romania really is a riders holiday and with 4,300 miles to be covered in 21 days, its a real adventure into eastern Europe and back.

Day 1
Making our way across France is always a good way to start a trip. It gives everyone a gentle start to their holiday and allows time for the whole driving on the wrong side of the road thing to sink in without any stress. Once we’ve met up in Folkestone and had our introductions, its straight onto the Eurotrain and off we go. 35 minutes or so later we are on French soil and ready to get going. The roads are easy and predictable as we make ground towards our old favourite first day stop at the retired GP track in Gueux. Sometimes when we pass through, we get treated to some young French lads demonstrating their amazing bike skills with endless wheelies and high speed passes. Sometimes we get treated to French traffic cops, trying to catch these young French lads in mid demonstration too. Thankfully, we are all well behaved Brits, who are sensible and restrained, and who often send someone ahead to check the coast is clear before we film our own high speed passes, obviously at the upper end of the recognised speed limit….. Our hotel for the evening is perfectly situated in a beautiful square in the Chalons-En-Champagne region, where often there’s live music and loads to do and see.

Day 3/3/4
Again we are making ground today heading south east across France and eventually crossing the Rhine, aboard a little ferry to the Gasthaus Auerhahn at the start of the B-500 in Baden-Baden. Our hotel is perfectly situated at the very beginning of the B-500 Black Forest road. If you’ve never ridden the B-500 before, then it’s really quite a treat to get you going with the twisty roads. The road starts to traverse the heights of the Black Forest in a north and south direction and eventually the trees open up to reveal the stunning views and dense forest landscape. It’s a fantastic, well maintained and perfectly sculpted set of hairpins that make for smiles all the way to the top, as well as some fantastic photo stops. Next stop is the little fairy tale town of Oberammergau. With its all year round Christmas shop and beautiful architecture, it’s quite something to see. The hotel has a lovely little balcony that looks towards the town centre and it’s a great place to relax after a long day in the saddle with a nice cool german beer from the honesty bar. A particular member of the group also decided to treat two ladies to a private full monty show when he entered their unlocked room by accident when checking in. The ladies returned from their shopping trip to find an exhausted but completely naked biker spread across their bed, enjoying the afternoon breeze from a nearby window. Obviously his identity will remain confidential and we will inform you of the outcome of the court case in due course.

Day 5
Making our way through Germany into Austria always makes for some fantastic scenery. The change in the landscape as you enter Austria is instantly recognisable. The hills, mountains and the deep colour of green suddenly starts to stand noticeably out, as well as the change in architecture and dress code. Riding through little Austrian villages often gives you a peak into yesteryear as traditionally dressed elderly ladies and gents wear clothing from a time long since past. The Dirndl is the austro-bavarian ladies traditional dress. Some german ladies also wear this in bars and hotels as a tourist welcoming look, however in Austria its a daily outfit worn with pride. The men of course wear those trusty well engineered Lederhosen, reminding us gentlemen how lucky we all are not to be born in Austria. Our hotel for the next 2 nights is a fantastic ski lodge in Hinterglemm. This is a fantastic base for the next days ride outs to the eagles nest, Grossglockner or ice caves. I can also recommend the late night bar along the way which sells schnapps that will eventually turn you blind and disconnect your nervous system from the rest of your body. Should this bar be visited, I can also highly recommend the tomato soup back at the hotel the following day as a reintroduction to food and normality. All of the ride outs offer a fab day out on your bike and take in some incredible roads and scenery. We also have an additional one for this years trips that visits a waterfall found by our frequent flyer Mike Mahoney. Krimel is the largest waterfall in Europe, with a height of 281 meters it’s certainly not ideal for going over in a barrel. Due to technical reasons and high blood alcohol levels I sadly missed this day out, however everyone clearly loved it and my lightweight support guide Louisa who quit drinking much earlier the evening before gave me a full rundown on how fantastic it was, so thanks Big Mike.

Day 6/7
So today we need to make up ground pushing further east and racking up 500 kilometres. Heading for Vezprem in Hungary we pushed through Austria on the motorway for a bit before reaching the 5 mile long tunnel that almost made us all pass out on both trips. Unbelievably on both trips we got hit with Saharan heat waves and the temperature was a steady daily 35 degrees or more. The tunnel however was a very very hot 45 degrees inside due to the air conditioning units breaking down. On the second trip they had still not sorted the problem and the temperature was the same again. Gasping for air, both groups went through it like troopers but definitely felt it on the way. I genuinely thought I would pass out at one point, however, eventually we could see that little flicker of light in the distance that gave us all hope and we pushed through and out the other side into a much more acceptable 38 degrees!!!!!! Ooft!! Thankfully the hotel for the evening had plenty of cold beer on tap to get the body temperatures back under control. We had a delicious meal and some relaxing time outside in the hotels grounds. Placed near a local zoo we could hear some cheeky monkeys screeching away on the first trip. Just as I was about to send Mark the support guide into silence the little pests and restore the peace and tranquillity, our man of the moment Amir decided to play some monkey noises through his mobile phone courtesy of youtube! and would you believe it? it shut them all up instantly. I had no idea youtube had a monkey translator that could explain what Mark was likely to do to them should he need to come over there.

Day 8
Today we get a first taste of what life was like back in the good old fire and brimstone days of Romania. A visit to the incredibly beautiful looking Corvin Castle was on the books and we all arrived in glorious weather on both trips. Looks can be deceiving though and the castles dark and pain inducing past soon revealed itself once inside. Being a Renaissance-Gothic style castle, it was obviously going to have a few ghosts in the closet so to speak. The torture museum on site confirmed everyones suspicions and it was real eye opener into how modern day prisons have became a place of sanctuary rather than punishment. Being eaten alive by crows in a cage, set on fire slowly or sat on a pyramid with weights tied to your wrists to assist you in your descent, as well as many other things that I simply couldn’t write here, all add up to paint a clear picture of how tough it was to be a prisoner of the Corvin castle dungeons. We did enquire about accommodation for next years Romanian adventurers, but sadly they don’t allow overnight guests, not enough pyramids I suspect. The castle itself is one of the largest in Europe and is a truly stunning sight to behold with wonderful colours and detail and with incredible craftsmanship visibly evident. To finish the day off, upon our arrival in Alba Lulia, just a short walk from the hotel, there’s a stunning citadel which I never had the opportunity of visiting sadly. Not because I didn’t have enough time, not because I was busy with other things, but simply because I couldn’t find it! I know I know! What a tour guide I am!! I did happen to stumble across a nice little bar that sold a mean mojito though, and I refuelled there with my weary support guide for the long 5 minute walk back in the blistering heat. Those smarter members of the group did inform me upon their return it was a worthwhile visit. Those of you who are reading this admission for the first time should remember I can fix things and get you where your going quite well…….so long as it’s not a citadel!

Day 9/10
This is where things start to become all about the bike and the road. First up, the Transalpina, and what a cracking road it is. The DN67C really is a special road with lots of fantastic twisty bits and stunning scenery. Built in 1939, it’s the highest road in the Carpathian mountains. It connects Novaci south of the Parang mountains to Sebes in the north and it does it with a road that makes you feel like your having the time of your life. At its highest point, which is at the Urdele pass, your 2,145 meters above sea level, making views breathtaking in any direction. I shall speak more on it in a bit after I’ve told you about the world famous Transfagarasan Highway. So the TV show Top Gear said the Transfagarasan could be the best road in the world. The TH as I’ll now refer to it because it’s a nightmare to keep typing with my one fingered skills, is the second highest paved road in the Carpathian mountains after the Transalpina. The DN7C, starts near the village of Bascov near Pitesti, and stretches 90 kilometers. It is fantastic for a road that was built in the early 70s as a military route to connect Transylvania to Wallachia. I don’t envy the road builders at all, as the endless shapes and curves that make the road up, do seem to go on forever. In terms of scenery, its extremely hard to beat with mountain top views that almost show the curvature of the earth. So is it the best road in the world? Honestly, no its not. However it might be one of the best roads in Europe, but second to the Transalpina! Don’t get me wrong, it really is spectacular in many ways and the twisty bends and magnificent ascent to the top make it a fantastic drive which I personally think every biker should do, however the the Transalpina is a riders road. The cambers and the quality of the tarmac are pristine and predictable, the views are stunning and the hairpins are a perfect balance of curvature and grip to inspire that free flowing confidence we all love. Given the fact that you ride both back to back, if Jeremy and crew had said together they make for the best two days riding in Europe, he’d have a strong case. Unlike most European passes, you spend quite some time on the TH and the TA, two days to be exact, so I’m sure you’ll agree they are well worth the pilgrimage. I should also mention at this point that over a third of Europe’s bears and wolves live on and around those two passes and you will most likely have a furry paw wave you past on your travels. Bears are happy to commute on the route with you and even pose for photos, however I can’t recommend you do this for obvious safety reasons, which I remembered after stopping for a photo of one myself. It was around about the moment he began stomping his feet at me, I realised that even though my bike kit was proper approved gear, it wouldn’t be bear proof! So prepared to scream like a 14 year old girl at a Take That concert and throw all my belongings at it, I slowly packed my stuff in the tank bag and crept away at idle, until it was safe enough to ride flat out away from it.

Day 11/12/13
After all that high octane mountain pass carry on, we arrived in Brasov for a 2 night stay. Our hotel, Aurelius Imparatul, is a massive hotel which sits beside the lake and offers rooms that are insanely big. A huge corner bath was the order of the day to ease the aches and pains on arrival and boy was it great. The following day there were a few options to hand. The bear sanctuary which was a popular choice or the mud volcanoes, which was equally popular over the two trips. Each offering a different but satisfying day out, should you wish to do so. I personally had loads of paperwork to catch up on! Zzz Zzz Zzz. Back on the bikes and next stop came in Turda. What an unfortunate name for somewhere but hey ho! The salt mines were next on the list and what a site to behold they are. Salina Turda is 80 meters long, 50 meters wide and 40 meters deep. Its ranked number 25 in the “Hidden gems around the world that are worth the trek” list. Next we hit the road to Oradea. Voted in the top 5 by Romanian bikers, the DN75 forest route runs for 160km along the picturesque valley of the Aries river between Turda and Stei. The road harbours caves and canyons around every corner and is Romania’s much longer version of the Black Forest in Germany. With endless twists and turns, it makes for a fantastic days riding. Our night in Oradea which is also the last night in Romania, is spent at the Ramada hotel. Now I’ve been in a few hotels over the years and quite a few Ramada’s, however, this particular one just happens to have an outstanding steak restaurant on site. The food here on both trips was absolutely fantastic and served perfectly. We all enjoyed a well earned meal here and I can’t recommend it highly enough to future Romanian riders. The morning we left Romania I thought how incredible it was to have ridden and seen so much, then I remembered that we still had a week to go!! Epic!! When we rolled into Budapest, via the Bukki Nemzeti national park, we were all blown away on both trips by our fantastic floating river boat hotel. With incredible views in either direction along the Danube, we all enjoyed a beer out on deck and watched as the sun set and the lights on the various bridges and the house of parliament completely changed the look of the city. Now! I’ve seen and heard some odd stuff travelling, but Budapest surprised me the most when Paul and Nene returned to tell us all on the first trip they had found a company who could legally let you race through the streets in crazy looking go karts, with moped riding outriders who blocked off streets to allow you to zip through the place! Seriously, how cool is that! fast and furious in Budapest! love it. As well as that, there’s loads of things to see and do in Budapest. From stunning architecture and historical sites, to the island in the middle of the Danube, which is quite stunning. Everyone returned on both trips with different versions of their day off and it was a fantastic evening relaxing on the boat watching the world pass by. On the first trip we did perfect a card game which I can not name for offensive language reasons. All the while we laughed as we played, but no man or woman was playing for pleasure! oh no! it was life or death by this point and so began the ganging up and strategic patterns of play that would eventually leave one poor sod with a title he or she dreaded! On the second trip I lost my wing man at this point. Off she popped halfway across the world to try some land speed record thing at Bonneville salt flats! HUH FINE THEN! I thought! The rest of the group were probably thinking please don’t leave us alone with him. To be fair the girl done incredible but at least Mark had the decency to stay with his wing man the rest of the way on the first trip! Seriously have you not seen Top-Gun? You never leave your wingman!

Day 16/17
The next stop on our travels was Krakow. Hard to believe I know, but we hit 9 countries in 3 weeks on this trip. Phileas Fogg couldn’t have covered the distance we did on this trip in his hot air balloon. Krakow dates back to the 7th century and it has the character and buildings to prove it. The main square is stunning in any direction with vibrant colours and beautiful horse drawn carriages keeping that yesteryear era alive. From a stone age settlement, Krakow has grown to become the second most important city in Poland. Our hotel was convenient enough to allow us to explore the place without living in the centre of the hustle and bustle. On the options list for our day off, the main choice on both trips for most, was the day out to Auschwitz. Understandably, curiosity and the need to understand what happened there gripped most of us. I can fully understand both the desire to go and the desire to avoid going as it really is the most sobering experience I’ve ever had. A complex of 40 or more concentration and extermination camps, it really opens your eyes to what the human race is capable of. To hear the stories of how so many souls perished in so many ghastly ways really took the wind out of everyone’s sails. In fact, I’ve never seen a place full of so many people completely silent and shocked. Nothing can prepare you for your visit to Auschwitz, no book, no programme and no word of mouth. You see, no matter how much someone explains it to you, they could never place that feeling of grief and sadness in you that takes over inside when your standing there looking at it with your own eyes. I’m not a religious man, but I do hope that everyone’s own god has rested every single soul that passed through those gates and never left, and even more so for the small amount of survivors who had to live with their memories of it. To put it in perspective, of the 1.3 million people sent there, 1.1 million died. To be honest, I’d expect that number to be 2 or 3 times that as so much of what went on there was hidden for too long. Auschwitz is a remarkably interesting day out and it leaves us with the journey home at the end to appreciate how extremely lucky we are to enjoy the freedoms of today. I can’t recommend it enough, it should never be forgotten and neither should the 1.1 million souls who lost their lives there.

I’ll sign off on this part by simply saying thank you to both groups. You each brought completely different views, thoughts and opinions to each of these trips, but quickly formed solid reliable teams and made it a fantastic experience for everyone in your own ways. I never know how much longer I’ll be able to bike for because my body is slowly falling apart, so it means the world to me to share your trip and be a part of it. Live long and prosper, Spock out!

THE GROUPS

THE RIDERS GROUP 1

AMIR FUHRMANN
A man of few words to begin with as he decompressed from his hectic workload. However, when he did unwind, he was a barrel of one liners and a generous, caring soul. Oh and a card cheat who constantly kept trying to play on 8s when he should have missed a turn! What a great trip it was for Amir with life changing outcomes.

STUART AND VANESSA SCARFE
A couple of legends who are always great fun. Stuart barks directions at his Mario kart sized princess whos out in front ripping it up on her little pocket rocket triumph making it all look easy! I did call Vanessa Velma from scooby doo once! I’d like to take that back now due to an incredible transformation with funky hairdos and tattoos, cool! Stuart you’ll always be shrek though eh. What a burger that was in Brasov. You’ll never know mate, you’ll never know.

JULIAN AND LIZ UNDERDOWN
What can I say! Constant laughs and endless fun throughout. The card game couple who started something that got out of control quickly with everyone playing their heart out instantly. Liz I’ll never forget the change in your nature when it wasn’t going the way you thought it would. Competitive doesn’t cover it, I’ve never had someone team up with literally anyone at the table to beat me before. Julian, I’ll just use your words and say “Your a good old boy” yoooooo knooooow.

GRAHAM BRIAN FLINT
Now there’s a lot I could say about this old war horse but I’ll keep it short. Harder than a bare knuckle gypsy boxing champion and rougher than Tarzan’s feet, Graham and his alter ego Brian get up every morning looking like times nearly up….. and then that war horse mentality kicks in and down he comes ready for action! He throws his rusty old leg over the TDM bead seat and boy can he ride it. Never holding me back once, Graham was on me like a bumper sticker the whole way and even though he portrays Victor Meldrews meaner, moanier big brother, he’s an endless bag of laughs. Joking aside you have my utmost respect Graham, for 76 your inspirational on a Turbo Diesel Motorbike. That is what TDM means is it not?

JOHN AND JENNY ELMES
What a team you both are. One rides the bike like the wind and the other sits on the back not the least bit phased. I know we’ve still never seen the 100% kiwi nature but I reckon we were getting closer by the day. A former bike racing champ in New Zealand, John can certainly get down the road no problem. Crap at Go Karting though but that’s a story for another time. Sorry I couldn’t help it. Hopefully see you guys back over this neck of the woods some day for another blast.

TREVOR BURRIDGE AND DOREEN REID
The Harley Davidson duo who just wafted along, roaring through the countryside with those big pipes growling away all day. Rain or shine, these two still get where they are going even if it means filling their boots with water quite literally to the brim! That photo of you standing in the shower Trev that Doreen took emptying your boots will stay with me forever! It’s the facial expression that does it. You both needed some cosy Harley Davidson onesies after that day. Well done.

NIGEL BRADSHAW
The welsh James Bond. Slick, sharp and suave always. Nigel done more miles than the rest of us filling his need to hunt out WW2 sites along the way. Nigels strong points are his riding and his wit, maths however might need a bit more work. When he done the sums on his fingers and toes to work out the exchange rate and lift £30 out a Romanian cash machine, he ended up with £300 by mistake. That evening Nigel switched to the dark side and set up a poolside money lending business at the hotel. Bet you’re still grateful everyone else was skint and needed some cash too!

DAVID PARNELL
A true gentleman and unofficial photographer of the trip. Davids photos were fantastic and his tortoise and hare approach to daily riding, still mystifies me to this day. I’ve never passed anyone as many times in a day, who was stood taking photos at the road side, only to arrive at the hotel and meet him, showered, changed and on the way back from a walk about the place. I know your scientific background and I am on to you sir. That’s not a BMW RT at all is it? it’s a sneaky government funded time travelling device that you were testing under the guise of a motorbike holiday! I bet you’ve got a Delorian in the garage too.

LINDEN OCKLESTON
Linden keeps his BMW GS so clean you could eat your dinner off it. Not a spot of dirt or dust on it anywhere. Sadly a few days in the pesky ABS unit decided to test us by playing up. Did it stop him? No chance because he was on holiday and if blinding everyone with a stuck on brake light meant that’s how it had to be, then that’s just how it had to be. The so called sheepskin seat cover still makes me curious, I’m certain I saw a bear outside the hotel with a bald patch on its back!

PAUL AND NENE TARR
Well where do I start with these two? One rides like the devil and the other, when she’s not sleeping on the back takes epic photos along the way. We’ve been here there and everywhere together now on bikes, and we’ve had endless laughs, however I feel I upped my game on this one when I pulled out a line of traffic and photobombed you on the passing. How I am going to beat that I do not know.

GROUP 2

ANDREW AND LEIGH PERRY
We’ve been down a few roads together now and what fun we’ve had along the way. Endless jokes and not a serious opinion about anything is just how it should be. kind, funny, sharp and good looking are all words I could never associate Andy with……ever! Leigh, on the other hand is elegant and kind and funny always. Clearly she has an abundance of patience as she guides Andy through his life and bears witness to the fact that he is indeed actually that crazy! He could be the boy who came to change the world, or he could be the guy who finishes it off! Your medal is in the post Leigh.

DELBOY AND THE BRANDY SWIGGER BEV
As you may be able to tell from their names, Derek does indeed have a lot to put up with. Derek is not guided by sat nav like the rest of us, he’s guided by GPS! That’s short for Global Positioning Spouse! After all you never hear a sat nav cry out ” turn left twat” Always great fun, Derek and Bev are always up for some abuse, if not I apologise now. Still can’t believe I was dumped on the euro train for a welsh man. Heartless Bev!

TONY GRAHAM A.K.A SCRATCHER!
Well I’ve heard a few tales in my time, but Tony’s explanation for the screams that came from two innocent ladies room was different. Upon entering the wrong room on arrival at his hotel, Tony who’s clearly quick on his feet, managed to get undressed and into their shower, back out and sprawled across their bed before they got back from the shop. When the screams rang out, Tony said it was all a simple misunderstanding and thankfully he was only scratching himself on the bed relaxing? Having entered the same room when I arrived at the hotel and meeting both women with screams of theirs and my own, I thought it only right to send innocent Tony there when he arrived, who knew they’d be out. eek. I’m so glad they were though.

DIRTY DAVE ATKINSON
Dave is one of those blokes who seems to slip into the background then slip out and assassinate me with a comment or two. With all the ammunition he needs on tap from my father, he’s never short of a suggestion or well made point when the time’s right. An absolute legend on tour and all round solid bloke, I’m always grateful for his company, mainly because he sticks vigorously to the speed limit with my old man which gives me enough time to get out of sight and not get stuck in to my mother for going too fast.

DAVID MORRIS THE FLYING SCOTSMAN
Dave rides his bike very well and has been all over the place on it. On this trip he decided to find out just how far up into the air he could get a GSA. The answer, a good 20ft or so! Sadly, Dave, after a bout of illness blanked out on the first corner of the Transalpina and fired himself and his bike off the road. I’d like to point out that Dave is a fully trained professional and he does all his own stunts and ask that you don’t try that at home. Being from Aberdeen in Scotland, it seemed only fitting to rename him the FLYING SCOTSMAN. Some people will do anything for a 1250, you could have just traded it in like the rest of us do. Until the next one, you take care!

BILL THE BUFFALO BYFIELD
When he’s not diving onto classic cars or trying to hot wire them with his Geordie accomplice, he’s on a bike trip with his maxed out accessory wise GSA. The years of Billy you need to behave better, went right out the window in Krakow! Tony was right, you cant hot wire a vintage car that has no wires. Best of luck to you both with your classic car restoration business, the worst excuse the hotel receptionist has ever heard I’m sure.

KEVIN THE HUMAN SWISS ARMY KNIFE JOHNSON
Kevin is that guy who is travelling with enough supplies to survive the apocalypse. Extra snood? No problem I have 5 spare with me, no motorway vignette? no problem I have two. With enough tech and gadgets to shame a cyber terrorist, Kev was the go to guy for stuff you forgot or lost. Making a swiss army knife look under prepared, Kev bailed us out more than once and was a fantastic help on the day of Daves jump over the river attempt. If he ever becomes an agony aunt his universal advice that fits all problems will be around forever “just screw the taps open”

ANDREW ROCK IT OR LOOSE IT HARBACH
Andrew is a super cool guy who just makes touring look easy. Never stressed or hurried, he just wafts along and does his thing during the day. In the early evening he does his ritual sprint about town and countryside on his 5 to 10k runs. Then after that he talks the guide into a rock concert in Krakow! What a night it was too. Plenty of laughs and a good rock out to burn up some energy, just what was needed. Even if the first act sounded like they were trying to sing while someone hit their feet with big hammers. I know I’m getting old!

BIG MIKE MAHONEY
The wandering giant who roams Europe on his bike hunting out new roads and historical sights. The organiser of the ride out day in Austria, Mike hit gold with his fantastic waterfall suggestion. Now, he used to drive an RT like a majestic swan I once said on a previous trip! He now he rides a 1250 GSA like a scalded cat. Liverpool are top of the league on 24 points as I write this, will they hold on? Thanks for the great company again big chap and I’ve taken up bridge, give me a few years and i’ll give you a game.

ROBERTO DEL TORRO JAMIESON
Rob is a raging, aging old school biker dentist. He takes his job very seriously and refers to himself as, and I quote ” Some say dentist, I say intergalactic dental chair pilot, a warrior in the eternal struggle against decay” and do you know what? none of us could say otherwise. An absolute legend and all round top bloke who I’d be proud to call my friend……but not my dentist after some of those stories. only kidding mate I’d trust you with my life…..just not my passport.

THE UNSTOPPABLE MR CONRAD DOWDING
Cons unstoppable, just a pity his bike wasn’t the same. The mighty GSA on which Conrad has done 53 thousand miles on in 3 yrs dropped a piston bearing. Its ok though because BMW put a brand spanking new engine and gearbox in it so he can do it all again. At 82 yrs old, he really is an inspiration to us all and im always honoured to be in his company. Pam clearly had her hands full with this guy. If he’s this crazy at 82, I can’t imagine what he was like at 28! Ride safe sir.

THE SUPPORT GUIDES
MARK JOHNSON
The boy done well. A great guy who was always there on hand to sort out everything that needed sorting. It’s never easy to run your own trip when there’s another guy in the background watching. Mark grew into the trip so well, I was no longer needed, so I played cards and drank a lot. With his special unique use of the queen’s English, I’ll just say you didn’t not do well and I’m not grateful for all your help. Well done and good luck for the future.

LOOPY LOU SWADEN
Where do I start here! calm, in control, grounded, all words that clearly don’t fit this stark raving mad lunatic. Lou got me on the second trip with only 5 days off in between and what a fantastic job she done of carrying me through. The orange guides shirt of destiny was passed to her from the get go and she stepped up and smashed it big time. Lou stepped up like a trooper when Dave’s unfortunate accident occurred and I can’t thank you enough for your effort that day. I especially enjoyed the determination you showed to return to the group with me when we left the hospital. I believe the wanted posters are still being handed out yet.

THE GUIDE
Well it wouldn’t seem right if I didn’t give myself some abuse. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your stories and for being fantastic riders and company on the trips. The Magellan family gets bigger every year and it’s a real privilege to be a part of that. I’d like to thank everyone who got me through my hangover in Austria and for the kind words and dirty looks. I will never drink again until the guides night out in a few weeks and don’t be surprised too much if I land on your doorsteps now that I have a full list of all your addresses. Seriously, it’s been a pleasure and I look forward to riding with you all again soon.

Billy xx

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