Trip to Scotland to ride the NC500 – Part 1

I’ve been to Scotland many times in my life but, not once have I ridden the North Coast 500 (NC500) in it’s entirety. Since we’re not able to travel internationally at the moment due to the ongoing COVID19 pandemic that is still causing havoc globally I decided to travel closer to home.

NC500 Route By Thincat – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=79134229

Scotland is a good 800 miles or more from home by road and since I’m retired there’s no rush to get there so I decided to take the scenic route.

Looking at the map I thought it would be great to take in Lincolnshire, the North York Moors, the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District on the way up.

I didn’t want to book any campsites or lodgings as I felt I needed the ability to just travel freely without time restraint or restriction, to just wander wherever I wanted for as long as I wanted, whenever I wanted.

I invited a friend of mine Ben Jackson to come along as we’re planning on the doing the Mongolia trip together and so it would be a good idea to try a trip together here in the U.K. Ben was of course up for this and had his holiday booked with work in no time at all. (Yes he still works unlike me!)

I decided to head off a few days before Ben just to take in some of the sights enroute and we agreed to meet up in the Yorkshire Dales a few days later. This left me lots of time to wander around Lincolnshire and the North York Moors on my own riding the small single track lanes as much as possible.

I’ve ridden and camped in the Lincolnshire Wolds before but, it’s a lovely part of the world and I was happy to head back there again. I had a great ride up from Suffolk taking the slow route over the Humber bridge and then north into the Wolds.

I stayed at the Little Owls Campsite for the night, a nice little site just north west of the Wolds AONB.

Set up for the night at The Little Owls Campsite Lincolnshire

I decided to take my big tent with me on this trip as I was expecting rain in Scotland and it’s extremely useful to have a separate area to store wet riding gear whilst keeping the sleeping area dry. I’ve had my Coleman 3 Man tent for a number of years now and it’s lasting well.

After a good nights sleep a coffee first thing in the morning is a must

The next day I took a slow ride up into the North York Moors. This is a lovely part of the world and I’ve not been back there for many a year so, it was great to just get out onto the moors and enjoy the views again.

Whilst riding the tiny lanes around the moors I stumbled across a great little farm campsite. It’s beautifully situated on the side of a hill overlooking the valley below and gets the most amazing sunsets.

Needless to say I stayed there for the second night and just absorbed the view, it was truly wonderful.

The Lawnsgate Farm Campsite was a great find, it’s a super little campsite with great facilities run by a lovely farming family. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere and everyone, including bikers are welcome. I highly recommend you stay at least one night here.

Before I stumbled across the campsite I went to the Yorkshire Cycle Hub for something to eat. This is a great little cafe and cycle shop situated in the wilds of the moors. They’ve a great selection of food available both hot and cold with plenty of seating inside and out. With a big car park out front it’s easy to park the bike up and sit and enjoy the views and some good food for an hour or so.

The following morning I packed up once more and headed west into the Yorkshire Dales, a part of the country I’ve not spent a lot of time traveling through in the past but, somewhere I dearly love.

Once again I had no plan of where to go or where to stay, just ride there and see what happens, my favourite way to travel.

Heading west through the tiny back lanes keeping clear of all the main roads, I lost myself for hours just enjoying the views and the little villages enroute.

My next notable stop was at the Ribblehead Viaduct, a famous landmark in Yorkshire that’s well known to most train spotters (not that I am one!!) and on this day it was no different.

When I arrived and parked up I was surprised to see so many people sitting on chairs with with large telephoto lenses on very expensive looking cameras in lines across the grasslands. Clearly something special was going to happen but, I had no idea what.

Making sure I had my trusty Canon 1300D DSLR camera and lenses with me I ventured over to the area where many people were waiting patiently. After a few conversations with many of the avid train spotters it was clear that a steam engine was going to cross the viaduct any time soon and that it was a special occasion that happens rarely these days. Sadly no one could tell me which steam engine it was going to be, but it was definitely going to be one worth photographing, apparently.

Within minutes of my arrival sure enough a steam engine did chuff across the viaduct slowly to the click of a thousand cameras. The viaduct itself is an engineering marvel, spanning quite some distance, its tall beautiful arches stand proudly above the valley below.

For me the viaduct was the most impressive sight, to think it was constructed in the 1870’s by 2300 workers most of whom lived in shanty towns set up near its base is incredible. After 4 years of hard labour, millions of bricks and the loss of some lives, the viaduct was finally complete.

You can find a lot more information about the Ribblehead Viaduct on Wikipedia.

The Ribblehead Viaduct in the afternoon sun
Ribblehead Viaduct with a little artistic licence

After spending some considerable time at the viaduct it was soon time to think about finding somewhere to camp for the night. Jumping onto Google Maps I soon found a plethora of campsites but, one in particular caught my eye. A little farm campsite not far from the viaduct tucked away in the hills, it sounded idyllic.

Heading off it was only a few minutes of riding and I arrived at the Philpin Farm Campsite. This campsite turned out to be a little gem and so I decided to stay for two nights so that I could explore the area further the following day.

The Philpin Farm Campsite is a small, beautifully maintained campsite run by a small farming family, nestled gently on the side of a valley overlooking fields of sheep and cattle. The facilities are clean and tidy, there’s a barn with a cafe to hide in if the weather is really bad and free wifi in a 3/4g dead zone, absolutely perfect!

A panoramic view of the campsite and surrounding countryside

Since the cafe does breakfast daily I decided to partake of the offering, for £6.00 you get a full cooked breakfast and a cup of tea or coffee, all freshly cooked when you want. Great local produce at an incredibly cheap price, sets me up perfectly for the day.

The following day I headed out on the bike once more and ventured deeper into the Dales. The views are spectacular and I found myself stopping regularly and sitting by the side of the road just absorbing the surroundings. It’s so quiet in the Dales that you can hear people talking across the other side of the valley, it’s an incredibly peaceful place to be.

I decided to follow the route of the railway that went over the Ribblehead Viaduct to see if I could find anymore viaducts or bridges. Sure enough I soon found another, smaller viaduct tucked away in the wilds of the countryside.

The Dentdale viaduct is considerably smaller than the Ribblehead viaduct but, built using the same technique and stone. I wondered if it had actually been built by the same workers that built the Ribblehead viaduct.

The Dentdale viaduct as seen from the road
The Dentdale viaduct viewed from the valley side

I spent the rest of the day just bimbling around the back lanes of the dales for miles and miles getting completely lost without a care in the world.

Later that day I headed back to the campsite to meet Ben as I’d sent him the map location details for the Philpin Farm Campsite as it was an ideal spot to meet up to continue our trip north.

More soon …

Beeline GPS review

There are an endless number of GPS app’s for motorcyclists these days, all claiming to be the best but, often they fall short. Beeline GPS is one such example that is being pushed heavily on social media at the moment.

Beeline consists of an app/device combo that can be purchased for around £145 for the cheapest plastic cased model. The interesting thing is that you can actually use the free Beeline App on its own without purchasing the somewhat expensive little remote display screen that mounts on your handlebar.

Beeline App as shown in the iOS app store

Installing the app was simple enough as was the account creation process. Once installed I played around with it to see what functionality it had before heading out on the Tenere 700 to put it to the test.

I entered a destination of “Winston Green” into the Beeline app, a small green in the lovely little village of Winston about 10 miles from home and headed off.

Now in my head I knew that Winston is north westerly from home but the compass was pointing me to head westerly/west-south-westerly so I went along with it. I did notice that under acceleration and braking the compass pointer would often swing round a full 360 degrees once or twice which I decided to ignore. After sometime it was obvious to me that I was heading too far west and that I was way too far south to be anywhere near Winston, but I carried on following the directions as given on the display.

Eventually the compass pointer swung round and told me to head north, which I obediently did and found myself on the somewhat tedious A140 heading towards Norwich. I carried on North for some time hoping that it would tell me to head east at some point.

A little while later much further up the A140 the compass pointer swung round to the east and so I took the next available turning and headed east. At this point I knew I was now north of the village of Winston and that I would have to turn south at some point to get there however, the Beeline app had other ideas!

The Beeline app Compass display showing direction of travel required

Soon after taking the turning towards the east the compass pointer turned north again, now I knew this was wrong and that Winston was to the south east of my location but I went along for the jolly! I eventually ended up in the village of Rishangles and the app was telling me to head further north, which is the opposite direction to the destination I’d set.

At this point I decided to enter Winston into my trusty Garmin Zumo 350LM GPS to get an accurate route to the destination and sure enough, I needed to go in completely the opposite direction.

So with the Beeline app compass pointer still telling me to head north I ignored it and followed the route that my Garmin had worked out only to arrive in Winston a little time later.

Once in Winston the Beeline app compass pointer got completely confused and just started going round and round! It clearly wasn’t having a good day.

The wild goose chase that the Beeline App took me on

As you can see from the Beeline app map above, it took me on a bit of a wild goose chase where I did more than treble the miles necessary to get to the destination. Needless to say I rated its routing capabilities with a “One Star” as it was by far the worst GPS app I’ve ever used!

Something else I noted whilst testing the app is that often the compass pointer would be pointing in the direction you are travelling which means you are heading towards your destination but, the distance will increase and not decrease. This happened multiple times and is very confusing. As I headed north up the A140 the distance to destination would often start increasing even though I was still south of the destination village and heading towards it.

So to summarise, don’t waste your money purchasing the little remote display that fits on your handle bars as you have all the same functionality directly on your phone via the app. Since the phone needs to be on to use the remote display you might as well not bother with the remote handle bar display and just use your phone! (And save yourself £145)

If you are serious about route planning and using a GPS app then don’t use the Beeline app, there are plenty of really good app’s out there that do a much better job than Beeline and will get you to your destination.

If you just want some fun and fancy ending up in some random place nowhere near where you wanted to go then this is the app for you!

Thanks to my Garmin Zumo 350LM I got to Winston!

Insta360 Camera Purchase.

I recently purchased the Insta360 One R Twin Edition camera to try out on the bike and use whilst out and about. The hope is that by the time I’m able to go on the trip to Mongolia and back I’ll be proficient in the making of short videos.

Having spent many hours over the last few months trawling the market place trying to get my head around the difference between the many cameras available I found myself lost in the minefield of the 360 camera world. Eventually I decided the only way I was going to be able to make a decision and purchase was to decide what it was I wanted from the camera and then narrow down which models had those facilities and options. Once I did this I found it was actually fairly easy to choose and decided that the Insta360 One R Twin Edition gave the best bang per buck.

The insta360 One R is a modular type 360 camera giving far greater flexibility than most all other 360 cameras on the market. The Twin Edition comes with both a normal 4K lens module and a twin lens 360 module that can be interchanged in seconds. There are two battery options that also just clip on with ease, the standard and optional long life battery.

For those that want extremely high resolution video and photos there is an optional 1in sensor that has been made in conjunction with Leica which delivers exceptional quality for those that need it. More info on all the models available can be found on the Insta360 website.

Finding the right place to mount the camera hasn’t been easy. At the moment all I have is a mount on top of the front brake reservoir on the handlebars and a selfie stick which I have attached to the pannier frame at the rear of the bike.

I’ve been looking for a way to mount the camera on top of my Nolan N70-2 X helmet however, due to its design there is nowhere on the top to place one of the sticky mounts necessary to attach the camera. Ideally I need to get the camera up above my head level so that I can obtain a complete 360 view whilst riding. Resolving this is ongoing.

Not wanting to be held back I attached the camera to the two mounts that I’ve now got on the bike, headed out and made a couple of short videos.

One of the really nice features of the 360 camera is the ability to have picture-in-picture videos, this allows you to have the view from both lenses on the 360 module displayed at the same time. Handy for showing what’s in front and behind at the same time or, as shown below front view and rider.

Short video snippet showing picture-in-picture capability (shot in 5.7k 30fps)

The quality of the videos is extremely good as are the colours. The insta360 app that I use on my iPad Pro to do all the post editing on is extremely good. it’s fairly easy to use once you get used to the terminology and has some really good tutorials built in to help the beginner like me!

The insta360 app also has a number of built in effects that help you to apply special effects to your video shots. This can really bring the videos alive and is something I need to spend more time on to get the most from the camera.

30sec 1080p snippet showing some of the effects that can be applied to videos

There is so much functionality available in the app for the insta360 range of cameras that it’s going to take some time to learn how to use them all and apply them to my own footage. Once the weather improves and summer eventually arrives I’m hoping to get out and record some footage and start producing some video content for the TOTU channel.

The insta360 One R camera is also capable of taking 4K flat and 5.7k 360 degree photos. Once again you can apply many effects to the photos and even create photo slide shows with stunning visuals and audio all from within the iPad app.

Once I’ve created the video snippets using the insta360 app I then import the footage to iMovie on my iPad Pro and stitch it all together to create the final video for upload. It’s a fairly long process but, it’s a lot of fun if you can cope with the steep learning curve.

Having a bit of fun with the shopping!

The video above has attracted the most comments on social media and yet it was actually the simplest to create. All I did was put my crash helmet in the shopping trolly and attached the camera to the side of it, switched it and and grabbed a few groceries. Once back home I ran the footage through the app and applied the 32 x speed increase, some background music and a 360 degree barrel role effect to the end of the footage as I was leaving the store, imported it to iMovie to add the #TOTU ending and then exported it in a Youtube acceptable format. It really was very simple to do and yet the overall effect is quite good.

I’m off to Wales with Ben and Sean in the next few weeks and then I’ll be heading to the ABR Festival so, I’m hoping to grab a load of footage and hopefully create some content for the site. It will be interesting to see how it all comes out!

That’s it for the moment, more soon …

Fitting the Tutoro Automatic Chain Oiler

I’ve used Tutoro chain oilers for a number of years now. The great thing about them is the simplicity. They have no requirement for 12v power or vacuum from the inlet manifold like many other oilers do, they just use the natural up and down motion of the bike to control the oil flow.

The Tutoro oilers come with most of the fittings that you’d normally require however, none of them really worked on the Tenere 700 and it was soon obvious that I was going to have to make a mounting bracket for it.

The basic Tutoro Oiler kit as supplied

Heading off to the workshop with nothing but a rough idea of what I needed, I grabbed some sheet metal and started making the mounting bracket. I used a piece of 4mm sheet metal as I wanted it to be a really solid mount so that it could handle the rigours of trail riding.

Intial rough cut of the bracket

The best place to mount the oil reservoir was on the rear of the Outback Motortek pannier rack. At the point where the rear support crossbar is bolted to the left side tube there are two convenient long bolts that lend themselves perfectly to being used to mount the bracket. Spacing is tight but, with a little tinkering it fits perfectly. I had to make a couple of plastic spacers to get the position of the reservoir correct such that the flow adjuster knob didn’t stick out to far to ensure clearance when the pannier is fitted. I made the spacers from a piece of plastic rod I had on the shelf in the workshop, cut to size and then drilled the centres out so that the bolts could slide through them.

Once the final shape was reached, I cleaned the bracket up and gave it a quick spray with some black plasticoat paint to protect it from rust and then hung it on the washing line in the sun to dry.

Whilst the bracket was drying I started running the oil feed hose around the frame. I’d already worked out the route and decided that the Acerbis chain guide provided the perfect mount point for the oil delivery nozzle.

Oil delivery nozzle perfectly positioned on the rear sprocket

Running the oil delivery tube around the frame and swing arm was an easy task using a mix of cable ties and heavy duty stick on clips. I’ve fitted the tube on my other bikes using the same technique and have never had any issues even when riding off-road.

Having the Acerbis chain guide fitted was a real bonus as it provides the perfect secure route right up to the rear sprocket. Needing just two small cable ties the tube was fed through the upper part of the chain guide and then down by the side of the sprocket. This not only provides a secure fixing but, also protects the feed nozzle from flying debris.

Routing the oil delivery tube through the Acerbis chain guide

Once the tube was in place and the new bracket was dry I got it all mounted and bled the oil through the tube to the delivery nozzle.

The Tutoro supplied brackets usually mount to just a single point on the reservoir but, since there are two mount holes on the base of the unit I decided to use both to get a much more solid fixing. Knowing what the trails are going to be like in Mongolia and Siberia I wanted to ensure the fixing was as solid as possible.

With another fun little project complete I’ll be moving onto the next one very soon.

Stay tuned!