A Scotland tour has been on my dream list since I could remember, and a couple of weeks ago I finally decided to bite the bullet and venture up north on my trusty S 1000 RR. I was going to ride up there (500 miles) in one day, tour for a couple of days and then come back. Yes, I realise my tyres would have probably been squared off before I would even get there, but I wanted to explore Scotland on two wheels, therefore I had to make my way there on two wheels. Well, that was the plan. The thing is, in my life, nothing ever goes according to a plan.
As I was getting ready to get on the bike, I came to a painful realisation that I had left my helmet at a Harley Davidson launch the day before… Up in Nottingham… That’s a 7 hour round trip… There was no way I could drive up there to pick it up, then come back home, get on the bike and still make my way all the way up to Scotland. With no back up helmet, I had no choice but to get in the car and drive with a broken heart instead. The main purpose of the trip was visiting my friend in Edinburgh, and without a doubt on two wheels (or four), it was still happening. However, unwilling to give up on my bike tour idea all together, I packed all my kit (bar AWOL helmet) into the boot and set off with only a hint of hope for a happy ending… Little did I know, life had a much better adventure lined up for me…
II woke up in Edinburgh to a blue sky and with an urge to ride. I decided to find a local BMW dealership and ask if they would allow me to take a demo bike for an hour or two. Anything was better than nothing and my expectations were not high. My Google search returned only one result, so I picked up the phone and gave them a quick call. I was very honest about my situation and wasn’t even pretending I was interested in buying any bike I would be taking out for a ride. I also mentioned my helmet situation and asked if they had any cheap ones for sale. They said they could help and invited me for a cup of tea and a chat…
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how I found Scotland’s best kept secret!
That BMW dealership I randomly found in the depths of the internet, turned out to be so much more than just a retailer! Not only do they sell new and used bikes, they also organise bike tours and provide hire bikes. And oh boy, did they sort me out!
First I got to pick which bike. They had quite a few choices available, including the queen of all touring bikes, the GS, but I went for a lower and meaner looking R 1200 R. Once I mentioned it was my first time visiting Scotland they asked me if I wanted their advice on where to go, as well as how much time I had to tour (one day) and how many miles I was willing to do (a couple of hundred). The following morning the BMW boys welcomed me with a shiny bike on new tyres, with a tank full of petrol and a whole route planned for me with all the details already in the sat nav.
Now you are probably wondering how I solved my helmet situation. I was going to buy one of the cheap helmets they had available at the dealership for as little as £50, when one of the boys working in the workshop, Joel, offered me his private crash helmet! The most precious bit of one’s kit – how very kind!! I was beyond grateful, and yes, I did wear my balaclava to make sure I didn’t smudge my make up all over the lining… :)
And just like that I was ready for my adventure. All I had to do was just get on the bike, follow the navigation and enjoy the view. And what a magnificent view that was! Scotland is spectacular! It’s one of those places that is far better than you ever imagined it to be. There was no traffic and most of the time it was just me, the bike, green hills and sheep! Plus fantastic roads, waterfalls, beautiful villages, lakes… Bike heaven!
I returned the bike absolutely mesmerised with everything I had experienced that day, and as I was enjoying a cup of tea and was chatting away to the boys, I couldn’t help but notice they all couldn’t wait to hear my thoughts. I have never met a group of people more proud of where they live. They were asking me with mad excitement in their eyes, “Did you like all the purple flowers, Jo? How beautiful were the flowers?! And that sweeping road after the village. It’s just amazing, isn’t it?!”. They are all genuinely, madly in love with Scotland and they were so excited to be able share it with me, and beyond excited to hear I liked it as much as they do! THIS is passion!
I believe I found the ultimate way to explore Scotland. Instead of riding there for hours and hours on your own bike, risking getting wet and cold before you even arrive (and ruining your tyres), just fly there instead. Or get together with 2 or 3 friends, make it a fun road trip and drive up. Then hire bikes for a few days and off you go. If you don’t want to worry about planning the route yourself, just explore places recommended by these passionate boys. And if all that is not enough, you can also book some muddy fun at their very own, private playground, the Central Park, where you get to ride their bikes (BMW GS) on an off-road trail circuit. It’s called Dirty Demos and is a mix of some basic off-road riding training and a ‘free play’. Off road is fun no matter the weather, so you don’t have to worry about your plans being ruined by the rain. In fact, you probably would end up having even more fun!
As much as I love to ride my sportsbike all year round, with no track days during the colder months I’m very limited in ways I can enjoy it off-season, so I always look for other ways to have fun on two wheels all year round, and THIS is one of them!
Needless to say, I am booking to go back there for 3-5 days!
Here are some details:
The bike hire price depends on the bike, but the R1200R cost me £115 for 24 hours.
The sat-nav was £80 for 24 hours.
The bike had to be returned with a full tank of petrol.
The Dirty Demos I’m planning to do next time I am up there cost £59.95 for 90 minutes.
The tea was fantastic!
And so was the Edinburgh night life.. ;)
You can find this little Scottish gem HERE and it’s safe to say, JoJo recommends!