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2022 - The Trip Out 22, Euston Park, UK

Going to the Trip Out is for most

people a shortish trip of a few hours, the venue being halfway between London and Norwich. For this Shovel rider it means however getting up at 5, starting the Shovel at 6 and keeping her going for six hours to Calais in France. The 5 gallon tanks usually make a one-stop strategy possible, but not this time. After gassing up at exactly the half way point, with a few litres left in the tank, catching the ferry to England seemed assured. But then torrential showers kicked in, plus heavy headwinds (the prediction for this day had been a force 8 in the Channel), driving up fuel consumption. Which meant, I was rolling into Calais on the last remaining drops of fuel, having switched to reserve a long time ago. Missed the ferry anyway, because we had spent half an hour under a flyover in Belgium to re-torque the Shovel’s cylinder head bolts. Ferry gone, I rescheduled for the next one, went to Calais looking for a petrol station and sure enough, the Shovel had combusted the last remaining molecules of unleaded and stopped shovelling altogether. In front of an African restaurant :) By the time the nice man in the restaurant had gotten me a "bidon" full of petrol, and the tasty local fish had been eaten, another Dover-bound ferry was pulling out of Calais, sans yours truly.

The rest of the pot hole strewn journey was uneventful, but, due to the delays, ended in darkness, the last miles on ever narrower forest roads. Setting up the tent under a blazing full moon is nice however, and the three pints of beer I had to wash down the road dust and rehydrate the system were very welcome indeed.

The next day: Outrageously long forks,

upsweep pipes reaching for the stars, straight out of the Sixties paint jobs, and everything looking as if it’s being ridden on a daily basis. The dudes and gals operating these ancient machines are like one big, friendly family, enjoying a weekend out with Anna and Andy, wacky music (recommended: Oh! Gunquit!), good beer, the fantabulous Sixties reenactment Meyer Dancers and all those people they haven’t seen in a long time. The place hums with good vibes and the sound of well, and not-so-well tuned Harleys, rumbling across the rolling green grounds so beautiful it hurts.