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Offline dreamer

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Motorbike Camping and Porlock Hill :)
« on: 09 August, 2018, 10:32:29 AM »
Hi all - relatively new rider here (had my license for 8 months now) and first motorbike camping trip.  We live in Surrey and decided to head West.  Thought the lessons we learnt and gear we used etc. might be helpful and maybe slightly entertaining!

Day 1: Ride down to campsite near Wells, called The Hideout.  Plenty of traffic on the A303 to filter through, and we got there around 5ish.  Really fantastic campsite.  Super friendly owners Jackie and Glyn, who booked us a pub for dinner (brilliant food and real beer).  They have a gravel section when you ride into the campsite and were kind enough to let us tackle that before stopping us to explain where to pitch!  Definitely bike friendly.  Brilliant facilities - clean, tidy, quiet, showers etc. etc.  They have an adult only field and a field for people with children and/or caravans/hookup.  We were in the adult field of course and it was pretty quiet.  Someone with adventure bikes turned up on the 2nd day, but we didn't get a chance to speak to them.  Very quiet, you can hear the nearby main road a fairly constant drone, but otherwise it's just birds.

Lessons learnt...  TS feels different with luggage!  But you can still filter.  We packed like this (and yes we took too much, but we've figured out what we didn't need):

Boyfriend's BMW:
Pannier 1 = Tent
Pannier 2 = Cooking gear, bowls, stove etc. etc.
Top box = his clothes and bits
Pillion seat = our sleeping mats.  We went proper luxury on the sleeping mats, as a good night's sleep is essential in my mind!  But the downside of thick foam inflatable mats is that they don't fold up very small, so they had to go on the pillion seat strapped on with Rokstraps.  And in a plastic bag in case it rained !
Tank bag = bits and pieces

My TS:
Top box = my clothes and bits
Pillion seat = Oxford 50L bag containing chairs, table, sleeping bags and a few bits and pieces
Tank bag = Kriega US10 for bits and bobs

We could've gone much lighter but actually, it was fine, and made the camping much more luxurious !!!!

Day 2  We bit off a bit more than my backside wanted in terms of ride!  We rode via Cheddar Gorge, Weston Super Mare, Bridgwater, Taunton, Sampford Arundel, Chard, Sparkford, Glastonbury, Wells.  It was about 150 miles and took hours - mostly because of a fairly pointless ride to Weston Super Mare.  Had lunch in somewhere called Sandy Bay ( I think), then headed South West.  Some amazing roads and also some pretty narrow twisty ones.  I overcooked it into a tight off camber left and ran wide, fortunately missing the oncoming van by cm.  Not my finest moment.  I was going slow but not slow enough!

Day 3Packed up and rode to the next campsite in Wells.  I wouldn't recommend this one.  Biker friendly and relaxed, but not very clean.  Manky tiny showers, sort of run down farm with rubbish and delapidated stuff everywhere.  I wouldn't stay there again.  It was called Sparkhayes Farm.  It was pretty quiet and we could see the sea, but there are nicer campsites around.   Set up and then rode over to Barricane Beach (by Woolacombe) and had curry for dinner on the beach from the Barricane Beach Cafe.  Was very tasty!  And a beautiful spot to stop and enjoy the views.  The ride over was amazing - the A39.  Totally empty, twisty flowy roads, didn't see many cars (overtook one, then it was clear all the way), just keep an eye out for the ponies and sheep!  The ride back was less fun as it was dark and we only had slightly tinted visors (oops) and had to navigate Porlock Hill (non-toll - we never tried the toll road, not even sure where it was!)

Day 4Rode to Croyde where I used to go surfing 20 years ago via Valley of the Rocks, walked up to Baggy Point, rode down to Barnstaple, cut across to Tiverton, then back up to Porlock.  Some of the most difficult roads I've ever seen.  We ended up on tiny twisty barely single track.  Hardly used, pot holes and crumbling, rocks, grass up the middle, blind steep up and down off camber corners.  I don't have much confidence in the TS - it's quite tippy and unstable in my opinion, and on an off camber corner it's hard to get a foot down if you need.  It was difficult.  I learnt a lot but it was hard work.  Fortunately we didn't meet traffic oncoming, no idea what we would've done if we did.  But we did find a fantastic road instead of the A361 between Barnstaple and Tiverton.  Again empty, flowy, bendy, amazing.

Day 5 We were going to stay another day but the weather turned so we packed up in between rain showers and rode home.  Long wet ride.  We opted to pack summer riding gear as it was so hot, which was a mistake!  We had some cheap plastic emergency waterproofs which did their job, but we should've taken the goretex!  Schlepped up to the A303 and got home around 7.30 last night.

What we learnt....  I have issues with the TS in twisty tight stuff, especially if it's off camber.  There are some amazing roads in Somerset/North Devon.  5 hours riding a day is our max (plus stops for lunch etc. etc.), and it was worth packing the camping luxuries.  We ate out 2 nights, cooked at the tent 2 nights, and it was good to have somewhere to sit and drink wine/beer etc....  However didn't need as many clothes!

We're thinking of going away again this weekend to the Cotswolds if we can find a campsite (need to check the weather first!)

  • Tent = Decathlon Quickhiker 4 Ultralight - a 4 person tent which packs to less than 4kg and fits in a panier.  It was great to have the space.  Lots of sleeping space, and a massive porch which fits everything in, and you can sit in on a low chair if needed
  • Chairs = Go Outdoors own brand low chairs.  I forget the name.  Pack up tiny and quite light
  • Sleeping mats = a Vango and an Outwell Dreamcatcher - thick foam inflatable ones - the Outwell was very comfy except for some reason it went down some nights, and stayed inflated others.  I'll have to take it back.  Very comfy when it stayed inflated!!!!!!!
  • Camp table is another Go Outdoors own brand one

And some photos - managed to take some this time!

Me looking very tired after a few days camping!


Maisy the TS at our Porlock campsite


Curry at Barricane Beach


Porlock Campsite



Maisy the TS loaded up


BMW loaded up


Glamping Dreamer Style!


Offline Paullie

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Re: Motorbike Camping and Porlock Hill :)
« Reply #1 on: 09 August, 2018, 10:50:23 AM »
Thanks for the great ride report  :028:  Sounds like you had a good time. I always end up tired (but happy) after a few days camping.

In view of Day 4, you may want to consider lowering Maisy; it can make a big difference to confidence. I found out last year that the TS fully loaded (and I have panniers) on some of smaller Scottish Island roads can be a handful, and is really a bit too big for the task. It can be very tricky to turn round if the road surface becomes really narrow and treacherous.

In fact the best bike I saw on these roads was a Beemer GS650, probably about the ideal size. Still, I'm not ready to change yet.  :002:

Offline dreamer

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Re: Motorbike Camping and Porlock Hill :)
« Reply #2 on: 09 August, 2018, 10:58:47 AM »
She's lowered already - which has made things easier for sure, but I just find her so top heavy, even without luggage etc.  I sat on my boyfriend's RS1200RS and it feels so light, despite being slightly heavier - no leg buckling once you get a few degrees of lean to get a foot down.  We're sorting the insurance so I can try it on the move next, not that I want to swap bikes, but I'm curious to feel the difference !   She's the only bike I've really ridden, so I'm not sure if it's my lack of experience, or the fact she is genuinely a bit top heavy and tippy.

Oh forgot to mention too - Maisy didn't want to start after a night outside.  I think probably a bit damp?  Took a few goes to get her to catch :(

Offline Paullie

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Re: Motorbike Camping and Porlock Hill :)
« Reply #3 on: 09 August, 2018, 11:05:06 AM »
Well you did have a lot of the weight high up. You could maybe think about the SW-Motech soft panniers instead - they're a rolltop.  :027:

It's unfortunately true that the BM does have a much lower CofG.

Offline dreamer

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Re: Motorbike Camping and Porlock Hill :)
« Reply #4 on: 09 August, 2018, 11:36:34 AM »
I find it without luggage too :(

I worry with panniers Ill tip to the side even more and put more weight on my supporting leg?

Offline TCC

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Re: Motorbike Camping and Porlock Hill :)
« Reply #5 on: 09 August, 2018, 01:16:41 PM »
It's not you. Tiger 1050 and Sport are seriously top heavy bikes and can catch even experienced riders out as many have found to their cost.

Offline dreamer

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Re: Motorbike Camping and Porlock Hill :)
« Reply #6 on: 09 August, 2018, 03:15:22 PM »
That makes me feel marginally better! 

Offline Paullie

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Re: Motorbike Camping and Porlock Hill :)
« Reply #7 on: 09 August, 2018, 03:19:22 PM »
*Originally Posted by TCC [+]
It's not you. Tiger 1050 and Sport are seriously top heavy bikes and can catch even experienced riders out as many have found to their cost.
He's right, unfortunately. But the old BMW GS1100 was even worse - once that started to go there was no stopping it till the cylinders touched down.

Offline Fossil

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Re: Motorbike Camping and Porlock Hill :)
« Reply #8 on: 09 August, 2018, 03:58:55 PM »
Great trip report and pics Dreamer! Thanks!  A couple of things took me back! I use to surf Croyde regularly in the 70's with the kids in tow staying at Ruda campsite, also Putsborough round the corner too. I remember the flowing bends of the A361 too well, it's where I got caught speeding and had to go all the way to Barnstaple to get fined and a 6 week ban!  Happy days  :007:
Too old to die young!

Offline dreamer

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Re: Motorbike Camping and Porlock Hill :)
« Reply #9 on: 09 August, 2018, 04:32:12 PM »
The A361 is really boring now, so we came off onto a parallel road which was sublime!

Ahhh I was surfing in Croyde in the late 90's / early 00's, so about 20 years later.  It's changed quite a bit - Polly's up by Baggy Point has closed down now, so had to go elsewhere for cream tea!