A Brit Returns Home, Day 2

Neale Bayly hails from the United Kingdom and has been living in the USA for the better part of three decades.  His passport is filled with stamps from exotic locations and has a unique perspective on motorcycle travel.  He is also a freelance moto-journalist,  and father.  In this trip, Neale returns to England with his young son to revisit his youth.  To find out more about Neale go to….www.nealebaylyrides.com  If you missed Day One, click here

DSCN2654I awoke early to a stunning morning in West Street, Oxford.

Shelby had been up banging around since 4.a.m so not a lot of sleep. It’s quite nice to be in that semi, jet-lagged, sleep-deprived state sipping coffee and spending the early morning hours talking with Shelby. At 78 years old he’s slowing down a little. Sitting for almost two-hours to chat it’s a rare treat as he is normally hammering on his keyboard, swimming, digging in the allotment or bicycling into Oxford on business.

I’ve been stopping in since 1985 and this is the first visit that Shelby has no mad travels planned. He wanted to hitch hike across the Sahara but fears his age won’t let him. Maybe I should offer to carry his bags? I want to write a book of his life. He has seen so much of this world and today’s story that I will take with me is how he had his money stolen hitchhiking in India, and with ten rupees decided to carry on to Katmandu.

Living off the land, and from assistance he received from the local people, he made it and all the way back to Delhi to re-claim his travelers checks a month later. Cementing a confidence in him as a young man that he could alwaysDSCN2659 survive, he exudes that same confidence today.

He did talk of times during his epic Burma adventures though that he thought he might not make it, and to me this is a story that needs to be a movie, as no one has made that journey and lived to tell the tale.(the book about it is called, “Among Insurgents”)

Finally Patrick and I must get rolling.   It’s the first time Patrick has met Shelby and as we say our goodbyes,  I wonder what he’ll take from his time with the great man.

My sister’s house is about 350 miles north and we have to be there today, so we hit the motorway and ride hard, looking to make up some time.   The traffic is fast and predictable, and while there is a lot of it through the flat, hot industrial middle of England, it keeps moving, and so do we.

Putting in 90-minute stints in the saddle and relaxed breaks, it isn’t long before we see the mountainous landscapes of the Lake District which signals the Scottish border is approaching. From the highway we roll through miles and miles of farmland, and, off in the distance,  the occasional church or historic building.

DSCN2670Old, brick farmhouses dot the landscape and lazy cows and sheep graze the fields. Patrick is doing great, looking around, enjoying the view and is the perfect traveling companion. We have our duties at break times and he is quickly up to speed on his. Everything on a motorcycle has its place and he soon has our organization system down and makes our fuel stops and food breaks quicker and more enjoyable. Plus he has a lot of exciting observations to share.

We cross the border late in the afternoon and surprisingly the temperature rises. In my youth the road to Scotland was a winding two-lane road affair, but now it’s a slick highway so we can’t stop to admire the views. With the BMW rolling comfortably along at 75-80 mph we see it all from the saddle and press on.  My sister will expect us in time for dinner, so we don’t delay.

Glasgow arrives, and we head west to the small village of Houston some 15-20 miles away. It’s been a long time since I drove or rode here so we have a few missed turns finding our way out onto the farm roads that will take us to her house. The sun is still well up in the sky, even at 8.p.m, and we are soon in the garden eating dinner and catching up on the five years that have passed since Patrick and I last visited.

Us old uns look a little more wrinkled, the kids about two feet taller but soon it’s like we’ve never been away. The BMW gets locked up in the garage, and with the jet lag and lack of sleep making themselves felt it’s soon time to put this day into the books and sleep, secure and tucked in.  IMG_7893 IMG_7912

Ed Church, He Got It Back

Everyone has a story about the one that got away.  A high school sweetheart, a job, a house, a trophy buck, something.  But Ed Church’s story is different.  His is about a motorcycle.  His first motorcycle.

Church said the bike was a big influence on him as a sophomore in high school.  “the whole right of passage as a young man was trying to start one” said Church.

“It was the most beautiful thing I ever saw,” said Church, who rode the bike for 13 years and sold it when his daughter was born.

Church said when he started looking around for a bike from the same year as his first bike he had no idea he’d stumble upon the bike…his bike and just when he found it, it almost slipped through his fingers again.

Watch the video to hear the story in his words.