A mule and a Fireblade – The Smith Residence, Eltham, London, UK.
It feels like I haven’t slept in days – probably because I haven’t. But now exams and the madness of last minute packing and cleaning are behind me. When the jet lag clears (hopefully by tomorrow), I will wake up and realize that the adventure has truly begun. I am writing this entry from Casa Smith in Eltham, London. I have just finished a Sunday feast consisting of bacon-wrapped stuffed roast chicken and assortment of veggies followed by wine and cheese. Tom’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, have certainly been gracious hosts. I realize that soon these luxuries will only be memories.
Tomorrow the other two members of team CanUk, Ted and Jerry, will arrive in London. The day after that, we will make for the ferry to Calais, France, and our motorcycle journey will be underway. Three of us will be riding mules. One of us will be riding the fastest bike I have ever had the pleasure of riding. By far. (Sorry Ted – Tom and I just wanted to fill your new Honda Fireblade 900RR up with gas but we took a wrong turn and somehow ended up in the English countryside). When I first rode the bike, I thought the speedometre was in km/h. I would soon discover that it was in fact in mph. Still, even thinking I was travelling at speeds measured in km/h, the bike felt like it was barely moving. In fact, if one wasn’t careful, it would be easy to set a new personal speed record (eclipsing the old one by an order of magnitude) without even realizing it.
Now that I’ve tasted speedbike ecstacy, riding my mule (the name affectionately given to KLR650s) will feel like I am riding…well, a mule. Although I wish Ted was able to come the entire way, I am happy that he is at least going to have an awesome ride for the leg of the trip for which he will be joining us (the UK to Turkey).
I also had the chance to ride “The Nimbus”, Tom’s Honda CB400 Superfour. It is a nimble, responsive bike that was fun to throw around the corners on the green tunnel-like roads of the English countryside. You just have to be careful because you can’t see around corners (because of the hedge rows and trees) and the roads are so narrow that a car and a motorcycle barely have room to pass by each other. My only complaint with the Nimbus is that it was way to short of a bike and my knees were up around my ears. And the Fireblade can effortlessly make the Nimbus look like it is stationary even when it has reached it’s top speed.
Tom “The Kid” Smith and his Nimbus.
When I arrived in London, I discovered that recently Tom has become somewhat of a local celebrity after receiving press coverage of the trip as a front page story in his local newspaper. He was even being recognized as “The Cape Crusader” by neighbours. I have scored myself a signed copy of the paper, and I am willing to part with it – for a price. This could be worth something when the Kid is elected Prime Minister one day. If you would like a signed copy of Tom Smith’s front page story, please make a donation to either (or both) of the two charities we are promoting on this trip: Dignitas (the charity being promoted by the Canadian members of team CanUK) or Riders for Health (which Tom has been raising funds for).