Travel tripods – its a nightmare

Well, not quite that bad – just a difficult choice. A huge leap in interestingness of motorcycle travel video is some variation from the overused first person POV helmet camera footage to actual footage of rider riding into and out of shot on some beautiful corner on a twisty road. We’re so used to seeing seamless continuity on feature films that we don’t even notice it on motoYoutubers efforts, yet effort it takes to achieve. We must make some unconscious assumption that there is a film crew riding with our favourite motoYoubuer. Maybe on occasions there is but often its not the case. And how’s it done? With a laborious setting up of a shot in advance: scouting, stopping, riding back, getting out your tripod, trusting leaving your beloved camera running and unattended while you jump back on the bike, ride off, turn round and ride back into shot looking nonchalant; then stop again, ride back, pack everything away and ride off and repeat a few times a day. You really wouldn’t get very far in a day. It takes high motivation to record something to go to all this trouble. The other far less troublesome use of tripods is to film yourself unboxing and trying out various gadgets from camping stoves to er… new tripods.

So, having thought that I might just possibly try this, at least use number two, I am searching for the ideal lightweight tripod. There are actually a huge number to try to chose from. The high end carbon models cost over £300. They tend to get good reviews – but that’s a lot to spend on something that may be a very short-lived experiment. Then there are the scores of mid to cheap models, often praised highly by Youtubers who probably have only used them once or twice and like the design. Amazon reviews provide usually more sober evaluations. These cheap tripods are cheap because they might use a soft component where a slightly expensive piece of aluminium would have been better. So reviews show that these are often not very strong. I have been on the verge of ordering so many of these then read poor reviews and stopped in my tracks. The latest is this:

I have never heard of Sirui – but then I have never heard of most of these brands. Its small, its light and its cheap. I may risk it. But will I risk actually trying it out on a windy corner in Norway on my next trip?

Ride up to Snettisham Beach

After an early start and a migrane at London Bridge station, I rode up from Cambridge to my friend’s beach hut at Snettisham. the weather was good – warmish but sunny. The bike felt so much better with all the heavy luggage off – even the topbox which usually goes everywhere. It gave me the confidence to do lots of overtaking and make some progress on the way up the A10. I had a recommendation to take a newly opened alternative bypass around Ely on the way back, via Queen Adelaide which was a really enjoyable road for riding, right next to the river higher than the road as it runs dead straight toward Ely. The total ride was 111 miles.

Looking at my track from the GPS I can see I didn’t take the road I should have. I remember the advice was ‘don’t cross the river’ and that’s what I did. Next time I will get it right.

Getting ready to ride in Spain

On Sunday I sail on Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth to Bilbao for a couple of weeks riding in northern Spain. I’m leaving the tent at home for a change and have booked four rural hotels, all interesting, I hope, in different ways. Not camping means I can leave all this lot in the cupboard:

In fact this is a picture from Google earth of my first hotel:

Hotel Real Monasterio de San Zoilo

I was feeling a little sad at missing out on the camping experience but this photograph looks like an intriguing place. Does its name mean that it is a real monastery, not one of those fake monasteries with fake monks who turn out to be actors?

When you are immersed in working and living – as is too easy, these trips can come up out of the blue almost in a strangely unwelcome way – paradoxically – as an interruption to the numb mindlessness of routine. But getting out maps and packing the panniers does start to dissolve that.

Unusually, the sailing down to Bilbao is two nights, a chance hopefully to disengage and get into a new headspace.

Back to Cambridge

Its Spring. The clocks have leapt forward, the sun is shining – weakly – and its time to bring my bike out of hibernation in London and ride it back up to Cambridge into my increasingly expensive to rent garage, where it will stay for the next 8 or 9 months – apart from when I’m riding it of course.

Riding and driving in London is not fun. Most other road users are fine but there are a few who are crazy or seem to be testosterone-fuelled idiots. Mainly, its just that there are so many other people trying to get somewhere. My route up the A10 is not as fast as the motorway but once past the M25 traffic starts to thin out and it turns into an enjoyable road past the turn for Hertford. The sun came out too. I’ve not been to Cambridge since before Christmas and it was nice to arrive back, each return and there is an extra block of flats and one more building on the Addenbrookes site.

My next major trip will be in mid-late July, after graduation, when I take the ferry from Portsmouth down to Bilbao again and spend a couple of weeks riding and this time tent-free, staying in hotels across northern Spain including near to the Bardenas Reales that I’ve heard so much about.

I’m still trying to solve the problem of decent audio on my recorded videos on the bike and wind noise seems to drown out my voice, even with the helmet vent closed and a new and better microphone. Here’s the trip in 4 minutes.