Day 1: 8th September 2012
Another trip, something to be looked forward to and prepared for, though this time a mixture of work – 5 weeks at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense – and 5 nights in Sweden camping plus whatever short travels I can fit in, later in the year than I would usually chose to travel with a tent. So with so much stuff- camping gear and proper clothes, laptop and text books – the bike is really loaded down with a mountain of stuff but not that difficult to get used to in the end.
Stopping at the first set of traffic lights is the most wobbly part. The journey through three counties to Harwich is as enjoyable as ever, a nice route through beautiful villages, and blessed with warm sunshine right into the evening as the boat sails off. There are only about 6 bikes on this crossing, a couple of beautiful red Ducati Multistrada among them, one with expensive panniers held together with silver gaffer tape after its owner lost the key and had to break them open, a Ninja owner who told me he watched on CCTV footage his bike blowing over in the wind in his work carpark and suffering hundreds of pounds of damage. Riding on to the boat up the ramps is always fun but strapping the bikes down seems hit and miss. Some crews really help others not at all, no advice today so it’s a struggle to get their old straps to work and we are there on the car deck long after the motorists have gone.
The cabin is the same as usual and always my irrational fear that suddenly someone else will burst in and I find out I will have to share it.
Up on the sundeck as we pull out of Harwich slowly at first then gather speed and the boat lists as we turn to the south coming out of the estuary and then east again as the boat points out to sea. With theses changes of direction car alarms sound below, despite the many requests to turn them off. There are only a couple of dozen people here on the deck. There’s an end of season feel. But the sky is beautiful as we look toward the sun as we leave the Suffolk coast behind. I realise I’ve been looking at the sea for 45 minutes. It takes these trips just to get into a slightly different kind of space.
I think this is my seventh motorcycle trip. I feel a bit bemused about that. I was the one with reassuring information in the queue of bikers earlier. Since I started all this, I have a bigger bike, innumerable gadgets and lots more grey hair.