5am Friday 22nd July 2016, my birthday. I set off for a 'one hit' ride to the west coast of Scotland. The weather is good and the sun has been up for about an hour. The first fuel stop is somewhere 50 miles short of Leeds - I needed a short break after riding for about 3 hours and to have a quick check of the bike etc. Following the A1 to Scotch Corner I take a left on to the A66. It's 0930 when I come across the Cross Lanes Organic Farm, there's a shop and cafe, I haven't eating all day and I've been up since 4 am so I decide to stop. Great food but not the cheapest as you'll expect, then time to hit the road.

Goats eating the roof of the cafe!

I stop at Kirkby Thore Filling Station further up the A66, I know I'll be on the motorway soon and not sure what there is in the way of service stations, my usual of not planning much. A short blast up the M6 and I cross the border near Gretna Green I'm now on to the M74, 325 miles now behind me. A strange thing happens just as I cross the border, yep it starts to rain, why does it always do this? Some way up the motorway the rain eased, lifting my visor to clear the rain on the inside, it disappears behind me! I put down the inner sun visor its not great but better than nothing. Luckily the Abington Motorway Services Area appears and I can pull off and fit the spare visor I brought along. (I thought that at some time I would lose it just not on the first day).

I pass a few scooterists all loaded up and kicking out blue smoke, obviously heading a rally somewhere. Getting nearer to Glasgow the traffic slows down and starts to look like the M25 so I start to slowly filter, most drivers are pretty good and move aside, I'm not that keen on filtering but one of the scooterists loves it as he catches me up and so I let him pass that's handy for me, now I follow this 'wake up call' to the drivers that bikes are coming through - much safer for me as they have already moved aside. When the traffic starts flowing again I speed up and overtake the scooterist.

I follow the M74 through Glasgow, which leads onto the M8 then the M898 across the Erskine Bridge spanning the river Clyde so picking up the A82 Stopping at Dunglass Service Station the scooterist pulls in. We have a chat, he and the others are off to rally on some island off the west coast, he's not a youngster about my age - lifelong scooterist by the sound of things.

I follow the A82 up past Loch Lomond, there's a fair amount of traffic most of it moving slowly, drivers more interested in the scenery. I do some gentle overtaking, a long gap appears so I speed up a bit, I catch up a small white van - a local bobby it turns out. I sit behind him, he must have known I was going a bit to catch him up. He makes a strange gesture with his hand out the window? I'm not sure what it is he's saying so I just stay behind him. We're going at a leisurely pace due to the traffic in front. Then something that quite shocked me happened, he started overtaking the line of traffic, forcing gaps and overtaking on bends causing cars coming the other way to brake hard! I followed when it was safe but keep a couple of cars back from him. The cause of the jam of traffic was a lorry stacked with hay doing about 20 mph. From the bend I was on I could see the road ahead was clear for some way, the copper overtakes the lorry but for some strange reason doesn't speed up, he sits tight in front of lorry doing the same speed. I hold my position with a suspicious mind, after a short while he then shoots off like a bat out of hell! I get pass the lorry and I'm on my way keeping within the limits, around a blind right hander approaching Loch Restil on the A83 there he is parked in a lay-by standing behind the van with arms crossed, I nod to him, he nods back I'm on my way again.

At Inveraray I take a wrong turn - the first since leaving home but it's a blessing disguise, up a narrow road its handy as I have much need for a bladder download. I follow the A82 to my target of Lochgilphead. I stop when a see the road sign 'Colchester Square' - really! 500 miles and I feel I've gone nowhere. My next task is to find the garage where my mate works - He doesn't know I'm coming up, as it's about 4pm he should still be at work but I don't even know if he's about - he could be on holiday? I find the place and walk in, he's working on the floor with his back turned, I boot his backside, barely a reaction - must happen a lot? Slowly he turns and looks at me, "Steve!!! What the fuc..."


Colchester Square, Lochgilphead.

After the greetings I explain I rode the 500 miles today to bring him the ebay item I got for him. He gives me his door key so I can go to his place a little further down the way in Ardrishaig.


Stopping by one of the locks.


Tiger and I rest up for a couple of days.

I think I was asleep on the sofa when Pat came home, he tells me I've arrived at he most exciting time here - the Ardrishaig gala day is happing tomorrow! We visit the only 2 pubs in the town I don't have much problem getting to sleep on the mattress on the floor.