Pure And Crafted To England

It’s hard to resist the idea to go on a road trip with a BMW R Nine T provided by the Pure&Crafted team. For me, too. The model’s name, Pure, fits perfectly for a motorcycle road trip with only the bare necessities. So, I mount a few bags on the R Nine T, I stack a tent and some clothes on the back, and off I go.

The first leg of the journey only took me from Munich to Glemseck 101 near Stuttgart. It was a wet start, however. First I thought, okay, the clouds hang a little low today, but soon they turned into heavy rain – not a lot of fun. Will it stay that way? And what will the damn weather be like when I reach England? Whatever, there’ll be weather in some shape or form. After arriving at Glemseck, I shoddily pitch my tent on the wet lawn. It needs to hold for one night only. Then I tour the festival site. After all, Glemseck 101 has been one of the most important events for two-wheeled petrol heads for years. You always meet familiar faces there and get acquainted with new ones. What started as a short tour turned into a long walk which lasted until curfew after a small party at the “Sultans Of Sprint” tent.

The next morning presented itself from its sunny side. My destination was the small village of Putte in the Dutch province of North Brabant. There I met my fellow travellers. Ad de Wal from the Jan Hagel Motorklub and his wife played our hosts. Of course, they had to comment on my motorcycle as my friends only ride these American… Whatever. In Holland, Berliners are known for their witty replies. Cheers to that.

We continued to the ferry Calais/Dover. Our destination was Bucklesham, a small – a truly small – place in the rural county of Suffolks. It was so small that I couldn’t even find it on my big travel atlas. Since we’re on the road Pure&Crafted-style, we only allowed ourselves to use the GPS in emergency cases or to navigate through cities. In this case, it was allowed. The campsite was as small as the village itself but beautifully situated and with very clean facilities. We had rented a camping pod. Big barrels equipped with a bed, a kitchenette and toilets. Now the English rain can come, I thought – but it didn’t. So very unreliable. Anyway, this was our base camp for the next few days.

Both counties, Suffolk and Norfolk, aren’t famous for being tourist magnets, but that brings us closer to the locals. In Woodbridge, we looked for a place to enjoy a full English breakfast. A gentleman pointed us in the direction of a really small and lovely restaurant, and even my friends’ funny accents couldn’t keep him from starting a conversation. A small lecture on seamanship ensued. From this point on, I called him “Admiral Nelson”. Even though, he’s retired, he remained faithful to seafaring, crafting small ship models which he cons in a small pool together with his friends. There’s no time for boredom.

We rode north along the coast. Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft are amongst the bigger cities on the east coast. A few sea resorts are also located on the coastline to the north. The rich must’ve abandoned these places a long time ago, though. Hemsby Beach, which is actually famous for rock ‘n’ roll and hot rods, is comprised of questionable arcades and show booths. Everything’s a bit run down. However, the locals are really nice which makes it enjoyable after all.

Not much happens riding further north along the coast. The sea is still to our right. The road is pretty narrow but in good shape, and between villages, they’re windy, too. The great thing about this coastal road are absent lorries. It’s refreshing as opposed to riding along the Adria or the Mediterranean Sea.

The next day was reserved for a trip to London. It’s basically not that far to ride from Bucklesham to London. However, we chose to take B-roads instead which took us around North London until we finally reached the North Circular Road. Damn, these parts look familiar, I thought. So, we stop and consult our little electronic helper. Indeed, following your nose isn’t a bad thing. Now we only have to meander through traffic on the NCR to get to the Ace Cafe for a cup of tea. The cafe wasn’t very busy. Locals have to work as well, and a weekend-long Ace Cafe reunion was just around the corner. After breakfast, we’re on our way to the Bike Shed all the way across London. “Do as the Romans do,” was our motto. So, we weave through traffic, our mirrors barely making it past the other cars without a scratch. I love that you can park your motorcycle right next to your cup of tea here. Swoosh, past all the cups and into the garage. Why don’t we have something like this at home, I thought. Nevertheless, London doesn’t make for delightful motorcycling per se. So, we escape to the countryside once again.

We continue to Birmingham. A culture day was in order. The Motorcycle Museum was our destination where I found my personal British motorcycle heaven. So much two-wheel culture in one place. Unbelievable. 600 motorcycles built between 1900 and 1980. Motorcycles of every model, from the common commuter’s bike to a Norton Hogslayer and the unbelievable Brough Superior. It’s a pity that there’s so little space to adequately present all these beauties. All donations are welcome. They also experimented with boxer engines here in England, I’m now hearing for the first time. There’s the Art Deco-inspired Wooler with a 1000cc engine and a 1938 Brough Superior with a 4-cylinder boxer engine. You’d think all cylinders were put in a row? No, we’re in England, the motherland of engineering. All cylinders are stacked on top of each other. Two here, and the other two on the opposite side, of course. No idea how they manage to run the engine.

The next day was all about getting closer to our actual reason for hitting the road: Goodwood in Sussex. Since we hadn’t been for years, we wanted to – or rather had to – attend the Goodwood Revival. We had already bought tickets months ago, and we were looking forward to the experience. Those of you not in the know, please note the following:

“Dressing for The Goodwood Revival has become de rigueur and as important to the ambiance and general jolliness of the long weekend as the smell of hot grease and the scream of a V 12 on the home straight. … So be sure to dress up in your tweeds and trilbies, starched collar and spats to fully immerse yourself in this nostalgic and bustling atmosphere, at the biggest and best motor racing party of the year.”

I LOVE IT.

The bikes, the races, the people, the ambiance – everything that is Goodwood is well done with passion, and to put all this passion for historic motorsport into such a fantastic event is simply awesome. Of course, it’s a big show, but I’m part of the show and not just a spectator. That makes a difference.

The Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy is reserved for motorcycles. Norton Manx vs Rudge vs Vincent, AJS, Matchless and so forth. BMW also competed with three motorcycles. Let me tell you something: f… earplugs. A Norton Manx is already quite loud, but when a BMW R57 compressor hurtles past you, it seriously massages your stomach and gives you goosebumps on top – simply wonderful.

On Sunday, we had to return to Germany unfortunately. However, there’s another place which I made my personal favourite spot in England: Beachy Head west of Eastbourne on the English Channel Coast. It’s a windswept place but really lovely. I could stay here for hours staring out to sea.

At the campsite in Middlekerke, Belgium, we met Thomas from Hanau. At some time or another, he decided to sell his company and ride his motorcycle across the globe. A BMW GS was his weapon of choice, of course. He bought it used and got rid of all the unnecessary parts. First he rode to Lake Baikal and then to Mongolia. At the moment, he was on a three-week “quick trip” to Ireland; what an exciting story.

Back in good old Germany, we paid a visit to my trusted BMW motorcycle dealer in Aachen to end our journey. We just passed by for a cup of coffee; no repairs necessary. The final leg of our road trip consisted of unspectacular kilometres on the autobahn to Munich. Coming from Belgium, our mileage counter showed we covered 950 additional kilometres in one day. Eventually, it wasn’t an “iron butt ride”. My mate Matz still wasn’t tired and left Munich for Naples the next day – to look at ancient stones in Rome and enjoy the sun.

In that regard, a big thank you to my fellow travellers Olli, Lutz and Matz, to Ad de Wal from the Jan Hagel Motorklub, and Lord March, the Duke of Richmond, for the most unique motorsport party in the world.