(Ernie Leslie, BikeBuyersGuide, August 2005)
5.45am Sunday morning. Motorcycle packed up with cameras and gear. Squeezing the last drop of juice into the tank at the Maxol station in Irishtown. I was told I would need a full tank when we arrived in Wales and with the limited range of the CBR I wasn't going to be daring. Across the forecourt the troops were assembling. All tooled up, ready for our two day excursion or should that be incursion. With the name "Easy Rider" I thought back to the cult movie. Any image I had of the cowboy-hatted dudes on choppers was soon put to bed. We had a Honda Hornet 900, a GSXR 600 and a pair of KTM Superdukes. Then came our guide. Dave was kitted out with a BMW R1100R fully equipped with GPS tracking. No hanging about, hardly time for brief introductions, we were on our way to the boat. And that should have been a warning of what was to come over the next two days. Suffice to say if you want to go on a sight seeing tour of Wales then this is not the trip for you. "And what a trip man". Sorry, this "Easy Rider" thing still isn't fully out of my system.
An hour and a half on the 7am fast ferry to Holyhead and we were starting the first of what was to be a very enjoyable 550 miles on some of the most spectacular motorcycling roads in Europe. It's a bit of an endurance test too by the way. Just when you want to finish for the day there's another leg to be completed. Having said that, the last leg had some of the best roads, so I'm glad I overworked the creaky old bones. I know what you long distance touring guys are thinking. 550 miles in two days, I'll do that on my head. But this isn't motorway riding. At least not after you clear the A55 and head into Snowdonia. It's all twists and turns on virtually traffic free roads and it requires total concentration to get the most out of it. It's all courtesy of three years extensive research by Dave Lyons of Easy Rider Training who drove every A and B road in Wales, in both directions. As he says himself, "some roads are better ridden one way than the other, and some are worth doing in both directions". On returning home he rated and colour coordinated them into four main groups. There were the roads you didn't want to ride at all for whatever reason. There were great roads but with too much traffic. Then there were the great roads with little traffic and the latter with the addition of great scenery. After that it was just a case of putting them all together in a way that covered the best roads and included adequate petrol and toilet stops. That's how detailed his research was. He even knows the petrol stations with toilet facilities as opposed to those without.
First stop was for a p*** and a fag. Smoke 'em if you got. After a short stop it was all systems go. We headed south through a mountain pass and along some great costal roads. Then we turned east through the valleys and into Newtown for lunch. Over lunch Dave asked if I had spotted any good locations for photographs. Oops! I had been relishing the whole experience so much that I had forgotten what I was there for. Primary objective, take pictures, report back to HQ. Ah f*** that, these roads had to be enjoyed. The rest would have to take 2nd place. After lunch we went back through Snowdonia National Park and over the highest mountain road in Wales, at 1800 ft. Down into Bala where we were based. According to the brochure there's an extra leg for the more experienced riders. Actually it was compulsory. If I had the option, a shower and a sleep before dinner would have been hard to refuse. Having said that it was worth the extra effort as the roads were some of the best of the day. By the time we got back to the hotel and parked up, there was just enough time to check in and clean up before heading for dinner and on to a local hostelry for some well earned bevvys. I should point out here that the bikes are parked in the hotel's back yard and are as safe as they can be. An early night (I was shagged) followed by an even earlier breakfast and we were off again. We ride north through Llangollen and up Horseshoe Pass. A road that rises a thousand feet in under four miles. Then it was south through the mountains, east through the valleys and onto Welshpool for lunch. No such thing as heading towards the boat. After lunch we eventually head back north through Clocaenog forest with some great tree-lined sweeping bends, past Snowden and back to Holyhead for the 8.20pm ferry.
Two days later I was beginning to walk normal again. Or at least normal for me but it was another three days before all feeling had properly returned to my fingers. Was it worth all the pain and strain? Would I do it all again? In a New York minute. Sign me up Dave. I'm in.
Dave is now only bringing a party of 4 riders including himself on each tour. These participants must ride bikes larger than 500cc and have full licences and at least a few years riding experience.
The tour costs €350 per person, no pillions allowed. This price includes bed and breakfast accommodation in a 4-star hotel with private rooms and ferry transfers to and from Holyhead.
"The tour is geared towards people who want to ride their bikes and who are not intimidated by the mileage it covers and the possibility of riding inclement weather if it rains".
Mileage covered can range between 450 miles to 580 miles over a two-day period (225 miles to 280 miles per day).
The dates will normally fall on Sunday-Monday, however, further dates may be added due to demand and these might include other days of the week e.g. Mon-Tue. As well as the aforementioned, there is a lot more info in the brochure on the trip which is available directly from Dave or from selected bike shops. You can contact Dave for more info at 087 2988499. There is also a web site at www.bikesafe.ie.