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UTC

Lurker
LX 125 i.e.
Joined: UTC
Posts: 1
Location: London, UK
 
Lurker
LX 125 i.e.
Joined: UTC
Posts: 1
Location: London, UK
UTC quote
[This was a return journey, but this trip report is for the return portion only - Bristol to London] Sorry, no pictures, I didn't have time.

Date: Saturday 1st June, 1.15pm - 6.40pm (5 hours, 25 minutes)

Red Vespa LX 125 i.e. ("Strawberry")

Bought: August 2010

Distance: 120 miles

I had been hoping for a while to have the time and weather to ride long distance for two reasons: 1) Because I just love the sedate pace and atmosphere of travel that you can only get on a slower form of transport and, 2) because I wanted to prove to myself that it is entirely feasible to travel long-distance on a 125cc Vespa. Of course it can be done on a GTS!
Fresh from a recent service, and brand new front tire, I decided that this was as good time as any to do the journey.
Firstly, some of you may think, why Bristol? Well, my girlfriend is currently studying at the University of the West of England (UWE). Not just this, but following the A4 from London to Bristol offers the rural delights of West Berkshire, Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire. For the most part, it's old style single-lane carriageway also.
In my haste, I didn't really pack much. Though it was sunny, many of you will know that if the air is nippy, it can still get very cold - especially during longer journeys. So, I wore a t-shirt, a sweater, a woollen pullover and a Tucano Urbano protective jacket. This turned out to be wise as it did get cool, especially on the tree covered stretches of road.
Keen to get back in time to meet friends for dinner, I was keen to get started by around 1pm, but there were a few issues I needed to consider. On the way to Bristol, my right mirror had become slightly loose (I guess because of constant vibration and wind pressure), so before I left on the return leg I had to sellotape it firmly into the correct position - I had no tools with me. I was also a little concerned about a vibrating noise that had developed on the way out - I believed it was the exhaust pipe (I've since had it checked out by Central Bikes in London, it was a loose exhaust). I gave it a little check and nothing seemed to be loose so kissed my girlfriend goodbye on the sunny university campus in Frenchay to start my journey back to London, slightly behind schedule at 1.15pm.

I followed the fairly mundane A4714 dual carriageway ring-road from the Frenchay campus in a southerly direction to the village of Warmley. Immediately I had to get up to top speed of 60mph to keep up with traffic, though luckily the roads were quiet. My fuel tank was almost empty, so I stopped off at the Esso petrol station in Warmley on the A420 for a quick refill. Then, I followed the A420 to Chippenham. This, like much of the old A4, is nice twisty single lane carriageway through some of England's finest countryside. It had a few minor hilly sections where I had to keep full throttle to main 45mph. I was soon on the sunny open road bathing in sunshine travelling through nice open stretches of countryside peppered with small villages along the way.

Before joining the A4 for the long-haul, I wanted to double-check the [potential] loose exhaust pipe, so I pulled over into a dry and dusty layby on a nice quiet spot of the A420. Everything was fine, so I carried on and arrived to Chippenham after about 70 minutes of riding so far, though I didn't stop there. Being so used to riding on the mean streets of central London, I'm accustomed to being ignored by other motorcyclists. But I was getting nod after nod from nearly all passing motorcyclists which was not just pleasing but also made the journey much less boring. Knowing that there were many hours of riding to go, I pressed on following the A4 bypass around the new housing estates of Chippenham.

One thing that struck me was that for the whole journey so far there was not one occasion that the hum of the engine felt as though it would let me down. I prayed that it stayed the same for the rest of the journey! I decided to stop at Calne to rest the engine for a little while. I rested on the bike for 10 minutes as I wanted the engine to have the chance to cool a little. So far, I had tried to keep my max speed to 50mph so as not to strain the engine too much knowing that further into the journey the open throttle to 60mph would be required. Calne itself is not a particularly attractive town, which is partly why I kept my rest to around 10 minutes!

After the rest break I moved onto Marlborough, a much more pleasant town. I pulled into a motorcycle bay on the main High Street next to a pristine modern Harley motorcycle. I went to the local baker for a [very very tasty] chocolate brownie and a much needed strong Americano coffee which I enjoyed. I took the chance to walk around for a while. Marlborough is one of those classic old coaching towns, with a wide High Street with space for a market (and many car parking places) in the middle of the wide street. The western end of the High Street has a lovely old church with tall spire and, unlike Calne, the town had a feeling of life, bustling activity and seemed to be generally thriving. I noticed a lot of German cars passing through also. I also saw three German BMW touring motorcycles in convoy heading east through the town. I couldn't help but think that they were taunting me of my limits of being on a Vespa!
Upon leaving Marlborough my plan was join a slightly longer but hopefully quieter alternative road (on the northern bank of the river Kennet), the B4192. This was also to increase the sense of adventure somewhat as I already knew that I could handle this stretch of the A4 with no problems. Unfortunately, I forgot! However, I wasn't too disappointed as this is one of the prettiest stretches of A4 on the journey passing by chalk markings on the hillsides and taking in many picturesque bright yellow fields of rape-seed sweeping across the vast vista afforded to me with my vantage point over the hedge tops.

After around 60 minutes of riding I was into West Berkshire where the scenery started to become distinctly more 'semi-rural' than rural. It wasn't long before I was on the outskirts of reading for a more dual-carriageway urban ride back to London, through Maidenhead and Slough. Maidenhead is reasonably pleasant but not worth a stop - the bridge over the River Thames on the Eastern approach/exit to the town is very nice. Though, there are still many picturesque moments even of this stretch of the A4. After a continuum of huge very low-flying aircraft and passing the northern edges of Heathrow Airport (Bath Road), I was distinctly back into London, with heavy traffic, most of which I could get past with ease!

I'm lucky enough to live on Baker Street in central London, so followed the A4 through Knightsbridge to Hyde Park Corner and then Park Lane up to Marble Arch and then along Gloucester Place to Baker Street, where I arrived home at 18.40 (5 hours 25 minutes of travel in total).

Though slightly odd I did pat the front of my bike and say "thanks, I knew you'd do it". It's not my normal behaviour, but I guess I was proud that she had made it! The afternoon sun was going down for the evening and after a quick shower I was straight out for dinner with my friends at 7.30pm. She had made it and she had not let me down! Who says 125s can't handle it?

@jimc avatar
UTC

Moderaptor
The Hornet (GT200, aka Love Bug) and 'Dimples' - a GTS 300
Joined: UTC
Posts: 43458
Location: Pleasant Hill, CA
 
Moderaptor
@jimc avatar
The Hornet (GT200, aka Love Bug) and 'Dimples' - a GTS 300
Joined: UTC
Posts: 43458
Location: Pleasant Hill, CA
UTC quote
An excellent first post - and welcome to MV.

The 125s will purr along at top speed forever - very robust. I love the Wiltshire roads.
@ashbrook avatar
UTC

Ossessionato
Vespa GTS Kymco AK550
Joined: UTC
Posts: 3199
Location: London UK
 
Ossessionato
@ashbrook avatar
Vespa GTS Kymco AK550
Joined: UTC
Posts: 3199
Location: London UK
UTC quote
That's a lovely account of what sounds like my type of journey. Thanks for sharing.
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