Tag Archives: Sam Manicom

Ace Cafe: Overland & Adventure Bike Day

Steph and me, flanked by Ed March and Austin Vince

Steph and me, flanked by Ed March and Austin Vince

Well it’s a bright but chilly Sunday and I’m down here at the legendary Ace Cafe, hanging out with hundreds of other bikers who, like me, have come to wave off Steph “One Woman One Moto” Jeavons on her round-the-world bike adventure.

Despite the cold, the air’s been buzzing with the usual chatter that happens when you get a lot of adventure bikers in one place – talk of two-wheeled trips to far-flung places, exchange of notes on travel gear and bike bits, and, on this occasion, lots of envy about another biker setting off on another exciting round-the-world trip.

Steph waves goodbye to the crowds atop the Ace Cafe

Steph waves goodbye to the crowds from the Ace Cafe roof

Steph rode off on her epic journey a couple of hours ago now. I chatted to her just before she climbed onto her bike to head off. She was feeling a mixture of trepidation and excitement, and genuinely pleased at how many people had turned up to see her off. Austin Vince was there to give her a few final words of encouragement – and a “lucky” Mondo Sahara badge to wear on her travels. All around her, people pressed forward to get a good look at “Rhonda the Honda”, her CRF 250L, all packed up and ready to roll.

And she's off! Steph sets off with the cheers of the crowd behind her

And she’s off! Steph rides out with the cheers of the crowd behind her

After waving goodbye to the crowd from the Ace Cafe roof and hugging friends and family, she was off! I could only imagine what must have been going through her mind at that moment – probably something like, “Please don’t drop the bike!” or “Did I turn the oven off?” Whatever, Steph’s got a whole lot of adventure ahead of her and I for one will be following her all the way.

Sunday afternoon at the Ace Cafe

Sunday afternoon at the Ace Cafe

After the excitement of the send-off, the Ace Cafe is still buzzing here. I’ve been catching up with lots of familiar faces including the lovely Sam Manicom and Iain Harper, as well as ogling all the bikes that are parked up here. (Well, seems rude not to!). I’ve also had the opportunity to say a proper hello to Dom Giles and tell him how much I loved his book, Gone Riding. If you haven’t read it yet, jump on Amazon and get a copy right now: it’s the story of his 30,000-mile bike ride through 18 countries, including Panama to Alaska and Southern Africa. Today Dom told me he wrote it “from the heart” – and trust me, it really shows in his writing.

Well it’s freezing cold here at the Ace Cafe and I’m off in search for another hot coffee. It’s been a great day all round – and of course, good luck to Steph on her epic adventure!

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Hubb UK 2013

Hubb UK group photo © Horizons Unlimited

Group photo in aid of prostate cancer – I’m in there somewhere! © Horizons Unlimited

This past four days, I’ve replaced the heat and dust of Arizona with the more temperate (!) climate of Donington Park. I’m here at the annual Hubb event, the UK’s largest gathering of adventure motorcyclists, 4×4-ers and other overlanders of all descriptions. It’s been a packed few days, with a schedule featuring many of the great and good of the adventure travel world. And if ever there was an event to re-kindle old adventure dreams – and inspire new ones! – this is it.

Ed March takes a well-earned break after an entertaining presentation

Ed March takes a well-earned break after his hilarious talk

Hubb UK campground - a great atmosphere!

Hubb UK campground – a great atmosphere!

Here we have a fantastic mix of hardened overlanders who’ve seen the world (some many times over!), those about to head off on big trips, and those still fantasising about taking off somewhere. And the huge variety of speakers here means that, no matter where in the world you want to go or how you want to travel, there’s someone to inspire you to get out there and do it.

I’ve been particularly inspired by the small-bike travellers. Ed March gave a couple of hilarious presentations on tackling the world (including the Arctic!) on his Honda C90 – his video snippets of oddities he’s seen on the road included a tractor going along a road in India with a wheel missing and an eye-watering tanker crash that happened right in front of him! Nathan Millward was equally entertaining about his travels from Sydney to London to the USA on his trusty postie bike – his stories about how little his bike cost to repair along the way (£280 for a complete rebuild in SE Asia!) must have made many a BMW owner’s eyes water!

Clare Elsdon talks about crossing Africa on a DRZ

Clare Elsdon talks about crossing Africa on a DRZ

The ladies have been well-represented here, too. I loved hearing Jupiter’s Traveller Clare Elsdon talking about crossing Africa solo on her DRZ (something I still hope to do in the near future). And Jacqui Furneaux gave a fascinating presentation about travelling the world on her 500cc Enfield Bullet – she even rode her bike right into the presentation hall so we could all pore over it afterwards. In both cases, I was inspired by their courage to throw up lives/jobs that were making them unhappy and venture out into the world in search of excitement and fulfillment – which, happily, seems to have happened to both of them.

On the 4×4 front, Toby Savage gave a really insightful talk about his adventures taking two 70-year-old jeeps across the Sahara desert. He showed some brilliant footage of an interview with war veteran Arthur, one of the original jeep drivers, which gave real context and history to the whole presentation.

Ted Simon talks about his new photobook

Ted Simon talks about his new photobook

An inevitable highlight of Hubb UK was hearing the great Ted Simon speak again – this time about his new photobook Jupiter’s Travels In Camera, a wonderful collection of stills taken on his many travels over the years. He also talked about the work of the Ted Simon Foundation, which supports adventure travel that aims to open people’s eyes to what is happening across the globe – a worthy cause indeed.

It was also, predictably, a packed house for Austin Vince who was here to talk about his latest Mondo Sahara adventures. As usual, he captivated the crowd with his trademark humour and enthusiasm. I’d actually heard him do this talk at the Overland Expo in Arizona – but it was just as enjoyable second time round, I have to say!

These are just a few highlights of what has been a great event. Hats off to Susan and Grant Johnson for their ongoing work with Horizons Unlimited and the Hubb website. And congrats to Sam Manicom and Iain Harper, the Hubb event organisers, who were flying around the entire time making sure everything ran smoothly – your hard work has paid off, guys, thank you!

And as we all disperse to our various corners of the country – and indeed, the world! – it’s obvious that yet more dreams are already being hatched and realised as a result of the last few days. My list of places I want to see in the world just got a whole lot longer…! 🙂

Hubb UK 2013