I had been set to start this ride a couple months ago then broke my collar bone in a fall on some stairs. The doctor said no riding for 6 months but I was having none of that and did a test ride on my FJR and decided I would go.
My plan was to first pick up the 2007 Kawasaki Versys 650 I have had sitting in Ireland in storage. I purchased this bike very reasonably priced and have it stored with, Motofeirme. This is a service that purchases and stores motorcycles for people wanting to ride Europe more affordably on a bike they own rather than high rental fees or shipping a bike there. In Ireland my plan was to ride the Wild Atlantic Way from Kinsale to Derry then continue to UK then perhaps EU.
Arriving at the bike storage place to see the Versys in real life first time I was pleased it seemed in good order. Tyres were as new and it had a Scott oiler fitted and full luggage. It even had a Garmin 220 Zumo and heated grips installed. I had lunch in Kinsale a lovely seaside town and then started on the Wild Atlantic Way.
I was starting at the bottom near Cork. Despite it being summer the daytime temperatures were only 10-11 degrees. Prior to leaving I had been reading reports of a heat wave in Europe so had considered bringing only summer riding gear. Fortunately I decided against that.
The cold wind off the ocean made the real feel more like 5 degrees and that was really colder than I would normally ride in. Some summer Ireland has! Still I guess it is all what you are used to. I saw a beach party being set up inside one pub in small town I was staying. People were in t-shirts laughing while I was in three layers with steam from my breath in the cold rain.
The Versys offers little protection compared to the FJR and soon after starting the weather deteriorated further with heavy rain and strong wind. It was some challenging conditions to ride in. I found myself wishing I had my thermals but it was meant to be summer so I only took my newly purchased Alpinestars Andes touring outfit which at least had quilted liner.
The jacket was partly keeping me protected but was clammy inside and I was wet front of my shirt and cold. The Andes pants were little better however wanted to ride up my legs a long way when seated on the bike exposing upper part of my boots.
The new TCX boots which I had been concerned about kept my feet warm and dry and my Held Rainstar gloves kept my hands dry but the temperatures needed full winter gloves which I had seen no reason to bring.
I got lucky with a fine day on a very scenic portion of the route and was able to get my camera out which lifted my spirits considerably. Waking up early and seeing sunshine outside I loaded up and left the motel before breakfast to get a shot of the Killarney national park.
Then the weather held for the famous cliffs of Moher.
The scenery was splendid all day however sadly this was the only fine day I experienced. Still even with the rain Ireland is such a beautiful place, besides the dramatic coastal scenery I equally enjoyed the the green checker rolling hills, stone fences, yellow fields of rape seed and interesting old country pubs. Visible to the eye, alas not able to be photographed in the rain.
Roads were low traffic despite it being school holidays. Unlike say rural Germany or here in Japan there were few trucks on the B roads in Ireland. That makes a huge difference to the driving/riding enjoyment not always being stuck in a queue behind another lorry crawling along. If fine I would have stopped more in the interesting towns in route but walking around in rain with riding gear on is not the best. Whenever I did stop people were incredibly friendly.
I enjoyed that train crossings are still depicted as steam locomotives, and MC Hammer still had some fans in Ireland. These little things that caught my eye brought a smile while struggling in cold wet conditions.
My broken collar bone (right side/throttle) was causing me considerable discomfort. The jarring transferred from the bike on the bumpy roads and not being able to fully straighten my right arm without pain shooting along it from perhaps torn ligaments. This was not easy to avoid such as tipping the bike into right turns where my right arm of course stretches to counter steer and in slow traffic balancing bike but needing to hold throttle or brake.
I arrived at Derry/Londonderry and scored a break in the weather. Extra interesting I stayed a couple days to explore and give my injured shoulder a rest.
I enjoyed the time off the bike here but it was so expensive, just a sandwich and drink at mall was nearly $25A on current exchange rate.
My shoulder was no better when I hopped back on bike so I decided to explore some more of the Irish countryside with a some very low mileage days to slowly make my way south and if things did not improve return the bike.
(Postscript; Not sure now why I did not take a rest someplace warm and dry. I could have parked the bike somewhere, even just offsite airport parking, gone someplace warm, Spain/Greek island and mended my shoulder a few weeks before trying again. I was concerned about the cost but probably just my mind was clouded with doubts about being able to ride even after that. The terrible conditions and my gear letting me down further eroded my confidence.)
Couple of familiar names from my home area I came across while meandering back down south on country roads.
Back in beautiful Cork which was just too expensive for me to stay at very long so after few days the easiest thing seemed bring my flight forward.
But Ireland is a beautiful country indeed and I will return to ride there again and the UK. I will be sure to pack much more serious gear next time.
So what happened to the Versys? Well I later sold it getting most of my money back. I wasn’t sure that was right call as I still want to do much more riding in EU but there was something not right.
To pay the bike registration you needed to first buy compulsory third party insurance and when you do that you list your address as the farm where the bike is stored and tick being a EU resident. But you are not a EU resident and I doubt that the insurance would be valid. Then it’s a house of cards, your registration may not be valid either nor your EU green card insurance and your travel insurance may not cover you either. In a serious accident you might have no medical cover and face litigation.
I have had people say I am wrong and it is ok but I bet a lawyer would say different and insurance companies tend to use them. I think Motofeirme is probably in the gray which is fine for people who are willing to chance it. I unwittingly drove around Europe in 1990 in a van with no insurance and used up an awful lot of luck back then so not going to try it.
I regret not having tried harder at the time but perhaps it happened for a reason and was best I did just ride Ireland then park the bike than have been involved in an accident that tested my theory on the insurance.
The rides I have failed to complete remain valuable learning experiences helping me plan better in future. I need to allow more time every step of way and always have a plan B. I need better gear and be less frugal at times while finding smarter ways to do things than buying expensive lunches. Moto touring remains a learning curve for me.