Rupe’s top tips

Don’t Con­tin­ued over

Motorcycle News (UK) - - New Bikes - Do

••••••Get a sat-nav you can stick a

Google map into

Learn the lingo. It makes all the

dif­fer­ence

En­joy meet­ing your fel­low road

rats. It’s half the fun Book ahead for ho­tels, they’re

ev­ery­where

Worry about it cost­ing a for­tune,

it just does

Go round a moun­tain when you

can go over it

Bri­tish B-roads - you can keep up a pace which lets you cover huge dis­tances off-road, which means that in­stead of just blat­ting about hav­ing a laugh you’re also tour­ing the coun­try, get­ting a glimpse of the vary­ing cul­ture.

I’m be­ing guided by Mats Jon­s­son who runs Magic Mo­tor Ex­pe­ri­ence (MME), a com­pany that runs nu­mer­ous off-road tours around Sma­land in south­ern Swe­den. If you pot­ter along at 30mph, it’s a dod­dle - an off-road novice would have no dif­fi­culty. I’m rid­ing one of Mats’ Yamaha XT660S which has dual-pur­pose tyres on and at that speed it’s rock solid as the track sweeps through the for­est. Think of it as an un­du­lat­ing gravel B-road with no hair­pins.

Turn­ing into cor­ners I feel the front tyre scrab­bling side­ways on the fine layer of gravel on the clear line, set­ting up a slow weave through the whole bike. I’m do­ing about 45mph - enough to make any tree in­ter­ac­tions deeply un­pleas­ant. In­stinc­tively I grip the bars like I’m try­ing to wring safety from them, my arms rigid and my eyes fix­ated on the gravel heaps of doom, but by the time I’ve won­dered if Swedish hos­pi­tal food tastes like that slop in Ikea restau­rants, I’m round the cor­ner. Slowly, my con­fi­dence builds and by the end of the af­ter­noon I’m mid­way through a long left when I no­tice some­thing’s miss­ing, dif­fer­ent. My mind blun­ders through pos­si­ble causes but comes up with noth­ing - the XT660 sounds fine, the cor­ner isn’t tight­en­ing and as usual the front tyre is do­ing its waft­ing-scrab­bling thing.

I frown in con­fu­sion, con­cerned I’m miss­ing some­thing that will inevitably prove pain- ful. Then it dawns: I’m re­laxed. At last my shoul­ders have de­scended from my ears and my arms are loose. Af­ter nearly a day of rid­ing off road, I’m fi­nally get­ting used to the vague, float­ing cor­ner­ing feel­ing - my body fi­nally ac­cept­ing that de­spite nei­ther tyre feel­ing welded to planet earth, a disas­ter may not be im­mi­nent.

This is a turn­ing point. With­out the ten­sion I’m free to take in the beauty of the for­est as south­ern Swe­den rushes by in a blur of vi­brant green and blue. In­stead of hold­ing my breath round ev­ery cor­ner I’m gulp­ing down the pine-fresh air. It feels like a switch has been flicked and thou­sands upon thou­sands of miles of tracks open up in front of me. Not only can I ex­pe­ri­ence a for­est wilder­ness I didn’t even know ex­isted, but now it’s a play­ground too.

We’re rid­ing on mud and grass that hasn’t seen an­other ve­hi­cle for years and it’s a re­lief to just chug along, let- ting the XT find its way be­tween ruts and through pools of dap­pled sun­light. At this speed you no­tice more than just van­ish­ing points and pic­turesque blurs, you see tiny pink flow­ers on what looks like heather, 50 types of mushroom and the oc­ca­sional hoof print the size of your head. And when we stop for a rest, the si­lence slides over us like fog. No dis­tant cars, no wind in the trees, just the tick­ing of the cool­ing bikes. Tran­quil doesn’t even be­gin to cover it.

By the end of the tour I’m not just in love with sev­eral blonde and beau­ti­ful ho­tel staff but also with Swe­den. The peo­ple quote Only Fools and Horses at you, the forests and lakes are de­signed by a tourist board, and the end­less, hu­man­less space makes Bri­tain feel like a rush-hour Tube car­riage. If you want to ex­pe­ri­ence what an ad­ven­ture bike can re­ally do, put this trip on your bucket list.

‘I’m free to take in the beauty of the for­est as Swe­den rushes by

in vi­brant blur’

Rupe and Fred­die reach jour­ney’s end Want to join 91,000 pas­sion­ate Ital­ians? Make Mugello a must-visit GP

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