How I Ended up Riding Europe on a Motorcycle

It’s been one hell of a summer guys n gals. I’m not really sure where to begin. I guess for a long time I didn’t really have a lot to write about or maybe I had nothing to be proud enough of to write it down n tell the world. 

I was living in a cloud, running on auto pilot and just scraping through enough to stop things falling apart. If you’ve read any of the previous blogs you’ll know that I’ve always liked a cider or two but it started to take a hold of me. I wasn’t in control any more and it wasn’t any fun. My boat building suffered, I was constantly anxious with “what the fuck did I do last night and what the fuck did i say last night” thoughts. I was riding drunk, turning up at work stinking of the night before. Shit wasn’t very good. So I quit. Just like that. The cider not my job (thankfully I never got the sack).

It was fucking hard, the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Harder than wrapping 15ft planks round a boat, harder than moving away from all my family, harder than doing joinery maths in imperial measurements. Really fucking hard. But once I set my mind to something then that’s that. No more. 

I battled through the withdrawal stages, the sweats, the self doubt, the completely illogical floods of tears, the phantom hangovers, I left work early some days coz I just had no spare space in my head for anything but “be sober, stay fucking sober, don’t drink it, just don’t”. It took a lot of sleepless nights and a tipper truck full of will power but we made it. I’m out the other side and life couldn’t be fucking better.

I owe a pretty massive thank you to my folks for letting me shout at them and get angry at them even though it was myself I was angry with. Parents are fucking awesome, they always love ya even when you’re a total dick. I also owe a massive thank you to my boss, I’ll never say it in person coz I can’t do words out loud so I’ll say it here. Cheers Dick ‘ed, I really couldn’t have done it without ya, you questioned me, you made me a workout plan for the gym, you kept me accountable, you worked me so hard I was too exhausted to drink, fuck dude; you even drank water with me at the pub for the first few weeks. So thanks. 

 

Everyone says you save a lot of money when you give up drinking. I certainly haven’t but I can afford to do more. Being sober frees up so much extra time, I have another 5 hours of day where I’m not at work and I’m not drunk and I had to find something to do with myself. 

I started working 10 hours days at the boat yard, we’ve had a lot of work to get through in preparation for the Dunkirk return in 2020 so I spent my days going from one Dunkirk Little Ship to the next, planking up 3 boats a week. The boss man had me focused on joinery for a little while too, we we’re fitting out a Bates Starcraft for Chris Evans and I got to rebuild the aft well. It was great fun, I learnt a lot and have finally shaken my fear of joinery work. 

I was still full of beans at the end of everyday though and finding it tough to not head straight for the pub so I started going to the gym. Throwing myself into the mix of steroid ridden muscle men and getting the endorphins flowing. Keeping me fit and keeping me happy. Joinery is great fun but it doesn’t do much for ya muscles. I made myself a beautifully toned pair of triceps…very fucking proud of those. 

Riding started to be less of a “can I get home without getting pulled over or falling off” and more a hobby again. I’d ride in the evenings, blowing away the sawdust of the day and chasing the sunset round the river down to Oxford. Life was good. The great stigma attached to going sober and being boring was a huge worry for me at the beginning, I wasn’t ready to be boring, I wasn’t ready to give that life up. But it’s all a MYTH!! Now I’m not paranoid about who I have or haven’t offended or what I’ve forgotten that everyone else remembers clear as day my confidence has sky rocketed and it’s all mine! I’m not using “a few beers” to get it. Its mine. I control myself. I make myself feel good. Not anyone else and certainly not fucking cider. 

Consequently, all of the above actions have meant that I’ve now got some stories to tell! So many to tell I don’t even know where to start. It’s been the best summer of my life and my fingers are twitching at the keyboard.

One evening on my boat I was mindlessly scrolling through facebook and I saw a link to an all female motorcycle festival in Berlin. I clicked on it and I couldn’t believe my eyes. They were called the Petrollettes (fucking awesome name) and they were the most bad ass bunch of women I’d ever seen. The festival was set to be held in the Old Iron City of Ferropolis, surrounded by lakes, beaches and industrial mining equipment. It looked like something from a Mad Max film set. There was drag racing, bike build offs, talks from famous world travellers and dirt track racers. I had to go. I sent a text to my mum briefly explaining it and asking if she thought I was mad. By the time she had txt me back I’d bought a ticket. 

The next few blogs will be about my journey. 5117 miles riding day after day travelling through Brussels, Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland and then riding the entire perimeter of Ireland on the Wild Atlantic Way. 90% of it I was totally alone, just me, Butch and the mountains. We did some crazy shit. I think I might be mad for even having done half of it but like Alice says “all the best people are”.

I wanna tell ya everything, the tales of woe, the tales of adventure, the tales of mind fuckingly terrifying stuff. I don’t wanna miss any out. So I’ve decided to write it in the following chapters. That way you can pick n choose what ya wanna read and I’ll be sure I’ve not missed anything and might have a hope in hell of finishing the story before I set off on the next adventure.

 

CHAPTERS

Dover to Germany (on the hottest day ever recorded) and The Petrollettes

Switzerland, France and The Mountain Storm

The Irish Coastline

Travelling alone Vs Travelling in Company

Advice for Lone Riders, Women, Beginners and the Dirt Poor. (What to pack, how to avoid death and all the things I wish someone had told me)

The Old vs The New ( Direct comparison of the Royal Enfield 500 Classic and the ACTUAL Classic CX500)

5 Replies to “How I Ended up Riding Europe on a Motorcycle”

  1. Yay for being sober and not boring! I’m in that club also. It’s heckin awesome. Also, have missed your writing. Good to see you’re alive and looking forward to the chapters. And mad props to you for sticking to quitting.

  2. Jon-Lee Paul Butler says: Reply

    Firstly, and mostly, nice to hear from you, it’s been a while. And, I can see why, big well done on the absence from the devils juice. I can’t say I can relate entirely as not knowing your own journey, however. Do know what it is like to give up ‘boozing’. Giving up is just the beginning, might find some up days and then low days. I don’t how long professional people claim to recover, and I’ve never believed, not truly, in medicinal science. Infact, the drugs that “suppose” to help actually just intoxicate your system more. Like myself, I just realised I had a problem and gave up. Think it was the free access to a bar I was working behind that exhausted my desire to drink alcohol. In my opinion, it won’t hurt to have a small drink here and there if ever tempted to. A tipple at Christmas or birthday, example. By time you passed that “over it” period, a small one won’t let you fall back into that habit again.
    So again, well done. And, who said it’s boring to be tee-total? Now you’re sober, you’ll see that horrid perspective of a drunk person. It’s arrogant, sarcastic, and forceful…. you’ll be glad it’s not for you anymore.

    Glad you’re finding your soul in the world, too. That person that makes you who you are…not just chippy but a chick on wheels. Biker chick, lol.
    Can’t wait to read your travels, can write a memoire one day. On the shelf of ASDA “The long road of Abbey” at £6.99 ✏️

  3. Good call ABB. You’ve also eliminated the temptation to ride your bike when you’ve had a couple.
    Kev.

  4. Well done, Abbey, it just shows that you can do anything you put your mind to. Now that you’ve got the joinery thing sorted, I look forward to your account of mastering steam bending – see my first sentence above.

  5. Abbey you will never ever be boring. I spent 50 years on milling machines and fucking lathes. Now THAT’S boring.
    Living where I do, I obviously didn’t know about your issues but so proud of you for sorting yourself out.
    I hope Darby’s Hard in Gorleston is never renamed or removed because I’m so pleased to be associated with it and you are adding another fascinating link to the history. Thank you.

Leave a Reply