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Motorcycle Holidays & Adventures

Quick links: motorbike adventures - about quargo - harley davidson fatboy

Every year, a group of my mates go on a motorcycle holiday. Below, you can see some details of the trips we've been on over the last 25 years or so.

We call each motorcycle adventure a Quargo. A rider partaking in the adventure is called a Quargo Nort. You can learn more about the origins of the name further down the page.

Harley Davidson FLSTFi Fatboy

2009 Harley Davidson FLSTFi Fatboy, 1584cc V Twin in Satin Black

I ride a Harley. The pic above was taken when I first bought my bike. There are more pictures of it at the bottom of the page. Since buying the bike, I've customised it quite a lot.

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A History Of Our Motorbike Trips

These trips appear in reverse chronological order. So the most recent holiday is at the top.

Geoff organises our biking holidays. He's a legend. He likes green wheels. And he's very pretty. The following picture proves all of the aforementioned facts.

Geoff Rose

Geoff, organiser of motorbike adventuring fun

Where possible (or, where my tiny brain can recall what we did...) I've included links to biker friendly camp sites and other useful resources.

I've made videos of the last few travels we've been on, using Go Pro cameras. I use the original Hero cameras. The newer models are probably better, but the old Go Pros are much more affordable and still do an excellent job. I sent one into space once, with a bacon roulade. Yes, I'm telling the truth. Here's the video:

GoPro camera filming bacon in space

The cameras might use old technology as they've been around for quite a while, but they still film in HD and the quality is great. You can pick them up second hand for less than £100 on eBay, so they're a bargain when compared to the price of newer cameras.

Most of the music featured in the videos is by Jinxremover. There is also some music by Ye Gods!

Prior to having the camera in 2014, we just have photographs. I'll be adding to this page over time as the trips date back to the late 80s / early 90s. That means a lot of sifting through old photos, which means getting into and sorting out the loft and friends' lofts... Hmm. It could take me a while (in reality 'a while' probably means 'some years' or 'never') to finish off this page. Ah well. I've made a start.

If you're planning a trip to any of the places we've been, feel free to get in touch if you want to hear more about where we went and what we did.

So. Below you can learn about the various motorcycle trips we've been on.

Spain - 2018

We went to Spain in September and October 2018. 7 bikes made the journey this year. We rode to Portsmouth and took the ferry to Bilbao. From there, we rode to Zaragosa, spent a night in a hostel and then rode to Tarragona, on the coast, south of Barcelona.

Quargo Spain 2018

On the ferry from Bilbao, Spain, back to Portsmouth, UK

I didn't film a video this year as I still haven't done the 2017 vid and didn't want to make more work for myself. I'll probably do a vid again next year, when my workload is a bit more under control.

Northern Ireland NW200 - 2017

In May, we went to Ireland for the North West 200. It's a road race, similar to the Isle of Man TT. It was awesome.

Motorcycle holiday, North West 200 and Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

It took me two years to get around to it, but in 2019 I put the video together (see above). Better late than never...

The video features a fair bit of footage of the NW200 races, riders, stunts and what not. There are also peacocks, goats, chickens, the Giant's Causeway and lots of other lovely stuff.

Portugal - 2016

10 motorbikes undertook this epic motorcycle adventure in September 2016. We sailed out of Plymouth in the UK and took the overnight ferry to Santander in Spain. We took a couple of days riding through Spain, staying in Leon (the ride to Leon through the mountains was amazing) and Salamanca.

Then we cut across into Portugal, staying at a campsite up in the mountains called Toca Da Raposa. It's an awesome location in a beautiful area of Portugal. The facilities are great. We hired tents to save lugging them all the way from the UK on the bikes. They have a bar and offer breakfast and a cooked dinner. The prices are excellent - we couldn't get over how cheap everything was.

The roads in the Portuguese mountains are fantastic, offering panoramic views, beautiful countryside and picturesque villages. We did a day trip to Figueira da Foz on the coast. The ride took about 1.5 hours. There are sandy beaches and we got to swim in the sea.

On the way back, we stayed in Salamanca and then went to Burgos. All of the cities we visited in Spain were amazing - full of great architecture and culture. We stayed in hostels and felt comfortable leaving the bikes on the streets. The people were friendly and the food was great.

We got the ferry home from Santander to Plymouth in the UK.

You can see a video of our Portuguese adventure here:

Motorcycle holiday video, riding through Spain to Portugal

Ireland - 2015

Our Irish motorbike trip took place in May/June 2015. We got the Ferry from Pembroke in Wales over to Rosslare in Ireland. We stayed at a campsite about a mile from the port. Their website seems to be down at the moment, but it used to be 'www.campingstmargarets.ie'.

Then we rode to Sextons Caravan and Camping Park and then on to a place in Killarney for Ireland's Bike Fest. From Killarney, you can ride out around the Ring of Kerry, which offers some amazing roads, mountains and coastal views.

We rode the bikes back the way we came, experiencing some of the worst riding conditions I've ever been out in due to a heavy rain storm. We did enjoy plenty of sunshine too, but the weather in Ireland and the UK can be somewhat unpredictable... It's best to take waterproofs.

You can see the video of our Irish adventure here:

Motorbike adventure video, riding in Ireland

France, D Day 70th Anniversary Celebration - 2014

This motorbiking adventure took place in June 2014. We rode the bikes to Portsmouth in the UK and got the ferry to St Malo in France.

We stayed at a campsite called Camping des Capucines (they don't have a website, but you can find them on Google or email them: campingdescapucines.14@orange.fr) near Pegasus Bridge in Normandy. The bridge is steeped in World War II history. You can learn more about it on Wikipedia.

We got the ferry home from Caen, back to Portsmouth.

2014 was the 70th anniversary of D Day. It was fantastic to learn so much about the history of World War II and see so many vehicles from the era on the French roads.

You can see a lot of these vehicles in the video below, including bikes, cars, planes, tanks and much more:

D Day 70th Anniversary video, riding motorbikes in France

Holland - 2013

Unfortunately, I missed out on the Netherlands Quargo due to illness, so I can't really tell you that much about it.

Bikers on a Tank

Bikers on a tank, somewhere in Holland

However, I do remember that the guys got the ferry from Harwich, on the east coast of the UK, and stayed at Motorcamping d'n Toerstop.

Motorcamping d'n Toerstop campsite Holland

Motorcamping d'n Toerstop campsite sign

They said it was a great place, geared up for bikers. You can hire tents and cabins at the site.

Wankum in Holland Netherlands

Wankum, in Germany

The guys took a ride over the border into Germany. As you can see, the choice place names might have had something to do with it... worth a visit just for that.

Isle of Man TT - 2012

The Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) is a famous road race that takes place on the Isle of Man every year. You may have guessed that from the name... The island is located in the Irish Sea, between England and Ireland.

Isle of Man TT Races

Some motorbikes racing on mountain roads at the Isle of Man TT in 2012

We got on the Steam Packet ferry in Liverpool and landed in Douglas on the Isle of Man. We camped at St George’s AFC in Douglas. The campsite is located right next to the race start/finish line.

The demand for ferry tickets and camping is very high when the TT road races are on, so you have to book in advance. In 2012 there were around 40,000 bikes on the island.

Bikers looking like a band

Bikers at the Isle of Man TT, looking like they're in a rock band...

It's the most amazing race I've ever been to. I've seen F1 in Monaco, car and motorbike track races, stock car races etc. At the Isle of Man, you can get closer to the riders than anywhere else. This means you get a real sense of the speed they're riding at. On some of the straights, they get up to 180+ miles per hour. It's insane. I wouldn't have the bottle to do it on an airstrip, let alone on winding country roads...

If you like bikes, you have to go. Even if you're not a massive fan of racing, it's an amazing experience - so much better than a track day. I can't recommend it enough. Put it on your bucket list. Go to it.

Spain - 2011

So this is where my memory starts getting a bit hazy. In my defence, I'm writing this nearly six years after it happened...

Motorbike Adventure in Spain

Our bikes, somewhere in the Spanish mountains

We got the ferry to Bilbao. From there, we rode the bikes east. The mountain roads along the coast are spectacular. They're some of the best roads I've ever ridden on. Lots of corners, views and coastal scenery.

Motorbike Adventure Spain

Motorbikes, somewhere in the Spain

We stayed at Camping Bungalowpark Isábena, which is a beautiful location in the mountains. The facilities were good and there are lots of awesome mountain roads, so the rides outs are great.

France - 2010

We went to France and stayed at a biker friendly campsite called Pete and Rusty's in Normandy. Their website has disappeared. Pete and Rusty were quite old, so it wouldn't surprise me if they've stopped running it. But you can find references to it if you do a search on Google.

Motorbike Holiday in France

Motorbike Holiday in France

I can't remember a huge amount about this trip... I know we rode to the coast and looked around Mont Saint Michel, which is located on the border of Brittany and Normandy. It sits 0.6 miles from the coast of France and is cut off from the mainland at high tide.

Bikers in France

Bikers in France

Mont Saint Michel is a small island with a fortified town built on it, offering spectacular architecture, interesting history and stunning views. It's well worth a visit.

Motorbike, beer and baguette

Motorbike? Tick. Beer? Tick. Baguette? Tick. Sorted.

Afghan War Heroes Rally, UK - 2010

In 2010 thousands of bikers gathered to raise money and awareness for Afghan war heroes. Over 10,000 bikers took to the roads, riding from Kemble airfield to Wootton Bassett on Mother's Day in March 2010.

Motorbike Rally

Thousands of bikers riding for Afghan war heroes

Despite raising awareness and money to help war veterans, the rally didn't please all the locals - read this post on The Guardian's website for reference. I guess you can never hope to please everyone when 10,000 bikes are involved...

Anyway. It was a lot of fun to be a part of. There was a huge turnout in the village when we did the ride and the locals I spoke to were very positive about it. You can find videos from the event on YouTube.

Germany - 2009

Our 2009 motorcycle adventure took us through Belgium, Luxembourg, France and Germany.

Bikers in the Black Forest in Germany

Bikers, drinking German beer in the Black Forest

We rode to Germany's Black Forest and camped near the French border at a place called Campingplatz Adam. The campsite has a large lake that you could swim in and lots of on-site facilities, including a bar.

On the way and on the way back we stayed at a biker friendly campsite called Little Creek. It's now changed its name to Camping Drei Spatzen to become more family friendly, but bikers are still welcome.

Bikers Black Forest Germany

Bikers in his and his T-Shirts...

We visited an amazing castle called Hohenbaden Castle in Baden-Baden, known locally as Altes Schloß. It's on the top of a hill, so the views are amazing.

Hohenbaden Castle Baden Baden

Hohenbaden Castle, Baden-Baden, Germany

Slippit Inn Rally, UK - 2009

The Slippit Inn Rally is a motorbike rally run by the Gloucester MAG (Motorcycle Action Group). It was held on a farm overlooking the River Severn at Blakeney in Wales.

Slippit Inn Motorbike Rally

Sensible behaviour exhibit, Slippit Inn Rally 2009

Double Trouble Rally, UK - 2009

The Double Trouble Rally is an annual event held at Court Farm near Weston-Super-Mare in the UK during May. It's well organised, offering camping, food, a bar and live music.

Beer Can Mohawk

Beer can mohawk, spotted at the Double Trouble motorbike rally

Daytona Bike Week, USA - 2008

Because Phil, a friend of ours, was getting married in Georgia, we went to the USA in 2008. After the wedding, we went to Daytona Bike Week. Around 600,000 motorbikes descend on Daytona once a year for the event.

Daytona Bike Week

2 x Harley Davidson, hired for Daytona Bike Week

I hired a Harley Davidson Fatboy for the rally. It was my first experience of riding a Harley and lead on to me buying my own. During bike week, the prices for hiring bikes triple - it's worth being aware of that if you go. Still, it's loads of fun to ride on the roads with that many motorbikes around.

Harley Davidson at Daytona Bike Week

Me, falling in love with a motorbike...

France - 2000

Emma, a friend of ours and Geoff's cousin, got married in France in July 2000. The wedding was in La Flèche near Le Mans. At the time, Geoff and I both had a Kawasaki Z650. It was our first motorbike trip abroad.

Kawasaki Z650

Kawasaki Z650 x 2, in France

I remember my bike was having serious exhaust issues at the time. We had to stop every 50 miles or so and plug up all the holes with exhaust putty. Ah, the joys of riding very old bikes... Still, at that age, zero shits were given and we did it anyway.

This particular adventure happened a long time ago. To put it into context, it happened 2 husbands ago. For Emma. Not me. Or Geoff.

Before 2000

We have a Quargo flag somewhere, probably buried in Ian Maiden's loft, that has a lot of the dates of our early excursions from the 80s and 90s. I'll dig it out at some point and add more information here.

There were other trips between 2000 and 2008 as well. I'll add them at a later date.

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About The Quargo Motorcycle Trips

We started going camping on our motorbikes in the late 1980s. For some reason, we called the group Quargo. I think it was because Captain Quargo was our fictional leader, but I really can't remember the details. We spent a lot of the 80s and 90s drunk.

Quargo Motorcycle Holidays Logo

Quargo logo

An individual member of Quargo was called a Quargo Nort, or a Q Nort. We were never an official club - we were just a bunch of friends who owned motorbikes, liked riding them, camping and drinking booze.

Back then, there were about 30 people in our friendship group that rode motorcycles. We'd go camping all over the UK. As we got older and got better bikes, we started going further afield. The trips became less frequent as everyone started getting married and having families. But we still go on at least one Quargo adventure every year.

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Harley Davidson Fatboy

I bought my current bike in 2009. It's a Harley Davidson Fatboy.

Prior to that I had a Kawasaki Z650. When I lived in the USA I had a Honda Nighthawk 750.

Harley Davidson Fatboy motorbike 2009

Harley Davidson Fatboy 2009

My Harley is the same model as the one Arnold Schwarzenegger rides in the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

I bought the bike after going to Daytona Bike Week. I'd hired a Fatboy and rode it across Florida (yes, innuendos aplenty from that statement, feel free to joke about it using the comments form below...) during bike week, back in 2006.

In 2009, when I started looking for a bike, I test rode lots of motorbikes. This included some Japanese copies from manufacturers like Kawasaki and Yamaha. However, encouraged by my ex-wife Georgie, I experienced a 'you only live once, bollocks to it' moment and bought the Harley from Riders in Bristol. It was what I really wanted.

Harley Davidson Fatboy

On the Hog, in France, stocking up at Le Supermarché

I had a screaming eagle exhaust added to the bike and had it stage 1 tuned. In the UK, the regulations surrounding noise from exhaust pipes are somewhat ridiculous, in part due to EU legislation. So when you buy a Harley, they're quiet. To give your bike the authentic Harley sound, you have to have the exhaust changed.

While not strictly legal, the pipes make the bike sound lovely and a lot safer to ride - drivers hear you coming. I've had SO many near misses when riding quiet motorbikes... Car drivers don't realise you're there. I've experienced drivers pulling out in front of me, side swiping me when changing lane, nearly knocking me off because they're texting on their phones etc. When I got the Harley, I noticed the difference. Drivers were more aware of my presence and I began experiencing fewer near misses.

I'm of the opinion that loud pipes save lives. This is a contentious topic and many people disagree, saying bikers just like their bikes to be noisy. There is an element of truth to this - I do prefer the sound of my louder exhaust pipes. Still, when I had them fitted there was a noticeable reduction in the amount of drivers that tried to kill me. So I am speaking from experience.

Harley Davidson Fatboy with luggage

The Harley, somewhere in France, loaded up to the proverbial hilt

When I bought the bike it had a lot of chrome on it. I mean a LOT. On a sunny day, it was hard to look at it without burning your retinas. So I decided to reduce the chromage by having various bits of the bike powder coated matt black.

Harley Davidson Fatboy

The Hog, pictured at the Isle of Man TT after having some powder coating done

I think the bike looks nicer now. I like a bit of chrome, but there was too much on the bike for my taste before I started customising it. The bike requires less cleaning now too, which is always a bonus.

Harley Davidson Fatboy in Spain

The Harley, in Spain, after being powder coated

I've bought some proper luggage for the Harley. The panniers were expensive (about £800 when I bought them), but they do look good on the bike. They're spacious and designed to keep your kit away from hot exhaust pipes.

Harley Davidson Fatboy with Panniers

Harley Davidson Fatboy with Harley fitted panniers

To fit the panniers, you have to buy a kit to move the indicators back so the attachment mechanism can be installed. All in, including the panniers, it cost about a grand. That could well be more now as it was a few years ago.

That covers everything I've had done to my Harley so far. I've found the Harley to be reliable and comfortable to ride. It's a great bike. If you're having a midlife crisis, I can thoroughly recommend bankrupting yourself by buying one. It is worth it :-)

Harley Davidson Humber Bridge Hull

The Fatboy, under the Humber Bridge near Hull, UK

I run a short story competition on this website called To Hull & Back. Every year, I undertake a pilgrimage to Hull. You can learn more about that on the page about the competition. The contest offers the greatest, most sought after prize in modern literature.

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Your comments:

Geoff H
Topher, you are a legend and a writing genius.

Chris Fielden
Why thank you Mega Geoff :-)

Susan R
What a great way to travel. It looks like the ride is the most important part of the trip, with stops to take photos only secondary. Not like the family vacations where the point was to get somewhere and do something entirely unrelated to the drive. Thanks for sharing, Chris!

Chris Fielden
Thanks Susan. Yes, the ride is the focus, but we do get to see some interesting places along the way :-)