This June I am riding my 12-year old Aprilia Habana scooter back to Aprilia/Piaggio HQ in Italy to raise money for Arthritis Research UK.
I plan to start the trip from my home in Wetheringsett-cum-Brockford, Suffolk on Friday 1st June 2018. My great, loyal friends, Stuart Garrard and Charles Harvey, will accompany me on this adventure. Stuart riding shotgun alongside me, and Charles acting as support crew in his Series IIa 49 year-old canvas top Land Rover, so what could possibly go wrong?
At this point, I must say that I am not really a biker, which makes this voyage more exciting, as I do not really know what to expect! I only bought this little scooter to commute 16 miles on hot sunny summer days; once even venturing as far as Southwold, so Italy seems a frighteningly long way away!
The route from the UK will take us across the Channel into France, and as this year is the centenary of the end of the Great War, we detour into Belgium to pay our respects at the Great War Memorial at Menin Gate in Ypres. From Belgium, we travel back into France and push southwest, before climbing into Switzerland, then creeping over the Alps before the final downhill run into Italy and Aprilia. The distance of the outward leg is 1,193 miles - 1,920km. The Swiss normally open their roads on 1st June, however, our plan might change if climatic conditions do not allow them to open the roads in time. If this is the case then we must suffer tunnels!
My scooter is an old Aprilia Habana 125cc model purchased unseen from eBay for £500. The advertisement said it was in very good condition and red in colour. However, upon arrival, I found a number of areas held together with cable ties and ‘gaffer’ tape, a badly bandaged exhaust and a registration document stating it to an Aprilia Mojito and it was blue!
Because she is only a 125cc the average speed will probably not exceed more than 30-35mph. Based on this assumption, I imagine the outward leg without rain, cold weather, getting lost and breakdowns to take in the region of 7 days.
The scooter is currently undergoing a few Plt Off Nickson modifications. Day run/ fog lights, luggage racks, paniers, new tyres, Sat Nav, 12v charging for telephone & Blue Tooth and cigarette lighter have all been added. However, she still needs a thorough service, MOT, new brakes, front wind shield and an exhaust pipe.
As you can imagine for such a trip, there is a much planning, acquisitions and many arrangements needed prior to leaving UK shores. Initially, the most important items being, a jolly good service and many many spare parts for Charles’s Land Rover, Stuart to get himself a motorcycle, and for me, a motorcycle licence and a pair of armoured trousers!
There are certain ground rules that will be followed implicitly, which are as follows.
- We will be taking the scenic route as I refuse to ride on any motorways or very busy foreign roads!
- I will not ride unless the temperature is at least 20 degrees Celsius, as my back and hips will ache as they hate the cold!
- I will not ride in the rain for the same reasons as above!
- No more than 7 hours riding per day, regardless!
- We do this trip altogether as one team, therefore any breakdowns we all stop, muck in and help Charles!!!
- The overnight accommodation must be very pleasant, comfortable and have a bath!
Meet The Team
I would like to thank all my sponsors for believing in me and generously donating to Arthritis Research UK. Thanks already to Dave Phillips at Nevis Marketing for my brilliant new Shark Helmet. To Arthritis Research UK, for their support in supplying T shirts big enough for Stuart and bunting!
Finally my wonderful team and family who think I am nuts and have had to put up with me going on about this for months. Without their support, I might not have attempted it!
Thank you all so very much.
Planning and scheming officer
Shotgun rider, blacksmith, minder, farrier & wine taster
"Squadron Leader" Charles Harvey
Land Rover support, comms, map reader, IT support & food taster
Dr Sophie Nickson
Website designer, and blogger in chief
Chief stylist to Plt Off Andrew Nickson, Sqd Ldr Stuart Garrard and Sqd Ldr Charles Harvey
"Air Chief Marshall" Camille Nickson
Wife to Plt Off Andrew Nickson & amazing supporter to the whole team