Saturday, 17 October 2015

The Tiger Conquers All: Two-Up to Rosslyn

Forte est vinum fortior est rex fortiores sunt mulieres super omnia vincit veritas
"Wine is strong, a king is stronger, women are stronger still, but truth conquers all" (1 Esdras, chapters 3 & 4).

I liked The Da Vinci Code. There, I said it. I know I am not the only one, my better half is proof of that. Like all things that any of us enjoy, especially from afar, our thoughts and conversations often lead us to wishing we could visit these places we so often hear and read about. Of course because of a book like The Da Vinci Code these locations become massively weighed down by preconceptions. But that just stokes the fires of interest that bit more, and that often repeated phrase of "we should visit there...sometime" evolves to "how would we do it?", then when you see just how achievable the goal really is time off work is arranged, tickets booked, and bags get packed. For us the destination is Rosslyn Chapel, just south of Edinburgh and while I am sure most of you know the broad strokes of the Dan Brown novel I will not get into spoilers here.

Not just a place in a book. Rosslyn Chapel


This was also going to be my first proper trip on our trusty new Triumph Tiger 800 XRx. We had already racked up 7,000KM but the vast majority of that has been commuting. The only trips of leisure have been brief coffee excursions on Sunday afternoons. There really was not much to think about in terms of packing or preparing the bike. It was going to be a 3 day round-trip from Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, Ireland up to Dalkeith, Scotland. Over the course of the trip we would cover over 1,100KM, basically broken down into 1 day travelling to our destination. A day to enjoy and discover the area. Then a day coming back. The pace was going to be relaxed, with rest-stops approx every 1.5 hours. The only real deadlines were the ferry crossing between Larne and Cairnryan which we had to make. But again, a bit of forward planning and allowing enough time kept the pace unhurried and relaxed. Even given the Tuesday morning traffic on the way back through Scotland.

Inside the visitor centre. Loads to watch, and play with!


If you are any way familiar with The Da Vinci Code, then you know all about Rosslyn Chapel. And Rosslyn knows all about Dan Brown! As a result of his little book the annual visitors to the site went from 30,000 per year, to almost 200,000 per year now. Due to this explosion in foot traffic there has been extensive investment in the site which boasts a very impressive visitor centre, much of the literature on site is available in multiple languages (including Polish). However that is not why we went up there, rather it is the Chapel, and needless to say it does not disappoint. The outside gives little indication as to what awaits inside and it outstanding. You are asked not to video or photograph inside the Chapel so I have no photos to show, but every inch of the walls are covered in decorations which are brimming with history. We spent the entire day on or around the grounds. We also listened to 3 of the hourly talks that are given on the history and interior of the Chapel, and with each one new information was shared about the site so do take the oppurtunity if you can. After all that we walked down to what remains of Rosslyn Castle, and the site of those scenes in The Da Vinci Code movie.

The bridge to Rosslyn Castle


We loved it. Every minute of it. Even the way the visit started set the tone for the rest of the day. The very pleasant lady who welcomed us asked where we were from, we said Mullingar in Co Westmeath, and instead of the usual "oh, that's nice", she erupted into a flurry of excitement as the very first trip she made to Ireland was to none other than our very own Greville Arms Hotel. Soon she was off to fetch her husband to introduce to us, which again led to more stories and a very warm start to our visit. All the staff at the site are equally inviting to talk to and willing to answer whatever questions you have to ask. Don't worry, without a doubt they have heard them all. So high praise has to be given to all of them, which just wrapped the whole trip in a wonderful warm bow.

This is what welcomes you on arrival


As for the the Tiger 800 XRx on her first two-up, fully loaded road-trip... she performed brilliantly. On the roads up to Larne I had her in the rider mode, but with the sport throttle map, as the roads were relatively fast and predictable. The whole whole thing was swallowed up without a seconds thought. When we got off the ferry in Scotland it had been raining, and since I was not very familiar with the roads I stuck to the rider mode, but went with the rain throttle map to help ease me in. The softer throttle response on those flowing, but wet, coast roads made for a nice smooth ride. Once we got back onto the main roads again I switched to the road mode and riding normally. I should note that I did adjust the preload all the way out due to the load on the bike, and flicked the lever behind the headlights to take into account the effect the fully loaded setup has on the lights. But all that is accomplished in two minutes.

Our trusty companion throughout.


Coming off the main road once we were approaching the Premier Inn in Dalkeith we were back on slippy wet back roads, and fully loaded, but again the XRx was never flustered as we pushed on. We arrived at the hotel without a single ache or pain, quickly got changed, and straight out for dinner and refreshments. The hotel was also fantastic, cosy, quiet, and comfortable. Again, some great staff which meant you had nothing to worry about. Day two and travelling to Rosslyn Chapel was a 10 minute ride on country roads, so really nothing to say there. However the journey back on the final day was made interesting thanks to traffic, weather, and more traffic! Sun initially, but very heavy traffic between Edinburgh and Glasgow, but easing off beyond Edinburgh. Back on the Irish side we were met by heavy rain and traffic for the entire final leg back. It meant for slow progress home, but we were always comfortable and the Tiger is such an easy bike to ride you never felt like it was work.

Me converting the tank bag into a backpack.


Really the same could be said for the entire trip, these kind of trips are what this bike is designed to do, and it does so without effort. We arrived home, and sitting around the dinner table, not off the bike for 40mins, and we were already talking about riding to Poland and back for our next adventure. For the pillion to get off the bike and be that excited I believe speaks volumes about the whole package the Tiger offers. Now I just need to convince the boss to let me take the time off work for that one... during the summer months... hm. 

Basically the route we stuck to


Gear wise, I wore my bullet-proof Triumph H2 Sport Suit (jacket and pants) the entire time, and whatever the weather she kept me snug as a bug. I was hoping for an excuse to go and order myself the Navigator Suit, but the H2 gave me no reasons. Which just means I need to find another excuse.

Non-standard equipment on the Tiger 800 XRx; touring screen, adventure luggage pack, heated grips, LED fog lights, PDoiler, mudguard extender (from the XCx but seems to fit fine), engine bars, tank pad, and tank bag (which doubled as a really useful backpack). Everything, other then the PDoiler, are all OEM Triumph parts. They all performed exactly as they should and I am even more delighted in having made the investment.

For now I think that is everything, but as always feel free to ask questions or comment below.

Peace and keep the rubber side down