Former BTCC star Martyn Bell launches bespoke guided tours of Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire on iconic BMW GS bikes. DAVID HOOPER joins him for some fun on the Wolds.
ADVENTURE bike riding is an increasingly popular pastime in the UK – and if you’ve ever fancied having a go yourself, now you can, thanks to former British Touring Car star Martyn Bell’s new business based in Northern Lincolnshire.
Through www.AdventureBikeRides.co.uk Martyn is offering up to four experienced riders at a time bespoke motorcycle tours of North Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire on one of the UK’s most popular bikes, the BMW GS, made famous by Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor in their Long Way Round and Long Way Down TV series.
The intrepid trio of Steve, Jim and I, were invited to “road test” one of the tours before Martyn officially kick-started his new business adventure in July, to see how a bunch of novice off-roaders coped with the challenges of Lincolnshire’s green lanes.
The tours start from Martyn’s house at South Ferriby, on the banks of the River Humber, the UK’s largest trading estuary and the fourth largest in Europe, which offers majestic views of the Humber Bridge which, when it was built, was the largest single span suspension bridge in the world.
After getting wired up with intercoms, and having a brief familiarisation session with the GS1200s (a smaller GS800 Adventure machine is also available) we hit the road, slightly tentatively at first, getting used to our new steeds. The bikes are all fairly new and maintained in tip-top condition by Martyn, whose day job involves running a local garage business in Barrow-upon-Humber.
As Lincolnshire locals, we know the county well, but Martyn’s carefully chosen route introduced us to a few roads none of us had found before. Avoiding main roads wherever possible, we rode along the edge of Lincolnshire’s escarpment which shows the county off in its best light, with views over the plane stretching off towards Lincoln Cathedral and beyond, before reaching the picturesque byways of the Lincolnshire Wolds – yes, there really are hills in Lincolnshire, despite the rumours!
Every now and then we would turn left or right and tackle another bit of track, standing up on the bike’s foot pegs to supposedly improve balance and control. According the amiable Martyn, who fills the day with plenty of anecdotes of his time as a racing driver, we all improved noticeably during the day, but standing up on a motorcycle takes a bit of getting used to. That said, the bikes are comfortable, easy to handle and offer great manoeuvrability.
We then faced our biggest challenge – a long ford through the River Rase at Tealby – Martyn, who cut his motorsport teeth on enduro and trials riding, went first and made it look easy. Jim went next, and after a promising start, got stuck about a third of the way through. Martyn waded in to rescue him as Steve and I laughed, but then it was my turn … and after deciding that valour was the better part of discretion, the laughing stopped abruptly to be replaced by gritted teeth and concentration – and I got stuck too!
As the cool water permeated my motorcycle boots, Steve bottled it, and decided that if Jim and I couldn’t get through, he had no chance either, so having wimped out, Martyn took his bike around the edge of the ford for him.
The BMW GS bikes proved to be quite resilient, showing no ill-effects after their partial dunkings in the ford, and off we set again – for a welcome cup of tea at the popular Willingham Woods bikers’ stop where there was time for more stories and excuses for getting stuck in the river!
A few miles further on, there was another stop for afternoon tea, all included in the price, at a lovely little tea shop in the heart of the Wolds, before finally heading for home, but not without a few more excursions onto tracks where normal road bikes couldn’t go.
The whole day runs at a relaxed pace, allowing the group to take in the scenery and enjoy the ride and we all got back having thoroughly enjoyed our days out.
Martyn is happy to tailor the ride-outs to the customers’ requirements. His standard packages include the full day tour of Lincolnshire that we did, or a Breakfast Ride which takes you over the Humber Bridge to another famous bikers’ café at Fridaythorpe where you can indulge in a full English, or just have a cup of tea and slice of cake, again all included in the price.
So whether you’re getting back into biking, want to try your hand at adventure bike riding off road, want to put a BMW GS through its paces with a view to buying one, or just fancy a guided tour of some the prettiest scenery the country has to offer with an amiable guide who is full of fun and great stories about racing drivers and Spice Girls, here’s your chance.
Martyn said: “I just want to do something a bit different and am offering a bespoke experience on a BMW GS. I can make the day as long or as short as the customer wants, and go north or south of the river, or even incorporate a bit of both.
“All a potential client has to do is pick up the phone, and we’ll have a conversation, and sort it out from there, whatever they would like to do, I’m happy to arrange it for them.”
“I have even done a deal with a local hotel, so clients can arrange to stay over the night before, or the night after if they would like to do that.”
We all had a brilliant day and came back with big grins on our faces after our exploits, but Martyn summed it up perfectly. “I feel like I’ve met some new mates today!”
And that’s exactly what it’s all about!
A full day Adventure Bike Ride costs £295, but if four riders book a day out together, that price is discounted to £275 per person, but half-day and bespoke outings are also available.
If you would like your own Adventure Bike Ride with Martyn, give him a call to discuss your requirements on (01652) 462067, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the website at www.adventurebikerides.co.uk