Author: James Oxley

The reasons to ditch your tent on your next bike tour

Motorcycling camping

Do you need to rough it to have an adventure? Some might say you do, but here at ABR we firmly believe adventure comes in many different forms. Who cares if you enjoy the feel of soft linens and a cushy mattress at the end of a long day in the saddle? It doesn’t mean you can’t get a kick out of exploring the world on two wheels.

Take the 2021 Adventure Bike Rider Festival (25-27 June, Ragley Hall, Warwickshire) as an example. While there are folks for whom the pleasure of motorcycle camping under the stars is all part of the festival experience, there will also be plenty of riders whose days of sleeping on the ground in a field are well and truly behind them (even if it is in the magnificent grounds of the Ragley Hall Estate).

Motorcycle camping at the Adventure Bike Rider Festival 2019
Motorcycle camping in the magnificent grounds of the Ragley Hall Estate during the 2019 ABR Festival 

For them, retiring to one of the many hotels and B&Bs in nearby Stratford upon Avon at the end of each day, or resting their bones in an on-site luxury tipi, bell tent, or in their own camper van, will be the icing on the cake of their festival experience.

>>Get your discounted tickets for the 2021 Adventure Bike Rider Festival HERE<<

So, while there is certainly a romance to sleeping under canvass, whether I’m at a festival or on tour, I’m happy to admit I’ve thoroughly enjoying the times I’ve packed little more than a credit card and relaxed in the comfort of a hotel at the end of each day.

With this in mind, here of four slightly tongue-in-cheek reasons to consider ditching your tent on your next bike tour:

Forget the faff

Beer toast
Head straight to the bar after a long day in the saddle

You’re hot, tired, and desperately in need of a cold beer after spending a long day in the saddle. All you want to do is collapse into a comfy chair and rest those aching limbs.

But the light is fading fast, and unless you find a final reserve of energy from within soon, you face fumbling around in the dark, fiddling with poles, pegs, and guy ropes as you erect your tent by the limp light of a headtorch. However, pack a credit card instead of a tent and you’ll be parked up, showered, and propping up the hotel bar quicker than you can say “where are the tent pegs?”

A quick getaway

Motorcycle camping at the Adventure Bike Rider Festival 2019Getting an early start to the day’s riding at the 2019 Adventure Bike Rider Festival

I’m in awe of people who can pack up their tent, wolf down a cereal bar, and leap on their bike in a matter of minutes in the mornings. Alas, I’m not one of those people to master a quick exit while motorcycle camping.

By the time I’ve boiled water for an instant coffee, made breakfast, and retrieved the contents of my panniers (that of course spilled across the tent floor in frustration while looking for something in the night), an hour or two has passed.

Then there’s the job of packing down the tent and squeezing it back into a bag that the laws of physics say it should never have fitted into in the first place. Why not wake up refreshed in a hotel room, have a quick shower, and fuel yourself for the ride ahead at the hot breakfast buffet, before getting an early start on the day’s adventure?

Explore the world’s cities

Yamaha Tracer 700 in the city
Time for some urban exploring

I used to make a point of avoiding cities on motorcycle tours. I’d strap a tent onto my bike and spend my days exploring mountain passes and pristine wilderness, safe in the knowledge a good motorcycle camping spot would never be far away. I also avoided cities because camping options were often limited, and when I did happen upon an urban campsite, they weren’t particularly pleasant.

However, on the occasions I’ve packed a credit card instead of a tent on tour, I’ve found myself spending at least a couple of nights staying in city centre hotels. I’ll park up my bike securely for the night, get changed out of my riding gear in my room, and then strike out on foot, sometimes spending hours getting under the skin of the likes of Milan, Chiang Mai, and San Sebastian.

The experience has added a new dimension to motorcycle touring for me, and my travels are the richer for it.

Don’t become a soggy mess

While I wouldn’t describe myself as a snowflake, I’ll gladly admit I get no pleasure from being wet. It’s why I’ve invested in quality riding gear that I know will keep me dry on the days on tour it doesn’t stop raining. It’s also why we’ve ensured there’ll be plenty of indoor activities going on every day at the 2021 ABR Festival for you to enjoy, just in case we don’t get to bask in the blazing sunshine of previous years.

However, when I’m on a bike tour, I don’t have the option of spending a happy hour or two inside Ragley Hall listening to fascinating stories from the likes of Elspeth Beard or Sam Manicom to dodge a rain shower.

In fact, on one trip I took, it rained solidly for so many consecutive days, I became a complete soggy mess. Everything I owned was wet, and I became so fed up, I splashed the cash on a rustic wooden cabin. What followed was a blissful night sat next to a log burner as I revelled in the simple pleasure of feeling warm and dry.

Motorcycle camping or hotel?

Motorcycle camping at the Adventure Bike Rider Festival 2019
A community of campers at the 2019 Adventure Bike Rider Festival 

So, do you need to rough it to have an adventure? Certainly not. Should you leave your tent at home on your next motorcycle tour? Well, that firmly depends on how you like to travel.

What I will say is that, whether I lay my head down under canvass, or I relax in the comfort of a hotel room at night, I’m always happy to be having an adventure on two wheels.  And, for those of you who are fans of camping, I’ll be looking at the benefits of taking a tent on your next motorcycle tour in a future feature.

Adventure Bike Rider Festival 2021 (25-27 June, Ragley Hall, Warwickshire)

Whether you choose to stay in a tent, luxury tipi, or hotel, the ABR Festival 2021 is going to be the biggest celebration of adventure motorcycling in the UK, and we’d love to see you there. You’ll be able to test ride all the new adventure and touring bikes on the market, hear from and meet the most inspiring authors, speakers, and celebrities in the world of adventure motorcycling, and ride a 20km off-road trail suitable for riders of all abilities.

These are just some of the exciting activities taking place at the festival, all set in the magnificent grounds of the Ragley Hall Estate in Warwickshire.

In fact, there’s so much going on we’ve dedicated a whole section of the ABR website to it. Find out more about the ABR Festival 2021, and get your discounted tickets, saving you £10, HERE.

COVID-19 – The Question on Everyone’s Mind

What happens if 2021’s event is cancelled because of a global pandemic?”

It’s perfectly understandable to be asking that question given everything that’s happened in 2020. We hear you loud and clear, and so we want to let you know that we’ve put in place a policy that will protect you and your cash in the instance that we have to re-arrange the Adventure Bike Rider Festival 2021 because of Coronavirus.

If that happens, we will give you the option to either roll your ticket over to the next year’s event or claim a full refund. We’re here to serve you, and that means everything we do will be with your best interests at heart.