I keep checking my mirrors. I'm not feeling relaxed on the bike at all, trying to keep everything neat and flowing… by trying so hard it feels forced and artificial. No, I'm not doing another advanced riding exam - this is far more nerve-wracking. I'm being filmed by the rider behind me.
Back when I was on RiDE, we were contacted by a Met policeman who was going off to ride around the world... on a Suzuki GSX-R1000. Of course, we followed his progress. Fast-forward a few years and now Bruce Smart – aka Teapot One – is out of the police, working full-time as a motorcycle vlogger, podcaster and – coming soon – a TV presenter. And today, he's making a vlog... with me.
We meet at a petrol station in Sudbury. We're here to ride – and film – one of the routes for the book I'm working on – the next Bikers' Britain-themed route book (due in the spring of 2022). This is the whole idea of the book: meet your mates and go for a rideout; all the routes start from petrol stations as convenient rendez-vous points, and so you can fill up before setting off. I’ve tested the route… for me. Now I’m testing it with another rider. Let’s hope Bruce likes it.
I've dabbled a bit with making videos and, frankly, it's hard work. I only have one GoPro, so if I want lots of shots, I have to keep stopping and moving it around. Then there’s the editing, which is sooooo time consuming – I just don’t have the patience for it.
I’m blown away by Bruce’s kit. There are cameras everywhere. I have mine, mounted on the crash bars on my Honda Crosstourer, but Bruce has one on his helmet, one pointing at him from the bars of his BMW R1250GS, one pointing ahead of the bike and one pointing backwards. We pair our Bluetooth headsets so we can talk, but there are separate sound recorders to capture our conversation. This is complicated stuff.
The riding is more straightforward. We’re doing the Sudbury Loop (you can find it in the Southern England section of the Daytrips page). Cross town, with a bit of traffic all the way to Long Melford… and then we’re off, rattling through Clare and Lidgate and Moulton all the way to Newmarket.
Well, I say “rattling” but we stop to do a bit of drone filming: Bruce standing by the roadside, flying the mini-helicopter camera device while I ride up and down. It’s not much different to a magazine photoshoot, though this is more about riding a nice stretch of road artificially slowly (the drone has a top speed of about 40mph so I can’t outpace it) whereas stills photography is about riding individual corners artificially quickly, to get more lean angle and make it look more exciting.
The A11/A14 seems to have been shut, with a million cars diverted through Newmarket – I’d hoped we might catch the racehorses crossing the road, which isn’t something you see anywhere else in the world – but instead it’s just a bit congested. So we stop for a coffee and cake before pressing on.
Outside Newmarket, the return leg to Sudbury is even quieter than the run up had been – there’s one short villagey stretch, another bit of road has been freshly stone-chipped, but it’s still a good ride. We do a bit more droneing, take a few more pictures. I’ve settled down and relaxed so
I’m riding more naturally. It’s great to be out sharing the route with another rider, especially chatting as we go – something I don’t normally do (except to give directions or encouragement when I’m instructing).
We get back to the Sudbury petrol station and finish off the filming. “That’s a cracking ride,” says Bruce. “Some lovely stretches of road.” He gathers up the memory cards for all the cameras. I don’t envy him: the real work starts now, stitching it all together…
And now it’s done. “It was a beast to edit,” Bruce admits. But I think it’s worth it. Have a look for yourself – and let us know which routes you’d like to see us film next in the comments.