“In 2014, Greg Villalobos challenged himself to riding his KTM 450EXC from northern England to Buckingham Palace in London and back via as many BOATs (Byways Open to Traffic) as possible, a mini dirtbike adventure in his own back yard. No map. No GPS. No backup. He relied solely on Facebook and the generosity of strangers to pass him from county to county on his cross-country relay, through some of the UK’s most spectacular scenery. ”
The reason for this post is that I received a really nice email from the chap in England who made the video, with an interesting story to tell and a well put together video to tell it. Thank you Greg!
I love the Riders and Racers film you just posted, it reminded me to download the Motonomad film. It also reminded me to get in touch and let you know about a little KTM adventure over here in the UK, albeit on a slightly smaller scale.
Dirt bikes are quite healthy business in England, there’s loads of MX tracks scattered around the place. They are also used a lot for trail riding, or Green Laning as we like to call it, using a 6000 mile network of unsurfaced ancient roads that criss cross the country.
If I was sat across from you in a pub with a pint in hand I’d tell you the full story, but the short version goes something like this…
England and Wales have 208,250 miles of road, 115,000 miles of bridleways and footpaths, and just 6,000 miles of Byways Open To Traffic (BOATs or Green Lanes). These Green Lanes are gradually getting closed down as councils restrict access to vehicles, the fear being that there will come a point in the not too distant future where legal trail riding will essentially become impossible. Unlike Canada or Australia, our countryside is tiny and populated, dirt bikes being all too often an unwelcome guest.
Earlier this year, with an unexpected 2 week break, I decided to see if I could ride from the north of England to Buckingham Palace and back on my KTM 450EXC, using as many Green Lanes as possible. I would have used a more sensible bike if I had one, but I didn’t so the KTM it was. How it would hold up to it’s 15 hour service intervals I had no idea. I also had no maps, no GPS and no back up vehicle, just me and the bike.
Normally when you go Green Laning you meticulously plan the route, finding the lanes on maps then transfer to your GPS to follow whilst on the road. Not this time. Instead I relied entirely on the kindness of trail riding strangers to guide me through their patch. I put the word out using Facebook and Forums and hit the road with a gut full of ‘what’s the worst that could happen’…? The resulting 2000 miles became the Green Lane Relay.
I figured it might be something that you and your readers might be interested in. I toyed with the idea of taking my DSLR but in the end it wouldn’t fit in the panniers so there’s no super slow mo soft focus, but it’s fairly honest and hopefully gets across some of the beauty and hospitality that England has to offer.
I just screened it at The Motorcycle Film Festival in NYC. If you don’t know about this festival you should! A good excuse to hang out with bikes and films in Brooklyn.
All the best