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‘Travelling gives me a sense of freedom’
Cherril Watkins, WI Adviser and member of Cradley WI, Herefordshire Federation, found a new lease of life by travelling Europe on a motorbike
When I think about it, the fact that I’ve ridden 55,000 miles in four years seems pretty ridiculous. My other half, Dave, drives our Triumph Explorer 1200 motorbike and I sit on the back, very happy to ride pillion. We’ve been to Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and all around Britain. I can honestly say I have seen more countries in the last four years than in the previous five.
We used to ride a lot 13 years ago, but it fell by the wayside, and then a little over four years ago I was diagnosed with cancer. It was caught early and I’m all right now, but it changed my attitude to life and I just felt I needed to do something different. Some friends let us take their old bike out for a spin and we ended up riding 400 miles – that’s when we became smitten once again.
My friends think I’m crazy but I love sitting on the back of the bike. It’s the sense of freedom we get – watching the scenery and the clouds, you see everything in more detail. We’ve never fallen off and I’m never scared because I have complete confidence in Dave. But it can get quite daunting sitting next to a huge lorry on a motorway or speeding around the Nürburgring Grand Prix racetrack in Germany.
I’ll never forget going up the Grossglockner, the highest mountain in Austria – it’s 3,798m above sea level, snow-capped even in summer, and it’s like standing on the top of the world. The roads are full of twists and turns – a biker’s paradise. We have protective gear and heated clothing so we ride in all weathers. Rain doesn’t stop us and I love the different seasons.
In Normandy, I finally saw the Bayeux Tapestry after all those years of learning about it in school. We also visited the battlefields of the Somme for the 100th anniversary of the First World War, which was really thought-provoking.
Even though I’ve been very lucky, I’m acutely aware that time ticks by. In my WI our members have had quite a lot of illness, including cancer, but everybody pulls together because that’s what the WI is about: support and friendship. It’s just the same within the biking community.