|06-28-2010, 01:30 AM||#1|
Joined: Feb 2010
France 2010 - 1760 miles in 4 Days
Catching the night ferry across from Newhaven to Dieppe isn't necessarily the best prep for a long ride , but having undertaken two similar trips in 2008 and 2009, the format was by now established. Riding with old mate and racing buddy Pete, previous France trips included Pete on his Z1000, and me firstly on Fazer 1000, (fantastic bike) and last year a Daytona 955i
But this year Pete rolled the boat out, picking up a new Ducati 1198 a month or so ago, and even more recently an ER6F Kawasaki to tour, commute and use as a general hack. Therefore, Pete decided to take the ER6F, fresh form its first service, and after selling the Daytona last year, I of course took the R12S, with Kriega tail pack and small Touratec tank bag. The intention was to ride out to hotel Col Du Bussang (near to Mulhouse on the Swiss border) on Day 1, drop down to Hotel Belvedere after riding through the Mont Blanc tunnel and ride over the Col Du Petit St Bernard on Day 2, then a long haul across France to Gite La Janais between Angers and Rennes on Day 3, ending the four day tour by riding some Brittany roads and catching the 6pm ferry home from Dieppe
Day 1 - Thursday 17th June
So at 5am, we rolled off the ferry into an overcast morning in France and hit the main drag from Dieppe to Rouen. Crossing the new Pont Gustave Flaubert at Rouen, we dropped down onto the main Paris Caen Peage, exiting onto the N154 to Evreux, Dreux and Chartres, where we decided that discretion was the better part of valour and stopped for a Mac'D breakfast
On leaving Chartres we found some great switchback riding on the D22 via Ouarville, Angerville and Malesherbes to Fontainebleu, where we stopped for a coffee opposite the Fontainbleu Palace, home to Napoleon & Josephine
It was here we encountered our first downpour, but pressed on along the D66 to Sens and Troyes, great roads and sweeping countryside before stopping for a rather classy burger and chips in a restaurant in Troyes city centre. The weather started to clear after this, and approaching Chaumont, the Charles De Gaulle memorial stood out on a peak to the south, so we detoured and stopped for a quick break in the car park, (couldn't be arsed to climb up to view the memorial at close quarters)
We continued to Chaumont, stopped for fuel and at that point I realised the map had flown off some time back, so a detour to pick up maps from the tourist info centre was called for. Naturally both bikes were running like swiss watches up to this juncture, and having swapped briefly, I was very impressed with the neutral handling and smooth torquey punch from the ER6F motor. The R12S was sublime of course!
From Chaumont on we continued along the D417, and with the sun shining, we were presented with an endless switchback of a road, with a grippy surface, taking us through Bourbonne-Les-Bains, St Loup-sur-Semouse and Faucogney-et-la-mer as we headed up into the Vosges hills approaching the Col Du Bussang hotel.
The trip had taken us all day, (and part of the evening) as we finally arrived at 8.30pm to a warm welcome from Dutch owners Mark and Ida De Vries. The hospitality, complimentary first beer and food were superb, and with a secure shelter for bikes, (see photos) it was a great place to stop. Overnight stay including a ton of beers and whiskey chasers cost €89.
Day 2 - Friday 18th June
The plan was that the day was to provide an "easy" run down to Mont Blanc via to start. After a leisurely breakfast and a friendly farewell from Mark and Ida, out to the bikes and the..ahem...drizzle. This put Pete in a foul mood from the off as he hates riding in rain and will only do so under duress. He also refused point blank to bring waterproofs, so his Goretex jacket and trousers were only keeping so much water out.
After bimbling down from the Col to Cernay we took the cross country route to Altkirch, along some roads that would have been motorcycle heaven, had it not been for the rain. Pete was getting drenched, so we had little alternative other than to stop at a rather Godforsaken PMU in Altkirch. The rain continued, so to appease Pete we set off for Belfort and the E60 peage to take us inland to Besancon, and hopefully out of the rain. As we passed Besancon the rain did stop, and we were treated to a glimpse of sun as we pulled into services near to Dole on the E60. The R12S was purring away, and with my waterproofs and heated grips I was all set to resume the route originally planned for the French Alps and Hotel Belvedere above Bourg St Maurice. Pete had had enough though, so I decided to continue alone, while he headed back for the ferry at Dieppe. He did this via Troyes, Reims and Amiens, and made the 5am ferry, cold and wet on the morning of Saturday 19th June
So the lone R12S continued, blasting down the E15 to make up time toward Geneva with the Du Haut Jura providing a spectacular backdrop to the east. Making good time, I took the E6 heading east toward Geneva and the Mont Blanc tunnel, briefly stopping to chat to a guy heading to Milan on a brand new Triumph Tiger, complete with colour matched panniers etc. Approaching Mont Blanc, and the mountain was shrouded in mist and cloud, and as I approached the tunnel entrance the drizzle set in once again. Heading into the tunnel, I trundled through at 50 mph, following trucks and cars in fetid warm air.
I emerged 15 minutes or so later in brilliant sunshine and a warm Italian welcome.
Running down the mountainside, I tanked up before the final run up over the Col Du Petit St Bernard. The road was hard to find, but I eventually located the route in a pretty little place called Courmayeur
The road twisted and turned, climbing all the way and affording some pretty spectacular views.
Passing ski lodges and resorts, the road eventually climbed above the snowline until heading over the top of the pass. The pics don't really do this part of the world justice.
I noticed on the Italian side that the road was covered in names of cycle riders and teams, presumably from the Tour d'Italia. On passing the statue of St Bernard, and on the descent to Hotel Belvedere, there was only a single solitary name to be seen, presumably from a disgruntled tourist or Tour de France fan.
The road continued to descend, again through ski resorts and similar on the French side, until finally arriving at 8pm at Hotel Belvedere in thick cloud.
You'll see from the photos that motorcycles are well looked after, with a shelter at the front of the hotel and a secure lockup nearby.
Owners Dan and Nelly made me most welcome, and after a quick shower and change I came down to the restaurant to be met by a mountain of food and an "all you can eat" buffet. Not wishing to disappoint my hosts, along with many other French, Swiss, German and Danish bikers I tucked in and even cooked my own fillet steak on the hotplate provided. Fantastic. To top it all, I sat down with a German couple, Gert and Heiga to watch the 2nd half of England v Algeria. Gert was a fan of Man Utd and Rooney, but as we know, Shrek was not in the best of form that night. Turned in early after a great evening, this hotel is highly recommended, and cost all in including beers was €79
Days 3 and 4 to follow
Ducati Streetfighter - Barking, Beautiful and Bloody Fast
France 2010 - 1760 miles in 4 days
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