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Old 07-16-2008, 11:30 PM   #1
MikeO OP
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16th July 2008

I have a disturbed night's sleep, but feel well rested when I get up at 0800. It's a bright and sunny day and the Adv is almost completely packed & ready for the off...



My next door neighbour takes a quick snap of me and I'm off - via Tesco to fill up with Super Unleaded and put a little air in both tyres. I am on the road to Peter's place near King's Lynn at about 1000...



Peter is just about ready to roll. We're heading for the Channel Tunnel and are booked on a train at about 1850 tonight - we're hoping to get there early and perhaps get an earlier train - we're expecting this to cost extra...



We're soon off and heading through a series of minor roads heading for Thetford Forest, where we intend to join the A11 and ultimately the M11.

At Barton Mills we stop for a cuppa and a bacon roll (for Peter) and a cheeseburger (for me)...



Is nothing sacred?



We're soon heading down the A11 towards the M11...



Peter & I are both Class One motorcyclists and we pass the time by "riding escort"...



...a technique we both used in a previous life. It involves riding in close formation with the other rider, the leader effectively taking decisions for both bikes. It's a technique that allows you to get from A to B very rapidly, but requires a good deal of concentration by both riders - and, of course, absolute trust in each other's ability...



We cross the Thames at Dartford...



...where motorcycles avoid paying tolls...



...and, after a brief stop at Maidstone Services, where we get charged £7 for two coffees and a bottle of water , press on at fairly high speed towards Folkestone...



...where we approach the automated check-in...



...and are pleasantly surprised to find that we can catch the next available train (the 1520) at no extra charge...

We have a few minutes to wait before our train boards, so I have time to remove the waterproof liners from my jacket & trousers - it is getting quite warm, but more importantly it feels close and muggy - and I immediately feel the benefit of the added ventilation. We follow directions...



...through Customs and Passport Control - we're not stopped, nor asked to show our passports or remove our helmets. I notice that the very nice Eurotunnel people have built a shelter for motorcyclists to wait in in bad weather...



We're soon directed onto our train...



...and set off almost immediately. I programme Reims into Bettie and she gives me her first direction...



Peter has a very similar GPS to mine - but it is not being altogether cooperative, so we spend a little while giving it an attitude adjustment...



...then we spend 40 minutes or so chatting...



...before the train comes to a halt in Calais...



...and - after an unexpectedly long delay...



...we ride off into France. We stop and fill up at the Total station, then - after a comedy five minutes where neither of us can find the correct road, despite being equipped with a GPS each and having ridden here regularly - we get of the A26 and start putting some miles down. Or rather, some kilometres, as I've changed Bettie's display to metric in order to give me an 'at a glance' kilometre speed reading...



It's warm and still humid - but very comfortable with the vents in my suit all open - I drink regularly from my CamelBak...



Peter takes the lead for the first section - we're moving at about 135kph and, once again, ride in close formation - it's quite hard work, but keeps the tedium of motorway riding at bay. We stop for a coffee at an 'Aire' - a rest area...



...then I take the lead and we press south east...



...Peter overtakes and we pull into another Aire - this time to fill up with fuel - his warning light has come on at 140 miles or so...



...the speed which we're travelling at wreaks havoc with the GS's consumption - he normally doesn't get a warning light until 170 miles. We pay our 11.20 Euro Peage fee...



...and soon afterwards...



...we're pulling into the Etap hotel at Reims...



...where we've each booked a room. I have a shower, buy 10hrs internet time (to be used in the next 30 days) and upload today's pictures. At 2100 (we're now an hour later, so it's 2000 UK time) we meet up in the foyer and wander over to a local restaurant and have a very decent Spaghetti Carbonara (Peter) and Chicken Risotto (me), washed down with a bottle of Cotes du Rhone.

We get back to the hotel, agree to meet up at 0730 for breakfast and retire to our respective rooms - I try to get started on this report - but I'm knackered and turn in at 2300.

I sleep well and write the report up at 0630 - a good day, but today promises to be much more interesting...

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Old 07-17-2008, 07:14 AM   #2
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Happy riding, guys!
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Old 07-17-2008, 07:53 AM   #3
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I do so dig the spartan hotel rooms over there.

Brings back many pleasant memories. Ride on, bro.
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Old 07-17-2008, 11:00 AM   #4
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Another epic journey by Mike O. This made my day.
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Old 07-18-2008, 07:23 AM   #5
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Mike,
Ride safe. I'll be here getting greasy going through GSgal's suspension. Ummm, that did not sound right . I will be rebuilding her suspension. There, thats better.

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Old 07-18-2008, 03:12 PM   #6
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Nice Mike to see your are on the road again.
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Old 07-18-2008, 03:43 PM   #7
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Nice pics and ride. I'm off sports touring in France for a long weekend this time next week so it's exciting me. It'll be the fourth year in a row.

To make the relentless miles of autoroute more interesting me and my riding buddy used the same technique heading back from Burdundy last year. The standard of driving on the autoroutes always seems to be better than on the motorways in the UK (perhaps it's just because there's less of it) but we found that two bikes riding close together must look similar to the French traffic police who always seem to ride in pairs as you see the headlights approaching in your mirrors.

The hotel you're staying in looks like it does the job but I'd rather find somewhere small and local to get a bit of the French feel. Each to their own of course though.

*clicks subscribe*

Ride safe and enjoy the rest of the trip.
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Old 07-18-2008, 04:53 PM   #8
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Harvesters, Hilltops & Heat...

17th July 2008

I awake to a bright, but overcast day. It has rained during the night and, as I join Peter for a lacklustre breakfast of cereal, coffee & bread, a light shower of rain falls. To be on the safe side, I put the waterproof liner into my trousers, but decide to leave the liner out of my jacket, as it only takes a minute or so to stop and fit it if the weather turns worse.

We're soon programming Bettie and Peter's anonymous GPS with a route which will take us towards the Claremont area - our original plan to head for some of the alpine passes on the Swiss border has been put on a weather hold...



...we're soon kitted up and it's time for a bit more escort riding down the Peage...



In no time we're at the toll plaza near Troyes...



...paying our 6.10 Euro fee...



...then entering the D Roads that we have been looking forward to riding...



When riding through villages & towns we are meticulous about adhering to speed limits...



Out of town - less so...



It is turning into a beautiful morning...



...with no sign of rain now. I'm pleased with my new riding outfit - even with the goretex liner fitted it's cool & comfortable...



After a couple of hours, we decide to stop for some coffee...



...and watch the world cycle by...



...life's pretty tough...



We set off again, riding through fields of grain and sunflowers...



The harvest is about ready - we meet several combine harvesters being escorted along these little roads...



I take the lead for a while...



...and slow to take a turn in a small town. I check my mirror and Peter's not there. I'm not concerned - I last saw him a couple of minutes ago - but as I wait, I begin to wonder what has happened. I retrace my steps to where I saw him last, but cannot find him...


My mobile phone rings, but by the time I've got it out of my pocket, it has stopped - it has Peter's number on caller ID - I try to call voicemail but it is temporarily unavailable. No matter - I press on towards our lunchtime target...



...the hilltop town of Vezelay...



...and find Peter waiting outside a restaurant. He'd missed which way I'd turned at a T junction, guessed the wrong option and had been trying to catch me up - as we chat I access my voicemail and retrieve his message...



We sit on the terrace and enjoy a splendid lunch...



We kit up and, with a goodbye wave from our waiter...



...head on south...



It's getting very warm now, but so long as we keep moving it's comfortable...



We have a very fast run through about fifteen miles of very bendy forest lined road, before stopping for some coffee from Peter's flask...



We check the map and come up with the plan to stop for the evening somewhere near Moulins...



I take the lead and we head south, eventually stopping in the small village of Fours...



...where we have an ice-cream and I buy a uniquely named bottle of wine...



Moulins is an hour or so away and I'm definitely in the mood for a shower and a change of clothes - Peter takes the lead...



...once again, we get a bit of a shuffle on - the windspeed helping to cool me down - the day has turned hot and humid...



A couple of miles north of Moulins, Peter suddenly takes a right turn and we join an N Road towards Vichy. It turns out that Peter has seen a signpost to an hotel, but that we've turned the wrong way. We're now committed to riding into Vichy - a reasonably large town, on a hot afternoon during 'le rush heur'. We stop at a village to use the ATM and I snap a beautiful old church...



We're soon mired in a nightmare of stop/go traffic - no opportunity to filter and both the Adv and I are feeling the heat. There seems to be a new plan at each stoplight and I am aware I am not dealing with the situation with the best of humour. We pull into a Campanile hotel, to be told their room rate is 75 Euros. Campaniles are not top quality hotels and this rate is, frankly, laughably high.

So we laugh. And leave.

The search is on for a hotel before I disappear in a puddle of sweat - we stop at a little place just south east of Vichy - clearly marked "Hotel" - they tell me they're only a restaurant...

Eventually Peter does a search on the GPS and finds a Logis de France hotel in the centre of Saint Yorre...



...we arrive at about 1830 - two hours after I was hoping to be stopped...



I stay in the shower for a long time - drink lots of water, take a headache tablet and after half an hour feel much better. Peter & I meet for dinner...



The dishes are small, but perfectly formed...



We drink a bottle of Burgundy...



...have some pud - then we repair to the hotel and open the bottle of Beaujolais I bought earlier. Inexplicably, this also disappears, so Peter has the bright idea of buying another bottle.

We are reviewing today's pictures on my laptop, when, in a fairly casual motion, I manage to spill an entire glass of wine over the keyboard...

No amount of mopping up, switching it off or disconnecting the battery will help - it's buggered...

Thank goodness for all risks laptop insurance...

We both have Jesse panniers - if you have room, you have to fill it, right?

I am typing this using Peter's laptop...

It's pretty obvious that it's time we turned in - we return to our respective rooms and I fall asleep as my head touches the pillow...

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Old 07-19-2008, 12:30 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Happnin


I do so dig the spartan hotel rooms over there.

Brings back many pleasant memories. Ride on, bro.

ah yes, i remember that hotel very well. Etap, the bikers choice for cheep euro hotel!

i noticed you elected to go with the luxury suite that includes the chair with metal legs instead of plastic. very posh!

this was taken two weeks ago somewhere outside of Nancy.


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Old 07-19-2008, 01:25 AM   #10
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Great report- almost makes me wish I was in Europe. I'm a liar I do wish I was there! Great photos too and the best description I've read of how to tkae the tunnel train.
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Old 07-19-2008, 04:05 AM   #11
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Another great day. Thanks. If you get the chance the D944/D27 from Avallon, Lormes, Montigny, Chateau-Chinon-Ville, Luzy is an amazing stretch of road. That said there's no lack of great roads in the Morvan.
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Old 07-23-2008, 04:26 AM   #12
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Chateaus, Aeroplanes & Gorges...

18th July 2008

I wake feeling a little thick-headed - I open up my laptop and see if it will boot up - an act of pure optimism - it's toast...

Never mind - I meet Peter for breakfast and feel much restored after a couple of cups of coffee. We're packed and on the road, leaving the Auberge Bourbonnaise behind by 0830...



We have resolved to take it a bit easier on the speed front today...



...so we have a fairly sedate ride through a couple of small hillside villages, which are dotted with buildings from at least 500 years ago...



We ride along the top of a ridge and can see distance-blued hills on the horizon...



We meander through some very small D Roads, stopping to take pics of a small chateau...



...then get onto a fast section of road full of wide sweeping bends...



Our resolve to stay slow falters and then fails completely...



The weather is perfect, the road surface good, there is no traffic to speak of - we make rapid progress...



After half an hour or so, we stop for a coffee and water...



...I decide against sugar...



Peter has just (literally the day we left) picked up a new digital camera - with which several of the next few days' pics are taken...



With Leica optics, great resolution, simple controls and a huge viewing screen, I am going to look at it very closely when my S80 comes to the end of its natural life. This event comes a little nearer as I drop my camera off the table...

Refreshed, we head off south...



...and are joined for a while by a Dutch couple on a 1200GT...



...who stay with us for some of the overtakes...



...and eventually pass us when we stop to take some pics...



We turn off the main road some while after Chaise du Dieu and start getting back into the twisties...



Always time for a pic of an old barn, though...



...or of course, of any aeroplane I see...



This is a Fouga Magister - a French trainer - made famous by the French Air Force Aerobatic Team - the Patrouille de France - they fly Alpha Jets these days...



It's hot, so we stop for an early lunch...



...which comprises salmon quiche (which I suppose finally answers the question as to whether Peter & I are real men or not) and a ham & cheese baguette - the end of which is so hard it could be used as a weapon...



We sit and watch le Monde go by for a bit...



...then suit up & press south...



...towards Mende...



...and the Gorges du Tarn...



...a spectacular route...



...where we pull in at Les Detroits and get a room each for €38...



It's cheap and cheerful - I'm amazed to find that there is high speed internet available...



France really seems to have coverage sorted out - we find Wi-Fi and mobile phone coverage just about everywhere - even way out in the sticks...



Steak & frîtes, followed by a couple of quiet beers finish the evening...





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Old 07-23-2008, 07:18 AM   #13
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Nice report, cool pictures too!

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Old 07-23-2008, 08:30 AM   #14
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Gorges, Viaducts & Duck Liver...

19th July 2008



A beautiful morning - after a quick breakfast Peter & I continue down the Gorges du Tarn towards Millau...



...the day is already warm, although it's pleasantly cool in the long shadows...



It's a spectacular ride...



...I thoroughly recommend you try it...



We stop in Millau to do some essential shopping...



It's a nice little town - quite busy on this warm Saturday morning...



We quickly find what we need , then head out towards what Millau has become famous for...



...the breathtaking viaduct - designed by a Brit...

Then it's off up some more gorges - this time we're heading towards Veyreau...



Progress is slow to begin with -- this road has recently been gravelled and the shadows hide all sorts of nasties...



...but as we start climbing north east, we are on ungravelled (albeit sometimes poorly surfaced) roads which coil up into the hills...



Pretty soon it's lunchtime - we stop in Veyreau...



...park right outside the restaurant...



...where the lovely Theresa...



...brings us a Roquefort & walnut salad.





Onward.



It's warm now, and Peter & I agree that we'll stop earlier today...



...then plan to be on the road early in the morning - before the weekend motorists are about and before the heat of the day...



We ride quite quickly...



...keeping cool is possible so long as you either have airflow, or if you are in shade...



...or, of course, if you are bright enough to get off your bike and jump in the river...



Our speed drops off as the temperature increases...



...despite the roads improving no end...



...because the tar is starting to melt - and that makes it very slippery.

We stop for something to drink at a scruffy little Auberge in Concoules and decide to stop for the day.



That evening we eat the local delicacy - duck's liver...



Good day

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Old 07-23-2008, 08:37 AM   #15
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Nice pictures, those roads look amazing.
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