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Old 07-29-2008, 03:32 PM   #1
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Four days sports touring in France. Or not...

I'd been looking forward to the trip for a few months. I'd had no time off work since February and being the fourth year in a row that we'd made the trip we knew what to expect. Good weather, some bad weather too probably, good food, and some bad and of course mile after mile (well kilometer after kilometer) of amazing roads.

Here are some shots from last year:







Me and my fiancee recently bought a Garmin Nuvi 250 to use in the car. I fitted a RAM mount to the clutch lever bracket and tapped a supply off the rear light feed the weekend before the trip. I was really impressed with how easily it all fitted and how handy the GPS was. More on this later...





Charlie had made some odd noises about the trip the night before we were due to leave. He hadn't ridden the bike for a few weeks and had a strange intuition that he shouldn't go on the trip. The morning of the trip he took his bike to the garage to be serviced, then he went quiet...

I was due to leave work in London at 5.30 to head down to the Eurotunnel. I got the call at 5.20. He had decided that he "didn't want to be on the bike and wanted to be in a field full of long grass and away from people right now". Yeah, I'm not sure either.

I had very little time to figure out what to do. I hate traveling solo but had been looking forward to the trip for ages.Time to make a decision fast, to France or not to France...
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Old 07-29-2008, 04:02 PM   #2
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After some thought I was determined to make it to France whether he was coming or not. I shut down my computer, left the office and loaded up in the parking lot. More second thoughts, I really hate too much of my own company.

I sped out of London, and was quickly heading down towards the tunnel. The traffic was bad but I was determined to get there fast. I did. Arriving early (something I never do!) meant a wait of an hour or so at the terminal but the weather was good and I had something to eat.

We boarded the tunnel train on time and were heading to France. There was no turning back now.


Heading towards the train. Bikes always go last which means you've got to ride the length of the quarter mile train when you arrive at the other side of the channel.


Waiting to board. The first door has a ram up to the upper deck the second the lower deck. Bikes and tall vehicles always go on the lower deck.


Inside the train. Everyone waits in there cars as the crossing is only 30 mins or so. Bikes are parked on the side stand and in first gear against the small curb.

As we crossed I changed my clocks to French time and changed the bike's digital speedo into km/h. Then I dialed in the location of tonight's hotel into the GPS.

We rolled off the ferry and I rode dull major roads down to the hotel in Lens. I passed the last of the English cars who'd been on the train and made good progress. The night air was warm but every now and again I hit a pocket of really cold air, weird. I arrived at midnight after losing an hour in the clock change. Exhausted I went to bed.
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Old 07-29-2008, 04:39 PM   #3
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I woke up (early by my standards) at 8am and went to the hotel restaurant for a typically French breakfast of breads and a bowl sized cup of black coffee. Just what the doctor ordered!

Not long after I was all loaded up and ready to go.



As I got a few miles down the road I saw a large monument I'd seen
before on top of a hill nearby.


This photo not taken by me

A few miles further down the road I
saw the sign to the "Memorial Canadien" and decided to take a look.



The whole area was surrounded in trenches and off-limits areas with
unexploded ordinance this high ground (Vimy Ridge) had been fought for
fiercely in the First World War.



I stopped to take a walk in one of the graveyard. It was beautifully
kept and felt very calm and peaceful. It's amazing that each grave has
a story of its own. Each of these men fighting for the allied forces
and protecting the World we know today. The unnamed graves were pretty
moving.








UK Jimbo screwed with this post 08-08-2008 at 09:58 AM
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Old 08-08-2008, 10:34 AM   #4
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Time to get this thread rolling again. Perhaps with more pictures and less words.

I headed South on dull autoroutes to Troyes and then started taking slightly smaller major D roads. I tried my hand at some on board photography.







At about 13:30 I pulled in to have a "pit stop". These consist of liquid out, liquid in and a cereal bar.



It was really warm now and I was still in full leathers. 27 degrees or so.

I spotted some "nodding donkeys" in the distance and went off to investigate.





I didn't think there was any oil in France but the sign seemed to suggest I was wrong.



managed to snap another nice shot of the bike



Back on the road again, nice fast roads, pretty quiet and getting better by the minute.

Somewhere near the Champagne region



I pulled in again and found a canal the other side of the little wood





I took a few moments to plan the next steps of my route



and to take a cheesy photo of myself



I stopped for lunch a little after this and decided that I was going to stay in the Morvan that night. I called a hotel I know in a little village there. Hotel du Nord in Brassy http://www.morvan-hotel-du-nord.com/. A nice little family run place with good food.

I rode on and enjoyed one of my favourite roads (the D944 South from Tonnerre) without taking too many photos. Got down to Brassy for 5pm or so, checked in and chilled out.

Gotta dig the decor



The view out of the window. Rush hour in Brassy.



I headed downstairs with my book (Long Way Down - Boorman/McGregor) as a national news crew were setting up. They were interviewing a local guy who'd won a national kayaking competition.

Just as they started the interview the church bell ringers started practicing and totally drowned out their audio. Everyone was laughing their heads off.



Then it was time for dinner and early bed. Mmmm.



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Old 08-08-2008, 01:48 PM   #5
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Nice pics mate. Any google map info later in You post? Cheers!
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Old 08-08-2008, 04:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by egret
Nice pics mate. Any google map info later in You post? Cheers!
Thanks. Yes, I had a spot GPS unit running while I was out there and will put the GPX file and a map up later :)
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Old 08-16-2008, 10:58 AM   #7
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Over breakfast the next morning I asked about a room for the night. As it was Saturday they had nothing, a shame as I fancied the idea of hanging around in the Morvan for the day (or possibly two). Instead I finished breakfast, loaded up the bike and set my sights on the Vosges Mountains.

The first part of the trip was on local roads in the beautiful forests there:







I wish I'd taken more photos of them.

From there I headed out of the woods and towards Dijon. At one point I looked right and realised I was on a big escarpment with an amazing view:





After some road closures (the GPS helped me out here) I hopped on the major road into Dijon and went round the inner bypass road. I chatted (in my bad French again) with a guy on an SV650.

From there I was on large, fast roads towards Vesoul.



Check out the monster bug splat on the screen in that photo above. It hit just out of shot and splatted up and all over the screen and my visor.

It was starting to get hot again. I stopped at a really point in the road where it seemed to be going through a timber yard. The photos don't show it off well enough but there were buildings and yard on either side, the road seemed like it had just been ploughed through there afterwards.



After a quick stop I got going again to find that the timber yard was on the outskirts of Gray. Gray is built around a river and has an amazing bridge crossing it.



From there I headed towards Gy and the GPS got ill and took me down some little roads. Very nice little roads though, I stopped in the shade again and watered the countryside.







It was really hot again today and I was sweating it out on the bike. I pushed on, stopping for lunch and ever closer to the Vosges.

It wasn't long before I saw the (not that big) mountains ahead, but it looked the weather was bad there. Given how it was where I was and the temperature I didn't think it could be that bad. I stopped for fuel in the last town on the flat and still couldn't bring myself to put on my waterproofs, it would be way too hot.

I filled up and drove on. There was definitely a storm ahead. The sky was dark, suddenly the temperature dropped by something silly like 5 degrees C, the wind picked up and I knew I was in for trouble.

Sod it. I was a mini adventure, a bit of rain wasn't going to stop me. Time to ride on and into the storm, fuck you mother nature!

I rode on, it was cold and wet. I stopped. OK mother nature, you win. I parked up and stood in the doorway to a barn and watched the mad weather.





I went round the back of the barn to have a pee. When I got back to where I'd been there was another guy there who was riding an Africa Twin. He shook my hand (normal in France when you meet) before I could explain that I'd just taken a leak. Never mind!

We chatted in my crap French, made some jokes about British bikers being used to this. Then another chap with his daughter pulled up on an old CBR1000.



We waited it out a bit and then I took off, it wasn't far to my destination in La Bresse.

I got there, rather wet and checked into Hotel La Poste (had stayed there before too). I was very happy to have a nice warm hotel room and started to check out my photos and onboard vid I'd shot on the camera. "Card format error"

Bugger, the camera had corrupted the memory card. Thankfully I managed to recover most of the photos when I got back using clever software but for the rest of the trip I just took photos on my N95 phone.

I had a nice dinner and settled down for the night.
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Old 08-16-2008, 11:51 AM   #8
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Awesome ride, report and pics!! thanks for the tribute shown to fallen Canadian soldiers.. the flower of a generation is buried at Vimy Ridge

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Old 08-16-2008, 12:24 PM   #9
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This is top-notch stuff!
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Old 08-16-2008, 03:07 PM   #10
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Really enjoyed reading through this...more than once, LOL. Thanks.
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Old 08-16-2008, 03:54 PM   #11
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Thanks for the kind words guys. It's great to have some feedback for my first RR :)
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Old 08-16-2008, 04:04 PM   #12
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Sunday. I decided to take a rest day in and around La Bresse. It's a nice little town deep in a valley.



I got up and headed out but was getting rained on within a few minutes. I turned around and hid bravely in my hotel room for a bit longer.

Then I headed up the valley and saw a sign to a lake to went to check it out. It was beautiful, just what I was looking for. I spent a few hours here reading my book and enjoying the sunshine.



This crappy pic from my phone doesn't do it justice.

When I got bored of that I climbed up out of the valley, these were nice little roads but not ideal for the sports bike.





I then came out of the trees at the top of the ridge. Some of this area is ski field in the winter.





That was pretty much my day, I narrowly avoided a storm on the way back to the town and took it easy that evening.

The next day I'd have to ride the 500 or so miles back home...
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Old 08-16-2008, 04:12 PM   #13
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Wicked

Just fantastic!
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Old 08-16-2008, 04:18 PM   #14
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Monday came and it was time to ride home.

I made an early start and climbed out of the valley.



From there I took fast major roads, because I was pushing on and didn't have the camera working any more I didn't take any onboard shots.

Here are some from a late morning stop, I'd been trying to get some shots of sunflowers the whole trip but every time I found a field of them and somewhere to stop they were pointing in the other direction!







I figured by then that I was only three hours or so from the tunnel if I took the autoroute and I could get back early and surprise my lovely fiancée.



I steamed back and got back home into London for about 6pm.
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Old 08-16-2008, 04:27 PM   #15
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GPX file attached. You should be able to load this into your mapping app or for a quick look just upload it to www.gpsvisualizer.com
Attached Files
File Type: gpx spot_messages.gpx (20.9 KB, 89 views)
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