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Old 06-13-2013, 06:36 PM   #1
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Alps 2013

**UPDATE - Back home in London, day-by-day throughout the thread!**

Hello everyone - this will be my first proper ride report. My trip will be a loop starting/ending in London:
  • Lille FR - ales with Loutre
  • Luxembourg - because I've never been there
  • Ammerschwihr FR - visiting a friend at her family's vineyard
  • Annecy FR - sentimental reasons
  • Nancroix FR - to see my snowboarding haunt near Les Arcs
  • Verdon Gorge FR - Europe's 'Grand Canyon' [UPDATE: skipped]
  • Nice - because it's nice?! (and hopefully warm!) [UPDATE: skipped]
  • Monaco - because it's along the way [UPDATE: skipped]
  • Passo dello Stelvio - a cliché but has to be done [UPDATE: skipped]
  • Liechtenstein (via Switzerland) - no one ever goes there, so I want to see it with my own eyes
  • Schloss Neuschwanstein DE - another cliché but such a beautiful area
  • Flachau AT - visiting another friend and her family to see the Großglockner
  • Munich DE - visiting BMW Welt
  • Kitzingen DE - Dracula's crypt
  • Sneek NL - visiting my cousins [UPDATE: skipped]
  • Brugge BE - Lumina Domestica (ok just for the chocolatiers...)
No camping this time - B&Bing for the most part. In my experience travelling through Europe there are always villages along the way with cheap accommodation, and it's a good way to get a few hours alongside the locals in some out-of-the way places.

I will be joined by my not-so-well-travelled travelling companion/confidant/best mate Zev who is in the dubious position of riding pillion for 3,000 miles. Another reason to save the weight of camping gear x2.

Really looking forward to setting off and I hope to update daily once underway... Also to see how the gear holds up in changing weather conditions since we'll most likely experience temperatures from 5–35°C along the way. Photos/videos will be dependent on wifi access, as my data cuts off after 50mb/day when roaming outside the UK.

If anyone lives along the basic route I plotted above, let me know!

George
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Old 06-17-2013, 04:34 PM   #2
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Old 06-17-2013, 05:11 PM   #3
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Subscribed. PM sent.
Cheers for that! PM'd back.
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Old 06-20-2013, 05:35 PM   #4
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Counting down...

59 hours 27 minutes until we board the Eurotunnel carriage to Calais... so I got a bit handy and made myself a logo to mark the trip... thoughts?

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Old 06-20-2013, 08:49 PM   #5
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... so I got a bit handy and made myself a logo to mark the trip... thoughts?
Are you Bob Oblong?


Sorry, that was my first thought when I saw the logo.
The Oblongs was a bad American cartoon: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Oblongs
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Old 06-21-2013, 01:17 AM   #6
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Do you have full travel insurance as well as your E card?
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Old 06-21-2013, 04:27 AM   #7
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Are you Bob Oblong?


Sorry, that was my first thought when I saw the logo.
The Oblongs was a bad American cartoon: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Oblongs
Ha! First I've seen of bob oblong! Maybe I should add legs...
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Old 06-21-2013, 04:30 AM   #8
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Do you have full travel insurance as well as your E card?
Indeed - full worldwide coverage.
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Old 06-21-2013, 06:47 AM   #9
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Good luck!

Thanks for taking the time to do this trip for the rest of us as I'm quite sure that's the reasons behind most of these trips. Stay safe on your journey.

Gary "Oldone"

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Old 06-21-2013, 07:10 AM   #10
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Just a reminder that self-pump petrol stations in France usually don't take 'foreign' credit/debit cards. Cash is king and Sunday is not the day to realize that the tank is empty.

I hope the weather gets better for you. This Spring has been the absolute pits. I'm off to Lake Garda in about 10 days. Crossing my fingers.

Oh, and if you do pass through Liechtenstein, stop in at the Tourist Office and ask to have your passports stamped. Good conversation starter.
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Old 06-21-2013, 02:31 PM   #11
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Thanks for taking the time to do this trip for the rest of us as I'm quite sure that's the reasons behind most of these trips. Stay safe on your journey.

Gary "Oldone"

Grampa’s Lake Superior Ride
Grampa’s National Monument Rid
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Thanks, not long now! I've done much of this journey by car years ago so am looking forward to reliving it on the bike
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Old 06-21-2013, 02:36 PM   #12
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Just a reminder that self-pump petrol stations in France usually don't take 'foreign' credit/debit cards. Cash is king and Sunday is not the day to realize that the tank is empty.

I hope the weather gets better for you. This Spring has been the absolute pits. I'm off to Lake Garda in about 10 days. Crossing my fingers.

Oh, and if you do pass through Liechtenstein, stop in at the Tourist Office and ask to have your passports stamped. Good conversation starter.
Thanks for the note - I believe Carrefour hypermarkets will digest HSBC cards if I remember from previous trips, but the French (and Italian) pay-at-the-pump machines are notoriously difficult... Fortunately I'm only going as far as Lille on Sunday so shouldn't need to fill up and the rest of the time going into the shop/booth always seems to work.

Fingers crossed about the weather, but the Met has been predicting rain all week without consequence so hopefully my luck doesn't run out! Never thought about a passport stamp but yes must do... also in Luxembourg if I can find a human being at the open border!
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Old 06-21-2013, 03:43 PM   #13
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Milo has found himself a new space.

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Old 06-25-2013, 06:17 AM   #14
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Always hard to say goodbye

Ride safe guys! Thanks for your visit and the ale

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Old 06-26-2013, 07:30 AM   #15
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Day 1 - London to Lille

My last proper holiday was in August 2012 meaning I've been well overdue... similarly, I still had 23.5 of my 27 days of annual leave to use up before September, as we are only permitted to carry over up to 5 days and the rest will dissolve into the ether.

But the last few months have been gruelling to say the least, since March to June is the time where we have a number of statutory documents to produce and several events to coordinate. This has left me somewhat more than exhausted.

Sunday morning rolls around and of course I could hardly bring myself to get out of bed and into the shower despite the excitement of finally getting away. I eventually left at 11am which was insufficient time to make my scheduled Eurotunnel crossing at 12:30, more than 100 miles away from London in Folkestone.

Sure enough I arrive at 1:15 and the automated check-in kiosk moved me to the 1:35 shuttle. The Eurotunnel is a service I can't really fault since the tickets have a ±2 hour leeway on all bookings, recognising the fact that it simply isn't possible to foresee traffic conditions, dragging my fat arse out of bed on time etc.

On the English side you go through French passport control which is nothing more than a formality (or joke, depending on your point of view)—we weren't asked to remove our helmets, and when I was fumbling to open my tankbag for the passports he told me to forget about it and go.

And go I did, since by then I had only 5 minutes before the departure to get onto the train. I needn't have worried, however, since I waited nearly 30 minutes to get on the train, along with 2 other bikers, as one of the earlier trains had a problem in the tunnel and blocked up everything. 

Safely stopped in the train, on the side stand and in 1st gear with the front wheel against the kerb, we finally got underway just before 2pm and came out the other end 30 minutes later plus one hour for the French time change at 3:30pm.

Zev contemplates the shuttle journey.

In position, no tie-downs required. Honda ST1300 rider suspiciously kept to himself the entire journey, clearly we were too common for socialising.

Trust the Dutch to throw in a 'hoe kunt' when explaining how to get help.

Coming out the French side of the Eurotunnel you are quite literally ejected straight onto a motorway and often greeted to the wrath of North Sea winds threatening to blow you into the next lane. I had preprogrammed the route into the GPS and specified no motorways or toll roads where possible and it dutifully guided me along France's excellent N-road network toward Lille.

The N-roads are generally 90km/hr (110km/hr where they are divided with 4 lanes) and thread through all sorts of towns and villages. Taking theses routes means effectively doubling the journey time compared to slabbing it on the Autoroute (motorway). However, rather than hours of hedges and concrete barriers, the N-routes provide a scenic way to see some local culture and makes you feel more connected with the country.

We stopped to fill up in Hazelbrouck. Two bikers came racing up the road, nearly colliding into each other, then skidded to a stop and began to scream at each other. Not sure what to make of that and, judging from the faces of everyone around including the woman behind the counter in the petrol station, neither did they... Then, just as quickly, they hopped back on their bikes and tore off.

Fuel stop in Hazelbrouck, somewhere between Calais and Lille

As good a seat as any...

We arrived at Tom's around 6pm, a good two hours later than expected. Living in a traditional northeastern French building with steep and narrow circling flights of stairs, he kindly helped carry our panniers up 3 flights to his flat. We were shortly joined by two of his friends for a delicious grilled dinner and plenty of conversation over ales. We couldn't have asked for a warmer welcome to France and finally got to sleep around 2am. Thank you again Tom!

A warm arrival.


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