A fun 4 day fang in France

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Willandkate
Posts: 1663
Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2012 8:38 pm

A fun 4 day fang in France

Post by Willandkate » Sat May 23, 2015 12:19 pm

I can’t actually believe this trip happened. Nick (Gorringo on this forum) and I had agreed to it a few weeks prior but you know the crap things that usually get in the way? Things like work, relationships, the sudden need to hoover the cat or clean the filter in the washing machine… We’ve all been there, so much so that I wonder how may trips that are “definitely happening” actually don’t?

4 days in France was the plan. All we wanted was to see some nice countryside & some twisty roads and of course eat & drink some French stuff. Apart from that, the details were a bit vague.

The ride down from Greenwich to Dover was a good start. After a bright n breezy 5am jolt out of bed, I was soon tooling down the M20 in the sunshine on my 800XC Tiger. It seemed we weren’t the only ones off on a jolly. I smelt them before I saw them and then soon passed a bunch of vintage BSA’s, Vincent’s and other old bikes that I don’t really know much about. I gave them a beep and a big thumbs up anyway. Next was a rally prepped Mini that looked very ‘Italian Job’ except it was kinda mint green. Ireland Job maybe, if it was he was going in the wrong direction! As I arrived at Dover docks I got a (I hate to say it) rare wave from a GS rider. Well, it would have been rude of Nick not to say hello wouldn’t it?!
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Safely on board (the My Ferry bike securing technique of the bikes in a proper rack is wayyyyyyy better than the P&O shite, dirty ratchet strap thing) we headed up to the café for brekkie. Don't worry, they don't strap the bikes to the ceiling, there's just a problem with this photo!! :ohmy:
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Over a full English we patted ourselves on the back for sticking with the plan and actually getting away for a few days. We’ve both done a fair bit of ADV riding (Nick rode the GSA from UK to China and I’m sure a lot of you have been half bored to death by the stories of my Oz to UK ride) but we both agreed that despite this, heading off to France for 4 days was still actually pretty exciting.

The sun had shone all the way across the channel and in typical ‘sods law’ fashion, the rain started the minute our tyres hit French tarmac. A friend of Nicks had offered us his living room floor at his flat in Courchavel in the French Alps. As tempting as that sounded, the weather forecast for the mountains looked pretty iffy. We decided to head in that general direction and see if the weather improved at all. We were soon busting out a few hours on the motorway. There was a really strong side wind making the riding pretty unpleasant. Add in some short, sharp rain showers and it was all getting a bit horrid. Mind you the rain had nothing on the 10 minute hail storm we had. F@ck me, that hurts at 85 mph! South of Reims we’d had enough so got off the motorway and headed cross country toward the town of Bar le Duc. Over a coffee and a quick squizz on ‘Maps.Me’ on our phones we chose the town of Langres as our final destination for the day and what a winner it was. I’d seriously recommend it to anyone heading that way. There is an interesting medieval, walled city to explore (we didn’t bother) but the best thing is the clean and decent campground (12 Euros for 1 site they allowed us to share) which is literally 2 minutes walk from all the bars and restaurants.
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Doesn’t Austin Vince say that everything you take on an adventure must have at least 2 uses? Not just a headlamp protector but also a toothbrush holder!
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The wind and rain continued to thrash during the night and over breakfast we decided to dump the idea of the Alps altogether. The forecast was for solid rain and near zero temperatures which somehow didn’t appeal. So, what now? We’d seen from the previous afternoons riding that 2-2.5 hours cross country riding was about equivalent to my fingers stretched like this.
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This highly scientific measuring technique went on for the next few days and actually proved to be pretty accurate regardless of how twisty, busy, fast or slow the roads were. I guess it all just averaged out but it worked well and that was enough for us. We decided to head south west so picked a little town about the ‘magic finger stretch’ away and set both GPS’s to ‘shortest route’. Nick has a Garmin Montana and I have a basic Tom Tom. We certainly had some fun over the next few days as these 2 electronic gizmos gave totally conflicting opinions on which way to go and how long it would take to get there.

The weather was still a bit iffy. One minute it was pissing down, the next the sun was blazing, turning the black asphalt into a steaming river that looked more like something from deepest darkest Africa than’ boring old France’. We decided to let Nick lead, forcing me to stay behind him and not race off. It was working well until we came to a sign declaring 7km of bendy road through some pine forest. I couldn’t resist and knocking the XC down a couple of cogs, sped past Nick, loving the sound of my fantastic triple engine as I thrashed the bike just like it’s been designed to be ridden. I thought I’d made some decent ground so pulled over to get a photo of Nick as he passed. I only just had time to get my gloves off and got this pretty poor effort.
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Nick rode on, assuming my Tom Tom would take the same route as his Garmin and I’d soon catch up. He was wrong. It seems the Tom Tom is a little more adventurous on the interpretation of ‘shortest route’. Whilst Nick and the Garmin cruised the ‘proper’ country roads, within minutes I was up a dead end gravel track with some farmer’s dogs letting me know I wasn’t welcome. Bloody technology! We were eventually reunited an hour or so later and celebrated with a cheese sandwich. The last few hours riding weren’t so good. The weather turned pretty nasty and then we came across this place. Talk about bringing you back to reality
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Soggy and cold, we called it a day in the town of Ambert. On the way into town we saw this old thing. Any ideas what it is? &*%^ing I phone :angry:
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And this little beauty for all you train buffs
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A couple of beers and a cheap, delicious steak frites cheered our spirits so much so that by 9.30 we were off to bed, talk about rock n roll lifestyle! How can it be that even with a minus 5 rated sleeping bag, long johns, socks, t shirt, fleece and hat I barely kept warm? Something’s not right there is it?

The sun was out in the morning (just) and after coffee & croissant we headed on westward.
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No peak on your helmet? Call you self and ADV rider?!
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A few weeks back I’d discovered a fantastic road from Issoire, up and over the mountain via Mont Dore down to Clermont Ferrand. It’s a real cracker. It’s a bit rough n bumpy until you come to the gate where they can shut the road if the snow is too deep. At this point the tar becomes sublimely smooth, the armco barrier starts and the whole thing resembles a race track. Happy days! Sorry, no photos. Either take my word for it that’s its lovely or better still, get yourself down there, I promise you won’t be disappointed. We celebrated with a couple of mega strong coffees in Mont Dore before pushing on.
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The road now opened out and wound its way through the Auvergne volcano region. We got pinged by a camera on one particularly fun n fast section. I really hope we never see the tickets but if we do the fine may actually relieve the French Governments financial woes as we were going a tad over the limit. Now it was time to head north. We didn’t want to do any more motorway riding on the trip so compromised on the faster, straighter, boring N roads as the fun stuff just didn’t get us anywhere fast enough. After popping in to see my sister who was on holiday in the area we rode on north, finally ending up at Sancerre. It was 18 degrees and sunny as we set up our camp on the banks of the Loire river.

Hey Austin, its not just a spot light, its also a handy place to clip your washing line (please ignore the not so rufty tufty scrunchy. I could say it was Nicks but that would be a lie….)
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It seemed rude not to sample some of the local wine over dinner. It wasn’t the best but the surroundings more than made up for it.
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The next morning, feeling a little cloudy, we paid the price for the plonk. The weather was lovely, the roads not too shabby and all was good with the world, except in my hangover haze, I hadn’t really paid attention to my fuel gauge and I was rapidly running out of fuel. To me, the tank on the XC is just too small for a true ADV bike. The consumption rate is fine (about 6 litres/KM) but it just doesn’t carry enough. To be frank, unless you’re riding like a bit of a pussy, the range is only about 150 miles. Rural France isn’t exactly Outer Mongolia but we did have to hunt out fuel, limping into a service station with only 13km more range according to the naff on board computer on the Triumph.

Another lovely little town with no petrol station…
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Now we were running out of time so agreed to hit the Autoroute once again, that was if we could ever get out of the city of Orleans. I think I counted 28,000 sets of traffic lights and we got stuck at 27,999 of them. Finally we escaped and just as I cranked the triple round towards 10,000 revs onto the motorway, my Ipod played “Ain’t no stopping us now” – Cheesy I know, but it felt good to me!

After an hour or so, we were getting around Paris pretty well on the motorway until our GPS’s decided to have a bit of a laugh. It’s what we’ve decided was a mutiny caused by being pissed off because we’d ignored them so many times over the last few days. It was a rare occasion that they agreed on something but both directed us off the motorway, down a slip road and to a set off traffic lights. According to Tom Tom we should go left, Garmin said right. Great! Right just didn’t feel ‘right’ so we voted for Tom. Garmin soon joined the party and the ‘oh so clever’ gadgets led us along the banks of the River Seine which was actually quite good fun. We cruised through an area that according to the signs is twinned with Hackney in London. There wasn’t a hipster in sight so I guess the criteria for the twinning was that they are both a bit shitty? Finally after pissing off a few Parsienne bikers by blocking their way with our massive panniers we got back onto the motorway. The cross city route had been fun and now the motorway felt really really boring. I though, had plenty to keep me focussed. As we’d entered the peage section there was a sign saying next fuel 51km. My poxy computer said my range was 62km, gulp... After nearly an hour of fretting I rolled up to the pump with less than 10km range. Twice in one day! The GSA looked smugly on, its gauge for its big burly tank just past the halfway point…..

More motorway, more cheese sandwiches, a boat and the M2 and hey presto, here I am sitting on my sofa. Nick had the delights of a Friday night on the M25 to get himself safely home to near St Albans. What a great 4 days it was. We both felt pretty shattered. A combo of a fair bit of riding (about 1200 miles I think), sleeping badly in a tent and being cold n blown about on the bikes I guess. But that's what it's all about isn't it? The logistics of getting over to France is so simple and the rewards so great. There are literally thousands of miles of great, empty roads and when you do come across a car or truck, they are driven by biker friendly drivers. All 3 camp sites let us pay for 1 pitch for 2 bikes and 2 tents. They were all about 12 euros each. Food and beer was cheap and pretty good. And apart from nearly running out of fuel twice, you can’t really go wrong! Vivre la petrol! Cheers
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Our biggest ride - Australia to England

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WillandKatesmateDan
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Sep 27, 2013 6:38 pm

Re: A fun 4 day fang in France

Post by WillandKatesmateDan » Mon May 25, 2015 8:10 pm

Nice job Will.
As for the pop quiz, it's an upside down rusty motorcycle and i-phones would appear to suck.
Samsung B1200 ftw, etc.

:)

Flintlock
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Re: A fun 4 day fang in France

Post by Flintlock » Mon May 25, 2015 10:47 pm

Enjoyed that,

Thanks

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Freeloadeur
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Re: A fun 4 day fang in France

Post by Freeloadeur » Tue May 26, 2015 9:12 pm

I think it's a Motobecane, there's one on eBay that looks quite similar, although the right way up.

I don't know why more people don't go to France instead of through it, the food's good, the roads are great and the weather's usually ok. You could spend years just riding in France and never ride the same road twice.
Happiness has 125cc ...

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