July 6, 2013 at 11:42 pm #15095
Days 1/2 – Wide loads, Chinese laundries, Batman and Robin and a Tapas bar…
To be honest this run had sort of dropped out my thoughts; mentally it seemed to be weeks away. Then I checked the calendar only to realise that the off was in fact only a few days away! Funny how life can creep up on you like that sometimes isn't it?
Things didn't get off to a great start – I rode from my house to Ses's, a whole 2.5 miles and promptly got soaked. It started to rain as I pulled away from my house and stopped again as soon as I arrived at Ses's…grrrr….
Thankfully the weather soon improved and Champs rolled up on his beloved ZX6R to join the proceedings and support me in giggling at the huge girth of Ses's CBF now burdened with the HUGE Givi panniers that he had recently acquired for this trip. Honestly I think these maybe the widest set of luggage I have ever seen!
The run down to Portsmouth was largely uneventful, we had to re-attach the tax disc to Champ's bike, this being the peak of excitement until we got to some standing traffic and we had the amusing spectacle of watching Ses nervously threading his super wide CBF through the traffic. Every now and again he would bottle it and just stop, on one occasion he caught poor old Champs a bit unawares and he had to lock everything in order to prevent himself from planting himself in those cases too! Well held Champs! Meanwhile I was hanging back just a wee bit, crying with laughter!
Long time forum friend, and occasional poster, Speedmonster (aka Speedy) had been kind enough to offer us a rest halt as he only lives 20 miles or so from the Ferry port at Portsmouth. As we rolled up outside his place we were greeted by the sight of a bevy of fine looking ladies all dressed to impress…it was Mrs Speedy and her her crew off for a night on the town! Nice welcome Speedy…good work!
Anyway they soon cleared off and left us smelly bikers to those two great biking traditions…drinking tea and talking shit! At this point Thumper joined us on his mighty BMW GS. He had been delayed as he had to hand his homework in…well ok his Uni dissertation…Thumper late? How unusual…
Ses, Champs and Speedy at our south coast rest halt
Thumper eventually arrived having handed in his maths homework and set about inspecting Speedy's Gixxer while looking for all the world like a Tory MP inspecting a factory…”Oh most impressive, I bet that goes like the clappers…I have Mulsanne Turbo myself don't you know”
Speedy was only too happy to drag out his GSXR600 and show us the more interesting way to the port, taking in some of his favourite lanes….he was even (quite) restrained by his standards. I remember him riding his pocket rocket ZXR400…Speedy by name and Speedy nature!
The ferry itself was excellent, good cabins, decent food too laying to rest bitter memories of French pot noodles on the Normandy run back in 2011! The ferry was full of members from a variety of car clubs, all making their way to Lemans for the 24 hour race. Many were in fancy dress and as the beer flowed the high jinks started…all good fun to watch and we were treated to the somewhat surreal sight of Batman and Robin blazing through the lounge at full speed…all very odd! So we downed a couple beers and headed to our cabins to get some much needed rest. We were split into the non snoring and snoring as memories of the 'Great Assen Snore off' were all too fresh in the memories of Ses and Champs!
We docked in Caen early doors on the Saturday morning and we began the long run down to La Rochelle. To be honest it was a dull ride on dull roads in ever worsening weather…we all worried as to whether the whole week would be wet. Excitement was provided however by the Teutonic excellence and terribly clever trip computer on the BMW…despite this wonderful device declaring he had 16 miles of fuel left; Thumper rolled to the side of the road…his BMW was out of fuel! Luckily the ZX6R as piloted by Champs was the only carb fed bike on the trip. So improvising somewhat for a container we managed to drain some fuel out of the 6R and into the BMW via a drinks bottle. The simplest bike on the run saves the bacon for the techno masterpiece…somehow ironic and I doubt Thumper will skipping fuel stops anymore declaring 'Don't worry lads I have shit loads left!”
The joy of carbs as Champs comes to the rescue
Rather like checking the wine at a decent resturant a BMW rider likes to personally ensure the quality of any fuel fed to his thoroughbred machine…
Once happy with the quality in she goes…
Champs also demonstrated his new form of signalling how tired he was getting…none of this poncy flashing of headlights or waving b****cks for him…oh no…he goes for a full on warp-speed fly past before lamping on the brakes and going for the next lay-by. Good method, it certainly worked for getting attention!
Looking like a right bunch our soaked heroes show off there leather stained hands…it got much worse from here!
The weather just got worse and worse and by the time we rolled into LaRochelle we were all wet through and pretty tired. The sight of an Ibis hotel on the harbour front was really welcome and Ses was so keen to get parked up that he forgot his panniers for a moment and clipped a concrete bollard with one as we rocked up the hotel entrance – at this point you could see the words 'I AM PISSED OFF' in 10ft high flashing neon above his head. I thought it would be wise to keep my amusement to myself for the sake of own longevity! He was not a happy bunny, but no real damage was done to the panniers luckily.
Rooms were promptly sorted and quickly turned into makeshift Chinese laundries as we all attempted to dry out our sodden riding kit. There was only one thing for it, beer and food…I know that is two things, but you get the gist!
Dried out, beer in hand…smiles on faces!
So we headed into the town and the mood lifted immediately…what a fantastic place. Lovely harbour, beautiful architecture everywhere and a good choice of bars and restaurants! the town has a buzz and above all…it had stopped raining!! So a good night was had by all as the beer flowed and the food was wolfed down eagerly, even the posh pud Ses had delivered on a roof slate. That really bugs me…what is wrong with a plate or a bowl??
Enjoying LaRochelle, some of us displaying distinct lightweight tendencies…
The atmosphere in the town is superb and we enjoyed exploring the town and harbour winding up in a Tapas bar listening to traditional music while the rather attractive audience hit the dance floor right in front of us…result! By the time we got back the hotel the whole mood of the run had completely changed for the better. What a superb night!
Day 3: La Rochelle to Campan. Better roads, sun on our backs, chased by mad French women!
The sun rose and spirits too as were greeted by clear(ish) skies and our kit had nearly dried out too, albeit at the expense of an all but burned out hairdryer: I don't think you are meant them to leave them running for hours pointing at your boots! We had well over 200 miles to cover today in order to reach our 'base camp' at Campan. The pace picked up as the roads improved and got a bit more interesting. We cheated a bit by using the payage tolls roads for a bit in order to catapult ourselves south that bit quicker. At one point Thumper and I seemed to set off a speed camera as we passed a slow moving car. We thought little of it; no point crying over spilt milk, and about 40km down the road we stopped at a little cake shop come cafe in a charming village for a rest. Anyway we were happily tucking into a cakes and knocking back our Oranginas (tough cookies us bikers…), when a little Citroen C3 pulled up and out strode a very pissed off looking French lass making a beeline for us! She marched up to us declaring how she annoyed she was with us: she was the driver of the car we had passed earlier as the camera flashed. She spent the next five minutes having a go, declaring she had alerted the plod and then jumped back in her car and sped off. How odd.
A quiet little rest halt
Chilling before the crazy French lady arrived!
I thought the Millau bridge was MUCH bigger than this…
The sights were so much better today, as you work your way south France seems to blossom and get steadily prettier and more scenic. Eventually the plain came to an end and the edges of the Pyrenees, looking amusingly like the Malvern Hills at this point, came into view After over 700 miles we had reached Campan and our base for the week. Well Champs had done us proud and 'Shed2' (see the Assen review) was superb. 4 Bedrooms, huge log burner and comprehensively equipped….it even had safe electrics! Rooms were sorted with Thumper getting the Granny annexe as the senior member of the party and Champs secured his beloved mountain view. As for Campan itself it is an engaging little place with lovely old buildings and a quite stunning church set beautiful grounds to its' name. We headed to one of the two restaurants in the village and enjoyed an excellent meal washed down by a few well earned beers.
A slightly deranged looking Champs about to attack his Pizza with some vigour…don't ever piss him off!
The final act of the day was to get back to base, Champs to get the log burner going (this was to become something of an obsession for him) and chill out over a few more beers…tomorrow the mountain roads are calling us!July 7, 2013 at 8:14 am #66374katanaParticipant
Great write up – looking forward to the next instalment.
I can’t believe that you managed to find better (cheap, inexpensive and doesn’t cost much) accommodation then the original shed!July 7, 2013 at 9:55 am #66375HippoDronesParticipant
top report Don, can’t wait to read more and see your picsJuly 8, 2013 at 4:18 am #66376HippoDronesParticipant
great picsJuly 8, 2013 at 10:26 am #66377imperialdataKeymaster
Excellent as usual!July 8, 2013 at 4:06 pm #66378ses310Moderator
Excellent write up as usual, does give the overall of the first couple of days. How we never knackered the hair dryers in La Rochelle I’ll never know hahaJuly 10, 2013 at 8:21 pm #66379ThumperParticipant
Nice One Radar – and happy birthday today!July 14, 2013 at 6:41 am #66380
Nice One Radar – and happy birthday today!
Cheers and Cheers!July 14, 2013 at 1:27 pm #66381Speed MonsterParticipant
Firstly, i have to say, It’s been a while since i last read one of your post ride reports Radar mate! Oh, how i’ve missed them!
Secondly, was great to have you guys stop off for a brew or two and to shoot some shit! As per the norm though, it had been far too long since we last rode together, i am going to have to do something about that! I’m off ina couple of weeks with every intention of bringing the bike north with me….
Thirdly, Great to see you all had a great time on the continent, gutted i couldn’t come with you!! I will make it one day!!July 14, 2013 at 1:44 pm #66382ses310Moderator
Many thanks for the cuppa’s Was great to meet you, you will have to come up this way for a ride out. Northern spain next year if you fancy it?July 18, 2013 at 8:07 pm #66383
Many thanks for the cuppa’s Was great to meet you, you will have to come up this way for a ride out. Northern spain next year if you fancy it?
The Gixxer would look great with a top box!
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