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Thread: Pugwash Euro Tour 2018

  1. #1
    apriliaforum Junkie pugwash's Avatar
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    Pugwash Euro Tour 2018

    Well as sure as the seasons change, taxes rise and I get older it's that time of the year when I subject you all to the notion that Mrs P and I are off on our travels around Europe again.

    This year we will be spending our time mainly in France with a couple of small excursions into Italy and Monaco, different to previous years we will be traveling nearly everyday with just a few two day stopovers and this is due to the distance we are travelling and my wish to visit Monaco.

    So next Saturday we head off to Portsmouth for our overnight ferry to St Malo and then a couple of days with Mrs P's folks before heading south and loosely following the coast with stopovers in Bordeaux and Lourdes before having a play in the Pyrenees then east along the south coast of France to Menton. After soaking up the culture of the playground of the rich and famous in Monaco - no visit to the Casino planned, then we start to head North taking in some of the views along Route Napoleon and the Verdon Gorge followed by a couple of days at Sallanches to explore some more of the Alps then head for Paris where we stop next to the Eiffel Tower for a couple of nights and meet up with some of my family that I have't seen for many years (us Pugwashes get everywhere), before our final day abroad when we ride up to Rotterdam and get the overnight ferry back to Blighty.

    That all may sound simple but took me many hours to plan and work out the logistics as we are using hotels and a gite for all our accommodation and have a lot to fit in within two weeks away. The mighty capo is prepped and ready and following a shakedown run of about 2000 miles around Scotland on the recent Clan Capo trip has given me the confidence to chose it over my FJR which is now sitting on my ramp in a huge huff having been passed over.

    Last minute issues have raised themselves as always seems to happen with the current heatwave making me reconsider what we pack and the small matter of finding out 3 days ago that I actually need a Certificate of Air Quality from the wonderfully informative French authorities to take my bike within the Paris Peripherique or face significant fines should I have the audacity to ride there during daylight hours or have the cheek to want to park it! This relatively new law is one of a few passed that change how we tourists travel around France by motorbike and the Airworthy cert also applies to a few other French cities.

    Anyway certificate now applied for and have received written confirmation but await the physical windscreen sticker and should this fail to arrive before we set off I have contingency plans to send it to my relatives in Paris and collect it from them. Below is an idea of where we will be going and I hope to write another ride report when we return to give you all sometime to pursue during those boring hours at work when all you can think of is getting away on your bike.

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    Pugwash
    Last edited by pugwash; 07-01-2018 at 01:54 PM.
    Remember, you cannot outrun a motorola!

    2003 Caponord
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    2010 KLX250

  2. #2
    apriliaforum expert brmbrm's Avatar
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    That looks a wonderful tour.
    I can vouch for a Capo ride on the Route Napolean and the Gorges de Verdun.
    The Aquarium in Monaco was great.
    This hotel was good, I'll just check where it is!
    It's Castellane, early start, quick loop of the Gorges, then back to Hotel for Petite Dejeuner.
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    I believe that the French Certificate of Air Quality allows smoking 40 Gaulosies in conjunction with the test, and that smoking is compulsory in France Bon Voyage!
    Last edited by brmbrm; 07-01-2018 at 12:43 PM.
    My name is Dave,
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  3. #3
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    Have a good one, you two

  4. #4
    apriliaforum expert nerald's Avatar
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    Have a good trip Jim, hope those new boots don't get too much of a test. I would recommend the road from Menton to Sospel if you can fit it in - fantastic twisties and scenery. My Capo had a little lie down on that road a few years back (fully loaded so locals had to help me pick her up!)
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  5. #5
    apriliaforum expert falcojake's Avatar
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    wow Jim thats an ambitious schedule! how many miles each day will you be doing? there are certianly some fantastic roads on your route. i didnt know the Crit-d'air (or whatever its called) applied to bikes and thought it was for central paris an Lyon.

    i will be towing my caravan down to the Vendee towards La rochelle in august. with my towing vehicle they would burn me at the stake instead of issuing a certificate. although the reality is its very clean on its emissions test. fortunately i am not visiting any of the cities that have it.

  6. #6
    apriliaforum Junkie pugwash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by falcojake View Post
    wow Jim thats an ambitious schedule! how many miles each day will you be doing? there are certianly some fantastic roads on your route. i didnt know the Crit-d'air (or whatever its called) applied to bikes and thought it was for central paris an Lyon.

    i will be towing my caravan down to the Vendee towards La rochelle in august. with my towing vehicle they would burn me at the stake instead of issuing a certificate. although the reality is its very clean on its emissions test. fortunately i am not visiting any of the cities that have it.
    Mileage varies from around 150 to 280 a day but some is by motorway so distance is easier to cover and some days we will only be on the bike a couple of hours, there are some excursions planned to give us some down time and all the hotel bookings can be canceled so if the weather turns against us we can be flexible on where we go and when.

    Updated French laws for bikers can be found here https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&so...qGQhH1jCI7j_6d

    Pugwash
    Remember, you cannot outrun a motorola!

    2003 Caponord
    2007 FJR1300AS
    2010 KLX250

  7. #7
    apriliaforum Junkie pugwash's Avatar
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    Well Caponordists Mrs P and I are away across Europe for a third year running and this one is probably the most ambitious trip yet, only primarily one country to explore but we are going to try and ride quite a lot of France this year.

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    Bikes ready for the off

    As we got closer to our leaving date the weather just got hotter and hotter all across Europe and we made the brave decision to travel in our Kevlar jeans and take waterproof over gear not any textile trousers as we normally would as with the heat expected we couldn’t see us wearing the textile gear much and, as always, space was at a premium. So with the bike fully loaded we threw our legs over it and headed south for Portsmouth and our overnight ferry to St Malo, as the British grand prix was on this weekend we couldn’t route via Silverstone which was the most direct route so decided to try the A1 then M25 and M3 as probably the quickest alternative route. We made really good time apart from the inevitable delays around London on the M25 and got to Portsmouth before the ferry had even docked let alone unloaded. We were not the first bikers however and when we parked in the ferry queue behind a couple of other Brits on the travels we had a chat about where we were had been, it may be of some comfort to other Clan Capo aficionados to find out that these chaps had been in Ullapool recently and the Seaforth is still offering crap service to all and sundry.

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    That ferry will do.

    Anyway onto the ferry and after watching the bike get strapped down safely we wondered off to find our cabin and get changed before Mrs P’s cocktail frenzy that she had been planning for some time now, indeed such a good night did she make of it she was somewhat tipsy when we eventually retired to bed. In the morning she was a little ‘distracted’ and for some reason imagined she was in bed at home and decided to check the time on her phone which she imagined was on her bedside cabinet, well what she actually achieved was to roll out her bunk (the bottom one thankfully) and face planted the bar around the desk in our cabin, I was awoken by a scream followed by a bang then an ouch and by the time I had climbed down from the dizzy heights of my bunk Mrs P had the makings of a really bad black eye……we hadn’t even made Europe yet and she was injured!
    So the ship docked and we unloaded and headed south to La Gacilly where Mrs P’s folks have lived for the last 12 years, her black eye was doing rather well by now and took some explaining to the in-laws however as soon as cocktails were added to the explanation they both understood completely….

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    In laws house.....and some explaining to do about their daughters black eye!

    We had a couple of days at La Gacilly and while Jenny caught up with her mum, my father in law and I attended to some jobs around the house. One of these was to obtain and fit some replacement door to a few kitchen units, something that he had been putting off until someone more practical visited so after a quick trip to the local Bricolage depot we set to and got the kitchen back into tip top condition meaning both the father and law and I had an easier time from Jenny’s mum!
    After some quality family time we were ready to head off to our next destination which was Bordeaux some 270 miles away. We travelled mainly by motorway and made short work of the distance by using toll motorways which have a much higher speed limit than any other roads, as we approached Bordeaux traffic started to build up and as we travelled by the cities ring road we got rapidly passed by a couple of local police who had obviously not heard of the law preventing bikes (police or otherwise) from filtering through traffic but they both gave us a friendly wave as they undertook us at a great rate of knots. My sat nav was doing a sterling job of guiding us into our hotel for the night however due to multiple roadworks causing many road closures even Gary Garmin was starting to get a bit irate as I continually had to ignore his advice and reroute around these closures. Anyway we eventually arrived at our hotel for the night and after booking in I rode around to the underground car park and discovered that the entrance was via a very steep ramp down with height restrictions meaning I kept feeling that I had to duck while descending the ramp to avoid catching my raised visor at the same time as applying mucho brake as there was a 90 degree turn at the bottom of the ramp!

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    I'm sure this police man was admiring my bike as he tore past..

    Anyway bike parked and secured we were ready for a night out in Bordeaux, we showered and changed then headed out into town with a small mission to complete. Now when planning this trip I researched each place we were stopping and discovered that Bordeaux was the scene of one of the most daring raids in the second world war called Operation Frankton – better known as The Cockleshell Hero’s, this was the raid whereby some British Marines paddled canoes all the way from open sea to the ‘safe’ harbour in Bordeaux and mined some merchant ships causing considerable damage but at a cost of an 80% mortality rate to the marines. The only remnant in the town itself is a memorial plaque next to an exhibition centre which marks the location of the raid and so we walked down from town to see it and pay our respects to these brave men many of whom paid the ultimate price for their bravery….

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    Operation Frankton memorial

    This task accomplished we hit the bars and as France were playing in the World Cup semi-finals that night the place was positively jumping, it wasn’t possible to get anywhere near any of the many sports bars – that is to say the bars were packed and the footpaths in front of them wasn’t much less busy either. We eventually managed to get into an Italian restaurant for dinner and as the match continued the atmosphere became more electric culminating in a victory for France 1-0 in extra time, the town practically exploded and it was a privilege to be involved in the celebration that ensured (I work for a French company in the UK so it was OK to get in on the chaos!).

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    Ok some cocktails were also ordered.

    The following morning the whole of the city had a hangover and breakfast was quite a sombre affair fortunately I was sober as to get my bike out of the car park I had to ride back up the ramp I descended last night and it was one of those rides where you cannot stop once you start due to the incline but plenty of throttle and first gear saw me safely back at the roadside to collect Mrs P and our luggage.

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    That looks steep!

    Once loaded up we fuelled the bike and set off for the city of Lourdes which was our next overnight stopover, in the morning we used minor roads and paralleled the motorway seeing some very pretty town and villages eventually ending up at the very picturesque city of Pau where we managed to navigate our way right into the centre of town and after some very cheeky pavement parking we found an Irish Bar on the balcony road at the edge of town looking out over the countryside.

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    Cheeky parking

    Then after lunch we jumped onto the toll motorway to bang some miles in, all this effort got us to Lourdes about 16:00 and after a wash and change we wondered off into town for a look around. The main attraction here is the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes which is a major religious attraction that many people attend in an effort to become healed from whatever ailments affect them. Whatever your religious stance you cannot help but be impressed by the scale of the place and after we had wondered around we went into the chapel where the choir was singing and it was a very moving experience. Following this culture overload we retired to a local restaurant and had ourselves a very good meal and a drink or two…

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    Sanctuaires Notre-Dame de Lourdes
    Remember, you cannot outrun a motorola!

    2003 Caponord
    2007 FJR1300AS
    2010 KLX250

  8. #8
    apriliaforum Junkie pugwash's Avatar
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    Next morning saw us with an issue, basically the weather forecast was not good with an 80% chance of rain – and we were wearing jeans remember? Over breakfast we crunched the numbers and realised that there was a small opening in the weather that would allow us to miss the rain if we could get far enough south before it hit us. So that revelation led to the inaugural Pugwash 150 race, the starting line was the exit of the hotel car park and this was also the scene of the first technical issue when I managed to hit the bikes kill switch accidentally and while faffing around sorting this out the barrier was timing out to descend upon us but I managed to get clear in good time.

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    Pugwash 150 start line....eventually!

    Then we had the first of a couple of pit stops for fuel before we cleared town and jumped onto the motorway to head south for the sun, The weather gods were sufficiently appeased by our efforts and kept the rain off us however the trade-off for this was riding in 30+ degrees heat nearly all day which meant multiple stops for fluids both for us and the bike. Any way we eventually reached the south coast of Europe which we considered a major achievement and then headed off to Perpignan for our planned overnight stop. About 20 miles before we came off the motorway my sat nav odometer showed that we had travelled 1000 miles since leaving home on Saturday marking a big milestone in our euro trip.

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    Mrs P ready for a night out in town

    Our hotel was in the middle of town and somewhat difficult to get to however a cheeky ride through a pedestrian zone saw us at the reception and after chaining my bike up for its first sleep outside for this trip we checked in, changed and wondered into town looking for the must see’s recommended by the hotel receptionist. Mrs P used her unerring ability to seek out the best cocktails in town and we had a few drinks as we wondered around town and the Republic Square before ending up at an Irish Bar opposite our hotel for drinks and dinner.

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    Perpignan Town centre

    Next morning we awoke both feeling somewhat fragile after the shenanigans of the previous night and boy did we have a big days ride to go at. I checked the bike over as usual and noted that the chain wanted a bit of adjustment and managed this with the bikes standard tool kit which, unusually for bike tool kits in my experience, doesn’t seem to be made of cheese or plastic. Today we were heading for Menton which is west of Monaco and goes as far as the French/Italy border, to give us two days there we had to ride all the way today and there were around 315 miles to cover so we had no choice but to use toll motorways to cover the distance in reasonable time. So we fuelled the bike, stocked the top box with bottled water and headed west, the ride was an not the most pleasant day we had ever spent on the bike and the temperature just kept climbing indeed when we stopped at some services for lunch the bike showed 40 degrees C when we returned to it and even at 80+mph in the outside lane we were still hitting temps of mid to high 30’s, Kevlar jeans were defiantly a welcome choice today.
    As we rounded Nice there were multiple tolls to pay and we got this off to a tee using the handle bar mounted bag I have to hold my credit card and the toll ticket meant I didn’t even have to take a glove off and we were usually quicker that the cars around us. Eventually we arrived at the Menton exit off the motorway and had to descend all the way down to the esplanade road using multiple hairpin turns however the views that awaited us on the beachside road were straight out of a travel brochure, golden sands, beachside bars and a marina filled with rather expensive looking yachts.

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    View from our hotel room...nice!

    Our hotel was beach front and parking was difficult to say the least but I found a spot in a bike only bay and wandered in to check in, the receptionist was very helpful and after establishing we were travelling by bike offered me complimentary parking in their secure underground garage which was a great surprise and not one to be turned down. After a shower and spruce up we wandered off down the beach then Jenny announced it was compulsory we had beer and cocktails at the first bar we found, some by-law she claimed…

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    Bike tucked up for the night.

    Anyway we had a few drinks then found a TexMex spot for dinner which was right at the side of the beach and had a very nice meal while watching the bar owner’s dog play fetch with a football. The dog had an amazing skill set and could even dribble the ball back across the beach to its owner, I did enquire whether I could pass his details onto the English World Cup football team but apparently the dog had already signed an option with a French team…….


    Clever dog!
    Remember, you cannot outrun a motorola!

    2003 Caponord
    2007 FJR1300AS
    2010 KLX250

  9. #9
    apriliaforum Junkie pugwash's Avatar
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    Next day was a day I had long looked forward too, we were off to Monaco! Firstly though we decided to have a walk to Italy, the border was only 1 Kilometre away along the coast road so after breakfast we had a stroll down and through the border then headed back to the hotel having put a tick in the ‘Visit Italy’ box for this tour. Now it was seriously hot again and we controversially decided to go travel in just normal jeans with shorts underneath and sketcher shoes along with helmets and bike jackets so we could vary our attire to whatever we wished in Monaco. Mind you this was almost like full airbag equipped race leathers compared to the local scooter riders who generally wore flip flops, shorts and an unfastened helmet….at best!
    Monaco was an absolute blast and as we got there early before all the tourist coaches we could have a play around the grand prix circuit – well it would be rude not too wouldn’t it? It was an amazing feeling to ride down the starting grid and over the line to start our very own lap albeit very much slower than the F1 boys, we managed to overtake a few cars and a bus or two as well so dispelling the myth that you cannot do so here although some of the local scooter mafia could give Seb Vettel a run for his money as they overtook anywhere, inside, outside wrong side of solid white lines and the posted speed limits obviously didn’t apply to them either. After a few laps around it was getting busier and as we approached Casio Square for the last time one of the many policemen about stopped me from going into the square and sent me up and around to avoid it, well we had had our fun I guess so we parked up on the hairpins before the tunnel and had a wonder around on foot.

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    Bike just above the famous hairpin

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    A lap of Monaco GP circuit

    In short it was everything we expected both in terms of opulence and compactness and the prices at the shops etc. were astronomical! Indeed it reminded us of a tale a welsh biker we met in Bordeaux had told us, apparently a few years ago he and his wife were here on their bike and decided to have a club sandwich and soda each at the café in front of the casino and the bill came to just short of 100 euros…..! With this in mind we used the more economical diners (golden arches type) along with nearly every other tourist here I think and quite a few of the locals who were immaculately suited and booted for their work. We did have a good wonder around and found everyone very friendly in fact when I wanted to get a photo of Mrs P in front of the Hotel de Paris in Casino Square the concierge and security guard both moved to the side so she could get up the steps and then stayed as much out of shot of possible to avoid any photo bombing.

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    About as close as us paupers are allowed.

    Anyway by early afternoon we had had enough of excessive culture so decided to head back to Menton along the rather nice coast road, now as I have mentioned the local scooter riders take many chances and seem to get keep getting away with it and it was tempting to try and filter as they do but on a big heavy bike it was fraught with danger so we stuck to going steady. Well some poor soul on a TDM obviously though otherwise and it didn’t work out for them as while riding the coast road there are multiple hairpins and sharp bends and as we approached one the oncoming traffic waved us to all slow down and then we came across the sad sight of a bike crash. The medical team was on site with an ambulance but it seemed the TDM had come into a sharp bend too hot, hit the curb and both bike and rider had high sided across the footpath. The rider must have gone down hard as the medics were just strapping them into a stretcher as we passed; we wish you a quick recovery whoever you are……

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    It can go wrong...

    After parking the bike at the hotel we decided to have a walk up into Menton town centre itself and see what it had to offer for dinner, we had a wonder around some street markets and saw many opportunities for eating but eventually settled on a very nice beachside spot and it was with great amusement that we watched the waiters running across the road with all the food and drinks from the main restaurant!
    Remember, you cannot outrun a motorola!

    2003 Caponord
    2007 FJR1300AS
    2010 KLX250

  10. #10
    apriliaforum Junkie pugwash's Avatar
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    A great night’s sleep saw us with a fantastic day ahead of us, it was very hot even early on in the morning however this was a nice problem to have compared to the thought of having to deal with rain etc. I loaded the bike up and we set off along the coast road towards Nice and when we got there we decided to have a ride into the town and then the seafront to see what the place had to offer. It was very pretty but also very busy and navigating around was fraught with problems as lane discipline was obviously not something that most of the local drivers had ever heard of….

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    Nice promenade

    Anyway onwards as always so we headed north out of town along some minor roads to pick up the Route Napoléon, this is a very famous road with good reason as it was an incredible road for biking along and gave ample opportunities to pass slower traffic meaning we could make the most of our ride. Eventually we came to the turn off for the Verdun Gorge which was a mainstay of our travelling itinerary and something we were really looking forward to. Now a word of caution here, all the recommendations I had read for navigating around the Gorge said to do it south travelling anticlockwise, as we were travelling north this wasn’t an option so we had just decided to take it as it comes. Well as we climbed up the perilously narrow roads we realised why this direction of travel was not ideal, basically you have to ride the entire circumference of the Gorge with it on your right and that leaves you with a small dwarf wall between you and a vertical drop off that is so far I would have time to get my camera out and take pictures on the way down. Now as rider at least I had something to distract my attention from impending certain death however Mrs P could do little else but stare straight over the small wall from her elevated seating position, small talk over the intercom was limited to say the least and contained mainly promises of the level of violence I could expect from her should I ever do such a thing again…….

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    Route Napoleon

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    That's some view

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    Verdon Gorge

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    The gorge again, that's some drop down there!

    Joking aside this place is amazing and superlatives cannot do it justice so I will say that if you only do one euro tour on a bike it must include the Verdun Gorge….on a southward anticlockwise circuit obviously! As we headed away from the Grand Canyon we had a play on some epic roads that led back down towards the base of the Gorge where the river flows out and there were many Aire Camping places absolutely packed with campers and loads of people swimming and boating along, the temptation to jump in a cool off was great but we resisted, just!
    So we used some more of the Route Napoléon to take us north before heading across to the motorway on minor roads for a short blast of 25 miles to Sisteron and our overnight stop over. Now today was the Football world cup final between France and Croatia so there was a palpable buzz over the whole town. We got checked in in time to shower and change then head to the hotel bar to watch the game along with all the hotel staff and any other guests, it was quite an experience as the game progressed and the small crowd obviously only had one victor in mind as when France scored the place erupted and when Croatia did you could have heard a Caponord brown connector corroding! Well France only went and won as I work for the French we got in on the celebrations which were extensive and a great showing of national pride with the locals blocking off the roads hung out of their cars waving flags without any intervention by the local police who weren’t much more restrained really. Anyway dinner beckoned and we met a couple of Belgian lads riding BMW’s who we struck up a conversation with about bikes and they invited us to have eat with them, they were on a euro tour of their own and actually heading the way we had come so we were able to pass on advice on where to go. It was very impressive how well they spoke English and they translated the menus for us to save us stumbling our way through it, they both spoke Flemish, French, German and English very well and when I asked how they developed such a command of other languages they told me that due to their countries location this was usual and due in no small part to imported TV shows being shown in their native language with subtitles so children pick up multiple languages from an early age.

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    A welcome stop and the cup final awaits..
    Remember, you cannot outrun a motorola!

    2003 Caponord
    2007 FJR1300AS
    2010 KLX250

  11. #11
    apriliaforum Junkie pugwash's Avatar
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    The next morning the whole of France had a hangover after the antics of last night and we bid our Belgium friends goodbye and as they headed south we jumped back onto the Route Napoléon and northwards towards Gap. The route was as good as yesterday and had the added attraction of some mountain accents via multiple hairpins, there were the inevitable slow moving huge campervans holding up traffic along these but the capo came into its own here and by virtue of some cheeky overtakes with Mrs P using the universal ‘Sorry were British’ wave as we crossed the odd solid white line or three we were past and off having huge fun! We travelled nearly all the way to Grenoble on the route then turned off onto some route nationals to take us towards the Alps. When we stopped for fuel at a Casino supermarket a local parked up near us on a Triumph Trophy and wandered over for a chat. He spoke passable English and I pathetic French but we managed to establish that he had had a Capo identical to mine even down to the bagster tank cover and OE crash bars and had toured Croatia on it (he did had a picture on his phone to establish this rather than a linguistic breakthrough on my part…) so it just goes to show how small a world it really is.

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    Sorry we're British!

    Anyway onward and upward so after fuelling up we made good time on our push north and soon started to see signs for Chamonix which wasn’t far from our planned destination of Sallanches. We had a brief stop near Ugine and then headed off up the valley to play on the twisty road that ran up there. Now it was while ‘making progress’ that I realised we had an issue with the bike, I noticed that the indicator warning light on the dash was permanently lit and didn’t flash when using the indicators. I stopped and checked the bike only to find that neither front indicator was working, both rears were permanently dimly lit and if I turned the lights off the rear indictors only would flash, this was obviously an issue so we did what everyone would do in these circumstances and headed for the nearest McDonalds!

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    We are about to enter the dangerous world of Capo electrical issues!

    There was some logic in our actions as we could have a rest, a drink, use the free Wi-Fi to help research our problem and give me some time to consider the issue. Well I downloaded the bikes wiring diagram off Karl’s website (moto-abruzzo.net, book mark this site people!) and managed to determine that both front indicators and the front side light share a common earth and this looked to have failed giving me the issues I now had. I came up with a plan of attack to access the nearside front indicator because my dash surround is damaged there and can be split by removing a couple of screws I used to support it, I then bared back the earth wire and used a small piece of the spare cable that’s been in my tool tube for years to jump an earth from my dash voltmeter to the indicator. I carried this repair out at the side of the road and it took less than 30 mins to do and only went and bloody well worked – result!!!!!

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    Roadside repairs in action.

    Bike fixed we then travelled to our stop over for the next couple of nights in Sallanches, when I tried to book a hotel here months back I couldn’t get any availability so used Booking.com to find a Gite which turned out to be the ground floor of a chalet style house just off the main road through town and came in at much less than the price of a hotel room as well. The owner is a fantastic character called Bernard and a biker himself and we had a great conversation with neither of us really understanding what the other was saying but he showed us around then left us with the key. We parked the bike on his drive, unloaded it for a couple of days then wondered into town for food and drink. The local Buffalo Grill supplied both then we had a walk around town before returning to the Gite to find Bernard’s wife was back and she spoke English, this was followed by the revelation that it was Bernard’s birthday so we got invited upstairs for cake and more beer, we did establish the best places for a ride out the next day so can justify this partying as a fact finding mission.

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    Our Gite in Sallanches

    The following day Mrs P and I were both feeling somewhat jaded from all the constant travelling we had been doing so decided today would be a sedate day to give us time to relax a bit. We wondered into town to get some pastries and juice for breakfast and then retired to our digs for a very steady time. So steady in fact that it was midday before we felt like doing anything and then decided to follow our host’s advice on a place to visit locally. Last night while celebrating his birthday on his terrace with him I pointed out Mont Blanc clearly visible in the distance and said how pretty it looked, he told us that we should ride the short distance to Plateau D’Assy just up in the hills for a more direct view of the mountain range. So we rode 25mins to get there and were simply blown away with the majesty of the mountain range especially as nearly all the cloud cover had dissipated allow us to see the peaks clearly, this was worth the ride believe me! The ride back down was pretty good as well and we rode slowly to take in the views which was just as well as there was a speed trap near one of the villages we passed through, apparently since the speed limit on minor roads was dropped from 90k to 80k this year speed traps are much more common than they were and no doubt a good revenue generator for the local constabulary. After our scenic ride out we retired to our Gite as it actually had a washing machine so we emptied out our panniers and got all our gear spruced up, well it beats trying to wash it in a hotel shower….again!

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    Mont Blanc from Plateau D'Assy

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    A garage we passed in Sallanches, had to go back and take a picture!

    The net morning we were off on our travels again with the plan being to stomp out around 270 miles on the toll motorways to get us to Avallon where we had a hotel booked for the night, it was a pretty uneventful ride however we both noticed that the temperature had dropped and was now around 30oC rather than the near 40 we had been experiencing further south and this difference made riding so much easier. We had loads of time and so had a few stops along the way for drinks and even an ice cream and we also noticed more British cars the further north we got reminding us we were in the latter stages of our euro tour. There was a restaurant in the hotel and as anywhere else was a long walk away we just wondered into the bar then into the restaurant meaning we had a fairly early night to prepare us for what was to come tomorrow.
    Remember, you cannot outrun a motorola!

    2003 Caponord
    2007 FJR1300AS
    2010 KLX250

  12. #12
    apriliaforum Junkie pugwash's Avatar
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    After a sedate start in the morning we jumped onto the A6 and headed north towards Paris, about 15 miles short we turned off and went to visit some family I have out there. My uncle has lived there for over 30 years and I also have two cousins one of who does not travel at all and I haven’t seen her for 37 years (and Mrs P has never seen)so this was going to be a big meet for all of us. Well due to the wonders of sat nav we found the large residential estate that my relatives live in and rang the doorbell to announce the English had landed! They knew we were coming and it quite an emotional meeting not least because my Uncle has not been well and last time I saw him in Berlin 3 years ago he told me it could be the last time we met….

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    French Pugwashes!

    Anyway we spent a very pleasant couple of hours catching up with them and even rang my mom (it’s her brother) to widen the conversation of this family pow wow, then as it was mid-afternoon and we wanted to avoid the rush hour we kitted up and rode into Paris! I have heard horror tales about riding around the Peripherique and wanted to be on my A game around here but found it was no worse than the M25, Berlin, Milan, Beirut etc. The big challenge came when we turned off to central Paris within the ring road. Now I only found out recently that you require a Crit’Air for any vehicle within the ring road and had to apply to the French authorities for one, luckily this is not a difficult thing to do and mine landed at home the day before we set off so all good there. The real issue to the sheer amount of roadworks going on and the traffic specifically the scooters which all seem to be piloted by people who wish to get injured ASAP! There is no gap to small, no white line uncrossed, no blind spot not filled or indeed any traffic law not broken, often in front of the local police, for these scooteristi and while it does all seem to work it made my teeth itch watching some of the antics and on close inspection nearly all these bikes had some form of road rash or impact damage. However I have finally seen the sense of those three wheeled scooters that have been about for a few years as many of the professional people rode them in their suits etc and had a fabric leg cover to keep them dry and clean so had no need to put their feet down. Anyway judicious use of The Force got us to our hotel for the next couple of days and as it was within sight of the Eiffel tower its central enough so we can walk everywhere we wanted to go so I parked my bike in the very expensive underground car park (27 euros a night!) and put three different locks on it for safe keeping as I understood bike crime was prolific and having the bike safe was worth the money.

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    Any gap has a scooter in it!

    Anyway the next morning saw us with full day to explore Paris and off we went, we visited the Eiffel Tower, then walked up to the Arc de Triomphe where traffic laws are merely optional, then we walked all the way down the Avenue des Champs-Elysees to the Louvre and saw the famous glass pyramid (I work for a French glass manufacture in the UK and they made the glass for this structure) and then retired to the Hard Rock Café for lunch and a cocktail for two for Mrs P followed by a long walk back down the side of the River Seine back to our hotel. We had barely scratched the surface of things we should do here and it leaves us with a good reason to return!

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    Eiffel Tower

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    Arc de Triomphe

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    The Louvre

    Well all good things come to an end and the next day was our last on holiday and we needed to get from Paris to Rotterdam for our overnight ferry to Hull which meant we had to pack all of our gear onto the bike for the last time. We made much of the buffet breakfast to put us on for the day and then sorted all our gear out ready for the off and loaded it all to the bike, while doing this I saw an opportunity to save a few euros and have a mini adventure. You may recall I said parking at this hotel was expensive, well it would cost me over 50 euros to park the bike and it only takes up a small amount of space so I didn’t feel that I was getting the same value as if I had parked up in a car 9same price). To exit the car park you had to pass a barrier and then drive up a spiral ramp and through a roller shutter door that raised and lowered in conjunction with the barrier, well as I finished packing a car drove to the barrier and I noticed that this barrier only blocked ¾ of the road leaving a very nice capo sized gap at the side. A very well timed exit strategy followed and I emerged into the heady chaos of Paris traffic shortly after with a big smile on my face and 50 euros still in my pocket then rode round to pick up Mrs P from the hotel entrance (I paid a lot for the hotel room so felt somewhat justified in my actions here BTW). Then it was all aboard and head off and work our way across to the ring road to get out of Paris, this was again quite an adventure with scooters doing their level best to fill any space they saw around traffic and although the ring road is renowned for being difficult to navigate it was a lot easier than downtown Paris.
    As we headed east the superb weather we had been having took a turn for the worse and big ominously dark clouds gathered along our route and as we were wearing jeans for the first and only time all trip we stopped and put on our waterproof over trousers although this proved to be un-necessary as the weather soon improved and off the over trousers came at the next services. As last year I had promised my Dad we would stop at the grave of a fallen airman of WW2 that he knew and pay our respects as it was not a big diversion from our route then mid-afternoon saw us dodging container lorries as we worked our way around Rotterdam Europort to The Pub at the side of the P&O Ferry terminal. This is a great place to stop off before loading into the ferry and offers proper food and beer at local prices, we had a chat with the owner as he single handily ran the whole place and he told us that we were one of the few customers that day and nobody had called in the previous day. Now it was possible to see the vehicle queue for the ferry from here and he made the point that there were cars with family’s in sat in the blazing sunshine waiting to board with few if any facilities to support them while just a few meters away over a security fence was a place like his that offered lots, he concluded that the English were a funny lot and we couldn’t really argue with that one!

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    The Pub Rotterdam
    Remember, you cannot outrun a motorola!

    2003 Caponord
    2007 FJR1300AS
    2010 KLX250

  13. #13
    apriliaforum Junkie pugwash's Avatar
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    Anyway we eventually said out goodbyes to Jan the owner and rode around to passport control to board the ferry ourselves, at the security check the officer saw a printout of the map shown at the start of this thread in the map pocket of my tank bag and asked it was had travelled the whole route this trip. We said we had and filled in a few of the details of the trip and he said he also was a biker with a love of travelling and had just returned from his own tour where it appeared he was trying to achieve the aim of maximum distance in minimum time which is something the Mrs P was not keen on! So onto the ferry and as it P&O you have to strap your own bike down which I’m comfortable with so after securing it we wondered off to find our cabin for the night. I made sure Mrs P was fully aware of where she was and even set her bed up so that she slept away from the desk so we didn’t have a repeat of the outwards ferry incident we then walked to the information desk to see what films were being shown and selected the latest Jurassic Park instalment for the evening’s entertainment followed by the inevitable trip to the bar to sample the cocktails and beers on offer.
    Following morning saw us back in Blighty as the ferry drew into Hull and we gathered all our gear then returned to the bike ready for the off, well we were ready but the bike seemed to have other ideas. After we had loaded all the gear onto the bike and unstrapped it I jumped aboard and tried to put the bike into neutral as I have always left it in first gear on its many ferry trips. Well it was having nothing of it with the gear lever being very hard to move indeed and when it did finally pop up it went into second gear then stuck there! The rest of the bikes around us rode off so I decided to start the bike in gear using the clutch switch to overcome the safety circuit (something I haven’t done for a long time) only to find the clutch switch didn’t seem to be working……

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    A neutral switch! Half my kingdom for a neutral switch!!!

    So picture the scene, I had enough presence of mind to avoid stamping on the gear lever as I figured it would only damage something so had Mrs P rocking the bike while I popped the clutch off and on and also tried to move the gear lever by hand, oh how the ferry crew laughed! Anyway a couple of minutes of this saw the bike pop into neutral and start while I was sweating like a fat lad in a cake shop, we both climbed on the bike and rode it round to passport control with me making a strong mental note to fix the flipping clutch switch ASAP. As an aside I can only think the gear selection issue was caused by the vibrations from the ferry jiggling the gearbox internals about so that nothing was properly lined up inside and the selector drum was trying to move 2 gears at the same time but bike has been fine since so best guess is all I can come up with.
    Once clear of customs we saw Hull in all its Sunday morning splendour (!) as we legged it to our usual arrival lounge of McDonalds Goole for breakfast before returning home to view the spectacular damage our new Springer Spaniel puppy had done to our house/furnishings/garden etc. in our absence and finally realised our rather excellent euro trip was finally over.

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    Our Yorkshire arrivals lounge.

    So in summary an absolutely epic trip where we banged in some serious mileage, overcame technical issues, saw amazing sights and met some fantastic people - this is what holidays are all about! Also just before we reached home my Capo clocked over the 70k miles mark and I've put 50k of those on in the last ten years and enjoyed every one of them. I think this bikes a keeper after all!

    Ok I have been asked why we cram so much in this trips and it may seem that we've gone from no trips to huge ones quickly but this will explain all.

    Sometime ago Jenny was very seriously ill and indeed I was the recipient of one of those phone calls from the hospital asking me to come in and be close in case she didn’t make it things were genuinely that dire. Obviously she did pull through but not without both physical and mental scarring from the experience and as she recovered in HDU we promised ourselves that all the things we kept promising ourselves we would do ‘one day’ are things that we would do NOW while we were still able too. To this end we have travelled at lot more over the last couple of years compared to anything we did previously and have both really caught the bug for seeing and experiencing new places and with Europe being a short ferry ride from the UK it lends itself very well to our passion for travel and motorbikes because remember this one thing people…….our bikes are called adventure bikes for a reason!!!

    Pugwash
    Remember, you cannot outrun a motorola!

    2003 Caponord
    2007 FJR1300AS
    2010 KLX250

  14. #14
    apriliaforum expert timcrasher's Avatar
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    A great write up. Enjoyed that a lot. Glad you had a fantastic trip.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/timcrasher

    http://timcrasher.blogspot.com

    2001 Aprilia Caponord: gone but not forgotten
    1997 Caterham Supersport: The low flying bananaGone up in flames!
    2016 Ducati Multistrada DVT ( or should that be PMT )

  15. #15
    apriliaforum expert brmbrm's Avatar
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    A truly excellent bike ride and write up Mr. P.
    Very glad that you two P's enjoyed yourselves.
    It's inspired me to go again. First accidental discovery of the Gorges du Verdun was whilst taking a short cut in 1976
    Dave

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    Last edited by brmbrm; 08-02-2018 at 06:09 AM.
    My name is Dave,
    bike's name is Black Betty.

    When you're traveling, you are what you are right there and then.


    Caponord - Douglas Dragonfly - 1942 Harley back again
    Pegaso - Matchless G3LS - BSA A7SS - 1942 Harley - Matchless G80/600cc - Matchless G3LS - BSA C15 - Velocette

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