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Not The 2015 Italian Tour

Planning well under way

As the title doesn't give it away perhaps an explanation is required.

Our initial plan was to travel via overnight motor-rail The Autoslaap from Den Bosch in Holland to Livorno, Italy. This would take us nicely into Tuscany without 1200 miles riding to get to 'The Boot'. A couple of overnight stops were booked, together with the ferry and Le Shuttle, with plans for our bikes together with riders and pillions to meet at a convenient point to be on the train on Fri 18th Sept.

It all went belly up. Autoslaap folded and only offered a train to northern Italy during August, no good to us.
Hotels were cancelled and a new destination sought. The ferry and Shuttle were still an option but a long ride south was not. 2-3 days riding each way to get there and back did not appeal, it was Italy we wanted to see not the bits in between, time for a re think.

France and Switzerland beckoned with the bikes meeting in Vagney, Eastern France in the Vosges region near to the Swiss border. As the ferry couldn't be cancelled without losing the cost and the hotel in Den Bosch also was non refundable, one bike would travel from Holland, using the B&B, the other from Calais, a pincer movement would see us meet up a day or slightly more later.

RIDE magazine had some great routes published for The Vosges region and cicular routes started not far from our proposed accommodation in Vagney, where we had a family contact we are to stay with for a few days, before riding East into Switzerland.

The planning is still being finalised and you'll need to watch this space for updates nearer thd time, starting with the journey out on Thursday 17th Sept 2015, an early start from Harwich & Folkstone for the off.

Posted by Eric_The_Viking 12:58 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Preparing for Not Italy!

2 sleeps to go


The V Strom has been given a huge once over, new set of boots (The new Bridgestone A40's) as the old ones were rather squared, chain & sprockets and a full service. Also gave it a good clean, which unfortunately showed up the corrosion of the engine cases a little more than was expected, but made it look quite presentable. The new panniers look good and make the bike look pretty wide (just about 1metre).
The addition of the new Sat Nav, Air Hawk seats and it's ready to go.

2015-09-15 10.40.39

2015-09-15 10.40.39

Bike 2, A Sparkley 'newish' BMW K1600 super tourer with all the toys (2 wheeled car really!) Is also good to go, now fittedwith proper 'motorcycle shaped tyres' which should see it handling nicely with 'Old Man Joey' at the helm and Mimi riding shotgun.

Awaits picture

Posted by Eric_The_Viking 21:25 Comments (0)

'And the monkey flips the switch'

sunny 16 °C
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No prizes for guessing the film in the title, but have a go anyway..........

Well surprisingly, after yesterdays deluge, it was dry this morning. Up early and arrived at Harwich after filling up and behind quite a few other bikes, most going to the BSB round at Assen this weekend, and a couple of Harleys off to a Hog Fest in Utrecht.

All boarded nice & early, comfy seats claimed and a coffee. 09:00 departure delayed due to 'lorryists' still loading. Everyone hold tight, were finally departing at 10 am, an hour late, Captain says he can make up the time, so could be a exciting crossing to Hook of Holland!

Weather looks good, hope it lasts into the weekend and beyond.

Joey & Mimi are probably already in France and heading South, having used Le Shuttle earlier this morning.

Time for a snooze. .....................................


Posted by Eric_The_Viking 09:52 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

First night in Europe

overcast 12 °C
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Arriving on time (17:15 local) in Hook of Holland, joined the queues to show our passports and we were on our way, why is it you always feel guilty when speaking to the border guard! Bikes now diverting in all different directions on leaving the port. It was a little choppy across the North Sea in places, boat wasn't to busy but glad that's behind us now.

Got the route written down in the tank bag, but the Sat Nav made easy work of finding the right roads and away, around Rotterdam and headed South East on the motorway. Quite busy with rush hour traffic.

Made it to The Campinile Hotel in Den Bosch by 19:00 hrs. Shower & food before a good nights rest. Sooty a bit under the weather tonight, hopefully ok by breakfast and once she's had something to eat.

Total distance so far 112km.

But of route planning for tomorrow before calling it a day.

Not heard from our biker buddies travelling from Calais but hopefully they're well on the way south and camped up somewhere warm & dry for the night.

Posted by Eric_The_Viking 20:12 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

4 Countries in one day

semi-overcast 25 °C

Leisurely get ready and breakfast at the hotel, all packed up and heading south by 10 am. Used the E25 through Eindhoven and on to Maastericht and Liege. Netherlands (1) into Belgium (2).
After a fuel stop it was on to Bastogne along the N30, nice to be off the motorway and on some more demanding sweeping roads. Arrived in Bastogne around 13:30 where a stop for lunch saw the rain showers pass us by. Would like to come back and see the War Museum.

Setting off again with temperature around 20 degrees onto the N4 to Arlon and crossing into Luxembourg (3) where the driving styles change somewhat!😕

As we wanted to get to Vagney at a reasonable time we hit the motorway crossing another border into France (4) and to Metz getting caught up in various road works and slow traffic, careful filtering with the panniers, surprising how the French move over but Lux & Belgians stand thier ground. Made some good progress and finally stopped for a drink and fuel just outside Pont a-Mousson on the A31. 25 degrees Celsius!
Only 20km to Nancy when the rain hits, Ooh! I remember this from last year, time to get soaked through, but fortunately it only lasts a short while, one of thd hazards of riding through forest areas I suppose. A group of German bikers join ahead and they are on a mission, best not to try and keep up especially as the sneaky speed cameras are in the layby!
Only seen one UK registered motorhome and a couple of cars, holiday season must be over. Plenty of bikes heading north, maybe Brits.

Finally off towards Epinal, the A57 much like the motorway until we reach Remiremont and join the smaller roads into Vagney. Found our host for the next few days where our biker buddies had arrived somewhat soaked after a wet ride from the port of Calais. Vagney looks like a nice town, I'm sure we'll get to see it over the next few days.
After a wind down and sorting ourselves out it's off to the local Pizzaria with Jean-Michel and Jocylene where thier some Sebastian joins us for a great meal and somd great company. Language barriers? What language barriers? We all make ourselves understood and enjoy a few jokes.

I wnder if thier two digs understand English? Could be a challenge! (Anyone ever hear from the European language liaison officer - Dave Warren?)

All set for an early start to see the local rally tomorrow, forcast looks good.

Total distance 699km (437 mls)

Posted by Eric_The_Viking 23:09 Archived in France Comments (0)

Il Pluie, Il Pluie

rain 15 °C
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Very quiet here in Vagney in the Vosege Region, being in the forest and valley I supose we expected it to be a little damp at times. Well we're not disappointed, it's throwing it down!
Off out to see part of the Vosege Rally stage this morning in the rain and a couple of slight mishaps by the competitors , after 2 hrs it was cold enougb to get back to the warm and dry.
Can you see thus being allowed in UK? 2015-09-19_08_47_03.jpg

Needed to do some shopping so were dropped off in town, deciding to walk back............... It rained, a total soaking but dried out enough by the time we got back to a Mahoosive home cooked lunch.

A late afternoon trip out to the lake at Gerardmer about 15km away, brilliant sunshine and a good walk. The rally cars were in the town for the event finishing tonight unfortunately brought to an early conclusion by a serious accident. Look it up online if you want to know more!

Then it rained................ everyone back in the car and home!

Sooty still not 100%, now me neither so off for an early night in a while, after a little socialising with Joey , Mimi and our hosts, and a bit of route planning for the next few days.

Signing off now, good night........

Posted by Eric_The_Viking 20:09 Archived in France Comments (1)

Socialising Sunday

sunny 23 °C
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Sunny, sunny, sunny!............. Up late, A slow morning, breakfast & walked the dogs around the village, did I mention it was sunny and warm.

Off to a big family gathering for lunch at the home of Fabrice & Maxime, with thier three boys, Nolan, Louis & Julian, Maximes' brother Sebastian & Carole with baby Ava, our hosts Jean-Michel & Jocylenè and of course the bike gang, Joey, Mimi, Sooty & Eric. Fabian built his own house and very impressive it is too, very open plan and modern.

No rush here to eat & go, it's all very relaxed over a dozen or so courses and bottles of wine! There's always something different to try..................

Oysters! 270_20150920_122805.jpg 270_20150920_122911.jpg

Out for a walk in the sunny fresh air before we commence round two, the evening meal, then it got really silly!


A late night!

Posted by Eric_The_Viking 18:02 Archived in France Comments (0)


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Off out on the bikes today, a circular route over some great roads around the Vosges, hopefully The 'RIDE' route we've downloaded will work ok.

Tour shirts on and ready to go.

Our start point is at about 10am at Geradmer Lake
before heading up the high pass to the views from the top of the Ballons des Vosges, popular with skiers in the winter. Plenty of twists & turns to keep us occupied and a few good overtakes and lorries to contend with.

Lunch on the summit of one of the high passes, a stop off to take a look at the WW1 memorial & cemetry at The Harmannswillerkorf battlefield, not enough time for a proper look around as it's about 4km in total.

The twisty climbs open jnto sweeping bends and good open summits with spectacular views, the weather is ideal, between 10 & 21 degrees through the trees.

The satnavs are a bit tempremental as they try to cope with diversions and road closures, plenty of German and French bikes about. Distance of about 160mls covered today and one fuel stop (running a bit low on the V-Strom as we rolled into that one).

Back in Vagney by 6 pm.

It's off to Pascals (Jean-Michels brother) for his birthday gathering with family. Making polite conversation and talking of nothing in particular, motorcycles, cars, family, weather, houses, kids, work, cyclists up the mountain.

Then we had a brainwave.......

'How do you say Alpaca in French? '
'Alpaca? what is Alpaca? what they say, Alpaca, what is this?
'It is like a big sheep, very wooly, long fur.'
'No, we do not know this.'
'It is smaller than a horse, with long fur.'
'Oh, a poneeeey.'
'No, it has a long neck.' (makes actions to explain long neck.)
'Ah, yes Jeeiraffe.'
'NO, ffs, where's the iPad and the translator, put it in.........put it in......'
'Here, l'ALPAGA.' (Show translation.)
'Oh, yes we know what it is, why is it you want to know?'
'No reason, we saw one in a field today on the mountain.'

My stomach still hurts, try explaining it to our hosts! I don't think they understand!

Posted by Eric_The_Viking 18:50 Archived in France Comments (0)

Il Pluie part ll

rain 9 °C
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All friggin day!
Stair rods for most of it. We did get out for a walk during a brief interlude in the afternoon, got wet on the way back though.

Tomorrow looks better for our ride into Switzerland, we'll see!

'That's all I have to say about that!' ............. (Forest Gump, 1994)

Posted by Eric_The_Viking 19:17 Archived in France Comments (0)

Heading into Switzerland

overcast 5 °C
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We left our hosts in Vagney on a gloriously overcast and drizzly morning, it had been raining since the early hours ( and probably even before that). Although the roads were we and there was low cloud on the hills we decided to take tbe scenic route over the Ballon D' Alsace where we had been the previous day.
Stopping at the top for a hot chocolate after having seen the temperatures drop from 12 degrees down to 5 degrees at the top with visability about 50 metres, even la vache have come down to the car park to graze and bells can be hesrd clanging all around. More bikers arrive as we are about to leave, Germans on an FJR 13, Super Tenere and a 'Tractor'.

Picture to follow.........

The route down from the summit was just as misty but soon cleared as we neared Banfort through some good biking roads and a detour along the scenic roads took us to a small patisserie for a lunchtime snack.

Getting a bit damp under the wheels and just a little cold we make our way rather quicker than expected across the border into Switzerland to Bonfol, to the home of Yolanda and Joggi, friends of Joey from a few years back. Only 100km but it's taken us over 4 hours.

Looking forward to some home cooked food and a good nights rest after the usual socialising and swapping stories.

Lovely little village and I'm sure we'll get used to the church bell sounding every 15 mins!

Posted by Eric_The_Viking 18:50 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

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