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South of France trip

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  • anhar12000
    Just got back yesterday from a trip to the western end of the French Med coast, a few miles from the Spanish border. I did the journey non stop both out last
    Message 1 of 6 , Aug 31, 2002
      Just got back yesterday from a trip to the western end of the French
      Med coast, a few miles from the Spanish border. I did the journey non
      stop both out last Saturday, and return. About 17 hours, 830m, door
      to door, crossing the Channel by the Shuttle train which in my view
      is by far the best way. No need to book, just drive up, that's what I
      did - and this was the Saturday before the bank holiday though it was
      about 5am. In any case booking doesn't guarantee you a place on a
      particular train.

      Knackering ride, almost an Iron Butt. I found that I have gotten used
      to the seat somewhat. I've only had the bike for a couple of weeks
      from new but in the first week found that once I did about a 100m it
      was getting painful as I've mentioned here before. But on this very
      long ride either my arse was getting moulded to the seat shape, or
      vice versa. Anyway it became more bearable and even the knee pains I
      was experiencing at first were lessened though they still haven't
      gone completely. The T though still doesn't compare well with my
      previous tourer - a Harley Electraglide - in the comfort area.

      In France I found that if you cruise at 100, which you can
      (illegally, their limit is 130kph, about 80) on Autoroutes it
      absolutely drinks petrol at a shocking rate, much more reasonable at
      70-80. More experienced readers will already know this as has been
      pointed often on this board. French gas is presently a little cheaper
      than Brit. I did the same trip about three months ago in a Ford Ka
      which has a 1300 engine and with two people I'm sure it used less
      petrol than the Trophy I was riding solo. The Ka can't cruise at 100
      but it can easily at 70-80.

      Using the Autoroutes costs, but are by far the fastest. If I was
      taking it leisurely, instead of a short trip, I might have tried it
      by the N roads, but you'd need much more time and have to stop a
      night or two in that case. One problem was upon leaving the motorway
      for the entry to Paris last night, there was one hell of a queue for
      the Peage. I guess it would be even worse on a holiday weekend with
      drivers returning to the city.

      The weather on the way down and back was mixed, sun, rain, fog. The
      Trophy has quite good weather protection I found, which of course is
      important in a tourer. There was heavy rain both ways in the Massif
      Central mountain area, where the motorway climbs to over 1000 metres
      at some points. One thing I noticed was a cross winds problem. On the
      A9 from Perpignan to Beziers on the way home there were serious cross
      winds. This made it impossible to ride safely much over 60. I tried
      it but was being blown all over the place, extremely dangerous with
      the lanes filled with other traffic. I guess though that all tourers,
      with their big fairings and panniers etc, are going to be seriously
      affected by this, one of the trade-offs.

      Got lucky going round the Paris Peripherique Exterieur on the way
      down, found my exit at Port d'Orleans straight away. Blew it on the
      way back last night though, rode round the city about three times
      before I could find the A16 heading north. They don't show it on the
      signs on on the Peripherique exits so you have to divine where it is.
      In the end took the A1 exit, which also leads to Calais so I couldn't
      go wrong, and then found signs for Beauvais/Amiens along the way,
      which are on the A16. But they don't say A16 which is the hard bit
      for dumb Brits, in the way that here you'd look for the M4 sign or
      whatever. I think the A16 might be a shorter route to Calais from
      Paris than the A1 but it doesn't actually start until a few miles out
      of the city.

      Our roads/motorways seem to be permanently choked up by roadworks.
      This is much rarer in France in my experience. I don't know if their
      road construction techniques are better or what but this is very
      noticeable. Coming back this morning, I hit the old two way traffic
      road works on the M20 a few miles after getting off the train and I
      thought to myself, "welcome home". I think on all the Autoroutes and
      other roads covered on this journey, I saw only one or two roadworks
      and that includes driving around in a car down there.

      The weather down where I stayed at friend's cottage was mainly a
      disaster by South of France standards. Frequent rain, overcast,
      hardly any sun. We drove over to Spain at one point because someone
      had said it was sunnier, only to encounter some of the heaviest rain
      I've ever seen. Friends that had already been there for three weeks
      said it had been like that much of the time. Needless to say it
      brightened up as we were leaving.

      Although I dislike the Euro, I must admit it was handy when we nipped
      over the border into Spain without having to change money. Their gas
      is cheaper than French, as are some other goods like foodstuffs etc.

      I didn't plan anything. Just made my mind up Friday night, didn't go
      then because of potential traffic problems due to the bank holiday
      weekend, but left about 3 on Saturday morning to get an early train.
      Didn't even tell my friend already down there I was coming because I
      wanted to surprise her. All you really need is a credit card,
      passport, vehicle docs, E form for health service, a few bits of
      light clothing change and some wet weather bike gear. Cash Euros can
      be obtained at machines to be found at service stations on the
      motorway or elsewhere in towns, shopping centres etc. same as cash
      machines here so you don't even need this in advance.

      One thing that annoyed me was the Customs. They really pissed me off.
      On return, the UK customs are on the French side before you get on
      the train. I was the only bike there and it was very quiet
      altogether, the train was only partly full with cars. This was about
      midnight. Some officious pea brained Customs bastard who was clearly
      bored made me open up both panniers, poked around in the bags, pulled
      stuff out, made me take off the seat, looked in the two fairing glove
      compartments, asked me when I'd left, how I'd paid for my shuttle
      ticket, why I'd gone, where I'd gone, where I'd been, when I'd bought
      the bike, did I have a lot of cash on me, tobacco, alcohol and so on.
      I felt like telling her that I'd stashed a couple of illegal
      immigrants under the side panels but it probably would have made her
      drag it out even longer and I didn't want to miss the next train
      which was about to leave. Afterwards she said "thank you for your
      assistance." Yeah sure, fuck you I thought, though discretion being
      the better part of valour, I had not the cojones to actually tell her
      my feelings. I have never had such a grilling before from Customs,
      and that includes journeys by car, bike, plane and boat.

      To sum up my feelings about the T, I'm happy. It's powerful, there
      were no mechanical faults, the screen of which many complain was
      acceptable (I'm 5'8") and generally it is a fine ride, though comfort
      should really be a little better for long distance work and the fuel
      consumption is very poor at high speed.

      regards
    • Mik
      During a gear change, anhar12000 penned ... ... [Snip] ... Excellent story. You are right about the fuel - I did a 120mph blast up
      Message 2 of 6 , Aug 31, 2002
        During a gear change, anhar12000 <loofyeltom@...> penned ...
        >Just got back yesterday from a trip to the western end of the French
        >Med coast, a few miles from the Spanish border.
        [Snip]
        >To sum up my feelings about the T, I'm happy. It's powerful, there
        >were no mechanical faults, the screen was
        >acceptable and generally it is a fine ride, though comfort
        >should really be a little better for long distance work and the fuel
        >consumption is very poor at high speed.

        Excellent story.

        You are right about the fuel - I did a 120mph blast up the M6/M74
        recently and averages about 31mpg - perhaps there is something to this
        running rich thang ;o)
        --
        Ò¿Ó Dame Edna
      • appraisalserv@mindspring.com
        Glad you had a good trip. Paris and southern France are really extraordinary. I spent 10 days there last month although not so lucky as to have traveled on the
        Message 3 of 6 , Aug 31, 2002
          Glad you had a good trip. Paris and southern France are really
          extraordinary. I spent 10 days there last month although not so lucky as to
          have traveled on the Trophy. (being from across the pond you know). My wife
          and I were searched several times by both customs and airport security.
          Twice she had to remove her shoes (I told her not to wear those ruby
          slippers). I can imagine you were pretty worn after 830 m. I guess the way
          our world is now we should appreciate the additional scrutiny and safety
          that that the extra inconveinence affords us.
          jim johnson, Charlotte, NC USA
        • anhar12000
          Excellent story. Thanks Mik. Incidentally if anyone is interested in gear, my wet weather oversuit is a Belstaff Dri-Bika. This is a very lightweight unlined
          Message 4 of 6 , Aug 31, 2002
            "Excellent story."

            Thanks Mik.

            Incidentally if anyone is interested in gear, my wet weather oversuit
            is a Belstaff Dri-Bika. This is a very lightweight unlined nylon one
            piece
            that slips over whatever you are wearing - in my case just a leather
            jacket over a T shirt, ordinary denim jeans and a pair of Doc Martens
            on this trip. I had to take my DMs off though before I could pull it
            up over my feet.

            Its advantage is that when not in use it packs up inside itself into
            a built in bum bag with a belt so that if you wish you can hang it
            round your waist for easy availability. It has great rain protection,
            even on the naked bikes that I have ridden with it. The only place
            that water enters is round the neck, but only very slightly.
            Generally when you peel it off after a prolonged rain run, you feel
            wonderful at how dry you are. My feet though got soaked on the T. DMs
            are not waterproof.

            One-piece outfits have the disadvantage that they are a bit of a
            struggle to pull on and off, but this is the cost of having less
            volume when stored than a two-piece. I can recommend this bit of
            kit for anybody looking for a lightweight one-piece rainsuit.

            regards
          • jmormerod
            Have you tried plastic carrier bags over your feet,great for slipping through waterproofs and to keep your feet dry.Very good account of your trip. Mick, 1200,
            Message 5 of 6 , Aug 31, 2002
              Have you tried plastic carrier bags over your feet,great for slipping
              through waterproofs and to keep your feet dry.Very good account of
              your trip. Mick, 1200, azure blue,
              Lancashire,UK.


              --- In TriumphTrophy@y..., "anhar12000" <loofyeltom@h...>
              wrote:
              > "Excellent story."
              >
              > Thanks Mik.
              >
              > Incidentally if anyone is interested in gear, my wet weather
              oversuit
              > is a Belstaff Dri-Bika. This is a very lightweight unlined nylon
              one
              > piece
              > that slips over whatever you are wearing - in my case just a
              leather
              > jacket over a T shirt, ordinary denim jeans and a pair of Doc
              Martens
              > on this trip. I had to take my DMs off though before I could pull
              it
              > up over my feet.
              >
              > Its advantage is that when not in use it packs up inside itself
              into
              > a built in bum bag with a belt so that if you wish you can hang it
              > round your waist for easy availability. It has great rain
              protection,
              > even on the naked bikes that I have ridden with it. The only place
              > that water enters is round the neck, but only very slightly.
              > Generally when you peel it off after a prolonged rain run, you feel
              > wonderful at how dry you are. My feet though got soaked on the T.
              DMs
              > are not waterproof.
              >
              > One-piece outfits have the disadvantage that they are a bit of a
              > struggle to pull on and off, but this is the cost of having less
              > volume when stored than a two-piece. I can recommend this bit of
              > kit for anybody looking for a lightweight one-piece rainsuit.
              >
              > regards
            • anhar12000
              Have you tried plastic carrier bags over your feet,great for slipping through waterproofs and to keep your feet dry.Very good account of your trip. Mick,
              Message 6 of 6 , Sep 1, 2002
                "Have you tried plastic carrier bags over your feet,great for
                slipping
                through waterproofs and to keep your feet dry.Very good account of
                your trip. Mick, 1200, azure blue,
                Lancashire,UK."


                Yeah I'm familiar with this old idea Mick. The daft thing is that my
                gloves and hands got soaked as well as my feet, leaving nasty black
                dye stuck to my hands that took days to get off. I say daft because I
                was carrying a pair of overgloves and overboots! No need for the
                Tesco bags. I was just too lazy to put them on, even though I stopped
                to pull on the oversuit.

                I could have kicked myself. With my soaking wet, soggy socks covered
                feet.

                I have also a pair of full length Frank Thomas bike boots, which are
                probably waterproof (haven't tested them in very prolonged rain) and
                perhaps should have worn those on the ride instead of DMs. I figured
                though that the boots would be too hot and heavy in what I thought
                was going to be a blazing hot, dry trip. I'm a minimum gear man,
                dislike carrying too much stuff.

                regards
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