South of France trip
- 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
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.
- During a gear change, anhar12000 <loofyeltom@...> penned ...
>Just got back yesterday from a trip to the western end of the French[Snip]
>Med coast, a few miles from the Spanish border.
>To sum up my feelings about the T, I'm happy. It's powerful, thereExcellent story.
>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.
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
- 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
- "Excellent story."
Incidentally if anyone is interested in gear, my wet weather oversuit
is a Belstaff Dri-Bika. This is a very lightweight unlined nylon one
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.
- 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,
--- In TriumphTrophy@y..., "anhar12000" <loofyeltom@h...>
> "Excellent story."oversuit
> Thanks Mik.
> Incidentally if anyone is interested in gear, my wet weather
> is a Belstaff Dri-Bika. This is a very lightweight unlined nylonone
> that slips over whatever you are wearing - in my case just a
> jacket over a T shirt, ordinary denim jeans and a pair of DocMartens
> on this trip. I had to take my DMs off though before I could pullit
> up over my feet.into
> Its advantage is that when not in use it packs up inside itself
> a built in bum bag with a belt so that if you wish you can hang itprotection,
> round your waist for easy availability. It has great rain
> even on the naked bikes that I have ridden with it. The only placeDMs
> 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.
> 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.
- "Have you tried plastic carrier bags over your feet,great for
through waterproofs and to keep your feet dry.Very good account of
your trip. Mick, 1200, azure blue,
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
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.