15th JULY 2007
29th June | Sunday
1st July | Tuesday
3rd July | Thursday
5th July | Sunday
8th July | Tuesday
10th July | Friday
13th July | Sunday
In the morning, we were up and away. If the
luggage fell apart now, I could afford to ditch
it. Next stop home! As we got back onto the
A1, within 5 miles we passed services with no
less than 3 cheapo lodges! Isn't it always the
We decided that a serious breakfast was called
for and pulled in to the services. The coffee
bar was open but we wanted something a little
more substantial than that. We waited for a
minute or two, on our own, at le grille. Eventually,
a little French girl came out, took our order
and cooked up three French versions of a Full
English. The till in the grill area was closed
so we went to pay at the coffee bar with our
trays of food. We were waved away with lots
of Gallic shrugs and jabbering.
I don't know what it is, but food always tastes
better when it's free!
We were soon past Lille and on the way to Calais.
My bike decided to run out of fuel in the main
tank so I switched to reserve. I could manage
20 miles on reserve and the services were 25
miles away! When I ran out, we had to use Henry's
primus stove to transfer fuel from his and Bill's
tank to mine.
Another few miles and we were in Calais and
we managed to find a truck stop garage that
was open. We were a little early for the Tunnel
but, apparently, that isn't necessarily a problem.
We checked in and managed to get assigned to
an earlier crossing. Through various checkpoints
and controls, into the train and up through
it to the front with several other bikes.
After what seemed like only a few minutes, we
were back out in English Daylight. I looked
out of a window and saw the blackest clouds
you could imagine! We made our way out of the
train and made our way (on the correct side
of the road) towards the M20 and homeward bound.
We stopped at the services and got a bacon sarnie.
The clouds that I had seen had become bigger
and more menacing. But what did we care? No
As we got towards Heathrow it started. At first
a few spots, then more and then a full on deluge.
The traffic on the M4 was at walking pace. Within
seconds we were soaked to the skin. Henry had
his waterproofs on but I think that even he
had sprung a leak here and there. We pulled
in to Reading Services to take stock and decided
that, if the bikes would do it, so would we.
It wasn't cold, after all; just very wet.
Bill and Henry took junction 15 - Swindon East
to head up to Cheltenham past the Air Balloon
pub. I carried on alone and as I approached
Leigh Delamare Services just past the Chippenham
junction. I was trying to work out if I had
enough fuel to make it the last 30 miles. I
decided that I might as well fill up. As my
back wheel crossed the line from the carriageway
onto the slip road, the bike spluttered and
I had to switch to reserve. My bike was a sentient
being, I'm now convinced. A last tank of gas
Within the hour I was stood in a hot shower
still buzzing from the adrenalin.
A trip like this, as long as there are no disasters,
is something to behold. But to be back home,
dried out, showered and with the one you love,
really takes some beating.
GAME OVER MAN!
STATSISTICS - DAY 17:
342 miles Roye - Home
4066 miles in total
Average 240 miles per day
Distance travelled - 4066 miles
Petrol used - 262.73litres (57.80 Gallons)
Miles per gallon - 70.34
Total saddle time - 96.15 hours
Average speed - 43.60 m.p.h.
Me - 3
Feeling of accomplishment - PRICELESS!
The trip, for me, was the realisation of a
dream that I had harboured for many years. Back
in the 70's, I worked for what is now known
as B.T. Andy McCormack, a friend of mine was
planning an epic trip. He was to fly to San
Francisco with his then girlfriend, now wife,
Jean. He had taken his four week leave entitlement
for the year, carried two weeks over from the
previous year and was allowed to anticipate
one week from the following year making 7 weeks
in total. His request to be allowed to anticipate
a couple of days 'sick' was not allowed.
He bought a Harley in San Fransisco and rode
it back to New York. They flew back home and
awaited the bike which followed by sea. I was
green with envy. It
was the late 70's and I had a young family and
commitments that made such thoughts pipe-dreams.
I don't care too much for Harleys but I feel
that this trip has given me the same stupid
grin that Mac had when he got home.
Leslie, Henry's wife voiced concern, over dinner
in Ayomonte, over how Henry and I had got on
considering, as she put it that you are two
Alpha Males (pass the bananas, please Henry).
Well, I have to say that we never argued once.
We may have disagreed about which route to take
and Bill and I did make a sport out of suggesting
one thing and waiting for Henry to go for the
exact opposite, as is his wont; but that was
all good fun. Personally, I class it as some
sort of achievement. I can't remember the last
time I didn't have at least one argument on
People umm and ahh about whether they should
fit crash bars onto their Enfields. Let me tell
you, regardless of the amount of protection
they offer when you slip off, the crash bars
make getting the bike upright again a much more
practical proposition. I personally have had
two friends who lost a leg in bike accidents.
I don't know that crash bars would have prevented
their loss but I can't see that they would have
made it any worse.
Would I do it all again? You bet. With one or
1. I wouldn't look to cover as many miles in
as many days. It's OK doing 2 300 miles in a
day but you should then enjoy the local environment
for a day, or two.
2. I took enough changes of clothes for a clean
change every day without having to wash anything
until I got back. Big mistake. When your luggage
space is restricted, you can plan to need no
more than 3 changes of clothing for however
long you go; washing as required.
3. Get a GOOD camp site book or even two. France
has a good network of Municipal sites that are
as cheap as chips.
4. Keep the numbers down. The more people you
have, the less progress you will make each day.
5. Have a plan B. Always take out some good
holiday insurance with repatriation. Mine, with
the A.A. cost me £97. In the event of
breakdowns that couldn't be fixed, they would
ship the bike back, give me a hire car to carry
on and provide £45 per night for the remaining
holiday as additional expenses. It would almost
have been worth breaking down.