Friday, 1 August 2014

Post 8 - Conquer Europe, unlike some notable failures

Mission - Channel Tunnel, Belgium Germany

Ended up in France


Last September, a few of us had grand plans to tour some of the best biking roads in Germany, particularly around the Black Forest area. Unfortunately at that time the forecast showed a full week of torrential rain so we chose to spend our time on the west coast of France.

This week was my chance to right this wrong and find out if the roads were as good as made out. Sure enough though, the day before the Tunnel adventure I checked the forecast and lo and behold we have torrential rain, thunderstorms and lightning over Belgium and Germany so as France wasn't as badly affected I chose to go to the area with the goodest looking weather namely the Le Havre area.

Around 200 miles, I thought that this could be done in 3 hours tops and I'd be at wherever it's called by 6pm for a quick tent up, a beer and some grub.

Unfortunately three things happened. One, the train under the channel ran late, two, I went north rather than south and three, it's very hard to get anywhere fast in France if you're not on the motorway.

The satnav calculated arrival at the camp sir at 00.30 which was a bit of a surprise but sure enough there's a wee town every few miles where you have to slow down to 30 so rather than averaging 60-70mph it was down to 20-30-40 hence the 6-7 hour calculation.  I should also mention the kamikaze tractor drivers too.....

So to recap, I was late, i went the wrong way, I miscalculated how fast u can get about and as I write, I'm sitting in the tent, under torrential rain and heavy wind, nowhere near where I want to be or intended to be

To celebrate this multitude of cockups I figured that I should stay somewhere special, so tonight I have camped in the town of Berck. I think it's apt.

A lovely young lady helped with my tent erection. I promise this will be the last mention of this too easy joke.

Prior to leaving Folkestone I made the laborious journey down to London which I naively thought would be my longest day the whole trip. Today was nine hours riding so so much for that assumption. My backsides like a shrivelled prune. I'll need to iron it before I go anywhere tomorrow..

Anyways, back to London. I used to work with an old fella called Hussain in RBS and after I asked to pitch my tent in his garden he grudgingly allowed me to stay at his house..

Met his beautiful wife and daughter and then Hussain and I went for some beer and food. Turned out I'd intruded in time for EID which is a big Muslim celebration but they graciously fed, watered and sheltered me and couldn't have made me feel any more welcome. Top class guys, I thank you..

I didn't actually know that Hussain was Muslim and driving through London to the tunnel I noticed loads of different people types, much more than you would ever see in Scotland. Indeed we only really have two religions in Scotland, Rangers and Celtic.

So from Berck I travelled for ever down the coast, over the 'grand canal' and then the Point de Normandie and for once I could see the point.

So, ended up in wee town next to St Lo. Both restaurants had shut down so not much of a happening place.  The campsite owner, a wee bearded fat Irishman that reminded me of Rory Nangle, was very quick to tell me he has lots of alcohol, all the Scotch spelt properly ie with an 'e'. (Whiskey rather than Whisky for those of you trying to work out where the e went in Scotch).  He also reminded me that the Irish invented Scotch. Now work that one out......

Anyway hopefully he'll get well soon after his visit to hospital to remove that litre bottle from his rectum

Just under 350 miles to Langres. Arse killing me. Passed over the Seine AGAIN, and again, the satnav diverting me right through the middle of Paris. No one will be surprised to hear it was a wee bit busy and filtering was took to a whole new level. Scooters beeping at me to get past as my panniers were too wide to get through bits they could fire through, on the phone eating baguettes, wearing onions, shouting he haw, he haw, ok the last bit was made up but I've never filtered so fast since riding back fae Glasgow one night, on the bikes, with a certain Mr Glen.....

The only downside was my crotch. It was boiling.. The locals had shorts and t shirts. I had kegs, trousers and thick armoured trousers on.. I'm sure I could've cooked an egg on my chookies, if I was better at balancing eggs.

Langres is a nice wee place, tres similar to York, but without all those bloody English people. Walked round the defending walls but unfortunately no one attacked me. Ate in a nice wee restaurant and drink in a nice wee pub and I have a suggestion.

Not one single bloody person understood Scottish or even my Spanglish. Now, Europe is under the union and all use the same currency so for gods sake why can't they all learn one language and get rid of all these crap, hard to learn ones. I know Esperanto didn't work but there's a new country in town.

Scotland is due to become independent in a couple of months so why not, as a welcome present, allow them to introduce the language of choice that would apply across the whole of Europe.

Scottish is the language of Kings. You have to be really clever to understand it but if Russ Abbott can manage it then the rest of a Europe can. Surely

Just a thought

As usual I've digressed. I'm in a municipal campsite in Langres (for those not posh, it means council), so I'm expecting my bike to get nicked during the night. It's a long walk home. At least I can teach Scottish on my way home

Langres 3.30am -

Allegedly rubbing too hard can make it painful. I know this now

Langres 2.45am -

Was woken with a jolt. Massive stomach pain. Quickly threw on the shorts and flip flopped to the toilet block, then remembered French toilettes are BYOBR so had to go back for the loo roll. By this time I was sweating I wouldn't make it but thankfully all went well.

Langres 3.10am -

Tried to ignore the pain but no joy it wasn't going away. Off to perform the flip flop of shame again armed with the evidential loo roll. Small stepped flipping and flopping just in case. The locals must've thought there was two people out and about pre 3am. One with long confident relieved strides and another hurrying with small hurried panicked steps. Weird

So back to topic. Arse red raw and feart to sleep in case it returns when the tent next door, five feet away, starts to make funny noises.

The female had some sort of obsession for glassware. Started off low enough but eventually her "Jar, Jar, Oh Jar Jar" got to be a bit annoying as it got louder. The fella she was with was obviously too busy bouncing on his rubber lilo to get that bloody jar for her.

I had Heinz beans and soup in my top box and was tempted to take the soup over to see if that would do instead of the jar and would she please kindly shut it

So eventually that settles down then the lorries on the next door dual carriageway started off for the day.

Maybe I'll sleep when I get to Vosges

Met a lovely couple from Cornwall the next morning who were on the other side of the Dutch couple. Their main statement was that they'd be glad to get rid of the Scots so that Rosyths work would go to Plymouth. Nice

Drove the short distance to Vesoul and just as well it was a short journey as my head was pounding, I felt sick and had to make a sharp visit to Le toilettes once again

Fortunately things improved during the day to allow me to make a quick 150 mile trip to St Die to check out the mountain roads. I've a number of the roads to get through but the ones completed today were absolutely superb. Long, fast, sweeping with some tight hairpins thrown in. One which caught me out and tested out the ABS. The tourists sitting in their car were a bit alarmed when I skidded to a halt next to them but a quick Guten Tag and I was on my way. I hope they didn't clock the Scottish number plates or my ploy will have been for nothing.

Nipped into McDonald's when in St Die as I was absolutely boiling and needed to get the trousers down for a bit of airing.

Decided to wash my helmet, especially the inside bit as it was absolutely filthy. Covered in dead flies, dirt, you name it. Both visors equally filthy to be honest, maybe time for a new helmet when I get back. It's nice of McDonald's to provide this service though and next time you're having a happy meal think of me cleaning my helmet. I'm performing a public service here putting you off eating there!!

This Vesoul campsite must be the Butlins of the area as it's full of screaming kids. Thankfully I'll be away in the morning up to the mountains. I'll spend tonight counting my many mosquito bites, that'll keep me busy enough

1 comment:

  1. One of these days, you must try to get beyond France - it's a long way to Seville, Istanbul, Helsinki and the Nordkapp!