Northern France Tour – June 2013

A week ago today we set off on our motorcycle tour of Northern France.  Kent was mist bound to start our day which was not ideal and things did not significantly improve for us for the first part of our ride through the Nord Pas-de-Calais region.  We had 11 bikes with us of which 4 riders had never ridden in Europe before and we had 5 lady riders, (including Jan), in our group too.

We covered all of 1km on the autoroute as you come of the train in France and headed straight onto the open french roads through a normally very pretty part of Northern France, however, when the mist and mizzle is with you it’s not always the best of fun when you’re on a motorbike is it??!!  However, when we got to our lunch stop which was a small auberge crammed full of locals 🙂 our group seemed more than happy – we think as UK motorcyclists we have become so used to the inclement weather that we just manage to shrug it off these days!

After an excellent lunch we had dry roads for the remainder of the day, and rode to the race circuit La Croix-en-Ternoisat La Croix-en-Ternois.  As you can see we did have the luxury of the car park to ourselves as no racing going on today, however, there were 3 french riders having track time to themselves and at €50 for half day it is very good value, last time we were here there were some UK riders over doing a track day.

We got to our hotel in the heart of the Picardie region and ate out as a group at one of the little french restaurants where we had not only good food and wine but a warm welcome too.  Set us up well for our ride out the next day.

On our Saturday ride out we rode through Picardie and into parts of the champagne region.  Coffee was at Fismes which is twinned with Wem, Shropshire in the UK and then onto the Leaving Caverne du DragonCaverne du Dragon which is a WW1 memorial site well worth a visit – the roads to and from it are fantastic motorcycling roads too 🙂

From here we rode to the Reims/Gueux race circuit which is no longer in use for racing but the start/finish straight grandstands and Reims/Gueux Race Circuitgarages are maintained by a group of enthusiasts who would some day like to say car and motorbike racing back at this once famous circuit which was home to some the Formula 1 racing in the 1960’s.

For our ride out on Sunday we had a “mix of weather”!!!  – at one point we had blue skies and sunshine all around us and yet it was also raining bizarrely…..  Still the worst of the rain was whilst we were having lunch in Chateau Thierry which just meant al fresco dining was out, and then more showers for the last 20 miles back to the hotel after having visited the location of the signing of the Armistice in 1918.

Chateau Thierry was holding a festival in the afternoon that we were there and all roads were closing from 2pm for 5 hours, so we had to skip dessert and move the bikes on rather rapidly!  We rode through some beautiful parts of the Picardie region Pierrefonds Chateauonto Pierrefonds which is home to a stunning chateau as you can see from this picture.  Coffee and dessert was taken by the lake and we were blessed with sunshine with rain coming in just as we were about to leave – shouldn’t laugh but it was great fun watching the people out on the lake on pedalos trying to hotfoot it back to shore……..

Although this was only a short 4 day break, we were able to ride great roads and as a group we got to see and visit a variety of interesting places and locations.  It was a shame that we did not have blue skies and wall-to-wall sunshine for this our 3rd motorcycle tour of 2013, but everyone had a fantastic time – the riders new to motorcycling in Europe got to understand what all the hype has been about “quiet, open roads” – not only that but they are great for riding too 🙂

We will certainly be going back to this part of the world when we put together our motorcycle tours for the future and next time you ride to France don’t just use the autoroute through Northern France – visit the region, it’s well worth it……

Northern France – here we come!

Our 4 day motorcycle tour of Northern France starts tomorrow, well technically today in so far as we will be riding down to Folkestone this evening for an early start via Eurotunnel in the morning.  Typically “Mr Sunshine” seems to have gone on his hols too and at the time of writing this blog its raining – deep joy!

Still despite the forecast being not so brilliant we are not to be defeated by the rain and are looking forward to sharing some of the fab motorcycling roads the regions of Nord-Pas de Calais and Picardie have to offer.  As we say in our tour information on the website, many motorcyclists completely by-pass this part of France heading off from the ports at Calais onto the autoroutes to more southern parts of France – yes the weather is likely to be hotter and the mountains significantly higher, but the roads are no less open and flowing in the north.

We have a first for one of our tours, in so far as we have no pillions on this trip – all riders and 5 of whom are lady riders.  Some on this trip have not ridden in Europe before so they are in for a treat when they realise how little traffic there is in the open french countryside and also how biker friendly they are in France.  Not sure that you’d get many car drivers in the UK pulling over to the grass verges to allow motorcyclists to pass 🙂

Whatever the weather throws at us, DSC04031we have some great places to visit and roads to ride such as the Chemin des Dames, or the “Ladies Road” as it is sometimes referred to as – and you can’t get much more open than this!  You’ve also got great sweeping bends like this one 14.  Colin riding near Chateau Thierrynear Soissons to enjoy – lets hope there’s blue sky for us this coming weekend!

We’ll be stopping off at Coucy-le-Chateau- Auffrique which is a medieval walled village offering fantastic views over the St Gobain Forest and we have many other places to visit on this short tour of Northern France….. the best bit?  Well that’ll be the fact that we will be on two wheels – nothing better than touring with a great crowd of motorcyclists.  We’ll let you know how we get on 🙂

Ride to Work Day UK – 17th June 2013

At the time of writing this latest blog, many of you will hopefully have ridden to work in the UK on your motorbike – what we are wondering is what type of bike and how good was your ride?  Have you chosen to do this just for today or do you regularly ride to work?

As for our ride to work, Jan is office based today so her Triumph Tiger has not turned a wheel……. yet 🙂 however, Geraint is out on an Assessment today and set off around 8.30am on his Honda VFR 800 Vtec to meet up with Darrel at Chester Honda.  The Assessment day will cover around 130+ miles and take in some cracking motorcycling roads through Cheshire and Shropshire – not too sure what bike Darrel will be riding but whatever it is he’s on two wheels 🙂

The key statement of Ride To Work Day, is that  “By riding to work we demonstrate that life would be better if more people rode motorcycles and scooters every day, with time savings, less congestion and reduced travel costs. Ride with us and commute happy!” something which we think is worth sharing.

We’ve already seen lots of messages posted on both facebook and twitter about the various rides to work that people have been undertaking so far and hopefully the more motorcyclists seen out and about on the roads today, the more awareness there will be with the non-motorcycle riders out there.  This is the 15th Ride To Work day in the UK and schemes like GetOn are great for encouraging new riders.

One thing for certain, is once you have passed your test there’s no going back, Jan certainly felt that it was the best thing she has ever done and now loves being involved in motorcycling as a job.  Our “work riding” this week will involve 2 Assessements and then we’re off to Northern France with 11 other riders on Friday for 4 days of riding the French open roads.

We fully support “Ride To Work Day UK” and equally would like to encourage you all to ride your motorbikes as often as you can!

 

 

 

National BikeSafe Show 8th & 9th June 2013

Back at base now after a really good couple of days at the National BikeSafe event which was held at Doncaster Racecourse over this last weekend.  There was so much going on over the 2 days of the event from the Ride Outs accompanied by a police motorcyclist to DSC03378either testing out new motorbikes which were provided by the various manufacturers at the show or you could go out on your own bike just to have an assessment on your riding skills.  This photo was taken of one happy policeman inbetween ride outs!!

In addition to the ride outs there was a stunt show with some amazing tricks being done on two wheels – DSC03390this photo does not realy do it justice but here he was turning the motorbike a full 180 degrees in mid air…….  and at one point he was on top of the transit van in the background…. probably not a recommend for your everyday road bike 🙂

We had a great show with a lot of visitors to our stand interested both in motorcycle touring in the UK and Europe.  Our VFR attracts attention not only for the stickers etc., on the panniers giving away where we have toured, but also we have had interest in the various add-ons to the bike to make motorcycle touring just that little bit more comfortable i.e. the tank bag, touring seat, air cushion etc.  When you cover the mileage we do in a year having a little extra comfort makes a difference!

We had one visitor to our stand DSC03376who is clearly a budding racer of the future – he was determined to back up his bike as close as he could to our VFR!!!

We would like to use this blog to say a big thanks to the organisers of the National BikeSafe event this year and we hope to join you again next year when we will have a whole new programme of exciting motorcycle tours to promote both in the UK, Ireland and Europe – until then we are very much looking forward to our tours coming up in 2013!

National BikeSafe Show 2013 – Doncaster Racecourse

New experience for us this weekend, we have a stand at the National BikeSafe show which this year is at Doncaster Racecourse and it is free of charge to get in.  We’ve done shows in the past for others and also helped out recently at the BMF show in Peterborough which we blogged about a couple of weeks ago, but this is “just us”!!!

We’ve brought up the VFR for this show complete with panniers all stickered up with the places we have toured to, but we also had to bring the car as we had the banners and other equipment to bring up – quite strange really having a car and a motorbike travelling to the same location – Jan’s missing the riding already!!

Arrived at the Racecourse to set up just after midday Police Bikes at National BikeSafe showand this very impressive line up of police motorcycles was there to greet us, the blue skies are looking good to and set in for the weekend (fingers crossed!).

Our stand is next to Beowulf in the indoor exhibition part and we are on stand M1 – next to the escalator to the food hall which could come in handy….. 🙂

Setting up the stand took us a little while even though we have no hard standing etc., it’s all about the presentation at the end of the dayDSC03370 and the banners which Lindsey produced for us recently have come into their all.  This picture is “work in progress” and we’ll update as the weekend progresses how the stand has developed for us.

We’ll be posting photos on our facebook and twitter pages over the weekend so look out for us and if you get chance to make the most of this sunshine and fancy a day out riding your motorbikes to a good event come along and see us.   Bye for now.

 

Sunday Motorcycle Ride Out – Mid & North Wales

We had our third motorcycle ride out of the year this last Sunday 2nd June when we rode into Mid and North Wales.  The sun “had it’s hat on” which is always good when on two wheels isn’t it?!  And as a result we had 41 bikes turn up for the full day ride out on some fantastic roads through stunning scenery.

We met at The Lets Eat cafe near Bartington for a 9am departure.  All types of bikes started DSC03279turning up as you can see from this photo with quite a few new comers to our day ride outs.  It’s good to see people catching up with each other who they have met either on some of our previous ride outs or motorbike tours and also for other riders who may tend to ride on their own ordinarily to get to meet and ride within a group.

We set off under blue skies and they stayed with us for the remainder of the day.

Our first coffee stop was in the Tanat Valley – very quiet part of Mid Wales – well it was until we turned up…!  🙂 DSC03286and doesn’t it make a nice change to be able to sit outside and have a drink, and it is probably one of the first times this year when we have been on a ride out that you get to take off your bike gear at a stop – our first ride out in March was in the snow and our second in April was overcast and windy!!!

Suitably refreshed we headed off towards North Wales riding on open roads through the Tanat and Vyrnwy Valleys – we encountered very little traffic which was a “brucie bonus” and the ride through the tree lined, sun dappled roads was wonderful.  We run our motorcycle ride outs on a corner marking system and had a minor hiccup on the last left hand turn before lunch where our marker was clearly hungry and wanted to get to his chicken curry in a hurry!!!!!  Luckily the great British roadworks were in force with traffic lights on red just by the junction and we managed to avert around 15 bikes heading towards the Welsh coast rather than lunch….. 🙂  All 47 of us arrived at The Corris Craft centre where we had a great welcome, good food and service from Natalia and the team at the Y Crochan cafe.  

Our next leg was to ride the A494 towards Bala – a wonderful stretch of road popular with all motorcyclists for its smooth tarmac, twists and turns which tighten at times and with wonderful scenery surrounding you all the way.  We then rode the A5104 – another fab motorcycling road to the Ponderosa cafe on the Horseshoe Pass near Llangollen which was heaving with bikes all out making the most of the good weather.

We then had a 30 mile ride to our final departure point at The Sandstone pub near Bickerton DSC04570aand took some quiet back roads with no traffic – all arrived to enjoy a drink in the garden at the pub and it was a great way to end the day.

We would like to thank everyone who joined us and look forward to our next ride out on the 4th August.