After several meetings, the last in Mecrin (northern France), we came to the conclusion that "SOB ride 2013" was to be driven by the three of us.
A little under 3000 kilometers in less than five days.

Appy left Babs while she was sleeping; quarter past five in the morning is very early.
The Shovel was excited and started while kicked the first time, yes!
Finally Appy was the first on the spot, but after fifteen minutes of waiting he began to wonder if Bullit and Marcel were at the right place, this was also the first time to meet at this place.
At a quarter past six they finally arrived.
Luckily they already filled up so, "en route" (French for: go, go go!)

It was agreed not to drive such long stretches so next FPC stop was just after Liege. (FPC: Filling-Pissing-Coffee).
The subsequent refueling succeeded again without problems: Luxembourg.
Here were suddenly two ladies behind us with their sportsters on a trailer on their way to the motor camp in Montclar sur Gervanne. (See button "motor campsites")
They suffered from a torn fender, if we could help them.
Of course we can, only Appy had to do something he had not planned: getting his tools.

Bullit laughed, only nobody knew why (that happens frequently with Bullit ...)
Wanda, because that was her name, did not know what to do with it but that was mainly because she did not understand him.
Language barrier: in France they understand flawlessly Dongen dialect, but someone from South Holland doesn’t understand a word at all (Dongens, so).
Still weird.
Appy takes the fender of the trailer, and Nel (as was the other named) promises us a beer at our next meeting.

Just after the first toll booth we encountered the first problem: the Harley of our new-fangled SOB-ber Marcel jumps on alarm and stays on it!
There you are, less than 600 kilometers from Breda and you will not go through too MODERN technology .... fck.
Testing, feeling, thinking ... no clue, now what?
Then you put your pride aside and call the dealer.
And what does the mechanic ask you first?
Are you standing near a Hotspot post?
Learning again, we push the Harley a few meters further and .... there he goes!


After some refueling we get off the highway at Pont d'Ain.
The tollbooth robot mutters something in French, recognize us as motorcyclists and takes off some of the toll fee.
The first "on road maintenance service" is the front exhaust bolt cited by Appy. (At least once each year).

A beautiful route through, gently sloping surroundings, brings us to the town of Lagnieu were we drink on a terrace and eat our, purchased elsewhere, pizza. You’ll  never get rich, this way!

Around half past nine the direction teller doesn’t know where we are and we decided to set up the tents but camping in the wild in the middle of the civilized world seems not such a good idea.
So we drive to the campsite "Les Bords du Guiers" on the river Guiers. (Oh yeah....)
Appy starts to ask, with fresh courage in the French language, for a place to stay while Bullit and Marcel are laughing there balls off.
Ha-ha, the owner is Dutch.
He didn’t want to disturb Appy in his attempt to speak French.

The next day we go straight into the mountains with narrow roads, small villages, S- and hairpin curves.
In a village near Grenoble Appy goes on the side.
It looks like the clutch cable is failing.
After it is replaced, the old one seems in order.
Mmmm, that will be investigated later.
Somewhere in the mountains, we are forced to the side by a Dutch driver with his caravan. With his head completely in his own world, he didn’t even notice us!

Around the city of Grenoble we see the snow on the mountaintops and we seem so close but the roads keeps running through the ugly industrial area.
Finally we are out and suddenly we drive in the countryside.
We have a lot to drive through La Morte and Valbonnais and near Chantelouve we stop at Auberge "Le Chamois" and talk with Dutch cyclists.
(The kind who cannot afford to buy a motorcycle and therefore are forced to propel themselves).

Then we drive near Ornon with its houses with corrugated iron roofs towards Bourg d'Oisans and take col de Lautaret to Briancon.
Here we eat at a burger joint of American origin and make some quarrel with the locals who suddenly know how to behave in traffic.
Then we took the steepest street ever! (Not for motorized traffic?)

Then hit the hereto most beautiful col: Col d'Izoard.
Throwing snowballs and take “riding”pictures, but then drive so hard that the camera cannot keep up ...
Appy his clutch is getting crazier and he decides to use it just for starting and emergencies.

Driving on col de Vars, the environment looks very familiar and after we drove through a winter sports village we stop at the place we ever said we would like to go bivouacking.
Here we have also been in 2008.
But it's too early and we do not have beer with us so, further we go.

We stop in Barcelonnette to eat and discuss whether we will go to Werner’s Biker camp (See "Reading stuff 2008" or "Links" button or "Motor Camp")
Again we were here in 2008 and we liked it here very much.
But it's still too early and we decide to go further and subsequently prove that was a good decision ...

Soon we cross the gorges of Bachelard, this is really nice.
A very narrow road, isn’t it one-way traffic?
The texts on the signs are legible so no, but as a motorcyclist in the next bend almost crashes his mirror against Appy’s tent, we are on our guard ...
The road is littered with pieces of rock which came down and we meet some oncoming  cars, so every bend is carefully taken.
The road turns into the col de Cayolle.
The snow piles along the side of the road are getting higher and trees are flattened by the sliding snow, very impressive!
We get higher, there are even no more trees and beside the road five feet high walls of snow.
When we arrive at the top it starts to get dark.
The melt water freezes on the road again so we have to go down before it’ s really dark!
As fast as still safe we drive zigzagging down.

Once down we drive through a village where the local farmer just brings his cows to the barn.
They run on public roads shitting and gliding through the poo we drive onwards.
Outside the village we turn to a gravel path that will lead us to a campsite.
It is a very small, narrow path with a few twists and ugly pits, which can never be a promising campsite. ...
But once there we see a, for those parts, quite a large campsite.
There is a restaurant, a swimming pool, cottages and tents for hire, a tennis court etc.etc.
It's late and dark, so Marcel will negotiate the price of a tent but unfortunately, the owner is not to persuade: the full price must be paid.

Back in the café the owner starts to thaw, pours some beers and starts playing some old hardrock especially for us.
Half in English, half in French we are having conversations and going off the night he gives us three rounds of beer.
Probably he now had an excuse to his wife why the beer barrel was empty ...

The next morning Appy starts his maintenance.
It appears that the ball of the counter bolt is completely disappeared and the plates and the house are completely filled with metal particles and grease, so dredging.
The plates and the house will be cleaned and the whole thing as good as possible is readjusted.
Pretty much every spare part with us, except that bolt of less than four euros!

After breakfast with a beautiful view we enter the gorges the Daluis.
For a moment we go the wrong way but it will result in the town of Entrevaux, a beautiful castle village.
At the cafe we decide to see only one side of the gorges du Verdon in relation to lack of time.
On to Castellane.
From Castellane we drive to the gorges and on the edge of the river we eat some pizza.
Halfway through the ride we go the "Route de Crete" and achieve dramatic and far-depth views.
The road surface itself is bad but probably they keep it like that on purpose because it is so narrow and there are no guardrails and stuff.
Each driver error inevitably leads to a dip in the deep!

At Moustiers saint Marie we have a drink and decide to drive through a faster route to the Camping Moto because Appy’s clutch handles like hell!
Near Crest, we still have to take the col Saint Croix where Appy drives as fast as possible down the mountain and Bullit and Marcel don’t see him no more.
Meanwhile the chamois jump in front of our wheels.

At the campsite we are welcomed by manager Theo and Nel and Wanda as if they were waiting for us.
First some beer from Theo and then enroll in a "Gypsy wagon". (A canteen with bunk beds.)
It's late again and we want beer!
Then fries, sausage and a beer from Nel and Wanda.
Quickly we buy coins and start drinking!

The next morning Appy removes the clutch again and decides to cut the bolt by saw.
At the barn of the camping there’s equipment which may be used and as Appy enters he sees a clutch hub of a Harley four speed.
Could it be ..?
"Search in the bins," is the answer.
But nothing, the hub is the only Harley part that is still here.
They do have a phone number of a motorcycle shop, but after three attempts to reach it, we just decide to move on.

As we near Lyon we see on the matrix signs that there is a traffic jam in Lyon, but we can’t choose another  route anymore.
Where the cars in Paris make way for bikers, we are driven simply clip in Lyon.
But Appy initially refuses to stop and with some cursing and swearing he can  persuade some motorists to move.
Eventually it becomes too bad and we drive into the  center of Lyon.
First we cool down, literally and figuratively, than choose a different route through the city.
And successful, happy us!

While we continue to drive to Luxembourg Marcel almost receives a head butt from a pigeon but it ends nearly against his mirror.
Without too much damage we arrive at motor camp High Chaparral.
Again, no tent set but rent a chalet, we want beer again! What else.

The next day we refuel and where Appy  is doing it the whole trip a little bit, Marcel decides (in the context of road maintenance) to proceed to a locally manageable environmental disaster and pours nearly half a liter of oil directly onto the floor ....

After refueling at Maastricht we tell other motorcyclists about our adventures and all we receive are pitying glances. They do not understand much, but yeah, Dongen dialect huh!

A few days later Appy receives from Marcel and Bullit the "Best Shovel Driver 2013" trophy.

Thanks guys!