French tour 2007.

Thursday morning June 21 2007, after saying goodbye to my wife, I left in good spirits towards the gas station of Hazeldonk.

At fifteen minutes past six I am welcomed by Ger, who is rolling his cigarette.
As Richard arrives we decide to put on our rain gear because of the cold weather and fifteen minutes later we finally leave.

Unbelievable, our first gas station in France at nine ‘o clock, just passed the border.
Having some coffee and sausage link rolls after refueling and off we go again.
As we refuel again at one ‘o clock, Ger discovers a tiny oil leakage. Holy Shttt…
Luckily the cause is soon enough discovered, it’s just the rubber of the rear cylinders’ oil hose.
Ger has got an interested audience while he fixes the problem.
Also my bike is leaking some oil, but it seems like it‘s the rubber of the pushrod covers (or something like that, not too difficult…)

Near Paris we get stuck in a traffic jam but all the motorists let us pass easily. Whereas we tack slowly by, we are caught up by some French bikers who don’t notice the traffic-jam at all. At the next traffic jam, a police car jams itself between a tunnel wall and a truck; what the hell… the citizen pays. After a nice piece of Paris we’re in the right direction again, at last.

The rest of the trip runs smoothly (accept for loosing Ger and Richard once) as it starts to rain for the last few miles.
Seeking shelter from the rain in a small hamlet at the gas station annex pub, with several local inbreeds at the Pastis, we have ourselves a bottle of beer.
Soon we make friends with the local biker who is willing to take us to the motor camp.
Is it me or is it the alcohol already? Just when I start to feel hallucinating, Richard discovers the beer is being way passed expiry date.

After a nice ride on winding mountain roads with associating river, we enter the hamlet of Saint Remy de Blôt. It’s so small, not even the people down hill knew about its’ existence.
The motor camp seemed deserted, but no, there were folks.
Except for the owner, his family and dogs (Harley and Davidson) there were two more customers, the nice couple from Tilburg (near Breda) who were there all week, packed together in a wooden garden house they dare call “Chalet”.

We were so bright to make use of the dormitory, combined with diner and breakfast at a mere € 35,00.
Diner consists of lettuce scooped with hot dog meat, fatty fries and even bolder entrecote and as dessert “cheese with pieces of fruit” (no stupid, it’s quark)
At the dormitory the SOB shirt is handed to Richard officially

In the morning we took a shower and made use of the camping’s towels.
Checking bolts and nuts, refilling oil and waiting for breakfast we discovered it was just seven ‘o clock.
Breakfast was how late again?
Not until nine? Shit…

Leaving St. Remy de Blot in a rain suit, heading for the highway
At the gas station we decide to get of the highway just before we reach the Milau Bridge.
As soon as we hit the back roads it is getting real hot and under this bridge we get out of our sweaty plastics.

On nice bended roads I seem to have lost Ger and Richard the second time, but it worries me a lot less then before.
Richard’s engine (Evo!) needed to cool down. Richard tries to save his face by acting a road repair on the picture at Ger’s Shovel.
We leave the nicer towns and villages for what they are and pause at the most hideous village of Salvetat sur Agout on a pub terrace.
Not for diner ‘cause diner at six ‘o clock in the evening is impossible at French country side.

At seven thirty we finally reach the gravel path which will lead us to the SOG rally.
Because it’s still early the organization isn’t quite done yet but Marcel, Yvonne and Cas are welcoming us and want to trade T-shirts.
After we parked at the stables we meet with Robbert Jan and Huib from HDC Almkerk who, to our big surprise, made it all the way.
When we ride to our campsite I realize too late that the organization (read: a small French guy) span a rope across the road to withhold the bikers from going the wrong way.
Hitting my brakes, a piece of rock shoots away from under my wheel and before I know it, the bike is on top of me. Oops!!
Ger picks me up together with Yvonne and the little French guy. Richard shows up with a piece of rock and ask: “Is this the one?” (Grrr.)
Together we push the bike to the campsite and a marking ribbon is used to avoid further troubles.
We disassemble the brake side of the forward control and Marcel promises me I‘ll be the first tomorrow morning to fix the problem. Bending it or welding it…it shall be fixed.
Later that evening we drink our beers and eat some hotdogs while Marcel, Yvonne and some French guys are making music on stage.
Marcel tastefully tells his tales about their adventures Down under and Ger and Richard manage some meat spears with sauce and bread without vegetables or swelled potatoes

Saturday morning Ger gets out of his tent numb, the altitude is about 1100 meters. After a hot cup of coffee and a baguette with jam (also for breakfast one should not be in France.)
We start looking for Marcel.
While he is busy helping me he is harassed by other people with questions.
A photographer of the French-language Freeway Magazine takes photographs as the aluminum is bent back in place. Ger is now making a conical bolt of the brake side from a M8 bolt with the grinding wheel.
After we’re ready Richard gets out of bed at last. After he has enjoyed coffee with breakfast, we ride the road to Narbonne plage.

The route is beautiful with nice tight turns and asphalt, steep cliffs and deep ravines.
When I look in my mirror after a few bends I seem to have lost those guys again.
Just stop, turn and drive back, it's becoming a routine.
"You don’t see a thing" is the comment of Richard, after I had found them again.
Well, I don’t have the time to watch the surface while playing Road captain.
He is happy with his brass tool….

After a quick stop at the supermarket, we passed the city of Narbonne to reach the hills of “Massif de Clappe”. The surroundings are beautiful and the scent of the sea gets stronger every meter.
On top of the hill we enjoy the view and we decide to go to the beach.
We stop at a pavilion, mostly because we all three have to take a shit.
Further on we ride trough a pedestrian area to park our bikes at the beach and go for a swim.

On the way back I notice in Beziers shifting gears gets more and more difficult and as I check, my suspicion is confirmed: the clutching cable is almost gone.
Ger’s spare is at home and mine is in my tent at the rally. At a gas station nice people are trying to help us but alas…(nice cars anyway).
I can’t do anything else then riding without using the clutch. Richard and Ger in front of me to clear the road.
Even on the gravel path it works fine and at the rally the problem was fixed in no time.
We still don’t have to pay entree fee.

The rally is nicely crowded and in the afternoon there were some silly games and an hour of maintenance lessons, which attracts mostly young bikers.
Ger and I discover our faces and noses are completely sunburned. Richard laughs his balls off while he hands us a small jar with white liquid of debatable origin.
“Cock juice”
Well, we don’t trust it but carefully we put it on our faces.
Again we drink some beers (after we politely thanked a lot for the Pastis from a tin watering can) chat and enjoy the music from a French blues band and later on Jan de Bruijn (all the way from Breda).
Huib smells like hell because he fell asleep in a not so clean stable box, which is very good for his brand new “SOG” tattoo which was placed an hour ago.
Later he told me about his recent heart attack and his many pills including blood diluents…

We meet some Italian guys from “RegistroShovelItalia” and Ger trades his XL shirt for a long sleeve sized M. We’re invited for their 2008 rally.


Sunday morning we check our bikes and put on all our gear.
We put some “cock juice” on our faces and say goodbye after an “extended” breakfast.
The journey home goes very well when it starts raining near Dijon, as we see light bolts coming our way we decide to call it a day.
At the Etap hotel we get ourselves a three person’s room with breakfast.

After taking a shower, we put the cock juice on our faces again and went for dinner at the Campanile hotel across the street.
Service is quick and polite if you forget about the moments on which we were totally ignored. “Cock juice” and “Oops” are becoming frequently used words.

On Monday morning we refill our engines with oil, put our gear on the bikes and go for breakfast.
At eight ‘o clock we are back on the toll way again and the bikes seem to be better running (faster) by the mile.
Luckily we wear our rain gear because at Metz it starts raining cats and dogs in no time.
We hide at a closed Harley dealer but not for long and at the border from Luxembourg it is finally dry.
The last piece of the journey we had to hide two times more and I had to adjust my headlights and lost a bolt of my exhaust pipe.

All together it was a nice journey without significant problems.
When we met again for exchanging photo’s, Richard presented me the stone he took from the rally and which I, without knowing it, carried myself….