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SUNDAY 1st JULY 2007

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The next morning was a different story Mike rustled up a full English with French bangers (pork and paprika). It didn't touch the sides. Even the fried eggs were well received!
We attended to the bikes. Oil, tappets, tyre pressures etc. Only two problems turned up. Bill was now getting almost 85 m.p.g. However, he thinks if he switches to a thicker grade of oil, this figure should begin to rise a little.

There was not much that could be done about Bill's oil consumption en route, except to keep a close eye on it to make sure it didn't run dry and to make sure that Bill rode at the back. I thought he'd left the smoke machine in Worcester?

The other problem was that Henry's bike was leaking oil from the inlet oil banjo connector. We managed to develop our first fault and it needed a copper washer which none of us had! Heads were being scratched to come up with a French translation for "copper washer".

Henry tightened things down as much as he could safely do and we all set off with Mike leading the way towards Bordeaux. This being Sunday and the fact that we were in France meant that we had almost as much chance of finding a free lunch as finding a copper washer shop. The same applies to Petrol! Strange country, France. If it's Sunday, then it's shut. Saying that, we did manage to find an unattended petrol station that had an automatic pump that took Visa.

We continued on through several sleepy towns and villages, most of which were made up of narrow streets with blocks of houses, four or five stories high that opened out right onto the narrow pavementWe were making our way through one such "Ville"......

That's when it happened.......

Bill was riding number two as we were coming up to a set of traffic lights. All of a sudden, Bill's bike let out a thunderous backfire and the whole scene in front of me disappeared in a cloud of blue / black smoke! The volume seemed to be amplified by the proximity of the buildings.

When the smoke cleared, Bill's carb was hanging like a severed head, Several people on the pavement had their hands over their hearts. One woman had her hand over her arse. An old fellow on the other side of the road was checking his fob watch. I can only assume that he thought that the noon day gun had gone off early? Two minutes later, the carb was re-attached and we were underway again.

We rode on as we had agreed, two hours or so, followed by a ten minute break. After a while, we found a converted petrol station that sold filled baguettes. That was lunch sorted. Oil levels were checked and we topped up Bill's bike, again. It had earned the nick-name "Amoco Cadiz" due to the amount of black stuff it was losing.

We rode through the French countryside with fields of sunflowers watching over us. Before we reached Bordeaux, Mike waved us off and headed back for Perignac.

We missed our turning as we approached Bordeaux and ended up riding right through the centre of the city. What a nice mistake to make. A lovely place. We hooked up the Sat Nav and we were soon winging our way out of Bordeaux, going south towards Biarritz.

The weather was getting warmer and the countryside was getting more rural. We were riding on a Motorway class road (the N10) through beautiful pine forests with mile upon mile of fragrant yellow flowered Broom.

LE MAGIC CLOTH
We took a break at one of the many picnic areas that are to be found along the road. Henry sparked up his petrol primus time-bomb and we soon had a cuppa in our hands. After a leak and another check of the bikes, we started to put our coats and helmets back on.

We decided that, as time was marching on, we would ride for about another hour and then look for a camp site. As I was sorting out my Ipod, Bill started his bike and started to tootle off. Henry and I discussed the pros and cons of music and riding for a minute and then we started up and made for the slip road to find Bill.

Thats's when it happened......

Bill was nowhere to be seen. Henry and I couldn't believe that he'd just blasted off down the motorway without us? I did a quick tour of the picnic area to see if he was about. Still no Bill. So we set off blindly down the motorway to see if we could find him.
We had, up to now, kept our speeds to around 50 or so. I set off at around 75 / 80 for 20 minutes to catch him up. Still no Bill. I had passed several services and Pit-Stops and slowed down as I passed each one to have a good look out for him. After 20 minutes, I stopped on the hard shoulder, just before an exit and waited for Henry. We decided that I'd wait on the motorway bridge and Henry would retrace our steps checking each Pit-Stop and junction along the road to see if he could flush him out. I got my bike up onto the bridge and Henry set off North bound. I managed to get my bike up onto the narrow pavement on the bridge, to get it off the road and to let it act as a beacon to Bill.
Then, as I tried to dismount, I lost balance and both me and the bike were lying in the road! I managed to crawl clear and some kind soul stopped and helped me get it back upright again.
Time was passing and I had doubts that we would ever regain contact with Bill this side of home. Bill had a mobile phone but didn't have any credit on it, let alone have it configured to work in France. The only logical thing I could think that he might do is to do the E.T. thing and phone home!

I decided to call Naomi, Bill's wife, and see if he had called.
"Hello Naomi, It's Tim"
"Oh - I'm fine thanks, and you?"
The weather, oh it's wonderfull
"Oh yes, were all OK thanks........except......"
"We seem to have lost Bill,..... a little bit!"

Everything considered, I think she was very calm. She promised to call me if he called her and I told her I'd let her know when (meaning if) we found him. Henry returned about an hour later and we decided that there was little more we could do so we said that we would carry on down the motorway and look for a camp site. We were both glum, the three were now two.
All-in-all, it had now been some 90 minutes since we'd last seen Bill. We set off south and after about 20 minutes I saw an exit which said fuel (I was getting low) and camping. I indicated right and checked behind to make sure Henry saw it.

Then, just as I was running up the slip road, there he was. The silly old sod! Bike parked on the edge of the slip road, Bill was sat on the armco barrier like a Garden Gnome! As we came to a halt and got off, Bill proceeded to bollock us.

"Where the blazes have you two been, I've been waiting here for ages?"
I didn't know whether to hug him or just kick him off the armco and down into the ditch! We got back on our bikes and set about following the signs for "Camping Lou Payou"


CAMPING LOU PAYOU

The site was less than a mile from the junction and was a small family run site that was almost empty. The unforeseen problem was that they had used sand to make up the tracks on the site and the top-heavy bikes didn't like it one bit. Once we allowed for it we managed without dropping any of the bikes.
We decided that the tents could wait a bit. We set about making Bill fluent in the necessary French phrases.
Bill approached the shop / reception / cafe.

"Trois beers s'il vouz plait mamoiselle....... por favour, thank you"

Well he came back with three cold ones so - success. We were about to down in one when Bill stopped us. "Toast!" he cried.

Beer always tastes better when the sun's out. After a couple more, we set about making camp and getting some nosh underway.

We phoned Naomi and put her mind at rest. She made me promise that we would make sure that Bill was "the meat in the sandwich" from now on.

The tents went up without too much trouble and we dined on Bully Beef and Beans from our supplies with French bread from the shop along with a bottle or two of red stuff.

STATISTICS DAY 3;

201 miles from Perignac to Camplig Lou Payou
544 miles in total
Average 181 miles per day

MONDAY 2nd AUGUST

We awoke to rain on the tents. Depressing. Wet tents to put away and wet roads to ride on. But, by the time we were up and dressed, the rain had passed and the tents were dry enough after a good shake.

More beans for breakfast. That should help to keep the fuel bill down for the bikes! We packed away and paid our bill at the site and headed for the local garage to fill up.

Bugger me if Monsieur Price didn't disappear into the garage with the French mechanic and reappear with une rondelle de cuivre' in his hand and a big beaming smile on his face (Copper Washer to you). Ten minutes later and it was fitted. We set off for the Spanish border and the Pyrenees.
GONE FISHING

After an hour of steady riding, we turned off the N10 and headed for DAX. We began to climb into the Pyrenees. We had turned off from the main drag to cross via the mountains rather than skirt around the side. The scenery was spectacular. Little did we know that, on a scale of 1 to 10 for scenery we would see on this holiday, this would score around only 3.
We continued up into the mountains, and stopped in St. Jean Pied De Port at a small supermarket to buy some lunch. Bread, cheese, ham and a fresh cooked pizza.

DINNER IS SERVED


We also bought some provisions for our evening meal. Henry almost emptied the charcuterie counter for tomorrow's breakfast. They say you should never shop for food when you're hungry. They must have had Henry in mind when they said that!

Then it was onwards and upwards after checking the bikes again. Before long we were able to send a text back to base-camp The Three Amigos sing Viva Espana. We crossed the border at a place called Luzaide. Typical French. No marking of the border, no sign, no nothing. Just a mad dog barking right in the middle of the road, right on the border.

Gibralter Motorcycle Trip


FRANCO / SPANISH BORDER


We took a few photos with the Welcome to Spain sign in the background and sent some back to Frances at base camp. She had agreed to post pictures and daily reports on the Lonely Bob Fan Club Forum. A thankless task but apparently well received. We then carried on towards Pamplona (where they do the annual bull run). Now, if it was a Bullet Run.

We started to cut across Spain in a general south west line and stopped, late in the afternoon, in a small town to refuel. It was hot, damn hot! The bikes were glowing. Henry consulted his Camping Almanac and fond a site in a small town called Noverette. I put the town name into the Sat Nav and off we went. Half an hour later, we were in the town centre and following signs that said Camping. We ended up on the far side of the town with no further sign of a camp site. Henry and I had a huddle to try and make some sense of the directions in his book and the layout of the town. With that, I looked up to see Bill walking across the road to two local workmen in day-glo (or dago as Bill called it) orange overalls.

Senior, Camping por favour?

Now we didn't have a clue what they said but the waving hands said Back up the way you came and first left, old cock.

Who said Bill couldn't speak the lingo?

Ten minutes later we were booking in and five minutes after that we were making camp. We were next to the toilet block but at least that would be a blessing at 3 a.m!


TENTS UP, READY FOR A BEER


Henry went to the shop and came back with some wine. No bread, no chips! I cooked up the provisions that Henry had bought for lunch along with some Uncle Ben's boil in the bag rice.

That's when it happened……

I turned to tell Henry that dinner would be in about half an hour and realised he was changing from his Kevlar jeans into some shorts in the open air! Now why he decided he had to strip of his boxers as well, I'll never know.

Suffice to say, I now qualify for the I'VE SEEN PRICE'S PARTS T shirt. There are times when you would welcome a little sun blindness, this was one of them.

We sat about and enjoyed our supper and the wine. We discussed the bikes and how well they were holding up. I hoped that this wasn't tempting fate. They were parked lose by and could clearly hear us! I'd found that the entire engine and gearbox assembly was getting so hot that I had to make sure that my boots made no contact with the alloy casing or I would get burnt through the leather! With the higher temperatures we were experiencing, we were stopping for a cool-down break every 60 90 minutes. Mucho agua also.

We decided that, at the rate that Bill's bike was using oil, there would be no need to do an oil change when we reached southern Spain. It was more like a total loss system but, apart from the expense, there was no perceived problem.

The only niggle was that Bill's bike had developed a habit of not wanting to start for about 10 minutes when it had been stopped. We tried a new plug and that seemed to help a little.

We had an early night, or at least tried to. It turned out that the toilet block was more of a village pump with people congregating to chew the cud. I unzipped the tent and stuck my head out….. a few choice words later and silence prevailed. I knew that we would be off early in the morning and couldn't wait to hear the three Enfields bark-up.


STATSISTICS - DAY 4;

198 miles Camping Lou Payou - Noverette
742 miles in total
Average 186 miles per day

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