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Old 17 Aug 2011
Endurodude's Avatar
To the road less travelled . . .
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To the Med and back . . .

Let me start off by saying that many people wouldn't class my trip as anything more than a 'weekend break' of sorts but, for me, it was quite an undertaking! I've been coming to the HUBB for about a year now, and the longest motorbike trip prior to this was an extended weekend away. So, for me, 15 days was an undertaking! It's also whetted my appetite for bigger and better!

I basically rode by myself down through France to Cannes, and back up through Monaco, Northern Italy, Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland Luxembourg and Belgium.

2348 Miles; 15 days; 8 different countries . . .

Paris
I went to Paris first, mainly to watch the end of the Tour de France, which I love. The atmosphere was amazing!

To the Med and back . . .-cadel-evans.jpg
Cadel Evans, having won the Tour on the penultimate day's time trial!!!

To the Med and back . . .-mark-cavendish-in-green-.jpg
Mark Cavendish winning Green

Staying at a friend's flat alone reminded me of something a speaker at Ripley this year said; "big cities can be one of the loneliest places". Despite loving Paris, I'd have to agree. Having only just started my trip, riding alone was starting to feel quite lonely . . . NOT a good start!

Leaving Paris on day 4, I stayed overnight just outside Lyon on my way to the Med.

To the Med and back . . .-camping-in-lyon.jpg

Camping here turned out to be excellent, even for one night! I met two English families (I don't speak much French, so deep conversation had been out up until this point) who were very interested in the bike and my trip. Talking to them, finding out about their travels, started getting me into the feeling of my own journey.

Cannes
I'd never been here before, so was interested to match the 'Hollywood glitz' with the actual fact. Being a big film fan, I was quite excited by the Croisette and Palais, having seen it online numerous times (empire online, once a year!). I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that Cannes is as normal a French town as any other, in many ways (for me, at any rate). I was very impressed by the Boats (or should I say liners - they're HUGE!)

To the Med and back . . .-cannes.jpg
Harbour at dusk

Outside one of these behemouths (it was bigger than my House in england) I saw a Vayron.

To the Med and back . . .-vayron.jpg
I worked out that if I paid no tax (which I do, if HM Gov is reading!) and spent NOTHING for 30 Years, I might just be able to buy one! Unfortunately, I couldn't tax or run it. I can't drive, so it's a mute point really!

I was by the Med. for two days; the first it rained ALL DAY - not what I'd come for! On day two, I travelled by train to Antibes; having been there 15 years ago, I was looking forward to 'walking down memory lane', as it were:

To the Med and back . . .-antibes.jpg
Needles to say, with the weather like this, you can't help but enjoy yourself!

I was, by this stage, itching to get back on the bike . . .

On day 8, I rode north to Lake Como in Northern Italy. I took a detour through Monaco:

To the Med and back . . .-monaco.jpg

At one square mile and 34,000 inhabitants (according to my Altlas), where I live in England is far bigger! It seemed a lovely place; shame I was only passing through . . .

COMO
Lake Como (even for the night) was lovely. Having got there early evening, and starting to get cooking on my dragonfly, a German man came and offered to share the food he's made for his family with me - apparently I looked like I needed helping out! Opposite my tent was an English family, who also offered to take me with them to find a Pizza. Compared to Hotels, camping is MUCH friendlier in my experience, and I met some lovely people. Reading this site, I think everyone else appreciates that meeting others is a major draw for travelling.

Near Stelvio - Italy
This was my first major day riding in the Alps. It was exciting, nerve-wracking, scary, wonderful and peacful, all at the same time!

To the Med and back . . .-french-alps.jpg

I stayed here for a rest day, and it was beautiful. It was no more than a little town just outside Stelvio, and I spent my rest day (day 10) wandering around, leisurely, looking at my Alpine surroundings and listening to 'Musikfest', a group of local musicians entertaining us with a variety of musical offerings. As a Music teacher, I found this very interesting!

For part of the day, I sat on a bench outside a local Church in complete silence (it was Sunday, and no one was around), looking at the Alps and the valley in which I found myself and was, at that precise moment in time, the most peacful I ever remember being in my whole life. I thought about how I'd ridden there, listened to the complete lack of worldly distractions and just was.

One of the things I've found difficult in my life is being still, quiet and enjoying just being part of the world. The hectic nature of my everyday life always seems to get in the way. I was, I have to admit, scared by the idea of being alone for the duration of my trip, having to come to terms with this 'enforced' solitude. The first 5 days were hard in this respect, and I genuinely thought about coming home. Sitting there, quiet and serene, in the Italian Alps, I felt more at peace than I ever remember. I realised there and then that I was VERY glad I'd carried on . . .

Zurich
Day 11 was a bit of a Top Gear day, and I'm not ashamed to say it! The main reason I'd stayed near Stelvio was so that I could ride the 28 to Davos - Clarkson et al once described it as "the greatest driving road . . . .IN THE WORLD!". I had to go and see what all the fuss was about! Sitting in Davos having a drink later that day, I'd have to say it was excellent, and the scenery was epic! One thing I found about Switzerland was that I could have stopped every 5 minutes to take a photo' of the scenery (with my bike in the foreground, of course!) it was that lovely. Riding through sweeping bends, river flowing to my left, tree line to my right, Alps all around, the odd Swiss train (very distinct, to me at any rate) passing by; it was heaven!

I even 'liked' (once it was over and I looked back on it!) being stopped by the Swiss Police. I was pulled over coming off an Alpine pass as a routine measure (I could see many other people being pulled over) and asked for my driver's licence. Having handed over both parts (card and paper), he wasn't interested in my insurance, but checked my V5. When this was all OK, he turned his attention (inevitably) to my exhaust. I had the OE can replaced with a thinner, Scorpian can to enable me to carry balanced panniers. I kept repeating, politely, ONLY for the road (his english was good, thankfully); this seemed to keep him happy. He seemed surprised I was travelling alone, asked me about my camping and told me to have a good holiday. I told him his country was beautiful, which it was, and rode on.

It was a LONG day's ride. I was really looking forward to having a good night's sleep in my tent . . . . unfortunately for me, it was August 1st - a national day of celebration. There were fireworks until midnight, and the camp site had its own party until 2am. I won't repeat what I said at the time . . . .

Last edited by Endurodude; 17 Aug 2011 at 22:23.
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Old 17 Aug 2011
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To the road less travelled . . .
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The following day, I rode to Luxembourg via Liechtenstein. I went here simply because no one I've ever met has been there! It was rather nice, too!

To the Med and back . . .-liechtenstein.jpg

Heading north and back into France, I arrived in Luxembourg (again, no one I know has ever been there either!). Having set up my tent, I glanced over into the next field to see . . .

To the Med and back . . .-black-cab.jpg
I was a little surprised! I went over to say hello, and it turns out the driver was travelling down to Germany to compete in a Traithlon!

BRUGES
Day 13, I rode to Belgium and Bruges. People I work with had told me how beautiful it was, and I decided to find out.

To the Med and back . . .-bruges.jpg

As you can see, they were correct!

I spent day 14 wandering around, doing the tourist thing, and enjoying the city. A very pleasant end to my trip.

During this day, I sat thinking about what I'd done and realised that, as time went on, I was really enjoying the nomadic nature more and more. "Where will I go today?" Seeing the full fuel guage, I came to realise, was one of the best sights in the world - it offered so many possibilities. I'd relaxed into my trip, had increasingly enjoyed being 'by myself' with each passing day, had spoken to ever more people as I began to be 'in the moment' more and more, and I REALLY didn't want to come home!

On day 15, the first thing went wrong on my F800GS. A bulb went in my headlight!

That was it.

It performed brilliantly in every way. Even with slight overpacking (rookie mistake, I know) it handled brilliantly. My Metal Mules were excellent, even if I did ride into a barrier in Monaco - oops.

I tried to stay to no more than 70 on motorways. That way, I only ever filled up once a day, and got 60mpg even with luggage! Between Lyon and Cannes took me 9 hours (I took LOTS of scenic detours) - even then, only one tank of fuel! I EASILY got between 220 and 240 out of my 16 litre tank. I LOVE this bike!!!

You might have noticed the aftermarket 'Corbin' seat; this was, in my opinion, THE best extra I've bought for my bike. 9 hour days were nothing but a joy, something I wouldn't have said about the OE seat!

But come home I did. After unpacking, the first thing I did?

Get the Atlas out and start planning next year, of course . . . . .

I would like to thank everyone who participates to this site - without your inspiration, I'd still be flying to my holidays!

Last edited by Endurodude; 17 Aug 2011 at 17:48.
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Old 17 Aug 2011
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Location: Victoria, BC, CA
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Quote:
Let me start off by saying that many people wouldn't class my trip as anything more than a 'weekend break' of sorts but, for me, it was quite an undertaking!
Hey, that is a much longer road trip than I've been able to take in a very long time...

Looks like you had a great trip.
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Old 17 Aug 2011
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Location: durham
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Hi Endurodude

Saw your post and simply had to reply.If it wasn't for the different place names your trip featured all the emotions and pleasures that mine had back in May ...UNCANNY !! I had already done quite a few trips to Europe with either my wife or friends around the Alps and all over but had never done it as a solo trip.
So I took the plunge and decided I would ride through France to the Pyrenees and through Andorra and then into Spain. If I was honest the question ,what happens if....? didn't worry me too much (I'd just have to deal with it ), what was concerning was how was I going to cope with my own company for a fortnight !! I needn't have worried I absolutely loved it , it's right what they say when you're by yourself you meet more people, each day was just another adventure ! When you described that moment when you've never felt more relaxed I had the exact same feeling leaning over a bridge in the Pyrenees just looking at the fish, I have never felt so totally relaxed and chilled out without the help from alcohol !!
Thanks for confirming the fact that .......it's not just me then !!!!

Neil
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Old 17 Aug 2011
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To the road less travelled . . .
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Likewise, it's great to know I'm not the only one!
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Old 17 Aug 2011
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I've fallen out with myself on many occasions during solo trips
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