And so it begins... Badly!
I wasn't going to add another entry this quickly, so don't get used to it. But I thought you might be amused to hear about my first 24 hours of actual independent motorbike travel. Plus my hotel is being renovated and the building down the road is being sandblasted, so the library is infinitely more peaceful!
I left my parents' at about 11 on Monday morning, only about half an hour behind schedule so not doing too badly. France is a big country as we all know, and even with fast empty motorways it was a long ride down. As I headed south I even started to feel hot, whilst riding, on the motorway!! Which had to be a good sign.
At what I hoped would be my last fuel stop I decided to check the directions to the campsite, with the aim of not having to stop again. Check the book. No directions. OK, I thought, I'll have got it out of the guide, so what do they say? Nothing. Clearly I didn't get it out of the guides, this was one of my cunning finding-new-places moments. I didn't seem to have a phone number either. Oops. All I could remember was that it was west of Agen. A couple of the village names on the maps sounded familiar, so I headed that way. And guess what - I found it first time with no stops, confusion or U-turns!!!
Three things I like about riding in France: there aren't too many people on the roads; they signpost campsites and hotels clearly and from miles away; and you can park motorbikes anywhere they're not in the way. French bikers ride like nutcases though - I'll filter at 10-20mph through stationary traffic; they filter at 70 through traffic doing 70!!!
Anyway, back to the story. You're probably wondering about the title by now. So here goes.
After pitching my tent I cast off some layers and rode into Agen for some food. Just as I left, the rain started. First time in the entire journey that I haven't had full waterproofs and it's pissing it down. By the time I got back to the tent I was drenched. Still, I draped everything out to dry (yeah right) and went to sleep to the sound of happy frogs.
The plan was to cover 3 towns on my first day, and get an idea of how realistic my schedule was for the rest of the trip. Up early, shower, rearrange things, put on wet jacket, tankbag on bike, check time - 1am according to the bike's clock. Uh-oh. The only other time the clock died was when the battery died. Sure enough, any attempt to fire the bike up was met with complete silence. There goes the schedule...
So, on my first proper day, I called Carole Nash, and after a hugely long, expensive (for Mum's mobile!!) conversation including details of my bike, establishing that the registration they have is not mine, giving them the right one, telling them all my hugely vague plans and no, I don't have a ferry ticket booked for in 4 months time, they sent out a very nice dépanneur, who turned out to be a biker. He duly took me to Honda who sold me an insanely expensive battery (I knew I avoided dealers for a reason - that's two rip-off prices in a month!!) and saw me on my way.
And I still managed to get everything done, and am now in sunny Agen in a hotel no less. Next post will hopefully have some photos!
Posted by Laura Bennitt at April 08, 2009 03:21 PM GMT