May 23, 2009 GMT
22nd May - Harrys to London

Well the gang are all off on a ride-out to see the preserved ruins of Oradour-sur-glane, - the village that was destroyed by the SS in a revenge attack towards the end of WWII.

Not for me though, I have to hit the road in the other direction, I have to be back in London by Friday night . So it's a fair bit of motorway bashing, until I branch off to the west to give Paris on a friday a wide berth, before picking up the coastal motorway up Abbeville way.

Trouble is the bike is getting more and more recalcitrant, which adds a certain edge to proceedings, - the closer I get to home, the less it wants to go.

Limping up the peage to Calais and roughly on time for my early evening slot on the Chunnel I have to go through a tricky rigmarole at each pay booth - roll up to booth blipping throttle, else it'll stall, get one glove off, blip, get 2nd glove off, blip, root around for change, blip, pay, blip, glove one on, blip, glove 2 on, blip and away.

At the last booth on the entire road before the last stretch to Calais, as the last glove goes on the engine fumbles and dies. It's raining of course. I push to the side. It won't start. I save the battery, unload and out with the tools I splish around in puddles fiddling with plugs gaps and the like.

It still won't start. By this time I'm swearing in full-on Tourettes fashion. Eventually with a combination of small plug gap and full choke (and if I only twigged a cooler engine) it catches and with more blipping and fooling around securing things I'm back in the game.

The beauty of Chunnel travel is once again apparent as I limp in late and despite missing my original booking simply go onto the first available train.

Thus I'm back over the channel and she fires up with some persuasion for the last leg through the cool and damp English evening back to my roots.

The Blackwall tunnel spits me north of the river, and with my destination of South Wooford in view I'm trundling through Friday night cruising traffic behind a couple of likely lads in shades and a flash convertible BMW car. I have to laugh to myself as their cool scene is constantly infringed by me holding my engine at a constant 2000rpm lest it stall. more than once they shoot me a look of consternation. Good value I think to myself.

And so home. the engine dies finally turning into my brothers street and I coast downhill and into his yard. He appears at the door presently - "I heard you turn into the road then nothing, but christ it sounded rough - have you killed my bike?"

London May 09

Fuengirola May 09, 1600 miles apart or is it a world apart?

Postscript - The engine problem was nothing more than closed up valves on what turned out to be an unleaded head. After a good service that turned into a top end overhaul 'The Duchess' is back pounding the streets of London. I'm back at home some months later with a new house and a beautiful baby daughter. One day I'd like to do the trip all over again.

Posted by Rob Hodder at May 23, 2009 11:23 PM GMT

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