Old Gits Logo 3.gif (12598 bytes)2010 Write-Up

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2010 Write-up
Home Up 2010 Photos A 2010 Photos B 2010 Write-Up

Trip Notes by David Mc  ---

Miles travelled: 2183

Wednesday 26th May 

Route: 

Distance: 477 Miles

Roads: AutoRoutes (mainly toll roads) - Tolls 22 Euros

Arrive at Brive-La-Gaillarde to stay at the Ace Hotel

As is becoming normal for Old Gits trips the day started at 4am when my alarm went off. The bike had been packed the night before and was sat in the garage waiting. It was cold and overcast but dry. I had a good run down to the port at Dover, arriving at 06:30.

Everyone turned up over the next 20 minutes although Mark was having some problems with the Aprilia. It would take several attempts to start then would suddenly cut out when running. Additionally, his dip beam headlight bulb had died.

We all managed to get on the ferry and had a traditional Old Gits ferry breakfast while everyone introduced themselves to everyone else.

Calais was wet and cold. We cleared the port and although we had agreed to ride south in set groups (trying to keep 11 bikes together would have been impossible) those got totally stuffed within the first 10 miles as Marks bike played go-stop-go-stop. Mark and I eventually pulled into an aire and signalled everyone to go on although by this time Richard had “dropped off” the back of the pack and was not seen again until the evening.

Mark and I tracked the fault to the side stand switch. We managed to remove the switch and join the wires together which had the bike running sweetly but made us over an hour behind everyone else. It was now raining very hard but we pushed on and rode down towards Paris.

By Paris, the weather had dried up and although it was motorway riding we started to enjoy the run. About 100 miles after Paris we pulled in for fuel and met up with Nick, Ron, Steve Mi and Peter. Peter and Steve Mi were not booked into the same hotel as the rest of us as they wanted to go via the Millau bridge so we all headed off together with Steve Mi and Peter breaking off and heading their own direction about 120 miles later. 

The rest of the run down was pretty uneventful other than the closing of the motorway for a short distance causing an extra half hour diversion but we arrived at our hotel at around 19:00 where we met up with the others and went for a beer and a meal at the nearby Buffalo Grill.

Thursday 27th May 

Route:

Distance: 278 Miles

Roads:  A mixture of N and D roads

Arrive at Encamp in Andorra at Hotel Mila

Thursday started with a light breakfast at the hotel where our plans for the day were discussed. We agreed to do the first 40 miles or so on motorway then take a non-motorway route to Andorra. There were some great roads which everyone enjoyed and apart from a little bit of light rain at the start, the weather was pretty good to us. Using our normal group riding technique where everyone ensures that the person behind sees where to go kept the group together with the only problem being when Mark stopped at a junction only to find the camber steeper than expected and the Aprilia slowly toppled over. Still, there were many willing hands to help pick it back up again.

Lunch was a ‘menu de jour’ at a small restaurant en route with a couple of petrol stops required to get us to Andorra.

The ride over the pass into Andorra (for those that did it – 3 took the tunnel!)  was spectacular up to the point where the fog closed in so close that visibility was literally about 10ft. That proved interesting on the tight switch-back bends where a new surface had been laid but no white lines had yet been painted. It was probably just as well that we couldn’t see just how far down it went if we got one of the bends wrong!

Peter and Steve Mi were already at the hotel when we arrived and opened up the nice secure garage so that we could park our bikes and unload the luggage.

It was agreed to try one of the local restaurants as our hotel did not do evening meals. Unfortunately, we discovered that Encamp didn’t have many open restaurants and as we were looking for somewhere to eat the “Mother of All Thunderstorms” arrived and proceeded to soak us. This caused the party to split as some went on looking for a restaurant while others decided that eating was not that important and went back to the hotel.

Friday 28th May 

The day started grey and overcast. Everyone agreed to give the bikes a miss today and instead we all decided to go to Naturlandia to try out the Tobotronc. (A 5.3km ‘bob sled’ roller coaster). 3 taxis were summoned to deliver us from our hotel to the other side of Andorra. Once at Naturlandia we booked 2 runs each and then started the 12 minute ride to the top of the track for our safety briefing. After that it was brakes off and away we went. All I can say is “Wow”. It was great!. If you go near Andorra, it is worth taking the time out to do this.

A taxi ride back to the hotel later that afternoon followed (and the taxi rides were scarier than the Tobotronc ride!) and then down into the town on Encamp to find an open restaurant. This time we were successful and we all had a nice meal.

Saturday 29th May 

Route:

Distance: 279 Miles

Roads:  A mixture of N and D roads

It was warm and dry and we all agreed to meet at the local petrol station after breakfast where we would fuel up, separate into groups and head off for lunch at the Med. 5 of us made up one group, Nick, Steve Me, Steve Mi, Peter and I all headed out on some back roads roughly in the direction of Perpignan.  The roads were superb and the weather got better and better. After a coffee break on the way and some serious fun on the mountain bends we eventually arrived at a great little beach restaurant on the north coast of Banyuls-sur-Mer where sandwiches and chips were consumed washed down with a number of cold drinks. Even though we had set out in different groups at staggered intervals, stopped as and when we wanted, had taken different routes to get there, we still all managed to arrive within 10 minutes of each other. One of the advantages of navigation by Sat. Nav.!

The run back was even better with the roads warmed by the afternoon sun. Bend after bend was ‘taken with foot pegs almost kissing the tarmac and gearboxes getting lots of work in 2nd and 3rd. A number of stops were made to admire some of the many spectacular views and the grins on the faces of all the Old Gits showed that everyone was having great fun.

Although we had split into separate groups when we left the restaurant, we kept crossing each others paths and people moved from group to group as they fancied.

By the end of the afternoon, another coffee stop had us agreeing to find a restaurant somewhere in Spain before we got back to Andorra for our evening meal. The ideal location was found and the menu explained to us in broken Spanish/English – steak and chips! That was fine for all the Old Gits there so 8 steak and chips were ordered.

Sunday 30th May 

Route:

Distance: 144 Miles

Roads:  A mixture of N and D roads

The sun was out and again the breakfast conversation was about possible destinations for the day. Roger wanted to go over the Col out of Andorra and into France as he had come through the tunnel on the way in. Guy and I wanted to do a route down into Spain so we all split into small groups and headed in different directions. Again, the roads were superb, with a whole variety of tight bends, fast sweeping bends, steep hills and long flat wide open roads. The scenery was spectacular and even avoiding the snakes crossing the road provided entertainment.

 

After a stop for a cold drink we were riding along a nice open stretch of road past a lake when we got pulled over to the side of the road by a couple of Spanish police. We had been riding carefully (a number of headlight flashes from traffic coming the other way had pre-warned us) so were slightly confused as t why we’d been stopped. The police handed us a bike safety leaflet (in Spanish – naturally) then simply waved us on our way.

When we returned to the hotel and met up with the rest of the group, we discovered that we had not been the only Old Gits pulled over by the law, and that we had been the lucky ones. Roger had been pulled over for crossing a solid white line and had to part with €90 in cash! Still, after 13 years of Old Gits trips, this was the first ticket any of us had received.

Monday 31st May 

Route:

Distance 400 Miles

Roads : A mixture of N roads and Autoroutes (including toll roads) - Tolls 12 Euros

Arrive at Vierzon and stay at the Arche Hotel

The hotel didn’t serve breakfast until 08:00 so we all had our bikes packed before breakfast and hit the dining room at exactly 08:00. After breakfast there the final opportunity for a group photo shoot was taken and the debate started as to “do we or don’t we” wear waterproofs? Finally, we decided that it wasn’t going to be too wet so we set off without waterproofs only to stop a couple of miles up the road to put them on. At this pint, the decision was made not to go over the Col but to use the tunnel to get out of Andorra and into France.

 

There were only 8 of us heading north at this point as Nick, Ron and Richard were going to take a few ore days meandering through France and planned to return to the UK at the weekend. Steve and Peter paired up for the run up to Vierzon but the rest of us stuck in a group of 6. Guy had been suffering discomfort on the seat of the FJR so borrowed my Airhawk seat cushion to try out.

 

The customs at the border decided we looked suspicious so pulled us over and proceeded to get us to open up all the panniers and tank backs to check for cigarettes and alcohol. This took a good 30 minutes.

 

Finally, on the move again we started the run north. As we had 400 miles to cover we stuck to motorways. Boring but an efficient way to cover lots of miles. The highlight of the afternoon was doing a top gear roll on test between the Hayabusa and the K1200S. From 60mph to 150mph there was nothing in it with both bikes literally staying side by side. The ‘Busa was slightly higher geared than standard (for better fuel consumption) so a standard ‘Busa would slightly have the edge, but it would only be slightly.

 

We arrived at our hotel in Vierzon, had a meal in the hotel restaurant and bedded down for the night.

Tuesday 1st June 

Route:

Distance 310 Miles

Roads : Autoroutes (including toll roads) - Tolls 22 Euros

Breakfast at the hotel was nice and early and we were back on the road by 08:00. Guy was now a complete convert to the Airhawk seat cushion and was frantically watching one for sale on eBay via his iPhone.

 

The run around Paris was the usual ‘rat race’ but we did managed to keep all the bikes together through the heavy traffic. The weather had dried up so the waterproofs were off and the pace was set at around 100mph on the motorways. This meant that we arrived at the port in Calais at 12:00 for our 16:10 ferry. We were offered the option of changing our tickets to get us on the 12:30 but that would cost €60 each!!!! Alternatively, we could catch the 13:55 and that would have no additional charge. The 13:55 was chosen!

 

The bikes were loaded onto the ferry and we all headed up for the food court. The final meal together was eaten then we all said our farewells and headed off in different directions from the port. It was raining in the UK so waterproofs were on and again we were instantly reminded just how poor the roads in the UK are compared with the continent. I fought through the stationary traffic on the approach to the Dartford crossing then headed up the A12 to home.

 

Another Old Gits trip finished but again it was a great trip with great roads and, of course, superb company. Everyone had enjoyed themselves and no one had fallen out with anyone else. We had had only one minor mechanical incident with the Aprilia at the start. The weather had been reasonable but even the rain couldn’t dampen our spirits. Now to start planning the next trip!