Â After some planning and discussion, followed by weeks of waiting impatiently, I set off with two good friends to conquer France by bike. We are all motorbike enthusiasts, and ride out when we can, purely for pleasure, taking advantage of the long summer evenings to head off after work into the peak district, up to the lakes, or over the moors. England in summertime can be glorious, and sunset can be as late as 10 pm up here in Yorkshire, so we make the proverbial hay.
Chris, Rick and myself have talked about a European tour for some time, and slowly had got our act together and arranged ferries, hotels, insurance, health cover and dozens of photocopies of every semi-official document any of us posses. We had planned a round trip that would last a week, and had done as much as we could to make sure all went smoothly. Chris and I had been on our motorbikes to Holland a few weeks before, and mine had developed some problems, so I had these seen to, and got it serviced too.
Packing for a bike holiday is interesting, as your space is very limited. We were each on our own bike, so carried our own kit, but still there is only so much you can carry. Travelling on the continent means you have to carry a first aid kit, some specific motor spares and other bits, so the limited space is eaten into before you start. Anyway, I have a good set of bike luggage, and managed to actually bring back a couple of bottles of whisky from the final ferry trip.
Having deliberately planned the trip for high summer, we set off in a typical English drizzle. Grey skies and wet roads â€“ not fun for intrepid bikers. As we had a long days travel to get down to Dover â€“ around 270 miles â€“ we decided to stick to the motorways. We normally avoid motorway travel, as it is boring, and the whole point of being out on the bike is being one with the environment that you are moving through. Winding country roads are far preferable to the soulless concrete ribbons.
The trip down was rather uneventful, and we got to Dover with plenty of time to spare. In fact, they put us on an earlier ferry, and after an uneventful crossing, rode the last 20-odd miles to our first overnight stop, the lovely port of Boulogne sur Mer. We shared a tiny hotel room, myself and Chris got the double bed, while Rick managed to wangle the single. Both of them snore terribly, so I used ear-plugs, which made the nights bearable.
The French are very accommodating toward bikers. In the UK, you can sometimes get treated with some disdain â€“ but everyone there was very helpful and welcoming to us, always. The hotel couldnâ€™t have been more friendly and welcoming.