France Trip part 5

Friday 7th July 2006

Well, my gauntlets are still damp this morning, but at least the map has dried out, it’s a little wrinkled, but readable, and tha pages aren’t all stuck together this morning. It’s a realtivel early start, I want to take things easy today what with the state of the chain. Anyway, my train isn’t due to depart Calais until 22:30, so I’ve got loads of time. I phoned Suzy last night to see if she could find a guest houst or B&B somewhere near New Romney, so I’ll have to make sure that I phone her about lunchtime to find out if she’s booked anything yet.

I planned my route last night, and decided that I would definately avoid Paris – I don’t want to get caught up there again. so I head off towards Chartres on the N20 and N154. I spot the signs to Le Mans, but resist the temptation of going to visit, and carry on towards Dreux, Evreux and Rouen keeping to the N roads.

I’m getting overly obsessed with the noise that the chain is making now – it was so much nicer being unaware of it yesterday, but then again I’m probably overreacting. I have had a chain snap on me before though on my old CB250 – coming onto a roundabout the chain snapped, wrapped itself round the back axle, locked the back wheel, and I had to lay the bike down, ending up wih both the wheels touching the middle of the roudabout. Fortunately it was the roudabout at Llangurig, and not very busy, so I was able to pick the bike up and get out of the way before anyone else came to run me over. Anyway – I get onto the A28 at Rouen, Calais is already signposted, which is one of the first times I’ve seen a signpost for a large town this far away – I’d already memorised Abbeville, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Calais, and now I don’t need to remember those.

I follow the A16 all the way to Calais, and end up at the terminal a few hours too early – it’s 13:53 when I check in and get the hanger ticket, and I am offered the next departure – at this rate I’ll be back in Blighty by 14:00 (with the hour back).
There’s a reasonable amount of bikes around now, and I chat to a few of them as we queue. I meet a couple who have been down to Venice – it was too hot or them down there, and they came back and stayed with friends in France. It appears for a few minutes that only 3 out of the waiting 6 bikes are going to be allowed onto the train, but they manage to squeeze us all on.

Back in England – rememebr to drive on the left – I stop at the services and meet the same guys we shared the train with. Fortunately, when I phoned Suzy at lunch she hadn’t booked anything, so I’m heading to her parents in Bristol to spend the night. It takes an age to fight my way round the M25 – it’s so different to the clear motorways in France, and I remember that it’s Friday night and it looks like the whole of London is leaving the city on the way to their weekend houses in the Cotswolds, as the M4 is not much better than the M25.

I make it to Bristol about 17:30 – checking the mileage I’ve done exactly 2000 miles since 9:30 Monday morning, and boy does my bum know about it – my shoulders are also aching, too long stuck in one position. The bed feels good and I sleep well.

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