2011 – France & Belgium

Photo Gallery – France & Belgium 2011

After I got back from Australia my flat was still rented out so a friend lent me her place until my tenants were due to vacate at the end of August.  I then got an email from Minna-Ella saying she was coming over for the Bulldog Bash and did I fancy meeting up?  The dates coincided nicely with the re-entry date for my flat and also meant I could stop off and see my parents on the way back, so I decided to accompany Minna-Ella on her return leg to Finland as far as Ostende in Belgium.

It was a glorious trip full of sunshine, gentle breezes and clear skies.  Minna-Ella used her sat nav to pick a route for us, so I have no idea which roads we took, but we travelled through gorgeous rustic villages, plains of golden wheat and around rugged coastlines.

All was going well until we got to Bologne sur Mer.  After a long day’s ride and a few glasses of wine with dinner I woke up the next morning feeling somewhat groggy.  Minna-Ella was in a hurry to get going, but I was a bit muddled-headed and when I tried to start the bike up, found it wouldn’t work.  None of the usual lights came on and when I tried to turn it over, nothing happened.

I couldn’t figure out what was wrong, although I had a vague notion that I was missing something really obvious.  Minna-Ella had a poke around but we couldn’t figure out the problem so I had to call the AA.  Half an hour later a French tow truck arrived to rescue us.  As we pushed it over to the ramp and onto the truck, Minna-Ella said something about holding the clutch in so it would free-wheel.  Something about this comment struck a chord with me, but I still couldn’t figure it out.  Even when we got to the garage and the mechanic took the seat off to see if the battery was dead it still didn’t click what was wrong.  However, they got it going and soon we were back on the road.  It was only when we stopped for a break and I tried to start the bike while it was still in gear, that it hit me – had I left the bike in gear? I know the foot stand was still down but I was sure I’d pulled the clutch in which would over-ride the fail safe mechanism which ensured it wouldn’t start if still in gear.

We made it safely to Ostende albeit somewhat later than planned.  Minna-Ella left the next day for her ferry home and I stayed on in Ostende for a couple of days before getting my ferry back to Ramsgate.

Without Minna’s sat nav to guide me, I had to take the motorway system from Ramsgate, round the M25 and up the M1 to Northampton. I got stuck in miles of tail backs at the Dartford Crossing and later on the M1.  After a few days in Northampton I continued to the Lake District. Leaving there I got stuck in another massive tailback on the M6, but fortunately there were no further delays and I made it home without incidient.

Ride Statistics

Date Mileage
Glasgow to Lancaster
Lancaster to Stratford-upon-Avon to Portsmouth then overnight ferry to Le Harve (France)
Le Harve to Boulogne sur Mer
Bologne sur Mer to Ostende (Belgium)
Ostende to Ramsgate by daytime ferry then Northampton
Northampton to Lake District
Lake District to Glasgow
Total Mileage 1266