Motorbike Tour of France

Back in 2009 I went on my first trip to Europe on my new bike, a Triumph TT600, my pride and joy. It’s something I’m really pleased that I got to do. My friends Joe, Luke, Tom, my dad and brother Chris all came too. All riding in Europe for the first time. I’ve been on some tours since but nothing quite compares to the first one. Amazing views, amazing roads and a really good bunch of people.

All the other chaps had been touring for years. Something which I think started with a group of them working at Pedigree Petfoods in Melton. We were lucky enough to have had the entire route and hotels planned and booked, all we had to do was pay and turn up. This is the route we took through France, it’s not exact but fairly close. We did this over the course of eight days. Two days in the middle for riding round the local roads and generally having a look around.

We covered 250 miles a day on average which is a fair while to be sat on a motorbike. Physical and mental endurance are both tested. In England and the north of France it was pretty hard going, a lot of straight roads to cover the miles. It all became worth it though. In the south of France there’s bend after bend of smooth tarmac round the mountains. Biker’s heaven. I remember following my friend Joe Small on his Honda CBR 600 with very similar gearing and power to my TT600. We were like synchronised swimmers, changing up and down through the gears at the same point in the corners, bike leant right over. You could look ahead and see seven or eight bikers, look in your rear view mirror and see seven or eight more. The roar of 15 or more bikes echoing round the mountains is an exciting sound. We’d stop in tiny old villages with really beautiful buildings and views. Kids stopped on the side of the roads to wave, bikers seem to be heroes in their eyes. It really was a mind blowing experience for somebody who was new to it.

At the end of each day it was time for a cold beer! The best possible reward for a long hot day in leathers. Sometimes the hotel staff were taken back when you ask them for 15 beers. There’s a big age gap between us all but it didn’t matter, we’d all talk about the day’s events and favourite bits of road. Or the crazy postman who managed to wedge his van in the middle of the pack and start hammering round bends, all four wheels screeching just trying to keep up! We referred to it as the “A tour” later on because we stopped in somewhere beginning with the letter ‘A’ nearly everyday.

I’ve been on some tours since and seen some amazing places. Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany, Spain and Ireland. The roads through the Pyrenees are mind blowing, racetrack quality roads with no one on them. The Nürburgring where you just turn up, pay for a couple of laps and go. No experience neccesary, no safety guidelines, just get your ticket and go—as fast as you like! We’ve watched bike racing, been to Spa circuit, been to Bastogne to see the war memorial—the list goes on. Nothing quite compares to that first time though, taking in a completely new experience.

I’d like to thank all the bikers that I’ve met and to those who helped plan the trips and book hotels. Especially Ian Small, he often took the lead in the group and did a large ammount of the planning with Tony Bird. Unfortunately though, he passed away towards the end of 2012. I’ve known him a long time as the father of my friends Danielle, Joe and Luke and I feel like I owe him for the good times I’ve seen on a motorbike. He inspired all us young lads to become bikers and opened our eyes to the amazing view of the world from a biker’s perspective.

I’ll always think of him, every time I start my bike. So here’s to many more years of riding!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.