Day 23 Homeward Bound
Trip Start Mar 19, 2012
30Trip End Apr 10, 2012
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Where I stayed
Chatellerault – Colchester 477 miles (a personal 'best')
Plans for today were to get to Abbeville about 60 miles from Calais, ready for a relaxed hop home on Wednesday, and so I took a leisurely breakfast at the Ibis before donning waterproofs (rather than the suit liners) under darkening skies. I was slightly overdressed for the 10 degree wet weather, but aware that I might need the heated vest later in the day.
About 80 or so miles in the rain started in earnest and the next 200 miles was a grim bash in driving rain. Despite the surface water the third wheel gave an added sense of security and there was little fear of aquaplaning as on a solo bike. All too frequent fuels stops coincided with heavy snacking on quiche and apple tart and infusion of caffeine to keep the systems running.
Running at full throttle into gusting headwinds meant fuel consumption reached a new low with the bike running onto reserve at a mere 105 kms and out of reserve at 120 km - 26 mpg (a lot of it being ejected out of the exhausts unburned I suspect). I MUST sort that air filter system..
The day was spent on the expensive autoroutes, except for when fuel shortages forced my off into rural France at Broglie/Bernay south of Rouen. I would like to return here and potter around these towns where my great grandfather James built light gauge railways back in the dark days of WW1.
As Rouen and the rain came and went by 4pm, I inevitably thought of getting further north than Abbeville. At 8pm I rode into Calais and queued for the tunnel for 30 mins, as the wind was gusting and I fancied a nice snooze under the channel. As I hadn’t pre-booked the £71 single fare (car rates due to the sidecar) was hiked up to an obscene £173. Any other day I would have turned back and sorted an online booking, but after nearly 12 hours in the saddle my thoughts were firmly fixed on home, so I proffered the plastic and tried not to get indigestion with the overpriced burger and frites whilst I waited an hour for the next departure.
Slumped on the floor in the carriage in between naps I noticed that the heavy duty sump guard had also sheared a bracket during the last day – hence the inordinate amount of rattling from underneath the bike. I had thought it was just a loose bolt, but the bracket took offence to the loose bolt and fractured. The other side had fractured just before I took over the bike but Andy Worth’s welding of that bracket a while ago had survived all the hits and jolts of the trip with ease.
Riding on the left hand side again was fine, except for the change of camber which confirms my suspicion that Babs has a lean-in rather than a lean-out setting for the sidecar. This was a virtue with the right hand side cambered driving, but the rig required a lot of input in the UK to maintain a straight line. Another job for the work list.
After the usual confusion trying to escape the Thurrock services, I drove under a starry sky to arrive home at just past midnight to hugs, welcome banners and sleepy children.
- Road trip total 4600 miles
- Cost never to be calculated or disclosed
- Lessons learned – many - in the words of one Johnny Rotten:
Well, I will do a formal kit debrief for the record over the next week or so, but for now, it’s over and out, with the exception of a touching poem from Maria W. in the next penultimate entry which I hope you agree makes a fitting epilogue to this crazy little adventure.
Thank you to those brave souls who read the blog as it veered into and hopefully out of darkness, thank you to those who watched over my family, but most of all a massive, massive thank you to Andie for allowing me the opportunity to fulfil my dream of travelling to Africa by motorcycle. For her love, patience and logistic support when I ran out of ideas on the road. The best part of a trip like this is coming home, and seeing so clearly what you had left behind.
p.s No, I will not be buying a holiday home in Fez..
p.p.s I hope to see many of you this coming Saturday get-together, and I may even camp in the garden unless of course it’s cold or wet.