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Motoeuro 2005

Motoeuro 2005 - The 'Big Trip'. The one that started it all.

3,000 miles, 14 days, 7 countries, countless wine & beer.

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What began as a pub chat turned out to be 14 days of glorious motorcycling. Only a couple of problems; I don't have a bike and Mark hasn't even passed his bike test yet. Astonishingly, 7 months later, we're all ready for our big trip. Welcome to Motoeuro 2005 with Mark, George and Dave. These details have been re-written with the help of Mark's travel journal notes, here goes...

We leave on 4th July 2005, it would be great to say it's warm and sunny but we've a combo of cloud, rain and wind on route to Dover. We grab the SeaCat and try to relax after 400 miles, my sea-legs aren't good. We head for our first night's accommodation in Bologne, it's been a hard day's riding. We retire to a Formule 1 after a Buffalo Grill meal and too many drinks. Day 1 done. We're in France, get-in!

Day 2, Bologne, Hesdin to Troyes, via Reims and Chalons-en-Champagne. We stay off the motorways for better roads, we're aiming for St.Tropez soaking up the French countryside. We stop at the American Somme memorial, Bellicourt for some great pictures. Reminds us this place was far from as peaceful 100 years ago. Smooth tarmac and warm, sunny weather really made us feel great out on our bikes, however, too many beers at night would always give us a late start the next day. Hey ho. Tonight we're in the middle of nowhere, but find a Campanile Hotel, we're just in time for big steaks as the restaurant is about to close but the Manager is happy to chat over a few beers and get our steaks cooked "tres bien quie". He has a Triumph Speed Four, we chat until late. Rain arrives at 2.15am, hic. Lights out.

Day 3, last night our manager friend recommends a local road to test out, today we ride the mad twisties in the baking sun, marvellous stuff. We stop at the end of countless corners, write Motoeuro on a stop sign to say we've been here. Merci Monsieur.

 What a great start to the day, even if we are a little ropey this morning. We ride by Châtillon-sur-Seine, stop at Nuits-Saint-Georges for lunch, this is wine heaven for Mark, vineyards as far as the eye can see, he's elated to be here. We continue to Lyon - a nightmare of traffic and heat be warned! We push on to Valence, grab a Comfort Hotel, 3 steaks, beers, bed, knackered.

It's about now that the vibrations on the handlebars of my VFR750 are getting intolerable. The chain and sprocket set changed pre-start isn't working well. I actually brought the spare front sprocket in case, so thank the lord for George. He borrows tools from a bus driver and replaces the front sprocket in a car park! From now, the VFR is like a dream. Massive relief! Thanks mate :)

Day 4, Valence towards Privas, to Avignon and some very good roads to Aix-en-Provence, Grasse and finally St.Tropez! God bless French tarmac. We a
rrive late at 10.30pm, my legs are killing me. There's a good buzz in the harbour but we cant find anywhere to stay. Coffee, smoke, a look around and St.Tropez is closed. Shit. Mark negotiates a caravan (cardboard chalet on the beach) for the night, but we've no food or drink, everything is closed. We pushed too hard to get here and now France is closed! Mark and the Transalp to the rescue, off he goes returning with pastries, bread, pizza, water and of course, ice cold beer. Oh thank god. And thanks to a 24hr Boucherie. Knackered, we eat, force down a couple of beers (rude not to), have a laugh and collapse. It's 2.45am.

It's another late start today, but we find a cafe in St.Tropez and get breakfast. Mark wanders off to find a couple of newspapers and we sit reading the horrendous news of the London Bombings. Today is July 7th 2005.

The southern French coast is an education in luxury. The boats, Ferarries and the odd Lambo are a sight-and-a-half. The heat was incredible and we're wrapped by in bike leathers. Arse. We bimble to Cannes and Monte Carlo (traffic appalling on the riviera) but we get a real kick out of riding the F1 roads and the famous tunnels. We ride out of Monte Carlo to Menton, a small town just outside but with accommodation considerably cheaper at "Princess et Richmond". We call it a day and head back to Monaco in a taxi for food and a few beers - seems to be a repeating pattern here! We smile at the stupidly expensive boats, supercars and casino night life. Taxi, hotel, we're done for the day. A not very impressive 200 miles today, feels like 400 in that traffic. We're goosed.

It's about now-ish the note book scribbles get illegible. A combo of tiredness, aching muscles and heat is getting to us so it's getting fuzzy in terms of what day it is!

At last an early start. We leave Menton on the delightful coast roads. We ride past Sanremo, Imperia, Albenga, Savona, on the way to Genoa. The sun is out in all it's glory and we're having a ball on these roads. We divert round Genoa and ride to Rapallo and Sestri. Continue on these coast roads and turn inland now to Aulla. The tarmac is turning ropey on the way to Piaza al Serchio in the Tuscan region. My VFR and George's SV1000 are all over the place, but Marks 650 Transalp is perfectly at home. His bike is loving the pot holes, road debris and stones. That 21" front wheel is soaking this all up while George and I will need a dentist soon.

We arrive at Piaza al Serchio, our host welcomes us with open arms, a pasta banquet, as much cold beer as we can drink and a warm outdoor swimming pool overlooking the Tuscan mountains lit by the settling sun. Perfect. We swim, drink, eat and chat as the sun sets - an amazing day and what a perfect location, it's as far removed from a busy, grey and noisey Tyneside as you could possibly get.

We're invited to stay another night, a welcome relief to be off the bikes a whole day to recover. With the heat and sweating, our laundry is a nuclear meltdown. Washing machine filled, our host introduces us to a friend and we are all off to a local restaurant for an early lunch treat. With great views over the hills we down far too much wine and food and by 1pm I need a nap. We're taken to a local vineyard that our new friend owns to sample his home made wine, I really need a nap now. Obviously the next stop is to sample yet more wine at another restaurant with pizza for an early dinner. We're all very 'jolly'. Another 'Pit Stop' but beer this time on the menu and back to the village centre for 'caffe corretto' - Corrected coffee apparently, it's 'corrected' by adding Grappa, sometimes Sambuca or Brandy. Needless to say, by dark we're all absolutely hammered.

Lights out. There's so much more to come....


Motoeuro 2005 part 2 - Italy and the Stelvio Pass.

The boys of Motoeuro leave Piaza al Serchio in search of the most famous road in Europe.

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Motoeuro 2005

First stop in France, self-timer skills need work.

Motoeuro 2005

Managing to hide another hangover.

Motoeuro 2005

Somewhere near Grasse

Motoeuro 2005

Our 'Cardboard Chateau' on the beach.

Motoeuro 2005

Riding the coastal roads recommended.

Motoeuro 2005

Arrival in sunny Monte Carlo.

Motoeuro 2005

Relaxing at host's Tuscan villa - Perfect.