D -1 means our Departure date minus 1 day, the tour begins tomorrow. This is the day prior to departure and will be heading down to Folkestone to use the Channel Tunnel to go over to France first thing in the morning.
Deeds had traveled down from Scotland the night before and stayed overnight in a crappy little B&B, ready to meet up to travel down to Folkestone with us. He didn’t fancy the huge journey from Scotland to Folkestone in one day and decided he would split the journey.
I was working in the morning taking someone for a test, so the plan was to meet up at the unit at lunchtime and then have a casual ride down to the Premier Inn where we would stay tonight. The group of four riding together would be me, Laura, Deeds and Dave.
We met up and gave each other a warm welcome, we hadn’t seen Deeds for a year or two. We had plenty to catch up on and chatted for a while before we started the huge journey. The route was very boring and we knew we would be in for a spot of filtering at some point on the journey. Afterall it is the UK, it is Friday and we are heading around London!
We made pretty good time and we needed some fuel and took the opportunity to stop for lunch at a London service station. It was a chance to talk more and have an hour or so off the bike, the pizza went down well and we were soon on our way again.
We arrived in Folkestone, checked into the Premier Inn which Laura had booked for us and took our luggage to the room. This was going to be a daily routine while we were riding, check into the hotel, unload bikes and make ourselves comfy for the next 12 hours or so as we transited the hotel
Meeting up with everyone is always nice, Ian turned up from Scotland. He had travelled down that day and had made good time. I was in the army with Ian back in 1984, we joined as boy soldiers and spent a year or more together as junior soldiers before we went our different ways. This was the first time we’d seen each other since then, social media is pretty good these days, so we had communicated via message.
Then Russ arrived from Oxford, he had ridden down on his own and was in good spirits, we had a catch up and chatted about what he had been up to since we last met when he attended a tour to France the previous year. He was doing okay and his bike was all ready for the big trip too. We met up in the bar over a beer and we were waiting for the two Nigels to arrive before we were going to eat.
Nigel D & Nige J arrived together, they are old Uni mates and had met up and ridden together to start their journey. I know them both well, I taught them both to ride many years ago and they have enjoyed training and touring with us on many occasions over the years. They have become friends too, which is always a bonus to me when you keep in touch because you want to.
The evening food was adequate for pub grub as we enjoyed the social gathering before departure. The excitement was evident as we discussed the trip, the packing and getting ready. Obviously some of the conversation was about weather conditions and what we could expect over the next two weeks. We didn’t drink much at all, maybe a couple of pints but that was it, booze and riding certainly do not mix.
We arranged a time to meet up the following morning, it was going to be an early start so we headed off to our own rooms for a good night’s sleep and ready for the big day tomorrow. I’m glad I started the trip this way. A 4.00am start the following morning to catch an 8.00am train was not my idea of a good start. This way it would be a more sociable beginning and I wouldn’t be playing catch up on rest for the first few days of the tour.