An early start, but I was awake and up before the alarm clock had gone off. In fact I was in the shower when the alarm clock went off, so I must have pissed off next door while it was going off to wake the dead. After getting sorted out I packed the little I’d unpacked and was ready to go.
Today was the first day of the tour, it was called D Day, the same as when the boys went over to Normandy on 6 June 1944. We had arranged to meet up outside early but not to make any noise as it was early and we didn’t want to disturb anyone but it was very busy, everyone must be heading for the train early but we were heading for breakfast just around the corner as it was too early to visit the pub next door as part of our package.
We popped into McDonalds and there were a couple who needed fuel, so they went off and we met them for breakfast. We all talked and I spent a bit more time with Ian, just catching up on old times. This would be normal for the rest of the journey, we’d pull up the sandbags and chat about old times.
As we arrived at the terminal it was rammed, there was a huge line of traffic meandering its way around the whole area, all waiting patiently in line. There was no way if we stayed in this that we would be boarding the train at our allocated time. We were patient to start with but the bikes were overheating and we were going nowhere fast.
We collectively decided to filter through some of the queue because the bikes would be spewing out coolant all over the road if we stayed in line waiting. As we moved through the chaos cars were pulling over trying to stop us proceeding, I had a word with one chap who was red faced and close to having a melt down. I just said our bikes were overheating and we were not sitting in the queue to break down before we had even left the UK.
Nige D hit some car’s wing mirror and the chap was pissed off when he saw it hanging down by a wire. Nige is a smoothie so he was able to settle the chap down and be ready to move on sharpish once he had banged it back on. I don’t think he had an appetite to get pissed off with 8 riders trying to move through a non compliant queue.
What a complete mess that was! Organised chaos at its best, it took over an hour to get through and that included filtering. We then had to go through customs but we all ended up in different lines. This was going tobe a problem for getting the same train, so we stopped and waited for each other which pissed the security staff off because they didn’t want us stopping – tough shit! Eventually we got onto the train and we were ready to leave the UK from Folkestone to Calais.
During the 30 minutes or so on the train, we had our first proper briefing about how we would be riding, we discussed the route and talked about getting lost or having problems. Russ was keen to head straight to the hotel in Trier and not ride down the Mosel River, I was surprised as this was day 1 and he wanted to ride on the motorway all day and get to the hotel asap. I did think this was odd for the first day, as I was looking forward to riding the Mosel Valley and riding into Luxembourg too.
We departed and went straight onto the Motorway from leaving the train. The run through France took us on an old route we used in the army when we were travelling back and forward to Germany, it started by heading up towards Dunkirk, Ostend in Belgium and then onto Gent. We then proceeded to Brussels to experience the traffic around the ring road. I must say the driving over in Europe is superb and they all seem to move over for bikers, not like the Brits who won’t ease to one side to let you pass. I can’t understand why you’d want to block a motorcycle when they will go past anyway!
We stopped for fuel around Brussels and found a place to grab a coffee and have a pee stop, I took the opportunity to look at the distance travelled, the distance to meet Ginge and to work out a time of arrival. I sent him a message and told him what the ETA was going to be based on how we had progressed so far. As long as we did not hit any traffic jams we would be meeting up pretty much as planned.
Then on our way towards Liege and then to the German border and then down towards the Mosel river to meet up with Ginge. We had decided on a meet up point in a layby just off the motorway, this was easy for Ginge and would be our best place to meet up before heading down to the river. It all went to plan but we were about 30 mins later than planned because of traffic.
The Mosel is a beautiful place to ride, fabulous sights and great roads too. We did have a stop for something to eat and drink, we wanted a coffee shop with some venice cake but we had to settle for a little place that was selling coffee and other stuff but no cakes. I would have preferred a bratty and chips being as it had been a main food source for me in my youth. After we had eaten it was time to head off, we set up our comms and were soon on our way again.
The hotel was easy to find, so once we had checked in and unpacked at the hotel a few of us decided to go and visit Luxembourg as it was only 6 miles away. For me this was another Country ticked off the European list of countries to ride to or through. I have a mission to ride into all of Europe before I get too old, unwell or die! Laura, the two Nigels and I were the only ones to bother heading into Luxembourg. It was a fun hour or so having a laugh and taking the chance to go there.
We arrived back to get a shower, get changed and then have something to eat. The hotel had a wedding function on and couldn’t cater for us with the main menu, so we just had whatever was on offer. It wasn’t great and on reflection we really should have gone out and found a decent restaurant, but we were all together now and the group was complete with the nine riders together at last.
Ginge gave a comprehensive briefing on riding in Germany, discussing the pitfalls of the highway code compared to the UK and a few other things that the group should know. He discussed the route he had put together down to and across the Alps down to Slovenia, where I would take over with leading the route down to Croatia.
We were fed and watered as well as feeling a little tired after the early start in the morning, so we headed off to bed before having the first full day together riding down to Switzerland. The problem was, we were stopping above the main reception room and the party was now in full swing, so much for getting an early night. I’d not drank enough beer to sleep through this, so it was going to be ear plugs in and hope for the best!