Nurburgring Trip Day 1

Thursday 15 July 2010 at 3:32 pm

EDIT: 27 April 2011.  Just heard from Trev that John was sadly killed yesterday in a crash on his Hayabusa.  These holiday memories become all the more poignant and are dedicated to him.  R.I.P. John Blackman.

Thursday 8 July
Home to Saint Quentin, France
Mileage start:24114  end:24419  miles travelled:305

Ride to Trev's:  left my house at 7am, via petrol station and arrive at Trev's for a quick coffee, exchange of spare keys and off we go!

Meet Ian at Ipswich:  bear in mind that the furthest I've ever ridden my bike is to Coventry (from Lowestoft), and I'd never driven outside the UK, let alone ridden a bike, I was a bit daunted by the upcoming trip.  I'm the kind of person who gets excited when I cross the Orwell Bridge, as it seems like a long way from home!

Dartford Crossing:  after a quick bacon roll our southward journey was fine until Dartford - Trev and I went through the toll barrier together, but Ian suddenly disappeared.  It was a baking hot day and in the long queue all our bikes were getting warm, and we worried that he'd overheated.  We slowed for a stretch, waiting for him to catch up but it turned out he'd found a free tollbooth and buggered off!  Thanks to the wonder of mobile phones, we were reunited and it was on to Dover.

Meet up with John at Eurotunnel:  at Dover we met up with the fourth member of our group, seasoned 'Ring rider and ex-military children's entertainer John (ZZR-1100).  For me this was when the excitement really ramped up, and I was staggered to be riding my bike onto a train!


Wrong side of the road:  so here we were at Calais, in actual French France!  A quick fillup of l'essence sans plombe and we were away on the wrong side of the road.  Veteran european tourist John in the lead got a bit impatient and decided he'd accelerate my rider training by making me filter through traffic in a strange country on the opposite side of the road.  Thanks John!

Stop off in Chambrai:  a mainly motorway-based spell of riding followed, and we stopped off in the town of Chambrai for a coffee.  From there it was not far to our final destination for the night.


Hotel at Saint Quentin:  the hotel was a late choice by trip organiser Trev, after our first choice was full.  It was booked unseen so we didn't know what to expect.  As I stepped into the room I was due to share with Ian, I could only see one bed!  But no, there it was, on what I can only describe as a shelf on the wall.

When Ian was packing for the trip, he'd chatted to Trev who'd said, 'no, you won't need a towel, the hotels supply them'.  This particular hotel's towels were a little on the small side, about the size of a small tea-towel, and nowhere near big enough to fit round a full-grown human being.  Mind you, it was so hot that showering was a pretty pointless excercise as you'd be sweating again immediately afterwards.  With 'Towelgate' behind us, we locked up the bikes and went to the restaurant next door.

Restaurant:  This was a very pleasant place, and as the only one who could remember any schoolboy French I tried (poorly) to translate the menu for us.  All went well until the coffees, when maybe the couple of beers we'd had kicked in, and it all went a bit wrong.  John's language skills mostly consisted of saying what he wanted in English, but with ze French accent.  It was like a bad episode (is there any other type?) of Allo Allo.  "I want coffee like zees weeth no creme..."

And so to bed.  On a shelf.  In the middle of an 24-hour industrial area.  In a sauna.  With the tiniest pillows designed for Hobbit-children.  Night night...