Also we had Oliver in the south of France (Marseille) wanting one of our new Twinshock GNC frames too , so put it all together and we have a 2400 MILE European trip in my Racing Red Vivaro Van !
So the route goes - avoid France all the way there (as they have been having fuel blockades all week !) and go Winchester- Dover - Tunnel - France - Belgium - Luxembourg - Switzerland - south of France - Italy . Deliver bobber , eat Italian get back on the road - round the Fabuolous coast past Monaco - Genova etc to Marseille . Deliver GNC Frame and parts then crack back across France hoping i won't need the 50 liters of Diesel i hid in the back of the Van !
The trip went well averaging 80/90 MPH on the autoroutes and not having any tolls all the way to Switzerland - who then charged me 40 euros just for entering the country ! Hotels are'nt cheap there either but i paid and hit the hay , up and out bright and early on thru france and some Tolls to Italy . Then Major Traffic problems on the A4 past Milano , there had been 5days of storm rain and the autoroute was closed , so i'm in a traffic queue coming off the road and thinking it's a crash - i hit "shortest route " on the sat nav , and we're off across country , but pretty soon i realise the flood damage and am diverted thru a very old town centre with 2 inches of clay on the roads and on grip - then i realise i'm following the traffic into some tight old streets and then i relise i'm gonna be stuck ! a right angle turn downhill into some ancient town buildings that the clio in front just makes ! Damn it , cars behind and wheelspin in reverse makes it a bit tense but i think we can slide the van sideways into the gap on the wet clay , and that's what we do ! Phew , close .
And so on till Padova , where i meet Mirco and show him the T140 Black Bobber , which he loves - Bellisimo he keeps saying - and i tell you after that trip , it's just what you need to hear !
He's a great guy with a nice collection of bikes too ! Then his Brother and girlfriend turn up - more exitement (and Bellisimo's !) nice folk ! and we whizz off for a meal at a local eatery traditional Italian food , which i like , then back in the van and head for a Hotel in Firenze(Florence) cos the A4's blocked still . Although i end up sleeping in the van as there's no parking anywhere in Florence that i can find (and i'm not leaving the van and contents alone ) then the satnav won't work in the tall ancient streets so i follow my nose outta town and hit the autoroute for 2 hrs and sleep in a garage forecourt , mmmm the sweet smell of Diesel !
Next morning up at the crack of a sparrows fart and down the wonderful coast thru all the tunnels to Marseille, where- due to a cock up in communication somewhere i don't meet Oliver at his garage and sit around for two hours trying to contact him on his mates number . Doh . Anyway the Police (la pig al police ) move me on twice and tell me there is no parking anywhere ! So reluctantly i get on the autoroute again flat oot and at 99 miles - the phone rings ! - and it's Oliver - wondering where i am ! brief explanations out of the way and i pull into a truck stop and he agrees to come and meet me , giving me a 2hr rest stop (good job i had Sideburn to read !).
Anyway Oliver turns up and is also a great guy - on my wavelength , and i regret not seeing his workshop immediately , but ce la vie - here we are . He loves the frame and is building a show bike (Steettracker) for a big show next year (hope he keeps me up to date with the pics).
From then on it's one big autoroute to the coast , hoping the fuel holds out ! Stopped in Riems for a lunch stop in a layby that was like a landscaped country garden and hopped on the tunnel train for the run back home . Sweet (tues day to Friday night all in ).
To tired to do the Flatrack practice on Saturday , but great trip meeting nice people makes it worth the cost ! Got some nice pics outta the van window too !
Jams , Clay , floods , waiting , seeing 147 miles to next exit on satnav etc .
smiling faces , Bellisimo , new friends , great views , sense of achievement , not breaking down !