Today was quite a mix!
Harley and I set off in the middle of the Limoges morning rush, she seemed quite happy having spent the night in the secure garage at the hotel.
It wasn’t long before we were out of the city and purring along the N141 bound for Poitiers. We took a right at Étagnac onto the D948 and Confolens, where a French madam did her level best to ‘T’ bone us in the centre of the town! Clearly it was my fault, she couldn’t possibly have been responsible as she was on the phone at the time and lighting a cigarette, so she couldn’t possibly have seen what was happening!!!! Fortunately, I could, right from before it started so my escape route was already swiftly planned!
I regret to report that I swore at her….in French, English and Welsh, I felt a lot better after that!!! Still, no harm done.
Someone asked me the other day about the French road numbers…well, how long have you got? Basically there are three types of road; A or E routes, which stand for Autoroutes or European Routes, basically motorways; N routes, National Roads, usually trunk routes but not necessarily dual carriageways; D Roads, Departmental roads, these can range from dual carriageways to small lanes. There is a big if with D roads, however! If the road crosses a Departmental boundary, like crossing a county boundary, the road number will not necessarily stay the same! Good eh? Confuses the hell out of everyone, so when navigating in France, do not worry about the road number, except as a last resort, follow the town name signs!
I stopped to grab some motion lotion on the Poitiers ring road, where the traffic was hell. Internet connection was awful as well, ho hum. Still, 86 miles in 90 minutes made me smile and celebrate with a bracing coffee. Which, as some of you know is something that I don’t have much of these days on account of it makes me climb walls and ride like the wind…hee, hee, I got to Parthenay pretty quick! Then it all started to go a bit off, the sky had been getting darker and the threatened rain started, but hell, the wind got up as well.
Which leads me onto an observation…
In my opinion, one of the worse weather conditions to ride a motorbike in, is strong winds, even my Harley gets tossed about and she weighs in at over a third of a tonne! Along with natural winds, as in weather, the other sort is the artificial, like truck slipstreams. As you overtake, or worse they overtake you two unnerving things happen; firstly they suck you in towards the side of the truck, secondly they spit you out as you pass the cab, chucking you across the carriageway if you don’t have your wits about you! On this trip I have been undertaking purely non-scientific research as to the worse and the best trucks for slipstream turbulence. Best to overtake, i.e. least buffeting, has been MAN’s, Renault’s with the funny looking box like cab, Volvo’s, some Scania’s and most DAF’s, but then most DAF’S don’t seem to go fast enough to create turbulence! Worse by a mile are Mercedes Benz, particularly the Actros cabs, which have been battering us all over the place! Trailers don’t seem to make much difference, unless it’s a car transporter…then watch out and hang on!
Anyway, the wind continued to build as we headed north west, bad storms have lashed the north east of France today, I guess the stuff we had was the tail of that system. I had planned to follow the left bank of the Loire and cross the Loire Viaduc to St Nazaire, but with the strength of the wind I aborted that idea and headed east around the Nantes Périphérique, which also avoided the very high bridge to the west of Nantes. So here’s a pic of what I missed, but I have done it before, some bridge!
There then followed a pretty lively blast West along the N165 to Auray and the billet for tonight, which is a very comfortable family run hotel with splendid restaurant! So ends the East to West run, right across France from the Eastern boarder with Switzerland to the Atlantic Ocean on the coast of Brittany in the West and that was fun to do as well!
Herewith food report, as requested:
Appetiser, Crab en croute.
Entree, Pâte du Lapin de la Maison.
Le Plat, Sein de Canardette avec légumes du jour.
Désert, Assiette du fromages.
Trust this suffices, does for me!
As I take my time over the cheese, it gives me time to reflect on the past week.
Today’s mileage was 312, which takes Harley and I to just over 2000 miles since leaving home last Thursday evening, still got about 140 more to do yet? That’s quite a satisfying achievement, on a bike like mine, even if I say so myself! By the standards of modern bikes, Harley is a little basic; no faring, no ABS, non-injection carburettor fuel system, air cooled, but with character and attitude by the bucketload! I know that HD is not everyone’s cup of tea, but, hey they float my boat! She wasn’t the only Harley that I saw in the Alps, but there weren’t many more and sure they are not really the machine to take where I took her, but they cope and sound fantastic whilst they do it to boot, you can’t ask much more than that.
Tomorrow, weather clerk permitting, we have a delightful ride through the heart of Brittany and then pick up the ferry back to Blighty, I intend to savour every minute of it! Hopefully I’ll get time to wing off another progress report along the way.
Another one from yesterday, the old quarter in Limoges.
Live to ride, ride to live!