One of the things I love about my road trips is meeting people from other countries and cultures, this time has been no exception and I think I hinted at a couple of stories a couple of days ago. So let me tell you about a few funnies, but first of all I want to stress that everyone that I met were absolutely great! Yes sure there are baddies out there, but on balance you realise that there are really more good people in the world than bad and that is reassuring.
Take for example the two Gendarmes who’s patrol car drew alongside me on the St Etienne bypass, as we were doing about 50mph. Now as all bikers know, cops either tailing you or running alongside is normally bad news or at least a hassle. So I was a little uneasy about their presence. Then, just before we ran into one of the tunnels to the south of the city, sure enough the police car sounded it’s horn. I glanced over to it and saw the Cop nearest to me, the passenger, grinning like crazy and winding his window down. What followed was bonkers; the driver then revved the car’s engine, literally as we were entering the tunnel, the passenger Cop gestured with his right hand for me to rev Harley, so without thinking that it may have been a trap to do me for loud pipes, I duly obliged. Passenger Cop grinned from ear to ear with lots of thumbs up gesture, whilst Driver Cop revved the nuts off the patrol car in reply!!! I revved in reply and so it went on, through two tunnels, each about 400m long! As we exited the second tunnel they gave a wave and flew off! Clearly two extreme petrol heads getting paid for having fun, good on you boys! Quite what the drivers behind us made of it all I do not know.
Then there was the crazy Dutchman on Col De Larche, he had on of those little hybrid cars, the sort with a small petrol engine and an even smaller electric motor, I think it was a Mazda, but I doesn’t really matter. Anyway, I got to the top of the Col, parked up and started taking some photo’s when this little car came flying up the last part of the hill and screeched to a halt in the car park. Out jumped a chap of about forty and started to look at Harley, he saw the GB number plate and started to chat to me, in very good English. He told me that he had just driven up the hill, from the French side, for the third time that morning…it was only 9 o’clock! I was puzzled, did he say three times? “Yes, because we do not have any hills like this in Holland,” was his reply! Fair point mate, but three times? He left me to my photographs and disappeared back into France, 15 minutes later, as I neared the bottom of the hill, he passed me heading for the Col yet again…make that four times! He could still be there for all I know!
Later that same morning on the climb to Col De Vars I was passed by a German plated BMW GS, a smart bike for that kind of work, it stood out because it only had one pannier. At the summit I noticed the chap who was riding it chatting to a woman next to a German plated Audi estate. He cropped up again on Col D’Izoard, then Col Du Lautauret, also Col Du Galibier. Then, as I was about to set off from Col De La Télégraphe, he turned up again, this time parking next to me. We looked at each other and both simultaneously burst out laughing! Soon the Audi arrived as well, by which time Karl and I were on first name terms…it turned out that this was his wife, Andrea. Theirs was a good plan for holidays, he rode his bike whilst she drove the car with all the luggage and food! They told me that their son was at university in Montpellier and that they drove down at least once a year from their home near Hannover, with the same bike/car arrangement, neat. Anyone else capable of negotiating that deal with your better half, boys?….Thought not!
Oh and only one pannier?
Karl claimed that a French car had knocked it off in Gap.
Andrea said Karl had hit a French car in Gap……..make your own mind up!!!!