France. view from the back...

Jim as promised…

Wow! This was always going to be a challenge and the nearer we got to the start the bigger a challenge it became. But between us we grabbed the bull by the horns and from an initial meeting at Box Hill (and a nice lunch) a plan was created that once executed it resulted in a fantastic day for all the people on the main ride. Thanks to all those who came to help plan this event - all in your own time and all with other things to be doing!!!

It struck me how large a group we had when we got to France. Having missed the scheduled time Clint got a message to Jim to wait and it was only when I got to the petrol station did I think - Thank God I’m not at the front!!! There were bikes everywhere and all of them were with us. It was a great but at the same time scary sight.

It took a bit of time to sort things out - maps and T Shirts handed out (thanks Lustfish) and Top Box secure (Thanks Baby Polar Bear, Clint and Lustfish) it was time to get things moving and off Jim went out into the French countryside. Cornerman system worked well from the start - having a highly visible rear party worked well all morning - so thanks to everyone who did their bit. I heard it wasn’t always the case but when people saw a mistake they just stepped in to help out - you know who you are so well done! It’s great the way everyone looked out for each other.

Moving up the coast road I was at the tail and before me I saw an open road full of bikes snaking along the coast. The wind was a bit fresh at times and the bends a lot of fun but it felt safe. It’s clear the French look out for bikers and make room. They stopped other cars on roundabouts and waved as we passed.

One petrol stop at Le Touqet saw a bemused cashier suddenly dealing with a 60 bikes trying to fill up - but thankfully no problems there and drivers waiting went elsewhere with an indifferent shrug. I wonder if the same could be said for a petrol stop in the UK?

Lunch brought a great sight of the bikes parked on the seafront with locals all stopping to look. Another plus of having a support van was that all the kit could be safely stored so that we didn’t need to carry it with us. I’m sure the café we stopped in would have been a lot more cramped had we all had our kit with us.

Entertainment came in the form of our waiter’s face as he realised that the tall gentleman with cropped ginger hair had indeed just ordered a Cheeseburger and Fires and two Croque Monsieur for himself and this was only matched when he collected his empty plates and Ginger ordered a banana split for pudding…

On the road following a photocall and the tail got dropped for a bit. Thankfully a local pointed us in the right direction and we soon caught up. The back is the place to be if you want to up the pace a bit and the roads were good although caked in mud at times. The strong side wind had the bike leaning right over and the view looking down on the drainage ditches prevented my mind from wondering to far from my riding. The main thing for me was that from where I was everyone kept a good space. You could see the line of bikes stretching away - a grand sight indeed.

I was kept up to date with how things were going by regular waves from Charlie. Frederic, Ginger and Baby Polar Bear - they were up and down the line all day and never stopped - checking for problems. The system works well.

The unscheduled stop in a town somewhere was a highpoint. Here we were spread down a street surrounded by local people and not an angry face in sight. Small children placed on bikes for photos was the order of the day. A couple of burnouts outside people’s front doors had me cringing but this was met with a smile and even the sound of bikes bouncing on the rev limiter was welcomed - again how different to good old blighty - imagine stopping like that down on the South Coast somewhere - 999 would be jammed and people would be running for their lives.

So back to Calais. At the terminal the Gina and Christof drove the van escorted by Ginger and BigSV - a last minute volunteer following a plea for help. I was glad the van was on hand to help and it had helped us too on the day and should be a main consideration for future rides like this to come. Well done the van crew!

Finally well done Jim. I’m sure you gulped a bit when I asked you to lead us and I’m sure there were some who saw the X9 and thought What the …but once under way that all changed. Perfect pace and a steady head can’t think of a better bike or rider to lead a group of this size mate.

So everyone had a good day even the ones that needed help as everyone saw it’s great to be a biker when there’s so many like minded people watching your back!

Thanks all!

Nice report my good man, had me thinking about riding along that coastline again, great views, great roads and great company, would definately do it again!

Thanks everyone!

Ditto! A top ride with top people!!

A massive well done to all that were involved in such a massive operation. It cant have been easy. Brilliant company and a brilliant day

Nicely written and I would just like to confirm that the view from the back was awesome!! Just seeing so many bikes snake up that first hill and beyond was a sight to behold.

nice one macp…same goe.s for me many thanks .great day had,

thanks patrick!! did u breath at all

Nice one MacP! Wish we could have been there. I bet that’ll be a common saying once more people find out about this trip!