What a great weekend for a nice run to Belgium to enjoy the great hospitality and BBQ offered by the Twin Power guys in Lauwe.
Saturday; 08:30ish met up with Mich at the Bagshot exit of the M3, god that Aprilia looks big especially next to my MV. The amount of luggage taken by Mich you’d think he was going away for 10 days, equipment included 2 man tent, which he would not use, more on that later, a folding chair (it’s a BBQ not an open air Bach concert!) and some Dutch beer that he was taking back.... After written guarantees from the Blind Baron that his brakes were in working order
I took the lead to get us down to Folkestone. As expected whilst the run down was nice, mainly due to a warming sun, doing the M25/M26/M20 route was a bit boring, though we did a bit of filtering “a la francaise” to keep the blood whipped up. Both bikes seem to run ok with the Aprilia keeping up a good rate of knots.
Got to the services at Jct 11 of the M20 for 09:40ish (after making sure I had enough of a lead getting to the roundabout). As I was finishing filling up the MV, Kevmean arrived to fill up as well. Mich having a tank that holds 25 litres decided he had enough fuel left and decided not to fill up. After a coffee at the services we made our way to Eurotunnel to check in. As Mich had booked himself on a later crossing Kev and I delayed our crossing so we could all cross together. Having cleared ckeck in with about 40 minutes to kill Mich decided to rearrange his luggage distribution. He opened one of his waterproof dryline bags, only to get this smelly dark brown liquid pouring out of the bag, at least he now knows they are waterproof inside out. Turned out that one of the beer cans had sprung a leak and emptied itself inside the bag
Absorbing the majority of the beer were his shoes and his sleeping bag. The Aprilia got turned into a drying rack for the next 30 minutes. Mich decides to take a photo of his bike and takes his newly acquired camera out of its pouch, a dirty grey sock!!
Crossing was over quickly and efficiently. We had agreed that we would take the scenic route to Lauwe via Cassel where we would stop for some lunch, Mich was hungry!. All three of us had Sat Navs, mine was in my luggage as I have yet to work out how and where to mount it on the MV, Kevs’ was in his luggage as his was playing up again and Michs’ was in his luggage for no reason
. I took the lead on the grounds I sort of knew the way. Took the back roads through to Ardres and then hit the national heading for St Omer, managed to miss the turning, which I said I did every time, (proving consistency does apply). Having turned around and taken the correct route I proceeded to forget where to go from there. At this point Mich volunteered to take the lead, on the grounds his grandfather had occupied the area some years back..., and switched on his Sat Nav, however he realised at that point that the charger he had brought along would not charge his Sat Nav so we would be limited to how long it would work before running out of battery. 20 mins later we were sat at the terrace of a nice cafe in Cassel enjoying the scenery, cold drinks and some food, reminds me, Mich I hope you paid for your ice cream that you went and got on the sly and didn’t get it put on the bill which was split 3 ways!!. During lunch Mich got a call on his mobile, he was obviously asked where he was as he answered “I’m in France” and shortly followed by “Where the French live!” This is what you get when an English speaking German tries to tell his German speaking Croatian sister in-law!
At this point Mich declares he needs petrol
! So off we go for a little trip round the area, (some nice S bends in passing) the first station we find is closed, Mich states that we are about 40 miles from Lauwe according to his Sat Nav and he has about enough fuel to do 45 miles!
. So off we go back the way we just came (some nice S bends in passing) to get back on route, through Cassel and just at the exit of the town there’s a petrol station! As we pull in to fill up there are a group of local SLHs (Straight Line Heroes) having a break in the shade. We wait for Mich to finish filling up, worth the watch as it is a pay at the pump filling station. As we leave the station we eye the others and they eye us, Mitch turns left out of the service station and Kev and I follow. 40 seconds later we ride back again to the amusement of the SLH, Mich should have turned right out of the station, thank god for dark visors.
From Cassel we took mainly dual carriageways and motorways to get to the Lauwe exit where we stopped to fill up the MV and the Buell, at the Total station next to the B-Day location, in preparation for the return journey the next day. Half way through Lauwe Mich pulls over to say his Sat Nav has just died
, luckily I remembered the route to the farm from where we are stopped and literally two minutes later we are enjoying some cold beers and cokes before going to put up our tents. Typical uneventful journey for a Buell ride out!
When we arrived we got a warm welcome from everyone, but nothing like the welcome Mich got from one Dutch Bueller
, Kev and I had finished two cokes before they even came up for breath, god this was going to be a long weekend!
This year the barn that had been sleeping quarters the previous year had been turned into a shop for the farm produce so we had to use one of the fields to setup our tents. As Kev and I went about setting up our tents Mich disappeared into Dorske’s tent with said young lady (hence why I could not understand why Mich bothered bringing his tent!). Things went quiet for a while (maximum 15 seconds) and then you hear Mich saying “I can’t find it” over and over again, you can imagine the fun Kev and I had with that,:rofl: from offers of did he want to borrow one of our tent poles, thought Dorske went commando to “Mich you cannot find your virginity once you’ve lost it!” We finally finished putting up our tents once the tears had dried up, I shot off to see some friends in Lauwe and the others headed for the bar!
The evening went off in the habit we have been brought to expect from our Belgian friends
, huge amounts of beer, great BBQ food (including delicious steak as a second seating later in the night), even better company, Ronnie was on full form as always, and some dubious music and even dodgier dancing. I called it a day at around 02:30 and understand that the last one to try and leave was one of the locals at around 05:00, though he ended up sleeping it off in one of the vans as he could not get on his bike let alone ride it home! This year things were a bit more sedate, no flame throwing for example, probably as quite a few people, Dutch, Belgians and Brits, were away on holiday or could not make both the BBQ and the 3 day Track Event in France the following week .
Sunday: Strong black coffee and the usual selection of croissants were laid on by our hosts , which by the looks of some of the revellers was very welcome. Everyone had more or else folded camp by 09:30 except for one tent where they were at it again, if the noise was anything to go by.....
Kev and I set off from Lauwe for 10:00 with Kev in the lead as he had connected up his Sat Nav. We decided to take the main and easy routes back to Calais. Sunday morning traffic was light until we hit road works with a 5 or 6 mile tail back. Back in the lead for some more “a la francaise” filtering. French drivers seem much more aware of bikers and seem to co-habit better than over here on UK roads. As soon as we cleared the traffic Kev took over the lead again. All seemed to be running fine when I noticed Kev kept looking down the front left hand side of his bike. He had been doing this all weekend as this is where he’d fixed his video camera and he had to lean over slightly to turn it on and off. After a few minutes he seemed to slow down so I came alongside him to realise that it wasn’t his video camera he was looking at, it was his Tom-tom Sat nav which was hanging down on its security strap. When we had pulled over onto the hard shoulder, Kev explained that as he rode over a slight hole in the road the cradle holding the satnav had snapped off. It would appear this is a common fault with the type of Sat Nav (buy a Garmin Kev!). As we were some 30 miles from Calais and on the main road, the sat nav was relegated back into the luggage.
As we arrived early at Calais we were checked in on an earlier crossing with about a dozen other bikers. Quick crossing and another pit stop at Jct 11 to fill up the bikes and have lunch. Ride home was uneventful other than keeping a couple of Rice Burners honest coming out of the Services and on the M26 and that Kevs route home around the M25 was closed so he had to go via the Blackwall Tunnel (which is nice on a Buell with a loud exhaust...). For me the M25 was slow from Jct6 so I took the Surrey back roads home.
Summary of the weekend. Absolutely great. The weather was just right if a tad hot on the Sunday for riding in full gear. Great company with very good senses of humour. The Belgians are great hosts, the food at the BBQ was really good and plentiful (buffet of vegetables including pasta salad or potato salad with BBQ’d sausages, chicken skewers and a second seating later in the evening with the same buffet but with fresh steak fillets cooked on BBQ, delicious. And plenty of beer. It was the first time I had ridden the MV that distance in a single trip and with luggage. The bike ran faultlessly throughout the weekend including in the traffic jams where they have a reputation for cutting out if they get too hot ( “They all do that sir” approach is not unique to Buells...). She did cut out once as we were queuing for passport control on the way home. Riding position is good, seat is comfortable for such a small seat. It cruises quite easily at around 80mph whilst still giving instant feedback if you wind up the throttle. The bike had a tendency to lift the front wheel in 1st, 2nd and 3rd with the additional weight of the luggage over the back, but I can’t see that as a problem!
If you haven’t had the “Belgium Experience” yet, you need to get it sorted for next B-day in June 2010. To quote Kev (it was either very late or very early when he said it) “it’s as much as enjoying the company and the getting there, as it is being at the destination” Very true.