25th April 2019 – Day 1
I am going across to France this afternoon and into Belgium on my way to rejoin the Women Riders World Relay in Dierdorf Germany tomorrow evening.
I have had to pack all my gear into my dry sack backpack as the sissy bar and rack didn’t arrive yesterday. That means I will have to carry everything on my back for the next 7 days, oh joy especially on a new bike. My train is at 5.20 and, as I am working until 2, I will have to go straight from work.
I then receive a message that I am only going to be needed until 12 so a quick change of plan, I will now return home from work in hopes that the bar and rack arrive this morning and I can fit them quickly before I have to leave for Folkestone Eurotunnel terminus. I receive another message later in the morning that the items have been delivered so all good.
I get home and sure enough the sissy bar and luggage rack have arrived along with the S&S slip on exhaust mufflers and the Fuel Pak, but I only have time to fit the bar and rack, I still need the high flow air intake to arrive from Jersey HD.
It’s now 1.30 so I have less than an hour to put this together and get it fitted to the bike and repack my gear… I’m not going to do it in time so I reschedule my train for 7.20 this evening giving me an extra 2 hours to get everything sorted.
All done and packed ready to go…
I know the packing looks enormous but I’ve only got the dry sack backpack and a small day bag under there I promise.
I got a few bits done to the bike yesterday… fitted mounts for my phone and camera, added a heat shield to the exhaust, moved the mirrors to under the handlebars, I really prefer that position, and fitted a helmet lock. I was going to wire in my gps cradle and a twin port usb charger, but that necessitates removal of the fuel tank and I didn’t have time. I also found a small square box on the side of the frame between the forks and the petrol tank… what’s this I thought… wow HD have fitted a usb port to the bike already, well that is impressive I must say.
All my farewells done and I’m on my way. The weather at the moment is perfect although thunderstorms, heavy showers and high winds are predicted for the next 4-5 days so I am wearing my full biker cordura gear instead of my usual jeans and leather jacket.
I arrive at Folkestone without incident and soon board the train. I forget, as usual, that the time will shoot forward an hour when I get to France which means a 9pm arrival so I don’t think I am going to make it into central Belgium today as planned. In fact I am already thinking about where I am going to stay tonight. At about 9.45 I stop in a largish town and break out the trusty Booking.com to find a room… wow it is soooo expensive, 120 euros for one night… I’m not staying here. I carry on and the next big city is Lille… ahhhh Lille Harley Davidson, I have been there several times before so I could pop in tomorrow morning for a mooch. I arrive in Lille around 10.15 and find a room at an Ibis Budget so make my way there. It is just off the D656 at Wasquehal round behind a shopping centre where I also spot a McDonalds so will come back here to grab a quick bite… better than nothing.
Well, that’s if I can get into the bloomin’ hotel. It’s like Fort Knox, surrounded by high metal fences. There is a notice on the large gate in several languages including English explaning that if you don’t know your room code then walk into reception and check in to get your code and you can return to your vehicle, input the code on the keypad next to the gate and drive in… what a palaver! Ok, so how do I walk to reception, the small pedestrian gate seems to be locked.. am getting a bit exasperated when a man starts walking down from reception. I’m not sure if he is staff or a guest, but am trying to prepare my best Franglais to ask how to get in when he says in perfect English are you booked in? Yes.. to which he nods and pulls the pedestrian gate really hard so that it swings open.. ahh it wasn’t locked at all, I’m just puny. I follow the man into reception and get my code. Am soon parked up and unload the bike. It is now 11pm so I hope the Maccy D is still open… I ride over and although the seated area is shut the drive through is still open so queue up to get a big mac meal. Thankfully she gives me a bag with handles so I can carry it on the handlebars. I get back to the room and find the food is stone cold.. yuck, but I’m hungry enough to eat some of it.
I’m absolutely shattered, its been a bit of a whirlwind two weeks what with all the bike trouble etc. but am looking forward to the ride to Germany tomorrow.. nite nite