Tour de France with Hans june 12-june 20 1999.


Ever since Hans got back into motorcycling we take a week a year to enjoy riding together. This year we decided to visit the World Superbike Races at the Nurburgring, ride a 'tour de France' to check out some MC campings and finally end in Normandy to meet up with friends from the compuserve Ride forum.

The first weekend we were accompanied by Dook and Ineke on their VFR750. We would be spending the first nights at Jack's Place, a MC camping with a bar and good music. The ride to the campground on saturday was better than last year's as the weather was fine. Of course I took a wrong turn somewhere which took us some time to correct, but in the end we were there. We had a chinese dinner in the village and some drinks in the MC bar, then dozed off...

Fortunately we hadn't drunk too much the night before, so on sundays we were up and running at an early time, at least early enough to get to the Ring in time. On the autobahn I opened it up and after a while the VFR tried to fool me into thinking it ran 260 kmh!

The races were exciting and our moods as good as the weather. Out buts felt like concrete at the end of the day, so we were glad to be back on the bikes again.

The first 20 km or so from the track to the autobahn consist of wonderful winding roads. Combined with excellent turmac this is a place where the adrenalin starts flowing! Dook started to rev it up and I didn't want to disappoint him, so faster and faster we went. When we were at the corner where the autobahn began we waited for Hans on his R1100RT. And we waited and waited... Worried that something had happened I turned back and rode to the track again. Not a sign of him! Then both Dook and I went back, looking in all the villages along the way for Hans. Nothing. We decided to return to Simpelveld and make new plans after arrival there.

The trip back was quick enough, but when we came at the campground we noticed Hans waving at us and holding a giant glass of beer! It turned out he had taken another road and had arrived one hour before us. Relieved we ordered beer and pizzas and had a good evening playing pool.

Monday came. After packing we enjoyed a nice breakfast, rode off, waved goodbye to Dook and Ineke who were heading home again and entered Belgium. I had spent quite some time studying the maps in order to find small roads, and small roads we found! Many roads were bumpy as well, and as I had two wrist injuries due to a skating fall it really hurt!

After a couple of hours we entered Luxembourg, and again following small roads we found the Moesel river after a while. We followed the river for some time, but pretty soon found ourselves in France. East of the A31 we rode south; Bouzonville - Morhange - Lorquin - Schirmeck - Villé, gradually entering the Alsace. As the sun was setting, we looked for and found a campground. Pretty much deserted, but in the neighbourhood of a restaurant which turned out to be a source of excellent food.

So far the roads had been OK, but not really special. The next day they were supposed to be more interesting, and they were. The route des Crêtes is an incredible road indeed! We stopped at Mulhouse to find a BMW shop as Hans's speedo cable had left for speedo cable heaven. This detour and stop took some time, so after finding the right road again we stopped for dinner (and calling home for the first time) and later at Lons-le-Saunier to find a campground for the night.

It was here that Hans got himself a knee injury while packing his gear: his knee twisted and snapped. He would be in great pain the rest of the week; fortunately he didn't know that now and was hoping for a quick recovery.

Wednesday found us heading for the Drôme: we wanted to camp at a MC camping in Montclar-sur-Gervanne. The roads once again were great, be it a bit bumpy. Going down from a steep mountain we got our first rain. We decided not to stick together but make it down at a personal comfortable speed. Once down, the rain had stopped, and we were in Die. A major road led us west in the direction of Crest. This major road had a good surface and nice sweepers, so we enjoyed ourselves at illegal speeds. After a while Hans made me stop, thinking he had lost an engine bolt. It turned out he had a puncture in his rear tyre, the nail still in place. We got some freh air at a gas station and headed on, unfortunately at legal speeds again... After a while we took some D road north and pretty soon found the campground.

This place looked fantastic! Several sunny fields with scattered groups of trees beside a river, probably the Gervanne... A resto, a bar and a workshop completed the picture. After us several groups of riders (90% of them dutch) arrived, most of them on sportsbikes. They just seemed to disappear into the vegetation but soon were heard again in the bar. We tried to fix the BMW tyre with a parker screw which seemed to work. Then we ordered a simple and cheap meal, which was good enough as a bottom on which to pour some beers. We had some pleasant conversations at the bar that night and consumed several pints.

Thursday morning. The rear tyre had lost some pressure after all, so this was to be a quiet touring day again. Never mind, the roads and views were to be great again. We rode west, crossing the 'autoroute du soleil', on our way to Privas. From there on our road would go north, be narrow, go uphill and down again and be heated by fantastic weather. On days like these you know why you ride. We stopped at Retournac for coffee and a burger, then headed on to find our way round Clermont-Ferrand which turned out not to be easy. At one point we felt so hot and dried out that we stopped for a beer in an airconditioned pub near Riom. Now that we were west of the A75 things became easier, and an hour or so later we were at the St.Rémy-de-Blot MC campground.

There wasn't much shade around, but the excellent bar, the very kind and helpful host and the very good meal made up for that. The father in law of the owner's son came over to pick up the rear wheel for tyre repair, while we had fun drinking beer from a Moto Guzzi engine, listening to the music and chatting with some folks. Whenever you're in the neighbourhood: spend a night at this place.

Friday came and we prepared for a long and dull ride nort-west to Moyaux Normandy (near Lisieux). We settled for routes nationales so we made good progress, but after the previous days this was DULL. The only thing I remember is being stopped by a female gendarme, allegedly for ignoring a red light. She was young and had gorgeous brown eyes. I was in love with her right away, as she was with me, for after a pleasant conversation we shook hands and I was off the hook. I'll always remember her...

Later that afternoon we found the campsite Darrell had arranged for us in Moyaux. It was classy (4 stars) with a little castle and all. A pretty heated swimmingpool inside the former castle pond, plenty of room for the tents and some sort of tower where you could have a drink; perfect all in all. There weren't many people around at first: everybody had gone on a taste-the-cidre tour. After they returned we said hello to all, especially to some new friends (John, the only guy I met that can beat the tongue of Megs, Michael who is called Robby, and Brian, who's a family doctor with good taste (owning a nice VFR...)).

They, plus Darrell, Meggs, Nick, Kevin, Sally and Martin walked with us to the restaurant where a meal was served which was tasteful but hardly enough. After that: time for drinks in the 'tower', tasty AND plenty!

Saturday morning: Meeting Dave and Julie again, who arrived somewhat later. Lovely weather. Perfect for breakfast, a swim in the pool and a nice ride. Which is exactly what we did, Kevin leading the way on the ride. I think we all were surprised that Normandy has so much to offer. The roads were perfect, the views very nice and, of course, the company excellent. We had a long stop trying to cool down again, in which we succeeded with help of a couple of drinks.

After the ride it was decided to go to a seaside town north of Deauville to have a seafood dinner. The roads were very busy on our way there, but finally we found a parking spot for our bikes and entered the restaurant. What can I say; excellent food, reasonably priced, plus a demonstration on how to eat 5kg of seafood by Martin. Fascinating...

It was getting dark when we finally headed back for the campsite. Some wanted a quick ride and had one; I settled for a moderate speed with time to sniff the seawind. Tomorrow was the ride home, way too soon...

Sunday, cold and clouded. We said goodbye to our friends and left Normandy pretty soon after that. Amiens, rain. Never mind, at least there's one reason to get home now. It kept raining most of the time on our ride home, we seldom stopped and managed to ride a good average speed and mileage.

Thanks Hans, for a great week!