Saturday, 23 July 2011

"Monaco or Bust"............. Bust it is then!

The plan.

To take Ben on a summer holiday bike trip to the south of France to visit Monaco & to ride round Col de Bonnet, the highest paved road in Europe on the way. Well that was the plan!

So after what feels like a life time of not riding Mr T due to first of all my sciatica taking me out big time. Secondly Lilie Rose having an operation on both her feet resulting in them being in pot for 4 weeks and a number of other "life" issues. Mr T has sat there patiently for 7 weeks with just 650 miles on the clock it was time to get him "broken in". Ben was over the moon with the idea last week when it first popped into my head, as mad ideas always tend to do! So on Thursday last week I decided to get stuck in and get "Farkling"!

I had been buying a few "bit's 'n' bob's" on the tinternet over the last 6 weeks. These along with the Garmin Zumo 660 in the Touratech Mount and Starcom system taken from "The Beast" I started around 10 in the morning.


Steadily stripping off the front fairings both sides, first mistake as there is nothing but the radiator on the near side but it made for easy access. The first job stopped there as the Fuzbox had still not arrived from Nippy Normans. So I cracked on fitting the pars from Touratech, heal guards, lambda sensor cover, rear brake reservoir guard, rubber bung replacements, side stand switch protector, side stand base extension, ABS switch protection and rear axle cover.


Once all that was on I took off the touring screen and fitted the windscreen adjuster this GPS mounting bar. Then the fun began fitting the Garmin which to my surprise went in a dream. One wire down the side of the screen adjuster and tucked in where the tool kit was stored originally. Job done, well for now any way.

Coffee break was called for at 1100 and just as I sat down the postman knocked at the door. Perfect! Back in the garage it was time to fit the Starcom under the seat. The push to talk button and the volume control mounted on the left hand handle bar. I then ran all the wires along the off side and tucked behind the wiring loom. So easy to do once the tank was loosened and propped up on a roll of bin bags, soft and just the right height.

Fitting the Fuzbox required a quick trip to Carcraft to get some 27 amp wire red and black plus a spade in line fuse holder. Armed with these I fitted the Fuzbox to the right hand side of the electrical panel. Cutting out the divider and using a couple of velcro dots to fix it in place (so it will be easy to remove and work on in the future). The Fuzbox allows me to fit up to 6 applications and have them either switched or permanently live, so no more loads of wires to the battery just one live and one earth.

A very neat job if I do say so myself. 

The rest went like clockwork, wiring the Garmin and the Starcom into the Fuxbox both permanently live. Refitting the MRA Vario Screen and all the side panels took quite a while but I got there in the end. A few adjustments here and there and that was Mr T "Farkled " ready for our trip. 

It would be the following Wednesday night before I could get out and try the "Farkles" when J & I joined the MancRiders for a bite to eat over in Derbyshire. It was so close to my Dad & Ang's that I took the liberty of inviting them along and I do believe a good night was had by all. Even if Lefty did get bullied by Ang......... you must have asked for it mate!

So to Friday morning, I'm up and ready bikes packed, two sleeping bags, self inflating mattress wrapped round them and into the yellow suffer sack along with Ben's fleece just in case it gets cold.

Off-side pannier was packed with the usual food, bacon, sausage, beans, and enough tins to see us right for a few days. Cooker, Jetboil, two frying pans, pan, tea towel, pan scrub, washing up liquid, camping towels in small stay dry bag. Other side had the pannier liner full of cloths exactly the same for us both. 3 tee-shirts, shorts, 4 pants & 3 socks in small stay dry bags, jeans, short sleeve tidy shirt & a pair of trainers.

So 1030 on the dot we say our goodbyes and its off to Dover ferry terminal due to costing £65 return as opposed to the £78 each way on the chunnel. We headed across the M62, down the A1(M), M11, M25, M2, A2 to Dover. Stopping only once on the M11 to fill up and for ben to have a bag of extra hot Monster Munches. The importance of this will be revealed shortly. Straight down to the ferry with just 5 minutes to spare before loading started. You now have to fasten your own bike down so I used two straps one over the seat and one through the crash bars. Mr T was going no where. A lad on a Ducati started chatting about getting a train over to the UK then was ridding back to Hamburg, "They call us Hamburgers you know" (what a plank!). He just stopped mid conversation when he spotted a young couple on a Royal Enfiled with side car. Germans of course, not even a smile. Mind he did remind me of Wallis a bit, never even said hello to Dash!  

We grabbed a good bench seat and settled down for a nice smooth crossing eating a Pasty and a lemonade for Dash and a Chicken & Mushroom pie and a pint for Dad. Mmmmm very nice. 

I had booked us into a camp site just 20 miles short of Reams, so a steady 154 miles across France at a reasonable pace sitting at 80 all the way. Mr T felt sure footed and smooth as you like. I'm still not happy with the seat mind. It's rock hard and giving me some jip. No problems for Dash, within 10 miles he was fast asleep, problem there being he did not want the belts on!!! So he starts to flop about so down came the speed. I know he cannot go anywhere as he is packed in tighter than sardine in a can but I don't like it. So top tip, any long trips its belts from now on!

As we rode down for some reason my boom mic packed up, I could head everything including Ben but nothing I said did anything. Great no coms till I we got to the camp site some 3 hours away. I thought it strange but I had packed the spare Boom mic head set. No idea why I just thought I'll take that just in case! Fate I guess. Arriving at the site we are both blown away which cheered us both up. Covered outdoor pool, which we could use in the morning, bar, small cafe with pool table, great toilet block, showers and backs onto a 20 foot wide river. That will do very nicely thank you.

Ben getting ready to head south. 

First a small beer and a cola for Dash, then its tent time. We nestle in between an empty tent that looks like it has been there all year and a family from the UK, behind us is a BMW Bike from the UK, a few Dutch a few French and loads of English. Not that anyone even said hello!!! 

Problem number two raises its head as soon as I go to put the tent up, no tent pegs........... bag gone! So twigs and struggle, one half of tent tied to Mr T the other half erected and pegged out with twigs till the nice guy, who never told me his name gave me 4 spare pegs.

We got chatting whilst Dash wore himself out on the Trampoline and running round the side like only Dash can do! The guy had been camping for two weeks and had done what we were planning. He had started at the bottom and worked his way up. Something I would have done if I had been alone. I tried Bens lid on the intercom and yes it was the mic so it was out with the tools and fitted the new boom mic head set. It was then off to the bar for another swift half with Dash on the Cola again. Then back to the tent for our supper as it was almost dark and 10pm. We had ridden 463 miles and where both ready for something to eat so out came the cook set , pans and on went two curries. Ben wolfed his down and finished it off with a hot chocolate, I did the same but had a coffee.

I was just about to get into my sleeping bag when , "Dad, DAD............ " and Ben was diving to get out of the tent, only to throw up straight outside the entrance. Then to my dis-belief crawl through it to get out of my way so I could see what he was doing..........

Well, what a night I thought. Ben got undressed and got into his bag, no sooner had scrapped the mess up he was fast asleep. Kids hey, not a care in the world.

Next morning we started with a Full English, bacon, egg, sausage & beans. Showered, packed and were ready for the off about 11am. The rest of the site had gone. We were almost alone. We rode up to the main entrance and I stopped to take a picture of Ben on the bike and of the camp site. The bike felt light as I got off so I told Be to sit extra still. His picture looked great.

If only I had known what wa going to happen.

I walked round the front of the bike to get a better shot of the site, only to see what seemed slow motion, Ben and the bike, falling over onto the tarmac. Ben landed in the flowers. I was in shock for 10 seconds then over to Ben pulling him out and standing him up. "Are you OK?" "I didn’t move Dad" "Shit, shit, shit, f-ing shit". We both lifted the bike up, how I don't know but up she went. "Are you shore you are OK Ben?" "I'm fine" but I knew better. I turned to look at the bike, the off side pannier was pushed clean over the lower mounting and in towards the wheel, crash bars and had guard had taken the impact. My concern was Ben as when I turned round he was saying a little prayer, hands together the lot!

Any closer and the pannier would be touching the wheel.

Then I went mad at Mr T, with lots of shit's & F***s. Not good but I was gutted. It took three attempts to pull the pannier off the mount. We got back on and not one single person who had seen the fall or us struggle offered even a kind work. I was low, Ben was in tears. As we rode away I then realised that the brake and mirror were bent right down forward. The hand guard attaches to the mirror and so had been knocked out of place. What a crap design.

We rode back to the motorway and headed south with a 400 mile trip in front of us I knew it was going to be a long day if we didn’t get it together. "Fancy a drink BB" "OK" so after just 40 miles we pulled into the services and had a drink. We had been texting Jeannie most of the evening but the mobile died in the night so I had had it on charge. Ben called home. He was so upset and thought I was angry with him. He wanted to go home. After a chat with his Mum and his drink his mind was set. "I just want to go home please". I could have cried. Instead we got back on Mr T and headed back the way we had just ridden. 265 miles to Calais plus the 295 miles on the other side gave us an ETA of 1130pm.

We arrived at the toll in what felt like minutes. "90 Euros" "WHAT!" "90 Euros, do you have another card?" "No we have just been to the services and my son wants to go home" This can't be happening I thought, f***g 90 Euros. I had no option either pay or be arrested. I was and still am seething. I tried to explain there was no information or toll at the services. They accused me of doing a U turn on the motorway!. Un real. I rode off screaming at the top of my voice. "You F****g French ******"

We stopped for fuel, there were a group of English bikes there. I filled up and pulled forward. One of the guys came over and asked how we were doing. "Shit" was my reply. I don't think he was prepared for that, "So are we, we are going home a couple of days early" he said. "Oh, so are we. That's after being ripped off at the toll for 90 Euro's". I left him thinking, went to the loo, came out had a drink of Cola with Ben and we set off. Only 154 miles to do and we would be on the 5pm ferry. "Shall we go through the tunnel Ben" Still trying to cheer him up. "Yer that would be cool". He sounded better.

After about 30 miles I realised, "Shit Ben, I never paid for the fuel" Can this get any worse. I rode for another 20 miles looking in the mirrors expecting the worst! I pulled in at the next services and explained what I had done. The manager tried 5 times to call them then said "Don't worry you’re on a bike it's not worth worrying about" so with that we were off.


"One way on the next tunnel crossing will be £110"

"You can forget that mate, no way am I paying that, £110. No way"

The ferry it is then!

Someone was very happy to be going home. 

So that was the tunnel in the bin. Next ferry was at 6pm we had 30 minutes before boarding. I had to beg the cleaners to let Ben into the loos as he was bursting. How sad is that, or walk all the way back across the hole docks to near the entrance. I was so chuffed to be on the boat first. Straight back to our outward journey seats. Kit off shorts and trainers on. "Pasty Ben?"

The return leg was jam packed full of coach loads of children but passed so fast. Before we knew it Ben had spotted the White Cliffs of Dover, home at last give or take 295 miles.

Ben putting on a brave face.
By the time we got home he was shattered

As fate would have it we filled up at the same M11 services for the return leg. It was 6.50pm when we left the docks. I chose to take the M2 back as I knew it would be quite. The ride back was a long a boring trek. Ben slept a little but was wide awak all the way up the A1(M) due to the temperature dropping from the 27 we had had in France down to 11. We had to stop at Doncaster at 11pm as Ben was really starting to feel it. I pulled the Kawasaki Fleece out of the bag and it went on over the top of everything. He warmed his hands on the exhaust guard and we set off again. We arrived at home at 3 minutes to midnight, cold, damp but happy to be back, safe and sound.

So what have we learned from our 1000 mile in 48 hour extravaganza?


Do not forget to check your tent before leaving home. 

Do not feed your offspring curry for supper.  

Do not park your bike on the level if it is fully loaded.

Do not swear at your bike in ear shot of your precious little boy.

Do not expect any help from anyone on a camp site unless there on a bike too.

Do not head back the way you came on the same motorway unless you have left the motorway at a correct facing toll.

Do not bother trying to correct your mistakes at the next services.

Do not try and get a late deal on the Chunnel.

Do not think that because the south of France is appealing to you as a grown up, your 9 year old son will see it the same way.

Super Tenere XT1200Z seats are rock hard


1000 miles in 48 hours at the age of 9 = Very Proud Dad!
Your 9 year old son can pillion ride the ass off many a grown up without breaking sweat.
I have an adorable son and guess what, he likes me too!

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