Alps or Bust Ride Report

great stuff.
but surely you had enough small change left to speak to Clio Woman?
 
Camouflage :jes in 21st century France. Boy oh boy, that's got to be a first. Keep it coming, :type , I'm loving this tale.
 
Day 9

I am awake and brewing up at 06:35. A hot drink to start the day and a walkabout to see how the foot is feeling, as well as to get the leg working.
I didn't get to sleep until gone 01:00hrs as Jo and I were exchanging texts and details I would require for my visit to Paris this morning. Jo was out for the evening and so I had to wait for her responses - nothing worse than when you're out for the evening with others and somebody keeps texting somebody else, so I waited patiently.

It was still raining and looked like it could be in for the day. It was only last night that I noticed for the first time just how much I had been bitten by critters throughout this adventure, and had I not spent a few nights in accommodation here and there , then that aggregate would be even higher.

Jo booked my ferry online last night which saved me paying through the nose when I turned up at Calais, plus the cost is discounted with online bookings. P&O wanted £50 for a flexi-ticket, which allows for a boarding window of up to 4hrs either way, but a bit more searching came up with DFDS at 35 Euros for a fixed time. I chose DFDS and asked Jo to book it for 18:00hrs as I had no idea how long I'd be in Paris.
The ferry company required an overall length of the bike to complete the booking with options of 'up to 2 metres' or 'up to 3 metres'. I told Jo 3 metres just to be safe ... "That's an extra 18 Euros then..." , I relplied with , "In that case it's 2 metres , and hardly likely one of there bods will be walking the ferry deck with a tape measure"!
Jo had already checked that it was ok to have the boarding pass sent to my iPhone for verification of validity.

I packed up camp and headed off for Paris after negotiating the barrier and getting back on the road.

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I was perhaps 30kms from Paris when I left camp armed with the info that Jo provided, hours of business including lunch breaks for the British Embassy, etc. Knowing that the French take 1 1/2hrs for lunch was the reason for an early start.

It all seemed so simple in the texts - ask for form LS01, fill it in and get a passport.

I looked up the address in the Sat-Nav and set it for 'destination'. I then analysed my route in to get me to the Embassy via the shortest route - head for Notre -Dame from the N7 and follow the Nav route in right up to the to the doorstep!

I cannot emphasise enough the importance of carrying maps when travelling as their reference information is far greater and practical than a Sat-Nav system will ever be. I had looked at my 'Easy Read France 2012' map book, which devoted three full pages to Paris, aiding me no end to pinpoint 35 Rue du Fauborg St Honore, the address for the British Embassy.

The Paris 'Le Peripherique' reminded me of the M25 around London , only worse! Traffic was very heavy and I needed to be very alert for all sorts of reasons, not to mention the wet conditions.

I was now into Paris proper!

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I was surprised at how easily I found the address and the British Embassy itself on my unbranded Sat-Nav. A unit that had more than covered its low cost over the last two years in Europe.

The only problem would be that of where to park. There are so many motorcycles and scooters in Paris and all of them seem to have found a parking space on the pedestrian walkways , except me! It wasn't long before I concluded that Paris is no place for an R1200GS, certainly not whilst having a foot that wouldn't work properly! Gear changes were now a bind , a menacingly painful experience with continual stop start riding, traffic lights, junctions etc etc.

When I had located the British Embassy I decided to pull up on the right of the street about 50 metres beyond the Embassy. It wasn't the ideal place to park, though it was plenty wide enough for vehicles to pass me due to this section of road being a little wider for a short distance before the kerb abruptly angled an end to this space and back to join the street kerb. I guessed it may have been some kind of loading area , or drop off maybe. For certain I wasn't about to ride around the block again in search for another space. Two scooters were parked on the pavement but I felt the GS was a little too big to park next to them.

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I arrived at the British Embassy a little after 09:30hrs , which was just after the Embassy would open. I noticed a heavy gendarme presence all along this street as I hobbled toward the Embassy. Three gendarme were standing outside and immediately fixed their eyes upon me as I approached the door.
I told them I need to obtain a new passport as I rung the bell next to the door. One of the officers told me I needed the British Consulate, not the Embassy and to turn around , take the immediate left and walk up that street, it would be on my right. The voice over the door speaker would also confirm this.

I hobbled back and took the directions I was given. This hobbling along was becoming increasingly difficult as well as very uncomfortable. I arrived at the Consulate offices to find two more gendarme guarding the doors. A 'Bon jour..' and a press of the bell would gain my entry after telling the voice in the door speaker system I needed to obtain an emergency passport.

Inside the security block between the entrance door and the electric door a kiosk , and in this kiosk was a man I had decided was the French Hitler! He was humourless , assertive , dead pan , in fact I didn't see any facial movement in any way that could hint to another individual that any kind of emotion lived at the address behind his eyes, other than his lips moving during speech! His eyes appeared to be half open , or perhaps half closed , I wasn't certain, and his stance was such that his head would be tipped back slightly thereby forcing him to look down upon his victim.

'Adolf' wasted no time telling me that I needed to go out of the door , turn right, right, and right again to purchase my passport photos. I hobbled out in a British kind of way after being treated so abruptly but kept my thoughts to myself whilst on my way to my next location. In the passport photo shop I was seen almost immediately, asked to take a seat and to remove my glasses. I grimaced for a few seconds and then it was all over. No short cuts here - a full set of no less than 9 photographs , all identical , cut, cropped , placed into a little envelope and 9.90 Euros lighter!

I hobbled back to the Consulate offices to speak with Adolf again and he then advised me of the cost for an emergency passport. I thought he may have taken great delight in pointing out the cost to me but still he didn't smile.
"I was informed that I can apply for an emergency passport with a form LS01..." I told him, in a kind of 'so there' way, as if to suggest that with this form the passport would be free of charge!
In what seemed like an attempt to pull further rank over me he then abruptly asked me where my police documents are that state I had lost my passport. I was very happy to oblige, which in turn would gain me further access within the building.

He invited me through the electric gate only to be stopped by a second electric gate! All of my metallic belongings needed to be removed for Adolf and his assistants' viewing pleasure but my iPhone would be held whilst the rest was returned to me. At last I had access to the downstairs offices where I would meet Sophia , and English girl , very polite , professional, efficient and a pleasure to talk to. We shared a chat about my travels , how I'd come to lose my passport and other belongings and even took a little time to Google Col de la Machine after my description of the Vercours region and this place specifically, to satisfy her own curiosity.
Then came the crunch - "That will be 124 Euros please?" asked Sophia.

There was a brief silence - " Oh err , my partner made no mention of a fee and it didn't seem to be on your website either? I am afraid I don't have any funds to cover this and need to speak with Jo , only my phone is held in security"

Sophia rang Jo from the office phone and put me on the line. After a brief chat I passed Jo back to Sophia , who required proof from Jo that I had a ferry booked, and to attach the boarding pass in an email as well as her card details for the 124 Euros (£100.00) for the passport.

Thankfully Jo paid the price , though it would all be part of my expenses when I got back to England , nevertheless, Jo saved the day once again!

I mentioned to Sophia about the streets crawling with gendarme to which she told me that Paris is a very high terrorist threat with so many high profile people here, Embassies, Consulate offices etc etc.
Sophia suggested I go for a coffee, perhaps, as my passport would take about half an hour. I told her I'm probably best to move my bike as I had a vague recollection of seeing signs that informed motorists that their vehicles would be removed if inappropriately parked!
I asked her if she would know where my bike would be taken if such a thing happened whilst I was here.

She laughed and said "I have no idea , I can help you with your passport but certainly not as to where your motorbike would be taken to!"

I too laughed, as i hobbled back up the stairs , through a door , into Adolfs domain, through the electric gates , through the doorway into the street and back to where I left the bike , after saying "Au revoir" to the two gendarme who were still standing their post either side of the door entrance.

It was a relief to see the GS still where I'd left it , though I did wonder with my luck it was more likely it wouldn't! I moved the bike to somewhere more appropriate, on a pavement next to other bikes outside the Gucci store , as you would!

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For a brief moment I thought I saw Clio Woman again through a shop window - she looked familiar but I couldn't quite place her face!

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I left the GS and found somewhere for a coffee , which turned out to be one of the nicest coffees I can remember having , anywhere, but then it was nearly 3 Euros!

A good 45 minutes had passed and so I hobbled back to the Consulate, between the two gendarme , through the door and to Adolfs booth window. His assistant asked me to wait and in a moment he had returned with my emergency passport. I didn't get to see Sophia again!

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I would allow myself a little time to see some sights and so headed back to the GS, fired up and set off toward the Eiffel Tower.
In a very short while I found myself on the Champs Elysees along a nasty wet cobbled surface that would run the full length of this stretch of road. In the distance the archway was heavily obscured by what looked like a hazy mist. Whilst stationary at a red light the clouds suddenly burst with an almighty vengeance against what exactly, I didn't know!
I decided in an instant , sight seeing over and peel off to the right.. In 20 feet I came to a halt behind Rent-a-Blockade, in the form of a Mercedes delivery van.

I was in no hurry so I dismounted and walked to shelter in a porch of a large store until the driver would move on. In 10 minutes Rent-a-Blockade shifted and as suddenly as the rain fell it stopped.

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Sight seeing was back on again and so I followed the van around a few sets of traffic lights until the Champs Elysees was back in my sights. This road was ridiculously busy, three lanes wide in both directions , stop start all the way to the iconic symbol itself. At a crossing just before the huge monument, Arc de Triomphe, and amidst other folk, two armed gendarme , a sub machine gun each, crossed the road. This place is deadly serious!

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In the distance behind me stood the Eiffel Tower and the next POI for me to ride to.

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Never have I ridden in such a dangerous place as this. The Place de Ll'Etoile is where 12 roads meet and you literally put your life in the hands of everybody around you whilst doing your best to look after yourself! It is absolutely ridiculous and whatever the accident statistics are for this place they surey aren't high enough...sheer madness. Coupling all this bedlam with wet cobbled stones told me that I would probably never come to Paris again on a motorcycle , ever!

To be fair I was especially unsettled due to my foot injury and knew only too well that any emergency foot down moment would probably have ended with me dropping the GS and having my head caved in by every nutter that was driving at this particular time. This is a place where four-wheeler drivers show very little respect for motorcyclists, unlike everywhere else I had travelled throughout France during my adventure.

I guestimated a turn that I felt would put me on a path to Eiffel as the tower was now out of vision. Several turns later I was riding more cobbled streets , still wet but now downhill on the approach to Eiffel.

I arrived at the tower, pulled over for a couple of pictures but upon remounting the GS to say my last farewells to Paris I just could not pick the bike back up again once astride.

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The road camber was too steep and the GS leant too far over for me. I dismounted and pushed the GS several paces to try again, this time successfully.

I'm out of here!
 
Hopefully queueing for the Ferry about now.....................?:beer:
 
Jeez you sound like a right disaster area... :D

Great RR. :thumb2

Hey come on, 2 offs in nearly 2.5K miles , both times off road and one of those in pitch black...gimme a break!

Ok so I lost all my valuables too but who's counting? :beerjug:
 
well your still alive to tell the story,so you must be doing something right.your not an ex squaddie are you,your camo job was great.:thumb
 
Inside the security block between the entrance door and the electric door a kiosk , and in this kiosk was a man I had decided was the French Hitler! He was humourless , assertive , dead pan , in fact I didn't see any facial movement in any way that could hint to another individual that any kind of emotion lived at the address behind his eyes, other than his lips moving during speech! His eyes appeared to be half open , or perhaps half closed , I wasn't certain, and his stance was such that his head would be tipped back slightly thereby forcing him to look down upon his victim.

Priceless :yelrotflm:yelrotflm:yelrotflm .


More please
 
If there was any time I would have wanted a twist and go scooter it was now , whilst negotiating Paris and it's surrounding areas.

I was now into my stride for the final stint to Calais to meet my ferry. The miles rolled by with nothing more significant taking place other than a fuel stop. I had seen most of what I wanted to see and taken challenges on that did no harm to my off road riding experience building. I had no interest in the ride to Calais other than meet my final objective , to arrive before 18:00hrs. Only twice , but briefly, using the toll route , costing me no more than a handful of Euros. I cannot even recollect the exact route I took to Calais I was now into autopilot mode!

I arrived at check-in approximately 17:30hrs where I would show the text message 'boarding pass' image that Jo had sent me earlier in the day. I was then asked to pull up to the passport office where one of their people would meet me and lead me into their checking in building to ask a few questions about my emergency passport. After 5 minutes or so I was cleared to find my lane allocation and await my ferry arrival.

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I had some time to spare as I pulled up next to a school party returning to the UK in a coach local to my home town. I took this opportunity to remove my waterproof trousers as the Sun had once again returned and looked good in the Dover direction. I finished off the rest of my Pringles, drank plenty of water and generally wasted time between mounting the GS again , dismounting and sitting on the tarmac lane, smoking , stretching my legs , remounting the GS and then doing it all again. The ferry was about a 1/4 hour late but when it docked I was first to board.

I hadn't yet changed my Euros to Sterling and hoped there would be somewhere on board that I could do this - there wasn't. Jo informed me via text that the big BP garage in Dover would accept the Euros and so I would make that my first stop when getting back on the road.

Friday 19:00hrs UK Time

After a generally smooth crossing I was back on the GS and heading to the BP garage. It became immediately clear that I was back on UK soil when I asked the garage kiosk attendant whether or not he would accept Euros and I was greeted by a huffing, puffing, sighing grouchy blow hard! Oh how I despise the lack of tolerance and helpfulness of the English.
The attendant told me he didn't really like to do exchange rates as it doesn't really work out very beneficial to the customer. I told him that I'm fully aware I am going to take the hit but this is all the money I have and need to get to Dorset, some 160+ miles away. He reluctantly agreed to the exchange but unfortunately I could only squeeze £6.00 into the the GS , whilst having just 40 Euros left and in two 20 notes. He would only provide change for the one 20 Euro note after the fuel price had been charged.
I couldn't for the life of me understand why he couldn't have changed the other note if all he was concerned about initially was how short changed I would be on the exchange rate.
He stood fast, he wouldn't change his policy despite my needs. Yes, I was back in the country that the flag carriers call 'Great'! As I was leaving I asked him if he'd had a holiday yet this year and if not, go to France and be prepared to be treated like a human being, not a salivating dog trespassing on his forecourt.

I would moan at the things the British moan about when I left England and I would moan on my return , whereas most everything I encountered in between was fabulous.

I set off at a steady pace before slowly building to my cruising speed of 65 to 75mph. I picked up the M25 and as I neared the junction for the M3 South I could see very dark clouds in the direction home! The setting Sun would only serve to accentuate just how dark and heavy the clouds were and that it would be minutes before they burst.
No sooner had I left the M25 and joined the M3 a torrential downpour laid out it's 'welcome home' mat! The very first over carriageway bridge I came to I stopped and dug out the waterproofs again as well as the heavier gloves. I sat down briefly, had a smoke, looked at the clouds and simply muttered to myself 'sod it , I'm not stopping again for this bloody weather', and things like 'fuckin' typical, I left England in the rain and I arrive back in the fuckin' rain'!
I wasn't impressed.

I knew I had to make one more fuel stop before arriving home as I kept an eye on the fuel level reading. I arrived at Winchester Service Station where something very strange happened. The fuel level light had come on not long before I pulled in and despite putting my last £5.00 in the level light stayed on. I could not get my head around this as I set off from the forecourt constantly monitoring the 'range' reading, which starts at 46 miles left in the tank.

I would now have to be careful with my throttle position for the remaining miles. I looked at the road signage and noticed that the distance to home was more than the range left in the tank by some 4 miles. I dropped my speed a little more as I exited the M3 and joined the M27. I was now clawing back the deficit between fuel left to distance to go ratio whilst maintaining a steady 50mph. Why did the fuel gauge not read my £5.00 fuel fill? If it didn't read it surely the fuel must be in there? Did the pump stop delivering? Did it deliver at all , perhaps it was just air it was putting in! I don't know, it was very, very odd!

From having 50 miles to reaching home and 46 miles in the tank to 12 miles to go and 14 in the tank , 6 miles to go and 6 in the tank , 2 to go and 3 in the tank, I finally arrived at home with a fuel range reading of 1 mile left in the tank as I rode the front path to the back gate entrance.
It was about 22:45hrs when I walked indoors and put the kettle on whilst I removed all my bike clobber and got into something more relaxing and comfortable.

I had the luxury of a full week off work to follow which would be most welcome whilst my injury still dogged me around.
The following Wednesday I would go to my GP who in turn made an appointment for me to have my foot X-rayed. The results showed no breakage but the diagnosis was put down to probably a crushing of my metatarsals.

The limp would start to subside some 17 days after the incident though the foot would still be sore!

To follow this adventure ride report will be my pros/cons notes I made regarding the use of my equipment as well as the BMW R1200GS.

Thanks for reading my Alps 2012 Tour. :beerjug:
 
To follow this adventure ride report will be my pros/cons notes I made regarding the use of my equipment as well as the BMW R1200GS.

Thanks for reading my Alps 2012 Tour. :beerjug:

thank you for taking the time to share:thumb2
 
bugger its over, i am going to miss reading this
thanks for taking the time to write it all up:thumb:beerjug:
 
Is it really over? Bloody hell, I was really getting into it. :) Thanks for the posting :thumb2 it was really very very good. :beerjug:
 
bugger its over, i am going to miss reading this
thanks for taking the time to write it all up:thumb:beerjug:


+ 1.
:clap

Re the fuel guage, both my RT & Jaguar are the same. In fact the Jag's worse. If I put a tenner in it doesn't register, let alone a fiver.
I guess both vehicles just think 'Feck it, It can't be arsed working it all out again when it'll be gone in 10 minutes'. :Motomartin
 
After a generally smooth crossing I was back on the GS and heading to the BP garage. It became immediately clear that I was back on UK soil when I asked the garage kiosk attendant whether or not he would accept Euros and I was greeted by a huffing, puffing, sighing grouchy blow hard! Oh how I despise the lack of tolerance and helpfulness of the English.
The attendant told me he didn't really like to do exchange rates as it doesn't really work out very beneficial to the customer. I told him that I'm fully aware I am going to take the hit but this is all the money I have and need to get to Dorset, some 160+ miles away. He reluctantly agreed to the exchange but unfortunately I could only squeeze £6.00 into the the GS , whilst having just 40 Euros left and in two 20 notes. He would only provide change for the one 20 Euro note after the fuel price had been charged.
I couldn't for the life of me understand why he couldn't have changed the other note if all he was concerned about initially was how short changed I would be on the exchange rate.
He stood fast, he wouldn't change his policy despite my needs. Yes, I was back in the country that the flag carriers call 'Great'! As I was leaving I asked him if he'd had a holiday yet this year and if not, go to France and be prepared to be treated like a human being, not a salivating dog trespassing on his forecourt.

Hmm.

Compare that with the attitude of the French hotel owner................

Did you ever pay him back (the hotel owner)?
 
Hmm.

Compare that with the attitude of the French hotel owner................

Did you ever pay him back (the hotel owner)?

yup its a pretty unfriendly place we live in here to many people in to small a place to be friendly and helpful :(
 
Slightly OT
But in the heavy rain I had in June going to Italy - (all the way there and back - but stopped at Stelvio coming up from Mustair and started again as we crossed over the border into Switzerland from Milan on Autostrada) ) my fuel gauge stopped for about 10 days...
Obviously needed to dry out till it worked again!
 
+2 :thumb.

FWIW when the fuel display reads 1 mile left there is actually 3 litres left in the tank ( it's the reserve). The tank holds 21 litres & I can only ever get 18 litres in when the gauge is showing under 10 miles, I queried this at the last service and that's what they told me. So you would have got home with fuel to spare. On a recent trip to Scotland I tested this out (unintentionally mind) and it's correct.

Mine also doesn't register a small amount of fuel put in the tank if the level is really low, as you say it's strange & a bit disconcerting.

Thanks for sharing :clap
 


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