Saturday, June 11, 2011

8th /9th /10th June

8th June
Arrived with Philippe late yesterday afternoon, having had quite a struggle with Batty's clutch all afternoon.
As always great to catch up with old pals and great to re acquaint with Mdme Chandless. A welcome whiskey was thrust into my hand and the day's recovery began.
P and I headed off to his local Cous Cous restaurant and gossiped furiously about you lot.

Generosity comes in great waves, as I am finding more and more on this trip. Batty had to be partially stripped to find out what the problem was. Uncle Philippe was called and his garage was made available for the task.
The problem quickly became clear as  one of the engine panels was removed and the pushrod between the clutch lever and the clutch mechanism was clearly knackered. The pushrod wasn't hard enough for the job, no sniggering at the back. For those with a technical interest, this rod has to be hardened at both ends to allow for the ball bearings at each end to push against without wearing it. For some reason this had not been done during production, so Henry has sent a replacement overnight by UPS.
The up shot of this is that the poor Chandlesses have had to put up with this traveler another night. He has has had to endure delicious breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Comfortable bed, great wifi and broad and stimulating company. This is traveling in style and I am so lucky that this problem happened with such friends at hand.
The best part is that Philippe is going to join me for a day and a night on my way to Switzerland. A tent has been bought and once his mighty BMW machine learns the way of Batty's Zen like  pace I am sure they will run sweetly together.


24 hrs after the problem was identified, it was solved. UPS arrived on time, Harry for once did not muck up his mechanics, and Batty rode out of Grenoble with a perfect working clutch.

In the morning,  in a Patisserie getting a little something for Batty's hosts, I was struggling to ask the shopkeeper if she also knew where a florist was 'près d'ici',  she gave me a long very fast answer that whistled over my head. Then she laughed at my doubtless look of hopelessness, said ' Alright love, I am English' much to my delight and frustration. .... she had had me and said she didn't know whether to own up or let me practice my lost cause French. A jolly moment or 2. Still couldn't find the damn florist, even with directions in English. It is a frustration that people don't give you the amount of time or the distance when giving directions. It is probably my poor retention and imagination, but without these dimensions I find it difficult to gauge directions. That said the great thing about getting lost, is the unexpected.
Philippe and I rode off into the Alps on stunning roads. On the way out of Grenoble an egg was thrown from a 3rd storey window at the car in front, a direct hit. Just as this happening was sinking in, I was the target  and another direct hit on poor old Batty. Shocked and bemused I pulled over and ranted at what to do with Philippe. We left it and as I calmed down saw the funny side, and even had to admire the shot. I am sure there are a couple of kids very proud of themselves. Batty needs a wash now. Just between you and me, I think I did the same when young and it was great sport.....all I pray is that those little tikes are at the receiving end of a direct hit later in life.
Looking down on Grenoble

Up at the first Pass

P chatting to  chap at a Cafe, whose son was v keen

I started writing down the roads that blew my mind in terms of the beauty and just amazing for biking, but it was a list that just grew and grew, there are just hundreds of these ear-poppingly heavenly roads.
Philippe had to return to Grenoble at lunchtime and that was a sad farewell. He and Madame had treated me like family for the last couple of days and it was greatly appreciated.

I made my way to Lausanne in Switzerland to see Bella and Humphrey. I am spending a couple of nights with them, before leaving for Italy on the 11th.

It has been a great ride from the UK, both in people, places and experiences. A better warm up I could not have wished for and now this phony war-like part of the trip  is ending. Gone will be the familiarity of  companionship,  delicious home tucker and regular comfy beds that has spoilt me rotten over the last 2 weeks. I am in the right place and pointing in the right direction for some earnest journeying to begin.


  1. This is exactly what blogging was invented for - by the time the egg bit came we were all in the side-car! What's your approx route through Italy?

  2. Hi Harry, Charles H has been keeping me informed about your preperations for this trip, one that since reading Jupiter's Travels, by Ted Simon at a formative age I have often also thought about. It is great that you are on your way, and I will be checking your blog regularly to read of your progress and adventures.

    It seems you have assembled an interesting mix of old and new, for example: very old Enfield and very new SatNav.. It will be facinating to see how they hold up.

    All the best for now

    Mark Abraham

  3. Have you taken some pens&papers for sketching your adventerous journey?!!!
    Good luck with everything!

  4. Thank you all,
    In Sienna now and will make for Terni today,them probably Campobasso and Foggia, before Brindisi to get the ferry to Greece.

    I re read Jupiter's Travels the other day as part of the is a great book and was an early cog in this journey...going back to, like you a v young chap. I have just taken a picture of me typing this at my 'office'. laptop being charged by the bike...

    Alas I have never been able to draw a stickman, let alone anything else. That is why I have always loved being surrounded by such talent...

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