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France Hotels Motorcycle and Bicycle travel

Another trip from Amalfi to the Midlands (UK) and back, by van…

Well, the fiendish plan was to take my beloved 2015 Yamaha TMax scooter plus my sweet 2013 Honda CB500 back to sell in the UK, and to collect my brand-new TMax 530DX which was waiting for me at Alf England (www.alfengland.co.uk). Yamaha have just launched the TMax 560 so many dealers were caught with stock of the 530 and I managed to get a good deal from Martin, he wanted to sell his last one.

Unfortunately the only one left in stock was black which is NOT my chosen colour for cars or bikes, (my old one was white which I much prefer) but beggars and choosers and all that, the deal was excellent so I could not resist mainly because my old one did not have ABS which I regard as essential for 2 wheelers. You may not notice until its toooo late.

So I set off from Roma on a Saturday morning at about 7am, destination Chamonix for my overnight stop cos I love Chamonix and the Mercure Hotel is lovely, just a few kilometres after the Mont Blanc tunnel. When I arrived at about 5pm the temperature was already sliding towards zero so I decided to park the van in the hotel garage for an extra 10 Euro, to avoid having to scrape and de-ice the windscreen in the morning as I was planning to leave fairly early (but not at dawn). Well, I pulled out of the hotel garage at about 6am at minus 8.5 degrees and the climb up to the road was all ice and snow, the van however was great on her wonderful winter tyres. I headed north and as usual in France the motorways were excellent, not too busy and totally clear of ice.

I hit Calais at about 4pm and was put on the next P and O ferry leaving in 30 minutes, I headed up to the Business Lounge for my free newspapers plus tea, coffee or champers and as usual I had two or three coffees and read several newspapers. At Dover I then headed to Cambridge and luckily the traffic was fairly light, I hit the M2/M25/M11 and was soon in Shelford for beers and rest.

So the next morning I headed north to the Midlands to see Martin and the gang….some pictures below!! By the time I returned to Amalfi the red van had covered 5150 kms and averaged almost 11km/l, not bad for an old girl. Great trip, zero oil consumed too cos the van is only running at 2300rpm at 130 kph, very relaxed.

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Amalfi Coast France Motorcycle and Bicycle Transport travel Yamaha and Suzuki

The (fast) ride home…

Well I collected my beautiful new Yamaha MT10SP last week in the Midlands from Alf England and I then rode her home to Amalfi. You need a day to ride through France and then another to cover Italy, on a bike you MUST take yer time and allow for weather, tiredness, traffic and all of the other factors that can influence the ride.

I was very lucky with the weather, in the UK it was mainly warm and dry and I only hit a couple of wet patches going from the Midlands across to Cambridge. Then on the Friday I headed up to Nottingham to see family so I then set off from Nottingham at midday Saturday down to Dover and hopped onto the P and O ferry for Calais. I love the ferry as much as I don’t like the tunnel, I always buy an open ticket with P and O and I find their service excellent. The open ticket includes a seat in the Business Lounge with free tea, coffee and newspapers, happy days!

So in the afternoon I arrived in France and I headed into Calais to fill up the bike at the local Supermarket and I then headed south on the wonderful French motorway system. Luckily I have the new European Telepass so I do not even need to stop at the Pay Stations, great for the motorcyclist as it saves removing gloves and then searching for tickets and or cash or credit cards.

I stopped at Reims where I had booked a night at the excellent Ibis Budget at Thillois, I have stayed many times and the area has eveything you need for a good meal, beer and rest and the hotel car park is secure! I find that a gentle start to a long trip is always a good idea as you need to get to know the bike, so a long slog is never a good idea for the first day.

From Reims early the next morning I rode south in increasingly warm weather and the French motorways are sooooo good you can generally cruise at whatever speed you choose. This bike has cruise control so I selected 140km/h to (hopefully) stay out of trouble and headed south towards Chamonix. When I got nearer the information signs showed a waiting time of one hour for the Mont Blanc tunnel so I decided not to stop for lunch as I had planned, instead I overtook the hundreds of cars in the queue and I got through the tunnel quickly, they charge an extortionate 32 Euro for the bike compared to about 45 for my van!!

So I was in Italy and so I could increase my cruising speed as the Italian police are more lenient and in general anything up to 160km/h seems to be ok, so I headed to a lovely hotel I know in Biella for the night as I was starting to feel quite tired. The Hotel Europa is in the city centre but very quiet and comfortable with an excellent eating house very nearby.

The next day was a gentle ride south down the motorway, I stopped for lunch in Orte with an old mate and then from Orte down to Amalfi where I arrived at about 4pm, tired but very very happy!! The bike returned an overall 16.5 km/litre (46mpg) which is great, the only problem is the range as she only has 16 litres of petrol so this means a stop every 180/200 kms when she runs onto reserve. WHAT a great bike, total ride was about 2400km. A few pics follow:

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France Hotels Motorcycle and Bicycle Scooter Transport travel Yamaha and Suzuki

Another rapid van trip through Europe…

Last week I headed north, destination the UK where I was due to deliver 2 motorbikes to my favourite bike shop where they would be sold. So I prepared my trusty Mercedes Vito van, checking the tyres plus oil and water and packing the 2 bikes snugly into the rear, luckily they are both slim bikes so this was not difficult.

Well my schedule is now quite well rehearsed, I left Roma at 5am Sunday morning with a hotel booking in lovely Chamonix in my pocket, 815 km north in the French Alps just the other side of the Mont Blanc tunnel. I love the Mercure Chamonix and as I have stayed many times they usually give me a free upgrade plus a VIP free drink when I arrive, large cold beer if possible please!

The next morning at dawn I left the hotel and headed north. The French motorways are fantastic and in general very free flowing. And for the first time I was travelling with the new European Telepass which covers Italy plus France, Spain and Portugal so I did not have to stop and pay for the French motorway tolls, I just go through the designated Telepass lane. Progress was so good that I stopped for lunch, fuel and a van wash near Reims and I then decided to crack on for Calais as I always travel with an open ferry ticket, so I get onto the next ferry.

Onto the P&O Ferry and over to the UK and then just a short trip up to Cambridge, some food and then an early night!

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Amalfi Coast France Motorcycle and Bicycle Race Scooter Training Transport travel

Motorcycle road safety courses for all….in English or Italian.

I have been buying, repairing and riding motorcycles since I was 14, and I still learn something every time I go for a ride. Whilst a car is relatively easy to drive, at least from A to B, a bike is really complex and totally not easy to ride also because it will fall over easily, a car cannot fall over (almost).

My best mate runs one of the best Yamaha dealerships in the UK and other mates run the biggest Yamaha and KTM dealer in Europe, and I visit and chat often with these guys as well as others and I also visit Trade shows most years, EICMA etc. I also work with a bike race school for many years so I have loads of experience of bikes and riding, but I am always learning.

The concentration required to ride a bike is at least 10 times that required to drive a car. If you don’t feel like riding the bike today DONT, cos 80% is fine for a car but not for a bike, you need 100%.

So now I have started my own riding school, based on simple stuff theory and then practice, using my bike for me and you use yours, individual tuition OR at most 2 or 3 riders with similar levels of riding experience and ability. Contact me if you wanna try, and lets improve your riding together. And ps I am not a bike snob, I have a moped, a scooter, a Quad and some bikes so we can use anything on 2 wheels, the technique is more or less the same, SAFETY FIRST.

As Freddy Mercury sang, “Keep yourself alive” and this is our motto. And Stop Press, I have just purchased a lovely Honda CB500 for teaching purposes, pics to follow.

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Car rental Car service France Motorcycle and Bicycle Race Repairs Transport travel Vintage cars Yamaha and Suzuki

European deliveries for you….I have the superb Vito 3.0L van plus a twin-axle car trailer

You need a car or a motorbike delivered from the UK to France or Italy?? You wanna bike holiday in the south of France but do not fancy the 1000km down from London?? No problem. I can come to you, collect the car or motorbike or bicycles plus your panniers or luggage or whatever and take it for you, you pay the fuel plus motorway plus a charge but I aim to keep the costs as low as possible cos I can sleep in the van!!! Perhaps you wanna buy a bike from France or Italy or the UK but dont wanna ride it home???

Ask me for a price and dates!!!! I can be fairly flexible and I have winter tyres on the van for the cold and wet months so I can travel most of the year round.

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France Motorcycle and Bicycle Transport travel Yamaha and Suzuki

Another UK trip

Given that all of my bikes are UK registered I travel frequently between Italy and the UK. Sometimes by bike (if the travel is in the spring or summer months so the weather is ok) and sometimes by trusty Vito van with a bike or two onboard. I love both travelling and France, so the trips are something I really look forward to either alone or in company. The van has a 3.0 TDI V6 engine with 200+ horses and is fitted with a great stereo, cruise control, aircon and whatever.

This March I needed to return my Super Tenere 1200 which I traded in for an almost brand new grey Yamaha FJR1300. The FJR is a lovely bike which the shop had registered as a demonstrator in September 2017, as required by Yamaha UK given that Alf England is a Premier Dealer, and I just looked at the clocks to see that the total kilometers covered so far is a grand total of 63!!! That could be one or at most two demo rides I guess. Wonderful.

OK back to the trip, as you can read about the bike elsewhere. I was not sure how easy it would be to load the Super Ten into my Vito van given that 3 years ago we used an excellent ramp at the shop which I do not have of course. My van is a low roof model (as I like to travel and the Vito drives almost like a car) so interior height can be a problem. So I removed the mirrors and the screen from the bike and thought that I would run her up my aluminium ramp to see how much more I would need to remove, luckily she went straight in with a few millimetres to spare, so all was good. I then loaded up all of the other bits I wanted to return to the shop like the original exhaust, then strapped the bike down, checked the van’s oil, water and tyres and I was ready to go, this was Wednesday morning.

Well I left Roma at about 11am happy to have gained half a day, and headed north on the motorway. The weather was very cold so I had my winter tyres on the van and very valuable they would prove. Winter tyres are great not just for snow but anytime the ambient temperature is below 10ish degrees C as they are softer and grip even in the cold, and they also expel standing water much better. The temperature was only a few degrees above freezing and as I got nearer to Florence I had to take a decision and I chose to head west towards the coast instead of north because the motorway would climb to cross the Pennines to Bologna and I did not want to risk the snow. In Italy if any motorway gets blocked it is always that one.

So I headed west to Livorno and then north to Genoa and then to the French border so past Monte Carlo and I decided to stop for the night in Nice, where I know a lovely little hotel which is easy to find and has a petrol station next door, ideal for an early start! I found the Esatitude Hotel, parked the van in their excellent underground car park, got some food and headed to bed. About 700km covered today.

The next morning I left the hotel early and hit the road with a full tank as today was going to be a long one. I left at about 4am and the navigator indicated about 1230km for Calais for the P and O ferry to Dover. I knew that the day would be a very long one but I had booked an open ticket with a 5 day return so I had no real deadline, essential for a relaxed long trip. I covered about 400km before I stopped for a wonderful breakfast on the motorway and then I carried on, the fantastic (and very expensive) French motorways let me make great progress north, I stopped for a snack and fuel refill somewhere near Dijon. The weather for the first 600km was fine and dry, still cold, whereas the second half was rain and snow with loads of snow covering the fields next to the motorway, so only a few degrees above freezing.

I then headed non-stop for the ferry and I got to Calais by 4pm and after a short wait and a coffee we were loaded on board the ship and I went upstairs to the lounge, which is included in the open ticket, for some good coffees plus a snack and a read of the newspaper. We docked after 90 minutes so I drove up to Dover and headed north, Martin had booked me 2 nights at the lovely Royal Arms Hotel in Sutton Cheney and I arrived in time for great beer and a snack before bed, a great day!!!!

The trip back was easier as the weather was a little bit warmer, and I drove the quicker route, stopped for the night in Chamonix Hotel Mercure and then through the Monte Blanc Tunnel. 4600 km total was the total round trip.