Our guide to touring this summer

Published: 01 July 2002

Whether you’re going abroad or staying at home this summer, thousands of us will pack our bags and head for the horizon. But to ensure your holiday is one to to remember, not forget we’ve come up with a few hints and tips on touring.

Before you go:

Service your bike before you go.

Make a checklist of the documents you may need. Failure to produce your insurance and proof of ownership can result in hefty on-the-spot fines in many Continental countries.

Check your travel insurance covers you for accidental loss, personal injury and third person claims.

Take out relevant breakdown cover. MCN is offering a special discount rate with NCI for just £29.99 for 12 months cover and you can add Europe-wide cover for just £26.50.

Tape your headlights so you don’t blind on-coming Continental traffic.

Gaffer tape on the flanks of your bike will prevent bungees and straps from marking them.

Getting there:

Check MCN for travel discounts. You can save 30 per cent on cross-Channel ferries with P&O when you book with our special rate. If you’re travelling from Dover call 0870-600-0600 and quote reference number 73170, if you’re travelling from Portsmouth call 0870-242-4111 and quote reference number 9632. The offer runs until December 23, 2002. Terms and conditions apply.

If you’d prefer to let the train take the strain, Eurotunnel are on 0845-769-7397. Or you can cut the bother with a Hoverspeed Seacat. You can book that on-line on: www.hoverspeed.co.uk

On many ferries there’s usually a bloke to tie your bike down for you. Slipping a glove or cloth under the tie-down before it’s ratcheted tight will prevent any scratches to bodywork. Remember to 1) Leave your bike in gear 2) Switch the alarm off 3) Check the straps are tight

You don’t need to remove your luggage as the vehicle decks are shut during the crossing, but it’s wise to take valuables such as passports with you.

The Devil’s in the detail:

Take a stout chain and lock – and use it.

Pack light – be ruthless, don’t take more than you need

Watch out when re-fuelling on Sunday’s or late at night in France. Many petrol stations shut and only work with a special credit card. It’s not a common problem on the peage (motorway), but you may have to persuade a local to " swop " your Euros for a fill-up on his card.

Speeding. France may seem like a very bike-friendly place. And it is. But speeding in villages isn’t funny, and the gendarmes are rightly entitled to frogmarch (!) you to the nearest ATM and remove wads of cash.

Bearing that in mind they are far more tolerant to faster riding than their UK counterparts. However France has a death rate more than double that of Britain and recent legislation to combat this means you could lose your licence for travelling at more than 25kph over the proscribed limit.

Watch out for cars parked on the hard shoulder – they sometimes hide roadside speed traps. Flashing lights from on-coming traffic is a warning of an imminent trap.

Familiarise yourself with local speed limits and gaffer them to your tank. Click on: www.drive-alive.co.uk/driving_tips.htm for most Continental limits.

If you staying in the UK you won’t want to miss our guide to Britain’s best biking roads. Just click on: http://www.motorcyclenews.com/news/detail?sectionID=50677&documentID=147040 They’ve all been sent in by users of motorcyclenews.com, if you tried some of then, why not e-mail dave.batchelor@emap.com and let us know what you thought?

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