Thanks to the French

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I would just like to say thank you to the French. Last week 8 of us went on our annual 5 day European jolly. We usually go to a race but this year we decided to tour many parts never seen before. We aged between 30 and 50, and were riding a pair of Thundercats, a ZX-10R, Hayabusa, Sprint ST 1050, VFR800, RSV Factory and a 1989 mint FZR Exup - a fair mixture of bikes, you must admit.

We did a total mileage of just short of 2000, visiting France, Switzerland, Germany, Luxemburg and Belgium. Oh, and Blighty of course. A lot of our time was in France and I realised just how courteous and friendly the French are towards bikers compared with the British. They all move over to let you pass even to the stage of doing a bit of grass tracking. They are polite and friendly in the petrol stations, constantly chatting, the police were happy and smiley waving us by through towns and villages.

My big thanks go to the silver van man in Lille. We were lost trying to find the hotel in the town centre, we stopped to look at the map which was like looking at a map from Raiders of the Lost Ark. This guy on the other side of the dual carriageway facing the opposite way, stopped ran over 3 lanes and asked us if we wanted help. He then proceeded to say follow him and he took us right outside the front door of the hotel. What a proper bloke.

The French also don't allow lorries to use the outside lane on their dual carriageways, so you don’t have to follow a lorry like here doing 57mph while the other one on the inside is doing 56mph, thus taking 10 miles to gain 40 feet. 

I would also like to thank the French girl in a Saxo for giving us years of potential piss taking, which has started already, to Mike the VFR800 man. While hurtling down very very twisty roads over the Alps heading to lake Geneva I noticed a young lady in a Saxo, one arm out of the window, smoking a fag, behind us at the back of all the bikes. The next thing she had overtaken Honda man whilst he's hanging off trying to get his knee down (we all agree that the only way he will ever do this is by tripping over a kerb whilst wearing his leathers). She then proceeded to push me faster and faster down the mountain, knowing the piss taking i was going to give Honda man there was no way she was going to do her drifting bit on me half way round a bend, so i just went for it. Jesus she was good, though. Fortunately she didn't get past but it was by the grace of god, not my riding skills. 

The worst bits? Mat's FZR sidestand snapped on the train going over (all that rocking we think), so everywhere we stopped he was like a dog, any lamppost to lean up.

Funny bits? Walking into bars whilst playing on our phones the tune to A Few Dollars More.

Scary bits? Over the Alps with very, very tight bends and dodgy road surfaces where the lumberjack lorries had made huge grooves in the roads, in the wet.

Best bits? The twisty roads in Switerland in the hot weather - no traffic at all. It's what we went for and weren't disappointed.

There's nothing in England to compare. So back to England we came, and smelt those lovely fumes and cars that don't even do the speed limit and still won't move over 1 foot to let you past. What did bikers ever do to get hated so much by most English car drivers? Search me. Roll on next year (Italy, Ifeel).

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nigel easthope

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By nigel easthope