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Old 09-14-2011, 03:57 PM   #1
Z0RR0 OP
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Going Transatlantic. From Montreal to France on a red Ducati.

Allow me to preface this by mentioning I am also covering this in my blog. At times there will be more on here (like this intro post), other times I might put more pictures over there to keep the thread somewhat manageable.

Either way, CHECK IT! www.JulienConstans.com

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I've wanted to start this thread for quite a while now. Never knew where or what to start with.

FWIW I still don't know what I'm doing. But I'll do it anyways. I think peeps will enjoy the whole documenting of this trip.

So here's the deal.

I've been in Montreal for quite some time now (12 years), and for various reasons (none making much sense), I decided I'd had enough and needed to gtfo.

I'm leaving Sunday Sept. 18th.

Why France? I'm originally french. I can work there if I want to. That's what it comes down to, essentially.

Oh, and it's pretty, and the food isn't too bad, and there is no winter, and there are mountains, and old stones. Unfortunately it's full of French. Which I'm quite apprehensive about. I hope my fears will be proven wrong.

Where exactly am I going? Carcassonne. I have family there.
Yep, Carcassonne, with the medieval city and such.





From there, I'll visit the Pyrenees quite a bit since they're right there, and plan on hitting the Alps as well, hopefully before winter. No precise plans, but rest assured there will be many trips.

I mean ... this is what my backyard will look like.






Do I have your attention now?

I've mapped out a few interesting roads. Hopefully they're pleasant in real life.









I like to take pictures, so you'll just have to bear with me. There will be many pictures, hopefully documenting every single step of the journey.

My gear is very basic, but it's rugged and I won't mind losing it. Canon 10D body with Tokina 12-24 and Canon 50mm f1.8 lenses. Again, basic but yields good results and is tough as nails.

I also have a helmet mounted GoPro HD. I'll use it a lot, but think I'll chicken out when time comes to edit videos. That shit takes time. A lot of it.




Now, I know I promised a red Ducati ... so yeah. It's a Duc. And it's red. And shiny. And spent last winter in my living room.


Yep, that's snow. First ride this spring.


And everyone says you can't tour on them. I don't give a shit. I've done 1,000km days with no problem. Plan on doing it again.
Little bit of luggage space


So that's the transportation. I'll be forward and say it's not too shabby.

This is how it stands now in my yard, with camping gear and all.


How's the bike shipped? Air France Cargo.


Damn right.

I'll go and drop it off tomorrow all loaded up, no crate. Go home, finish packing up, take my plane on Sunday, and on Tuesday the bike will be waiting for me in Toulouse. The trip actually takes 2 days, but it's easier for me to drop it off a bit early.
This is a ridiculously simple way of transporting a bike. And you'll get great rates if the staff is bike friendly.


I battled quite a bit with insurance issues as I wanted comprehensive coverage and not just the minimum liability most companies offer. Motorcycle Express came through, and this little thing showed up in my mailbox!
Can't believe I summed up 4 weeks of research in 2 goddam lines. It's easy once you know.

GREEN CARD FTW!!


So that's that for now!!!

I'll update this thread and my blog as frequently as possible. I'm hoping I can pictures of the bike being loaded in the plane ... and if I can't, well it'll be pics of me loaded in the plane. Not quite as exciting, I know.

______________________________________

TL : DR - going to France
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Old 09-14-2011, 04:25 PM   #2
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Awesome, good luck man!
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Old 09-17-2011, 06:42 PM   #3
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Update!

The bike has boarded the plane.


Looks scary. I'm not sure if it'll really land unharmed ... there again, shouldn't move about too much. It'll be a surprise next Tuesday when I pick it up in Toulouse. :)
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Old 09-23-2011, 05:01 AM   #4
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That looks promising! Subscribed. When will you arrive in France? Is your bike there already?

And if you're going to the alps, write me a PM and we could probably do some riding together. I'm planning to ride around Lyon in 2-3 weeks.
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Old 09-29-2011, 08:46 AM   #5
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Alright, time for some proper updates!!! Sorry about the delays, guys. I'm now up to speed and it'll be updated more regularly. ;)

In order.

_____________

Leaving Montreal

So the bike left Montreal earlier. My turn to get outta there.


Great strategy on my end, I picked a seat on the wrong side of the plane, and had a beautiful view of ... Laval and the South Shore. Just Great.


As straightforward as you'd imagine. Hop in plane, sit next to an annoying fool for 6h, and land in Paris at 7am with zero sleep whatsoever.


Then, hop in the train, and voila! New home, Carcassonne. It's sunny. And warm. Quite pretty, too. And I'm so tired my head exploded twice, I feel like crap having spent the last 18h sitting down, A shower was welcome. No pics of that.


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Old 09-29-2011, 08:57 AM   #6
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From 2011-09-21

I PICKED UP THE BIKE!!!!!!!

It was as smooth as ever. Got to Air France Cargo in Blagnac (Toulouse Airport thing) in the morning, paid some 60 euros fee because it was over 200kgs, went across the parking lot to customs, where they made a copy of my registration, and rode out. And everyone was super pleasant.
They didn't check shit, not even insurance. Can't believe I stressed all that much about it.
And the bike is in perfect shape.

Didn't get lost getting out of the city and headed straight for Carcassonne to unload some unnecessary items.

In the evening I went for a quick ride since ... well shit. Do I need a reason? I'm in southern France, and I have a 1098 sitting right there. What else am I gonna do?

Headed for the first small departementale I could find, 5 mins away.

Aaaand it was spectacular. Wide views going all the way to the Pyrenees, winding little roads.




Must be mushroom hunting season too, there were more than a few cars parked on the side of the road, and old men looking belliquously, for fear I'd snitch on their secret spot. Fear not old man, I don't even know where I am, I was lost 30min ago and I haven't stopped or asked where the hell I was since. I could be on the moon, for all I know. Except prettier.

Managed to hit a main road to Limoux and headed back to Carcassonne via some more small roads. Paused at Gaja et Villedieu. My grandparents used to have a house there. Kid memories and stuff.


Unpleasantly enough, on some innocuous corner I had the rear tire slide out a bit. Not enough to call it a highside, but unpleasant. Blame it on my body positioning, on the odd coagulated gravel road surface, or on the shitty Michelin Power Pure that I hate with a vengeance ... the end result is that I'm a bit wary. That's good I presume, will keep me from riding fast. I might get overtaken by grandmas on their Vespas though.

Made it to the Cite before sunset. It's still there!!! And it's still quite imposing. I'll have to actually walk in it again at some point.




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Old 09-29-2011, 09:25 AM   #7
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From 2011-09-23

Not sure why they're called the Black Mountains. They're not black, and they're barely mountains. They should've called them the Nice Gorges. Or something to that effect.

Anyways. In an effort to get familiar with the riding here, I went for a brief afternoon stint.
This is the route I followed.
http://g.co/maps/nxnyy


I didn't take any pictures, I couldn't be bothered. I did film with the GoPro a bit, but I'll need full on proper internet to upload it in less than 500 hours. Patience.

Going to St Pons was fantastic. Typical Black Mountains scenery, hillside road in the woods, popping out on to fields. I stopped at a viewpoint. Not sure what it's called. Or why I didn't take a picture or 2. It was nice though! I spent a good bit of time just sitting on the rocks looking around.

Then headed for Mazamet and back down via Lastours. The first part of this, right out of Mazamet was a pita. The road was covered in gravel for kms and kms. That's already unpleasant on normal roads ... but when you're alongside a rather deep gorge, wondering if you're going to go straight at every corner ... fuck that shit. I didn't like it one bit. Shame, because it was beautiful, but seriously, fuck gravel. Ruined everything.

Oh! I got chased by a dog at some point. In a village, General Dumbass (that's how the dog shall henceforth be known) crosses the road right in front me ... I brake, swerve and shout "AAHHHHH DOOOOOG!" (not necessarily in that order), avoid le pooch of course (that's how talented I am) and go on my merry way, putting about. As I'm exiting the village ... a glance in the mirror reveals General Dumbass running after me, in the ditch. Who runs in a ditch instead of ... oh I dunno, the goddam road?! Stupid dog.

The following part, going back down onto Lastours was absolutely terrific. No more gravel and just kms and kms of tight downhill road, spotted with medieval villages hanging on the hillside. Like in the postcards, but for real. They also have people living there, somehow.

Arriving in Carcassonne revealed quite some traffic. After a brief "wtf traffic? it's not even a real city!" moment ... I feel like Noah as cars move over slightly to the right to let me through. A common practice over here. Sweet stuff.
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Old 09-29-2011, 09:37 AM   #8
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From 2011-09-25

Ariege, a taste of mountains

No pictures from the first leg of the day as it was strictly business. Well, as strict as friends saying "yeah yeah, we got the bbq ready, show up whenever for lunch".
Still jet lagged (or lazy, one of the two) I opted to sleep in and head for Toulouse via the main road. Quick-ish, but not as lame as the Autoroute.

Sounds boring? I thought It would be as well! Turned out there was a classic car rally underway, so I spent half of the trip watching a gentleman rip through roundabouts in a 30s Delage, overtaking Bugattis 35 and Rolls Phantoms II. Many nice cars. Everyone was having a good time.
I then took a wrong turn, turned out to be a very pretty departementale lined with centuries old tree and the Canal du Midi. And it still got me where I wanted to be.

Lunch was had. Toulouse sausage on the barbecue ... can't go wrong with that! Watched a bit of the F1 Grand Prix too. Enough to laugh at Schumi having a good look at the sky and splattering the nose of his car in the guardrail. Ah! No bike 24h of Le Mans could be found on the television though.

Next leg was the interesting one. Going back to Carcassonne via St Girons and the mountainy bits. Which turned out not all that mountainy.

However they have flying deer. The sign is pretty clear on the matter.


Going into St Girons is a beautiful beautiful beautiful small road going up and down hills that reminded me of Tuscany. That's a compliment, in case you weren't sure.




At some point, I again had the rear end step out for no good reason. I'll say it again, I hate the Michelin Power Pure. I was poking around some very mild twisties and it just slid out, not by much but enough to ensure I'd be taking a very slow pace the rest of the day questioning its integrity and grip. I'm on holiday goddamit, not out there to break stuff! What a shit tire, I'm tempted to do burn it out once and for all before I crash for real.
Anyways. I digress.

Once in town, I headed full steam on the correct road ... in the wrong direction. Only took me 30min to realize nothing matched. Ahem. Turn around. It was pretty though.


Back on the right track, I was soon headed up the Col de Port, the highest I'd be going today at 1250m. As usual the road is narrow and technical, with views of deep valleys at every turn. I'm liking this. Note odometer reading 14,995km.


And there was no better place to tick over 15,000km on the odometer. Yeah. I stopped just as the odometer displayed 15,000 and took pictures. That's a random spot on the road. And that's how nice a random spot looks.




I also stopped at the top. The view was awesome, only enhanced by early evening sunlight.
I was very amused by the cows, until one looked at me. I ran for my life.










As it was getting late in the day, I pretty much dashed for Carcassonne. Got home, had dinner, took a shower. Nothing special there. Move along.

Next up ... err, I don't know. Still want more mountainier scenery. Might head to Andorra soon, as it's still 30 degrees at sea level.
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Old 09-29-2011, 09:42 AM   #9
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2011-09-29 (yeah, that's today! Live updates from now on!)

Last weekend I noticed an engine check light come up as I filled up. It went away as I restarted. "meh. eletrical glitch. italians." I thought.

Going up the last col, I thought the bike sounded different, more hollow. "meh. must be the altitude." I thought.

As I was heading back home, I couldn't find a way to fit my earplugs ... they were shoved in my ears so deep they require a fishing line to get them out. Forget the ear canal, they were up in my brain. And it was still loud as hell. "meh. these earplugs have always sucked. I just don't have it today." I thought.

Went to fill her up yesterday, loud as hell. Not a good loud either, loud and hollow. "meh. must be because I'm not wearing the earplugs, plus I'm around town so it's reverberating." I thought.

That was a lot of thought. So I gave in and inspected the damn thing before leaving for Andorra today. Yeah. That's not gone well.






Dropped it at the local dealer who will fix it up. Back on the road tomorrow.
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Old 09-29-2011, 11:55 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Z0RR0 View Post
In the evening I went for a quick ride since ... well shit. Do I need a reason? I'm in southern France, and I have a 1098 sitting right there. What else am I gonna do?
Fantastic pictures and storytelling.

No problems communicating with your (probably different) french?
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Old 09-29-2011, 12:05 PM   #11
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bienvenu en France cousin
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Old 09-29-2011, 12:36 PM   #12
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Technically, I'm originally French so it's fine. I'm the one who needs to pay attention when others speak ... got used to the Quebec accent!

I'll holla when I head to the Alps. Should be in the next few weeks.
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Old 09-30-2011, 10:24 AM   #13
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Tadam!

It's not the most beautiful weld in the world, but it'll be just fine. Sure is better than a 1/2" gap! Ah!


And it's all back together. It only took 3 chips on the paint and lots of swearing. I hate exhaust work. It never works as long as you haven't damaged something delicate.
Anyways. It works.


I don't want to jinx myself again, but tomorrow, Andorra and Spain, goddamit!
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Old 09-30-2011, 10:39 AM   #14
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And a video from 2011-09-23. I'm taking it slow, I'm on holiday after all.

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Old 09-30-2011, 10:45 AM   #15
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I'm in!

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