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Old 09-03-2012, 01:55 PM   #1
Alz OP
Joined: Oct 2007
Oddometer: 14
8 countries on a 400cc race rep

I actually made this trip about this time last year but as I haven't been anywhere exciting this year and didn't post last year I thought I'd stick it up now.
I did make a post about my trip to Scotland in 2008 and touched on the idea of getting a more suitable touring bike for my next trip like a VFR800, but this never happened hence I still have the same faithful little Yamaha.

I covered 3125 miles over the 10/11 days taking me through 8 countries after leaving the UK ( France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco and Spain)

The bike was my 1996 FZR400RR which I've owned for 6 years

As well has an oil change and service/check and a little preventative maintenance I had some new BT-016 tyres fitted which I got a good deal on but are more of a sports, then sports touring tyre. Although they have been fine, after 3000 miles they have hardly worn, no squaring off or anything.

Luggage was a hein gericke tank bag and a berghaus backpack which I already owned. I bought some cheap panniers
They were a little big for the tiny rear seat on my bike and the zips felt weak but they held out well.

Satnav was a Tomtom Start2 Europe which is the currant base model Tomtom European car satnav. I added the camping POI from which are much more
comprehensive and up to date the the preprogramed Tomtom ones which can be a bit hit and miss.

Camera was an old olympus point and click.

I got the early morning train through the tunnel which was straight forward and easy and I was in France by 9am ish.

The first of many service stations I visited over the next 10 days.

I rode through France which was slightly grim around Calais and into Belgium which was pleasant but uninspiring. I made my way across to a campsite near the Luxembourg border in a place called
It was a well specced site main full of Dutch campers who were friendly and spoke great English.

Next day I headed into Luxembourg and the city itself which seemed like a cool place but I only had a short walk and something to eat as it was dull and drizzling with rain, food and fuel was noticeably cheaper the other parts of Europe.
I soon was out of Luxembourg as its such a tiny place and in South-West Germany. I headed off the main road as I herd the roads around the Black Forest were good and straight away I struck gold, I was on a popular biking route on a Sunday. A great road that twisted its way through the forest.

I stopped at a bikers cafe/bar and had a drink, people were friendly but didn't speak much English and I only know a few German words.

I carried on down and found a campsite right on the edge of Lake Constance. It was a rowdy site full of people in there late teens drinking heavily but was better then sitting in silence all night and the site had a lively bar.
I had a couple of beers by the lake reading and listen to music.

As I arrived late I got a rubbish pitch on the edge right near the toilet/showers so had drunk people
walking past talking all night.

Next day I heading into Switzerland on a minor road as I didn't have a vignette and planned to ride all on minor roads to see a bit more of the country. I didn't have to show a passport when entering Switzerland or any other country until I returned back to the UK.
I rode through Zurich which was clean and modern but most of my route was through rural areas.
Its a beautiful country, most of the roads wern't spectacular, but the scenery was!

I rode to Lake Geneva and stayed on the East of the lake in a place called Montreux. I stayed for two days to have a day off from riding. Although I did a lot of walking and sight seeing so didn't have too
much of a rest. Lake Geneva was stunning, full of young wealthy good looking people (the bastards) but very laid back.

There was some kind of festival happening next to the campsite with beers tents and music, late on there was fireworks which I watched from my tent.

The weather had been really hot but the day I left was cloudy and a little wet although it soon brightened up and became really hot.

I rode into France and down through the French alps before crossing into Italy via the Mont Blanc tunnel. I stopped in the stand still traffic as I approched the tunnel thinking that I was nearly there, luckily a French biker pulled up next to me and told me to follow him, we filtered past what must have been two miles of stand still traffic, he went right to the front of the traffic and I pulled in where the traffic split up at the tolls. Drivers moved out of our way and were happy to let us join in at the front, something I can't imagine happening in the UK.
It was really hot now and even though I was filtering it was still becoming hard work. The tunnel was quite expensive at nearly 25 euros. But not all that exciting, just like any other long tunnel.
It was at least a bit cooler inside.
I was soon on the Italian side of the tunnel.

Not since Thialand?

I headed towards Milan, now I've been to Italy loads of times although never as far north as Milan, my Dads Italian and I have family in the south but I'm never quite sure if I get Italians. Things work and they don't follow all the rules like others do but it all seems so thoughtless. Like I'm riding through rush hour traffic in Milan and a guy filters to the front of the other lane on his scooter, he recieves a phone call so just gets of his bike and stands there having a chat on the phone in the middle of the road. All the cars are beeping at him but most just seem to think it's normal and drive up on the pavement to get around him, all he needed to do was pull over to the edge of the road. Its the same with all the driving its just thoughtless. In France the filtering can be quite aggressive, but its fast and well thought out and they make quick progress.
In Italy they are just impatient and often don't gain anything from their recklessness.
But maybe I'm just bitter because of some Italian bloke I was to clash with later!

I was looking for a camp site in central Milan but because a lot of the roads were closed around the stadium the Satnav couldn't cope and kept taking me round in circles.
Not sure what stadium it is but I rode past it about 3 times

In the end I got fed up so headed to a campsite about 15 miles away in a place called Pavia on the edge of some national park called Ticino I think.
Went out for a meal at a local restaurants which was a new experience on my own lol. The restaurant was surprisingly modern and trendy considering it felt like I was in the middle of nowhere.
Gresini honda crisps.

Bike racing is massive in Italy with Rossi models and stickers for sale in almost every garage and shop.

I rode across towards Monaco but couldn't get a central campsite so found one up in the hills a 20 minute ride away from the centre. The lady running it was kinda strict laying down the rules and telling me about all the amenities of the site, as if I was on a two week all inclusive holiday and not a one day stop over.

I put my tent up and chucked my stuff in, then headed ito the centre of Monaco it was so hot I had to ride without my jacket and gloves, I also didn't want to carry them around. It was lovely riding in a t-shirt in the heat though. I also had to stick my satnav to the tank as I didn't have the tankbag which made me worried it might fall off, it randomly drops off the car windscreen all the time but luckily it was fine.


Bike parking was everywhere and free, car parking looked like it would be expensive, most stuff was!
Monaco is an amzing place to visit gasping at all the money and wealth, in a way its a bit vulgar seeing the super rich flashing their cash, It just goes to show that all the money in the world really can't buy some people any taste or style. I enjoyed walking some of the F1 route as well it was a little surreal.

I was now heading along the French Riviera towards Saint Tropez but making a stop off in Cannes. I rode on all minor roads, one really nice one that wound through the hills for about 10 miles,
unfortunately there was lots of traffic, I'd manage to pass one car then catch another up straight away and it was a bit dangerous to keep passing so I just sat back and enjoyed the view.
Cannes was more like a normal beach town not as glamours as Monaco or Saint Tropez but still nice.

Saint Tropez was a bit more like Monaco with lots of very rich people about and fancy shops.
It was a little more down to earth with more normal people about and some loverly pretty old buildings. There was a bike park near the harbour full of posh guys on flashy cruisers and custom choppers pretending they were some kind of American outlaws.
I looked at a fancy watch shop but couldn't find anything for sale for less then the price of my house! :(

The first campsite was full in Saint Tropez but I found another it was a nice site and I planned to stay two nights but they could only offer me one night as they were booked up for the next day. The camp site was right on its own bit of beach and very picturesque, the sort of place people might go on their honeymoon, ok maybe not on a campsite but there were really nice beachhuts further along the beach and bars along the beach as well.
I went for a walk in the evening on the beach.

There was quite a few British people on the site in all manor of vehicles from massive motor homes to 10 year old estate cars with knackered looking caravans. I spoke to an old couple on the pitch next to me and they came out every year to the same place for six weeks which must be pretty nice.
All the pitches were the same size and for campervan/caravans so my bike and two man tent looked a bit silly in the massive pitch.

The next day I headed down and into Spain on the toll roads, the roads are good but they're not cheap, a day on toll roads can cost almost as much as the UK annaul road tax of my bike.
This particular journey was the first time I'd encountered any heavy traffic and it was really bad heading round to the Spanish border. It would just all grind to a hault for no reason and then after filtering through stand still traffic for 10 minutes it would start moving again, no road works or accident. This kept happening time and time again.

The toll booths can also be a pain getting my sweaty gloves off and sorting out the money. It was also at one of the toll booths that I encountered my next Italian moron. I'm still in Southern France and pull up at a toll booth behind an Italian registered seat people carrier, I'm a bikes length back and it just starts slowly reversing. Its got stuff piled up on the parcel shelf so he can't see. No idea where he is going as there is now 2-3 cars behind me. I can't find the horn in time but rev the engine but its too late as he crunches into the front of my bike. At first I'm not sure how much damage it has done and I start to fear that its trip over if its burst the radiator or something. Luckily most of the plastic cruching was his rear bumper cracking as it rode up my wheel and the only damage to my bike is a broken mudgaurd. The guy gets out and is very apologetic which is at least good that he's not trying to blame me. We decide to go through the toll and pull over afterwards as we are blocking the traffic, I'm already thinking in my mind that a mudgaurd will be about 20 on ebay so I want at least 30 euros to cover postage and the inconvenience, although if he wasn't willing to pay I really didn't want to go through insurance for such a small thing so would just have to accept the loss. Luckily he gets straight out of his car and offers me 50 euros and keeps apologizing. I could have probably pushed him for more but in the end of the day I wasn't trying to rip him off and its more then enough to get a second hand mudgaurd.

As I'm riding down through Spain its very hot 33c on the sign I pass, but it feels even hotter, opening my visor is no longer cooling it just blasts me with hot air. Its a bit more sandy and now feels very foreign all of a sudden.

I'm headind down towards Barcelona but stop in the Costa Brava area in a place called Loret De Mar which is a kind of tacky beach/drinking holiday place. But it as a campsite right in the centre 2 mins walk from the bars and shops.
I book for two days which will be my last couple of days before I head back. Straight away I'm regretting staying here the site has everything you could want, a bar, restaurant, pool and shaded camping pitches. But all the people staying here are basically French and Spanish yobs that have driven here. There is constant music being played until 4am from about 5 or 6 cars with massive subwoofers, constant shouting which I can't understand a word of all night and cans and bottles everywhere and although the toilets are cleaned regularly they seem to manage to piss and shit all over the seats every night.
The site is also crawling with ants, within minutes of parking the bike they are all over it.( I know I moan a lot)

I spent most of time out and about, There is a lot to do. I went for a walk along the beach for a couple of hours there is path to walk along the coast that goes for miles.

But most people just go for the cheap food and drink and it is really cheap, in lots of places 2 euros for 0.5L beer. The centre of Loret De Mar really isn't that pretty though, in fact If I had to stay for two
weeks or something like most people here I'd go crazy.

I left the campsite at 7.45am as I had to wait to collect my ID from the office I was up earlier as some fucker was playing their music at 6am.
I blasted north with the intention of making the trip back home
in 2-3 days. I was hoping to do it in two days with a stop over in northern France. But I just kept going and going..........................and going and I had the crazy idea that I could probably do it in one go. After about 600 miles I was in a lot of pain and thought that I couldn't go on. 600 miles was the previous most amount of miles I'd done in a day. I rode through the pain and then started to feel a little better and like I could keeping going. I stopped every 80 miles for fuel for me and the bike.
It was going well until the satnav took me too close to Paris and I then had to filter for 45 minutes through never ending gridlock traffic, which I really didn't need after nearly 12 hours of riding.
I eventually made it out and up to Calais at about 10.30pm I'd rearranged the train for 11.54pm at no extra cost and was looking forward to a short rest. The slip road to the tunnel/train was closed and I ended up missing the diversions possibly though tiredness or a stupidly placed sign that you can't see until its too late. I then had to ride 10 miles before I could turn around which made me furious with just about everything connected to roadworks, France, signs and most other things. I then got to the tunnel to check in but I was pulled aside by customs and they wanted to look in my bags and panniers which annoyed me as I just wanted a power nap.

I arrived back into England and headed back to Norwich, I thought there had been some kind of terrorist attack as I must have passed at least 100 police and fire engines heading the other way, but this was of course for the London riots/looting.
I eventually made it home in the middle of the night 1000 miles and about 22 hours after leaving the campsite in Spain, I
I emptied my pockets and bags and found all these fuel receipts, I'm sure that there were many more. :(
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Old 09-04-2012, 09:23 AM   #2
Who Me?
Joined: Aug 2008
Location: Dakota Territories.
Oddometer: 594
Nice job Alz. 25 years ago I was one of those old knackered estate cars and a caravan going to the south of France every year, just love the area.
Great era for Yamaha sport bikes.

limeymike screwed with this post 09-04-2012 at 09:37 AM
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Old 09-04-2012, 02:43 PM   #3
Joined: May 2009
Location: Meath,Ireland
Oddometer: 42
Great report! -- did you work out things like fuel consumptiontotal, toll costs etc?
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Old 09-06-2012, 11:44 AM   #4
Alz OP
Joined: Oct 2007
Oddometer: 14
Thanks for the comments.
Yeah I'm a bit of a 90's sports bike fan, it's a shame about some of the 90's paint schemes though

I didn't keep a very good record of my costs unfortunately, I remember getting home and looking at my bank statement and the damage not being as bad as I expected. The bike will do about 55 miles per uk gallon so isn't too bad considering it sits at 7000-8000rpm at motorway speed. I camped for the whole trip which kept costs down, that can be upto 30 euros a night in St Tropez and Monaco or as little as 5 euros elsewhere.
I was buying a lot of snacks and soft drinks from service stations which was expensive, I should have probably stocked up on stuff from the supermarket.

I'm planning to go again next year but want to head a bit further east to Croatia and some of the surrounding countries.
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Old 09-06-2012, 01:35 PM   #5
Joined: May 2009
Location: Meath,Ireland
Oddometer: 42
Originally Posted by Alz View Post
Thanks for the comments.
Yeah I'm a bit of a 90's sports bike fan, it's a shame about some of the 90's paint schemes though

I didn't keep a very good record of my costs unfortunately, I remember getting home and looking at my bank statement and the damage not being as bad as I expected. The bike will do about 55 miles per uk gallon so isn't too bad considering it sits at 7000-8000rpm at motorway speed. I camped for the whole trip which kept costs down, that can be upto 30 euros a night in St Tropez and Monaco or as little as 5 euros elsewhere.
I was buying a lot of snacks and soft drinks from service stations which was expensive, I should have probably stocked up on stuff from the supermarket.

I'm planning to go again next year but want to head a bit further east to Croatia and some of the surrounding countries.

This nineties paint scheme !!! ---

--- my '93 yzf 750 sp !!
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Old 09-06-2012, 01:54 PM   #6
Alz OP
Joined: Oct 2007
Oddometer: 14
That's really nice I love the SP, although it would probably look more manly without the pink
They did another YZF750 paint scheme that was Blue/pink/purple and orange didn't they! that was a bit sickly.
I think pink was quite popular in the 90's, my mate had a ZXR400 that was black and pink.
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