The story of Electra, an FLHS gliding through France and further ...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Yannick, Oct 1, 2017.

  1. Yannick

    Yannick Celtic Rider

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2011
    Oddometer:
    155
    Location:
    Northern coast of Brittany
    I have been an inmate since 2011 and this is the first thread I am writing here, so I think a little introduction would be required.
    I'm a Frenchman so I hope you will forgive me for all the mistakes I'm going to do with the language of Shakespeare ...
    I had been a non-commissioned officer in the Air Force for 17 years, and now it's been 10 years I'm a bus driver to make a living. I think you know enough about me with these informations, so let's move up to my iron horse.
    In french, bike or motorcycle is a feminine name, so I'm not riding a steed but a mare, hence her name Electra. You may think I didn't scratch my head a long time to find her name since it's written on the front fender, but in fact it's more related to a character played by Julianne Moore in the 1995 moovie Assassins (with S.Stalone and A.Banderas).

    Originally my bike is a 93 FLHS aka Electra Sport (I’m still trying to find out where the sport side is hidden on a big cruiser). It’s not really the smartest model built by the motor company, so the following year in 94 it was replaced by the Road King model.

    I bought this bike in 98 at a cheap price because she was in a really poor state, I don’t know what kind of customization the previous owner wanted to do on it but it wasn’t very well done, and above all not finished. The ugly plastic front end around the head light had been replaced by an aluminium one from an FLH (and that’s certainly the best mod that could be done). But this front end was including a full dashboard on its upper side so the gas tank was also replaced by one with two filling holes and a speedometer plus ignition button in the middle. The rims were coming from a Fat Boy and the luggage rack had simply disappeared. The panniers were still black, what allows me to think it was the original color, and the rear & front fenders and the tank are coming together from the same other bike.

    I’m going to stop here with all the bad mods, but there’s also a full list of little things I will spare you.

    Pictures are more talking, so I let you see by yourself.

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    I had a very good friend working at the former HD dealership in Rennes, and first thing I did was to go there and ask him to have a full check-up and secure the bike before I could rebuilt her completely like I wanted her to be.

    I quickly sold the Fat Boy rims to a Fat Boy enthusiast and bought me brand new original Electra rims.

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    The bike wasn't nice but she was running quite well, so I began exploring northeast and Belgium.

    Two years later, we’re now in 2000 (for those who are not following) and I saved enough money to have her entirely rebuilt. So I went to Le Mans at a preparer and customizer’s shop who’s friend with a friend of mine. This guy is renowned all through the country, it’s Big Jack Cycle.

    He kept my bike 5 months and made a complete restoration work on it from scratch, a new wiring harness, a new painting, an engine polishing and a pile of new parts ...

    The day I went to get it back, I entered the shop and went directly to the mechanics room passing in front of her without recognizing her at first place in the show room !

    A brand new bike, it was a brand new bike, over all what I could expect !

    They asked me to do a test ride, then to come back and set everything to my personal taste. Here is the bike back to the workshop after the test.

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    I know these pictures are crappy, every part of the bike was reflecting the flash, so here are some others taken outside the day after.

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    Eventually I had the bike I always wanted, the exploration of the country and those around could go on.


    Stay tuned, more to come soon ...
    #1
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  2. ADK

    ADK .......................

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    Looks great, now wear it out again. :thumb
    #2
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  3. DGarman

    DGarman What could go wrong?

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    Excellent Yannick!..... I'm on board!
    #3
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  4. Meriwether

    Meriwether Following big footprints.

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    452
    Location:
    Up the Dandenongs
    Hi Yannik, congratulations on refurbishing your bike, it looks good, you have a lovely continent to explore, I look forward to read and see your exploits.
    Cheers,
    Mark.
    #4
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  5. Dirt Road Cowboy

    Dirt Road Cowboy I aim to misbehave.

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
    829
    Location:
    Tyler, Texas
    :nod

    It's time to follow you around for a while!
    #5
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  6. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Oddometer:
    5,874
    Location:
    Garden City, Michigan
    A committed rider with an old Harley is always interesting reading. Looking forward to the adventures.
    #6
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  7. AZ Africa Twin

    AZ Africa Twin From the AZ High Country

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Flagstaff, AZ
    Tres Bien!
    #7
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  8. Yannick

    Yannick Celtic Rider

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2011
    Oddometer:
    155
    Location:
    Northern coast of Brittany
    Welcome aboard to everyone ! Thank you for your kind and encouraging comments.
    I've spent my sunday searching and sorting, then scanning a pile of old pictures. But don't be delighted too soon with it because I just realised that among the montain of photos I have, not as many as I though are interesting for you, most of them are portraits from friends ... some of them have already passed away, some couples have divorced since, it was a bit weird to me to see again all those old pictures and remembering these moments. I just realise I wasn't taking so many pictures of landscape as now, keeping them for me in my memory and giving preference to friends and nice bikes. But don't worry I have enough stuff to tell you a story in the next updating.

    Back in those days before digital cameras invade the market and replace silver halide photography, we didn't use to shoot everything as we do now. We had to buy a film first, then bring it to the photo shop and wait for it many days before it was developed, and it was a bit expensive.
    But what I regret the more is to have used a crappy compact camera for my bike trips whereas I had a wonderful Olympus OM10 reflex with a zoom, it was making postcard quality pictures, but as it was large and heavy I was afraid to break it in my panniers, and now it's just a decorative object on a shelf ... But I couldn't know digital photography was going to pop-up very soon.

    If you're still interested, in the next post I'll take you along to celebrate Harley-Davison 100th anniversary in Czeck Republic in 2003 ! Hold on ...
    #8
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  9. Yannick

    Yannick Celtic Rider

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2011
    Oddometer:
    155
    Location:
    Northern coast of Brittany
    Celebrating Harley-Davidson's 100th anniversary in Czeck Republic (2003)

    I was still in the Air Force then, and my air base was situated in northeast of France, just south of the Vosges mountain range, not far from Belfort Territory. If you're a little curious and have a look to a map, you will see it's about 100 km from German and Swiss borders. Germany is not that much large from west to east and from my home then it was shorter to ride across Germany to reach the Czeck border than to ride across France to get back to my parents in Brittany. But riding to the Czeck border was only the first leg, after we had to sneak along the czeck back roads toward the meeting ...

    I woke-up at 4 o'clock, just before the sun on that day of may and after many mugs of coffee, I was ready to hit the road. Electra was waiting in my front yard, already packed-up since the evening before. I started the engine and let it warm-up a little, but long enough to let my neighbours know it was soon time to wake-up ... I locked the yard gate at 5 and as agreed, met my friends at 6 in a small village close to Belfort.
    At that point should I specify I had neither computer nor internet at home, I just had a quick look on a paper map to have an idea where it was, and that's all. We were just a bunch of friends (not a club), and some of us proposed some weeks earlier to study and prepare the itinerary for everyone, so all we had to do was to follow the leaders. Anyway, wherever I go, I'm never lost. :fitz
    Crossing Germany by motorways was uneventfull, for not saying boring. They're steep-sided into the fields and the hills and you see very few landscape, so all you want to do is open the throttle so as to get out of them as soon as possible. I've always find riding these autobahnen (motorways) very dangerous with Harleys, because our bikes aren't rockets, and when overtaking lorries even if you're riding high over admited speeds in France, after a dozen of seconds you'll see in your mirror the bumper of a big BMW sniffing your rear fender, and it's a very unpleasant feeling ...
    So we reached the border. In 2003, Czeck Republic was not yet a member of the EU so the passport was still required to enter it, and it was not just pure supposition but mandatory, I still remember seeing despair on many bikers face who though they would just enter CZ Rep with their id card, but nothing to do, they were coming from all over Europe and had done all the way for nothing. On the other side, entering CZ Rep was very easy with a passport, the custom officer had barely a look at it and said "welcome". That was done, nothing more, nothing less.
    From the border we were going to stay on the motorway till Plzen, then heading south, very far away close to Austria to reach the town of Ceske Budejovice were the meeting occured on ... (guess what ???) an air base !
    Just a short anecdote about what happened on the Czeck motorway, just after the border, the sky turned to black clouds and we all decided to stop to put on the rain gears. Fortunately, nearly 15 years later I still remember it and we couldn't see more than 10 meters ahead of us, progressively we all slowed down but then the lorries were overtaking us (guys in high cabs could see above us and the water curtain) but for us it was worse. Just imagine yourself steering a boat in a tempest, the bridge has no roof, no windscreen and you're receiving lumps of sea in your face ... without touching any other bike before and behind you. So we all stopped under a bridge for nearly half an hour, waiting for the shower to stop.

    After many km in the beautiful Czeck countryside, we arrived to the meeting at 9 o'clock (PM). So I was on the bike since 5 AM, that makes 16 hours. If we remove the time spent for lunch at noon, and every refueling (and every rewatering or recaffeining for someones) I think I must have stayed something like 13 hours on the saddle. My trip meter was reading close to 1200 km (745 miles). If I don't have an iron butt after that ...

    Would you recognise Electra in the middle of this herd ?
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    My friend Nicky had built himself this fancy little trailer to fit to his Softail.
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    After the admittance to the site, we just had time to set the tents up that an enormous storm broke, the second of the day for us, after the one on the motorway. The land on which was the air base was very flat and dry, and it was raining so much that after ten minutes the level of the water was the hight of my soles and it was increasing. We stayed a while observing the level rising and trying to set the floors of the tents to avoid the water getting inside, especially by the door zip. When we were sure it was going to stay out of water, we all went to the main instalment, a kind of white circus big top, to have meal. I met a friend from Brittany there ... small world.

    The morning after, at the crack of dawn (i.e. not far from noon ...)
    No, I'm joking, it was already realy hot and nearly impossible to stay in a sleeping bag past 10 am.
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    The trailer even had a radio, speakers and its own battery to provide some music to our camp.
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    I made the most of the sun to dry my leather trousers, still wet from the storm we had the evening before.
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    Angelo's new customized bike. Would you guess what kind of Softail it was before ?
    A Heritage, pure 60ies style, he was fed-up with it, wanted to change, and ... voilà !
    But I still don't understand how he could make the distance in this posture.
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    Here one can see the flatness of the plain we were on, surrounded by montains in the background. In a few hours all this place will be covered by tents !
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    Some guys were training for the weekend drag races on the landing track.
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    As I was wandering along the taxiway from stall to stall, like a coyote pointing at a roadrunner I stopped short in front of this :
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    Then in the evening there was a surprise on stage.
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    The day after we wanted to leave this humming site to find some more quiet places and visit the surrondings. We were told the town of Cesky Krumlov was a place to see, and indeed, it was.
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    We withdrew some local cash to go to a restaurant, it was very cheap and really really good, actually the best meal I had since the biginning of that journey. Sorry no pictures of that meal, it wasn't yet in vogue back to that year.
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    My friend Nicky on the central square of the village.
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    On sunday morning, we broke camp and just before leaving, I discovered another rare gem.
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    Thinking we had seen all that was to be seen on the site, we wanted to go back home the slow way by as much backroad as possible to avoid the hell of german motorways. The wife of a friend wanted to visit the Neuschwanstein, castle of Ludwig (Louis) II of Bavaria (the mad king) situated in south of Germany close to the austrian border. For that, since we were very close to the Czeck-Austrian border, we just had to cross it and ride through Austria from east toward west, through Tyrol and cross the border back to Germany in the evening. Then visit the castle in the morning of the day after and ride toward France, always on the backroads. This route was pleasing me, so with some others I decided to follow them.
    The little group split and we left to Austria, letting the others hammering through Germany.
    The way back was a real enchantment, the scenery was beautiful, but as I said before we didn't use to stop to take photos of it then.
    After visiting the Neuschwanstein castle we followed the shores of the Constance lake, and little time later we were back to France. We stopped at the border to say goodbye to each others, and at 8 pm I was back home, tired but happy to have done such a nice trip with some good friends.
    It lasted 5 days and I did approximately 2500 km.

    Next trip will be from last year, with an amount of digital pictures.
    Stay tuned !
    #9
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  10. Yannick

    Yannick Celtic Rider

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2011
    Oddometer:
    155
    Location:
    Northern coast of Brittany
    Before telling you last year trip, I'd like to come back a moment on my friend Nicky's trailer.
    If some of you are considering to build yourself your own trailer, there's some things you need to know. We often say weight is the ennemy of riders, that's right but mostly for off-road riders on their dualsport bikes and into the wild. If you're riding a heavy bike with an unloaded weight over 300 kg (660 lb) and as torque as a little car, then you don't really need to worry about saving 5 or even 10 kg.
    Nicky's trailer was a fiberglass made body frame. There was no axle and the wheels (coming from an old 125 cc) were directly bolted on a little iron frame.
    It was very aerodynamic, maybe too much, so the light weight combined with its shape and the speed made it take off passed 110 km/h !!!!! (70 mph) But it wasn't flying for a long time, just one second, but the main trouble was the landing. It wasn't landing correctly but just on one wheel and then was bouncing from one to the other ...
    When that occured, I was bringing up the rear, Nicky and Pat were just ahead of me, we were overtaking a semi-trailer and suddenly I saw that trailer take off, I think my eyes popped-out from their orbits like in a Tex Avery cartoon !
    Passed the surprise, I was looking the trailer bouncing from one wheel to the other, I couldn't shut the throttle, the car behind me was too close (remember what I said about germans on the motorways) so I slightly pulled on my brake lever many times so as to make understand to the fender sniffer behind me something wrong was happening and we needed to take a distance. Eventually Nicky slowed down too and the trailer landed correctly, the lorry driver saw that too and slowed down also to let Nicky finishing to overtake him. All this lasted approximately 10 seconds but seemed to be long minutes.
    We stopped at the first rest area, didn't have to change our panties, but the sh*t hadn't been far ... :evil
    So we decided I would stay behind to keep an eye on the flying dancer, and as soon as we were reaching 105 km/h (65mph) it was beginning to misbehave, so I was horning to make him slow down.
    This trailer was much too light, however it was loaded with all the camping gear, a big bag, plus a car battery for the radio.
    He wasn't keen on following us on the Austrian route on the way back. After the journey he came home and told me he finally had an accident with his trailer, somewhere in a German town, at a crossroad he turned too quick and the trailer lifted and tipped over on its side. So he transformed it and changed the wheels for ones from a scooter, they were heavier, lower and wider and seemed to hold the road better.
    Since this time I've never seen him towing anything again, I think he got rid of it. I'm gonna send him an e-mail to ask.
    #10
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  11. DGarman

    DGarman What could go wrong?

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2013
    Oddometer:
    642
    Location:
    Near Route 66
    Great stories and photos Yannick!
    I'm diggin' this!
    #11
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  12. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,663
    Bonjour Yannick! Très bien fait, mon ami! Le moto.....si beau! Continuez, s'il vous plait! J'attend!!!!
    #12
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  13. Yannick

    Yannick Celtic Rider

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2011
    Oddometer:
    155
    Location:
    Northern coast of Brittany
    I forgot to say a word about the HD Club of Prague. When I went there, arriving on the site I saw the large banner reading "Welcome Bikers" and just under "Harley-Davidon Club Praha" as you can have seen on the photo above. I knew the European Federation of HDC was organising the event but never had I heard of the HDCP, and I thought to myself they had made up for lost time since the fall of the iron curtain. How wrong I was ...!
    And very soon I learnt the HDCP was the first HD club in the world, created in 1928. And it survived under the German occupation, the second world war, and the Soviet occupation !
    If you want to learn more about it, here's the whole story. Scroll down till the middle of the page and you'll find the english version.
    http://www.hdcp.cz/o-klubu-hdcp/historie-klubu
    #13
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  14. Yannick

    Yannick Celtic Rider

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2011
    Oddometer:
    155
    Location:
    Northern coast of Brittany
    A Harley can never die

    I talked to my friend Nicky on the phone yesterday, and yes he still has the trailer but doesn't use it anymore. It's asleep in his garage, waiting for better days, or maybe a new transformation to fit another bike ...
    Back in autumn 2007, six months after I left eastern France to settle back in Brittany, Nicky sent me an e-mail telling me that a morning on his way to work he made an unexpected encounter with a patch of black ice. He joined a bunch of pictures in the mail to describe the situation. I think this one resumes all the others.

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    Beyond all the damages that can be seen at the front of the bike (forks were bent), the right handside pannier was smatched to the smithereens, so maybe it was time to move on to something else ...
    So he said farewell to the vintage 60ies style, and after weeks and weeks of work, one day the doors of his garage opened and like a Phoenix the Softail had rised from wreck ! But ... with another look.

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    Of course in this configuration, the trailer can't fit anymore to the Softail.
    Later he bought an old Electra glide that he rebuilt entirely with a brand new S&S engine and turned it to a bagger (the one on the back-ground behind the Softail), couldn't figure he could be a fashion victim ... Maybe the trailer could fit to the bagger, with a new black painting.

    Ok, let's get back to my horse now ...
    #14
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  15. Yannick

    Yannick Celtic Rider

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2011
    Oddometer:
    155
    Location:
    Northern coast of Brittany
    Electra meets her grandmother

    In automn 2015, my bike needed some maintenance I wasn't able to do myself. So I called a friend of mine who's a HD specialised mechanic. He's not an official dealer, but some dealerships send him their engines when they're overtaken by the mechanical level. He's a metrology specialist and with his lathe, milling machine and special tools he can bore cylinders, grind, adjust to specific dimensions ... back to 1914 models.
    Useless to say he's very much in demand and you have to wait for your turn when you bring your bike to his workshop. The second drawback is that he's living at 700 km away from my home. So no time to wander on the back roads, took the motorway and after an uneventfull ride, I arrived in his village in Burgundy, close to Cluny.
    In his yard there was a surprise : a 1962 Duo Glide in as-new condition.
    I pulled the camera (digital this time) out and began to warm it up !

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    There is a 31 year gap between those 2 bikes, and look how their general shape looks similar.
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    Then I left Electra in care of Eric and after a pleasant evening with him and his familly talking about the good old times we had together in eastern France (and a good meal too, because he's also a good cook), I took a train the day after and headed back home.

    Weeks have passed ...

    Then one month ... two months ...

    And he called me to say he was beginning Electra, she was on the operating table, and he wanted to sum-up all what there was to do on it, what kind of parts he could have find, what I wanted exactly to replace those unavailable, etc ...
    And all the body parts were gone to the painter, as they were damaged by gravel projections and 15 years of hard use.
    He sent me this picture.

    [​IMG]

    Meanwhile, another guy came in action, Rustyleather a leather worker specialist living in the same village. I asked him to make me a new tank panel with a little pocket on it and with a celtic pattern at certain dimension I sent him.
    So he had to wait the body parts were back from the painter to take the dimensions.

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    And his work could go on.
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    Finally the bike was finished for february 2016, and I was ready to go there and ride it back during the winter holidays. As a bus driver I'm only allowed to take my vacation during the school vacation, easy to understand why. But, this winter 2016, february was the worst we have had for many years, with very strong winds and non stop rain during weeks. Eric has got a principle : no bike gets back to his owner without having been fully tested on the road, and for that, he has found him a 30 km route to test them with all sorts of conditions, from narrow country roads to express road and city driving. He said to me he couldn't make a serious test in this weather conditions, he couldn't hear correctly the engine with the wind, and useless talking of the rain.
    So it would lengthen the waiting till Easter holidays, that is to say april ....

    :baldy

    But I had an idea in mind ... in april, the weather is supposed to be better, hemm ..., I mean a little better than in winter, so I was going to make a slow ride back home and make the most of this journey to enjoy my bike one more time, and visit some places I was thinking of for long.

    Stay tuned.
    #15
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  16. keithg

    keithg Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2007
    Oddometer:
    198
    Location:
    SO CAL NUTHOUSE
    GREAT STORY!
    #16
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  17. KryzHatch

    KryzHatch Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2012
    Oddometer:
    261
    Location:
    Stinking cheeses country or FRANCE
    "Former HD dealer"
    J'ai souvenir, pendant l'une de mes périodes bretonne, d'un magasin officiel H.D Route de RENNES à CESSON - SEVIGNE.

    [​IMG]
    J'avais l'impression de rentrer dans un saloon du Far West américain. Il y a ensuite eu un vendeur de scooter.

    Il y en avait un autre, non officiel, à l'ouest de la ville de RENNES, rue MALAKOFF. Là le bâtiment n'existe plus.

    [​IMG]

    Il me semble qu'ils avaient un petit local pour un club motard, presque en face dans une rue, dans lequel ils se retrouvaient le soir. J'ai aussi souvenir d'une vieille ELECTRA Bleue.
    Périodes bretonne :1986 - 1990 près de CESSON et 1993 - 2007 à LANNION

    KH
    #17
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  18. Yannick

    Yannick Celtic Rider

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2011
    Oddometer:
    155
    Location:
    Northern coast of Brittany
    At last came spring, then april, then Easter vacation. Ah, SPRING ... and its share of flowers, fragrances, weather mildness, little birds singing in the trees ......
    Hmm ... wait, wait a minute ....

    WAKE - UP Boy !!!!!!!!! Stop dreaming and come back to reality.

    In 2016, spring was just winter prolongation with its share of cold and rain, and it was going to screw up my trip projects ! Anyway, I had no other choice, I had my train ticket in my pocket and couldn't reverse. So I found myself on that bus on a monday morning, wearing my riding jacket and carrying my helmet, my rain gears and some other clothes in my indestructible army bag. The bus dropped me at the train station where I sipped one more coffee waiting for the high speed train that was going to take me to Lyon. Then once there I had to board another train to go back to Mâcon where my mechanic was waiting for me.
    Once at his homestead I had a look to Electra, checking everything was working, and suddenly she was so happy to see me again that she burnt her turn signal control module ... Was it a bad omen for the rest of the trip ? I don't know and anyway I'm not superstitious, ... it brings bad luck ... !
    Of course Eric had not this spare part on stock and had to buy it online from HD France who was going to send it to him and then he had to send it back to me ! Crazy isn't it ? This fucking spare part was going to tour nearly around the whole country before being delivered in my letter box because HD only sells to professionnals and they wouldn't send it to a different address. It was going to take circa two weeks. So of course I would have to do the back home trip without turn signals ... fantastic, especialy with the showers planned by the weather forecast.
    So what after all ? I was just going to find myself back to what I used to be in my youth (yes 30 years old was the end of my teen years !) just a tramp on his iron horse riding from town to town, so I don't give a sh*t about those blinkers. Isn't that exciting ? :evil
    After that we went to Rustyleather's shop, I wanted to thank him for the beautiful work he did on the tank panel, and I had just a little work to ask him to do on my leather jacket.
    That night we had a good meal with Eric's familly with a very good red wine, he's not living in Burgundy for nothing.
    Next morning, it began to rain just as I rolled Electra out of the shop. At that moment it was just a light drizzle, nothing frightening for an old sea dog. So I began to load the bike. Took the homemade piece of wood to put on the rack to support the weight of my large bag without it bends over my panniers, and then I noticed I had forgotten my waterproof bag-cover in another bag at home. "Hemm ... Eric ... could you spare a trash can bag for me, pleaaaaase ?"
    Then Rusty came to bring me my jacket back, fantastic work as always, paid him, had a little chat again, and it was time to hit the road. But I wasn't in a hurry, this first day wasn't a long route, I just had scheduled to reach the Saône river in Tournus, and then follow its banks heading north through all Burgundy and towns called with famous wines names, till a little village close to Dijon (Gevrey-Chambertin) where an old school friend was waiting for me. (I will spare you the silly selfie we made together to send to some others school friends we're still in touch with.)

    Here's my scheduled route from my mechanic to my home. I'm supposed to do it in two days, it's close to 800 km and when I prepared it I didn't know how long I was going to stay at each stop, so I'm likely to reach home very late (or early) in the middle night (I don't care, I've got some owl eyes).

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    So, when I left I headed south first to Cluny to fill my tank and to buy me some food to eat somewhere along the road.
    Oh, at that point I'd like to clarify something : I'm an old school rider, if anyone hadn't already guessed it. It don't have any GPS when riding, just paper maps. It's not for all that I'm a caveman but I simply don't like to rely on something that can break down or send you in a bad way or make you do many more kms than scheduled (all this happened to me when touring Europe with my bus, so I gave up this kind of shitty device, just use them to find a precise address in an unknowed town). No gopro camera neither. But as I said I'm not a caveman, and I like to have my telephone always ready to use, so to keep it charged I have a 12v socket on my front end (I could even plug a GPS on it).
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    And I asked Eric to add another socket to the panniers so as to be able to charge any device even when it's raining. (What a good idea I had !!!)
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    Yes I took this picture with the phone while being charged.

    So I left Cluny and hit the road though the hills and the vineyards. On my way to Tournus, I came to Brancion pass where is erected a memorial dedicated to French resistants during WW2.
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    You can see by yourself how pleasant was the weather ! So I headed to Tournus, directly to the river harbour of the Saône. As you'll see later during this trip, I really like rivers and all sorts of canals and shipping lanes. I like them so much I'm living along a canal, and I can see some boats passing by along my garden from spring to autumn, I find it funny.
    But at that moment the drizzle turned to real rain and it wasn't funny at all. I parked Electra as close to the river as I could to take some shots, then put on all my rain gears (I just had the trousers on, but then I added the jacket and the over-boots), I definitely put my camera away in its pouch and resigned myself to have a 200 km long shower, untill my friend's homestead.

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    When I arrived to my friend's I was really wet, not soaked but wet, my rain pants were not really good quality and I was really beginning to feel it.
    The next morning I had a late start. My friend is working in a school, and on wednesdays he begins much later than the other days so I stayed with him chatting about many things. We hadn't seen each other for years, we had much to catch up.
    It was past 10.30 am when I left, I just had a little more than 600 km to do and a lot of things to see and to visit. The sky was blue and the sun was shining. What could go wrong ?
    The first stop was only 20 km further at Nuits St Georges. I had to fill up my tank, buy some food for a picnic along the road and wash my bike, as the day before I stayed stuck many times behind lorries and as it was pouring (did I forget to mantion it ?) the bike was the colour of a pile of mud, wich I couldn't stand, having a brand new painting.
    So I hit the road through the vineyards hills called the Cote Rotie, name of a very famous and very expensive red wine. Down these hills I reached a harbour along the Burgundy canal, it's called Le Pont d'Ouche. It's not a town nor a village, just the name of that place, and I really wanted to see it for years. The reasons why ? Well it's situated just close to a very large viaduct on wich the motorway A6 is passing by, and from my bus when I was touring France and Europe, I could see this little harbour full of barges and it seemed so lovely from above, I always said to myself I had to come back one day on my bike to visit it. And it's not the only place I discovered while driving my bus, we'll see that later. The frustrating side of that job is you see a lot of beautiful places but you never can stop to look at them as long as you'd like.
    So I stopped there, took the time to have a proper picnic, took plenty of pictures, and went to the bar to have a coffee.

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    And so here we find the first canal bridge of the journey. What is a canal bridge ? It's a bridge supporting a shipping lane over a valley or a river or another canal. This is a small one, as the Ouche is a tiny river, but as you'll see further they can be very large.
    The Burgundy canal is narrowing to pass the bridge.
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    The bridge with the canal over the river
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    River Ouche flowing under the canal
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    Then the harbour with some parked barges
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    No I was not in South Africa but well in Burgundy.
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    According to the bartender where I had my coffee, she's just registered there as her owners are living there, but never left Europe.
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    Later, further up the road, always following the canal, from lock to lock, close to Pouilly en Auxois.
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    Always following the canal, here we arrive to Eguilly Castle. This castle is just along the motorway, so you guess how I discovered it, one morning after having driven all night long, just in the rising sun, I was wondering if I was dreaming or not, as seeing such a castle so close to the motorway is really uncommon.

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    The motorway can be seen on the right handside.
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    I found a small track to join the canal again, it was really enjoyable to ride it.
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    But it was already late in the afternoon and I had something else I really wanted to see. I could even say that was the main goal of my trip and it was out of question to miss it. So it was time to say goodbye to Burgundy and its canal, and heading west through the regional park of Morvan and its scenic landscape, but no gopro so no pictures, I hadn't time to stop, and I really openned the throttle.
    Then I hit the bank of the wildest of all the french rivers, La Loire. I followed it nothwest till the little town of Briare. The town itself doesn't interest me but there is the largest and oldest canal bridge of France. It's been designed and partially built by Gustave Eiffel (yes the man who designed the Eiffel tower) and is used for the canal of Briare can cross the Loire. It's enormous, and wonderful.

    Here the canal harbour in the town of Briare, just at the entry of the bridge. I'm on a road bridge over the canal.
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    I just do a 180° turn and on the other side of the bridge, this is the canal bridge.
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    There's a kind of secondary canal following the Loire on this side, passing itself under the canal bridge and leading to another harbour.
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    Here's the entry of the canal bridge.
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    Over the Loire
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    Some water over some water
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    The little town of Briare seen from the other bank of the Loire.
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    The exit of the bridge, just before the canal of Briare follows the Loire heading south and comes at its level, lock after lock.
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    From the southern bank we can see the whole bridge and its 14 piles. The land under the bridge can be used by sheep for grazing, but most of the time in winter it's flooded, the Loire is still a wild river.
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    As soon as the bridge comes to the southern bank that it also passes over a street, and that gives an idea of how deep is the canal.
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    Now I was back to the northern bank of the Loire, back to the canal harbour where Electra was parked, it was nearly 08:00 pm, it was getting more and more dark, we were april 7th so it was going to be night soon, but these huge black clouds coming from the horizon were promising nothing good. I already put my rain gears on, if it was not raining, at least that would protect me from cold.
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    As I said, it was already 8 o'clock and I still had 400 km to my homestead. I just ate some cakes, a banana, drank some water, it was enough for me, I was ready to hit the road, from that point I would only stop for fuel, at least that's what I though.
    I took the highway and headed to Orleans, stopped close in a service station for fuel, then it was already night and pouring. I stayed on the highway to bypass the town. Then after Orleans, the plan was to reach Le Mans by the national road (which is not really a highway nor an express way, really pleasant to do on a sunny day, absolutely a nightmare on a rainy night). At Le Mans, I would take the motorway till Rennes, then take the freeway to Dinan. Yes, that was the plan.
    Passed Orleans, once in the countryside and into the deepest darkness, I began to find my headlight wasn't lighting very brightly. It was strange because the headlight housing was brand new, it had been changed by Eric, the passing lights too ...
    I turned down to lowbeam to pass a lorry then when I turned it up to highbeam the engine had a hiccup. Oh no ! I understood immediately what was going wrong. Back in the years, it was a problem I regularly had on a 750 super Ténéré, every two years the regulator was burning because it was in a place where it wasn't correctly cooled, but the symptoms were the same, that meant I was running on the battery and I had to go the further I could that way. I hadn't the right to stop the motor even for filling the tank if I could go that far. I was hoping to reach at least Le Mans where there's a HD dealer, he could rescue me in the morning. So I stayed stuck to a lorry, following its red tail lights and letting him guiding me into the night.
    We had to slow down for crossing a village and then the motor wanted to stop, I pulled the clutch lever and revved it up to not let it stall, that worked.
    Later, always following the lorry, we arrived to a roundabout, but that time as soon as I slowed down, the motor stalled and didn't want to restart, the battery was really too low, and it was a brand new one. I had just enough speed to pass the roundabout and stopped just under a streetlight. Yep, in the middle of the deep pampa, I was lucky enough to find a lit roundabout, and another good news, the rain had stopped.
    I had been paying an assistance for nothing for nearly 20 years, this time they were going to give me my money back.
    When the tow-truck arrived I asked to the guy if he had a voltmeter, that he had, and we controlled tension at the battery terminals : 11,5 v. So I knew I was right, my diagnostic was good, in the best case only the regulator was dead, in the worst it was the alternator, or both.
    The tow-truck driver took me to his garage where I waited for a taxi for more than an hour, it was then close to 01:00 am, and apparently in the pampa it's easier to find a tow-truck than a taxi.
    I though the taxi would drive me to an hotel from where I could manage everything about my bike in the morning, then catch a train, but the guy from the assistance told me that the taxi was going to drive me directly back home. I asked him if he knew where I was living, because that was not going to cost them peanuts. He answered he knew and that was the way they did, so I said ok, let's go.
    The taxi dropped me at home at 04:30 am.
    Later in the morning when the assistance called me to arrange the hauling to the closer mechanic, I learnt that the night employee had make a huge bullshit by telling to the taxi driver to take me home, what I was quite sure of. So I asked them to haul Electra to the HD dealer of Le Mans.


    To be continued ...
    #18
    JimRidesThis, Reddog*, bobw and 4 others like this.
  19. Yannick

    Yannick Celtic Rider

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2011
    Oddometer:
    155
    Location:
    Northern coast of Brittany
    When my motor definitely stopped, I was still closer from Orleans than from Le Mans, and the assistance first wanted to haul my bike to Orleans dealership of course. But would you imagine the dealership refused my bike because they are no more taking care of bikes older than 2000 model year ...... WTF .... ?????
    So they were looking for another mechanic around Orleans. Then I flew a bit off the handle, reminding them that during the night they had wasted around € 1500 in a taxi bill for me instead of just an hotel room and a train ticket, and now they were trying to cut corners for hauling my bike approximately 30 km further than Orleans. The woman on the phone answered me she was going to ask to her supervisor, and she would call me back in a moment. 10 minutes later, she called me back, and told me I was right, the night employee made a big mistake, etc, etc ... They had already called Le Mans dealership and they were ok to receive my bike, which was a great relief for me at many levels. 1 : the bike was gonna be fixed by an official dealership, certainly quicker than in another shop, and 2 : it was so much easier to me to go pick it up as it's a direct train from Rennes to Le Mans.
    The bike arrived at Le Mans just before noon, and the workshop head told me they would bend over her case the day after. What was done. Early in the afternoon, he called me to tell me exactly what the problem was and submitted me a quote. The stator had burnt, so of course it had to be replaced but the regulator received a severe warm up, and though it was still working it was safer to replace it too. What else could I do than accept ?
    It was Friday, the parts had to be ordered and they would arrive the next tuesday. He called me back the wednesday to tell me my bike was fixed and everything was fine with it. So I called the assistance to arrange for my train ticket and a taxi to drive from the station to the dealership, and the friday morning I was back on the bus with my riding gears heading to Rennes station.
    The workshop head received me and showed me my old parts ... yeah, no doubt the stator had burnt. He told me primary trans oil was for free, as they saw the one they had to drain was new, they made a goodwill gesture, which was very kind. And the bike had a free washing too. That made me smile because some dark clouds were gathering above the town, and I though she was going to have another one very soon.
    As Electra was rolled out the workshop, I went out the shop to find her back on the parking lot, and then noticed the dark clouds I saw when arriving had turn to black ! Just the time to put on the rain gear that the first drops were already falling !
    I had decided to finish nicely that journey on my way home by the back roads that I never have time to explore usually. It wasn't noon yet so I had all the afternoon to fully enjoy my bike. Let's go !

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    The dealership sits south of town, just in front of the speed circuit, and I needed to go north to get to the road I wanted to ride. I had to cross the whole center of town when suddenly the rain increased, double, tripled, just imagine yourself being watered by the firemen hose !
    I was still downtown, just 2 km far from the start and stuck in the traffic jams I could feel the rain slowly but surely getting inside my bad quality rain trousers ... Eventually I made it out of town and the rain lasted at least 20 km. My rain jacket was good and my leather one under was fine, but at the bottom level, it was ... hmmm ... how could I say ... Bob the sponge !
    I stopped to a supermarket in a small town to buy me something to eat, but I kept my rain trousers to get in as I didn't want everybody to stare at my soaked jeans ... I still have my pride. :D
    So I went on and found a nice gravel track where to stop. The sun was back and there was a little wind which is welcome in that case. It was time to switch from washing mode for drying mode.
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    I stayed there nearly one hour, eating my sandwich while wondering if I was going to put back my rain trousers on or if I was going to finish that trip with just my jeans on, hopping they get dry with the air while riding. I opted for the second solution ... untill the next shower ! :raindance

    There was a village along my route where I wanted to stop because I very often saw the advertising signs on the motorway but never had the opportunity to visit it, so as I was going to ride through it was the day. Jublains is a place where sit the ruins of a whole roman town.
    I stopped close to the temple, took a picture of it, it was still sunny then, had just the time to walk around it and have a close look that suddenly the rain came back. So this time it was enough for me, I didn't visit the rest of the ruins, got equiped and hit the road directly to my home.
    Here's the only picture I took from the temple, but I will go back, it's not very far and I missed a lot.

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    I made it home, still wet. Kitty was waiting for me and she seemed happy to find her favorite watchtower again.
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    All I can say is that luck didn't leave its mark on this journey, the weather, then the breakdown ... Fortunately it's not always like that. But I'm happy I could visit the canal bridge, and I had a nice sunny day along the canal of Burgundy, all is not lost.
    #19
    bobw, zookster, JimRidesThis and 2 others like this.
  20. Yannick

    Yannick Celtic Rider

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2011
    Oddometer:
    155
    Location:
    Northern coast of Brittany
    Yesssss !!!! That's exactly the place. How uncredible it is to see that again. Keep that picture and that cloth, they're collector's piece now.
    For the rest I think we need to have a chat in pm. :thumb
    #20
    KryzHatch likes this.