<a href="http://s1277.photobucket.com/user/dearnla1/media/photocopy_zps8b788f90.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1277.photobucket.com/albums/y481/dearnla1/photocopy_zps8b788f90.jpg" border="0" alt="Outside Villeneuve-sur-Yonne, on way to Magny Cours 2013 photo photocopy_zps8b788f90.jpg"/></a> Here's my beastie loaded up and ready for the last stretch of the journey to my weekend hotel. I had originally set off Thursday afternoon to get around London on the M25 ring road before the heavens opened, but I only got 1 hour in before I got drenched. So much for plan A, but when you are riding in Northern Europe in October, expect some rain. I took the tunnel across the channel, staying overnight in Calais at a budget hotel. You know the one, bring your own soap and the towel isn't much bigger than a handkerchief! Thankfully I had 2 to use. Breakfast was the usual bread and scrape with a few soggies (cereal....) to start and all the coffee you would regret drinking later. Next morning took me on the motorway to St. Quentin, then off on the D1 south to Soissons, Chateau Thierry (Terry doesn't live there any more...) Sens and a few more towns before getting to my destination at Cosne sur Loire. For the wine connoisseurs among you, slap bang in the middle of the Sancerre, Poilly and Chablis regions. Hic! That was 320 miles of mixed roads starting with Autoroute, dual Carriageway then a few hilly routes past the vineyards at the end. I planned it that way to avoid Paris, because you really DO NOT want to go across the middle or around the Peripherique (inner Paris ring road) on a Friday - any day! My fuel consumption was showing on the trip computer as anything from 40 miles per (Imperial) gallon to 50 mpg , depending on average cruise speed (85 mph for the former, 70 ish the latter). My last fuel receipt shows it was more like 45 mpg, which equates to 10 miles per litre or 16km/litre for our European/Canadian/Australian friends. Which is about what I always get on these trips, no matter what bike I take! Suspension was set for comfort mode and ECU was set for Street mode most of the time. I find the comfort mode absorbs the bumpy back roads well, even when tonking along, give or take the odd wallow. And given that the panniers are:- a) Big b) Heavy c) Loaded d) Airbrakes I figured it wasn't doing too bad, really. What I would say is that the resulting rear weight bias made the sidestand a bit precarious (note to self, when the forum pages on a model of bike are full of people fitting side-stand plates, take heed...), and on the centre stand, the bike was rocking to and fro in the air, undecided as to which wheel to perch on. But I digress. Dinner that night was steak and chips washed down with Kronenbourg Seize Cent Soixante Quatre http://kronenbourg1664.com and latterly some Cotes du Rhone. Slurp. Bedtime that night was early and welcome. I awoke at 1 a.m. and opened the window for some fresh air. And Rain. Lots. Of. Rain. Back to bed and awake again at 6. Back to that window. It. Was. Still. Raining. Now at this point I have to point out that I have never been to Magny Cours and watched a wet race. In 6 trips over the last 10 years. So I went back to sleep. I mooched around a bit the next morning, popping to the Supermarche for baguettes and cheese (when in France...) for lunchtime sustenance, as I didn't fancy paying a fiver at the track for one (call me a cheapskate, but it's more to do with not having to queue at the one nearby kiosk....) At last the clouds parted and I headed off to the track to watch practice and Superpole. In SuperSport, Kenan Sofuoglu had already set the fastest lap to win pole when he proceeded to bin it big time in front of us. I swear the bike hit him hard, but he got up and was OK. Superpole was a given for Tom Sykes (YAY) although the good showing by the local French boys raised plenty of cheers from the crowd. Sunday dawned a bit misty and I got to the track around 10 a.m. with the grandstands filling up rapidly. Well, the racing was good and you already know the results. Suffice to say the Superstock race was red-flagged, both Superbike races also, plus the Supersport and, yep, even the CBR500 cup race. That deserves a celebratory steak tonight, I thought. So I did, washed down by un demi of Poilly Fume. Sadly, the return trip Monday was all motorway, as I had 500 miles to cover. This time I headed for Paris, but skirted it on the N104/A104 to Aeroport Charles de Gaulle, before taking the A1 north towards Calais and tunnel home again. Sad to say my only off-roading was a gravel turning off the main road to stop and shrug on waterproofs. But as a bike on which to do this kind of trip -FAB.