Solo TET N. France on a 950 SuperEnduro (2400km in 5 riding days)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by GezwindeSpoed, Oct 6, 2021.

  1. GezwindeSpoed

    GezwindeSpoed Long timer

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    This year we wanted to finish the TET Poland that we started last year but did not finish. Unfortunately my mate did not have the time or priority for this ride. I had a look what I could do starting from my home. Norther France looked doable and plans were made. I would start the ride from The Netherlands (Nijmegen) to ride as much off road as possible to the border of Belgium, then slab it to France and pick up the TET near Dunkirk. After the Northern TET I would end up in Luxemburg, cross Belgium again and find some nice unpaved road the last part in Southern part of Holland. I quick calculation showed approx. 2400km, which should be doable in 6-7 days. Then my work planned a BBQ on Thursday and old colleagues planned another one on Friday. One of them would be my target to be home.
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    #1
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  2. GezwindeSpoed

    GezwindeSpoed Long timer

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    Day 1 (Nijmegen Watten; 509km)


    My adventurous journey starts after breakfast on my birthday, I am spoiled with cake and presents. Then I put on my motorcycle clothes and get on the motorcycle at 9 am. My route first follows well-known paths in Brabant, but soon I no longer recognize it a bit further from home. They are often short pieces of unpaved roads with a high left/right/left content. At one point I am driving on a path with high grass. Almost at the end I see a few white low posts at the last moment. I can just stamp on my footrest to keep it from filling up, but still hit it with the side of my crankcase plate. Whew, that could have turned out differently, the plate is bent a bit, but it doesn't touch the engine. If it hadn't been on, my clutch cover would have suffered a major blow.

    I drive past a meadow with African marigolds, what a cool face and they smell nice. The weather is a bit gray and chilly, but that is very good to keep the walkers inside.

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    if there are some Belgian shades in the place names, the paths become longer and nice and sandy. I'm really enjoying it, this is going to be a wonderful holiday. Around 2 pm I am near Baarle Nassau and take a currant bun. Actually I want to reach the start of the TET France today, so for that I have a route first to Rucphen and then through Belgium via paved roads. At Rucphen the sun begins to shine and it immediately becomes very busy on the street. I hit the highway here to cross Belgium as quickly as possible. It's a long boring stretch of highway and I'm counting down the miles. About 50km before the French border I leave the highway and I have a nice winding road. Before I know it I have crossed the border and the real adventure begins. It starts with some easy gravel and grass paths between the farmlands. Here and there a farm, but what an empty landscape and how quiet it is.

    It is now 7 pm and I see a nice restaurant in Watten. I treat myself to mussels and a beer. I get into conversation with a German car dealer (one of the developed kind) who is very jealous of the French way of life compared to the German Gründlichkeit. He also loves my planned trip.

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    After the delicious food I want to look for a suitable place to sleep, I have enough water and food to do some wild camping because I did some shopping before dinner. My engine only just started, what happend?! I pick up the track and drive another 5km. Then I see a camper in a parking lot of a museum about V1 and V2 rockets Blockhouse; d'Éperlecques. My engine won't start after that, so this will be my sleeping place. I'm thinking about my options because I already know that I can't drive normally tomorrow. I want to start the engine by pushing it up the slope and starting it going down. I would like to continue following the route in order to pass a motorcycle shop. But tomorrow it's Sunday and not much shops are open in France. I also pass by the German camper, it turns out it has a jump starter and jumper cables, great.

    I don't have such a good night because my head is quite busy and so are the mosquitoes in the parking lot.

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    #2
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  3. GezwindeSpoed

    GezwindeSpoed Long timer

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    Day 2 (Watten-Éperlecques; 10km)

    In the morning make coffee and eat some currant buns, I put on my bike clothing optimistically and push the bike up the slope. Unfortunately there is a lot of gravel in the parking lot and I don't get more than a blocking rear wheel. In the meantime there is also life in the German camper and we try the starting aid. This one is too intelligent and says the battery is dead and does nothing else. Then we want to try the jumper cables, but his battery is in an impossible place. I walk past the French woman who also spent the night in the parking lot. With German jumper cable and French energy we get the engine going, but it immediately shuts off as soon as you disconnect the cables. Oops, this is a serious problem. Meanwhile, the cleaning ladies of the museum have started their job. I explain my problem to them and they tell me to wait for the boss. He arrives at 9:45 am with his Porsche Carrera. After the first busload has entered the museum, I walk to the best man. I try to explain what's going on, but it doesn't quite work out because 10 minutes later he arrives with jumper cables.
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    To pass the time I also go into the museum. It is a very impressive chunk of concrete with steel and unbelievable what a technique was developed in that wartime and with which bombs the construction was forced to stop.

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    After an hour I'm almost done and a guy on a wheelchair for the disabled comes up to me, “I was looking for you” in perfect English. Turns out to be a Brit who lives near here and helps out a bit in the museum. He tells me that some of the boss's friends might have a suitable battery. The boss calls the measurements and fifteen minutes later 2 men arrive with a perfectly fitting battery. The battery is of course as dead as a doornail so with jumper cables we get the engine started. But unfortunately it also does not run without cables. We let the engine run for 10 minutes, but then it stops without any cables. We are concerned that the voltage regulator has also given up the ghost and that this may be the cause of the blown battery. The battery gives 4V and when the engine is running 20V!!! "I'll help you tomorrow" says the boss. We all drink a beer and eat some chips.

    The rest of the day I kill the time walking on flip flops to a motorcycle shop 5km away that won't open until Tuesday and I think mainly has clothes and afterwards to a closed supermarket. On the way back I am overtaken by 2 off road riders from, yes, the Netherlands. They had started the TET with the 3 of them but the XR rider had a blown shock and turned around. The other 2 ride on a TTR and a SWM. I watch them jealously.

    My second walk is in the woods behind the museum. Because I'm already tired of my flip flops and have no other shoes with me, I walk barefoot. The forest is dotted with bomb craters that are filled with water. On my GPS I see a small lake and that seems nice because it is starting to get quite warm. The lake is no more than a big mud puddle, but with careful walking I don't stir up too much mud. It is nice and refreshing, but does smell a bit like rotten leaves. In the afternoon the boss takes me with luggage to a camping site a little further away. The campsite has a swimming pool and restaurant. My spot has long grass that is still wet even at the end of the afternoon, that will be a nice wet mess tomorrow morning. I put on my tarp to get some privacy and take a dip in the pool. In the evening I eat a leek tart to start with, then chicken from beer (and dripping with fat) and a big scoop of ice cream. With a full stomach I take an evening walk and drink a beer with a view over the rolling landscape.

    Tomorrow the boss will pick me up between 8 and 10, later he says 9 am!? He wants to take me with his van to a towage service and from there I can get to Calais, at least that's what I take from his words.

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    #3
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  4. mikehi

    mikehi Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Bristol, UK
    Good luck, I am looking forward to your next report
    #4
  5. GezwindeSpoed

    GezwindeSpoed Long timer

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    Day 3 (Éperlecques - Senots; 380km)

    At half past 7 I wake up with wet feet. Everything is under condensation as expected. I have some currant buns from home and make coffee. I dry my tarp as much as possible and clean everything up. Around half past eight I sit in the rising sun to get warm and dry and not much later the boss arrives with his bus. We load the motorbike and he takes me in 5min to the motorbike shop where I had already walked past. It turns out to be 2 companies of the same owner, a car garage that was open on Monday and the motorcycle shop which was officially closed on Mondays. The boss of both companies is also a motorcyclist and is willing to help me. Within a short time he has 2 candidate batteries. New battery went into the bike and brooooom. Then we measured charging voltage and it came neatly to 14V. I just haven't embraced the boss yet, but I'm a very happy man. I say goodbye to the boss but can't really thank him due to my limited French vocabulary. I put on the biker clothes and tie the luggage onto the bike. In the fresh morning air I start happily on the next leg.

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    Driving is on many grass paths between the farmlands and occasionally some dense dark paths through small woods. You then have to choose between driving over the high central rig or driving with your head through the bushes. On such a piece, with a lot of mud, I meet a group of Germans, one of whom is on a KLR. They are panting. Not much later I meet the 2 Dutchmen again. Number 3 comes with the car to the bivouac places as a support vehicle. We are talking about the grassy paths with hard ridges in the clayey surface which is very tricky driving. Not long after that I arrive at a nice path and I give it a lot of gass. My front tire finds such a ridge and not much later I am on the ground. Headlight flies around and the attachment of my tank bag tears off. Of course I can't make many kilometers that way, so I cut back. I secure the tank bag with a spare strap, and mount the headlight with some ty-rips. The rest of the day I drive on, but I am wary of grass paths. The miles fly by. I meet a couple of German off road riders. A beautiful girl and a nice guy (I think).

    Around 7 pm I pass a restaurant and decide to eat Chili con Carne. In the meantime, I video call the home front. After dinner, the plan is to drive a little further to a campsite close to the route. 15km before the campsite the track goes over a rubble dump and sure enough, my rear wheel starts to wobble: flat. I drive on for a while until I come to a paved road where a farmer's wife uses the poison syringe. Dripping with sweat, I replace the inner tube and fix the old one, I also make my headlight work again. My compressor does not go further than 1.0 bar and I press 2 CO2 cartridges in it. But still only 1.2 bar. With a speed of 50 km/h I drive the last part to the campsite to keep the inner tube intact, they must have a compressor on the camp site. I arrive in the dark at a campsite without lampposts. I can squeeze the motor past the barrier. I ask a few guests if it would be okay to stay overnight and they point to the phone number on the sign. But my mobile has minimal coverage, so I decide to find a spot myself. There is a nice lawn around the toilet building and I decide that will be my spot. Blow up my air mattress and roll out my sleeping bag. Then it's time for coffee, after I have straightened the pan that has become somewhat oval due to the fall. Unfortunately I didn't have time to score a beer somewhere. I press my last CO2 cartridge into the tire and I think the tire is hard enough. At 10.30 pm I have to go to sleep, but the coffee is still doing its job too well. For hours I look at the beautiful starry sky and see a lot of falling stars.

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    #5
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  6. GezwindeSpoed

    GezwindeSpoed Long timer

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    Day 4 (Senots - Traînel; 379km)

    After a breakfast of couscous with raisins and a good cup of coffee I set off again. It starts again with a lot of grass paths where I now drive as much as possible on the central ridge so as not to hit those annoying hard tracks. Do some shopping at a supermarket and see a motorcycle shop on my GPS. Fortunately this one has CO2 cartridges and I take 2 sets of 3 cartridges so that I can move forward.

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    The route goes through dark bushes more and more often, sometimes this starts to look more like hard enduro and it is a lot of toil on a heavy motorcycle with luggage. At one point it even starts running on one leg because of boiling fuel. But when the pace picks up again, it runs as usual. On a grass path with some ruts I have to put my foot on the ground, but the ground was a bit further away and the bike a bit too high so I fall over, again on the right side. In the evening I discover that the pan now looks more like the Pentagon than the Oval office.

    The number of kilometers goes very slowly, I would really want to be around Paris tonight and come somewhere near Troyes. Fortunately the trails get a bit faster in the afternoon and I still come close to my goal. At the end of the afternoon I do some shopping (pasta filled with basil and mozzarella, Corsican cheese and a bottle of wine). I would like a campsite because I have been sweating a lot and I am starting to smell myself. Arriving at the campsite, the people nearby tell me that it is closed. I ask them for some water so I can go wild camping. A bush a little further catches my attention. It is right on the route, out of the wind and in the last sun of the day. It's perfect over there. I dry all things that are still damp in the last rays of the sun. The food tastes good to me and wine goes down very easily. I take another walk up the hill and have a beautiful view over the rolling hills in the setting sun. In my sleeping bag I enjoy the beautiful starry sky again and fall asleep satisfied.

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    #6
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  7. GezwindeSpoed

    GezwindeSpoed Long timer

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    Day 5 (Traînel - Millery; 480km)

    After another breakfast of couscous with raisins and a cup of coffee I set off again. It's wonderfully cool and I'm looking forward to the day. Today I will arrive at the southernmost point of the route, then past Troyes and then North towards Luxembourg. The plan is to reach Luxembourg today, and ride the last day via nice roads through Luxembourg and Belgium to arrive at the BBQ of my work at 5 pm.

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    Pretty soon the route dives into a forest where a few foresters are at work. A little further on, the forest becomes quite muddy. Sometimes the tracks are hard, but sometimes the clay also gives zero grip. In such a muddy bin I take the wrong exit and after a round in the forest I arrive at the same point again. I find the right path which quickly becomes an even bigger muddy bin. Tracks of forestry machines make driving more plodding. I drive on the high central redge, but at one point my front wheel slides into the deep track and ends in a mud hole. Meanwhile, my rear wheel is also in the deep track. With a lot of effort I can get my front wheel out of the track and keep the bike upright. Then I have to work on the rear. While I'm lashing hard I hear something snap in my left forearm. Ouch, luckily everything still functions, but I can feel it getting stiff. With a last bit of energy I manage to get the bike on the high and dry middle track. I drive very carefully, sometimes walking a bit forward to see what the best route is. But a little further on, my front wheel slides back into the trench and the story starts all over again. When I'm out of there the engine gets very hot and starts to run bad. Then it stops.

    The trick is often turning the ignition on and off a few times so that the pump can pump fuel to the float chambers. As I do this, I see a squirt of gasoline shoot past my knee. Due to the torturing in the mud, the quick release has broken. Fortunately, the fuel lines are quite long and I can quickly get things going again without the quick release.

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    Then the pace picks up again and the sweat can dry up a bit. Fortunately the number of grass paths decreases and there is some more gravel and paths with large stones. Sometimes I get the feeling that I am driving Morocco, the temperature and the surface have many similarities. Gradually, the vineyards of Champagne are also beginning to emerge. These can be very steep and have considerable gullies from the rain. At Troyes there are still a few nice, long, white gravel paths, but after that there is unfortunately quite a lot of asphalt in the route. This allows me to make quite a few kilometers and I arrive at the end of the track around 6 pm. Just before that, another steep descent from a very wooded area. In this beautiful part are a lot of bunkers.

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    At the end of the track I look for a nice campsite in Luxembourg to wash my clothes and myself well. But I can't find Luxembourg… it turns out that I still have to drive another 250km of track to get to Luxembourg. Oops, this ain't gonna be the final day in France. I quickly decide to do some shopping, then drive another 50 km and find a place under the stars.

    And I find that place. Next to a field is a small patch of grass. Further on, a farmer is working his land and a lost MTB rider looks at me strangely. In the distance you can hear the hum of truck tires on the Route du Soleil, about 30km below Metz. For dinner I have rice with vegetables and some canned fish, it tastes delicious. I also have 2 cans of beer with me, which I reward myself with another wonderful driving day. During this beer I check my engine and see a kink in the fuel line. When I touch it, the fuel squirts out. Quickly, I cut a piece off and bend it so that the bend becomes wider. Fixed again and ready for tomorrow.

    Then I quickly get into my sleeping bag because tomorrow I want to get up early to drive the remainder of the last track (200km) to Luxembourg and then the way back through Luxembourg and Belgium. I keep seeing from my sleeping bag flashing towards the highway, at first I think of a thunderstorm but later I realize that there are quite a few speed cameras along the highway between Metz and Nancy. This is a big cash register for the French government.

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    #7
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  8. Aces 6

    Aces 6 Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Over

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    "While I'm lashing hard I hear something snap in my left forearm..."

    OUCH!
    :lurk
    Great ride report and videos!
    #8
  9. Mr Head

    Mr Head Tired

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    Very cool report. Love the videos.
    #9
  10. GezwindeSpoed

    GezwindeSpoed Long timer

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    It is still not completely healed but I am getting there. It was worth it :D.
    #10
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  11. GezwindeSpoed

    GezwindeSpoed Long timer

    Joined:
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    Day 6 (Millery - Nijmegen; 634km)

    At 6 am I wake up from my alarm clock that I had set for the first time this week. In the west, the thunderstorm is coming my way over the hills. I quickly eat my breakfast and get on my motorcycle at 6.50 am. I donate my waste together with the dented pan at a bus stop to the waste bin. The track often heads towards the dark clouds to turn back in the right direction just in time. Quite a lot of asphalt but of the beautiful winding kind. I give the 950 quite some throttle because my tires are already a long way. What a lovely engine this is. At one point I get a visit from a wasp in my sleeve. He thinks it's a bit too tight there and lets me know with a big sting.

    Fortunately, there are also beautiful pieces of forest in the route with a considerable difference in height, it is so beautiful to drive here, the long gravel paths are also very enjoyable. Only towards the end of the track there are some more of the infamous grass paths with ridges. The end is in sight and there is another nice loop through wooded area, here a number of small bunkers protrude above ground level.

    This is where I meet my first and only oncoming all road rider this holiday. I believe he or she was riding an XL500 straight into the dark cloud that chased me from Metz, poor wretch.

    Exactly according to plan I arrive at the end of the track at 11 am. I eat something and it starts to drip, I quickly move under a tree and put on my raincoat. The dripping quickly turns into pouring and I ask my GPS for the fastest way to Liège. Full throttle on the highway and a little further on I can happily fill my tanks in dry weather with the cheap fuel. At Bastogne the sun comes through once in a while and in Liège it gets hot again. I take a break in a park and look at the route home. My underpants are still soaked so I plan some off road from Maastricht. Here are some towpaths on the Belgian side of the Meuse and they are good to hunt. I can dry my underpants nicely by riding standing up. In no time it was dry and I could continue on to Oss. Fifteen minutes before the BBQ starts I arrive here tired, satisfied and hungry.

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    #11
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  12. Aces 6

    Aces 6 Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Over

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    Ridden to Nijmegan, Arnhem and Bastogne on my street bike but the TET adds a different dimension to it. Might have to take a trip across the pond in next couple of years.
    Keep the videos coming!
    :thumb
    #12