Day 9 - Metz to Tewkesbury
Last day today and not a lot to report other than a long motorway blast from Metz to Calais and then Folkestone to Tewkesbury. As always, the French motorways are excellent, if a tad expensive at around £16 for that leg of the journey. From Metz it was towards Paris, then turn right and up towards Lille and Calais. As every day, the Burgman just purred along without fuss.
The weather was warm and sunny but about an hour out of Calais I could see what looked like a dark grey wall ahead of me. Discretion is not normally something I over-indulge in but I decided to stop at the next Aire place and put my waterproof over-trousers on, close the coat's air vents and put some gloves on, and boy am I glad I did. Within a couple of miles of setting off again the world went dark - from sunshine to absolutely lashing it down, forked lightning flashing around on all sides and the wind buffeting from every direction at once. The Burgman is pretty good at weather protection but this was about as wet as just riding through a solid swimming pool of water. Unfortunately out of all the gloves I had with me I chose the wrong ones and while they stopped my hands getting battered by 70mph rain, (which hurts!) they were the summer ones so soaked through in seconds. At the next toll booth I fished out the ticket and within a second that was sodden as well and barely went into the machine. I also discovered that as the gloves were not meant for wet weather the dye had come out and my hands were now a lovely shade of deep purple - I looked like I'd been doing a bank job and one of those exploding dye things had gone off!
Eurotunnel put me on a slightly earlier train so I was back in Blighty by 1pm, with then just a three and a half hour or so trip home. On the tunnel they load the bikes last and then make you park diagonally across the carriage. I don't wish to be too disloyal to Blighty, but as I found on my road trips to Norway and Crete, after returning from a trip elsewhere my God it does strike you as being dirty, crowded and rather shabby. Arriving home was startlingly hot though - about 33 degrees on the M25, this is not what you expect when getting home from a trip! In another move to make bikers shiver with apprehension at the breach of the biking code of conduct, I had to take my coat off during a stop on the M25 and ride the rest of the way home in a t-shirt, it was that or melt!
So that was it, 2017 road trip done. Exactly 3,012 miles (4,847km) in nine days, autobahn and mountain passes, gravel tracks and snow, baking heat and rain, glaciers, lakes, city centres, mountains, the lot. As ever, for me the point of the trip is not the destinations, they are just somewhere to sleep, but it is the journey each day itself and it was everything I wanted it to be. And the star of the trip - the humble Suzuki Burgman scooter. It did everything asked of it, went everywhere the big touring motorbikes could go. It kept up on the autobahn and climbed the highest road in Austria, nipped through city traffic and navigated mountain passes, without complaint, without fuss, and never ever felt like it was struggling. Sit on it, pop the heated seat and heated grips on for the chillier parts of the trip, cruise and enjoy the views. A brilliant brilliant bike.