Day 1 - Tewkesbury to Trier, Germanyland
The first day was planned purely as a long long blast down motorways to get as close to the Alps as possible in one day, and was a day I had been a little apprehensive about as it was going to involve staying on the bike for over 500 miles.
(Note after reading the above: I don't mean 'staying on' as in falling off!)
Typically, after a couple of weeks of hot sunny and dry weather, come setting off day it was raining and forecast to do so pretty all the way to Germany. In the event though it was much more stop/start with only a few showers on the way and the scooter's ample fairings being enough to keep me dry. Even so it was a day for rocking the casual summer look of a heavy waterproof biking coat, big biking boots, waterproof gloves and waterproof over-trousers. Sometimes riding is a long long way from the mental image of some chap trundling across the plains of Arizona on his Harley in jeans, t-shirt and shades - not quite a scooter on the M25 in plastic trousers!
Packing is tight and I have one jumper with me. Somehow, by the time of my first fuel stop on the M4 I had managed to get a nice oil streak down in and then by the time of my second stop on the M25 for a breakfast Burrito, managed to tip half a bottle of coke down it. So that's me looking like a tramp for the rest of the week then. And before anyone who knows me says it, no change from normal really.
Traffic was bad but one of the joys of the scooter and the pay-off for being in the rain is pressing the button to fold the mirrors in and nipping between the rows of stationary and slow moving cars, on the M4, M25 and also in a massive jam which went on for about 10km outside Lille. Handily, there I caught up with a French chap on a big loud farty chromey bike thing which was so loud all the traffic moved to one side to jump out of his way so I could glide along nicely between the rows of cars in his wake. Looking on my scooter like a long distance pizza delivery chap.
The route today was as much of a surprise to me as anyone as I just told the SatNav to aim for Trier then just relaxed and blindly followed what it said. After the Channel Tunnel it was towards Dunkirk, then down to Lille, south through Belgium to Luxembourg, then into Trier itself. Belgium is nice enough but it has to be said it's main positive feature is that it isn't France so doesn't have that same glum air of 1970s depression while banging on about 'superior food' which may have been superior 40 years ago but hasn't moved on since.
Just to confuse the unprepared traveller it turns out there is an area of Belgium called Luxembourg, which is not your actual Luxembourg. This dear European Cousins, makes no sense. How can you have a big part of your country named after another country? It would be like the Germans creating a part of their country called France or Poland or something. Oh, hang on a minute, they have history with that already don't they...
No photos today as it has been just sitting on motorways and going and going. Apart from fuel stops. A LOT of fuel stops. It may only cost about a tenner to fill the scooter up but on the downside that fill-up is only good for 120 miles or so meaning once the tank gets to half way you can't take the risk of another big gap between filling stations and have to stop yet again.
The upside of the regular filling stops is that it does make you get up regularly and stretch your legs and bum cheeks. Not literally with the bum cheeks as that would probably be unwise on a petrol station forecourt.
That's the first 500 miles down, tomorrow is another long seven or eight hour ride from Trier to Kitzbuhel, but at least that's then the start of the Alps proper.