Five countries in one day!
I've travelled a fair way since my last blog from Spalding. The weather has turned quite hot and humid - quite unpleasant in my bike clothing, so i have found myself riding into the evenings where possible, to cover the distance in the cool.
Therefore I rode into Hertford (pronounced Hartford - (Of course! don't you love English!)) quite late in the evening looking for a campsite. I had its location on my whole of England map and rode around for about an hour in vain when I stopped and asked an elderly gentleman if he knew where it was. He called a friend who found out its location before telling me it was so difficult to explain that he would lead me there in his car! It certainly was a convoluted set of twists and turns we took befoe arriving at the camping ground. I thanked my guide and took up a pitch in a really nice camping ground, that I can heartily recommend but if you want to go there I might have to show you!
The bike was almost right out of fuel after all my searching and I was right out of food at 10.00pm. So off i went to the 24 hour servo and Tescos for topups. At the servo I asked a young man on a small two stroke motorcycle if there was anywhere close by I could find food and - you guessed it - he and his mate affered to show me where it was.
I have now experienced the two extremes of motorized Hertford hospitality. Firstly a 73 year old gent in a Honda Civic guiding me sedately through town. Next, two barely 17 year olds fuelled by a mixture of two stroke oil and testosterone screaming through the centre of town at very nearly double the speed limit, looking over their shoulders often to check the Ducati was still with them (it was!) until we raced into the supermarket carpark in record time and a cloud of blue smoke. I suppose if I had of slowed down they may well have waited for me, but a man has his pride you know.
Hertford to Reigate the following day was just a motorway run of a bit over an hour. It was good to relax at my friends' place and I was doing just that when they arrived home and I thought I heard Russell volunteer to clean my bike! It may not have been the dirtiest Ducati in the world but it was certainly the dirtiest one I had seen, so we set to work on it (well Russell did mainly and I watched) and now as the photo shows, it's squeaky clean (or it was, until I rode it a few hundred kilometeres yesterday). Sue could see I was happy to have stopped travelling and kindly offered me a room for the night, so that was as far as I got that day.
Thursday saw me up and on the road by about 9.30am after having jettisoned about half of my luggage (including the black Akubra!!) to provide some space for the personal effects of my lovely wife who joins me in Germany tomorrow night, all being well.
Dover's cliffs were really white and its traffic was really intense, apparently about 36,000 people are ferried to and from Europe each day there. A Harley rider from Netherlands warned me I was in for a boring ride to Frankfurt and he wasn't wrong. France was over in a flash and Belgium was flat and pretty boring. Holland actually had some undulation and was better, then into Germany and its industrialization.
I decided to camp in Cologne because it was the first town marked on the map whose name I really recognised. The river running through looked good and I asked the man at the campingplatz what river it was. I think i was supposed to know it was the Rhine - he looked disgusted.
I was so hot on the bike yesterday I stopped a few times and cooled off in the air conditioned roadhouses. Today I fell still tired from riding several hours at fairly high speed in traffic, in a pool of sweat. Therefore I'm hoping to go to Frankfurt today, a day early, and relax in the hotel. I will try to make Saturday a motorcycle free day! I'm not sick of riding the bike, but I am sick of being so hot and wearing heavy duty clothing. If you hear of a naked man riding a Ducati through Europe, you may be able to guess who it is! I do feel naked now - the hat stayed in Surrey!