Frequently Answered Questions
What should you know before you come?
Passport, bike registration docs, insurance. You will need some form of European breakdown insurance. The AA, Green Flag etc do good cover. Check with your current insurer what’s on offer and also confirm that your bike is fully insured for the trip to France, BOTH FOR ACCIDENT AND BREAKDOWN (a lot of the companies are NOT offering recovery for bikes involved in an accident, check it out!).
MAKE SURE THAT YOUR TRAVEL POLICY COVERS YOU FOR BIKES LARGER THAN 125CC!!!!!!!!
Seriously, this was a major issue in 2007 with a rider needing medical/repatriation assistance and finding that he was NOT covered as he thought. Check it out!
Take photocopies of your docs and keep them separate from your originals.
You WILL need the the EHIC card which can be obtained free from your local post-office. This enables you to recover any medical costs incurred in France.
You will be covering around 1600 miles so make sure that your tyres and chain can make it and that you’re not going to miss a major service. Coolant, tyre pressures, brake pads, discs, oil and brake fluid levels should be checked. Check for leaks around the engine and fork seals. The official word is that you will need to blank off the thrown-beam section of your headlamp lens with some insulating tape and you'll need a GB sticker. Once down here we have a Triumph dealership in town and there are the usual suspects (Nippon/German/Italian) in Niort, 20kms away.
You can get them down here with about a 10% saving over the prices in the UK (depending on the exchange rate - check with me first). If your tyres are part-worn, finish them off on the way down and get a new set at the end of the day's ride on the Saturday. Let me know your make and model and I'll get you a quote.
Hard panniers are good. If your bike doesn’t come equipped then throw-overs or a tail-pack are good alternatives. A tank bag is very useful for documents, camera, route cards, maps etc. make sure that whatever you have is waterproof. If you don’t have soft pannier covers then wrap up all your stuff in bin-liners before putting it in the panniers. You won’t need too many clothes. Enough shirts/T-shirts for four days, a pair of jeans, a sweater, a fleece-type jacket, and some walking shoes (in case you have to push your bike anywhere...). A little black dress for the evening and a simple string of pearls is always very elegant.
It really depends which time of the year you've decided to come down. Weather in April/May and September/October is usually gorgeous but the mornings and evenings can be a bit chilly. Bring some thermals (or equivalent…I don’t want to know) if you're coming at that time of year. For the summer months you won't have any need of warm weather gear, whether it rains or no, the temperatures will remain comfortable. Leathers or Goretex suit (all preferably with some form of armour), sweat-shirt, winter gloves, spare gloves (summer?), rain-suit, neck tube, Vee-wipes, Visor demist, boots. Helmet with a clear, unscratched, visor. I don't anticipate riding at night so a tinted visor will probably be OK, but how are you going to get down to Portsmouth Thursday night? Take a clear visor as well, whydoncha? EARPLUGS!
Sunglasses, camera, chocolate, fruit-juice, energy bar…..whatever.
We don't include the ferry booking etc as part of your weekend cost. We have two recommendations for you to make your booking however:
MCN offer discounts on cross-channel ferries here:
MCN Ferry Discount Codes
Also you can try: www.ferrysavers.com
Arrival at the port
Aim to get to the check-in at around an hour or so before departure in case there are queues. There are cash machines and a Bureau de Change at the Terminal and on board. Don't hesitate to muscle your way to the front of the queue as British drivers love to hear the throaty roar of bikes' exhausts and admire our multi-hued vestments. It's a good idea if you've all filled up in the UK. This will save at least 30 minutes on the French side, just when you're all impatient to be getting away
Arrival in France
I don't know which port you'll all be arriving at, but if you can let me know when your arrangements are finalized I'll send you the best (most interesting) route down. If you get tied up with lunch/ hedgehogs/lambs-wool underwear, you'll have the option of popping onto a motorway to make up time. If you've opted for one of the Cherbourg/Le Havre/ Caen crossings and have arrived in the morning you'll have plenty of time to get down here. The route maps I will give you will lead you from town to town on the route, with the road numbers and distances between points clearly marked. A good idea is to stop for a coffee once you've cleared the town and are out on the open road. You can check the map and the bloke who forgot to attach his chinstrap can now do so.....
DRINK LOTS OF WATER ON THE WAY DOWN!
Some riders have arrived here on the Friday with splitting headaches and totally exhausted. This is due to dehydration. Drink lots of water when you stop to take on fuel/lunch/coffee and you'll be fine. No, really...
Once you're all down here I'll be leading you out over the four days on four circuits which take in some great biking roads and will give us the opportunity to visit Oradour sur Glane. We will all start in the morning with full tanks and then stop for petrol every 100 - 120 miles. We will stop for coffee in the morning, for lunch and again for coffee in the afternoon. The accent is very much on riding; we will leave the chateau at 10h00 and won’t be back until around 17h00. We will have covered 200 miles in that time. Riding will be on well-maintained B-roads. There will be 0.00 kms of dual-carriageway riding during the weekend, so come prepared. NOBODY WILL GET LOST NOR WILL THEY HAVE TO PEDAL LIKE MAD TO KEEP UP WITH THE LEADERS! (see "How we ride"). The one thing to be avoided at all costs is for you to feel pressured into riding at a speed where you feel uncomfortable, be it too fast or too slow.
Liability - Important!!
You are liable for both your and your bike’s safety. Do not attempt to ride beyond your capabilities. If you drop behind we will wait for you. If you fall off, we'll go back and pick you up
Will love us. People in villages will wave and cars will do whatever they can to give us space for overtakes. Thank them with a wave (or rather, extend your right leg. Honest!) and don't sit too close to them prior to the overtake. Remember we could be in a group of up to 11 bikes and if number 3 annoys a motorist then the others are going to have to deal with him when it comes to their turn to pass him. Courtesy rules!
Remember the THREE "P"s
Position, Planning, Execution, Cheery wave, Cup of Coffee
It’s a good idea to take a good map. Michelin make the best and do a little one in book form which shows all the major routes and towns and which costs about 4 euros. (£3.80) You will each receive a detailed route card in any case that shows distances between points and the contact telephone numbers and address of the chateau. You'll all have my mobile number and you can use this should you become separated.
Teller machines will accept British cards providing you have a PIN number.
Be aware that when you use your card to pay for petrol at an automated pump your card will be debited a "maximum" amount of around €120. This is also true in the UK. The difference lies in the fact that in the UK the bank automatically and immediately calculates the difference beteween the maximum figure and your actual purchase and credits you the difference. Using your UK card in the rest of Europe it may take up to a week for the credit to appear on your account. This can mean that after 5 fill-ups your card might be showing a debit of approx €600. It's easy to max out over a week's travelling. If you're travelling with a mate then double up when filling up and spread the strain between your two cards.
This is our HOME you're talking about! We're really happy to welcome you and we will have some great evenings round the (very big) dining room table. There's lots to do at the evenings in the house (pool, tennis court, ping pong, "baby-foot") or you can chill outside in the park with a good book. As we don't smoke I'll ask you, please, to smoke outside. We'll supply firebuckets and flame retardant overalls.
Food & Drink
The weekend includes continental breakfast, evening aperitif and dinner. Wine, beer and soft drinks are included during your meal. We DON'T do spirits. There's a reason for this: I like you to be fully functioning in the morning! If you want to go out there are bars in the town (250 metres away) and even a jazz bar.
Electrics and electronic equipment
Bring a UK/French plug adaptor with you! You can get these in Boots or on the ferry. I used to have several of these but they've all gone walkabout, so I've given up......(you know who you are)
The weather forecast for this weekend, from Saturday morning until Tuesday morning is bright and sunny. Not too hot, not cold at all, rain if you'd like some
Past trips have been very good fun. The riding has been great and the company as good. By the time we get back to the chateau in the evening you will be glad to park the bike up, hit the shower and get ready for dinner. During the day coffee and lunch stops are normally chosen on aspect and availability.