RIDING AFTER 30 YEARS OFF – CHAPITRE NUMÉRO UN
FOR ONE VERY EVENTFUL ROUND-TRIP TO PARIS
Le Plan Cunning - 'the rational, sensible option'
Yet another great idea that, in all honesty, was probably thought up over a glass or two of something refreshing.
Our baby boy, who lives in Athens with his girlfriend Georgia, had entered the Paris Marathon and we were obviously going to go over to watch him.
How to get there? That was the question.
By plane, train, car, bike; so many choices.
After some reflection, we (or my husband, Dave) chose the rational, sensible option: two Honda C90s. Dave already had one: a classic 1982 6-volt model. We sourced a later, 2000, model for me with 12 volts and an electric start that doesn’t work. A little tatty and few rattles but quicker than his.
Le Route? - '"whose great idea was this?"'
Not a difficult choice as the roads have been much travelled over the years and smaller, quieter roads are usually preferred by us, with me riding pillion (preferred by me).
- London to Brighton via the little lanes of Kent, Surrey, and East Sussex, including Ditchling Beacon;
- Newhaven to Dieppe by ferry;
- Dieppe to La Bouille via Duclair;
- La Bouille to Paris via the Seine valley.
- Paris to Le Touquet via Chantilly, Clermont & Abbeville;
- Le Touquet to Le Shuttle via Wimereux & Sangatte;
- Folkstone to London via the A20.
Whilst London to Paris is not an immense journey it is a fair ride on a C90. More significantly, I hadn't ridden a powered two-wheeler for about 30 years; what's more, I would have the responsibility of navigating as my bike has the advantage of 12 volts to charge the GPS.
My first impression on all this: 'whose great idea was this?'
'Really,' I asked, 'you’re suggesting I get back on a bike after 30 years? Is that because after all this time you’ve had enough of me jabbering in your ear’ole from the pillion seat? What, you don’t like my singing? Oh well, OK then, what’s the worst that can happen?' Well, it did – I fell off before we even left the UK. But first, the journey back from Cricklewood to New Cross after purchasing the bike...
Well, it was OK. I didn’t really get the hang of no clutch and using a back-pedal gear lever but I thought, if I can ride round Marble Arch unscathed, London to Paris will be a doddle!
The first trip after that was to Meopham on the diddly diddly roads with me sat-navigating. Map reading’s not really my strong point and when using a sat nav I like listening to the Irish lilt of Sean to tell me when to turn left and right etc.. Now I had to look at the map and work it out from there.
Just a couple of minor misses – I’m not that good at knowing how far 200 yards is so turned either too early or too late. But I felt confident that by the time I was on the return journey from Paris, I would hopefully have cracked it.
Of course, we had to stop at Blackheath Tea Hut first, a grand distance of 3 miles! I was pleased I had begun to get used to the gears and on occasion was able to change down a gear without needing to look where the gear lever was. This was a precautionary tactic, given that I had knocked down the side stand by mistake a couple of times and desperately wanted to avoid doing that.
La Journey - 'who'd have thought you could do a wheelie on a Honda 90?'
The roads to Brighton went pretty well. Once past suburbia, Dave took over navigating via the twisty turny route on the GPS. There were concerns with our steeds’ performance and the first real test was traversing Ditchling Beacon. They made it up OK in 2nd gear and the queue of traffic behind us didn’t appear too upset.
I’d rather miss out here the moment when I fell off pulling away from some pedestrian lights in the middle of Brighton, but Dave insisted I add this unfortunate part of the journey in to my tale.
I’m told on good authority that it was because I kept my foot on the gear lever after putting the bike in gear and revving at the same time. Who’d have thought you could do a wheelie on a Honda 90? I now had a bruised shin and hip, and a broken right indicator (thank you, the inventor of super glue).
My unanticipated wheelie surprised both of us, as did the resulting tumble when the front wheel landed. However, the wine, food and excellent company at our friend’s house made everything better. Especially the wine.
The following morning, all was well for the lovely little ride from Brighton to Newhaven along the coastal road. This time, I had the morning off from sat navving. I messaged the kids about the journey, including falling off – my daughter asked if I was drunk and my son said it would make for good writing material so they obviously weren’t concerned about me.
Safely on the ferry, a photocall with the guys with the tie-downs, and we leave the sunny UK....
28/04/16 Love it, real adventure for them.
29/04/16 I just got onto a skateboard and rode it around for the first time in many years, try that.....
29/04/16 Superb - true adventure journalism
12/05/16 Brilliant article...what an adventure. Memories of my three year relationship with a 90cc Honda c200 ( the motorbike version of the c90 scooter). It was a brilliant machine. Don't let a few setbacks stop you from further adventures. P.S. don't forget to fetch the other one home...opportunities for another trip!
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