So, we're in now in France and on the second leg of our round-trip to Paris to watch our son run the Paris Marathon. My husband Dave and I are riding on two Honda C90s - this is the first time I've ridden a bike in 30 years! The first leg of our journey, with me navigating, went well I thought, though my luck was about to change...

La France - 'we didn't overtake any other vehicles (unless they were parked)'

Leaving Dieppe was when the adventure properly started and the going was slow, to say the least, but at those speeds, it was possible to enjoy the scenery (when I wasn’t checking the sat nav, looking for potholes in the road or checking where Dave was).

He appeared to be very patient and I wondered if he had realised it would be quite as slow as this! It was mostly farmland - as you might expect - with the accompanying farmyard smells (that I had forgotten were so synonymous with travelling through the French countryside).

Needless to say, we didn’t overtake any other vehicles (unless they were parked) but every other road user appeared very courteous and patient – we even got a few friendly toots!

The sight of the River Seine at Duclair where we boarded our second ferry of the day was amazing, this one for free. Being able to consider that we would be following the river pretty much all the way to Paris was a little inspiring - even at 30mph!  

The first night’s stop after about 3 hours riding from Dieppe (I have to say it felt like more than that!) was in a lovely tiny town called La Bouille.  

We were booked into a lovely small hotel on the river: Le Saint Pierre, a very pleasant place to stop for an evening.

'I went on reserve at some point, only to discover that my bike does not have a reserve!'

I felt my bike had been a bit more sluggish than usual so I got Dave to blast (?!?!) up the road to check it out the next morning and he thought it might be because the choke had been stuck on. So, with that sorted we were straight uphill and around twisty bends with breath-taking views of the river.

I was concentrating too much on the bends to appreciate that, but I got the general gist. Another lovely day – albeit a colder one - bimbling through the French countryside at the neck-breaking average speed of 50km per hour!

I went on reserve at some point, only to discover that my bike does not have a reserve!! Thank goodness for empty lemonade bottles and travelling with a second bike. Back on the road again.

A while later and I feel my bike is losing power (I know Honda 90s don’t have much anyway, but to lose what you do have is quite significant, especially when you have uphills to do). I wondered if it hadn’t liked receiving a trace of lemonade, but it got worse and then eventually, well, you guessed it, it had enough.

We pulled over outside a couple of houses and Dave started analysing possible scenarios, having taken it for another blast (!?!) himself and agreeing, 'it isn't right'. So, it wasn’t fuel, it wasn’t the exhaust, it started OK; the conclusion was that it was definitely an engine problem.

'2-up on a Honda 90!'

The bike started easily and would tick over, it sounded more rattley and would not rev out. Dave guessed it had lost some compression. We needed to get to Paris to meet people that afternoon and in time for the Marathon the next morning. Dave took the GPS off as it would be useful getting us through Paris, but the battery would be limited as we couldn’t charge it on his bike.

There really was no option but to leave the bike and continue to Paris – yes, 2-up on a Honda 90!  I knocked at the first house and the lovely Jean-Michel appeared and between my French and his English, he offered to take my bike in and keep it in his garage until we could eventually return to collect it.

Me, during those happier, simpler times of actually having a bike
I was a bit cheesed off as I thought I’d done so well so far, but there was no other choice at this point. We had a quick look at the sat nav then turned it off to save battery. We were only 40km outside Paris I discovered later, but that journey through Paris to find our hotel was such a pain!

With our sat nav turned back on, and me trying to read it and give Dave instructions, it was not the easiest or most relaxing way to get through. And with traffic lights every 50m that had no sensor to indicate vehicles around, and a distinct lack of helpful road signs, it was the most arduous journey ever. Even Dave said he would never enter Paris again unless it was by train or helicopter!

Coming soon, part three...

Posted by Jane Newman
for Wemoto News on 29 April 2016 in Features

Edited By: Daisy Cordell



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