The outside of a motorbike engine seen up close near the exhaust

Home Travel StoriesD-Day And A Bit of Belgium

To French France and Guines

Day one Friday 30th May. 

To French France and Guines.

Okay, okay. Let me just say from the outset I cheated, to some degree, on this trip. I didn’t take my Cub for this jaunt. Let me explain why then you can slag me off to your heart's content. My cub is a 110 Lifan, great engine, but top and indeed cruising speed is limited. All the other bikes were sporting either a 125cc or a 140cc modern engines and I didn't fancy thrashing my bike to death on some foreign road to then break down and see how good, or indeed how bad my breakdown insurance was.

Secondly I wanted to find out if the CD200 was up to a long run and whether it was suitable for this kind of jape for future reference. At this stage can I just add it was the oldest bike there with the oldest untouched bog standard engine, which was 6v and sporting points ignition. I'll leave it there for the time being.

Boggers blue CD200 benly with white full fairing and camping kit

The people and bikes.

Nige... Innova 125/Yamaha T80 clone.
Jason... Suzuki FL Address.
Black Country Pete... Round headlamp 12v Cub with an Innova engine in it.
Ironsides... 6v Honda ZZ (streamliner) with an ATC 125 engine in with no real gearbox to speak of aka the death trap.
James... 12v Cub with a Lifan 110 semi auto (it’s quick). 
Andy... 12v round headlamp Cub with a 140cc in it (very quick, but not for long). 
Me, Bogger... 1979 CD200 Benly (cheat).

Now to the trip itself and the whys and the wherefore. We had been to the Normandy beaches some six years ago on the Cubs and had a great time. But we felt that there was still so much that we had not seen, unfinished business so to speak. Ironsides, aka High Tec Pete was coming along and wanted to visit a relative's grave in Belgium from the first world war.
So the cunning plan was to set off on Friday 30 May and get back to England on the 7 June.

I set off from home in Warrington at 9.00am on the 30th May and headed for BCP's house in Dudley. I set off in decent weather and arrived at Dudley dead on 11.00 am and decided to fill up to save time later on as we were catching the 6.30pm shuttle to Calais and time would be of the essence. I put in 2.9ltrs of fuel?.. and had covered exactly 80 miles. Odd, that seems like a lot to the gallon? 

Ten minutes later I'm at Pete's house and there is no one in. I give him a ring and he turns up ten minutes later having just got back from a wedding (probably his parent's wedding). Andy is turning up at 12.00pm and we need to get away sharpish. Has Pete packed? Is he ready? Like **** is he... again.

As Pete is running around trying to find his stuff I have to half rebuild his bike. There’s no sump plug in it, obviously no oil and once again I have to do his tappets. Couldn’t organise a p*** up in a brewery. I set about the bike and have it sorted in twenty minutes or so then I have to do the roll call, sleeping bag, yes, tent, yes, passport, yes etc etc etc. Bloody Brummies.

A C90 with a few bits of kit and even a spare tyre in a small garden while Bogger fixes it

As we are just finishing off Andy turns up on the yellow peril. Pleasantries are exchanged. I ask Andy in a sort of resigned way - have you actually sorted the clutch (it was slipping badly) and have you used the bike much? Err - the clutch is ok and I’ve been to Matlock on it and it seems ok. Oh good. Err - it has got a bit of an oil leak but it’s not bad. Oh, says I.

Pete was now ready and we needed to make tracks, it was 12.30 and we needed to get a shift on. As we make our way down to the M5 some 5 miles away Pete's Innova engined Cub is running like a bag of nails. It's cutting out at junctions and has a very bad case of kangaroo petrol. I can't write what I was thinking at the time, but I wasn't too impressed. 

Onto the M5 and the bike clears itself and runs ok. Thank God for that. Andy is in the lead and he is making good progress. For that read thrashing the tits off his bike at 60+. Hmm a bit too fast for my liking at the moment and I kept the CD below 60mph. We were bowling down the M1, daydreaming like you do, you have your own thoughts of the trip ahead. But I couldn't help but notice that there were puffs of chalk being blown up from Andy's rear tyre? How odd!

At first I thought nothing of it then it happened more frequently. It wasn't chalk but blue smoke from under the engine. We had been going a while so time for a quick break. Sorry, did I say quick break? More like 3/4 of an hour. Oil is pouring out of the bottom of his bike and a vain attempt was made to rectify the problem by partial exhaust removal and removal of the offending crankcase bolt.

Andy lays on the ground tinkering with the underside of his loaded C90

With the use of nearly a tube of gasket sealer and an impromptu homemade gasket for the bolt we are ready to tackle the M1 again. He topped up the oil. I smelt the dipstick. It wasn't a good healthy smell. It smelt of burnt oil and clutch. A bit further on we have another stop and the leak is just as bad but we reckon if we can get to France there's a good chance we can fix it there as we'll have more time. 

Oh can I just say at this point Andy has not really slowed down that much. I think it was at Newport Pagnell we pull in again. Basically the engine is goosed. However on the bright side Andy has now discovered how to turn base metal into Gold. An alchemist is born. Put your orders in. The only sacrifice/cost is a Cub engine. The engine casings had got so hot that the lacquer had changed colour from clear to a gold/bronze colour.

A plastic dipstick with a burned tinge and a melted bent tip
The puppet sooty beside the now golden coloured engine cases of the overheated motorcycle
Bogger stand by the poorly Cub with a 1 litre oil bottle

Andy and indeed Sooty realise it's a lost cause. Andy buys another litre of oil to top up with and in the time honoured tradition I turn to Pete and say It's knackered he's not coming, lets go (words Pete has heard from me before in Southern France).

It was a shame but I was soon over it. Myself and Pete upped the pace a bit as the 6.30 train now looks doubtful. The speed of the Innova Cub and the CD200 are well matched. Despite what Pete says the CD has the edge on the hills. We had a nightmare with the queues up to the Dartford crossing. I would estimate we were filtering for about 12 miles or so. Very frustrating.
Just before the Chunnel we have another quick break, realising we have missed the train with the next one being at 6.50pm. We get split up getting onto the train as Pete decided to ride the wrong way back down the queue looking for his glasses which were fastened to the back of his bike. Tit.
On the train I was next to a guy on a BMW 1200GS and had a good chat to him. He was British, lived in the Netherlands and managed an endurance racing team. He was much more interesting to talk to than Pete.
As we trundled off the train on the outskirts of Calais I waited as Pete appeared from out of the carriage behind me. It's only 8 miles or so to the campsite in Guines and after going around the first roundabout 3 times I get my bearings and find my way to the site without a wrong turn. 

Waiting for us are Nige, Jason, Ironsides and James. It was good to see the lads again. Having neither drunk nor eaten all day since 11.30 am me and Pete put the tents up and decide to retire to the campsite restaurant. Great, it was closed. So we supplemented out diet with Kronenbourg seize soixante quatre. French - it's dead easy. The others joined us a bit later for a swift libation. Time for bed.

A bunch of chaps with tents and a curious display of motorcycle at Guines

Share your carefully planned and precisely executed travel tale - click here.

To French France and Guines Perfect planning prevents pee poor performance. Someone should have told these chaps. Throw in some Alchemy and carnage and come up with gold, comedy gold.
Easily Into Belgium Not too much malarkey today, the lads manage to sidle their way into Belgium with minimum shenanigans. There's a moment for reflection betwixt the brews 'n' beers.
Ypres, Museums, Memorials And Muppetry Bogger and co are mixing a heady brew of malarkey and educational museum visits. Hasn't Ypres already suffered enough?
A Crash And Other Antics Bogger and pals have reached the age of maturity and yet maturity seems to have escaped them. More high jinks from those who ought to know better.
Gear Selections in Compiègne It's a lazy day in Northern France for Bogger and pals. Only a short exploratory ride, mostly spent in search of Ironside's elusive gears.
Rain, Misery, Laughter and Puppetry It's not the best start to Bogger and pals' day. And yet a bunch of middle aged men clearly demonstrate they haven't grown up at all.
Arromanche With Some D-Day Thrown In The Motley Crew spend the day enjoying the D-Day events with the weather on their side and only 1 minor mechanical issue. Remarkable!
Dynamic D-Day During the D-Day commemorations Arromanche is bustling and bursting. Bogger and crew do their best to navigate the beach, the town and the machinery on their last full day.
It's Home Time A brief note from Bogger on the last day, the homeward bound leg. Tired little teddies, awwww bless.

Reader's Comments

Ian Soady said :-
Sounds like an "interesting" trip and reinforces my refusal to travel with other people....

A pedant cuts in to remind you that people from Dudley are not Brummies.......

I look forward to more tales of derring-do.
28/04/2020 10:06:50 UTC
Bogger said :-
'A pedant cuts in to remind you that people from Dudley are not Brummies'.

I know. I say it to really wind BCP up. He's incandescent with rage when I keep saying it. 'Oiy ay a Brummie. Oim frum the Black Country, waaaaaa'. Gets him every time.

28/04/2020 10:22:24 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Thanks Bogger.
At what point did Andy realise he's stupid, are we still waiting?
28/04/2020 01:08:43 UTC
Sharon said :-
Thanks Bogger, Enjoyed reading this, gave me a good chuckle.
28/04/2020 02:26:09 UTC
Bogger said :-
I think Andy was actually born stupid from all accounts.

The story was quite long I'm just wondering if the 'Ed' is doing it in instalments.

28/04/2020 03:03:08 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I am "serialising" your tale Bogger, in the interest of making it more readable and of course milking the content. There are more exciting instalments coming soon!
28/04/2020 04:54:07 UTC
Upt'North said :-
28/04/2020 06:03:37 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
There's a lot more Upt'. I can't decide with your choice of capital letters if you are shocked and excited or shocked and appalled.
29/04/2020 08:01:13 UTC
nab301 said :-
I must say I haven't laughed so much in the last few weeks ! So many questions! Is that really a melted oil dipstick, an auxiliary petrol tank and heat induced gold foil engine plating on the yellow peril , it looks like something out of an aerosol can.
29/04/2020 10:57:42 UTC
Bogger said :-
Yes the dipstick had melted. A lot of us sport the auxillary tank as well. It makes the Cub good for 250ml range.

Yes the engine colour was a a surprise.

29/04/2020 12:27:01 UTC
Upt'North said :-
I'm sitting here scratching my head....nothing new and sawdust everywhere.
250 mile range on a Bog Seat. Now if you can average 50 mph on a Bog Seat that means you can ride for 5 hours without stopping.
Lots of more sawdust.
5 Hours?!?
Why in gods name would you even contemplate such a cowboy inducing antic. That's no cowboy that's our Bogger!
It's probably me, it normally is.

Posted Image
29/04/2020 01:42:58 UTC
Bogger said :-
When you are travelling up to 435 mls in a day you want to use the rest stops for rest/food/drink and not desperately trying to find a fuel station (that doesn't exist) in the back of beyond. This is in country where you possibly don't speak the language.

Then you start to really worry about running out of fuel, also in the back of beyond.

29/04/2020 03:43:41 UTC
Upt'North said :-
That's all very good Bogger. And yes I have experienced similar uncomfortable anxieties at the lack of fuel availability, but never overseas only in Scotland from memory.
But do you walk like a cowboy?

29/04/2020 04:08:19 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
With the SLR650's pathetic 90 miles safe, 100 miles concentrate and 110 miles "oh poop" range I can attest that most reasonable touring can be done with limited range. However in The Highlands I had a few "worrying" moments. For myself it's not so much actually running out but as Bogger suggests a small tank range is frustrating.

Rather than riding and stopping for a brewski when you want and just topping up as and when the mood takes you, a small range just means having HAVING to find fuel when you don't want to and having to think about fuel. The range on the 125 is AT LEAST 250 miles with kit into a headwind, usually I fill up around the 300 mark. The 500 is a comfortable 200 miles, 260 before the dashboard throws a hissy fit. Sharon's 160 mile range on the 250 is acceptable but even so I find it a tad frustrating.
30/04/2020 03:06:59 UTC
Bogger said :-
That's the point I didn't make. Filling up when you want to and not need to. Not riding necessarily for 250 miles in one hit.

30/04/2020 04:22:42 UTC
Upt'North said :-
I'm from the camp of, "fill up when the opportunity is available".
My BeaST will easily cover 250 miles with normal usage, less so when testing its upper limits on continental roads where limits are much higher or non existent.
But we eat, drink and fuel said BeaST at every opportunity, this might mean paying autoroute prices but better that than trying to get Er'Indoors push 400 KG of bike and me. She wouldn't like that.
30/04/2020 04:48:03 UTC
nab301 said :-
All this talk of tank ranges when, ultimately,fuel range (after the rider passes a certain age, or so I heard) is governed by " Toilet range" . Not a problem for male riders generally if out wild camping but could be a problem nearer civilisation . I mention this because I heard the tail end of a radio programme yesterday where Truck drivers were being refused entry to toilets in filling stations or customers premises... after overnighting in the truck cab ( due to the current situation) We'll never get further than our local supermarket or occasional trip to work premises at this rate!
30/04/2020 08:18:42 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
When you gotta go you gotta go. I've heard truckies aren't being allowed to use the loo in some places and that's tantamount to cruelty and truckies are doubtless essential. Imagine the furore if the supermarket refused a care worker or nurse the use of a loo!

I too like to (and oft need to) stop often for the call of nature, to ensure a steady supply of tea into my teastream and to actually SEE the places I am riding through. What I don't want to do though is make those stops in blooming petrol stations. I'd much rather be in a quaint countryside cafe sipping tea out of a china cup and looking through the window to fields and mountains, rather than drinking pop out of a tin ona forecourt. I just see more range as more choices.
01/05/2020 08:44:05 UTC
Pocketpete said :-
Truckies and toilets. Hmm dont get me started. After the police I did a bit of hgv driving and went to deliver to a supermarket warehouse in wakefield. This was before christmas and there were dozens of wagons in the queue waiting to be unloaded. After 3 hours I got the the loading bays and asked the warehouse staff where the nearest toilet was. I was told I couldnt use the toilet it was staff only as the wagon drives had vandalised the other toilet.
I explained politely I needed to go urgently after a 3 hours wait and was ignored. So I walked up to the nearby bushes in front of the offices and did what I had to do in front of all the admin ladies in the office.

Much relief was had but I was surprised by the site manager coming over and berating me threatening me with being hung drawn and quartered by the police. Banned from the site and gored by a Spanish bull.

I explained politely I had been in the queue for three hours and needed to go and he was lucky I hadnt needed a number 2, and that my request had been denied by the warehouse staff. Hmm he was surrounded by other drivers also wanting the toilet.
All of a sudden we were allowed in to use the toilet.

So it goes to show if you pee in the bushes of a food production site they suddenly allow you access toilets.
Shame on you Morrisons.

02/05/2020 04:01:55 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Maybe I need to come up with the truck toilet under the passenger seat. Hmmmm.
03/05/2020 08:49:09 UTC
nab301 said :-
But , nettles and other nasties lurk in bushes...
04/05/2020 11:28:20 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Aaaah nettles in bushes. Happy memories :-)
04/05/2020 01:22:45 UTC
Upt'North said :-
I can't reach the nettles......
04/05/2020 01:35:43 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Nettles can grow quite tall Upt', you'll be fine.
05/05/2020 07:31:45 UTC

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