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

Home Travel StoriesThem There Alps

The Chaos Increases

Day 2

By Bogger

Our intended destination today was the Municipal Campsite in the small town of Jargeau, only 194 miles from Dieppe. The first part of the journey was uneventful, but wet, as it was raining, heavily. We were enjoying the French countryside, even if it was through the gloom of misted up visors. But the rain won’t last forever, will it?

One tall rider stand proud among the group of small capacity motorcycles

About thirty miles From Jargeau we're filtering past traffic that's waiting at some temporary lights, Pete's leading and I'm behind him. I see something drop from his bike and scuttle away under the stationary cars. WTF was that? A few hundred metres later Pete's pulling up and turns into a side road. "I've got no back brake" opined Pete. As the others pull in alongside I'm already off my bike and taking a look. 

A hand holds the bent brake actuating rod and we see the bolt missing from the torque arm

A look at the carnage at the back of Pete's bike.

Basically the rear brake torque arm bolt had dropped out. That's the part that disappeared under the cars so when the rear brake was applied the back plate had spun round, ripping the rear brake adjuster nut out of the brake operating lever and in the process mangling the rear brake rod. 

Excellent Pete, proper job that.

We get his luggage off his bike and set about trying to sort the mess out. Rear wheel out, brake rod bent back in shape, actuating arm remodelled and luckily Jason had a spare nut and bolt of the correct size to re-fix the torque arm into place. Obviously this was all done whilst lying in the wet gutter in the middle of nowhere in the rain. Lovely.

While bogger is on his knees and the 125 is in bits his pals all look on

We put it all back together - ok Pete, try that. No rear brake???? What! I tried adjusting the brake. No, still not working??? We stripped it all back down again just to double check. Still no brake, WTF is going on here. Right, leave it, let’s get to the campsite, set up and hopefully with a clear head sort the problem out.

Thankfully when we got to the campsite it had stopped raining. After setting up camp and a nice shower it was time to attack the rear wheel again. On fully stripping the rear wheel and brake assembly it was obvious as to what was causing the problem. Basically the brake shoe actuating cam had snapped. 

To say Pete was not a happy bunny would be an understatement. I wasn’t exactly dancing for joy myself. Pete was bemoaning the fact that it would be impossible to get round the Alps with only one brake and he will have to head back home. Next he’s on the phone to Fowlers motorcycles back in England asking the parts department if they had a brake arm in stock. Obviously the answer was no, even if they had how long would it have taken to get it to us in rural France?

I grabbed the broken actuator and made my way to the chap in the campsite reception. Here I explained, well more mimed, what the problem was and did he know of any local garages that could weld the part. I could see the light bulb switch on above his head. In his broken English he said that there was a young lad who lived on site who did a bit of welding work. Fantastic, well, more miraculous really. Here we are, at a campsite in a very small town/village in the middle of nowhere and there just so happens to that one thing we need, a welder, on the same campsite. Isn’t fate

The welder lad wasn’t back from work yet, so the bloke on reception said he would have a word. Brilliant, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I went back to the lads and explained the situation. There’s only one thing for it, let's get up to the village for a drink. As we pass reception the young welder lad is talking to the receptionist. I have a chat (mime) with him and sketch some highly dubious technical drawings on a scrap of paper. Thankfully he understands. I asked if he could do it tomorrow? 

"I do it now", really? We walk over to the open barn fifty metres from the reception and he uncovers the world's smallest arc welder. To be fair to the lad, he cleans the torque arm up and sets it up as best he could and makes a really good job of the welding. After a bit of grinding and fettling it's all sorted.

The shoulder of the brake shoes are ground down to allow for the weld
The brake actuator after being welded up again

There were lots of happy faces. I think I even saw a small tear in Pete's eye. We all thanked him and in my best French asked him how much? In heavily accented English, he replies one hundred and thirty Euros!! There’s a pause of about two seconds then, as one, myself, Fatboy and Pete exclaim "Haaar much!?" The French lad (he's in his twenties) with his mouth slightly open flicks his shocked gaze to each of us in turn. Err, Err perhaps twenty Euro? Aha, a slight mis-understanding. He'd obviously said thirty euro. We shook his hand and Pete gave him forty Euros. To the pub, obviously,
to celebrate.

The friends stand by the camping municipal sign all smiling and enjoying a drink

In the only bar in Jargeau, La Fuego, I manage to impress the barmaid with one of my tricks and we get a free round of drinks for my efforts. Then it's off to a very nice but strange Chinese restaurant. Pete asks for three Singapore Chow Mein meals. The Chinese owner has never heard of a Singapore Chow Mein. After he's taken our amended order Pete mutters "Wooaar he ain't no Ken Hom".

2 friends larking around inside a red British phone box in the French town

Share your chaos - click here.

Let The Chaos Commence It's a typical start to a trip and overall things seem to be going well. Except for the weather. And the traffic. And the suspect motorcycles. And the disorganisation.
The Chaos Increases Whilst muppetry and stupidity abound the world needs a hero - in the meantime Bogger will have to do. Fear not brave reader, there is still light at the end of the tunnel. I fear it may be a train coming towards this lot...
More Progress, Less Chaos It's a considerably less chaotic day for Bogger and pals as they make their way south through France. And yet they encounter muppetry on the roads and something's been troubling our heroic author.

Reader's Comments

nab301 said :-
I've been looking forward to part 2 of this odyssey and it didn't fail to impress!
Lovely bit of welding, what's a UK phone box doing in France and asking for a friend , how exactly did you impress the Barmaid enough to give you free drink?
02/05/2024 16:38:23 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I'm gonna have to go through Bogger's backlog, I'm sure they needed a weld on the last trip...
02/05/2024 19:39:55 UTC
Bogger said :-
The phone box was the towns library. With those two fat lumps in the way, you can't really see the books. Free drink was courtesy of a trick with dice that I 'do'.

Bogger.... not a member of the magic circle, just a member
02/05/2024 20:01:13 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
That phone box should have been returned after Brexit.
Just saying.
And don't do your elephant ears impressions infront of barmaids.
Just saying.
02/05/2024 21:23:04 UTC
KiwiJeff said :-
Really enjoying trip reports Bogger, great stories. I admire your willingness to subject you and your mates to such punishment on such small bikes. I happily endured such antics when I was 16 on my twin 150cc two stroke around NZ but at 69 anything more than a few heavy showers has me heading for home! I did endure 8 hours in the pouring rain on a couple of motorcycle training courses recently which put me off booking any more courses for now! Have enjoyed a couple of 200 mile country runs one on the Bandit and one on my mates spare Honda CB500F as the Bandit was in dock as I'm checking the tappets, all 16 of them! Next bike will be a single with 2 tappets! Enjoy your summer rides everyone wherever you are headed.
Posted Image
03/05/2024 02:02:05 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
At least all them tappets are screw-n-locknut. Imagine that lot with bucket and shim AND the central camchain. Ooooh tharrad be a neetmur!

If we're heading for summer KiwiJeff you must be heading to winter. Ideally it'd be nice to "winter" (our winter your summer) over there in NZ and then come back to here for our summer. Oh wait, we don't get a summer. Maybe the south of France or the cooler parts of Spain. Damn you BREXIT!!
03/05/2024 12:59:20 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
However much I agreee with you Ren, I thought we weren't supposed to say things that might upset our more delicate correspondents.....
03/05/2024 13:35:02 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
DOH!! Yes you're quite right Ian Soady - don't mention politics, religion, and possibly anything else. Oil. Don't mention oil. Especially oil.

So what grade will you be putting in the Yammy?

03/05/2024 15:24:56 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
You forgot the war, any war!
Don't mention THE war.
You don't want revolting students outside your front door. If they do show up, remember you have to feed em.
05/05/2024 13:07:04 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Are we allowed to mention motorcycles on here? I mean they are controversial.
07/05/2024 08:12:30 UTC

Post Your Comment Posts/Links Rules



Add a RELEVANT link (not required)

Upload an image (not required) -

No uploaded image
Real Person Number
Please enter the above number below

Home Travel StoriesThem There Alps

Admin -- -- Service Records Ren's Nerding Blog