Saturday 28/5

I wake up early and while Jerry snoozes on, I repack to try and make things more even. After a very civilised breakfast and with the weather looking absolutely lovely – clear and light blue skies and almost not a cloud, we head off, anticipating a great day's riding.

Its my turn to lead. Oh dear. Anyhow, we head off along the motorway to Valenciennes and then jump onto the N roads to Maubeuge. Just after passing through Maubeuge we come to a T-junction. Just opposite is a lovely looking little café, the old lady owner sitting quietly in the shade out front. As I gaze wistfully at this scene, a large amount of frantic gesturing from Jerry makes me realise that he fancies a coffee. Excellent. We park the bikes and take a seat. Two delicious espressos later with my eyes closed in the warmth of the sun, I begin contemplating sitting there for a fortnight just repeating “un autre café merci” until I explode from the relaxed-in-the-sun and wired-on-caffeine combination. So instead we shove off.

Shortly afterwards there's a speed camera. We both set it off. Poo :( It's forward facing. Hurrah!

Across the border into Belgium, although neither of us actually notice the border itself. We head on through Philippeville and push on towards Bastogne. Just short of the town, we stop for lunch in the town of Givet. The village square looks quite nice but little do we realise that we have stopped in The Village With The Worst Food In Europe. On offer is a very expensive looking restaurant, a kebab van complete with disaffected yoofs and a burger place. We choose the burger place and have chips & ickle burgers for notalot of Euros. Its disgusting, truly disgusting. Neither of us can finish our food – and it has to be truly awful to put a fat blerk like me off his lunch!

On to Bastogne. This is our first major Site of Scorchmarks Interest. It's a reasonably pretty little place, conspicuously constructed after the Second Great Unpleasantness. In fact, its hard to spot a pre-war building anywhere. Crumbs, this place took a pounding.

There's a Sherman tank in the main square so we park behind it and do the touristy thing, including looking in the big hole in the side & trying not to think what it was like inside there after that hit. Unfortunately, once you've seen the tank then you've seen all there is to see. After guzzling some water, we head off to go straight through Luxembourg for Germany.

The roads soon start to take on a wonderfully twisty quality. We approach and then run alongside the German border from Clervaux via Dasburg to Vianden, doing some border hopping along the way.

Somewhere along here as we pass through a village barely larger than a hamlet, I'm sat following a car and rather vaguely considering where I shall overtake. To the right and less than 10 yards away there's a parked car being filled with luggage. From behind it comes a cat at full-tilt-boogie being pursued by a Labrador. The cat is so terrified it runs right in front of the now violently swerving car! It then jinks back to the side of the road, having momentarily lost the dog, which realises it is a trifle large to go under the car. Of course the moment it sees the cat come back it gives chase again! The cat darts towards me and I do the best thing possible: nothing at all. Later Jerry swears it changes direction right in-between my wheels!

As we bimble along some rather nice roads into and across Germany towards Bitburg, we get to the leg of a T-junction where we see a Subaru Impreza coming from our left. And another. And another. There's a gap in the cars and we pull out, turning left against the flow of Subarus and they just keep on coming. In the end I count 34 of them – and I didn't start counting from the first one! The strangest thing of all is that they're all sedately cruising along at what looks like a steady 50. Maybe they are scared of how much fuel the cars will use if they boot it? We pass a side road they're all queuing to turn out of and we don't see another one all trip. Maybe all of Europe's Scooby-Doos were in one place for that drive?

Its hot. Actually, its very hot – hot enough to not get enough of a breeze even when moving along at some speed. I relax my normal rules and undo my collar. This allows a little air in but not enough. The zip creeps down about 4 inches over the day and I end up with my cuffs out of my gloves and unzipped. I think I may take the high screen off the bike when I get home and fit the original. With the lower seat fitted its just blocking too much airflow.

At about 1730 we roll into Bitburg and are amused to see signs for the Nurburgring. After 10 seconds staring at what appears to be a rather closed hotel, we turn round and cross the road to nice looking establishment. The only problem is that the single rooms that they have available are all on the third floor. Carrying my luggage up there made me once more bitterly regret my extensive re-pack and inclusion of loads of stuff I don't really need.

The rooms are hot, very hot. I open my large, modern double glazed window only to have it detach from its casement and fall on me! Jerry hurries in when I call and between us we get it back onto the mounting. He reckons it can't have been actually attached to its mounting properly but secretly I know its just my jinx at work again…

A few beers and a lovely meal later (a really excellent steak for me) and my allergies decide to play up no end. Sneezing like a good 'un, I am. Curses. Jerry suggests a walk round the town to stretch our legs and off we go on our constitutional. Nice little town, although Jerry in particular was shocked and outraged at the presence of litter in a German town.

I give up and retire to my bed at about 2130, although I sleep only fitfully partly because of my sneezing and partly because this quiet little town turns out to be quite noisy with cars gunning it up and down the streets and drunken persons shouting. This doesn't last beyond around 0100, so that's a small mercy.

Image of route

Mapsource .gdb file of track

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