The Ride Home from the 2014 International Diesel Motorcycle Rally, Hamm, Deutschland.

A very nice biker stop cafe encountered on the trip to the Hamm diesel motorcycle rally.

Sunday

After attending the Hamm diesel Treffen we rode away and jumped on the E2 autobahn West, putting in some miles to Duisburg. The we rode the E34 past Venlo to Einhoven and ended up Camping at Valkenswaard. The region was pretty built up and we found the journey constantly interrupted by traffic lights.

Just about to put the kettle on before setting up the tents.

We had trouble finding the campsite at first and so as we fill up at the diesel pumps we asked the young bearded dude at the till for directions. He's more than helpful and we trundle on until after one false turn, finally, we find the site. We sign in at the reception and seek out a camping spot that gets the setting sun. This wasn't easy as the site was almost completely covered in tall pine trees. In the distance we could hear some dogs continuously barking and comments were made about the owners of such noisy animals.

Monday

We took the N69 though Overpelt on a pretty fast flowing road and then the road to Hasselt where Jeff got stung on the face by a wasp which got in under his visor. We were on the ring road when this happened. Fortunately we had some ointment and this went some way to easing the pain of the encounter.
Then on to St Truiden and the N80, a road we have travelled before and the road that leads to Namur and the start of the Ardennes. These roads are long and winding and lined with forests. The weather had been so hot we were pleased to be riding in the shade most of the time.
Every so often we'd clear the trees and pass through very scenic looking villages until we eventually wound our way down through the hills and onto the D947, a road that followed the mighty Meuse river.

Following the Meuse River. I firmly believe the diesel Tiger to be the worlds best touring motorcycle. Nothing can touch it.


We flashed past more settlements and the industrial areas that lined the flowing waterway and eventually rode into the thriving town of Dinant. Here we parked up besides a riverside coffee bar and ordered drinks. Nearby bikers took an interest in our diesel powered machines and we spent a few minutes explaining the workings of them in broken English.
After the drink we decided to leave the bikes where they were and went for a walk into town.

A view down into Dinant from the Fort. See the cable car wires to my right. A steep climb up!

Here we saw no end of references to Adolf Sax, inventor on the famous wind instrument. After checking out the shops and purchasing some pannier stickers in a local tourist point we jumped a cable car to the cliff top Fort and marvelled at its construction and position.

When we rode out from Dinant we rode under the bridge in the distance, on the far side of the river.


After doing the tourist thing we paid a visit to the local supermarket and loaded up with food, rode back to the towns entrance road and the campsite there, Camping de devant - Bouvignes.

Our campsite in Dinant.


We purchased shower tokens at the same time as booking in here and later found the facilities to be very good.
We drove the bikes down to the tent pitches right on the riverbank and set up. It was a most excellent place except for the constantly falling chestnuts coming down from the trees above. That and the Canadian geese that were on the 'ear 'ole' for food. And I mustn't forget the cheeky rat that ventured over to us as we sat outside the tents around midnight.

From the bridge in Dinant that was lined with Saxophones.


The view was terrific. Before us we had river and with it the giant, passing barges. On the other side there was the partially obscured roadway and before that, the railway, on which a mixture of passenger and goods trains ran deep into the night. Some building work was going on at the white painted house directly opposite and this when on until after dark.


Tuesday

We woke to a heavy river mist Tuesday and waited for the tents to dry out some before packing them away. On returning from the toilet that morning, my brother informed me that there was someone down there coughing so badly he sounded like the Ruggerfield being cranked over prior to starting! We rode out from the campsite, crossed the main bridge in the town that was, you guessed it, lined with giant models of Saxophones, and turned left to again follow the river. Looking back over my left shoulder I was afforded a spectacular view of the town, the bridge and the hilltop Fortress.

A quick stop and photo opportunity after leaving Dinant.


We followed the N96 and the long curves of the river until the road joined with the D989 and crossed the river. Then again rode the wooded roads up into the heights of the Ardennes and the town of Hargnies. More picturesque villages followed with the road and river carving their respective ways along the valleys. Finally we felt in need of a stop and pulled into a roadside coffee stall at Montherme. As we took in the sun and the fantastic scenery an oldish looking man with a grey, bushy beard, walked over and began examining our motorcycles. Before long he had his camera out and was shooting away with it.

The roads into and out from Montherme were just the best. Awesome riding.


Twenty minutes later we were refreshed enough to jump back on the bikes and head on out. After sometime we found ourselves following the D1 into Revin. On the other side of that town and still riding through the hills, we, along with several cars up front got waved down by a Police official and motioned to stop as up ahead a wide load was doing towards us.

Bit of a hold up waiting for this load to go by.

The nearby town was Rocroi It was a tight squeeze for such a structure to be moved up such a road but the driver managed to clear the bend and as he did so we were waved on.


We have another brief encounter with the local law when we go through a speed trap. We had been riding rather slowly and taking in the scenery when several cars decided to overtake us on a long downhill section of road through the forest. They must have loved us because no sooner had they pulled out when we saw two coppers literally hiding in a bush. But I'm not sure whether they were really speeding though.
As we cleared the hills we started to see more rolling landscape from here on in, the kind of land and roads we are familiar with when riding out from Dieppe.
We had a plan to visit somewhere in Chimay but couldn't in the end because we'd confused the place with somewhere else we'd once stayed. But we did pull over to stock up with food and an Aldi. It was while choosing that nights dinner that an old guy with a baseball cap approached me in the aisle. He started talking and I realised it was about our bikes again. I attempted a reply and gave him a card. We continued to talk right through the checkout process and out into the car park. I couldn't help but nice his shopping consisted mainly of cans of beer and his breath also smelled of alcohol. That fact that he was driving a car wasn't lost on me either, nice chap that he was.

Route finding the old fashioned way.


After deciding against A stopover in Chimay, we rode the N99 down to the Hirson area in search of a campsite that we'd previously marked on our well used and rather crinkled map.
Cutting in through a forested road we found the entrance and, riding in under the ornate and rusty sign overhead, negotiated the many potholes on the road down to the site itself. Swinging right under a bridge of some sort we encountered a coach party of what looked like departing workers. The campsite itself looked like a building site and so we rode straight out again and up the hill past the bemused workers who were still milling about by their coach.
Ever thoughtful of the lateness of the day, we cut across country in search of another site and found ourselves going through La Capelle and on to the N43 and camping at Lac de Conde near Nouvion.

Somewhere in France.


Wednesday

Rolled away from the campsite at about 11am, riding out past the imposing Chateau situated directly at the end of the access road. The night before we had walked by the building and noticed the setting sun going down centrally through its upper windows. They'd built the whole estate aligned West and it must have been some sight from the other side of the house come the evening..

I caught the setting sun a bit late in this shot but you can just see it through the central window.

Gorgeous weather as we picked our way mainly along minor roads towards Péronne. As we flashed our way through village after village, we negotiated the dreaded diversions, swinging the bikes this way and that to avoid the uneven road surfaces in places.
Almost every house was seemly made from smaller than usual red bricks and as always, not too many people were to be seen. We rumbled and clattered our way through a place with a triangular central layout, it's backdrop being a huge church steeple. Almost dead centre is bench with an old woman sitting on it and facing us. For some reason I can't shake the thought that she's waiting for God.
Up ahead, Jeff is busy waving to any old guys he sees and they usually wave back. One old guy complete with a huge grey beard, partially stained yellow with nicotine, acknowledges us with barely a nod of his head. We thunder on, the diesel engines of our machines relentless and noisy, echoing back to us from every passing wall and house.

More roadworks. We pull up behind a couple of white school coaches and a cheeky young lad high up in the rear window gives us a wave. We wave back and the lads friends all jump up to wave back too. As we pull out of that particular village the coach accelerates away across the fields and we are overtaken by a car. I can see Jeff's head going down periodically as he scans the map through the window on top of his Oxford tank bag. Not for him is anything modern or high tech.

More fantastic riding across France now. The sky is bright blue and we are riding with our jackets open to keep cool. The sun shines down and catches Jeff's mirror sending a bright spot of light onto the road behind him. It dances about the hot Tarmac wildly in front on me as if saying, 'catch me if you can!'. Of course, I can if I want, the Tiger being a faster bike than the old Enfield, but Jeff is happy to ride point and take on the roll of pathfinder for this trip.

Riding across France. The heat was intense with bike sidestands sinking in the tarmac.


We park up for breather at an American War Memorial near Bellicourt and wonder at the structure before us. It faces the fields where the Americans saw action between 1917-18 and there is a map and directional arrows built into the brickwork by way of explanation. It is a fitting place for a memorial, the countryside thereabouts being spectacular.

The WW1 American War Memorial near Bellicourt. Views from atop the steps took in the battlefield.


We take a few photographs and pull out to where we get the D6 to Roisel and then ride through to Péronne, somewhere we've camped before.
Steering clear of the private site where my tent was slashed in an attempted robbery some years previously, we drop in at the Municipal site situated at the other end of town.

The young guy here is a biker himself and does us a good deal on a pitch. We set up in good time and walk into town for a look about and end up walking the length of the place to visit an Army Surplus store where I'd bought my helmet years before.
On the walk back we visited the town Fort complete with moat before grabbing some chips in town centre and returning to the campsite via the supermarket.

 

Thursday

The humidity has reached high proportions and we both wake up feeling uncomfortably damp. We calculate ride time and leave about 11am taking the N29 to Amiens. There we get on the N25 ring road before jumping the N1 to Abbeville.
We slow down to pass through a French farming village and up ahead see two white vans stationary at a junction. As we ride by we see that there has been an accident and that the road is littered with broken headlight and indicator glass. Bothe parties appear, in that instant at least, to be just sitting there staring at each other. It must have just happened I guessed and like everyone else, we drove by and left them to it.

Jeff on the trusty Ruggerfield 850cc diesel motorcycle.


We get off the main routes choosing instead the more minor D936 to Oisemount before going South to Blangy. Then we climb up the wooded hill to Gamaches, narrow and twisty roads through the trees where, unexpectedley, a walker stops us at a Y junction. He is an old guy carrying a shooting stick that converts to a chair. He talks briefly with Jeff and then bends down to lift the flap of my brothers tank bag to reveal the motorcycles name. He tells Jeff that he once owned a Norton Dominator, the same bike our Father took over to the continent all those years ago.
After this encounter (which left us none the wiser) we made our way down more twisty and shadowy roads through the trees to Rieux. Closing in on Dieppe we took the D16 which ran along the Valley Du Roy and stopped several times to admire the gorgeous scenery. Next we hit the main coast road to Le Tréport and stopped for a cuppa at a layby before pushing on to Dieppe and the boat home..

The view from the boat home - Dieppe docks.

And finally the motorcycles we rode on the trip, the diesel Tiger and Enfield.

Both motorcycles performed well and both achieved approx Miles per (imperial) Gallon figures in the region of 120mpg.

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