We ride on the left

Day 1 / Sunday, June 24

Paris – Wacquinghen

“Take one of the seven lanes,” screams our GPS. Whaaat??? Just when we desperately try to avoid a multiple collision with thousands of other vehicles at Place de la Concorde, the GPS leaves us alone with myriads of lanes to choose from? Also, multitasking is not quite a thing right now after relying on our waiter’s food recommendations and our table neighbours’ beverage preferences the night before: pig’s ear aspic with deep fried tripe and as much “vin et eau” as we could muster! We couldn’t help but notice the other guests grinning, but in return we had a fun evening with new friends.

Eh bien, oui, but we’re not going to get involved in any accidents. Not today, because we have an important meeting with Helen from The Curves. We’ll take over the much sought-after R nineT from her. After our sightseeing tour through Paris, we greet Helen at Place du Trocadéro. Without further ado, a bridal couple uses our Pure&Crafted bike as a backdrop for good luck before we target the next best café to enjoy a final view of the Eiffel Tower. We love Parisians and their relaxed attitude and easiness, but we also caught the travel bug; we’ve got places to go! Before we say goodbye, we promise Helen to catch a sheep for her in England and off we go to Calais/Dunkirk via motorway.

Ben and Mile, that’s us by the way. We’ve known each other since our youth. In the meantime, we have both moved to Hamburg. With the R nineT, a VW T4 and a small 250cc for races, we hit the road. Two weeks full of encounters, full of great and small adventures, full of joy, setbacks, and the unexpected. Here are a few excerpts from our travel diary.

 

Day 2 / Monday, June 25

Wacquinghen – Fairy Dunkirk/Dover – Emsworth

On the ferry from Dunkirk, France to Dover, England, we are accompanied by the searing sun and a calm sea before British customs suspiciously redirect our VW T4 to the inspection area. Sure, all papers are with Ben on the R nineT, and he’s already somewhere in Dover. His phone, however, remained in Mile’s bus. Eventually, a semi-long explanation on our part, about none of our vehicles being stolen and involved in illegal motorcycle races, convinces the custom officers.

From now on, we ride on the left! We’re in England, and we have 500 km to cover, along the south coast to the west. The roads here resemble farm roads in parts, overgrown by bushes and trees – and delightfully green. From green nature to the blue sea, the views change constantly; and there are lots of bendy roads. It’s the perfect backdrop for a road trip.

We quickly stop in Brighton and ponder whether to dive into the algae-infested sea or to continue riding in the heat. At constant 30°C under cloudless skies, we realise that no one is using sunscreen. It must be an unwritten law here that we’ll diligently abide by.

We stop once more in Worthing where we decline an invitation from the local girls’ gang to join them for a round of canned beer before we search for a fitting sleeping place. Getting lost under the moonlit sky, we accidentally come across a horse farm. As it happens, the initially startled owners invite us to sleep on their property in the middle of the night. We couldn’t have asked for more hospitable hosts.

 

Day 3 / Tuesday, June 26

Emsworth – Millbrook

Millbrook in Cornwall was our destination for the day. On the way, we stop in Torquay, “The English Riviera”, as the town’s slogan proclaims. Off to the beach it is! Well, it’s actually more towels than beach. Like the riviera, indeed, in a good as well as in a bad sense, and there’s nothing to persuade us to stay for a break.

To shorten our journey to Millbook, we decide to take a mini ferry from Plymouth to Torpoint. The ferry ride is 50 pence in cash – cash only that is. Yet, we don’t have a single pound in our pockets, let alone 50 pence. On our trip through England, we got by without any cash on us up to this point. That means we’re stowaways, and the crew is eyeing us suspiciously. No cash, no love! After driving a hard bargain, we can persuade the female ticket inspector to accept a warm hug as currency. Though, we have to promise to never tell anyone, so she doesn’t lose her reputation as the strictest ticket conductor of the entire coastline. A promise is a promise.

In the meantime, we have reached the destination of our first stage: Millbrook, Cornwall. It really looks just how we imagined it: small drowsy fishing villages; epic coastal roads; breathtaking views; and everything’s very relaxed.

 

Day 4 / Wednesday, June 27

Millbrook – Kingsand – Cawsand – Polhawn – Looe – Millbrook

The next day, we meet with Julie, a friend from Berlin, her uncle Mike and his wife Jean. Mike is originally from Millbrook, and he’s a shipbuilder by trade as well as a passionate biker and surfer. We meet for breakfast at our camping site’s restaurant, “The Canteen”, which serves the best breakfast throughout Cornwall according to Mike. As far as we can tell, he must be right.

With our bellies full, we ride along the coast together. We pass two fishing villages, Kingsand and Cawsand, and we continue along the shoreline until we reach Polhawk Beach. The water is turquoise blue; smooth as glass and ice-cold. Never mind, we have to dive in! We enjoy an afternoon at the beach with plenty of sun, full-on sunburns, and the best picnic, courtesy of Jean. Thanks Jean, it was delicious!

In the evening, we continue riding along narrow and bendy coastal roads until we reach Looe, a picturesque fishing village with a big harbour. We treat ourselves to fresh fish and excellent lemonade from the adjacent brewery before we ride back and collapse into our beds, happy.

 

Day 5 / Thursday, June 28

Millbrook – Dartmoor Nationalpark

The day after, we continue our journey to the Dartmoor National Park. It almost looks a little like a picture book, and we’re thrilled by the landscapes and the scenic contrast to the coastal region. The park has everything: hilly landscapes with a granite massif, and there are wild horses and sheep everywhere. There’s also a Cornwall classic: cream tea! It’s a cup of tea served with scones, extra cream and jam.

After we say goodbye to Julie, Jean and Mike, hunting fever takes hold of us. After all, we want to bring home a sheep for Helen. Our various manoeuvres and sneak attacks are fun but unsuccessful. Even together, with a lasso on our motorcycle, we don’t stand a chance. Sorry, Helen – we really tried.

We try to reach our accommodation, an old lodging house, but it’s more of a challenge than we anticipated. When it comes to sleeping, all sheep tend to prefer lying on heated tarmac. So, it’s snail pace and sheep slalom for us until we reach our destination.

 

Day 6 / Friday, June 29

Dartmoor National Park – The Malle Mile, Kevington Hall

It seems like the sun never sets here, which means it’s another early morning for us. Strong coffee, and we hit the road once more. Our destination is the Malle Mile Festival south of London. Beforehand, we had already picked members for the “Movember Racing Team”. The Movember Foundation is dedicated to battling prostate and testicular cancer as well as mental illnesses amongst men. From the beginning, Pure&Crafted has been a great supporter of their fight for men’s health, and we continue this partnership on their behalf.

The “Movember Racing Team” meets at the Craftrad booth for the first time. Lina, Niels, Tanja, Christoph and us two are part of the team. In the evening, our first moto-polo game against the “Malle London” team is scheduled: motorcycle football; 4 against 4; two times 20 minutes. It’s unchartered territory for all of us. It’s great fun and ultimately a battle of materiel. On top of a few scratches, a break lever, a mudguard and our CB 250’s clutch don’t survive. Never mind, it was worth the fun. We didn’t win by scores, but we won everyone’s hearts. We wildly celebrate our team at The Picturebooks’ concert.

 

Day 7 / Saturday, June 30

The Malle Mile, Kevington Hall

After breakfast, we start repairs on our 250cc. Without spare parts, there’s nothing we can do; the clutch is history. Moto-polo was too much for the old lady, which means we can’t use her in any of the races either. Luckily Royal Enfield is around and provides us with a substitute bike. Thanks a bunch. Shortly before the race, someone’s misplaced the keys to the Bullit, though. Naturally, this someone can’t take part in any race after all. Well, sorry for that. Another substitute has to be found! In the end, we take Lina’s small CY50. It’s an unequal race against a dressed-up Evel Knievel on his full cross moto. Again, we won everyone’s hearts! The day smells like races, and dust creeps into every corner. In the evening, the “Movember Charity Dinner” is held at a mansion which includes an auction in support of the Movember Foundation.

 

Day 8 / Sunday, July 1

The Malle Mile, Kevington Hall

The final race day is here, and Tanja and Niels from our “Movember Racing Team” really do take a place on the winners’ podium this time; Niels multiple times even. In the evening, we celebrate at a spontaneous barbecue organised by the Malle team and their friends at the pool. Another long night lies ahead of us; this time at the knight’s table in the mansion’s vaulted cellar. The Duke of Kevington tells many unbelievable stories which we promised won’t leave the cellar: what happens in the vaulted cellar stays in the vaulted cellar.

 

Day 9 / Monday, July 2

The Malle Mile, Kevington Hall – London

We start the day by jumping in the pool! Tanja and Christoph say goodbye and leave for Germany; the rest of us heads to London. Pub lunch and a talk at “The Exmouth Arms” with the Movember Foundation’s Ben Bowers and Michael Fischer are on the agenda as well as an ensuing visit to their offices. It’s terrific what these guys have built here. We enjoy the rest of the day strolling around and paying a quick visit to The Bike Shed London.

 

Day 10 / Tuesday, July 3

London – Bletchley – West Drayton – London

We ride to Bletchley to pay a visit to Marshall Amps. We meet with Steve who gives us a tour of the Marshall Museum, and he explains every detail of the manufacturing process. He’s been with Marshall for 34 years; he’s the ultimate music fan; he knows all the stories in detail; and he’s a true legend himself. He shows us Lenny Kravitz, John Lennon and Motörhead’s amps. We’re simply stunned listening to Steve’s stories about all these stars, and we’re covered in goosebumps. We’re kids in a sweet shop.

Next stop: Hedon House. Hedon manufactures helmets, premium and stylish, and we are invited to look over their shoulder in their West Drayton workshop where the focus lies on leatherwork, finishing and a final quality check. The design department is also located here, and we catch a glimpse of the new collection. Stay tuned – we’re great fans!

We have to hurry now, Niels has to catch a plane. We’re on schedule, but all of a sudden we’re not moving forward anymore – the accelerator cable is ripped… Damn it! Niels leaves his luggage on the bus and switches to a motorcycle. It’s his only chance to arrive at the airport in time. Suddenly, the traffic jam’s back. He manages to ride to Stansted Airport in a zigzag course, yet he’s too late. Niels will fly back to Hamburg the following day. In the meantime, Mile grapples with British towing services. It takes plenty of calls and being placed on hold a bunch of times; it takes even more promises and 9 hours in total; but in the end, our bus is towed away. It’s England’s turn in the World Cup. So, priorities lie elsewhere today. At 4am, we finally arrive at our hotel and hit the hay.

 

Day 11 / Wednesday, July 4

London – Saint Quentin

We have to wake up early again. Our ferry leaves Dover at noon, and our accelerator cable is still ripped. We check out various car repair shops to no avail. So, we head to the next best hardware store an get cable clamps and steel rope. It takes a lot of fiddling, and time is running out. Finally, our accelerator pedal does its job again, but we have to change our booking nonetheless and hop on the following ferry. After a short settling-in period, driving on the right feels like normal again, and we reach the picturesque town of Saint Quentin. The last vacant hotel room isn’t as picturesque, though, but we’re exhausted, and it’s for one night only.

 

Day 12 / Thursday, July 5

Saint Quentin – Stuttgart

Ride, ride, ride. We are very much behind schedule, and we have to cover quite a bit of distance today. Next stop: Stuttgart. After two weeks of sunshine, it’s time for our first thunderstorm today. We get ourselves rain trousers at a hunting shop, and off we go through endless rain. Sunny weather is more awesome somehow. After 180 additional kilometres, we arrive in Stuttgart and enjoy delicious pizza with family and friends. We’re full and exhausted. Good night!

 

Day 13 / Friday, July 6

Stuttgart – Garmisch

So, today’s the final stage of our journey, from Stuttgart to the BMW Motorrad Days in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Technically, it can be done in three hours. It’ll be five hours today with all the rain and traffic jams. We arrive at the festival site in Garmisch-Partenkirchen just in time to hand the R nineT over to the next Pure&Crafted team on the main stage, Jan Joswig and Tim Adler. We have a great evening with old and new friends in Garmisch, and eventually, we collapse into bed, exhausted but happy!

Adieu and farewell! Espérons vous voir bientôt.