Team orange finally hits the road Sunday, 13 April 2008

Finally, after a freighting & customs delay of 4 days I could collect & re-assemble my steed. My good friend Gary helped me knock the bike back into shape at the heathrow cargo terminal at 3am on Friday morning. We then headed back to his place for a 2 hour power nap before assembling the last modifications such as a waterproof top box for camera & electronics and side stand. (BTW 'THE BIKE' is yet to be annointed with a more affectionate name). Gazz also added a few useful items to my inventory; either bits I hadn't been able to find or others that I needed more convincing to take with.

Then at 9am on Friday the 11th of April I left his place in London headed for Folkstone. We stopped at a petrol station to top-up where I abruptly came to terms with my laden weight & new spring-action side stand (In other words I dropped the bloody bike). What a confidence instilling manouvre - thankfully no cameras were rolling.

As we were leaving London on the A3 we both noted with particular attention a bike passing in the opposite lane. It was a bike we both knew of (named Fred) from the online journal of a guy by the name of Jeremy who has travelled the globe and trans-africa twice. It's the same bike as mine and I had spent many days researching his website to decide on the bike modifications needed. Anyway a good omen I thought.

Then onto Folkstone where I said cheerio to Gazz & rode onto the eurotunnel train. The under-tunnel train crossing is impressive - only 20 mins. Then from Calais at approx. 12pm I started the mammoth assault on the very long & very straight highway south. The bike handled superbly despite exhibitting the weight & aerodynamic properties of a sherman tank. After 770kms from London it was the cold (snow) and not fatigue that got the better of me and I headed into Dijon for a bit of kip.

At this point I should probably explain the aggressive itinerary. Since picking up a potential problem with entry into Libya I had commited to the weekly Marseille/Tunis ferry crossing at 11:30am on Saturday. After the stopover in Dijon it meant another 550kms from 5am. The last 200 into Marseille were particularly troublesome with gale-force winds which at times shifted all of team orange accross lanes. Overtaking trucks required some careful consideration. I pulled into Marseille port like Valentino Rossi on the last corner at Catalunya and made the ferry with 10 mins to spare. Now the adventure begins! Au revoir

# posted by Mark @ 19:00