The next day (2nd of November 2023), Mr. M crossed the road, got some cash out from the Sparkasse ATM:
Got the outstanding amount into the wall, and left Bilstein towards our 1st destination of the day (Nürburgring). This is how it looked on the map:
We stopped at a great bakery where we had some pastries and coffee/tea. I remember wanting to take pictures there, but my phones were on charge. And even though I tried to search the place, I can't find it to save my life. I also remember it was a sunny day and quite windy. But the wind was warm. We passed the place and decided to turn back. I'll keep looking for it. It wasn't fancy or anything, but it was one of the greatest bakeries I've seen. Quite busy, loads of people getting doughnuts, amongst them, Mr. M. He did offer me one to try, and I didn't. I was on a diet.
We crossed the Rhine River in Bonn, and carried on towards Nürburgring. Nothing happened along the way. It was a smooth 100-mile ride, and as we were getting really close to where Mr M's friend lives, the rain started. So, I took these pictures:
Mr M's friend was very kind to serve us tea, something to eat, and provide the means to change the oil on both bikes in his garage.
From there, it was a few mile ride to Nürburgring, where we stopped to take some pictures:
We didn't have much time to hang around there, let alone do a lap around the track.
And since we wanted to get as close to Paris as possible on this day. Which, considering where we started (Bilstein), it was a bit optimistic. This is how it looked on the map:
As usual, we didn't give it much thought when we set off from Nürburgring... obviously... and we rode into the distance. And what a distance it was.
We did not stop for anything other than fuel up until Luxemburg. Mr M has a lady friend in Luxemburg, and they decided we meet up and have a late dinner together. We left the bikes in yet another bicycle parking area just outside the pedestrian area in the town center and had Italian food. We were all very inspired when we all ordered Spaghetti Carbonara.
Here are two pictures from the Luxemburg town center:
(it was obvious that they were standing with Ukraine).
After our encounter with Miss E. and boring her with our travel stories to the point where Mr. M contacted me the other week, telling me that Miss E. wants a C90 to use in Luxemburg, we once again got to our bikes. Happy that all the luggage was still on them after we were away for more than an hour, we got on and started our slow progress towards Paris. I think it was around 21:00-21:30 when we set off.
We did get fuel before Luxemburg to make sure that we took advantage of the cheap fuel prices, but we soon realised that the difference at 3.5l is completely negligible.
We crossed into Belgium for a few miles around the borders with France and Luxemburg. A strange and hilly border town that looked as if it was abandoned and left to decay.
This is the area:
Soon, we were in France. It was late, quite windy, and the temperature surely dropped significantly. Most towns in that area of eastern France were in quite bad shape. You could see how poor this area is.
If I wasn't clear enough till now, it was just shy of 22:00 o'clock when we left Luxemburg, and we were aiming for Paris or as close as possible. This was the extent of the problem:
We were immune to ETAs on Google Maps by now and completely ignored all of the red flags. Even though the ETA on Google is quite accurate, it wasn't the case for us. The C90s are a bit slower than Google's average calculated speed, so we learned to ignore that part of the SatNav. We did get a reality check a little later in the trip.
We were riding on very scenic country roads that, for some reason, were always on top of hills, and since it was cold and very windy, together with the fact that it was a frontal wind, we struggled to make good progress. We kept riding and kept getting closer and closer to Verdun. I asked Mr M. if he knew why Verdun is quite renowned nowadays, and he said he doesn't know. And in true fashion, there I went again. Starting telling him about the failed German offensive at Verdun during WW1, and by the time I depleted my knowledge about the battle, he asked if it would be good to go see it. I would never say no in such circumstances, and even though it was stupid o'clock, we decided on the detour:
When we got to the actual location of the battlefield at Verdun, it was 12 min past midnight. We saw f-all, of course... the only thing our bikes were capable of illuminating with their candle-like headlights at idle speed was the signpost. We read about it and left. We saw deer, and Mr M got serious about us riding slower to avoid a possible accident with the deer. We passed by an abandoned town close to the battlefield, which we decided not to visit since we couldn't see much. But we did make our way to Verdun proper, where we were both extremely surprised!
After going through so many derelict towns in that area of France, Verdun was a different animal. It looked great, as you can see, and the contrast was really surprising. I was also surprised that Verdun is on the River Meuse. I did not know that until I got there, and it was written on a bridge. Quite a cool way to find out. We rode around Verdun till we arrived at the Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Verdun). We stopped there for Mr M to set up the SatNav as he was going to lead going forward, and I took my time to take some pictures of WW1 bullet holes this time:
It was 1 am now, and we were still very far from Paris. So far that "the Google" told us we would arrive in the morning. And since this was unacceptable for us, we decided to do the unorthodox thing and join the A4 motorway from Verdun to Paris. Now... we were also low on fuel, tired from the high wind, cold and sleep-deprived as the previous night was not enough for such an undertaking. We got the A4 toll ticket, got on the carriageway, and Mr. M seemed like he completely forgot what he had told me only a few days before. He wanted to take it easy on his rebuilt engine, and he didn't want to go over 70 km/h. He was leading, and I was reading 57 MPH on my speedo while he was pulling away from me...
I'm sure he got his to 100 (62MPH) at some point, but these events were very rare with the frontal winds and hills. I was glad it was stupid o'clock since the motorway was quite empty. And I'm saying that because on some of the uphills, we were going as low as 20 MPH, even less. Mr. M's Fly was quite slow on these sections, and we were lucky that the French used these toll charges to create a 3rd lane for slow vehicles on all the uphills. That meant the lorries could maintain their lane while we were using the right slow lanes. It seemed safer for all of us.
As mentioned previously, we were quite desperate for fuel when we hit the A4, and these high speeds and hills didn't help with the situation at all. First services were out of hours, so we pushed for the next petrol station. We were counting the km, and once we arrived and filled up, Mr. M's Fly had 200 ml left (filled 3.8), and I had 300 ml left in the Red (filled 3.7). We were set for fuel to get to Paris now, but since it was this late, we were eager to get some rest. The motorway was funny as we were trying to get behind lorries and try and maintain their 57 MPH. Most lorries seem to do more than that nowadays, but the slower ones were always a target for us. I did get behind one, and the Red managed to maintain that speed, but Mr M lost the draft, and I had to pull out. Which I was happy as my Red was screaming. But I was also surprised by how good that engine is! RED ONES ARE FASTER...!
We came off the A4 in the most unique possible way, and for different reasons, I won't go into these details, but we were getting closer to our B&B Hotel outside of Paris:
This one had a self-service booking booth outside, much like the one in Hamburg, and it did not have it. We could only book for the next day, which, basically, was that day, but after check-out. And we were not happy with that, considering it was around 6 AM after a sleepless night out in the open.
We looked on the map once more and found another B&B Hotel closer to Paris, so we set it up as our destination and, defeated, we made our way towards it:
We arrived, and the reception was manned. By this time, it was daylight outside and people were leaving the hotel when we were going into the reception. We parked the bikes right outside over here:
We weren't successful in getting a room due to the unusual time we were trying to check in. Extremely discouraged now and quite tired, we thought about what we could do... and with no destination on our SatNav, we got out of the B&B car park to realise that there was another hotel right next to it. We didn't even check the prices like we did up until now and headed towards the reception. This is how close it was:
And here is the reception:
We got to the reception and asked for a room till 12 PM. They told us it was not possible to check in at this time and leave in a few hours. I tried to explain our situation in the limited sleep-deprived French that I could muster, and the young lady at the reception called the Manager. I'm sure it wasn't the Night Manager...
They made an exception and said we could crash for the morning. I promised we would check out at 12 PM, and she told us not to worry and that nobody would disturb us. We were ecstatic! Parked the Cubs in a smaller car park bay right across the reception and went straight inside to catch some well-deserved sleep. It took ages to unload the bikes, secure them with the chains, and get to the room. We had to use the curtains as the street view pictures reflect the weather and daylight quite accurately this time round.
We fell asleep instantly, and that was it for the long day and night we had from Bilstein to Paris, with an oil change along the way and a few longer stops to have breakfast and late dinner. We also visited Verdun on the same "day," so quite a day.
The next day in the next episode. Need to get into the garage and work on some Cubs... Getting them ready for yet another French trip in May