We berthed in Le Harvre and made our way off the ferry to meet Jen and John Eggleton at the gates of the port. Jen and John have operated Bike Normandy for around 10 years now and do a superb job, both running tours such as this one and short breaks where they host a smaller group of bikes at their house and lead them out on day-long rides in the area.
After a brief introduction and explanation of the marker system in use (difficult to describe but very simple in practice) we made our way in convoy to Honfleur I had to chuckle to myself at one point - if someone had said 18 months ago that I would be riding a motorcycle, in France, with 2 weeks and 2000 miles of riding ahead of me, I would not have believed them. However, I am extremely glad I made the decision to do my CBT and see what riding a motorcycle was all about.
To reach Honfleur we had to cross the magnificent Pont du Normandie suspension bridge. It is very high and while I am sure the views are normally worth seeing we were all concentrating hard as a strong cross wind seemed determined to knock us all off our bikes. It was good training for another day later that week, although at the time it felt pretty vicious. Luckily with my bike being physically quite small it was less susceptible to wind sheer than something like Rod's Tiger which was really catching the gusts. I think we were all relieved to make it to the other side and into the shelter of the pretty harbour and quayside at Honfleur, where we were to have our breakfast.
Once parked up the final members of our group introduced themselves - Jim riding a BMW F800GS and his wife Dorothy as pillion. Again both serious mile munchers they had traveled over the day before as Jim is not a good seafarer so had wanted some extra time in case of a bad crossing.
Then it was into a pleasant bar for warming cups of coffee, croissants and baguettes.
|L to R: Nick, Dorothy, John, Jen.|
Day one turned out to be a very busy day - lots of sighs all accompanied by pouring rain, grey skies and bitter cold. I quickly learnt why touring motorcycle have windscreens, heated grips and sockets for heated clothing. Mine misses out on all those things. Damn. Our basic itineary was:
Pegasus Bridge, Arromanches for lunch, the gun batteries at Longues sur Mer, then the American Cemetery and finally the German Cemetery before heading to Bayeux for the overnight stop. The beers that night went down a treat although to be honest, after a rather sleepless night and the appalling weather I didn't pay as much attention as I would have liked at each of these stops and was starting to wonder if everyday would be the same. Luckily it was not to be the case.
|Amazing! Sun! Hold that image in your mind - there was not much more for the rest of the trip. This shows the beach at Arromanche with part of a Mulberry harbour in the foreground and more in the background.|
|Part of the gun battery at Longues du Mer - serious weapons and devastating to the Allied invaders on D-Day.|
|The very stark and beautifully tended American Cemetery overlooking Omaha beach.|