Unfortunately due to a lack of time and internet access while traveling I have not posted as often as I would have liked during my recent trip away. I will attempt to write it up here for the record!
16 April 2012 / Day 0. Left Salisbury to catch the ferry at around 8.30pm. This was of course way too early but I wanted to be there in plenty of time although we didn't then board the boat until around midnight. The trip down to Portsmouth was uneventful and I pulled into my departure lane behind a couple of other bikes that turned out to be Rod and Ian, both on the same trip.
Rod was riding his Triumph Sprint and turned out to be a very experienced rider, having just returned from a ride through India and had been riding for years. He was also extremely fast when he wanted to be - he could hustle the Sprint along at a fair rate of knots! Ian was riding his BMW F800ST which was worryingly clean and shiny. He had also been riding for a long time but at a slower rate of knots. A couple of years ago he had taken part in the same tour with Bike Normandy and enjoyed it so much he was back for more.
In due course and after a coffee to keep the chill out we were joined by Mark (KTM SMT 990), Rod (Triumph Tiger 1050, lucky boy) and Nick (Aprilia F650). Mark was an old hand at bike tours having done several by himself and also with other tour companies, but not Bike Normandy. Rod and Nick had passed their test only 5 weeks previously and were understandably nervous that their inexperience might be an issue. For me, I was just glad that after riding for nearly a year I was not the "youngest" in the group.
I'll just repost the photo here of the bikes lined up waiting to go:
The wait for the ferry was tedious but in due course and a brief customs inspection we made our way onto the ferry. There a crew member lashed our bikes to the deck as poor weather was expected on the crossing, although not terribly well as Rod's bike sadly fell over before we even departed. This scratched a pannier and damaged one of his pegs - a disappointing incident at the very start of the trip. Inevitably LD Lines were less than interested.
In the event the crossing was uneventful and I managed to grab 40 winks in the cabin I had booked - more than those in the "sleeper seats" managed but the strong coffee before departure did not help.