Day 3 – Arlon to Strasbourg

Our day started with breakfast in the apartment hotel – I’d score some food the previous night, so we were able to avoid the inevitable disappointing hotel breakfast and make a fairly quick getaway. I was delighted to discover that the window to our ground floor room opened far enough that we could just climb out onto the car park rather than having to go all the way out through reception. Stuff like this makes me unaccountably happy…

What made me less happy was the shocking amount of rain that was forecast for the day. Still, at least all the weather sites we’d looked at agreed that although it was going to be piss wet, there wasn’t going to be nearly as much wind as yesterday and that was a relief.

Not unsurprisingly, Claire’s bike needed a little whiff of easy start in the carburettor to get it going. It’s a bit like a long term glue addict in that regard – only instead of using a crisp packet, her bike likes it sprays right in the air filter.

My bike started fine, despite sitting in the rain all night, but the electrics were a bit shot. My brake light seemed okay, but everything else was very much an optional extra and there was no way I was going to get my iPhone charger to play ball. So I just ran the battery down and planned to charge it at lunchtime if it made it that fair.

Our aim for the day was to get to Strasbourg and it was only about 240km away, which seemed quite doable. The little Daxes aren’t actually that slow and we can comfortably cruise at 70kph if conditions are right. Unfortunately, when it’s properly slashing it down, there are several factors preventing that sort of dizzying top speed.

Firstly, we’re absolutely terrified of the cheap Chinese slimemaster tyres loosing traction in the wet. They’re okay in the dry, but it all gets pretty squirrelly when you add a drop of rain and although we’re both wearing level 2 armour top and bottom, neither of has s throng for tarmac surfing, so we’re taking it easy.

Then there’s the rain on the face issue. We’re wearing motocross helmets which, whilst they look achingly cool, do have a bit of a gap in the front. Normally, you’d wear goggles with them to fill that gap, but Claire lost hers somewhere on the M20 on day one so we’re kind of limited to how fast we can go because rain on the face at 70kph hurts like a bastard.

We pulled over after about 50 clicks or so for fuel and decided that a cuppa and a nice sit down was in order. Sadly, Sunday in France affords limited options for nice sit down cups of anything, so we ended up at the Evil Arches having a Mc Hotbrowninacup.

Worse than that, when it came to lunchtime, we faced exactly the same problem and had little choice other than to treat ourselves to a flame grilled disappointoburger (actually, I just had fries and onion rings because I prefer to eat vegan).

Whilst we were having our lunch, we looked at the weather radar app and saw that if we left fairly soon and kept up a decent speed, we might have a chance of outrunning the mahoosive great big rain cloud coming our way. So we beat a hasty one and got back out on the road. This proved to be exactly the right strategy because as long as we kept going, we don’t the next hundred or so kilometres riding in towards blue sky and mostly avoiding the worst of the rain. I won’t say we stayed dry, but we didn’t get as wet as yesterday and that’s a win in my book.

We’re both absolutely loving the Sena 10C Pro Bluetooth video helmet comms systems that Motohaus provided us with before we left. They’ve been allowing us to keep up the banter as we ride along, whilst occasionally shooting some video clips and recording our thoughts as we go. I don’t think our riding this far would have been nearly as enjoyable without the constant commentary and laughs that we’ve been having with each other – it’s just like we were driving along in a car together, the audio is that clear.

Arriving in Strasbourg later on in the afternoon, we were still pretty wet. But neither of us was that kind of borderline-hypothermia that we had yesterday and we managed to get ourselves booked in and the bikes parked up in the underground car park fairly easily. Unfortunately, as we were doing the last few hundred yards round the block looking for the entrance to the car park, Claire’s front mudguard decided that it would be as good a time as any to give up its tenuous grip on the rest of the bike and it promptly fell off, remaining dangling only by the brake hose clip.

Given that it’s Monday tomorrow and things might be open again, We’re going to seek out a motorcycle shop in the morning and see if they can’t help us bodge it back together. Her exhaust heatshield is also hanging on by sheer bloodymindedness and we probably need to check the oil, tyres and a few other things. I need to buy their entire stock of rear light bulbs, too.

Strasbourg is LOVELY by the way. We had a little walk round town this evening and I’m blown away by how utterly beautiful it is. The cathedral is quite spectacular and the medieval streets need a lot more exploring than we have time for.

I think we’re going to see if we can’t ride to the European courts tomorrow for a quick look before we press on for Zurich and beyond.

That’s if we can get the bikes sorted that is. Fingers crossed, eh?

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