Having packed the night before, it was just a question of putting the bags in the bikes and then we could leave. Ha.. so simple.. Out by the bikes after locking up the house, I had a sneaking suspicion that I had forgotten to do something... then I realised, my helmet was still inside on the couch where I had left it.. Doh! Got the keys out, unlocked the house, picked up the helmet and reversed my directions. Finally we could go.
We decided to take the A1 down to Dover, so cross country to Baldock and heading South down the A1. The radio communications decided not to co-operate which meant we didn't have the luxury of talking to each other and the intermittent drizzling rain combined with new tyres for both of us meant that we took a leisurely ride. I am always impressed with the inability of other motorway users to see the brightly coloured bikes along with the riders in flourescent jackets, must be some sort of invisibility cloak that you put on when riding in this country.
The QEII bridge over the Thames was as spectacular as ever, and of course motorbikes are free to cross both this and the Dartford Tunnel crossing which we would do on the way back. We filled up the bikes at Dover, prior to getting on the ferry as neither of us were quite sure about filling up in France on a Sunday and it eliminated the risk as we still had to get to Amiens and our first overnight stop.
The ferry wasn't as bad as I expected, because it only did cars and motorbikes, there wasn't the risk of diesel spilled as I had concerns over and the ramps were gently sloping not like the experiences of ferries I had been on in the past. You ride on into a front wheel clamp and then stay on the bikes until the handlers clamp the back wheel and then you can climb off; this process is repeated at the other side. We went up to the lounge and bagged a nice seat along with the other members of the group that had met at the ferry port. The crossing was a little rough, and I was grateful for the bands I use as other than feeling a bit queasy at times I didn't lose my sandwiches unlike another member of our party.
When we landed on the other side, we went downstairs to the bikes to find that SOH's bike was tilting dangerously to one side; almost leaning on my bike. A quick check seemed not to throw up any major problems but it is difficult to deal with when they want you off the boats so they can make the return trip.
One of the guys, who had put together the trip, then led us out of Boulogne to Amiens. Using a mixture of small country lanes and villages. By this time the rain had stopped, thankfully so as some of the villages had cobbled centres and these can be exceptionally slippery. We made it to our destination for about 7.30pm Frenchtime, but reception at the hotel was incredibly slow so we only got booked by about 9pm and then it was find somewhere to eat before turning in as tomorrow was going to be a long day.
Total mileage for the day : 215