Bella Italia - June 12th 2010
The 1st day - of what would prove to be the trip of a lifetime.
This trip had been long in the planning - coordinated by Al and Ardy from their island home on Paros, Greece. 26 people (some as passengers) would collect 21 hired scooters from Pontedera, the home of Piaggio's manufacturing operations, and ride around Tuscany stopping two nights at each hotel on the way. One rider, me, was riding down there, rather than fly in and hire.
Originally I was going to ride down on my Gilera GP800, but I was aware it would be out of scale with the 125 and 250 scooters that would be hired. Serendipity had a good friend of mine, Bill, put his Vespa GT200 up for sale, so he could buy a GTS250. This GT200, by the name of the Hornet (I don't name my bikes, but I don't un-name them if they already have one) was in tip-top showroom condition even though seven years old, due to the care taken by its previous owners - who are due full thanks.
The Hornet didn't come with a top-box, but I managed to cobble together an old X9 one of 55 litres capacity, fix a lock on it, and get it rattle-can sprayed Vintage Green to match the scooter. A bracket was fashioned from a bit of scrap steel knocking about, and all my luggage fitted in. As it turned out, I took lots of things I never ever needed, but at least I had riding kit for all likely weather conditions.
I was due out on the 09:50 Eurotunnel Shuttle, which meant an 07:30 start - that's normally the middle of the night for me. So a BT reminder call was booked - and it worked like a charm, I was out of the door and setting off just after 07:00, and was able to get on the booked train even though there had been delays of up to an hour because of some maintenance problem.
By chance, a couple of good riding companions from London Advanced Motocyclists were also crossing for 'Lunch in Le Touquet' as a D-Day charity fund-raiser.
Waiting to board the train:
I went on the autoroute to just past Lille, then onto back roads to get to my first planned destination, St Dizier.
Some poppies in a Flanders field:
I now made good progress down through France, not stopping for any photo-ops, as there was a long way to go. I arrived in St Dizier about 19:00, found the Ibis hotel, had a good meal and plenty of beer, wine and whisky. Free wifi access made the evening go fast enough, and I took to bed early at midnight so as to be fresh for the next stretch to Moutiers.
Odo at the end of the first day:
Track of the day (554km):