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Third journey — Pan Euro 2004
on a Burgman AN650

written by Rod Slade

You are welcome to send pictures and a story of your favorite (or worse) biking trip to be published on my site. The first one to send a story is Rod Slade from United Kingdom.

 

A ‘Pan Euro’ trip 2004, with my Grandson Lee

by Rod Slade, UK

It was a frosty start this year, riding to Portsmouth for the ferry to St Malo, staying cold until arriving at our first overnight hotel at La Rochelle.








The ferry trip was better than two years ago, (as we went Dover Calais Paris last year) we had the prime central cabin overlooking the forecastle (the bit of deck at the front) and the view was great, until it got dark. Looking out of this cabin porthole I had a sudden jerkback in time, back to about forty odd years ago:
- When I was around 16 years old, I joined the merchant navy.(I lasted only two weeks!)In the cabin today, the awesome memory came back to me of my third day at sea, when I was given the insane job of standing right at the front point of the ship, in the dark, with the job of ringing the bell if I saw a light on either side - once for Port & twice for Starboard if I remember correctly- I can't explain how horrific the weather and sea was;  I looked up at the sea, I swear it was hovering 50 feet above my head! The rest of that trip through the Irish sea, I only remember lying in a top bunk in my cabin, being continuously sick into my yellow souwester which I had tied to a pipe on the ceiling!!
And looking through that porthole; today, there in front of me was a bell at the front of our ship!!   Shivers? 



 

St Malo
Lee See the Bell!


  



After leaving the ferry at St Malo, it was a nice ride to La Rochelle. A great time that happened on that ride, was as we came off the motorway, there was about 45 miles of ordinary two lane, sweeping bend roads where we met up with another bike and passenger, travelling in the same direction.
Now, as any true biker knows, when you meet up with another, unknown, fellow biker it is just the best experience when; without anything being said, you both decide to go for it together in a fast blast.

It was a blast; we both took it in turns to lead scratching through the traffic at speed. Believe me there are not a lot of machines of the same power as the AN 650, that can outrun it, especially when you use the serious performance facilities on the Burgman, its quick, precise and forgiving, a joy to ride.
We got into the town of La Rochelle ( we arrived first!) then at the first traffic lights we both went to the front on either side of the traffic. The other guy looked over with a big grin and a wave which we returned. When Lee and I arrived at the hotel we were chatting & laughing about it when I said to Lee “They seemed to enjoy it as well, did you see the smiles?” to which Lee replied “Yes his girl friend had a little smile; but her knuckles were really white”! Hearing that, I almost fell over laughing…
La Rochelle is a pleasant French / Roman town, plenty to see and visit with a good shopping centre which was very busy this year as it was the "French holiday" season.



La Rochelle
Lee & Carousel 2004 - 2002 

 



As we travelled mainly on the motorway, the run from La Rochelle to Bilbao was pretty uneventful, but it was a very tiring journey. On our arrival in the City of Bilbao, we asked 'a local' the way to our hotel; Lee somehow managed to understand the directions?!...
We arrived at the hotel with no problems. Our hotel was sited on the river bank opposite the Guggenheim museum: this was fine as we had planned to visit this renowned, world famous museum.  To get there we needed to cross a very architecturally impressive bridge (see photo - Not mine!), so as we were crossing I decided to take a photograph on the bridge from the far side.
Now believe this:
- I've owned the camera for a few years now with no problems… As I was taking the photo, the bottom of my camera battery compartment dropped off, and deposited the catch & the batteries through the holes in the bridge floor, plopping into the river below!!??As you know, things happen;.. the only time I am positioned over a river, taking a photo, when the camera decides to let go of the battery compartment!.. Any other time I could have picked it up off the floor.

So no more photo's with my camera this year. As we came out of the Guggenheim after the tour, I felt disappointed with what we had seen at this exhibition. I also noticed a bemused look on the faces of many other people exiting at the same time like:
-"what did I just see?? Not a lot, I was expecting to more amazed."



 

On the road
That bridge! Guggenheim M.

  


The museum was very large with not a lot of "interesting" exhibits (large is sometimes ok, but here it didn't work) The one impressive exhibit we found was a large dark room full of moving film & sound. There were completely different scenes & sounds for each wall and ceiling, it was very easy to take in and get involved.

Onwards:
The journey to Madrid was ok once we had finally found our way out of Bilbao. The road signs are confusing; twice we ended up in a commercial area going nowhere. Although its motorway there is some really great scenery as you pass through the mountain region on the way south.
Entering Madrid was a bit strange; as we passed the bombed Atocha railway station I had a shiver as I remembered that we had walked through that very station 2 years ago, (the last time we travelled the Madrid way) on our way by train from the hotel to visit the Real Madrid football stadium. 

Arrival:

In Spain we stay in an apartment at Villa Martin which is close to Torrevieja, Costa Blanca (the apartment is arranged by Carol; - Lee's Grandmother - and her partner Chalky) our apartment was next door to them. It's a bonus to have someone who lives there to take charge and show you around. Torrevieja is busy, working class town right on the coast, funky, with lots of interesting places in the region to go to, with the lakes Torreimendo, Orihuelo well worth a visit, as is the bar Andreu a restaurant (close to the lake) you will be very pleased with the food and the scenery.



  
V.Martin view  Map to :

  
The Lake Prep to go home



Should anyone be interested in visiting Villa Martin, the nearest airport is Murcia - and for any information on accommodation etc, you can Email to : carolcostaspain@yahoo.co.uk  - Carol will be able to advise you. 

Finally:

The return trip was ok with the only memorable happening being amazed by a long wall of excellent graffiti, on the west road into the town of Bordeaux, unfortunately, with no working camera, I was not able to take any photos, Lee used a phone camera to shoot the 7 images, but the quality isn't good...
 


We found the city of Bordeaux very weird; The hotel was in a pedestrian only area, (but motorcycles can get in!) an area of absolute elitist luxury; London Paris & New York type exclusive clothes shops, Gucci etc, (all closed as it was something like Bastille day). But walk just 100 yds (sorry, meters!) and you are in absolute filth. Derelict buildings (one building "Dominos Pizza" looking like it had been bombed) really filthy streets with dubious characters walking those streets. In a square on the edge of these two areas were  a group of about 8 or 9 tramps, fit looking men of about 35 to 45 years old, sitting around on the pavement drinking, with about 3 vicious looking dogs!? One of the tramps started shouting abuse at us (in English!!) so we exited swiftly.
Although I would like to get some proper photos of the graffiti wall, I don't think we will return to Bordeaux. (I have searched the internet for pictures of this wall but found nothing). On our return to England, the ship docked at Portsmouth on time for the final run; It was early (7:00am), disembarked with ease, but as often happens; I lost my way. We ended up in the west Sussex countryside on the A29 and A286 (Petworth - Midhurst - Haslemere). - We had a sharp, swift reminder of the unpredictable weather in rural England, with frost and fog in August...
We travelled through winding country lanes, up and down, through pockets of early morning mist (it felt like freezing fog), on a totally deserted road looking for a petrol station once again! It was a strange ride, Lee noticed dozens of small animals (he believes they were small rabbits) dead on the road, I had noticed but my attention was on the road and weather.After the burning sunshine of Spain, that ride back was a powerful reminder that we were home!!


 

DAILY TRAVEL LOG  - OUTWARD
Date   Journey Dist. Time Checks
Oil  Water  Air  Petrol *

14/7/04

Isleworth

88.8 miles

1h30m

OK

OK

OK

1

 

Portsmouth

   
     

15/7/04

St Malo

211.4 miles

3h 45m

OK

OK

OK

2

 

La Rochelle

   
     

16/7/04

La Rochelle

336.2 miles

5h 40m

OK

OK

OK

4

 

Bilbao

   
     

17/7/04

Bilbao

241.2 miles

4h 10m

Ok

Yes

OK

2

 

Madrid

   
     

18/7/04

Madrid

348.3 miles

5h 12m

Yes

OK

OK

4

 

Torrevieja

   
  * Petrol = 11.75 Euros average on each stop 
 
 

DAILY TRAVEL LOG  - RETURN HOME
Date Journey Dist. Time Checks
Oil  Water  Air  Petrol *

31/7/04

Torrevieja

389 miles

6h 30m

OK

OK

Yes

3

 

Zaragoza

   
     

1/8/04

Zaragoza

325 miles

5h 10m

OK

OK

OK

4

 

Bordeaux

   
     

2/8/04

Bordeaux

115.2 miles

1h 58m

Yes

OK

OK

1

 

La Rochelle

   
       

3/8/04

La Rochelle

214.7 miles

4h 32m

OK

Yes

Yes

3

 

St Malo

   
       

4/8/04

Portsmouth

91.7 miles

2h 12m

OK

OK

OK

1

 

Isleworth

   

Final thoughts 2004…

It was a great trip on a fantastic new machine for the 2004 run.....  
Our new Burgman AN650 gave Lee & myself some wonderful travelling experiences. It will sit between 104 & 111 miles per hour, all day long, on the motorways through Europe.The "power" button (push to pass in English) is a kick in the backside: not a lot can stay with it - then; you have the "manual override gearbox" it's an experience not to miss; Wow! -  And it will cruise delightfully in Auto.On the whole 2500 mile journey the bike only used a small cupful of Oil and about half a pint of water! It did not miss a beat for the whole journey. I made an accidental amazing discovery before we left England: Shell have a new fuel called "Optimax". It improves the performance by a very noticeable amount, accelerating for the first time after filling an empty tank with the new fuel, it gave me such a surprise I had to grab the handlebars to hold on!!One thing, I do wish Suzuki would pay attention to some development of the model, there are only a couple of negatives about the bike but it's a shame: One drawback is that it doesn't have the AN400 breaking system, The AN650 will not stop as brilliantly as the "linked" 400 system we travelled on last year. I know that R&D has to catch up, but do Suzuki talk to riders? I don't understand why Suzuki haven't developed the "linked" system for the AN650? It really needs it.





Post Script

Tip One:

On a trip like this it was essential to have enough luggage space, so we fitted a large Givi top box. Fitting this box on to the Burgman AN 650 means that you must remove the original Passenger backrest, to fit the Givi metal base-plate to the same securing points, to enable the attachment of the locking plate for the box holder. 
 

The Givi locking plate,
The new custom Backrest  & rack for day to day use


A top box is necessary for travelling, but for day to day use it's not needed & is cumbersome, so I decided to make a custom rack and incorporate the original Suzuki passenger backrest for normal daily use.After removing the Givi locking plate, I made a wood template of the custom plate (with the holes & size indicated), bought an old Honda 250 rack from a scrap dealer, then along with the original backrest, took it all to a local metal works. They chopped, cut & welded with the results in the photo above. It was a great job. Dean Robinson was the fabricator and can be contacted at P & R Fabrications Ltd at:- dean@pandrfabrications.fsnet.co.uk2

Tip Two:
The Sunshine in Spain
can get the bodywork on the machine as hot as the engine. To protect Lee's hands I covered the passenger grab rail with vinyl.

 

For the Joy of riding - Ride On!! 
Rod & Lee Slade. 
rodsladeathome@btopenworld.com

Thanks to Carol & Chalky, Lucy, Ricky, Gill & Tony.

http://www.viamichelin.com/
http://www.suzukicycles.org/updates.html
http://www.brittanyferries.com
http://www.bestwestern.com
http://www.idealspain.com/
http://www.ville-larochelle.fr/english
http://www.freetranslation.com/

http://www.britishembassy.gov.uk
 

 
We are looking for a different route 2005.

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