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  • June 01, 2024 4 min read

    Organisation: After various false starts this trip took place NOT as a LAM trip but as a group of LAM members making their own travel and bookings at an agreed hotel. While this is a little more work for participants it does give flexibility to arrive or depart at different times from the main group, fitting in with various work and other commitments. We weren’t able to book an inclusive evening meal at the hotel, but I got the impression that most of us were quite happy to make their own arrangements. The group WhatsApp seemed to work well for arranging both rides and evening meals.

    Travel out: While most of us took the 8.20 shuttle on Sunday 5th May a few made different arrangements. Everything went on time and we rode as a group, criss-crossing the French/Belgian border in good weather and arriving at our overnight accommodation in, or rather near Givet around six pm.  Thanks to Mark and Alan for leading and tail-ending.

    Overnight Stop: Most of us had booked to stay at the Chateau De l’Aviette, which is located at the end of a somewhat rugged track. Although our hostess was very helpful and accommodating it’s hard to escape the conclusion that its online description is somewhat flattering and had some typically French quirky features. It’s very much a work in progress and the evening meal was by no means exceptional.

    Day two:  Although the overnight rain had stopped by the time we departed it resumed with greater or lesser intensity throughout the day.  Studies have proved that continental rain is 8.25% wetter than the rain we have in the UK which was unfortunate as the ride through the Ardennes and Luxembourg was more interesting and challenging than the previous day’s. Our lunchtime stop, just into Germany in Bitburg resulted in us subdividing into ‘snackers’ and those of us indulging in a full meal and opportunity to dry-off in a comfortable restaurant. This was probably my best meal of the trip, but though no alcohol passed my lips during the afternoon I found it impossible to shake off a tired and sluggish feeling which greatly affected my riding. After a couple of hours or possibly longer I split off to ride directly to the hotel, but in the event got there only a short while before everyone else.

    Contel Hotel, Koblenz: The choice of both the hotel and the location were very much the result of the travel agent’s previous involvement, rather than a positive option on our part. Koblenz is a busy medium sized town (circa 120,000) – somewhere a little smaller and possibly not so far east would have suited the group better. The hotel had some positive points – clean, comfortable, decent sized rooms and underground parking but was a good twenty-minute walk from the town centre where the restaurants and shops are. The hotel provided a limited evening menu and bar drinks were at reasonable prices. The large Biergarten only opened on our last evening and seemed to draw a large number of locals, celebrating the public holiday and advent of fine weather.

     Rides: Rides were arranged every day, with Mark and Alan taking a lead in planning routes, but with some choosing a more leisurely departure time. Options were circulated on What’s App, including trips to the Nurnberg Ring.  As we all learned, road closures are by no means confined to the UK. Fortunately, there was little or no more rain and the weather became quite warm. On Thursday I led a ‘relaxed pace’ ride to the town of Trier, famous for being the oldest town in Germany, its Roman remains and the birthplace of Karl Marx. We were able to have lunch in the main square, to visit the Porta Nigra (Roman city gates) explore the impressive cathedral and even to listen to a brass band.

    Previously unknown to us, Thursday was a public holiday (Ascension  Day/Himmelfahrt) bringing massive numbers of bikes out on to the roads, crowding the Ring and effectively making for a long weekend.

    Return Journey: Group members had two main options – up early on Friday for a motorway blast and evening crossing or to ride the more interesting roads on the first day, then make an overnight stop. And pretty much even numbers did so.  I wasn’t keen to go to Givet, but unfortunately the aforementioned public holiday meant that, so far as I could see on Booking.com, there was no available accommodation anywhere in the areas of France or Belgium that I’d been considering. Never mind – Holland was added to the number of countries visited and after cruise-controlling it as far as Lille the following day I found a few twisty roads to enjoy before the crossing back home.

    Problems: No significant mishaps or issues, mechanical or otherwise, as far as I’m aware.

    Learning points to consider: Don’t rely on hotel websites – if possible, go by personal knowledge/recommendation, look at distances on the map and check the locale via Streetview and Google maps for proximity to services.

    Check for public holidays – this may not have impact, but could mean that some places will be busy or closed. Better to know than to have a surprise.

    Whichever way you cut it, northern France/southern Belgium between roughly Lille and Liège has only small stretches of road that are pleasant to ride. Unless you or your bike have a serious phobia consider using motorways for all or part of this stretch.

    The Cast

    Mark Jaffe


    Fred Burder

    VFR 800 (6th gen)

    Ian Prideaux


    Alan Hawrylyshen

    Multistrada V4 PP

    Ralph Pobjoy


    Craig Parrett


    Al Warren

    Multistrada 1200

    Nigel Walker

    Triumph Street Cup

    Matthew Heymans

    KTM Superduke

    Stephen Trinder


    Tony Ogden


    John McNally

    Multistrada V2

    Chris Leach

    MT 10

    Grant Digby


    Chris Wales



    John McNally

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