I always get excited when he starts to check the tyre pressures, brake pads, tread, oil level, gives me a clean and he sticks on all those Magellan stickers – yep, we are off on one of my favourite trips and it is the start of the touring season.

An early start for me as he wants to get past Lyon before the morning traffic – we are staying in Reims tonight which is where we usually stop over but, it is certainly colder this year than last year! Tucked up safely for the night in the underground car park I contemplate which trip it could be as Magellan do so many! I’ll soon find out though once we get across to Britain and meet the other motorcycles with their owners – I wonder if there will be any other nice BMW’s on this tour…

Stop24 and it is certainly cold in comparison with our nice garage in the south of France however looks like BMW is the most popular bike here with a nice red sporty model amongst them – I am sure that I will get to know them all as the trip progresses.

Off through the tunnel – gosh it’s busy! I heard one of the riders mention the moto GP so that must be why we have been so held up. Finally back in France but it is 1100 and I bet my boss is going to take me on a long run without many rests today as we are so late!

Motorways !*!*! – he knows that I hate motorways but I also remember how busy the roads out of Calais actually are so perhaps he is right for a change. Sticking to between 110 and 120 (km/h)is pretty comfortable as well – I wonder where the sporty red number has gone?

Finally off for a break and some go-juice – I needed a break but what now (?) – back on motorways? I thought that this was a Magellan tour and not a forced march down boring dual carriageways on cruise control!

Finally, the French countryside and the temperature has improved. Nice roads but we still seem to be chasing ourselves making up for lost time in the tunnel – fun though, all those twisties.

Verdun war memorial – what a terrible time with horrendous losses that must have been and what a building to commemorate all the fallen soldiers.

Off to our first hotel now – I think we are on the France and Corsica tour but I will know more tomorrow depending where we go. I also noticed a bike just like mine, even the same colour but it has spoked wheels and spots – how come he got that and I didn’t?

I am parked beside a Ducati Multistrada tonight – I like Italians. He wasn’t with us at the ferry – I wonder if he will be coming along – nice exhaust, bet it is loud!!!

It is France and Corsica – one of my favourites! Soon we will be in the Vosges Mountains. I love it there as the roads are so good with lovely twisties and the views are tremendous. The VFR is following us and we are driving quite fast – get it on!!!

All of us together at the top and yes, that Ducati is with us as well as another BMW I hadn’t noticed earlier. It is lovely here at the top and so many bikes. He is off for something to eat with his mates but it gives me another chance to catch up with the other bikes and find out how they are enjoying the trip so far.

The VFR has come all the way from north Wales with Dave riding it. It is the first time that it has been in France and is rather liking it. The Ducati, with Derek lives in France, not far from where I live so I am going to see that one quite often. The nice red number also comes from Wales but from the south and its rider is Nigel who drives quite quickly but seems to know what he is doing.

Here we go again – down the twisties, I could play here all day but there are not any petrol stations here so possibly not a good idea.

A quick run down the motorway to miss some boring riding and here we are back on twisties through forests and a small gorge. I recognise our coffee stop – it is lovely here and full of bikes. I see some bikes from Switzerland which is not too far away and some women riding some rather sexy sports bikes – I think that I like it here!

Overnight parking tonight is under the balcony of my rider’s room – handy and I am parked beside a BMW RS ridden by John – first time I have seen a bike like this and it looks rather sporty. On the other side of me is an older GSA with stickers from everywhere – Ian is his rider and it not only sports stickers but looks like it is used off road and across deserts. When I first saw it I thought that Ewan McGregor was with us on tour!

I like these leisurely 0900 starts, gives me a chance to warm up with some sunshine before we get going. Today it is a trip into the Jura Mountains and then on via Annecy to Albertville. Last year we didn’t end up in Albertville but I had to get a Crit Air sticker to let me go via Grenoble and I did notice that I am the only one with one.

I like the Jura Mountains – lovely roads, twisties, great road surfaces and the views are tremendous over Lake Geneva (Lac Léman). Our stop by the lake at Annecy is one of those artisan bakeries which my rider seems to like – at least I get a rest.

The next day sees us going through the Frejus tunnel into Italy – it is a long tunnel and quite hot in the middle. I was following the GSA and he was sticking to the speed limit unlike some of the others earlier who may have got caught when they overtook a lorry in an area with speed cameras! Oh dear.

Italy here we are and it is cold and wet. More go juice then we seem to drive round in circles as the route we want to take is closed. Back on the motorway eventually to get away from there and off on the next slip road then back into France via a lunch stop at Briançon. I heard them talking and they said that all the high passes were closed due to snow – this is the end of May! Luckily this one was open because I have never worn snow chains!

Boring roads towards Gap and heavy traffic – hope we are going to take the road by Lake Serre-Ponçon as that is windy, smooth and the road to Digne le Bains which we normally follow afterwards is fast and fun – yippee – looks like they had a team meeting and are changing from the prescribed route – best not tell Magellan…

I noticed that two of the Beemers are not there today – I wonder where they went. Bet they were glad to not go into Italy!

Manosque tonight – I know this garage. Thankfully I get a chance to dry off everything and all of us are together again. The Beemers ridden by Tim and John went via Grenoble down Route Napoleon and they stayed dry! Glad that we are all back together.

Just noticed another BMW beside me – just like mine and ridden by Linden. I followed him earlier today but we never had a chance to get to know each other.

Gorge du Verdun today which I am missing out as I have been there a few times – I bet all the other bikes will come back with great stories to tell. I hope that my rider takes me next year as I enjoy the roads there but not the drops to the side!

Off south again today – we get the ferry to Corsica tonight and have a lovely run down to the coast and along the Cote d’Azur which is horrendously busy when we normally go there but, being May it should be fine. I enjoy this road which has some lovely views as we drive past lakes, lavender fields and see how the architecture changes from Provincial to Mediterranean and the land gets progressively drier and more scrubland until we reach the sea.

Certainly quieter but now that we are getting nearer Toulon it is really busy and what I hate most – stop, start, brake and it’s hot! He told me last year that we would not be going this route again but here we are again. Think I will have some stern words with him to make sure he plans another option for 2019.

The overnight crossing was smooth and I was nicely lulled asleep with the gentle rocking – lots of bikes around me but we never had a chance to chat as we were all tied up – now I know what bondage must be like but I didn’t like all the cars being so close to us!

Corsica again – I love it here once we get out of Bastia and away from all that ferry traffic. Some crazy drivers here and I notice that the Ducati and I are going pretty fast along with a mini driven by a young girl. He had best be careful as some of these roads are not ideal for the speeds he is doing….

Thankfully that bit of macho racing is over and we are taking our time climbing into the mountains. Wild pigs, goats and even cows wander across these roads so you have to be careful. More pot holes this year than last year but they did have a very cold winter with lots of snow!

I love the scenery here and look forward to the three days riding we usually have planned before we have to go back to the bondage session on the ferry to get back to mainland France.

Lovely warm weather and I get a chance to drive with all of the others and to chat with them overnight. The VFR tells me that Dave slipped and pulled a tendon on his leg – I hope that he can carry on as he seems to be a good chap and popular. I also like the VFR…

Back in mainland France and not only is it raining but the traffic is very heavy. Monday rush hour – how unlucky but we go to Arles this morning which is one of my favourite stops as we get to park right by the Amphitheatre which is rather lovely.

Unfortunately it is raining quite heavily and we leave after an hour but I am quite wet – hope that it is dry further on.

It rained the whole afternoon and our route across to Meyrueis is pretty twitchy in poor visibility and narrow roads. Glad when we get to the garage and I get a chance to compare notes and dry out with the others. Tomorrow we go to Millau and see the bridge – hope that the weather improves.

Well, wishful thinking as we go over the plateau before dropping down into the gorge where we all seem to have taken different routes. I am parked under the bridge and the only one here yet the view is clear! Thankfully the GSA with Ian riding it arrived – Ian had stopped to take lots of pictures on the way and that is what held them up. We are riding together to the parking at the exhibition centre – hope that Nick’s route planning pays off this year as he spent a long time planning how to find the car park!

Phew – here we are but the only two. I heard later that the sexy red BMW’s owner took it over the bridge from the south and was parked in the other car park. They were planning to go under the bridge next and get some pictures. The GSA with Ian were planning going back south over the bridge and the others had headed either for the hotel of the stops due to the weather.

We drove along the prescribed route but saw nobody yet arrived before the rest at the last coffee stop however the BMW RS with John riding it was first at the hotel.

Rest day tomorrow and rain forecast – we all went off in different routes and we got caught in the most horrendous thunder and lightning storm along with heavy rain that I have ever seen. Torrential rain and the sky was black – hope that Nick has decent waterproofs because I have nothing extra to protect me!

Lovely roads here though – just like the Cotswolds and beautiful villages. I did get some video footage during some of the dry spells. I heard the next day that the GSA with Ian riding it were invited by a Frenchman to shelter from the storm in his garage and Ian even was fed coffee until it passed – why didn’t we get a break like that?

Off to Chartres the next day and rain forecast again. It was pretty misty as we left however it cleared up quite quickly and we had a lovely run north only getting wet for the last 20km. I saw the dark clouds over Chartres and wondered if Nick was going to chance it but I bet he is glad that he stopped with the rest and got his waterproofs on! I am glad to say that I got to park in the hotel garage so I could also dry out.

It was also the last time all of us were going to be together. The Italian Multistrada had left us early so we were only seven and I was sad when I said goodbye to everyone just before we drove out of the garage. I was of course going to see them at the stops but you are never sure.

The VFR rushed off at the lunch stop before the rest as Dave, its rider was going back home in one go (500+ miles) – glad that I had a much shorter journey.

We eventually went our own way – some staying another night in France with the majority taking the tunnel home or to a hotel near the tunnel in the UK.

I really enjoyed the trip and look forward to my next one with Magellan – and Nick.

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