The day plan was very simple: ride to Liverpool.
Following the same routine that I had so far helped me to avoid heavy traffic early morning. By mid morning, I covered a reasonable mileage along E25 towards Calais and I was close to Reims. I had been topping up my petrol tank every 100 miles and it worked well so far. When things going well, I should have kept it as it was, but I didn’t. I tried to stretched the interval for an extra 20 miles and I missed a fuel stop.
As a result of it, I had to travel extra 40 miles to the nearby petrol station and traveled another 40 miles back to where I should be: 80 miles in total was wasted. Turning around at the end of the motorway also meant that I had to go outside the pay station and get back in again. What I messed I had made!
I was very annoyed by my stupidity, together with the share excitement (?) of riding on the motorway nearly drive me in sane. When I saw the sign towards Calais, it was a sign of relief.
When I was closer to the dock area, my GPS once lost signal and I was lost again. Visually I could see the dock but I just couldn’t seem to find my way to get to it. Mega frustrating. While I was finding my way, I was also stuck in a traffic diversion which led me further and further away from the seafront. It was a life saver when I saw a rider and a pillion with a UK number plate waiting in the traffic. I asked them if they knew when to go to the ferry, and they didn’t know. Well, I guess I had to find my way then. Another hour and more miles had gone, I finally found my way and made it to the ferry dock. After paying for my new ticket (as I turned up a day early), I took a moment and rested by my bike. Reflect on the journey so far. A biker with his pillion showed up on my right: it was the same biker that said to me not knowing where the bloody ferry was! Extremely annoyed!
This guy was not only unhelpful when I asked him for the direction, he also started slagging off my bike!!! He said this bike was so old and it wouldn’t make it to anywhere. What a cheeky bugger!!!! I should have a camera to capture his face expression when I told him how far we had traveled and in such a short period of time. From that moment on, his tone of voice changed and I felt both myself and the bike earned our respect from him. When he learned that I had to travel back to Liverpool, he offered me a cup of coffee and even a night in his house if I decide to ride back to Liverpool the following day!
Once we were on board of the ferry, I tried to catch some time for rest as I still have lots of miles to go. This man noted that my left foot was limping, he kindly offered me a chair so that I could put my feet up. Very nice.
The white cliffs in Dover was a welcome sign that I returned to the UK. I thanked the couple for their company and get back on the road. I was praising myself that I had not fallen off the bike or dropped the bike throughout the trip, what I didn’t know was that it would soon happen on the British soil instead: I caught up with the heavy traffic when people leaving work on Dartford Crossing. When I was stuck in the wrong lane for car to pay toll, I was waved by the official to ride through, suddenly the barrier came down and hit me. The bike was landed on me and initially no one came to help.
Luckily my panniers absorbed most of the weight, only cosmetic damages and bent indicators. It also meant that I could carry on traveling.
Another few hours and more fuel stops, I finally arrive at Liverpool at mid evening.
It was an emotional moment when I saw my home. Both myself and my bike made the journey to Italy, a dream trip to visit the Ducati museum and my first solo long ride to the continent. A day later when I reflected on the trip, I gained a lot more experience of planning the ride and the actual ride itself. Riding alone also gave me the joy of freedom that allowed me truly experience of the idea of riding freely. There were moments of loneliness that I wished I were with someone especially those happy moments during the trip. I guess it’s like any adventure, it’d be a mix of bitter and sweet. That’s why such adventure is so memorable and it makes you want to do it again.
I love travel by motorcycle and I can’t wait for my next adventure.