Friday, 7 September, 2012 Calais, France to London, England (86 miles) Total Trip Miles – 13,092. 2.5 hrs hours riding
Weather Temperature mostly sunny in the upper 60’s…a perfect riding day back to a more civilized world
By the way, I am now just 6 hours ahead of the central time zone which means since leaving Vladivostok a couple of weeks ago, I crossed 10 time zones as I made my way west.
Yesterday evening I met several folks on bikes from the UK doing a fundraising ride for fallen soldiers and I asked about crossing the channel on a ferry and they all emphatically suggested the Eurotunnel. During some of my trip planning, I had looked into making the crossing on the train, but since it required a reservation I opted to pass on scheduling at that time. They mentioned to Google the world “chunnel” and that would get to the Eurotunnel website.
To avoid traffic delays, it was also recommended that I schedule my crossing at about 10 am which I did…As I approached the area to catch the Eurotunnel train, I quickly realized this was a highly sophisticated operation that not only moved people, cars and buses, but large trucks with freight going to the UK from all parts of Europe. I ended up being slotted with other bikers and we were all guided onboard the train…it’s a ride on – ride off system that’s quite efficient. The trip under the Channel takes just 35 minutes and this gave me time to chat with some of the bikers from the area…most were in my age group and had been touring on their bikes in all parts of Europe.
Almost forgot to mention, that when I was clearing UK customs at the port prior to boarding, the customs official asked about what I was doing and he was genuinely interested in my trip and many of the details…he even wrote down for me all the highways I needed to get to Gatwick Airport. At that moment I realized that every person I have come in contact during these last several weeks has been very pleasant and helpful…I have not had one bad experience which I find utterly amazing. Also, there is something so civilized about the British and their accent. I remember years ago after being in Zimbabwe and other parts of southern Africa for a few weeks, I was returning home to the US on board a British Airways flight to London when the flight attendant asked how I would like my afternoon tea…”with milk & sugar?” It was at that very moment I realized I was back and just how good I felt to once again return to the more civilized world!!
After departing the train, I immediately got on the M20 heading towards London’s Gatwick Airport and my hotel. There I unloaded my gear and began preparing my bike to take over to the airport for shipping back to Montreal on Monday…the hostess at the hotel, Alicia, mentioned the rental car agency attached to the hotel might be willing to wash my bike…she also accepted my offer for some free gas or petrol since I had to drain for the flight shipment.
A young man at the rental car agency used a high pressure sprayer to remove the weeks of Siberian dirt and grime from the bike and I gave him 10 pounds for his efforts…
Off to the airport I located the Serviceair air cargo facility and after a brief inspection and a little work on the bike removing the windshield, mirrors and disconnecting the battery, it was ready for x-ray and shipment.
Mike at Serviceair gave me lift back to the terminal so I could catch a bus back to the hotel and after a late lunch and a Jack Daniels on the rocks to help celebrate and commemorate the moment, I found myself dozing off at the table. After a hot bubble bath…that’s right a bubble bath, I crashed in the bed and slept like never before for about 8 hours – by far the best sleep I’ve had in well over a month…ohhh, how I missed you civilized world!
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