Well Eurothrash was upon us once again and this time it was decided that we – me, Yox and Purge again – would head once more to the Pyrenees. Yox as usual was charged with sorting out routes and he did us proud again:

Eurothrash 2017: the Route

So after work on the Friday, I headed down to Portsmouth to meet up with the two of them for a pint of two at a nearby pub before boarding the overnight ferry to Caen. The weather forecast was a bit dodgy but it didn’t really rain until it was time for boarding.

Once on board, the drinking theme continued, despite our knowing that the forecast was not particularly good:

“Let me explain…”

Les Miserables

After a couple of hours’ kip in our compact and bijou 4-berth cabin, we got up, had coffee and a croissant and ventured out into the light rain; I didn’t bother to put on my waterproof oversuit as I thought I’d leave it to the “waterproof” Triumph Taloc leathers, Alpinestars Gore-Tex boots and Rukka Gore-Tex gloves to sort things out, which they did. At one point during the day it got a little nippy, so at one fuel stop, I grabbed my Keis heated vest and plugged it in as well as turning on the heated grips and was toasty-warm!

After 500 miles or so, we got separated near to our first stop at Lurbe-Saint-Christau and I followed the Garmin to our hotel, the Au Bon Coin which, from the outside and being in the middle of nowhere, didn’t look like much. Inside, however, it was comfortable and our dinner – after a couple of beers – was really tasty.

Time for beer!

After breakfast on Day Two, we set off for Spain and the Hotel Cotori in El Pont de Suert where we’d stayed in 2013.  This really is a fabulous hotel and one I’d stay in again and again.

En route, we stopped off for some coffee as Yox had brought his coffee-making kit with him, so we did some off-roading (!) to ride down to a river – well, excluding Purge who refused to take the ZZR1400 down the gravel embankment – only to find that there was a disaster! Yox’s cafetière had smashed! So we ended up sieving the coffee through a tea towel to allow us to have the elixir of life before finishing our ride.

And here’s some video of Yox and I getting up the slope:

150-ish miles later and we arrived in the main square outside the Hotel Cotori where they were setting up for “La Nit del Foc” or the “Night of Fire” with wooden torches in all shapes and sizes everywhere. We weren’t sure whether it was actually a Wicker Man-style event for us, especially after the 19 beers that were consumed…

Day Three and we were heading to the Hotel Andria in Seo de Urgel, some 180 miles on our planned twisty routes. We stopped off at one point for some photos near Montferrer i Castellbò in Catalonia and saw some eagles – you won’t be able to make them out, I doubt, from my photos.

By the time we reached the hotel after a very warm day in the saddle – 32°C – we were pleased that they let us park the bikes up in their courtyard. A quick shower and a few beers on the verandah and we headed off into town for food, including Yox’s mini-penises…

Day Four was planned to be a biggie: 230-ish miles of bends and twisties from Spain into France and then up into Andorra before our overnight stop at the Hotel President.

And the roads indeed proved epic with lots of hairpins, ascents and descents all day long. And our first brush with the law: after a ‘spirited’ ride up some hairpins, we got pulled over by the police near Naut Aran in Catalonia:

After our stop, we decided to pull over so our Extreme Barista could do his stuff, this time using just the filter from the broken cafetière to filter the coffee.

Once we’d had coffee, we set off again and later found that we could experience a number of different weather conditions within a very short space of time once we were back into the Haute-Garonne of France:

After negotiating the perilous car park ramps at the Hotel President, it was time for beers and their buffet deal in the restaurant. Yox and Purge had adjoining rooms which featured their own shared ante-room with sofas and TV!

Day Five was planned as another 160-ish miles back into Spain, along the N260 and then back into France for our next stop at Thuir, the Domaine de La Fauvelle.

A slightly cooler 31°C but lots of effort on the roads led to us needing beers when we arrived before we’d even changed. They told us the restaurant was usually shut that day but as another older lady was staying, they’d got the chef coming in especially and would we like to dine there? On the basis that we were on the outskirts of Thuir and couldn’t be arsed to walk into town we said yes and were lucky to do so as the food was simply superb. Purge had already claimed he was all cheesed out but still managed some, giving up the chance to try what he mis-translated as “fish sorbet”…

The mileage had begun to take its toll on us, so for Day Six, our planned route of 200 miles back into the twisties before heading to the idiosyncratic Hôtel Renaissance at Castres was only followed by Yox and me, with Purge taking the more direct route to Castres.

The roads were great fun, but as even Yox was taking it easy which was not what I wanted to do, needing a bit more speed to take the weight off my wrists, so I rode past and made my own way on the planned route, with Yox catching me when I stopped for a well-earned break in Couiza.

By the time we got to Castres and had settled into our rooms, Purge had already arrived much earlier and was sitting drinking in one of the bars in the square, where we then met up before finding a restaurant to eat: burgers with goats cheese (and then more cheese). After dinner, we headed back to the hotel for a couple of beers/digestifs and then bed: we had a long day ahead of us planned…

Did I mention the roads were great?

Day Seven and we were starting our return journey, heading for the Domaine de Roiffé, some 320 miles from Castres. Purge had already decided he would take the direct motorway route and blast there whilst Yox and I would take a nicer route, even though we’d ride at our own pace – I’d stopped for petrol the night before, etc.

The weather was a little changeable and on one country road in the rain, I got flashed by a hidden speed camera on a double-bend; we’ll see if the ticket reaches me. Purge reached the hotel 15 minutes or so before me and Yox a little while after as he’d stopped for photos on the way. A quick shower and then off for beers and a lovely meal in our own vaulted roofed booth.

Day Eight and we planned an earlier departure as we were all booked on mid-afternoon Eurotunnel crossings. As I was on a FlexiPlus fare I was more relaxed and we’d all planned our own strategies for the final 340-odd miles: I was planning a two-stop, Yox a one-stop and Purge a “pin it to win it” blast/stop/repeat run.

It was warm and dry, but the rain clouds were ever-present and you dodged the clouds as much as possible, with the odd heavy downpour and then bright, warm sunshine.

As it transpired, we all arrived at the terminal within minutes of each other. After enduring the long wait at UK Border Agency, we boarded separate trains and then I headed home.

2,327 Miles

Once home, it was a cuppa, a shower, a Chinese takeaway and then back out to collect my partner from her flight back from Fuerteventura (landing at 1.10am!) into Gatwick. No rest for the wicked!

A couple of weeks later and my numb index finger (throttle side) is only gradually easing. Maybe that could be avoided in future by my fitting bar risers? One to try…

So with another girls’ weekend in Newquay ahead of Alison and none of my riding mates able to come with me if I went anywhere, I decided I’d head to a part of France I’d never visited before, so I thought I’d head to Le Mont-Saint-Michel.

I looked at the “Ride” magazine guide to France and some of their suggested routes around there and the Atlantic coast and booked a couple of other overnight stops at the end of a couple of routes, sight unseen.

I booked a Eurotunnel crossing with their Flexiplus fare so that I could be as pressure-free as possible on my way back with the longest leg of the tour. After a 4.30am start, I turned up in plenty of time and was waved straight through and onto a train waiting to leave. They even gave me my own personal carriage 🙂

The Sprint GT and an empty carriage

The Sprint GT and an empty carriage

After around 560km I arrived at my hotel, having had to talk my way around one of the barriers stopping entry to the town without a code – which I had, thinking it was the code to the hotel’s own carpark (which they don’t have). Thanks to Accor’s loyalty plan, I’d been able to check in early so I spent the afternoon wandering around the actual Mont-Saint-Michel with its narrow streets and steps. Perfect for pushchairs, apparently…

I decided to walk back to the hotel as the queue for the bus was very long and after dinner came back out to take some more photos as night fell. Here are some photos:

My next stop was at Quimper. I’d found what was supposed to be a four star place to stay without really realising it was a campsite and that there weren’t really hotel-type rooms in the accepted sense in the Chateau itself. Worse than that was the 5.00pm check-in. I messaged them to see if I could check in earlier but hadn’t heard back before I set off so I enjoyed the lovely roads and stopped at Guingamp for coffee and lunch:

I checked my emails to find I could check in earlier after all, so off I went. I arrived around 4.00pm and checked-in at Reception, rode around to the chateau and couldn’t find any way to get in. After 45 minutes, i was lucky enough to find someone who could point me in the right direction, by which point I was a sodden, sweaty lump thanks to the hot day and a full set of leathers.

Still it was nice and ‘authentic’ and I did enjoy my time there:

Parked-up for the night

Parked-up for the night

L'Orangerie de Lanniron

L’Orangerie de Lanniron

L'Orangerie de Lanniron

L’Orangerie de Lanniron

Check-out time was 10.00am so after breakfast I set out for St Nazaire on some more lovely roads, going via Quiberon, which meant filtering along through the traffic queues onto the peninsula. A nice stop for moules and a wave to America and I was back on the road.

Hello America!

Hello America!

Moules Mariniere

Moules Mariniere

I arrived at the Hotel Majestic La Baule and wandered off to take some photos and get a coffee and Coke … and a Cuba Libre.


The next morning after a lovely breakfast I waved goodbye and set off for home: a small matter of 770km.

The sun's up and it's time to leave

The sun’s up and it’s time to leave

Saying goodbye

Saying goodbye

I made it to Calais in plenty of time and despite the “helpful” UK Border Agency making me remove my helmet – even though he could clearly see my face – which slowed things up, I got on to an earlier train back (see my earlier comment about Flexiplus).

Home and a shower and a coffee and I was almost human after 2002km. I do like the Triumph Sprint GT 1050 and I also like my new leathers: Triumph “Taloc” leather jacket and jeans which are heat-reflective with zipped ventilation to help you keep cool and they’re also weather-resistant/waterproof supposedly. I only had a couple of light showers so no chance to really test that out, but there are inner liners to let the rain run out if it makes it through the leather.


2002 kilometres

1244 miles

1244 miles

Saturday morning found me heading out on the bus with a leather jacket and clutching my open helmet to head to Metropolis Motorcycles to pick up the Sprint. And so it was that I got off the train at Vauxhall and wandered over just as they were opening … which was just as well as it was filling up for “Crash a Triumph Day” aka Triumph Open Day with test rides aplenty.

After we’d done the paperwork and I’d laughed at the stupid warning label on the pannier liner bags (have I got to take a Triumph Technician everywhere with me?), I fired up GT with its 3.1 mile mileometer (or odometer as Triumph refer to it) reading and headed home via a petrol station to fill the tank right up. It was handy having the top box as well because I could put all my paperwork – in a neat Triumph pouch – and a Triumph T-shirt and mug in the cavernous boot.

To be fitted by a trained technician

To be fitted by a trained technician

Top Box Inner Bag. Really?

Top Box Inner Bag. Really?

So home, arriving with a little over 6 miles on the clock.

It was then that I noticed the scratches on the massive OEM silencer – the “Hoover” – which had been effectively hidden in the showroom and not showing up when I climbed onto the bike from the other side:

Scratched End Cap

Scratched End Cap

Scratched Silencer

Scratched Silencer

Now while I have told the dealer about them, it’s only important for when/if I sell the bike, because I’d already decided that I wouldn’t be happy with this profile:



… and I’d much prefer this one instead:

...and After

…and After

This has the added benefit – having removed the baffle – of releasing a lovely, deep growl from the triple engine without being too noisy, thanks to the catalytic converter in the headers/collector box (I only swapped out the silencer). Start to finish, it took me 10 minutes to fit this carbon fibre Remus Hexacone silencer. Lighter weight, smaller, shorter and better looking. And it makes the popping and banging on the overrun even better!

I then spent another 5 minutes taking off all the warning stickers from the tank before they get a chance to harden and take hold on the tank. Marvelous!

The next job was to fit the RAM mount for the satnav to the fork tops and then wire up a power lead to plug into the accessory socket. Sadly, this wasn’t actually putting out any power (and neither were the heated grips which share the same circuit) so that’s another job for the dealer to sort. I wired up another lead direct from the battery to the new powered satnav cradle from Amazon… which is also DOA! So the morning had taken a slight turn for the worse … which got much, much worse when I scraped the left pannier going into the garage due to my misjudging the width at the rear – the bike’s wider at the back than the front, even with the wide mirrors. Arse! Out with the T-Cut paste.

Finally, it was time to change into my black race leathers and matt black Arai for the full stealth effect. High viz? Schmy viz! Then off to Egham to drop off some apartment keys for Amy and then on to Epsom and the other GT for dinner.

Sunday morning and I was up and out of the house by 8.00am as I was heading down to the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu to meet up with friends for breakfast and a natter. I chose the A3 as it was a nice mixture of roads and off I went, keeping the revs and throttle openings to a modest amount as I’m running the bike in. Playing with the trip computer showed that the GT was giving over 50mpg at 90mph – on closed roads, obv! – and even with all the town riding was averaging 46mpg with a range of a little over 200 miles.

Some slight tingling through the bars at around 90 as well, so I will need to keep it just under or just over on Eurothrashes.

After a lovely time with mates, I headed back to Epsom where the other GT had finished a difficult half-marathon – “demanding”, said the website – especially in the heatwave. I was pleased to have avoided it on doctor’s orders after my GP and Consultant had told me to rest my duff knee until it’s fixed.

On the way back up the M3, a crash had slowed traffic to a halt so I was able to see what it was like to filter with the additional width. It was OK: I just had to be a little more careful and filter with less extreme prejudice than usual.

Then in the evening it was back home through more heavy traffic up to Wandsworth and a weekend of around 250 miles.


…and these colours are really nice (especially the blue and silver one):

Triumph has once again teamed up with custom paint shop 8 Ball to create a limited edition run of just 50 eye-catching Sprint GTs.

Triumph has created two distinctive looks based around the standard Sprint GT colours; the first a striking pacific blue and pewter silver with scarlet red pinstripe design and the second an attention-grabbing phantom black and pearlescent bullion gold.

The bold paint schemes run across the Sprint GT’s flowing faring, fuel tank and large capacity panniers.

Just 25 bikes have been produced in each colour option ready for this summer’s touring season.

The new machines are exclusively available via the UK Triumph dealer network, priced £8,649 OTR.

130702_sprint_gt_8ball_black 130702_sprint_gt_8ball_blue