First big Adventure. 11th April 2019
This trip to me has been a total challenge but one that has been made with friends ( very good friends ). The Cambs and Peterborough Women's Bikers or CPWB https://www.facebook.com/groups/CambPWB/2142135115893417/?
We started on the Thursday night with every intention of leaving Cambridgeshire in a group of four at about 5.30pm to 6 pm to meet the other ten girls at Folkestone to begin our adventure on Friday morning, things didn't work out that way because of work comittments we ended up traveling in two's and me and my friend arrived in Folkestone in the dark after most of the girls had gone to bed, having never ridden in the dark before it was a baptism of fire for me but with a good leader up in front I made it. I was shattered and the concentration used was mega and this was just the begining.
At 9am on the 12th April after a breakfast of bananas 14 intrepid ladies set off to board the tunnel train to start our Belgium adventure and for a few of us it was the first time riding into the train, probably easier then we thought but still something that was a challenge to me, actually the steep slope down to the train was harder ( back brake and a low gear I was advised ) It worked a treat.
40 minutes later we arrived in Callais to begin a journey that I will never forget and it will take pride of place at the top of my list for being my first adventure since passing my test in January 2019.
We spent our first day touring around Belgium following our tour guide for the trip and one of our lovely ladies who will in future hopefully being doing battlefield tours, what an emotional thing to do and a proper eye opener I had no idea of the scale of loss of life in the war it is just unreal.
We hadn't yet disposed of all our luggage so I was pretty tired from lifting the bike up to set off as it was something else I was not used to so arriving at our house in Poperinge was very welcome and we then became the Jacob's crew as that was the name of the holiday home but we were Maggie, Ruth,Fiona and Mandi and we laughed ( a lot ). Thank you Fiona for finding this place and allowing me to share with you girls. A beautiful house.
That was Friday and getting up the next morning was hard and I was nervous for what the day would hold and excited as well, we all met in the town square in Poperinge and we set off as a group of 14 and I was put to the front as the least experienced closely followed at a stagger by the other ladies and we went off to some more cemeteries and a museum all extremely moving and informative, we then made our way to Ypres for lunch and to take part in the ceremonies at the Menin Gate that evening, it was by now starting to get a little chilly and I was very gratful for my heated waist coat, heated gloves and heated grips on the bike all extremely useful.
The ceremony at the gate was brilliant and very moving, there was soldiers with standards and a scottish pipe band and slodiers marching by, three of our lovely ladies also laid a wreath of poppies, not a dry eye in the house thats for sure and then it was back to the Jacob's crew house for a good natter and wine ( for some of us ) and a cuppa for others.
The Jacobs crew had decided to go along with a few other ladies to visit the town of Ghent which was about 56 miles away and what a beautiful town it was with loads of churches and very old buildings but it was a very cold day and we found a restaurant with lots of heaters outside and sat for a while to warm up, after a bite to eat we set off back to poperinge for a dinner with the other lovely ladies who had spent the day finishing off the battlefield tour.
I can honestly say I believe that my little bike ( Honda CB500X ) looked after me very well and I would recommend it for a very nice light weight adventure bike that handled everything with great ease and I was not in the slightest uncomfortable.
The journey home, however, was not a good one with long wait's at Calais for customs and vehicle checks and then we became sepperated and eventually got back together to board the train ( an earlier train ) and then we all went our seperate ways once we were off the train, I went back with four other girls and was proceeding to filter following one of the other girls who had made it look easy, I thought I was doing ok as the traffic was awful but unfortunately I messed it up and ended up looking a little like a pinball pinging off lorries and ending up coming off with the poor bike sliding under the tailgate of a rather large lorry, it was a sad sight, I got up and suddenly turned into wonder women thinking I could drag the bike out all on my own ( I couldn't ) the wonderful girls came to my rescue dusted me off got me back on the bike and we set off to the next services feeling a little second hand and very cross with myself. Not how I wanted to end my journey but WOW what a trip and I would do it again although I would have to have the same great company, every single one of them, I thank you all for the wonderful experiance. CPWB You rock!!!