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Orange Vespa Huskyteer

Bike Normandy, 5-7 August 2011: Friday

I've written before about Bike Normandy, a biker B&B near Falaise whose owners John and Jen will take you out for a group ride along wonderful roads then make you dinner in the evening.

On previous visits with biking friends I've always thought that it would be fun to bring a group of scooters. This year I put the plan into motion.

It wasn't 100% scooters: Howard was on his Fireblade, David on a Kawasaki Versys, and we were also joined by a stranger on a Triumph who'd been fitted into the last space for our weekend. (Luckily for us and him, he had a great sense of humour.)

The auto quotient was, however, impressive. My Vespa GT200 was the smallest of the pack, Doug's Yamaha TMax the largest at 500cc, with a Piaggio X9 and three Vespa GTSes in between all weighing in at 250cc.

My machine's exhaust suddenly went very loud a week before the trip, but my mechanic pal slapped putty on it and pronounced that it should last the weekend, just about, maybe.

For me the holiday started on Thursday evening, which I spent with silverwindblade and Anna in Portsmouth. On my way down I found Doug and Charles lurking in a layby just after the newly-opened Hindhead Tunnel, and we continued in convoy.

On Friday morning I left Silv and Anna's pad at half-past five, having been awake and excited for an hour and hoping I wouldn't wake them. Stopping to tank up outside the city centre, I discovered Simon (X9) and Emma (red GTS) at the pumps, and while I was filling up Howard arrived too. So I proudly led my troops the quarter of a mile to the ferry terminal.

We were on the fast boat, which deposited us at Caen three and a half hours later. Soon we'd been welcomed and briefed by John and Jen and were setting off past Pegasus Bridge for our first helping of French rural roads.

Under the influence of a sudden rain shower we stopped for lunch sooner rather than later, enjoying buckwheat pancakes - galettes - deep in cider country in the pretty village of Beuvron-en-Auge.

By 6:30 we were back chez Bike Normandy, unpacking, showering, changing and enjoying a beer or cider in their garden overlooking the Falaise Gap. While we flopped exhausted into chairs, chatting and playing with Della the Bernese Mountain Dog, John and Jen retired to the servants' quarters to produce a four-course meal.

The food and drink were superb, but the conversation even better. At five to midnight I was the first to crack and go up to bed.

The day's route was scenic, enjoyable and not too challenging. We spent it getting used to riding together, to John's leadership, Jen's tail-ending and our taking it in turns to mark junctions in the middle. I get the impression that the first day is a quiet one while Bike Normandy get the measure of the group.

If we were being tested we must have passed, because we were amply rewarded over the rest of the weekend.



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