We’re on the road again, as the song in my head goes. That was on the 16th August. Streak and Storm are purring beautifully as we head to the Poole ferry with Anthony’s brother-in-law John leading the way on his bike. Our first stop tonight is the Mont-Saint-Michel, a short 150km ride after a 3 hour ferry ride from Poole to Cherbourg. The scenery is gorgeous, we’re enjoying our leisurely ride through the small villages, past old stone houses. I suddenly realise it is my first time riding in France since my old moped days when I was a teenager and I am so excited. The roads are remarkably clear for mid August in France – the height of the tourist season. It seems we have picked our timing perfectly.
75km south of Cherbourg, I feel something is not quite right. My front brake is suddenly sluggish, I notice my tank has drops of oil which I immediately know this means something has happened to my brake fluid container, then the front brake is totally useless. I can pull the lever all the way, to no effect. We pull over and find out my front brake container is empty. The temporary fix I had built by an amazing mechanic in Chiang Mai, Thailand (after I smashed it after crashing into a wall in India) basically disintegrated. The beautiful fibreglass mold had done a fantastic job for 12 months, but brake fluid is corrosive and it eventually ate through the fibreglass. That is when I made a note to myself: a temporary fix may be just that, temporary. A good lesson for the future…
Thank goodness for the back brake but going through endless roundabouts in small towns and villages is proving to be tricky. We limp along, Anthony behind me protecting my back and with our flashers on, until I give up outside Bréhal as I spot a Peugeot repair place just off yet another roundabout and ask for directions to the nearest motorcycle store – I see they have a tow truck so, if need be, I am sure we can get Streak to the right place. We are in luck – there is a motorcycle store just 8kms away I am told, just 3 or 4 roundabouts away. Easy. No problem getting there in my situation they say. But I am not comfortable and decide to take Anthony’s bike while he waits for my return. Thank goodness I didn’t go on Streak: I get totally and utterly lost and end up in the tiny twisty streets of Granville teeming with tourists walking all over the place. It feels nightmarish, especially as I realise I didn’t make a note of where I left Anthony. It turns out I took the wrong exit at the first round about – I was not meant to follow the signs to Granville even though I was heading to Granville…. I eventually find the store, buy some brake fluid, ask for directions back to where I think I left Anthony and finally get back 1.5 hours later!! Lucky Anthony is not a worrier.
Anthony remembers what we did to refill my brake fluid container back in India, making sure to bleed the brake properly. We overfill the container, expecting continued seepage through the base and slowly make our way to the Mont St Michel, with our flashers going on the faster stretches of road to warn upcoming drivers behind us. I get splashes of oil all over the tank, my trousers and even helmet visor as it seeps out but on arrival at our hotel , we see I didn’t loose too much. We should be able to make Nantes tomorrow no problem. I call BMW Boxer-Passion in Nantes that evening to warn them of our arrival.
It has been a long day – 14 hours since we got up and Anthony started to cough badly today. He is stuffed and his ankle hurts. But he knows how much I had been looking forward to seeing the Mont St Michel again so he soldiers on so that we can have a quick visit of this fantastic Unesco site which I last saw when I was very little.
We set off the next morning for BMW Boxer-Passion in Nantes where Philippe, said he admired what we did to keep going while in SE Asia, but also gave me a telling off!! Unfortunately, and even to the surprise of the guys at BMW Boxer-Passion, we cannot just buy the container, but have to get the entire front brake system (as we had found out previously) – and yes, that means big €€€ and a week’s delay to get the part in. But they did try and see if they could find one from a broken bike they could give us. Very very helpful – thank you BMW Boxer-Passion Nantes for trying. And yes, I will remember in future that any temporary fix may need fixing ‘properly’. The angels are still on our side 🙂