Reflections on the joys of touring …

Rather than the usual, day one we did this, day two we did that, ad nauseaum, I thought I’d share a few reflections on what will (and won’t) happen on any foreign tour of any great extent. Now don’t get me wrong, any tour that includes the Col d’Iseran, the Routes Des Cretes, the Nochalm Strasse, the Timmelsjoch, Grosslglockner and B500 has to be awesome, but……………….

  • You (and your bike!) will need a pre tour service and ‘no, that slightly (?) worn tyre won’t last the distance – get it replaced!
  • Motorways in the UK will be jam packed, so you will need to filter – period
  • The drought in Southern England will break on the day that your tour starts.
  • The Eurotunnel will be experiencing “unexpected delays – Merci pour votre patience”
  • You will get to know the meaning of the words, ‘Route Baree’, Gravillons, and Rollspitz


  • Road calming works
  • All of this (and more) means that you will only average around 30mph a day
  • 3 Sat Navs will each give different route directions
  • Bloody Robbie Williams will be performing in town for the one night you are there meaning all the restaurants are full – time he retired
  • The Hotel owner will show you your rooms and then lock you out of the hotel when you go to get your tank / saddle / pannier bags (but the nice Italian lady across the road will help you to avoid sleeping on the street)
  • Southern Europe in the summer will be experiencing a ‘heat wave’ – it’s a called the ‘summer’ and it will be ‘scorchio’
  • Italian drivers will be, well, ‘Italian drivers’. They will use their vehicles as weapons. Oh and while on the subject, forget solid white lines, they mean nothing! (Sorry Pino but you know it’s true)
  • Credit / Debit cards won’t always work / be accepted, often when most needed – e.g. when fuel is getting low
  • Those quintessential little market towns that we all love will have ….. you guessed it ….. markets, and these will slow you down, divert and block your route
  • Your route will be blocked by an earthquake (honest)
  • Various creatures of European origin, mad dogs, deer, sheep, cows, goats, et al will be in the road. They can be at home and just ‘cos you’re on tour doesn’t mean that their foreign counterparts are any more road ‘savvy’


  • You will choose the wrong queue / line at the Peage/ Petrol Pump because each one seems to operate in a different way, pay first, pay after joining the auto route / strada or fuelling, self-serve , service, cash, card, the permutations are endless. And yes there will always be an irate Italian, French, German, Swiss, Austrian (delete as appropriate) behind you in the queue (Mind you, you may get lucky and have two attractive young French girls in a Renault 5 help you to nip under the barrier at the same time as they go through. Oooh Papa!)
  • You will (at least if like me and you have a healthy sense of ‘school boy’ humour) chuckle inside your helmet at foreign road signs such as ‘Gutfarht’, or at a garage offering ‘Turmoil’ for sale, and the classic Italian roadside warning for , ‘precipitationi atmospherica’ – aka rain! Why use one syllable when you can use so many more!


Colin Stanfield

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