What better way to spend three gloriously sunny days than to jump on your motorbikes, take the Channel Tunnel train from England to France, ride with friends to the Champagne region and drink fantastic bubbly? That is precisely what seven of us did. At 05:30 and the alarm shook to life, but as before many riding trips, I was already awake. 30 minutes later I was loading my new custom bike, Amelia and trying very hard to ride it down my street as quietly as possible, in order not to wake the neighbours. I probably failed.
The early morning air was chilly as I rode the almost 100 miles to the train terminal and I was glad to get there and warm up while waiting for the train. Nick (HD Street Glide) and his wife Jane (HD Sportster 883 Superlow) were already there. Sumit and Raj (HD Sportster) and Keith and Sue (HD Road King) all arrived soon and we were soon speeding through the tunnel on the train to France. After arriving at Calais, we then rode about 200 miles to get to our base, in Reims. The riding was on some fantastic quiet French roads. Saturday was spent riding around looking at the region, the centre of Champagne production. Only wine produced in the region can be called Champagne, which has been produced here since 1531. From everywhere else, it is called sparkling wine. With the exception of a few crops, almost nothing else is grown or farmed here but grapes.
We went to see the Abbey of Saint Hilaire, where Benedictine Monks made the first champagne. Dom Perignon stayed at the Abbey and gave advice to the monks to improve the quality of their wine, and this led to a famous brand which is still drunk today. Next our small group went to see the Cathedral in the centre of Reims. Rebuilt after a fire destroyed the original building in AD 1211, the ‘new’ Cathedral is a marvel of design and construction. The next day saw us riding back through France on mainly quiet country roads, arriving back at the tunnel just in time to get the train back under the sea.