Riding The Western Front: Day 8 – Monday 2nd July
Today I got up a bit later. I decided to go to a local store in town for some Combat trousers. I only had jeans as spares and they were just too hot. I had the usual breakfast of yoghurt, Orange juice and coffee with my travel mug topped up with coffee. So, now with new combats purchased I was looking forward to getting to Pfetterhouse, the end of the line, so to speak. The end of The Western Front on the border with Switzerland.
Clear skies and sunshine continued, today I took the motorway for around 50 miles. Not by choice, I took the wrong route, but it was ok, the views were fantastic. Miles of hilly forests, lovely landscape and very quiet roads. Everything was great. I wasn’t even bothered when I pulled into a petrol station that was no longer there. I did find one eventually.
Onwards to Pfetterhouse. Then after some miles through winding country roads, I was there. I had come to the end of The Western Front. I was very happy. My early worries of high engine temperatures before I had even left Northern Ireland and rattling sounds were all laid to rest. The Lambretta had excelled itself. Under all the weight of me and my luggage and very hot ambient temperatures, it motored on really well. I took it steady with a speed of around 50-55 but opened it up for overtaking and some blasts.
After taking a few photographs and trying to imagine what it was like and what went on here 100 years ago, I got back on the Lambretta and tried to find the old observation points and the Three State Marker. Once again after going round in circles I was lost and never found them. Once again I was let down by my poor planning. I honestly thought I did it right, but clearly not. This for me was a huge disappointment.
I had decided early on that while I was down this far, I would ride across to Basil in Switzerland and cross the border into Germany, before riding back up to Mulhouse.
Basil was pleasant enough and even though I was only passing through, I got lost and went round in circles, twice. It was a tricky ride through the city because of the tram tracks. Even though it was dry, when crossing, the scooter would slide on the tracks. After a brief stop, I rode out of Switzerland and into Germany across the Rhine river. Again, after riding through the streets, I stopped for a bottle of water and had short wander around and back on the Lambretta and across the border into France. I rode on to my hotel at Mulhouse, arriving after five O’clock.
I wasn’t in good form after missing the stops at Kilometer Zero, so I walked across to the Hypermarche. went back to my room and drowned my sorrowful self with a few beers.
Total miles covered: 1,147
Thought for the day: Planning is everything!
Riding The Western Front: Day 9 – Tuesday 3rd July
Each night I would watch the weather forecast on TV. Always sunny and always hot. Today, rain showers were forecast. So I rearranged my luggage so I could stop and put on my waterproofs quickly. It was way too hot to put the waterproofs on in advance. I awoke to clouds. It was a welcome change. The ride today was to Saint Mihiel, this time I had no planned stops to make, but as usual, I was in no rush.
I left Mulhouse feeling low. As well as yesterdays cock-up at Pfetterhouse and Kilometre Zero and feeling like I’d not took the most from being in Mulhouse. There was things to do that didn’t get done.
Anyway, on I went. Clouds were lowering the temperature a few degrees but it wasn’t long before the sun had evaporated the clouds and the temperatures rose again. I had a good ride through the hills at Bussang and Thann. I then joined the Route Nationale 66 on the road back north. I was making good progress, I had ten miles left to go until I reached Saint Mihiel. When the Lambretta started to falter. I slowed down and stupidly tried to make an assessment while I rode on. I came to the conclusion that if I stopped it wouldn’t start up again so I kept going! I limped into Saint Mihiel.
Saint Mihiel didn’t have my budget hotels here, so I booked into a independent one. My room was ground floor and 20 feet from reception. So my tired and weary body didn’t have to work hard checking in. I was worried about the Lambretta and so I wanted to see if I could source the problem, which was stuttering when opening up the throttle. I started by checking the fuel line to the carburettor. It was fine and took the carburettor apart. First problem was a dirty filter at the fuel banjo. I cleared that away and took the rest of it apart. The main jet was blocked. So I cleaned the rest of the carburettor and proceeded to put it back together. I couldn’t do it quick enough. I was working on the Lambretta in the sun and was sweating. I started it up and gave it some revs for a bit and all was good.
Time for a shower and change and take a walk into town. I was happier knowing the Lambretta was sorted and my hotel was in town, so I didn’t have far to walk. It was a nice town and I had a good look round on my way to and from the Hypermarche for food and drink.
Saint Mihiel was the scene of fierce fighting between the Germans and the French who fought with 110,000 Americans alongside them in September 1918.
In the evening I did the ritual of writing my diary for the day and noting the mileage. My mood lifted today, thanks to a relaxing time here in Saint Mihiel and the Lambretta sorted. The room was good too, it had a large fan for keeping the temperature down which made for a comfortable nights sleep.
Total miles covered: 1,272
Thought for the day: Relax!