Tag Archives: cbr600

Day 11

Saint Andre Les Alps Saint MaximeTrets 07/08-17 (9 am 7 pm)


It was early, hot and sticky as we emerged from the tent and our neighbor, a nice 80 year  old man from Germany who did not speak a word in English, simply approached us smiling with a kettle saying “cafe? Cafe?”. He was the sweetest guy we met. Using smoke signs and lost words here and there to communicate we understood he was spending a couple weeks in Saint Andre just to do paragliding  ( very famous activity in the area). Also the couple staying in front of us ( which we had met on our previous stay) invited us for a barbecue event they were planning at the camp site. Very nice the community at Les Isles, however we politely declined as we had different plans…
We planned a nice day on the famous beaches around Saint Tropez and a visit to an old friend of Marie that happened to be living close to Marseille, in Trets. After having coffee with our friendly German neighbor, we took a shower and jumped on the bikes towards Saint Tropez. this time the camping site Les isles would be our base, so we did not have to lose time with the tent and to set up the luggage on and off the bikes.
Saint Andre les Alpes
The bridge on the N202  exiting St. Andre Les Alps and the outstanding Lake Castilon.
We rode southbound on the nice N202 and then by Saint Julien en Verdon we turned right, into the D955 along the lake and passing the EDF power station to Castellane again. ( At this stage, I was already pretty familiar with this route)… We passed a few towns along the curvy, scenic and extremely well maintained mountain roads. We were going down the Alps to the Mediterranean sea. 
On the road to the Mediterranean sea
road to St. Maxime
The terrain is a bit more sandy and less dense in vegetation
Unfortunately it was possible to see signs of devastation. There had been some bad wild fires in the south region a couple weeks before our trip, we passed really scorched areas where the fire passed by burning everything around leaving that burnt wood odor in the air, not a very pleasant scenario to see.
Wild fire 2017
Devastation after the wild fires in South France 2017
As I rely more on  maps over the bike tank than GPS systems it was very easy to reach the coast, took us about two hours to arrive in Saint Maxime. I wanted to go to Saint Troppez which is not far but the horrendous traffic plus the heat beat us, so we decided to stay at Saint Maxime. There are series of beaches along the coast. On the billboards was saying the water temperature (26 degrees) which was perfect and also a notice warning that medusas populate the sea. After speaking with a life guard he said that it is normal and they be a bit dangerous because some people may develop allergies, luckily on that day there were no reports of medusas on this part of the sea.
We were hungry so we had a nice salad and sandwich at a beach snack bar. It´s understandable why this area is so famous and busy during the summer. It is hot, very pretty, the clean sandy beaches very inviting and the Mediterranean sea simply great and warm… could not wait to jump into the water.
 St. Maxime beach
It felt great, I spent ages diving, swimming or simply floating on the sea feeling that light waving on my body and just letting myself relax… at that stage I thought that life could not be better so I made sure I really enjoyed it.
At Saint Maxime beach



No doubt it is a wealthy region, judging by the villas on the road side and cars around, and especially by the numerous massive yachts around the coast( probably belonging to famous people and possibly corrupt politicians).
Mediterranean Sea
St. Tropez view from St. Maxime.
We left Saint Maxime around 5 pm to meet Marie´s friend in the little village of Trets which was about an hour and a half away from us, close to Marseille. We did a bit of mountain road and motorway until we arrived, however my other half´s friend house was not easy to reach as it is in the mountain and the access not the best… very tiny road, steep, full of gravel and dusty, not a good environment for two sport bikes, however, we arrived without issues. She lived in a big old  house with massive bedrooms, two floors, swimming pool and a big garden. We ended up having dinner outside, talking and listening to Marie´s friend suggestions for the following day over a bottle of wine.
View from Marie´s friend house while having a great dinner at the end of the day
South France is great!!!! Life is good!!!!




Peak District, U.K. 2018

A little peek in the Peak District


It´s been a while since I went out on a little trip. The fact I am working most of the time together with the British weather doesn´t leave much room to enjoy the pleasure of the country in two wheels until late March, mid April. A little escape was on my mind…
My other half´s birthday was coming soon, so I planned meticulously  a road trip to the Peak district without disclosing it to her. Luckily is was sunny and warm.  I did my usual research such as  finding scenic routes and activities in the area. Also had to book a hotel room which wasn´t easy, most were fully booked but after a few calls I found a room in Buxton town at the Buckingham Hotel.

The big day finally arrived. Marie still had no idea where were we going and thought I was pranking her with a ride around the M25. We left by 5.30pm Friday, stopping quickly by the motorcycle school where I work just to stretch Marie´s chain as it was a bit loose. We then went northbound on the M1. The usual boring motorway ride… long and uninteresting, good to get my tyres squared.
 Along the M1 there were some road works and road closure warning signs on routes I planned, so I had to find an alternative. The Donington service area seemed to be a good place for a little break and to check maps. There, I met the best traffic officers ever, who helped me out and searched the best routes to take as several accesses were closed. Marie was still in the dark, clueless about our destination.
Donington services
The best traffic officers I could ever find. I am really thankful to both!
We left the service area towards Derby and after Ashbourne the road became more interesting… more twisted and very hilly, adding to the fact that it was night and there was no street lights, just my headlight showing the road ahead… It wasn´t even cold at 10pm… just perfect!!! Anyway, we arrived in Buxton safe and sound.
  Our first impression about Buckingham Hotel on entry was that it was a little worn out, old fashioned and big. There was no one at the reception so I simply entered following the noise of people talking which took me to the hotel bar. As I spoke with the man behind the bar everyone around started laughing at me ( a bit odd). The barman (wearing an old T-shirt totally ripped off) then took me to the reception area and gave me the room key, number 15.  There is no lift, so it was quite a hike up to the 2nd floor. The heat hit us around the first floor, together with a smell of old furniture mixed with mold. Definitely this hotel had seen better days as it was possible to see that it needs restoration work. Our room was no exception, the walls  are covered with some garish wallpaper and the carpet is really old, decoration wise, pictures of Nicole Kidman were hanging all around the walls ( how weird). At least the bedsheets were clean and the bedroom fairly clean, comfortable and spacious. Well, it was just for a night really,  and for the price it wasn´t that bad!
Buckingham Hotel
Before going to bed we decided to go to the town center to eat something. Buxton is small, but appears to have a good night life, lots of bars and night clubs and everyone around seemed to be happilly drunk ( or on magic mushrooms as Marie described). Anyway, we just wanted a snack and to go back to the hotel.
I had planned a full Saturday… A ride out thorough the famous Snake and Winnats passes and cavern visits in the town of Castleton. We left the hotel around 9.30 am to find a place to eat a proper breakfast. We went to Buxton town and ate at the “Eat @No. 5”. Staff was very friendly and warm, also the food was good too.
Buxton town centre at 10am on a Saturday
Snake Pass;
It´s a road (A57) between Glossop and the Ladybower Reservoir in the Peak District. Its name derives from a local Inn (Snake Inn) but also matches  the road as it has several bends. It is quite steep before it sinks in the Ladybower forest, however I don’t believe it is considered a U.K. dangerous road, a few blind bends but that is it. Snake Pass is quite popular among cyclists and bikers, specially when the weather is good. The summits are at about 520mts above the sea level. Piece of cake for the CBR´s.



We passed Banford, Hope and arrived at Castleton town. It is definitely a very scenic and a pretty route for a bike ride, also quite pleasant and fun. There are loads of points of interest in this region; Caverns, castles, and it´s a great area to hike and enjoy the sight seeings in between many other activities. We were there only for a day so I had planned caving. There are three major caverns: speedwell Cavern, Peak Cavern (also known as the Devil´s arse), Blue John Cavern and Treak Cliff Cavern. Unfortunately we didn´t have time to check out all of them.
Welcome to Castleton!!!
The Speedwell Cavern;
Speedwell Cavern
The long straight white line shows the distance we covered by boat underneath the ground.
The only access you have is by boat… the entrance is quite interesting, you have to go down a long staircase to then jump on a little metal boat pulled by a small electric engine that takes you under the ground trough a narrow tunnel. The guide was very young,  pretty cool and fun and we had to use our hands on the rock to maneuvre the boat at a stage. That long small tunnel leads to a big limestone cavern. It´s an interesting experience and also its story such as the “bottomless pit”. Of course to explore it all in depth you must book a different guide and use appropriate equipment, such as torches, helmets and ropes. 
Note: I took way more pictures in the caverns, but they aren´t good at all to share with my little audience. These may give you a little idea of the places.



The Peak Cavern or the Devil´s arse;
Devil´s Arse entrance
Welcome to the Devil´s Arse!!!! ( A.K.A Peak Cavern)
It´s a natural cavern with an interesting story… apparently the cavern used to get flooded and when it sarted draining the water, loud sounds echoing similar to farts used to the heard in town, therefore it´s called the Devil´s Arse cavern. It´s a big cave that splits into 3 big caverns (open to the public), some points are so low that even children need to bend in order to pass. Its stories are interesting as well, such as how guided visits used to be in older times and also the Queen (Elisabeth the first) visited it twice.




There´s loads to do and see but time was running fast and we didn´t have time to visit other places, next time definitely I want to go caving with a guide. There are 13 mile long caves in the area, not all are open to the public but it is possible to explore them with a professional guide and appropriate equipment.
We were getting hungry and it was time to find a nice restaurant in town for a good meal. The town is busy and picturesque, crowded with visitors like us going on cavern tours or hiking… it´s a good atmosphere.




After we ate it was time to start thinking to get back to the old London, but, not forgetting to ride trough Winnats Pass, it´s not longer than a couple miles but it´s beauty and shape is unique. 
Winnats Pass
WINNATS PASS!!! View from the top. We didn´t resist and went up and down the road twice!!!



From there we passed some great country lanes, hilly, curvy and quite scenic until we crossed Chesterfield… and then back to the boring M1 again… We arrived home around 11 pm quite tired, not sure if because the ride or the amount of miles we spent walking, but, definitely it was a good little road ride.
Happy Birthday Marie!!!!!
Note:  For detailed routes about this post please click here !!!