Chris gives everyone a briefing after breakfast and you can then split into groups (or ride on your own) depending on ability or the pace at which you want to ride… within reason! I don’t think our 3pm arrival for lunch on day one is hugely appreciated by the restaurant trying to keep our confit of duck warm!
This is possibly a result of the combination of our late departure (ahem) and a few wrong turns along the way. As and when you do go wrong however, you can simply confer with your mates and backtrack to your last known location. The roadbooks are not as intimidating as they sound and although I was mostly following a couple of knowledgeable regulars, I did start getting the hang of it on day two.
It is definitely worth giving them a go purely based on the quality of the trails they cover. Pete and Russell who I am riding with are both experienced big bike riders who come back year after year to re-explore this region of France which says a lot about the tour. And it is without doubt a great place to be on a bike, the picturesque landscapes and seemingly endless trails do not disappoint.
The Flying Tiger
Rewind 24 hours or so and I am riding the Tiger back to London from the Triumph HQ in Hinckley. I must confess I am mildly concerned about how it is going to perform off tarmac. With a set of knobblies kindly fitted by the workshop, the XC version is weaving around a bit on the road which is to be expected I guess.
At first the whole package feels a bit road-biased for a true adventure bike. The bars are set back for seated riding and the foot controls feel a bit close to the engine casings to be MX boot friendly. Plus the 800cc inline Triple also feels more suited to road riding with its tall gearing and surfeit of power. But as I was to discover, the Triumph has another side to it which you don’t at first discover… that of a really capable adventure bike.
It certainly seems to be a more compact, lighter package than our F800 long-termer - its closest rival on and off the road. Back at TBM towers what I really want to do is rotate the bars forward and levers up. However after trying to undo the two different sizes(?) of bolts to loosen off the bars, I am met with what feels like a combination of factory torque settings and Loctite.
I need to get weaving to catch my ferry, so I settle for adjusting the levers for an easier reach in the standing position and make a mental note to remove the rubber footpeg cleats on arrival.
The silky smooth triple devours the motorway miles down to Portsmouth with ease and I would like to ride it on a set of road tyres another time to see just how well it handles the bends. It doesn’t have anything like the fuel range of the F800 Adv with its oversized tank, but returns a just-about-respectable 45mpg after being flogged down theautoroute the next morning.