Getting the annual MOT for my bike

Street Bob just prior to departure Early Sunday morning. The pack on the back of the bike contains my change of clothes, paperwork and a paperback novel for evening entertainment. The backpack contains my passport, wallet and the camera.
(2011-06-12 06:45:16 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/4.5, 1/80s] ISO 320 Focus 7.94m)
Street Bob just prior to departure

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Although I nominally reside in the United Kingdom, I do tend to travel quite a bit and do odd jobs in various countries on the continent. While this is not normally a problem, it has caused me some headaches if I bring my bike to my work location as the U. K. requires that all motorcycles older than 2 years have an annual inspection completed by a certified testing station. Unfortunately, all of those thousands of stations are on the island and not on the mainland, and no other inspection results are valid for the MOT (Ministry of Transport). Thus, for the third year in a row, I've found myself in the unenviable position of having to drive the bike from wherever I am stationed to the island. There are two basic methods of getting across the channel, the first is via one of the numerous ferries and the other is to take a Euro tunnel train ferry through the channel tunnel (also known as the Chunnel). The train is far faster and usually, but as I've found out to my chagrin, not always, less expensive for a motorcycle.

As I was working in Germany (Frankfurt am Main) at the time the last MOT expired and the new examination was due, I had to plan on a trip of about 600Km each way in order to get this formal check completed. The weekend of the 11th through 13th June in 2011 included a public holiday, “Pfingsten” (Pentecost) so I could get the inspection done on a normal working day in the U. K. without losing a work day in Germany. The weather forecast wasn't conducive to a great trip, but not much rain was forecast and I decided that I wasn't going to get a better opportunity and saddled up the bike on Sunday morning and started off on my journey in the morning hours.
I had planned on spending the night in Brügge (or Bruges) in Belgium so I had most of the day for 500Km of driving and decided to take a leisurely and comfortable drive down the Rhine river from Bingen to Koblenz and to hop on the Autobahn from there to my destination. The sun was shining for that first part of the trip and it was pleasurable indeed, but after leaving the Rhine river valley and heading roughly west the conditions deteriorated and the ambient outside temperatures got progressively cooler as I approached Brussels but fortunately no rain actually fell on my route despite heavy cumulus and nimbus clouds spouting up all around me.

Odometer at beginning of the trip The trip began with 12228 miles on the odometer. By the time I returned the next oil change was on the agenda.
(2011-06-12 06:45:41 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/5.3, 1/50s] ISO 320 Focus 0.60m)
Odometer at beginning of the trip
Breakfast in Bingen After an hour's trip from Frankfurt I stopped at Backhaus Lüning in Bingen am Rhein for some breakfast. For ¬ 4 I got 2 cups of coffee, various jams and jellies and 4 small rolls; just enough to give me a boost of energy for the upcoming trip west.
(2011-06-12 07:44:50 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/4.0, 1/40s] ISO 320 Focus 1.12m)
Breakfast in Bingen
Castle ruins by Rüdesheim am Rhein View of an old abandoned castle across from Bingen am Rhein. I'd heard (anecdotally) that this castle was available for a mere 1 Euro - but the proviso would be that whoever bought it would need to restore it.
[49°58'11.88"N 7°52'41.94"E (facing N)]
Castle ruins by Rüdesheim am Rhein
Burg Gutenfels and Pfalzgrafenstein The toll station Pfalzgrafenstein in the middle of the Rhine river with the old castle Burg Gutenfels in the background
[50°4'46.15"N 7°45'58.42"E (facing N)]
Burg Gutenfels and Pfalzgrafenstein
Street Bob on the Rhein View of the road along the Rhine with my Bob parked (where I really shouldn't be). This stretch of road along the Rhine form Bingen to Koblenz (where the Mosel meets the Rhine) is one of the most beautiful stretches of the river and boasts many castles, several of which have been restored.
[50°4'46.07"N 7°45'58.43"E (facing NW)]
Street Bob on the Rhein

In Brussels I once again managed to take a wrong a turn and ended up driving through the city proper. This was the 3rd time in a row that I made the same, or a similar mistake, and got an unintentional scenic tour of that pretty city. Once finally finding the correct highway, and actually taking it in the correct direction, the trip became a bit tedious. I was tired, the landscape was flat and devoid of interesting scenery and I just wanted to arrive somewhere. When I arrived at the highway exit for Bruges I realized that there were still 100Km to get to the Euro tunnel station in Calais, France; and if I did it the next morning as I'd originally planned I would have a 700Km day on the return stretch, so I opted to continue on and cross under the channel on Sunday and find a hotel in Dover (the town with the famous white cliffs) in order to balance the ordeal across two days.
While getting to the Euro tunnel terminus was quick, easy and well-posted, getting onto a train was difficult. On the previous voyages I'd reserved a place ahead of time and tried to keep up with the scheduled trains, similar to taking a flight. Both times I'd arrived too early and had to wait a long time in the departure building, and had seen that bikes are collected in groups and don't really need reservations; so this time around I opted to buy my ticket directly at the station instead of having to pay a change fee. This was a big mistake - instead of the usual £20-£30 that I'd heretofore paid, they slammed with a €103 one-way price and the next day I only paid £70 to get back!

The Loreley on the Rhine The famous Loreley on the Rhine. This very narrow bend on the Rhine was dangerous and the legend is that a Siren, Loreley, was on this cliff and distracted the boaters from their assigned tasks.
[50°8'14.74"N 7°43'32.88"E (facing NE)]
The Loreley on the Rhine
Rhine River vista Typical view along the Rhine river between Bingen and Koblenz with the narrow and fast river and the odd castle or two.
(2011-06-12 08:56:41 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/5.0, 1/100s] ISO 100 Focus ∞)
Rhine River vista
Barge pushing up the Rhine river The Rhine carries a lot of barge traffice, both upstream and downstream.
(2011-06-12 09:09:13 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/4.5, 1/80s] ISO 100 Focus 10.60m)
Barge pushing up the Rhine river
Huge barge shipping containers Usually the barges going up and down the Rhine carry loose cargo and are limited in size, but this was the first really big one I'd seen and it was shipping containers. It took a while for the barge to reach me as it had to push all that weight up against the current in this narrow section of the Rhine river.
(2011-06-12 09:13:17 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/5.6, 1/125s] ISO 100 Focus 7.94m)
Huge barge shipping containers
Autobahn rest stop I took a break at this rest stop to put on my rain gear, the clouds above were thickening and lowering as I headed north and west and since I only had one change of clothes along I decided to be prudent and not risk getting soaked. While the weather cleared a bit after this break, the plastic rain pants helped keep me warm.
(2011-06-12 10:07:14 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/5.0, 1/100s] ISO 100 Focus 3.76m)
Autobahn rest stop

The line at the ticket booth and the first customs/immigration booth about 100 yards further on was long. I turned off my engine early on and instead of firing it up and driving a car's length every time the line moved ahead I just pushed the bike the 15 feet or so. By the time I reached the French border booth the engine was merely lukewarm and when I made it to the second border checkpoint, this time a British one, the engine block was the same temperature as the ambient air. I didn't have a watch along, but guess that it took way over an hour. I'm not sure why progress was so slow, as both border crossing officials just waved me, and most of the other vehicles, through after ascertaining that we have EU passports.
One of the reasons for the huge crush of cars was that the Le Mans 24 hour race had just finished and people were returning from the event. I've never seen such a great collection of classic and modern sport scars and that includes the Barrett-Jackson classic car auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. There were 3 new Aston Martin Vanquish in the line ahead of me, and some classic Aston Martin and other sports cars in the lanes next to me. The “average” car in the queue was a mere Porsche (well, perhaps not quite that posh, as there were a good number of mere mortals returning from vacation mixed in as well, but I'm sure you get the idea).

Waiting for a Chunnel ticket After waiting for a lengthy time I decided to unpack the camera and take a quick snap of the line ahead of me. The first set of booths are the ticket ones, the next set is for French border authorities and beyond that is the French checkpoint. I still have a good hour before making it to the border crossing point.
(2011-06-12 16:32:03 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/5.6, 1/125s] ISO 100 Focus 2.66m)
Waiting for a Chunnel ticket
Under the Channel The motorcycles are segregated from the cars, although our train was packed to the gills with cars, our section just had a few motorcycles.
(2011-06-12 17:21:10 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/3.5, 1/30s] ISO 1000 Focus ∞)
Under the Channel
Motorcycle wet weather gear My wet weather gear spread on the bed before departing for MOT and the long return trip in the rain.
(2011-06-13 08:10:38 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/4.0, 1/60s] ISO 800 Focus 2.24m)
Motorcycle wet weather gear
Wet and rainy Dover The view from the hotel window wasn't promising - light drizzle and fog and little chance of the weather getting any better. The hotel had promised prices of GBP29 per night, but that was only if one reserved 3 weeks in advance (according to the lady at the reception desk). But at least the room was close to the workshop, clean and next to a pub.
[51°8'45.26"N 1°19'42.16"E (facing E)]
Wet and rainy Dover
Wet Bob in the Dover morning Looking down on the wet bike from my hotel room in Dover. Why wasn't I surprised that it was drizzling and foggy despite having heard that it would windy and sunny on the television the previous day?
[51°8'45.21"N 1°19'42.28"E ]
Wet Bob in the Dover morning

Once we arrived in the U. K. the weather had gotten worse and it was raining. At first it was just a drizzle but as I approached Dover it was coming down quite heavily and I realized that I wasn't going to get any spectacular shots of the white cliffs of Dover or the castle and it's grounds. I drove around looking for a hotel and found one which advertised £29 rates but once I made it to the front desk I was told that this rate only applied if I reserved 3 weeks in advance and the actual rate was £79. By this time the rain had set in with a vengeance and I'd noted the pub next door to the hotel so I decided to remain there for the night. The next morning I awoke to find that the rain had settled in for a long stay - you could feel that it had the endurance of a marathon runner and wasn't planning on letting up anytime soon. Nevertheless I set off and went to the MOT garage (Dave Hammond Racing) and Dave took pity on me and did my MOT immediately even though I was 3 hours earlier than my allotted time slot. I assume that the rain and fog had stopped his first customer from arriving in time. Needless to say, the inspection itself was short and sweet and within 15 minutes of arriving at the shop I my earplugs in and helmet on and was zipped up against the rain and heading back for the Euro tunnel entrance. The fog had closed in and visibility was about 20-30 meters, so I didn't go any faster than 40MPH on the highway and ended up missing my exit - the next one was many miles down the motorway and the only thing that made me feel a little bit better was that several cars performed the same exit and U-turn that I did.
The return ticket was a bit cheaper but still quite hefty, and the train was almost completely empty apart from quite a few bikers, mostly Dutch, returning home. There were only 4 bikes in my compartment, but one of them had some sort of a motion alarm that would set off his siren every couple of minutes and that was quite irksome despite having the earplugs in.

Dave of Dave Hammond Racing After such a long trip I finally made it to Dave Hammond Racing and despite being 3 hours early Dave took care of me and my MOT was successfully passed within 15 minutes of entering the shop. After paying the GBP30 I was off and heading back towards distant Germany.
[51°9'5.05"N 1°17'28.11"E ]
Dave of Dave Hammond Racing
Return Eurotunnel trip home Returning back to the continent from the U.K. after getting the MOT done outside of Dover.
(2011-06-13 10:15:21 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/3.5, 1/20s] ISO 1600 Focus ∞)
Return Eurotunnel trip home
Odometer just past halfway This one was taken during the Eurotunnel crossing back to the continent from the U.K. after passing the MOT test. 471 miles (758Km) done and I'm still very far from home.
(2011-06-13 10:16:07 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/3.5, 1/20s] ISO 2000 Focus 0.50m)
Odometer just past halfway
About to leave the train I'm at the rear end of a long line of motorcycles getting ready to depart the Eurotunnel / Chunnel train on the French side in Calais.
(2011-06-13 10:57:54 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/3.5, 1/25s] ISO 800 Focus ∞)
About to leave the train
Grey skies in Germany The skies are lightening as I approach Frankfurt, but it is stil threatening to rain. Most of the 600KM return trip from the U.K. to Germany after getting my MOT done was in rain or drizzle - despite the promises I'd read on the weather pages prior to departing.
(2011-06-13 16:54:44 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/22.0, 1/8s] ISO 100 Focus ∞)
Grey skies in Germany

The odometer read 12228 miles when I left and 13089 miles upon my return the next day. 861 miles or 1386 kilometres of travel across 4 countries (Germany, Belgium, France, U. K.) just for a 15 minute inspection of my Street Bob. I really need to figure out a better way of doing this - perhaps I should always get a new bike after 2 years and thus avoid going through MOT in the first place, or I should permanently move back to the U. K. and not leave the country at all. What I won't do is stop having and driving the motorcycle, as that is almost as much fun as sailing and certainly quite a bit faster!

Odometer after the trip 13089 miles after, 12228 before. 861 miles just for 15 minutes of MOT.
(2011-06-15 18:51:31 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/4.5, 1/125s] ISO 800 Focus 0.50m)
Odometer after the trip
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