The BMW Club Journal October 2016 – Oxford Section Report

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BMW Club Oxford Section Report for September 2016


As the summer fades into autumn, with a bit of luck, we can look forward to some nice cool sunny days that are ideal for riding bikes without getting too hot. The section has been lucky with the weather recently though and especially for the annual BBQ down at Savernake Forest on the 7th August, which was a great Continue reading

The BMW Club Journal September 2016 – Oxford Section Report

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BMW Club Oxford Section Report for August 2016

With the year rapidly going past we are reminded that ‘time waits for no man’ and maybe this is true for the ride out on the 10th July, ably led by Dick Robinson to Abberley Clock Tower, his first as leader of a run. Dick reported that there were “18 people on 13 bikes headed towards Evesham on the A44 with a ‘landing’ at the Wayside Tea Room just over an hour later for bacon butties. Continuing towards Abberley, the eagle-eyed were able to see the clock tower from several miles distance as it can be seen from six counties. Tony, our guide, took us right Continue reading

Five go Massif in France!

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A brief account of an MSL Tour in August 2016 with David Shanks, Ian Hartley, George and Ruth Tarasewicz from the Oxford Section of the BMW Club.

Despite an early start on a cool dark morning and obstruction on the M40 caused by a car/caravan smash we met at Clacket Lane Services for refreshment before tackling the last leg to the Channel Tunnel. It was high season and delays were to be expected but eventually le Shuttle decanted us in France only 15 minutes behind schedule. The weather was warm and we ventured south using the peage to Bapaume thence to Café le Tommy in Pozieres. This café has much memorabilia re WW1 and in particular the Australians. It also has a museum with reproduction trenches for those with time to spare on their journey. George and Ruth met us there and joined us for the remaining journey by D roads south to Chateau Thierry for our first stopover. I can’t claim to have lost anyone this time as I was persuaded not to lead!

An early start was required as the next day would be just over 300 miles on D roads. It was pleasantly cool initially, but as progress was made along the scenic highways of rural France, the sun came out and temperatures soared. Troyes, Auxerre and Clamency passed by. After a delightful lunch stop, we headed due south along the D34 which was more rural still. There was very little traffic along the way, but the villages we passed through were charming. From Moulins the road became much busier and at last we arrived in Clermont-Ferrand. The Best Western Hotel du Puys was modern with a stunning rooftop breakfast room and views over the city.

C-F Rooftops

Clermont-Ferrand from the rooftop of our hotel

After two long and tiring days in the saddle we decided to have a day on foot exploring the delights of Clermont-Ferrand. We settled on a visit to the Michelin museum (C-F being their headquarters) which proved a revelation. Who would have thought that Michelin manufactured aeroplanes for the French military in WW1? Or that a niece of Robert MacIntosh would have provided the inspiration for vulcanization of rubber to provide the first tyres? After the museum the tram system was ridden from end to end. C-F was neither particularly picturesque nor (apart from the Michelin Museum) a tourist destination. It is a major industrial city that happens to be the capital of the Massif Central area of France.

For the next leg of our journey, we are indebted to Alan and Gill Mossman who visited the area and published a fabulous route in TVAM’s Slipstream magazine. We visited the hotel Le Lac des Moines on the outskirts of Condat for coffee before following the route to Aurillac over the Col de Peyrol and past Puy Mary (at 1783m probably the highest point in the area). After lunch we followed the N122 to Figeac. The Hotel Le Pont d’Or was superb. Located on the riverbank with a swimming pool on the roof and only a short walk into the historic town, this was an outstanding place to visit. The rideout involved several stops for refreshment, tremendous scenery, busy roads (the nearer we got to the Dordogne) and some navigational challenges.

Figeac Hotel

Riverside Hotel in Figeac

Our most southerly destination was Millau (locally pronounced mee oh not mill ow!). We duly road over the stunning Norman Foster designed viaduct before parking in the services to ponder the spectacle. With 3 nights in Millau there were many opportunities to view the Viaduct. We rode out under it twice and I also travelled under it on a motorized punt. The information centre underneath the viaduct was free to enter and had an excellent film and display of the design and construction process.

Millau by boat

Millau Viaduct viewed from the River Tarn

The Tarn Gorge upstream from Millau was well worth the ride. As it was main holiday season, the road was liberally cluttered with campervans and minibuses towing canoe trailers as well as tourists slowly meandering whist viewing the scenery. Having taken an adventurous turn (ie not followed the gps route) we found some stunning roads, a herd of goats (or long eared sheep?) a leisurely lunch in a shaded garden and eventually the road back to Millau. Beaucoup de Twisties! After the rigors of the river adventure on the following day, a short excursion was required. We visited the Caves at Roquefort-sur-Soulzon from where the famous cheese comes.

The penultimate hotel at La Garde was a revelation. It boasts a gourmet restaurant as well as a swimming pool. The food was superlative. We stuck to beer as the wine list pricing unfortunately matched the reputation of the restaurant. The temperature having been in the low to mid 20s°C had now reached in excess of 30°C. The hotel had no air conditioning but with open windows proved to be OK. Some of the rooms were themed. One was a stable which seemed to consist of pallet wood everywhere. Another was a metalworking studio.

Viaduct de Garabit

Viaduct at Garabit

A visit to the railway viaduct at Garabit was a must. This remarkable construction was one of the earliest designs of Gustave Eiffel who later designed the tower in Paris. We then investigated the Lac du Bge de Grandval with its large dam and EDF hydro scheme. Unfortunately, there was a cycle event taking place in the area and we kept coming across marshals and gendarmes who gave the cyclists priority over all other road users. We eventually escaped from St Flour stopping for a late petit dejeuner at the A75 services overlooking the viaduct at Garabit. We had a brief trip south along the A75 to marvel at this scenic autoroute (non Peage south of Clermont-Ferrand except for the Viaduct at Millau). I noticed the altitude climb to well over 1100m before we left to return north on D roads to the hotel.

Our last night at La Garde was somewhat interrupted by the noise from the local festival until well into the early hours. Despite this, we managed to leave before 8.00 for our long ride to Chartres. We took advantage of the free section of the A75 up to Clermont-Ferrand. This was spectacular but as the road twisted so much there were speed limits as low as 90kph in some stretches. The rest of the journey was very hot. We wondered why most places were shut and the traffic seemed fairly light. When we eventually found a tabac that was open and supplied us with 3 cool soft drinks we discovered that 15 August was a national holiday (The Assumption of Mary). The final hotel welcomed us with aircon, secure parking comfortable beds and a final communal meal before we all departed individually for the UK In Peter’s absence we were let off the obligatory Balloon joke, but a good time was had by all.

Our last day involved a relatively short ride from Chartres to Ouistreham to catch the late afternoon ferry to Portsmouth. Again good roads, lots of twisties but more traffic including tractors and lorries. We had time for a quick lunch at Pegasus Bridge and a look around the museum. Sadly, there wasn’t sufficient time to watch the English version of the film about the museum and the bridges historical part in the D Day landings before we had to leave for the ferry.

Pegasus Bridge

Pegasus Bridge down

Pegasus Bridge Up

and UP!

A great trip with stupendous roads and scenery, great friends and comfortable hotels. We were very lucky with the weather which remained dry and mostly hot and sunny throughout our stay.

Biker Down on TV

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Biker Down Banner

I’ve just been catching up on post holiday TV and came across a piece on the Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Biker Down Course.

Some of us have already taken advantage of Johns Broads efforts to arrange for us to go on a course.

If you are in any doubt about it’s value or want to remind yourself of what you learnt, tune in to the ITV hub and look for ITV4,  the Motorbike Show, episode 2, where Henry Cole meets Andy who was one of our instructors at a mock up incident.

If you are reading this you must be able to find ITV Hub, on the internet, which is where you view past ITV programs.

BBQ 2016 Savernake.

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Hello everybody,

John Broad has sent some pics for you to enjoy.

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The Oxford Section BBQ in the Savernake Forrest was another great success, for the Section, and a record turnout of over 85.

The weather was kind to us again without being too hot.

Thanks to all of you who came and supported us either by organising a ride out, helping on the day, delivering essential equipment, bringing scrumptious goodies to eat or just simply turning up and joining in.
Special thanks to Rosemary and David for using up there spare time to go shopping, for the main ingredients, and to Dave Hawkins for bringing his tea making equipment and doing the early shift to secure our pitch.

All the cooks who did a great job as usual, thanks to them as well.

I could go on but it will embarrass those that helped make it a success but they know who they are so a big thanks all round.




The BMW Club Journal August 2016 – Oxford Section Report

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BMW Club Oxford Section Report for July 2016

This is the time of the year when everything is on at once, leaving people indecisive as to which event to go to, but it is nice to have such a problem. Hoping for good weather each weekend has been a bit of a gamble as well this year, the Section Camping weekend at Lechlade from the 3rd to the 5th June being a good example. The date clashed with a Western Section event and so only seven hardy souls joined Dave Hawkins on the campsite. They were however joined by a large group of canoeists who were travelling along the Thames and many slept in open fronted Baker Tents. Four camping bikers went on the run from the site on the Saturday with more joining in at Highworth to continue to Burford for Cake and Coffee. The day trippers left and Dave led the campers back through his favourite Cotswold roads to the campsite. If you fancy a local camping weekend Dave has booked the site again for the 2nd and 3rd of June 2017; you never know who you will meet and it is all fun.

The regular monthly ride out took place on the 12th June when Stuart Giles led his first ride down to the Fort Nelson Armament Museum on Portsdown Hill. As he said, “what could possibly go wrong?” As with many well thought out rides it is often outside influences that create the problems and so it was with Stuart although he dealt with them all magnificently. Road closures for bridge repairs, the horror of the road chipping season where the Councils resurface roads as cheaply as possible with no thought for motorcyclists and then one of those downpours made Stuart head down the A34 to Newbury for the second pick up rather than the back road route he had planned. With 15 bikes in total a scenic ride to Popham Airfield to see the expected fly-in and have home made cakes and tea didn’t quite work out as the weather curtailed aviation but did leave more room in the café; and more cakes.

Stuart described the rest of the ride south “The serpentine B3046 took us through some beautiful Hampshire landscape and chocolate box villages. Unfortunately one rider and his pillion did suffer a topple-over at a not too well marked Junction. We suffered one last road closure before reaching our destination. Fort Nelson proved to be very much liked by the members of the ride, everyone stayed for some time there and after lunch we had an interesting look at the varied and fascinating exhibits, both inside and outside. The actual fort and its superb views across Portsmouth and the Solent are worth the trip alone”. All I can add is well done Stuart in managing all those unforeseen issues whilst still producing a ride everyone enjoyed; an excellent leader.

Austria trip team Why are we waiting at the entrance to another tunnel Oxford Section 20160705

One of the main trips of the year took place around the dates of the 18th to the 25th June with the well organised trip to Austria where only the hotel was booked. Geoff Clough has written the trip from his point of view and this can be read on the Oxford Section site at which makes great reading. As Geoff noted, “Over 40 intrepid members of the BMW Club assembled at the Hotel Weisseespitz in the Austrian Tyrol. Some had to come by car for various reasons, but the rest rode all the way from Blighty and back. Sadly, Martin Skennerton suffered an accident in Germany on the way down so couldn’t join us. He is now home and on the mend and we all wish him well”. Apparently there was a football match on the day they tried to cross the Channel that prompted half of England to try to get to France. More on the football and the consequences for bikers later. Geoff always points out that he is not the tour leader as those that followed him usually find out but they did make it to the Freiburg hotel en-route and to the hotel in Austria OK. Days of riding through many tunnels and up serious mountain passes, including the Stelvio, plus taking funicular railways, cable cars and ski lifts provided everyone with some great experiences. Even the weather behaved after the first day although with temperatures in the 30’s C it was a bit warm. At the tops of the passes they bathed in glorious sunshine and never noticed the temperature had dropped to around 6 C. Having Club members from the London and North East Sections added to the fun the Club enjoys.

Back in the UK the section had a stand at the regular last Monday in June bike night at Cassington Village on the 27th June. With many members of the section still returning from the Austria trip the numbers of people from the Section who would have helped with marshalling was seriously down. The numbers of bikes attending this year was also down as well, apparently due to England playing another of those football matches where bikers so interested wanted to watch England get defeated. Much more fun on the Village Green where there were some very nice old machines on display.

Speaking of nice old machines, the Section members who helped Andy Lawson people the ACU Rally checkpoint at Carterton over the weekend of the 2nd & 3rd July saw some fine machinery as the riders checked in. Andy said “We were open from the start of the Rally on midday Saturday right through to 5am Sunday. This year, there were some 570 motorbike riders who registered for the Rally, of which 187 had planned their route to pass through our Control Point. An excellent weekend, with plenty of BMW riders passing through, but also some other lovely bikes including vintage Triumphs, BSA, Velocette, AJS, Ariel plus a couple of lovely 1980’s Laverdas. The weather was a little inclement (a bit of an understatement) with a few showers, some of which were heavy and gusty at times requiring people to hold onto the gazebo to stop it taking off!” These events would not be possible without the help of the volunteers and Andy put it very well saying “Our thanks and gratitude to all the volunteers who donated their time to come along and help and especially those who did the overnight “graveyard” night shift”. Well done people.

Independence Day; no, not the UK one on the 23rd June but the US one on the 4th July where the Ludgershall bike night had an area set aside for US motorcycles. The Section stand had a nice collection of old and new BMW’s and these events are always good to meet old and new friends. The range of machines parked up is amazing from the bicycle with a bolted on ‘Mosquito’ engine to V8 powered cars and everything in between. Oh, and the cakes were just fantastic!

The section BBQ is rapidly approaching down at the Savernake Forest on the 7th August. The coordinators of this event are Bob and Ann Mack (01235 767221) and they would appreciate any assistance with people willing to bring salads, coleslaw, and all those other nice things to go with the BBQ’d meat. Anyone willing to bring another superb fruit salad or especially another of those wonderful pavlovas will be welcomed with open arms.

The 14th August is the huge Brackley Festival of Motorcycling and the section will have a stand there so drop by and say hello.

With a couple of incidents happening to members it is important to be prepared and those who attended the ‘Biker Down Workshop’ last year were very appreciative of all the information they learnt. I know many of you couldn’t make that event and so Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue have offered us another special evening for BMW Club members on the 10th November at the Slade Fire Station, Headington. If you are interested in attending please let me have your names ASAP as there are only 12 places available.

Will the Council road closures, top dressing and the weather behave to allow the next events to go as planned? I’ll let you know in next month’s edition.

John L Broad


Oxford Section Social 2017 Survey

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We are busy planning the social calendar for 2017. Rosemary has sent everyone an email with a link to a short survey so we can get your ideas and feedback. 

It would be much appreciated if everyone could complete the survey.

SNR To Calne Bike Show 30th July 2016

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frontpage_bannerGrab the chance of a mini Wiltshire excursion to the above venue.

Meet at the Sun Inn, Coate Water , Swindon  SN3 6AA

Meet from 9.15 am  leaving at 10.30 sharp.. To arrive about 11.30 Calne

for your breakfast bacon bap, sausage sandwich, coffees, tea or soft drinks.

Hopefully this will get to facebook too !!



Ride-in to the Oxford Section BBQ 7 Aug

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The Oxford Section BBQ will be running once again in the Savernake Forest on Sunday 7th August, with the Section providing the basics and members bringing along extra goodies. To add some motorcycling to the event, there will be a ride-out from the Waterfront Cafe, Benson, OX10 6SJ, ending up at the BBQ before the food is served. Meet at the Cafe from 10:30 for departure at 11:00, or turn up earlier and have a leisurely breakfast. The cafe is open from 8:00.

The Waterfront Cafe serves a wide range of coffee, tea and snacks, including breakfast and mid-morning cakes, in an attractive setting with a large terrace running down to the river Thames. As well as the tables outside, there are tables inside should the weather close in. The rideout will be led by Tim Bolderston (07588 713317 or taking roughly an hour and half to reach the BBQ avoiding major roads as far as possible. There will be no intermediate stops.

Rosemary Hicks has already distributed information about the BBQ itself, and anyone planning to come to the BBQ is asked to contact Bob Mack (who is organising it) with numbers attending and details of any food contributions they can bring along. Bob Mack can be contacted on 01235 767221, 07831 211373 or

The BMW Club Journal July 2016 – Oxford Section Report

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John Ottaways ride to Brecon grp at Owls Nest tea room 20160522

BMW Club Oxford Section Report for June 2016

June the first is, according to the weather men on TV, the official start of meteorological summer; yippee! It’s no wonder the British are always talking about the weather as it varies so much from day to day.

Back on the 8th of May Brian & Lillian Garforth led a group of intrepid riders out to find the BBC’s idea of the bendiest road in Britain, which surprisingly isn’t in Scotland. As Timothy Oates said of the ride “not knowing or remembering where Zig Zag hill was, I was in it and through it before I had time to worry about dropping it in front of my peers, thank God!” I think Phil Carter summed up the day as “great organisation, fantastic route, and incredible weather – exemplary!” It was also good to see some new members on the run; this should entice them to join in more of the sections activities.

On the 14th May John Ottaway, ably assisted by Geoff Clough, led some 13 riders on an interesting ride through the Cotswolds to the Rohan shop in Bampton. Taking in Woodstock, Chipping Norton and Stow on the Wold for a pee stop had me wondering if John had the wrong Rohan as there is one at Stow as well. Bibury always looks like a chocolate box picture apart from the mass of tourists but it wasn’t far from there through Lechlade and into Bampton. With a bit of judicious bike juggling, the section got most of the bikes parked outside the shop. Rohan’s Karen Bradshaw looked after us very well with tea and biscuits and many spent more than they possibly intended but then you do pay for the technical quality of Rohan products. Arrangements for the Oxford Section to take over half of the Romany Inn next door for an excellent buffet lunch meant people could wander between food and shop. The comment heard “now a few quid lighter but richer for the experience” is very apt.

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The following day, Chris Bond led a group to the Ace Café without using the Continue reading