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The last leg

Updated: May 12, 2023

The journey back across Newfoundland is a long haul in one day, and I sleep soundly in my ferry seat most of the way back to Cape Breton.

The next days are spent following ‘the lighthouse way’ that follows the rugged yet beautiful Nova Scotia coastline. The region is home to many fishing families and every small inlet or sheltered bay has a small harbour, and a few lobster fishing boats.

Separating Nova Scotia from New Brunswick is the Bay of Fundy. Incredibly it has the highest tidal flow in the world at 15 meters (50 ft).

Here the fishing fleet rises and falls on tall poles and floating walkways.

It’s a long boring ride back to Montreal, where I meet up with Ingo. It’s good to catch up and swap stories. The temperature has taken a dive, and I’ve been wearing almost every piece of clothing I’ve got. This morning the temperature sinks to -2 degrees.

The following day we are due to fly out to London, ending our very enjoyable journey across Canada.

The next day we wash the bikes and ride them to Air Canada Cargo, here we reduce the weight and the height as much as possible to reduce the freight cost. For me this means removing the screen and mirrors and packing as much heavy luggage as I can into my bags.

As we wait for our flight we can see our bikes being loaded on our plane. It’s incredible to think they will be riding with us, just below our seats.

Arriving at Heathrow London we catch a taxi around to Air Canada Cargo, reassemble our bikes, repack our luggage and ride away. It’s that simple. As part of the process, we needed to hire the services of a Dangerous Goods agent in Montreal, and a Customs Agent at Heathrow. Both were inexpensive and efficient, and the whole process was simply handled by email.

Flying the bikes was such an easy option compared with the issues we encountered when shipping.

We spend a few days with friends of Ingo’s, near Oxford, in England. It’s an enjoyable break, off the bikes. We visit Oxford town, do a little hiking and enjoy the local pubs. A really nice time with interesting people.

We leave Oxford in the evening and make our way in the dark and the rain to Portsmouth, where we take the overnight ferry to France. The morning sees us in Le Havre, and we spend the next couple of days village-hopping across France.

I’ve always had a love affair with rural France. The landscape, the small roads and the villages have always fascinated me, and the couple of days we spend there are no exception.

Our last evening in France is spent in the Jura area, close to the Swiss border. The scenery here is spectacular, but the architecture is more Swiss than French. We spend the late afternoon enjoying ourselves in the fabulous Jura mountains, among the beautiful forests and switchback roads.

We crossed into Switzerland the next morning in the fog and rain, and our last night was spent in a typical Swiss country hotel. I went to sleep that night listening to the sounds of cow bells.

In the morning we woke to a brilliant day and we were both enjoying the sun on our backs and the incredible scenery as we made our way back to Zürich, Ingo’s home town.

Five months ago we’d departed Zürich and headed east. Today we arrived in Zürich arriving from the west. We’d completed our northern hemisphere circumference of the world, and Ingo’s wife Claudia was home to greet us.

Hey Ingo, thanks for the invite!

So what about the bike? The Honda Crosstourer was pretty bullet proof.

Two things went wrong.

The front fork seals failed on the road back from Tuktoyaktuk. It’s hardly surprising. The Crosstourer was never designed as an off road bike and I was definitely pushing the envelope with this bike on that road.

Secondly, two bolts holding the side stand assembly in place backed out towards the end of the trip. I noticed the bike was on more of a lean when on the side stand than it used to be, but I failed to heed the warning signs and one of the bolts backed right out, ruining the thread and rendering the side stand all but useless on the last two days of the journey.

All in all, not bad for almost 40,00km. Happy with that, thank you Mr Honda...

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