France

Before we left the USA we ordered a new SIM card for our Sat Phone and had it sent FedEx overnight before 10 AM delivery to Michigan. But.....it ended up going to Hawaii~!!! So we had to leave without it and without a working Sat Phone. (We would really like to have it working when we ride south through the Sahara Desert for over 1,600 miles (that is air miles---not road miles which is longer) (2,587 kilometers).......not to mention the rest of Africa.

Lana’s Mom is coming to Paris with some of her friends for a vacation. This was not planned to coincide with our being here but it did work out well She will receive the SIM card by mail before she leaves the US and will bring it with her. That will be a big help for us.

We were camped in a campground in Paris on the River Seine. It was the Camping International Maison Laffitte. Address: 1 Rue Johnson, 78600 Maisons-Laffitte. Phone: 01 39 12 21 91 Web Site: http://www.sandaya.fr/camping/france/paris/maisons-laffitte/ It was a very nice campground and very reasonably priced. We had paid more in Canada for a place to camp. The Director is Sjoerd Bijkerk. He is a great guy. Thank you Sjoerd for helping making our stay enjoyable!

We had time to wait for the arrival of Lana’s Mom and our SIM card so we decided that we would do a “tourist thing” and ride around looking at the sights.

We took a ride around Paris on our bikes. And that was quite an experience, especially for Lana who had never been to Paris before. If you think that the roundabouts in your area are hard to get through, then you should try the big ones in Paris. Like the one around the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It is a kind of a free for all with no marked lanes and lots of cars vying for position to exit on one of the 12 roads that come into this roundabout. The drivers are by and large very courteous! People braking to let others in front of them. It got to be kind of fun. I heard a lot of laughs out of Lana in our SENA helmet coms. Here is an aerial photo (from the internet) of that roundabout during a low traffic period: http://images.google.fr/imgres?imgurl=http://www.paris-paris-paris.com/var/plain/storage/images/paris_landmarks/monuments/arc_de_triomphe/arc_de_triomphe_paris_4/138920-1-eng-GB/arc_de_triomphe_paris_4_large.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.paris-paris-paris.com/paris_landmarks/monuments/arc_de_triomphe&h=438&w=590&tbnid=mP8Sqr93OmAOQM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=121&docid=DP-h2RmcxJBxKM&usg=__z5NaCreCOmMflW3P8Lfiq3vL_Qk=&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjolJ3Dm-DPAhXG7hoKHXZ-D_4Q9QEISDAG

Paris is truly beautiful at night

Today we visited Bourges, France (we camped overnight there) and saw the Bourges Cathedral, which was built when this part of the world was an outpost of the Roman Empire. Construction of the Cathedral started in late 1100's and it took 35 years to complete. It is a truly awe inspiring sight to see!!! I took photos but have not got them compressed to fit on FaceBook. You can read about the Cathedral here. It is well worth your time:

http://www.ville-bourges.fr/_en/site/cathedral

We rode back to Paris (and stayed in the same campground) to meet Lana’s Mom and spend a day or two with her and pick up our SIM card before we headed south. But no SIM card!!! The person that was supposed to mail it to Lana’s Mom, dropped the ball and didn’t get around to it! It went from a very easy fix to a complicated problem. Can we get another SIM card in Farnce…yes we can. Do we want to throw the $500 we spent on the first one (including pre-paid air time) down the drain with an “oh well”. Of course not. We are on a very limited budget and can’t afford to do that. We will have to figure something else out.

In the mean time we had a great time with Lana’s Mom. She treated us to a ride on an open top bus around Paris, a tour the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. She is a tremendous amount of fun to be with and has a remarkable sense of humor. Thanks Mom!!! We had a wonderful time.

From the top of the Eiffel Tower

Looking up through the elevator going to the top of the Eiffel Tower

The Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe

Two views from the Arc de Triomphe

The rear shock on Lana’s bike has been getting weak as of late so we decide we had better get it fixed while we could before setting off through the Sahara Desert for over 1,600 miles of some very rough “roads” (to use the term loosely!). In our research and from talking to some very experienced KLR owners (Baja Bob; Tim Bernard, owner of Happy Trails) we found that the front fork springs are not near as good as they could/should be and the rear shock needs to be upgraded for an expedition like ours. Baja Bob suggested that we get Hyperpro shocks and progressive fork springs, so I started looking around Europe for them.

We found a distributor in Rancy, France so I sent them an email and did not get a response. I also sent emails to six other Hyperpro dealers and distributors and never got a reply from any of them! So we decided to ride to the one in Rancy. After getting to Rancy and asking around we found out that they are no longer there and had moved 10 kilometers to another small town. (they failed to mention this on their web site.) We finally found them. They knew next to nothing about which shock we should get and they told us it would take two weeks or longer to get the parts.

We rode away.

We never heard from any of the Hyperpro dealers that I emailed! So I emailed the factory and they told them that I never received emails from any of their seven (7) dealers that I had contacted and asked them for help. They told me that they do not sell to consumers (which I can understand) and they sent me a link to their dealer’s page and suggested that I contact one of them!!! It is obvious they never read my email very closely!

I have never seen it be so difficult to buy a part from someone that handles the part I was looking for. This is the kind of service that I have seen while doing business in third world countries, not the West. When it is this difficult to buy the part to begin with, I shudder to think how hard it would be to get Hyperpro shocks repaired under their warranty!

And none of this is Baja Bob’s fault…he has good luck with Hyperpro shocks. Bob is a friend of ours from Alaska. He has ridden his GS through a great number of countries and I hold him in the highest regard. He is a very experienced and knowledgeable adventure bike rider. We have often turned to him with questions and he has always given us terrific and very valuable advice. We appreciate you very much Bob!

So I emailed my friend Tim Bernard at Happy Trails. He suggested Progressive Suspension parts. I contacted them by email and got an immediate response with a link to their dealers in Europe. I randomly picked one in the UK (there are none in France), Simon Smith at Bike Revival www.bikerevival.co.uk and sent him an email. I received an immediate reply and he had the parts in stock. He looked at our web site with no prompting from me and offered us a significant discount. He sent the parts by courier the next day. Thank you Simon. You are a pleasure to do business with!

A Kawasaki shop in the Paris area installed the shocks and fork springs for us. JLF Motors at 51 bd Emile Zola, 78800 HOUILLES Phone: 01 34-93-01-88 Email jlfmotors@hotmail.fr The manager is LEPLEUX Frederic and speaks excellent English. He is very easy to deal with. He volunteered to loan us a motorscooter for the day. That was nice! They got us in when they were booked solid. Thank you Frederic! I could have made the switch but I wouldn’t want to get fork oil on the ground at the campground. They would take a dim view of that!

I finally did get a response from Hyperpro…from a dealer in the USA…EPM Performance Imports. But we needed the parts here in Europe.

It has been raining all but two days since we have been back in Paris, and for most of our time in France. Nearly everything is soaked. But such is the life of an adventure bike rider at times!!

Tomorrow we ride south towards Spain and see a friend of mine that I have not seen in a very long time. We have a lot of catching up to do.


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