Tony’s Spa Adventure

In July (2013) Rod Smith and I traveled to Spa Francochamps to attend the Spa Bikers Classic. The trip started with a run down to London to my son’s house for a stay the Thursday night, before traveling on to Spa on the Friday. My son Jake was joining us on the trip. The run down with Rod on his Bonneville, and me on my BMW was fairly uneventful, an overturned black cab needed some filtering, begrudged by a few motorists, as usual. A good four hours rolling saw us arrive in Bromley for our overnight stay.

Next morning we got up early to reach the Channel tunnel terminal in good time for our train, (photo 1). The three of us set off Rod and I struggling to keep up with Jake’s London honed filtering through the horrendous traffic that is the norm for inside the M25. It is the only way to get anywhere in reasonable time in London.

We were soon away from the worst of the  traffic and on our way to the tunnel. This was my first time using the tunnel, what a great way to get over to France it is. We had prebooked so it just meant typing in our code at the barrier and riding through to the waiting area. After a few minutes we were sent through to board the train, I thought we had driven most of the way to France on the train, it is very long. We were instructed to park with front wheel against the kerb, no strapping or tie downs were offered. I was a little concerned  having experienced Merseyrail’s jerky starting and stopping. No need whatsoever, the start up was so smooth I didn’t realise we were moving, the absence of windows magnified the feeling. We settled in for the short journey to France (photo 2) Disembarking was as easy as loading, excellent.

In to France first stop for petrol and food. A quirk of some of the petrol stations we found was the remote card reader machines at the end of the row of pumps, you need to enter the pump number and fuel type before drawing fuel, after an hour or so we mastered the system and managed to fill our bikes, Jake was now probably considering the decision to ride shotgun to two daft pensioners. Onward now to Spa, crossing the border into Belgium is a non event now, in fact you are hard pressed to notice the border at all. We made really good progress, that is until we got dizzy going round the Leige ring road having missed our turn off. We pulled into a service area where with the help of a free map and the helpful counter assistant, we managed to get back on track and finally arrived in Spa. This is a super small town,  we stopped in the main square and had our first Belgium beer of the holiday before looking for our hotel. After a few missed turns we arrived at our hotel (photo 3) the Entree Deux Pays hotel, Rue de Francais, Spa .This is situated just off the main street within easy walking distance of the town centre, Rob and his wife gave us a superb welcome with secure garage parking for the bikes if you require it.  An honesty list in the kitchen gives you an idea of the philosophy of the hosts, help yourself to a beer from the fridge and just note it down, settle up when you leave, thoroughly recommended. We walked down to the delightful town centre for the evening meal dining outside in the superb weather (Photo 4) On our return to the hotel a group of Scottish bikers had arrived so we had a good night, with all dipping into the fridge as required.







Saturday dawned with more of the same glorious sunny weather, and it was off to Spa. (Photo 5) Strangely, Spa Francochamps race circuit is nearer to Francorchamps not Spa, not too far from Spa though. The event is terrific, the circuit massive, the crowds huge. I have always wanted to see the eau rouge having seen this fabulous corner on film,  Hailwood to Sheene, Sheene still has the lap record for the full circuit I believe, it lived up to my expectations. The continental events

have their own classes which were unfamiliar to us. This event has both parades and full on races including a 6 hour endurance race, however it was difficult to make out if what we were watching was a race or a parade, they were all trying . Lots of different machinery, road and race, were on display and the pits were full of classic endurance bikes (Photo 6) Saturday night was the endurance race night , no time  restrictions for racing here, the mass start was something to see, I don’t know how they all get away without there being bits of bikes all over the start straight but they did.(Photo 7) After a long day completely knackered, we made our way back to the hotel. Next day was more of the same, weather superb again. Jake went on a run around the area and was to meet us later, Rod and I went straight to the track. Today was the day of the stars of the event,

Wayne Gardener,Christian Sarron, Giacomo Agostini and a surprise for us, Scott Redding turning out on a 500 two stroke.(Photo 8) The array of classic 500 two stroke fours ( Photo 9 and 10) was impressive. Even more impressive was the mock mass start, (photo 11) not much of mock in reality, I suppose once a racer always a racer. The sound of a number of racing fours used in anger was superb. Ago only did a couple of laps on an MV three. The Spa Classic is well worth a trip, autojumble, trade stands, classic machinery with a continental flavour. We left the circuit having thoroughly enjoyed the event. Back to Spa for another pleasant evening with Belgium beer and a nice meal under the trees, dining al fresco.

Next morning was loading up the bikes and bidding farewell to Rob and his wife at the Entree Deux Pays for the long journey home. Rod and I had decided to do the complete journey in one hit, Spa to Merseyside. The journey was uneventful, however it highlighted the difference between British and continental drivers, the one traffic jam we came to had the car drivers spreading out to make room for filtering bikers as you approached them, much appreciated. We made good time across Belgium and crossed into France arriving at the channel tunnel in what we thought was just in

time. It was for Jake, he got through but Rod and I got put back to a later train. This didn’t really matter as we had intended to cut on to the M25 leaving Jake to continue into London and home. It is a warning mind you, that if you are traveling in a group and need to stay together, make sure you can all go through the check in for the same train. Rod and I were able to have lunch in the tunnel terminal and have a welcome break before continuing our journey. Through the tunnel M25, M1, M6 and home, 500 miles in the day. All in all, we had done 1000 plus miles for the trip. Good time and easy travel, don’t hesitate to try Spa, a good centre to tour the superb countryside around.

Tony Lomax