Preparing for a Norman invasion

Del and I are off to Normandy, France on our bikes for five days with 13 other like-minded “Old Bill”.

With the trip in mind I have decided to focus this month’s page on helpful tips of how to prepare for a trip abroad and what to check and carry on your machine before you go.

  • If you are travelling to a country in the EU obtain an EU Health Insurance Card from This card allows you to obtain free medical treatment whilst away and then claim back off of the NHS upon your return. This, coupled together with private travel insurance, will mean you are totally covered in the event of an accident.
  • Obtain “Single Trip” cover from the AA, RAC or similar breakdown organization. Most services will attempt to fix your bike within 24hrs or if unable to repair will repatriate you and your machine back home (my five day cover cost me £35 with the AA).
  • Tell your bike insurance company where you are going, some companies get the right hump if something happens and they were not aware you were abroad.
  • You are a long way from home if you lose your bike keys so if riding with a pack, do what I do and swap a spare ignition key with a riding buddy. Trust me you don’t want to “Slide-hammer” your ignition just to take the steering-lock off (you can also have a lot of fun hiding your mate’s bike).
  • If you haven’t got one already, create a Hotmail account then email yourself your bank details, passport number, insurance contact number etc. If you lose any docs whilst travelling abroad, all you have to do is get onto the web and you are saved. Hotmail is pretty safe regarding banking and passwords.
  • Remember to save a point of contact into your phone as “ICE”. ICE is recognised EU wide as “In Case of Emergency”. If something serious happens at least someone will be able to contact a loved one by searching your phone.


  • Make sure your bike is fully serviced before you go. I am expecting to do 1500 to 2000 miles in the five days I am away. You want enough life on your brake pads and clean oil in the engine etc so you don’t have to worry whilst you are out there.
  • Inspect your hoops for the above same reason. Remember tyres keep you in contact with the road, if the tyres are on their wear limits before you go, they will be totally illegal when you come back.
  • Take some chain lube with you; I will be doing at least 300 miles a day so lubricating my chain will be done every night. Wurth chain lube does a handy travel size tin which will fit under your seat.
  • If you have the room, keep a few cable ties, tape, spare fuses/bulbs and a torch under your seat. Make sure the tape is water proof and sticks to anything. Cable ties are a “life-saver” if you need to fix a fairing or put your number plate back on (right, Del?!).
  • Lastly, make sure one of the members in your pack carries a six foot length of small rubber hose. The hose will wrap up very small and if one of you runs dry of fuel whilst miles from civilisation, all you have to do is wheel a bike up next to it and siphon away.

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