Wednesday, July 02, 2008

1st July – Harley problems continue

The bike is in need of repair – the starter motor failed yesterday and there now appears to be no chance of starting it without getting the motor either patched up or replaced. My biggest fear, mechanical problems, on this trip has arisen. I am also a little annoyed with the new Harley-Davidson dealer in Dublin who serviced the bike only last week in advance of my trip. I’m going back to Mick Doherty and Motorcycle city after this for all repairs and service. Thankfully we have two weeks here so it is not spoiling things too much. We have the Zafira to go about in any case.

Yesterday I called HOG Assistance to get help. While they were very helpful, they were also very slow. They told me in the morning that they can usually get someone to pick up the bike within 45 minutes to an hour. However, they had problems finding some place to take the bike. My insurance policy covers picking up the bike and bringing it to the nearest Harley-Davidson dealer – which is in Béziers. However, these guys told HOG that they were very busy, they have only one mechanic (and a strict 35 hour week policy in France), and that it would be at least 15 days before they could even look at the bike! Now I’m worried! Next best was another dealer called Macadam Moto in a place called St Jean de Vedas which I agreed to have the bike taken to even though the HOG person couldn’t tell me where it is.

It was now 4.30 in the afternoon – I had spent most of the day so far waiting by my phone, but at least there was now someone on the way to pick up the bike. Or so I thought! HOG called me again at about 5.30 to see if the bike had been picked up – they then went to check what the delay was. It turns out that there was a small dispute between HOG and the Recovery Company about payment – this apparently is an expensive pick-up. By now it was too late for them to pick up and I agreed to wait until the next (Wednesday) morning.

Roma and the girls are very patient with me and my bike problems – I wonder what Roma will say about the next time I want to bring the bike on holiday? Last year in Achill it was also out of action for the two weeks we were there due to what turned out to be a very small electrical problem (dirt in the ignition) – at least in Achill I could put it on my bike trailer and drive it home.

In the early evening, Roma and I walked down to a local cave in Sigean to check out some wine. Interesting stuff – we tasted some red and rose and bought three bottles. Prices of course are way lower than in Ireland. Roma picked up a litre of Rose for €1.39 – the most expensive bottle we bought was €6.50. We also stopped at another small shop on the way back to the villa where we bought another two bottles of wine. While we were there a man came in with an empty 5 litre container for a refill of rose, and a 1 litre bottle refill of white for less than €20! Good job Roma and I don’t live here because we’d turn into a right pair of winos at these prices.

We went out to dinner in Newport (Port-la-Nouvelle) to a fish restaurant where I ate 24 animals (6 oysters, 6 snails, 6 prawns, 6 mussels, plus some smoked salmon). The girls had some fun wandering around the local shops and carnival – I was cleaned out of cash! Vicki bought some shorts, Kate bought big Jackie O type glasses, I also got jewellery for Vicki and Emma, and a small Ganesha (Indian God) statue for Kate. Newport really only starts getting into action very late. We were there at 8.00pm and it was very quiet – most of the stalls in the carnival were closed. By 9.30 everything had opened up and there was a bit more buzz about the place.

I’m writing this post early in the morning – it is nice and cool as it is quite cloudy. I got up at 7.30 as I was expecting the Recovery Company to pick up the bike at 8.00 – Bruno arrived at 9.00. He didn’t have any English, so I did my best to explain everything in French – again I was proud of myself as I only got stuck on a few words. I tried to start the bike to show him what was wrong and what do you know – the bloody thing started first time! It started a second time too, but not on the third – we decided to load it onto the truck as it has to be fixed. As he drove away I felt like I was seeing one of my kids off at school on their first day – when will I see the bike again? Bruno told me St Jean de Vedas was in Montpelier, so I’ll have quite a long trip to go when picking it up. While I’ll be happy to get it back before we leave France on 12th July, it will be a bitter disappointment to me if I do not get it back before then so that I can have a few trips on it while I’m here.

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