After a restless sleep I got up early and decided to take my barrel off to find out what yesterdays problem had been. The first problem was getting into the area the hotel had allowed us to park the Lambrettas. As everyone knows, any Lambretta in Italy is a target for thieves, so every hotel we use we try to get secure parking. I had to wait for the bloke who owned the hotel to appear before I could get the key off him, this was at around 7:30 am.
I also had to call a coupe of the others to get them to move their Lambrettas so I had room to work. When the barrel came off it was obvious that my ring problem diagnoses was correct. The bottom ring peg had come out, the ring had turned and had snagged on the exhaust port. It hadn’t only snagged, it had folded over and embedded its self into the piston right over the exhaust port.
Amazing that it had continued to run and had done so for about 70 miles carrying two people and loads of luggage on a windy up hill motorway.
The barrel damage was slight, the port was ok but there was a slight gouge about 5mm under the port. The ring being folded over had obviously caused this.
I installed a new piston, didn’t bother replacing the gaskets, just used some gasket sealant and bolted it all back together. By 9am it was running.
As it hadn’t actually broken down at any stage the day before and it had got to the days destination, I decided to consider this maintenance rather than a breakdown. The piston had been in for many thousands of miles, it’s just bad luck to have a ring peg fall out.
Everyone else had had breakfast, Paula had brought me a coffee and croissant out while I was finishing up with the build, so we all packed up and headed off for todays fun and games. The plan today was to get to Saint Tropez via Monaco, Nice and Cannes.
The motorway was very windy, I think this was due to how high up it is. It crosses a crazy landscape which consists entirely of tunnels and bridges, the bridges are high over towns below. Not nice to ride on but interesting. the ride to Monaco was pretty uneventful, apart from Sulla thinking he had lost his toll ticket and then finding it as soon as he got to the other side.
I had programed the F1 circuit into my satnav for Monaco but this didn’t go too well. The F1 race had been there just nine days before we arrived which meant much of the track was still not open to traffic. That little obstacle didn’t get in our way though, we managed to ride on at least 90% of it, even through the harbour section which was like a building site with workers dismantling the grandstands. We obviously stopped at a few places to get photos and got turned around at least once before we decided enough was enough and headed out of town.
We were now heading for Nice and decided to try and take the coast road, this started off all well and good until we found ourselves having to ride through town after town, all of which were like the M25 on a bad day. In the 35 degree heat it began to get on every ones nerves, tempers began to fray. I told everyone that I was happy to do my planned rout to Saint Tropez alone if they preferred to jump on the motorway and head straight there, so when I looked around after one odd satnav direction and saw no one was behind me I carried on.
I rode down Cannes sea front and then got out of town and found the Motorway, I had expected to see the others on the motorway but as it was only about 10 miles to the junction for Saint Tropez I wondered if they were well ahead of me by now. this is where the day really turned to shit.
I was just entering Saint Tropez when I got a call over my intercom from Sulla, he was saying someone was involved in a crash, but he sounded like he was taking the piss. I got the hump and hung on him and shortly after pulled over so I could call him without having to concentrate on where I was going. He said again that Chris had come off and this time he convinced me that he wasn’t joking. Sulla now sounded like he had lost the plot, he wasn’t making much sense, just saying over and over that Chris’s face was a mess and that he was in an ambulance being taken to Cannes hospital. I obviously thought the worst as Chris doesn’t ware a full face helmet. Sulla also said that there were only him Scotty and Chris together when it happened and that he didn’t know where the others were. I called Russ a few times but got no answer so thought he must still be riding and unable to hear his phone, so I decided that all I could do was continue and try and find the others who I was convinced must be ahead of me.
To say I wasn’t very happy would be an understatement, which you can hear in this video clip.
A few miles later I had to pull in for Fuel. While there I called Sulla again to find out the latest news and was told Chris was in Xray and they didn’t know much more. He did say though that a woman who had seen the crash and had helped them had taken Scotty back to the crash site so he could try and ride Chris’s Lambretta back to the hospital. I then tried Russ again, by now they had also found out about the crash and sounded as confused as I was as to WTF had happened. Russ also told me he was still on the motorway at the services, this meant they were a good hour at least behind me which confused me even more. They were having problems entering the hotel position into their satnavs so I said I would go there and they could use the tracker on this site to see where I was so they could find the hotel.
Paula and I had some food and drink at the fuel stop and talked about what had occurred and arrived at the hotel entrance about an hour later. By now I had other people calling me to find out what was going on, Johnny had some how heard about it and sounded worried as he was now in Belgium, miles away, so could offer no assistance. I decided then to post a private message to the ILC members back in the UK telling them not to post anything online about what had happened. I did this because even we didn’t know what was going on and because I knew Chris’s wife had just left for a holiday with friends and didn’t want her finding out through the internet.
After what seemed days, Russ and the others arrived at the hotel entrance. The hotel wasn’t a hotel, it was a beach resort at the end of a long driveway. we had waited at the entrance rather than checking in. By now I had found out from Scotty and Sulla that Chris had several broken ribs, I had even managed to speak to Chris which eased my mind no end. He had discharged himself and would soon be allowed to leave the hospital.
I had been in contact with Richard Taylor while waiting for the others to arrive and asked him to look for one way hire options in the Cannes area. Sulla had said he was willing to drive a van which could transport both his and Chris’s Lambretta and the two of them back to the UK. Chris had stated on the phone that he wanted to continue with the “holiday” with the rest of us, this meant the hire had to be over a few days and the drop off point had to be in Caen where we were due to get the ferry back to the UK four days from now.
This turned out to be less straight forward than you would think it would be. The Cannes Eurohire depot had nothing to hire and the nearest place was Nice. Sulla and Chris had to get a Taxi from Cannes to Nice airport and when they got there they found they only had cars available, luckily they had a Ford Galaxy which they thought maybe big enough to get the two Lambrettas in. Scotty had stayed at the hospital with the Lambrettas waiting for them to return. They found that the only way to get both Lambrettas in the back was to remove the front wheels. After a lot of messing around they got them in and headed for Saint Tropez, Scotty had to follow them on his Lambretta. It was dark by now and very late. they didn’t arrive at the apartments till the early hours of the next morning.
The rest of us had waited up but most of us had turned in before they arrived. so it wasn’t until the next morning that we found out how Chris was.
This was by far the most eventful day and mostly for all the wrong reasons. On the up side though, Chris was still alive, and the place we were staying for the next two nights was fantastic.
Footage from Monaco to Saint Tropez which shows what the traffic was like.
Day twelve track