I like riding straight from home. All packed up, the last cup of tea probably drunk in the garage doing a few final checks on the bike, and then I’m off, generally towards a ferry. But last summer, time was tight. Spending another week away from the office, with The Overland Event looming, simply wasn’t an option. I needed to get to Greece for a family gathering and to be honest I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve ridden across northern France… So I thought I’d try something new; like starting the ride in Geneva.
Imagine being able to maximise your annual break and just begin your trip beneath the Alps, that first pass just moments away. Well Bikeshuttle are based north of Towcester in Northamptonshire, and they’ll truck your bike through the night to Geneva in Switzerland or Toulouse in southern France, parking it at the hotel for when you’ve finished breakfast. They have arranged a deal with hotels just beside the airport in both cities and seem to have considered every bit of the experience. When you ride to the depot they greet you with a drink and a place to change out of your riding gear. All of your stuff is then safely stowed in padded flight cases: one for helmet, another for boots and jacket. You also have space assigned for anything else and can leave any camping gear or tote bags strapped on your bike.
The double-decker truck has been specially kitted out to store bikes in pairs, safely and securely, and I was allowed in to the trailer to watch my new (borrowed CB500X) being chocked, clamped and strapped.
So with my laptop and small overnight bag I was free to fly. Bikeshuttle provide a minibus to take customers to Luton airport after a stop for lunch at the iconic Midlands biker café of Jack’s Hill. In essence the relaxing part of the holiday had begun and even the airport and budget airline experience was a doddle without any luggage. I checked the last few emails and completed some other work over a couple of ales in Wetherspoons and that evening arrived in Geneva. The hotel (a 10 Euro taxi-ride away) was sumptuous – although the staff seemed overworked – and there’s a Pizzeria and bar next door.
I probably would’ve wanted a hotel anyway as I don’t always camp anymore, so that’s an expense that may have happened. But as I brewed my tea in the suite in the morning and prepared to head down for breakfast, and to discover if my Honda really had magically appeared in the underground carpark, I considered the real cost of this ‘shuttling extravagance’.
I’m long past doing marathon days in the saddle and prefer to really look at where I’m riding, so 700 miles and a tunnel or ferry crossing is easily two long days on the road for me. That’s more accommodation, days of food, a ferry ride, a load of fuel and in my case (as it turned out) a sixth of my back tyre saved. When I add all that up (and then double it) £445 for a return Bikeshuttle experience doesn’t actually seem that bad.
And there she was, waiting. Panniers intact and the flight cases with my riding gear all neatly laid out. I had nothing to do but ride out into the warm sun, look towards the snowy peaks and tip into the first beautifully cambered corner as I aimed south for the heel of Italy and then Greece.
More info: www.bikeshuttle.co.uk