Visiting friends, pubs and friends in pubs is one of my favorite pastimes; after all it combines riding somewhere with drinking beer and talking bullshit, what could be better? Luckily for me I am just back from a week doing that in England and even luckier for me , the days I wanted the weather to be good were the days when it was good, the others , pfft, I was busy getting wet on the inside to worry about whether the weather was wet!
I don’t go back to England that often, a couple of times a year normally, and because of that I tend to notice changes, probably more than those who live there all the time. This time round I especially noticed the quality of the roads in comparison to France. The motorways in the UK, well lets be fair, the south east of the UK, have really gone to shit. UK motorways are busy places and you really do need to pay attention to all the idiots that are around you, especially on the M25, but that is not a new thing. What is new is the fact that now you have to really pay attention to the road you are riding on because it is just filled with potholes, cracks and uneven surfaces and not just little ones, I am talking serious, wreck your wheels and have you off the bike ones. On the other hand the French motorway system is excellent. It isn’t packed, the road surfaces are excellent and the service stations are decent, but you do have to pay for this privilege. The French don’t have road tax so the motorway system is privately owned and you have to pay a toll when you exit. It is not cheap, but you get what you pay for and that is a relatively pleasurable way of eating the miles getting to where you want to be.
Not phtoshopped, happened in 1988 in Norwich
Of course when you get off the motorways things are different. In the UK there are still potholes all over the place but to me it seemed like there were a lot less than in previous visits. I reckon this is due to a few factors, a campaign by locals to get them filled, the fact it is easier to fill a pothole on a local road than on a motorway and it is easier for a local authority to act quickly compared to a national one. So in the UK local potholes are fixed, eventually, but in France, well put it like this, some of the ones I know of have been there for more than ten years and at best a man comes along, dumps some tarmac into them and drives off. That is it, the sum total of local highway maintenance in France, a bloke in a Beret with a shovel and a baguette and of course a few weeks later the pothole is back and the whole process repeats itself!
Only one thing for it....stay in the pub!
This has been a public service announcement on behalf of your wheels, ass and other breakable bits…