Last weekend we set off on our bikes to visit the Bikers Loft in Groenedijk, not far from Brugge in Belgium. We have visited once before in July 2012 and thought it was high time for another visit.
On the way out we broke up the trip by spending the evening at our good friends Andy and Jane in Surrey, where we also met up with Paul and Kate. Far too early on Friday morning we were joined by Mike and headed off toward Le Shuttle at Folkestone, picking up Richie on the way. We met up with our final companion, Robb, at the services near Folkestone and headed off for the train.
The trip down was not particularly pleasant: it is all motorway, so my nice new rear tyre was squared off on the M25 and M20. It also decided to p*ss down with rain for most of the journey which didn’t help.
However, if you have to ride on the motorway riding in a group is a great way to do it. By the end there were nine of us on seven bikes: three Harley Davidsons, two Hondas, a Buell and a BMW, all riding in formation.
The train to Calais was delayed, giving us the benefit of an additional 30 minutes to stand in the rain and enjoy the windswept vista of the train terminal, but apart from that all went well. Another hour’s riding from Calais, on yet more motorway, gets you to the Bikers Loft.
The bikers Loft is a great place. It is very basic, with the hotel only earning a one-star rating. As the name suggests, it is geared up for motorcyclists. Basically it is a big club house. There is a large bar area, which forms the heart of the venue, where they have live bands every weekend throughout the summer. Adjacent to this is a kitchen area: you buy your food ready prepared and cook it yourself in their banks of microwaves and hot plates.
Behind the bar is a large covered space in which you park the bikes and around this are the rooms, which are very basic with two narrow beds and a sink. Toilets and shower facilities are communal. There is also a small but fascinating motorcycle museum with an array of old, mostly European bikes which I have never heard of.
So, luxury is not a major selling point.
However, once you get to the bar and sink a few glasses of Leffe you really don’t mind. On Friday night everyone seemed quite tired and we just relaxed and drank far too much. On Saturday we rode into Brugge for lunch and a bit of a look around then returned to the Loft, had a wander around the museum and settled into more drinking, this time with a band playing.
When we booked our visit the band was scheduled to be a Japanese Punk band, which would have been hilarious. Unfortunately they had cancelled and instead we had a blues band called Dirty Old Men. I love the blues, but this didn’t go down so well with all of our party. The venue was also quite quiet as, although it was fully booked, many of the guests were from an Essex patch club who went elsewhere for the evening, which was disappointing.
We knew that we had a long ride home on Sunday morning, so best be sensible with drinking. As we finished a round of Duvel at 2am I was forced to reflect that my good intentions didn’t last as well as they might.
Sunday morning started blearily. Panniers were packed, a substantial breakfast was cooked, and then it was time to depart.
More motorways, but thankfully less rain on the way home. We once again rode in formation, with members of the party peeling off along the M25 as they reached their junction. We continued on around the M25 to the M40, which seemed a very long way, and we were pleased to finally pull off onto the A40 for the final stretch home.
The ride home was around 270 miles, with a weekend total of around 600 miles. I was knackered by the end, so I am definitely going to have to man up for the US trip, where 300 mile days will be the norm.
So that was our weekend. To be fair, it is a long way to go when we could have enjoyed a weekend’s drinking much nearer to home. You could definitely do it in more style and comfort if you stayed in a swanky hotel, and you would be much warmer and drier if you went by car…
But where’s the fun in that? Where’s the sense of adventure?
A weekend out on the bikes, staying in a venue full of like minded people with a bunch of good friends, both old and new, is definitely the way to go.
Some pictures from the museum: