Grenoble to Monaco With a Shot Wheel Bearing

Today we left Grenoble heading to Monaco on a bike with a shot front wheel bearing. After arriving in Grenoble we dropped the bike off Friday at Axxe for two new tyres and rear brake shoes. When we picked it up on saturday afternoon the mechanic told us the front wheel bearing was shot and we’d have to take it to a Honda shop as they didn’t have a replacement. I was pretty pissed off because it was almost close of business on saturday and if this bozo had called earlier I could’ve picked up a set of bearings from the Honda shop myself. Michele asked the mechanic and he was adamant that the bike wouldn’t make it to Monaco but I took it as the usual mechanic guff where they just cover their butts by saying you won’t make it.

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Cath, Denis and Michele were worried and started checking out alternatives like Blah Blah Car and Trains but I hadn’t noticed any vibration through the handlebars or heard any noise from the front end so I thought if we took it slow we would probably make it to Monaco. The mechanic warned against leaning over too hard or riding too fast but on the way back to Cath and Denis’ house the bike felt OK if not a little better with a new set of rubber on it. After arriving at the house I popped the bike on the centre stand and after letting it cool down I checked out the front wheel. There was a small drag from the brake shoe and a tiny noise so I thought we’d be OK. We did some checking and Cath made some phone calls and it turned out that bike shops from Grenoble to Nice were closed on Monday so the earliest we could get it repaired was Tuesday.

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Meanwhile Michele had contacted a few motorcycling friends, who had a lot more experience on bikes than us. they assured her that if we took it easy the bearing would be good for maybe 500 km’s. As we had to be in Monaco for a housesit on Monday at 2 pm we weighed up all the options.
Our best route would be via the minor road as the motorway was longer and it posed a real danger from high speed traffic, because everyone drives like maniacs. The minor road also took us through lots of towns which had bike shops, hire cars and train stations. If the bearing collapsed, which I really doubted then there was always a way to get to Monaco and repair the bike. I calculated that if we left at 9 o’clock and averaged 60 kph then we would be in Monaco by 2 pm.

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It was just before 9 when we left from Cath and Denis’ house after a wonderful weekend visiting the sights around Grenoble. The thermometer was reading 4 degrees but the wind chill factor dragged it below zero as we wound our way through the mountains. What an absolutely beautiful ride with clear blue skies, multicoloured hills and little villages. The bike ran well in the cool crisp air and at our first stop in Laragne-Monteglin I took advantage to fuel up and pop the bike on the centre stand for a check whilst Michele found a Boulangerie and ordered coffee. The bearing looked in good state, I think the frigid conditions probably helped.
Back on the road we headed down through Digne towards which is supposedly one of the great rides of France. Whether it is or not we really enjoyed the ride as it followed the river. In parts it was carved into to bottom of the cliffs so it wound back and forth in tight corners. In other areas tunnels were cut through the hills.

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Once we arrived on the outskirts of Nice we realised one thing we hadn’t missed was traffic and there was lots of it. The last little piece of the ride followed the heavily populated cliffs along the coast before we wound our way into Monaco. With its one way streets it’s a bit of a maze but pretty soon we had arrived at our destination and were parking up. The time was 230 and with three brief stops we’d achieved what the mechanic said we couldn’t. It was a great relief as well so we celebrated with a pizza happy to have made it from Grenoble to Monaco OK.

Tomorrow we’ll check out the Honda Mechanics just up the road.

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