West Glos & Dean Forest
Motor Cycle Club

Celebrating 71 Years of Motor Cycling 1953 - 2024

Lozere: 21-23 September 2005

Words and Photos By Ian Vessey

Once again the intrepid duo venture out to foreign parts in search of new trails. And beer and wine. And a bit of decent food would be nice as well. This time it was to the Lozere region of southern France, an area famous (in Enduro circles) for the Trefle Lozerien: a three day classic event run by the Moto Club Lozerien, which consists of three loops out from the town of Mende (Trefle = Clover).

Chris Evans of Sport Adventure, through his many contacts as a journalist and promoter, has a tidy arrangement with the Moto Club Lozerien, who allow him to run a few trips a year over parts of the Trefle course for which they have worked hard to obtain permission to use. (This is a subtle way of saying - Don't go there trail riding, it's private, you need special permission to ride.) The result, is that this is one of the hardest of the tours arranged by Chris, accurately described as a Trefle 'Lite', as it avoids the more arduous parts of the Trefle course. It does however make for an extremely enjoyable and challenging 3 days riding, but without competition pressure. The routes are along tracks, ancient roads and paths, over mountains and through deep valleys, under huge Chestnut and pine forests and across vast open landscapes.

Note: September, and the trees are festooned with chestnuts. If you don't duck, it's like head butting a brick!

The trip began with the usual overnight ferry from Portsmouth to Le Havre, followed by a fairly mind-numbing trek mostly on the autoroutes down through the middle of France (including an unscheduled detour through Rouen because of roadworks). The scenery picks up as you near Clermont Ferrand with excellent views of the surrounding volcanoes. Julian reckoned he saw some smoke from one but I think we can be fairly sure he was hallucinating by this time! Still, from this point we were well into the Massif Central and soon turned off left and headed for Mende. Total travel time was 10 hours including stops and detour, and about 500 miles.

The 3 days are based around the Hotel du Pont du Roupt in Mende, a comfortable 3 star hotel located near the centre of town by the river. There were a dozen or so punters, Chris, Yasmina in the van, plus 'Duke' from the Moto Club Lozerien who was our guide and 'course opener' for the duration.

Day 1 was the easiest, to break us in gently. A 180k loop to the south with a couple of technical bits to give us a taste of the Trefle. Many of the tracks and paths are rocky which is why bibmouses are recommended. Also, even though it was very dry it wasn't too dusty, at least Julian didn't complain, and although we rode together Julian was happy to let me do most of the navigating up front with the occasional correction from behind of course!. Our only mechanical failure appeared on the first day - a fork seal on the 525, typical KTM!

Day 2 was much longer, about 220k, and again a southerly loop. Traveling out of the town was a bit unnerving as there were a load of fully kitted and camouflaged Foreign Legionnaires 'liberating' the town of Mende. It was just an exercise, but it was still a bit scary to have a rocket launcher pointed in our general direction! The going varied from fast wide forest tracks right down to nadgery paths and goat tracks. Also included were the 'Bastard rocks'. That's what it said in the roadbook!! And a bloody great obstacle they were too. We spend about 15 minutes debating whether to attempt them or not, and eventually Julian said "Someone make a decision!". So I said that "I would rather not risk damaging my bike and not be able to ride the next day, so we should go around the rocks", to which Julian replied, "Good, so I can say we didn't go up the rocks because you chickened out" - meaning me! Cheek of it. I still think this was the right choice since there were only the two of us there at the time. Later riders in a big group helped each other over the obstacle, but I was very much aware of one rider who had holed the clutch case on his CRF450 the day before, and whose bike actually seized later this day.

Day 3 was shorter, but with much trickier going. Included were a lot more of the single track paths which really make this trip worthwhile and give it a real 'Enduro' flavour.

Each day was navigated by roadbook prepared by Chris to his usual accurate standard. Lunch stops were full 3 course meals enjoyed in the warm sunshine that Chris had also arranged for us! The weather each day was perfect for most of the riding, about 21C, cool under the trees but warm enough to work up a bit of a sweat on the tricky bits.

We had booked an extra night at the hotel after the last day, to give us a bit of a break before the return journey. The return started at 5:30 on saturday when we sneaked quietly out of the hotel (we did pay up the previous night!) and went quicker and smoother than the trip down to see us arrive back at Le Havre at 13:30. This gave us plenty of time to unwind from the trip, and also nip along to the nearest wine warehouse to stock up with a few bottles. The evening ferry was boring, a choice of 'Herbie fully loaded' or 'Bewitched' in the cinema was a bit disappointing! We got off the ferry at Portsmouth at about 21:30 and eventually got home before midnight. Knackered. The dirty bikes and smelly kit were left to fester in the van until Sunday!

Total cost for the trip was 550 - 600 each, which includes the fee to Chris, 2 extra nights before and after, ferry, van and bike fuel and tolls. It was worth every penny.

I've always recommended Chris' trips, and this one is by far the best yet for the more technically minded rider - although we have yet to try the new route in the Pyrenees. Next year maybe?

Trefle = clover - go to www.moto-lozere.com for full details of the club and of the Trefle.

Chris Evans of Sport Adventure has a regular spot in TBM and can be found at www.sport-adventure.com