I’m just back from a fantastic 10 days in Europe with Outrunner, Ben and Viki
Day one was the first travel day and saw Myself, Ben and Viki head from Edinburgh on a cold and blustery day to Newcastle in order to catch the ferry to Ijmuidenn and then on to the Rhine area of germany. We met Andy (Outrunner) en route and the gang was complete and the holiday officially started.
Stopping for petrol and brimming the tanks at Newcastle brought us close to the first disaster of the holiday in so much as Ben removed his new tank bag to fill up and promptly left it on the pump. It was only when he arrived at the adjoining supermarket carpark to buy supplies that we noticed it was gone. A quick dash back to the petrol station and the bag was recovered safe and sound where he left it. This was just as well as it contained amongst other things Ben and Viki’s passports.
Just as we arrived at the ferry the rain started in earnest so finding shelter took priority over the usual walking up and down the lines of bikes and chatting to owners. One thing that was obvious was there was some sort of scooter rally in Belgium and there was loads of the little fellas waiting on the quayside. Not the sort of bike I’d want to cover much distance on I’d say.
The ferry itself was relatively uneventful with the exception of the new TKC80 front I just fitted seeming to have a life of it’s own on the ridged ramps. It seemed much worse than I remembered it and it felt really odd. It reminded me of riding in sand and it was a case of just keeping the power on and letting it move around. I mention this now as things were to get more interesting later on.
Once on the car deck the job of tying down began and as a rough crossing was forecast some bikes were festooned with straps. I settled for two, one from each side of the frame, first gear selected and a bit of velcro on the front brake. Then it was off to our stateroom. I had brought an especially small cat to swing in the cabin but it was still no good. These cabins are tiny and with four of us in them it was more akin to playing a game of human tetris then anything else.
Beer (well lager) was about 5 euro a bottle so we made do with a just a few each and a wee dram from the contraband bottle of scotch that I smuggled aboard and and then it was bed time and off to sleep to the thrum of the engines and rocking off the boat.
Due to the bad weather we were delayed and our original arrival time of 0900 was now 1200 so a coffee and pastry was precured onboard (another fiver) and the decision was made to get some miles under our belts rather than heading for breakfast in Amsterdam. The weather was foul with 60mph gusting winds and rain never far away. We were all glad to be off the ship as those pesky scooters had all started their engines as soon as the door opened and the stink of two stroke oil was overpowering.
The ride to Germany was no fun at all. Gusty winds and rain meant total concentration but at least we could manage a decent speed unlike the scooters we passed that seemed to be going backwards in the winds. With the winds came the potpourri of smells that the Netherlands seems to conjure up and each one was worst that the last. Eventually hunger took over and we stopped at a McDonalds for a well earned rest and some warm food.
Feeling refreshed we continued on and when we reckoned Andy’s bike, having the smallest tank, would soon be needing fuel we stopped again. Interestingly my GSA and Ben’s Varadero both used fuel at a rate that was always within half a liter or so of each other while Andy’s F650 (800cc twin) used about 25% less. Bit thumbs up to the fuel economy of the 800cc BMW engine.
Eventually about 3 hours later than planned (remember the ferry delay) we descended down some fantastic roads into the Rhine Valley and Bacharach and the campsite we would be spending our first three nights.
Tents pitched in the same spot as last time in record time and it was off to the cafe for some beer and food.
We had arrived unscathed and now the holiday could really begin.
Shame it started raining again.
Part two to follow.