PART 1

THE END?…………

We stepped over the pile of junk mail and into the house to flop down into familiar comfy chairs. ”Barry…… Barry are you there mate?” I whispered. For the first time in two weeks there was no answer. Peace reigned at last as the realisation of that fact seeped through my bones and the tour was over, a long sigh escaped from deep inside of me. passing through teeth forming a faint smile, a job well done I thought. As Julie set to with the unpacking, out in the drive the wing ticked and clicked as the engine cooled down, I too cooled down, relaxing as my mind rewound to the dock side at Hull two weeks earlier. Now, where is my cup of tea?……..

 

bike trip to austria 2009 002The Purple Amethyst at Hull.

DAY 1…….. WINGS BY THE WATERSIDE.

It was awarm breezy afternoon on Friday 19thJune 2009 as we neared the Hull docks , suddenly we passed Barry and the Appy Wanderers on the opposite lane of the carriage way, they had arrived to top up their tanks, we had just done that minutes earlier and were just turning into the dock area. I keyed the CB, “Hello Twat 1 from Twat 2 nice to see you, we’ll talk again at the check in area, Remember it’s the Rotterdam boat and not the Zeebrugge one I reminded them, a healthy riposte boomed out from seven Goldwing pilots. I grinned happy that we had got off to the usual noisy start!

1

In Hull, Yorkshires windy city!

2

Relaxing in the bar aboard the ferry

3

Rocky offers Barry a helping hand as he molests our wife

The American flyboys had names like “The Razor” and “Iceman” Our glorious RAF chaps have Red 1 and Red 2, so Appy Wanderers had Twat 1 and Twat 2. I was to take my place at the back doing the back door job whilst T1 was to lead with Mistress Garmin aiding (sometimes not, as the case was to prove)
We found “Amethyst Dream” at the check in area, this was Lynne and John on their purple 1800 trike, however we wouldn’t be totally complete until the end of the next day when Clive and Pat Hammond would join with us, they were to meet us at the first overnight stop deep in Germany, they would be making their way from Richmond, that’s the Richmond darn sarf in Landan, wiv the uuuuje park and deer (oop north we makes do with ducks and duck ponds!) Clive and Pat would travel via the “Chunnel “then on through France.
Meanwhile back with the main body of Appy Wanderers, we were now on the ferry and had lashed our bikes down, had found our rooms, ditched bike stuff, and changed into our customary yellow shirts, supplied once again by Colin Appleyard Motorcycles of Keighley……. thank you again kind sirs.
This newer P+O ferry was researched last year by Julie and myself, she is The Pride of Hull, along with her sister The Pride of Rotterdam and they are proudly marketed as P+O’s new flagships may I say what a pair of buxom beauties they are too! We found them to be a lot more roomier, especially on the car deck, we were not hoisted to the roof on the meccano like rickety bike ramp nor blathered in oil, grease and filth, she was much newer and cleaner, more user friendly and brilliant for bikers. The far away destination ferry port sits in the huge Rotterdam complex but is much easier to access than the smaller Zeebrugge ferry port believe it or not and is better served by the auto routes. No longer will Barry lead us a merry tease around nearby housing estates whilst looking at the distant dock cranes as we fumed and fucked about on the outskirts! Hull to Rotterdam offers a better all round service for our needs. I think we have seen the last of Zeebrugge and the two smaller mature ferry ships. I’d like to add that all the staff on both routes are equally as professional, knowledgeable and friendly.
I stood at the round end of the ferry (stern) at the outside bar with shandy in hand and gazed up the estuary at the towering Humber Bridge ten miles or more away, we generated towards “yellowshirts” as they made their way to this natural meeting point and we gradually got noisier as expectations grew. We had a mix of veterans and first timers amongst us; the vets have enjoyed each other on these trips for five years now and were quite the familiar family! The “Newbie’s” were not left alone at all as Barry and I doled out insults and compliments in equal amounts to old and new Appy Wanderers alike!
The afternoon past into evening dinner after which wine and ale was consumed, we joked and talked of the impending adventure, Adrianne’s partner Ian tells me several times during the evening he is an advanced rider, I certainly questioned that fact after the trip! They are riding a blue 1500 bread van that looks like it has done quite a few miles, its offside exhaust sits at an odd angle, he also has a squawk box with a very loud frog and cockerel noise, it was going to sound interesting and fun, I couldn’t help but wonder if Barry and I had covered everything. I thought maybe Ian would be an asset and be a helpful chap to have along with his advanced riding skills?
Come 22.30hrs and folk gradually retired to bed, after all we were robbed of an hour as we sailed to the continent and had an early start in the morning and a long first journey of about 360 miles, others soon followed whilst Ian sat staring at a picture, he says it was his way of fighting sea sickness. Tomorrow would also be the start of a learning curve for some and a quick jog of the memory for others, especially as the first of the anticipated fast black German 4×4 would be encountered. Don’t ask me why the fastest are black, they just are!
DAY 2…….THE LONG RIDE
At last the door opens and bright sunlight rushes in, the deckhands signal the gentlemen to start their engines. We had 360 miles to cover before our first hotel on this the first transit day; it was going to be a long but effortless ride today. The “deckies” adorned in bright orange boiler suits, beckon us into gaps as they stop the cars and we are off the ferry, through light customs checks and onto the auto route in quick order. It was fairly quiet as we headed inland. Rotterdam port is vast and spread over the huge inlets for twenty miles or more.
We settled into our running order, I think the new guys found it painless in the light traffic, everyone knew their position and with only a few new adventurers there wasn’t much for me to do this morning except keep a keen eye, and to keep up and enjoy the day!

5Who’s that behind the bike then?

We rode through Holland at an early morning 70 mph; it will change when we hit Germany I kept reminding folk, it was almost like riding in England so far except we were on the wrong side of the road! We flew east towards Arnhem before turning south east towards Venlo to enter The Fatherland, skirting the edge of The Ruhr, this was a heavy industrial concentration of towns such as Dortmund, Essen, Duisburg and Dusseldorf.
The German motorways, I’ll call them auto routes now we are in Europe, are very well built and maintained and the drivers for the most part have a very good sense of road discipline, personally I love riding over here, I feel much safer on these roads. We pulled into one of the service stations to top up and have lunch, Mark sat at the pumps and looked confused, foolishly he shouted across to us “What do I put in Barry?” “PETROL!” we all hollered back “OH aye, sorry I’m just having a blonde moment” admitted the man from Lancashire, behind him blonde Chrissy smiled and whispered something in his ear.
Back onto the autoroute again, Barry encourages everyone to increase speed to 80mph….I mean 120k…ish, this is about the slowest they drive on their auto routes. We were getting used to the quicker speed when it happened, a German 4×4 zoomed past us, as if we were standing still, boy he was really shifting. What colour was it? Black of course! A few Saxon words hit the airwaves…you know the ones. “Welcome to Germany!” I replied to the new guys, “there will be a lot more and a lot faster, don’t worry its perfectly safe, I’ll call when a really fast one is coming through, if you’re in the fast lane either speed up or move over, just DON’T dawdle in front of him OK?”” We had discussed this at the meeting at Barry’s weeks ago, and mentioned it often but without actually seeing it in the flesh so to speak, some folk probably find it hard to imagine. We were a relatively small group so we would follow the leader in overtaking, experience shows it works well.
Frankfurt was the last big city before we stopped for the day, we pass close to the airport and its massive new buildings, it certainly made one look up as one passed close by! The 360 plus miles were soon tucked under our belts as we pulled of the auto route into the small town of Marktheldenfeld and our half way hotel.
It was our second visit here and the staff are ready for us with keys and a smile as usual. Clive and Pat are here already, they were a quiet pair from the nicer part of London. Clive had this knack of glancing around without moving his head and often looked quite serious whilst Pat on the other hand was a real head turner; she sported a blonde bob and smiled a lot. They had been riding motorbikes a long time and were really well travelled on Honda Goldwings, recently touring part of Norway. Their red 1800 sat there now flanked by the rest of the gang. Clive had a he tool boxbox strapped to the towing hitch, he said it was for Pats knickers, we all laughed except for Tina she went green with envy and a light bulb went on in her head, look out Barry an idea is forming!

6

Rocky with Pat Hammond

We changed before returning to the patio area and got stuck into a few glasses of the local ale. The weather had been OK so far, sunny and cloudy with a few spots of rain now and again, Mark and Chrissy were both hot people today, they had heavy duty bike kit on and jeans underneath, I guess they were unsure what to put on on their first trip on their bike, everyone repeated “All that bike kit AND bloody jeans, I bet you a bit warm eh?” Mark with a 24 hour fag glued to mouth and pint in hand agreed, Chrissy smiled and said not a lot to start with shehad a warm smile and looked at you through long blonde locks, yes a quiet girl which is quite unusual as she hails from Australia. Mark on the other hand was from Burrrrnley, sorry I mean Blackburrrn and made up for quiet Chrissy, this was their first tour and had their purple 1800 just a month or so, he was full of excitement and was a very funny bloke with an infectious laugh, his little legs became the target for many many jokes, you just made sure you sit upwind of his constant fag smoke!
After dinner at the hotel we strolled of in groups to join in the celebrations just up the road, it was the towns special birthday and the streets were packed with people enjoying themselves and gathering to listen to the various bands dotted around the centre that were playing on makeshift stages, food and drink was plentiful from dozens of stalls in the centre, they stretched down both sides of the street, it was packed with revellers all eating bloody sausages on a stick in a bread roll chopped up on a plate of tasty source.it was nice to be part of it for a short while.
DAY 3……HEADING FOR BERCHTESGADEN.
In the morning it was all gone and cleaned up, this was a very clean and well sorted town, a council to be proud of I think and not unusual from what I have seen in Germany over the years. We paid our bills packed the overnight bags and set of south again on the second leg, I took photos of each bike as they left, everyone smiled for the camera.

Steve and Jane Lenza of Scotland7

We were reminded within minutes where we were by yet another fast black car, we tightened ourselves up as we progressed south on the auto route. 8We were back down to nine bikes, as one of our number decided to return home. We rode on confidently further south, we rode on towards Munich. It began to get busy at the back for me as fast cars chewed at me wanting to come by….

Clive and Pat Hammond of Richmond, London

Folk were reminded to speed up more as they occasionally dropped back down to a slow English 70mph, which of course is not the way to go on these roads…as the Germans were quick to point out! We were in the outside lane often overtaking trucks caravans and motor homes Barry moved back over as soon as he could, only staying out if I said it was clear at the back. It was quite safe but busy all the same. Quite often a car would slow down and take photos of us especially the trikes; this would cause cars to stack up behind him! Only once on this day did some guy come by on the inside, he was coming on like “Billy Fuck” in some huge black BMW; It was later identified by T1 as a Mclaren BMW race spec road car. He was carving everyone up and not just us. Then to top it all a good old boy in his dirty white motor home pulled out and just keep coming, coming right across our bows… Do you remember that T1? A very exciting morning this proved to be for T1 and T2 and a steep learning curve for the new guys!10a
Stopped for lunch somewhere in Germany

A couple of hours later we could see horrible black clouds they lay across the distant mountains, underneath them lay thick grey sheets of rain. we were less than sixty miles from our exit so Barry pulled us into a service area for a while hoping it would move on, the traffic had slowed to a crawl so the pause was a good call. We donned the wet gear and waited a while, it became clear it was not moving so we changed tactics a little, the two veteran trikes suggested the solos carry on and filter down the slow traffic, they would make their own way to the hotel, both had stayed in Berchtesgaden several times before so it was agreed we would do this. I pulled on extra long black rubber gloves that came up to my elbows, they might look a little naughty and nursey like but they are the best kind of gloves when going through heavy bouts of rain.11 A rare halt on the autoroute

There was a lot of room on the auto route to filter and whilst it’s still not quite the accepted thing to do in Germany yet most let us past save for the odd driver who remained obstinate and refused to move over a few feet, Barry took one group and I brought on the new guys a hundred yards behind at a steady pace, the trikes on the other hand took their place in the traffic. After several miles the traffic cleared and we were free again, everyone had done well in these difficult conditions. Barry led us off the auto route and we took the back roads to Berchtesgaden through forested areas on superb tarmac but we were getting too tired to enjoy it fully unfortunately. Mistress Garmin (T3!)stepped in and threw us a red herring that promptly took us through the housing estate of a growing village, for some reason it did exactly the same to me last year, only this time we followed it through to rejoin our road again a few miles further on. We soon ran alongside the familiar fast flowing river on the valley floor for about eight miles, this led us into Berchtesgaden via the railway station. We caught glimpses of mountain through rain filled clouds above us but for the main part it was wall to wall cloud! We reached the hotel and parked up in the familiar roof top car park, bike keys were turned off and the clocks showed over 650 miles completed in two days.12 Adrienne wipes the drips away in Bertesgaden

The girls went ahead and sorted the rooms out as the guys pulled bags from panniers and secured the wings, I looked at the clouds, they seemed just a hundred feet above me, they still looked laden with rain and threatened to tip all over us at any time. I shook my head in disappointment and told myself not to worry it would be clear in the morning….probably!
DAY 4 ……DRYING THE GLOVES.
Today was an off bike day, the mix of 1800, 1500 solos and both 1800 trikes sat resting in the morning drizzle, Bike kit was left to dry and bums left to recover! Most of the group toddled of down the road to the salt mines. This area is originally known for its salt extraction, billions of years ago there were seas here but as the Earth shaped itself mountains grew and surrounded huge areas of sea and eventually covered the trapped lakes of seawater, Methods were devised to extract the salt now deep in the mountainside way back in 1517. Until recently only dignitaries were allowed to visit, you even get to travel by raft on a huge saltwater lake, I dipped my finger on our previous visit and I can confirm it really is salty, yuck!
So this morning Julie and I took a walk up the surrounding heights at the back of Berchtesgaden, and explored all along the walkways in the hills often stopping to look down at the town square to see a bombsite scene. It was a fresh damp morning more like a fine February morning, which was fine because I love February’s!
The huge hotel complex and parade of shops along with most of the underground car park on the corner had been torn down to make way for one of those wellbeing type hotels with spas and health centres. Unfortunately it won’t be ready until 2010, I’m told it took 8 yrs to agree the final plans, so much do they fight to keep things as clean as they can that even the high cranes are electric powered and can hardly be heard, they try hard to keep things in keeping with the town. The centre is quiet this year as a result; no doubt a return visit after 2010 will see the place back to its normal busy self. By late afternoon the gang trickled back into town after their great day down the mine, Tom even discovered the local brewery, Tom is a brewer by trade so easily sniffed the place out , he didn’t get time for a proper visit unfortunately.

13Tom leads the way and forgets the rain

In the evening we explored the towns eating houses and chatted about the days events, hopefully we would ride the mountains in clearer weather, Ian tells us again that he is an advanced rider but I’m not convinced. Ian, bless him, is fighting a battle with his swollen leg and so determined to come along that he bullied the Dr into giving him some medication, so perhaps that’s why his riding is a little bit erratic and maybe that is why he says he will pull into the fast lane whatever is coming up quickly, I’d like to have seen that, on second thoughts perhaps not, I don’t fancy scooping up his gammy leg from out of the grill of the big black motor. He says “Whatever” and “Bring it on” a lot like some petulant teenager! Perhaps the drugs are making him talk such bollox!!?
We drifted from the eating house, Brian and Janet sloped off, Janet claiming she was going to change her shoes, which was a nice way to say they were off for a bonk! After visiting a couple of bars we too drifted back to the hotel There was a gay bar too but I’m not ready to talk about that place yet.

DAY 5….. DEPRESSED ON A BUS AND A BOAT.
It’s still bloody raining and the sponged up grey stuff still sits above us obscuring the beauty that lay above, I so much want to say “Look up there, I told you it was beautiful and it is isn’t it?”

15

But we don’t want to go on a bus Daddy!

I felt like the beholder of a secret! As it was still a bit glum and wet outside so half the guys went to Salzburg for the day on a bus whilst the rest of us went to nearby Lake Konigssee, also on a bus, Hmm , so much for a bloody biking holiday. I think I was getting a tad frustrated!
I bought several small bottles of various schnapps and drunk them during the day, Jagermeister being my old favourite, I introduced it to the guys who for the most part liked it. The lake is very tranquil it’s surrounded by huge mountains and has a peaceful aurora; the bikes were soon forgotten as we rode across the lake to the far shore, getting off the boat at Salet and walking to the small lake of Obersee further into the woods. Stephen was so taken in he tried to walk on water, only to sink to his knees nearly, reminded instantly that although he was Scottish he was still mortal! What most amazed me were the trees that grew out of rocks. they looked sculptured and unreal I couldn’t take my eyes of them. We found the return boat and returned to the halfway point at St Bartholomew. I sat on a bench to drink more schnapps and looked at the new church red roof nearby, an ice cave was visited by some of the group as the rest of us decided to head back and catch the bus back to the station in Berchtesgaden. We were denied a trip up the mountain and the scenic views of The Jenner once again due to low cloud. Ahh well, perhaps another year I thought. Barry kept looking at the sodding clouds and saying things like “Hey I think it’s getting better” and “I think the rain is easing off mate” If he carries on saying stuff like this I swear I’m going to kick him in the nuts. Pass me another schnapps someone! Over dinner we chatted about the days adventures on a slow boat and for the others a trip around beautiful Salzburg and their ride home on a bus full of school kids (suddenly the trip on the lake doesn’t sound so bad) Scottish Stephen tipped me over the edge that night when he asked what kind of bike gang were we turning into? Riding aboot on buses an electric boots! Bragging aboot £10 travel teas maids an how WE can have a cup of tea in our room so much so that other couples began to pine for one themselves…Mark an Chrissy step forward! Throughout the adventure this question arose, like the time Tom bought himself a crystal earring and Ian spent a million pounds on some ornamental pieces of crystal, and then came Barry and his field research for a handy milk container for the teas maid for Christ sakes!!….. Did I mention that we had one too?

17a DAY 6……..WE GO WHERE EAGLES DARE!

Today we take to the bikes and damn the weather! It’s only about an hour’s ride to the next valley and a visit to BURG HOHENWERFEN, This is the castle used to in the film “Where Eagles Dare” although the famous cable car scene was shot elsewhere in Ebensee. It was also used in backdrop scenes for the mythical mini TV series a mystical adventure called “The 10th Kingdom”. It was built originally in 1075 by a duke who had stations above his head! In recent times it was used as a state prison and in the 1930’s an accidental fire caused much damage, the cost of refurbishment led to the ownership passing into government hands, where up until 1987 was used as a training centre for the Austrian Police department.21An eagle….naturally!

These days it’s for the tourists to explore, it is reached by cable car or a walk up to the back door via the “tradesman’s entrance” winding up through the woods. The views are fantastic of course even on this cloudy rainy day looking down the cloud filled valley. We take in a guided tour and look at a display from the Historical Salzburg Falconry, the birds were reluctant to fly in these damp conditions, but the close view we had of the eagles was very rewarding all the same. We took a wet ride home; I saw that evening that we were very happy to have been out on the bikes in spite of the rain and I felt much happier with myself.
DAY 7…….THE ICE CAVE IN THE SKY
Today half of us went back in the general direction of the castle to visit the biggest Ice cave in the world, EISRIESENWELT ICE CAVES. The entrance is 1642 metre up a mountain though. Work THAT one out folks! It’s so high up that you look down on the castle we had visited yesterday and it looks like a toy castle on the hill way down below about half a mile away, this we could see when the rain and thin cloud cleared away.

24 Tina looking….?

Tina being a tight arse and a stumpy Martian bought a teddy bear wrap around hat, put it on and appeared ten years old again, hoping to get entry at a child’s rate! But it didn’t fool the ticket officer at all as she waddled towards him from the direction of her 1000th toilet visit, that’s another entry in her “Bogs and Bidets of Europe” book.
To get to the cave entrance (Which by the way is 4800 above sea level) we had to walk steeply upwards for twenty minutes then a four minute cable car up the steepest part then walk upwards again for another twenty minutes, we left Janet at the halfway café, Steven suffered a bit also so joined Janet, the rest of us padded onwards and upwards like Hannibal and his Elephants, it’s no wonder they dropped like flies! On we walked until we reached the cave entrance, it was huge and had air doors that we had to pass through, when we did the temperature dropped suddenly and our carbide lamps blew out (naked flames) we re-lit and set off in our party, the guide showed us fascinating ice formations to our left and right, the cave was so huge you could sit York Minster inside, the caves were discovered in 1849, but the folk at the time had more pressing interests like finding food and staying alive! So the first expedition wasn’t until 1912 when life got easier and people began to show an interest, previously only known to hunters and trackers, the whole complex goes on for over 40ks, however the touristy bit goes forward and steeply upwards 134 metres (then back down again) the scaffold steps have been drilled into the ice and are so steep you catch your knee on the step in front. Not for the lame, lazy or fat people, they practically say that in the tourist information too, there are 1400 steps to be climbed after all. Every few minutes the guide stops and lights a magnesium ribbon and shows great ice mountains with names like “The Bear” or “The Elephant” He explains that these ice formations are MILLIONS of years old and that they are able to calculate the age by the layers of ice in pale blues and greens rather like rings in the trunk of trees. I can now confess a secret now I’m seven hundred miles away…… I was caught short and had to take a leak! So no maybe I put their calculations out by a few million years with my green stain, maybe my DNA will be discovered in year Zillion nought one and I will be famous. It was an act of nature not vandalism, because we more mature men need to pee a lot more in sub zero conditions right guys?
No photos were allowed because of the upset to the timetable as groups moved along quickly, the constant flash photos would have spoilt the effect for people and blinded the guides, so the photos you see here have been borrowed from the official site. It was hard going for all of us except of course for Jane our lithesome Scottish racing snake! 26

25

I think we all agree it was well worth the effort. An hour later we reformed at the car park miles below, out of breath, thighs and calves bulging but well satisfied with the visit, a lot better than pumping iron in some gym!
As we twisted slowly down the mountain road on the bikes ( we weren’t at the bottom of the mountain just yet) A view of the castle appeared and we stopped to took photos, it looked moody with the thinning clouds slowly moving across it, BURG HOHENWERFEN is by far the ugliest slab sided castle I have seen it did the job though and looked darkly imposing, just how Mr Eastwood and Mr Burton climbed out of THAT window is truly unbelievable! Suddenly the sun burst through a hole in the greyness and bathed us in warm rays ; the previous few days were soon forgotten. Oh isn’t Mother Nature wonderful? I swear my wing picked up speed all on her own! We remembered a supermarket and pulled over to let Mark and Chrissy purchase a portable tea making machine. What kind of bloody bike club are we? I remembered. What the hells next, fekkin Motor homes???
Later back at the hotel the new guys listened to our tale of the ice cave in the sky, they told us of their tour to THE KEHLSTEINHAUS (The Eagles Nest) Even though the weather was unkind and they didn’t get to see the fantastic views they all had a brilliasnt time, Hitler’s golden lift takes you to the very top at 1834 metres, there lies his tea house, too small to bomb accurately in 1945. It’s an odd fact that he rarely used it as he had claustrophobia, had a fear of heights and was half way to going completely of his head! How the world might have been now if as a young art student Herr Hitler had not been refused a term at the Vienna Academy of Arts? The Eagles Nest is now visited by the ordinary folk of the world. You can’t escape its great historical standing whichever side you are on. I have visited so often that my bosses at work are getting a little concerned! I was heartened to hear the ‘newbies’ had enjoyed it, all this cloud and rain was making me feel a bit of a Billy Liar because I’d gone on for ages saying how beautiful the place was, about the mountains and the views, I really was beginning to feel guilty.
That night some of us went to the local Chinese and had one of the best meals ever. Others went for an Italian meal. It became interesting at the end of the meal when they presented us with little pot cups because when tea was poured into the cups a picture of a nude man or woman appeared in the bottom of the cup, now how original is that? Jane had several cups of tea in several different cups checking all of them out, Janet on the other hand drew a blank, and all she could make out was a Turkish soldier with a fez on his head and a big gun in his hand?? My darling Janet darling you have spent far too long on The Falklands as a young lady! Perhaps you should drag Brian out from underneath his beloved Jaguar now and again and change HIS shoes!
DAY 8 TO THE GROSSGLOCKNER
It was 11.00hrs and we had covered the sixty odd miles in suspiciously clear weather, I didn’t trust it and kept looking up at the strange blue bits and white fluffy cotton.We now sat at the foot of The Grossglockner, bathed in warm sunshine, my tail was finally up! Barry said it’s a single road up and that we should stop at the summit for lunch, it was agreed, I took photos and smiled a lot, very happy at the weather, very happy indeed! We zipped up as we I set of, I was zooming away quickley to find a good spot to photograph everyone on a picturesque bend.

31

Mark and Chrissy

Most everybody that came around had the hugest grin on their faces. I think Brian and Janet had the hugest because they had come here several times to find it closed due to a fogged in summit……but not today! We mounted up and shot of in pursuit, We saw the usual mad European cyclists who always managed to get to the top, they must have been in first gear for hours peddling hard to reach their goal, 29Rotherhams Brian and Janet

I didn’t envy their effort but the feeling they had when reaching the summit must have outweighed ours by a long chalk! bike trip to austria 2009 089Janet and Jayne

We had lunch at the half way stop amongst the stuffed animals and Rossi lookalike. it was a bit misty now but warm, we pushed on as a group after this individual stage, we went through the two long tunnels reaching the far side of the first summit, it was raining a bit, which in normal circumstances would have put a damper on things but up here on The Grossglockner it had no such effect whatsoever.31a The road ahead.

There was snow here, it was patchy but big and deep, at the road side for instance it was over ten feet in depth. It turned quickly misty as cloud arrived and drizzled over us. Within a mile it turned really sunny and clear and dried us and the road. This is typical weather for “The Gross” I stopped at another bend with Barry and watched Tom and Michelle lead a red Ferrari up the road, both he and the German driver had huge grins on their faces as they gunned it up the hillside, I’m very happy to report that Tom didn’t let the Ferrari get past him. Michelle mumbled“ It was great” from deep inside her full faced helmet. Oh yes this is the stuff of wet dreams! When I die I don’t want to go to heaven I want to come here!

33 (2)

5 Men in a boat….

The very end of the road was in fantastic warm sunshine with really jaw dropping views of the Franz Joseph Glacier, along with other ice tops they are slowly melting back, global warming caused by us is blamed, but according to scientists the ice age has come and gone before, maybe this is just good old Mother Nature at work again? We spent a couple of hours here just soaking it all in and caught a few sunrays at the same time, it was wonderful. Dozens of bikers were here as usual, on every trip here over the past few years we have seen dozens of bikers, so word is getting around, we even spotted a Honda Goldwing all the way from Russia.
We turned ourselves around for the return leg of mostly downhill turns, twists and switchbacks. I followed Mark and Chrissy who had Tom and Michelle close behind, we zoomed off down the road we were all fired up for the return leg, it was so exhilarating dashing along the spine of mountain tops at nearly ten thousand feet above sea level, huge swathes of snow sat along the road side, we rode quickly along the smooth, small but perfect road, the snow banks were about fifteen feet or more above us and just a yard or so away. Not much grass or trees here because we were way above the tree line. The rest of the guys were held back by roadworks at the summit, it almost became a hill climb speed trial in reverse for us three. We were doing really well until we hit the rain again and slowed down to a safer speed. We went through the two tunnels to emerge at the other side of the mountain range in drizzle and cloud, I was asked to take the lead which I did and so with CB I called out “clear road” or “car coming” as we passed four coaches, our momentum increased and we skipped down very quickly all the way to the toll gates and……..bright sunshine again! Mark was coming in his pants it had been such a brilliant experience for him, Chrissy? Well she hadn’t quite stopped yet and murmured contently for a while. Mark lit a fag like you do after such a mind blowing ride, I knew exactly how he felt from our first time in 2005, I’m just so glad nobody arrived to challenge his moment…steal their thunder so to speak. This day will stick with those two forever. Tom and Michelle arrived as did the rest over the next five minutes or so. Everyone was in a state of euphoria and rightly so, all the girls enjoyed the ride …..Except Adrianne.
……….“No I bloody didn’t” she replied to my question “He kept up a bloody running commentary that he was about to lose his brakes then finally said yes I’ve got no brakes now, ”the pillock, I was bloody petrified!” Oh no, his brakes failed on The Gross? What bad luck I said. At least they were safe and now he has the chance to put his bike in order. I mentally awarded the poor lass a George Cross Medal on the spot. I’m just happy to say there were no accidents and no injuries; in fact a great day was had by everyone. Tomorrow was a transit day to our next hotel at Landeck on the other side of Austria.
It seems Ian knew his brakes were worn and hadn’t bothered to get them changed, Advanced rider or not I think he has dropped a huge clanger, their old 1500 when loaded with luggage and the pair of them aboard is a challenge for decent brakes on these roads never mind worn ones, I felt them later that evening and cringed. Crisp bread was smoother. We have more sever alpine roads to explore in the second week, what on earth did he think Alpine roads were?? Perhaps he will get a new disc Fed Ex’s to the next hotel at Landeck?
…………………………………………………………Follow the continuing write up in part 2!