Yes, this week has seen the 5,000 km milestone reached and smashed – just as we were about to cross from Denmark to Germany on the ferry. Blimey. And, as fearful of saying it as I am, the bikes have not missed a beat. Absolute stars. Mind you, now in Germany I have to say that the Triumph is getting a fair amount of attention – I guess because KTMs are a bit more, what would the word be, common? Surely not. Mind you, they are needing to be well behaved as the weather is getting hotter and hotter and there are many occasions where the lessons in how to ride the bike standing on the pegs is proving extremely useful – your arse gets well hot in built up areas when the engine gets a tad warm.
So, what have I learnt this week?
Germany – a game of two haves (well 4 quarters so far)
Day 1 was not that impressive (except for some big bridges which were notable) – just lots of newish towns, lots of stopping and starting and nothing of note – could have been anywhere.
Day 2 was lovely – great and varied roads through traditional German villages with lots of places for mahoosive cake with coffee and mahoosive beers (just the one of course) and a guest house at the end with a lovely welcome and access to a lake to swim in – heaven after a hot day.
Day 3 was a real challenge. Started well with more forested winding roads and a smattering of alpine-esque buildings and then, BAM, what could only be described as the bread basket of Germany. Now I know that there is a keen interest in bread (they seem to eat a lot of it – it is very good though) and in beer (that’s good too) but nothing prepared me for the scale on which they grow and harvest the constituent parts. I’ve never been to the great plains in America, but if I had it would probably have looked something like this. As far as the eye could see I tell you. Miles and miles of flat, cultivated plains with combine harvesters the size of spaceships. Now, the problem with this is as follows:
- Massive open areas mean long, straight, hot, dusty roads – mmm think about that for a minute in temperatures of +30 degrees
- Massive open areas of agricultural farming land means lots of workaday villages that a) aren’t particularly pleasing on the eye and b) have bugger all bars/cafes for ‘tourists’ as they’re not expecting them (fair enough)
- Massive open areas with long straight roads and no physical barriers like trees result in very windy conditions, lots of large trucks adding to the buffetting and the occasional ‘sand storm’ of dust from the fields
- All of the above leads to doing more miles and taking on less fluid than is good for you
- Blatting down the autobahn to get out of the monotony means more straight roads but at a hell of a lot quicker speeds and hence more buffetting
The result that night – for a novice like me – is the most ridiculous headache ever – honestly I wanted to rip it off and boot it out the window (which was open as there was no air conditioning and it was like a flipping sauna – sorry, that rant just slipped out) and on top of that, my neck felt like it had been through a wringer. Now I don’t think I’ve ever had whiplash (steady now) but I seriously think this came close. What a twat. Note to self: take on far more fluids, stop regularly and strengthen your neck muscles. Had a bit of a moment in the middle of the night – only a fleeting one mind, when I questioned my ability to do such a big trip. But I’m a Haywood and we never give up so that didn’t last for long! Mind you I do remember a review of the Shoei Hornet where it was mentioned that the wind can be an issue when you get up to speed as it gets under the peak. Generally though the peak is a bonus as it shields your eyes from the sun. So shut up Turner and get on with it.
Day 4 was one of the best yet. Kopfschmerztabletten bought and consumed. check. Regular intake of fluids every hour or so. check. The most b.e.a.utiful villages, scenery and mix of roads. check. Headache and neck ache gone. check. Rest day with a pool and spa facilitities. check. All’s well with the world again.
New school v old school
Tim will give more details of the fix he had to sort for the Sena intercoms (which he was brilliantly successful with) but for 4 days we had to go back to the more traditional approach of communication between bikes – shouting and hand signals. Now Tim’s biker mates have learnt to understand a) what the different signals mean and b) what signals of their own to deploy when they don’t agree with the instructions being issued but I’m still learning and it’s all quite hilarious to me. It’s really nice to be back to chatting on the intercomms as we go though as there is so much you can miss but with two of you you manage to spot more stuff. But the slowing down, visor raised, one hand off the handlbars so that you can relax for a minute and chatting at volume is something I’ve observed bikers doing over the years and, to me, its all part of the experience and biker lifestyle that has always appealed. For a while, I felt like a proper biker. #loveit
Whilst on the subject of biking ways and liefstyle, I may have mention previously my deep joy at the whole head nodding acknowledgement thing. The first time it happens, you feel epic – well I did anyway. Well, this trip has taken this to new level – leg extended thank yous and hellos, sneeky and casual arm extended to the side acknowledgement with forefinger slightly raised – absolutely loving it. Now, on some occasions, not many I might add in the scheme of things, you get some for whom this whole phenomenon has clearly passed them by and others that consider themselves a bit above this type of thing. The really interesting ones for me though are the hard ass types that are usually on a particular type of bike (you know which one) who are far too tough for that kind of neighbourly nonsense. Now, being new to this, I find that a bit sad, so I’ve got an approach that seems to be a good response (Tim’s not so sure). When faced with oncoming ‘hard cases’ that you know are not going to do any kind of acknowledgement, I’ve decided to wave with frantic enthusiasm (in a Pheobe-run stylie for those of you familar with Friends) just to completely diss their hardness. Not so obvious to encourage them to do a u-turn and beat the living crap out of me, but just enough for them to think ‘idiot woman’. I think I have the moral victory non-the-less.
- Respecting speed limits sometimes pays off. Having had good spells between villages, respectful slowing down helped avoid a ticket from a speed trap – unlike some other poor soul.
- read hotel information through to the end – the reference to keep windows shut until lights are out was overlooked and so we ended up with a room full. Serious, terminator style action required together with insect repellent helped ensure some sleep and no bites.
- Mapping on Satnav doesn’t always mean that you can tell what kind of roads you will get (obvs) even if you go with the minor roads option