Old Gits Logo 3.gif (12598 bytes)2012 Write-Up

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2012 Write-up
Home Up 2012 Photos 2012 Write-Up

 

Old Gits 2012 Tour

Trip Notes by Paul H  ---

Having committed to the trip, and bearing in mind the weather we had been experiencing, it was with some trepidation that I began following the weather forecasts both for the UK and France/Germany.

I commute everyday on 2 wheels in all weathers and am used to getting a soaking, (albeit for 16 miles) but the thought of travelling 500+ miles from Home to Germany was a different proposition.

When the alarm went off at 3am I hesitantly looked out of the window, yes there was some slight rain, but nothing too much. None the less I donned my newly purchased Weisse over trousers over my newly reproofed leather jeans and put on my newly reproofed jacket. Bring it on I thought.

I met Cliff at 4am and travelled down to Dover docks to meet up with the rest of the guys somewhat disappointed that my recent purchases of overtrousers and proofing spray hadn’t been put to the test.

Whilst chatting with Roger, the word “passport” cropped up in conversation, his face dropped, and was accompanied by the frenzied unzipping of a biker’s numerous pockets only to come to the conclusion that said passport was still at home, a brief phone call confirmed that, and Roger was soon wending his way back to Oxfordshire with a cheery grin and wave from the assembled Old Gits.

Once on board the ferry we decided to split into 3 groups for the journey down as keeping 12 bikes together would not be easy. Cliff, myself, Alain and Richard formed a group and had an uneventful trip down to Strasbourg where we met the City’s rush hour traffic. Richard got separated, so we three waited on a slip road, waiting for Richard to catch up. We thought that Richard’s “wide load” profile was a factor in the delay but a text later showed that we had just missed him and we would meet up at the hotel.

About 5 miles from the Hotel, my Sat Nav seemed to have a brainstorm and couldn’t decide where to lead us, this phenomenon was repeated with other’s SNs, and indeed manifested itself when in the area later on in the holiday – spooky !!!

The weather had got progressively better as we travelled further South and we finished our journey under sunshine and blue skies.

Washed and changed, we met up for a pre dinner beer, and was joined by Roger a little later in the evening after he had completed an epic near 900 miles that day.

The next day came for us to find out that Barry had to change rooms in the middle of the night due to his bed being infested with bed bugs !! Poor guy was bitten badly around the face and neck  (and maybe other places) causing swelling, which became problematic next day whilst wearing a tight fitting helmet.

The Hotel supplied us with a list of suggested routes in and around the Black Forest, and Breakfasts were spent deciding who was going where. Again we split into groups dependant on preferences.

Unfortunately Alain (Blackbird) had an incident when we came to a halt for one of our many photo shoots only to discover that the ground where his foot was going was a couple of inches lower than the tarmac road. Once the bike and Alain had been picked up, we thought the worst fearing a broken ankle/foot.

The Hotel were good and took Alain to the local hospital and waited whilst he was examined and x-rayed, fortunately showing no broken bones although it did put an end to his riding for the last few days.

The Black Forest is a beautiful part of the world, and contains some brilliant biking roads, notably the B500 which was the raison d’etre for the trip.

The weather over the time away was mixed, having on a daily basis, heavy downpours and sunshine, this did not detract from our enjoyment although wall to wall sunshine would have been nice !

All in all another good Old Gits holiday. The company, food and beer was excellent and a big thank you to David for once again organising the whole shebang..

Paul H.

Trip Notes by David Mc  ---

Before the trip

Planning started in early January with a search for a hotel that would handle the possible numbers. While only a few had confirmed, it looked like a total of 15 would be possible. The hotel was reserved and the confirmations started coming in. By April we had 14, with 2 totally new members (Alain and Christian) although first Guy then Christian had to pull out leaving us with 12 for the trip.

Yet again, Bob was flying over from the west coast of the US to join the trip but was this time borrowing my Aprilia Futura. Bob arrived at my house on Wednesday evening and we packed the bikes ready for the morning.

 

Thursday 3rd May

The alarm went off just after 3am and I woke to some very heavy rain outside. Still, nothing that the waterproofs can’t handle I thought! Bob and I left the house at about 03:45 with it still raining although it was now light rain. We made our way through rural Suffolk towards the A12 but it soon became obvious that the rain from the night before had been substantial. There were a number of floods that we had to navigate, some of which were deep enough that the water was coming over the foot pegs of the bikes. Due to wearing glasses which were steaming up, Bob was struggling to see and was following me on the basis of if I could get through the flood, then so could he.

We eventually reached the A12, significantly behind schedule but still on time to catch the ferry, only to find the whole A12 closed about 20 miles south of Colchester, due to flooding. We were diverted off the A12 and had to find our way through rural Essex before we eventually re-joined the A12 and headed down towards the M25 and Dartford crossing.

By the Dartford Bridge I had mentally calculated that we might “just” make the ferry but we’d need to get a move on. A run down the M20 at speed (just on the legal limit – honest officer!), had us 20 miles from Dover with 15 minutes to go. I called Roger (I do like my Midland BT2 Bluetooth helmet headset) and told him not to wait for us if we didn’t make it.

Well, we made it … just! We met the others on the dock just prior to being loaded onto the ferry and heading up for the obligatory start to an Old Gits trip cooked breakfast. It was only at this point that I noticed Roger wasn’t there! I then discovered he had been at the meeting point at the entrance to the docks, with everyone else, when he suddenly realised his passport was sat at home! D’Oh! Apparently we passed him on the M20 as he was making his way back to Bicester. (Neither Bob nor I saw him but he saw and waved to us.)

The ferry docked in Calais and we made off in our pre-arranged groups. The concept of trying to keep 12 bikes together on the Autoroute was just too much so Bob, James and I headed off in the first group.

After the boring miles of Northern France we eventually turned off the Autoroute and took some nice winding back roads to Strasburg, crossing the Rhine and finding our way to Oberharmersbach and the hotel.

We booked into the hotel and after a shower and change of clothes, waited as the others arrived. Everyone (except Roger) arrived with the only issue being a small stop to replace some of the gaffer tape holding Barry’s Ducati together (this is not a joke, the front sprocket was held on by gaffer tape!!!).

The meal and a beer or two were ordered with Ron and Richard proving they still remembered their schoolboy German and recommending what everyone should order.

At about 9pm Roger finally made it, with his passport, having covered about 850 miles. He was certainly pleased that the K1300S was so good at munching miles as such a trip would have been near impossible on many other bikes.

Friday 4th May

The day started overcast and the breakfast conversation was the usual “where shall we go”? Groups were agreed with Bob, Gary, Roger, James and I heading off to do the B500 from Baden Baden south. The sat navs took us over the mountain roads (or should that be tracks?) out of the village and within 5 miles the group had been split. Rogers sat nav had sent him one way while everyone else’s had gone the other way. Unluckily, the parting of the ways had happened at a point when Roger had lost sight of the group so was unaware he was on a different road. A couple of phone calls later and we were all heading to an agreed meet up point. We then spent the rest of the day riding the roads around Baden Baden with a couple of stops for food and coffee. The B500 is superb as it comes out of Baden Baden and was enjoyed by all.

Despite the overcast conditions, we managed to avoid any rain but there had been enough rain that many of the hairpins were still very wet and, where they were in the forest, were covered in pine needles. This certainly focused the attention, especially on the steep downhill roads.

Barry had spent the day at the hotel having been bitten during the night by the insect life that had taken up residence in his pillow. (He had a large number of bite marks on his head and upper body!) While the hotel staff were very good and moved him to a new room, he was on so much antihistamine that he decided he was not able to concentrate enough to safely ride a motorcycle on unknown roads.

Saturday 5th May

Again the day started overcast and again the breakfast conversation was the usual “where shall we go”? I selected to ride with Nick and Richard and we had a lovely relaxed day touring around. Following Richard is like following a semaphore operator. He has a great ability to spot things of interest and point them out to whoever is with him.

When we returned to the hotel we discovered that Alain had had a minor incident with his Blackbird falling over and landing on his foot. His foot had swollen and he was having difficulties walking so didn’t plan to join in on the trips out the next day.

 

Sunday 6th May

After a quick conversation over breakfast, it was decided to head east. Bob, Roger, Gary, James and I set off on a search for nice roads with no specific destination in mind. To start with, the roads were superb but as we moved further east, so they became more boring. By late morning we decided we had “run out” of good roads so we selected a random point south west of where we were, plugged that into the sat navs and headed off. A stop for lunch in a small town on the way got us a Currywurst and chips at exactly the right moment as the heavens open just as we started eating. Luckily, the rain had stopped by the time we finished lunch so we set off again and found some nicer roads before finally heading back to the hotel.

 Alain had been in considerable pain with his foot so the hotel staff had run him to the local hospital. An X-ray had shown there were no broken bones but the doctor had signed him off as not fit to drive. He was now in communication with his breakdown/recovery people to discuss getting home.

Monday 7th May

We spilt into various groups with Alain left at the hotel trying to persuade the breakdown/recover firm that a small automatic hire care was not a suitable alternative vehicle as it was his right foot that was having problems. The weather forecast was not good but Bob, Gary, Roger and I headed into Baden Baden for a coffee. After the coffee, Roger and I decided that we didn’t fancy doing any of the runs proposed but instead wanted to do a couple of passes up and down the B500.

We headed out of Baden Baden and did about 30 miles, passing many of the other Old Gits going towards Baden Baden. Despite the forecast, the weather was good, with clear skies and sunshine. After a quick stop for a chat Roger and I headed back towards Baden Baden, stopping at a couple of places for some photographs. We turned around about 5 miles before Baden Baden and went for a spirited run. I was in the lead and waved to the bike coming the other way. What I didn’t notice was that he wasn’t just waving, he was telling us to slow down. I came over the next rise at significant speed to spot a couple of German police setting up a speed trap. I can only assume that they hadn’t quite set up as even with my emergency braking then tootling slowly past them, they only watched me but didn’t stop me. I was lucky!!!

Tuesday 8th May

While everyone was at breakfast, Richard and Nick were heading down to Switzerland to stay with some friends of Nicks and James was heading off on his own to do some further touring over the next week and a bit. Alain was still in negotiation with his breakdown/recovery people regarding him getting home.

With the bikes all packed, we left the hotel and took a route that avoided Strasburg so that we didn’t get stuck in the rush hour traffic. It wasn’t long before we were back in France and heading west on the Autoroute. We had split into 2 groups, with Bob, Roger, Ron, Gary, Barry and I in the “we want to catch an earlier ferry” group and Paul and Cliffy in the “we’re happy to catch the ferry we’re booked on” group. The run back was boring but dry and our 2 fuel stop strategy worked with us getting the ferry 45mins before the one we were booked on. Apparently Paul and Cliffy made the dock just before our ferry departed but were not able to join us on that ferry.

Another large meal was eaten before landing in Dover and heading back up the A2, around the M25 and up the A12 to home. Bob and I arrived back at my house at about 18:30 ready for me to pack to take my good lady for a surprise 5 days in Rome the next day.

All in, just under 2000 miles covered but again, another Old Gits trip was over. The weather threatened to ruin the whole trip but other than a few showers and some excitement on the first morning, it hadn’t really been a problem. The hotel was OK, though not the best we’d stayed in and the roads around the Black Forest were great. The company was, as usual, superb. It was great to see everyone again but special thanks goes to Bob, who flew all the way from the west coast of the US for the trip, and to Ron, Nick, Paul and Cliffy who had joined us again having missed a number of previous trips. I hope to see everyone on the next trip and now need to start thinking about where we can go. Any suggestions?

 PS I later discovered that Alain had ended up squeezing his swollen foot into his bike boot and riding his bike home. It was not a fast journey but he made it and, despite the issues on this trip, is looking forward to joining us next year. He is, of course, more than welcome.