Old Gits Logo 3.gif (12598 bytes)2019 Write-Up

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2019 Write-Up
Home Up 2019 Write-Up 2019 Photos A ADV Rider Italy Gude

 

Trip Notes by Alastair Mc  ---

A Trio of Firsts – Old Gits Trip to Cortina Italy 30 May to 7 June 2019

It was with much anticipation that we set off on yet another of David Mc’s superbly organised jaunts into Europe.  Ever since I’d done my first OG trip in 2017, my son had eagerly anticipated the day when he was old enough to venture outside the UK on a bike.  With turning 19 on the 29th of April, he asked if he could join in if he passed his A2 test.  Enquiries were made of David, who had no objection, so we were well on our way to our first 1st, youngest Old Git.

The road to the youngest Old Git

The challenge was now well and truly on.  We had already acquired the bike in January, a ginger Honda CBR500R with 21 miles on the clock bought from a franchised dealer.  This in itself was to prove a challenge as it turned out to be Guernsey registered to the surprise of all concerned.  This evolved into a 3 and a half month trial for the dealer and ourselves getting a NOVA certificate, certificates of EU conformity…….  But get there we eventually did.  And we got even more off an already bargain purchase for our patience.  It did however mean that yours truly had to run it in so it could make the trip.  This wasn’t an unpleasant experience as the bike is quite pleasant to ride

Now my son had to obtain his licence in the month between his birthday and our departure date.  Initially this went exceptionally well.  The theory test was passed with flying colours prior to his 19th birthday, then he was onto training with a mate, Richard,  who runs a training school in Rochdale.  Having had a full power legally restricted DT125R for the last 2 years (officer), he was adept at handling a bike having happily spent the past couple of years duffing up the unsuspecting on the Snake Pass.  So Module 1, the playground part of the test proved to be a cinch.  Another quality pass in the bag and his chest was swelling.  So onto Module 2 with 2 weeks to go.  Richard was confident in his ability so all looked good.  However an overzealous entry to a roundabout put paid to his first attempt.  “But the speed limit was 40 dad….”  Initially we were not worried as we had provided for a retest.  What we hadn’t bargained on was a lack of availability.  All that was left was a test at Macclesfield in the last few days of May.  Macclesfield is apparently a feared test centre and one Richard didn’t know the test routes of.  However we needn’t have worried as thankfully with days to spare before we were due to leave, he passed with flying colours.    This took us to our second 1st, the first OG father and son trip.

Preparation

In previous years, I taken the easy option of joining David as part of the Trailer Trash.  This year David was riding down.  Now as much as I love motorcycles, I can’t even begin to contemplate riding daft distances non stop.  100 miles is about my limit, less if on a motorway, regardless of the machine before boredom and agony set in.  Subjecting a new rider to the same was even less appealing.  So the search was on for a trailer and towbar.  After much research we settled on a Motolug collapsible trailer which saved on storage space and made loading simple and risk free.  A towbar was ordered and fitted over the course of a day.  First class travel was now a reality.

 

We were ready, but which bike should I take?  With a new rider along I felt that the Fireblade was a less than ideal choice.   The other option was the NS400R which is probably one of the most unsuitable touring/day to day bikes out there.  I had some concern over fuel range but a quick look at google maps revealed numerous petrol stations, so that concern was addressed leaving just the nagging doubt over age and therefore reliability.  But then I remembered it is a Honda so all would be well.  But we did take a full suite of tools just in case anyone needed any assistance with their Bavarian machines.  We now had our third 1st, the first 2 stroke on an Old Gits trip.  At 31 years old, we probably had another first, the oldest bike ever on a trip and likely older than some participants on the trip.

Hull to Bad Schussenreid and the Black Forest

On the 30th, we strapped the bikes down and set off for Hull for the evening ferry.  After an uneventful overnight crossing, we made our way down to Bad Schussenreid and Hotel Amerika.  It was a long day despite having “First Class” luxury of aircon and a comfortable seat.  We had decided early on that a day in the Black Forest was too good an opportunity to miss, so we set the Saturday aside to ride the B500.  This turned out to be an excellent idea.  The weather was hot and sunny, ideal conditions for junior to acclimatise himself to the CBR and riding on the wrong side of the road.  Happily he took to both like a duck to water.  The varying nature of the B500 from fast sweepers to later tight hairpins near Baden Baden were a revelation for him.  We arrived in Baden Baden, after a stop for coffee in Hornberg, for a very pleasant lunch by the river.  Our return on the B500 was just as good as the journey out with 100 mph comfortably maintained for mile after mile on the sweepers of the B500 with the stroker nicely on the pipes causing numerous bikers in laybyes to stop and stare as it howled by.  There’s nothing quite as lovely sounding as a stroker on the pipes.  We’d already had our admirers back in Baden Baden.  This was to continue throughout the trip which is one of the trials/joys of riding one of the iconic old GP replicas.

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Hornberg

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B500

That evening was our first meet with the Old Gits, David Mc, Mark W, Glenn, Mark R & Terry.  All introductions done, we had a pleasant evening at a local eatery that seemed most pleased to see so many people. Young’un ordered “roast beef” only to be surprised to be served a wonderfully cooked fillet steak.

 

Cortina

After another day of towing, we arrived in Cortina at our hotel.  Clearly David had stepped up the quality of hotel, for this was a lovely boutique hotel.  Bikes off the trailer, we settled down to beer on the veranda before heading into Cortina for a meal.

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The following days riding were spent as a party of three with myself, my son and Glenn.

Monday

We decided to follow David’s route North West of Cortina.  This would take us into Austria before heading back to Italy.  We quickly discovered that the roads around the Cortina area were typically tight switchback roads with a good surface.  Clearly this suited Glenn on the KTM and the CBR has lots of midrange too.  The stroker wasn’t quite as happy as first gear was often too low risking a highside on the exit whilst second gear was well out of the power with little torque to fall back on added to with the altitude causing some minor midrange fluffiness/4 stroking.  So we had to increase entry speed and keep momentum going.   A coffee break at Rigolato was most welcome.  This introduced junior to the squat toilet…  The roads further west were more open but less interesting.  A stop for petrol then lunch at Pontebba before heading back over snow capped roads with another refreshment break in Lauco.  A full and exhausting day which once again had opened junior’s eyes.  It also seemed to increase his appetite for beer, which was a recurring theme of the holiday.

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Pontebba

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Tuesday

On the Tuesday we followed Mark W’s West double eight loop which was a revelation.  Seldom have we ridden such fantastic switchback roads.  Clearly the previous day had been just a taster.  Significant snow was encountered on the Colle Santa Lucia.  Almost inevitably we hit satnav issues which was disappointing, but we found an indifferent place for lunch only to be joined by Neil who had taken the morning off.  A pleasant run was had back down into Cortina being shadowed by Neil on his CB1000 with much trail braking courtesy of the significant downhill nature of the road.  Clearly Neil’s gear was in need of waterproofing as he stayed behind all the way down.

Back at the hotel, we met Richard and Andy, who was in plaster after his pre trip bump.  Presently we ended up going on a pub crawl round Cortina before food.

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Wednesday

We took a similar route to Monday, not by design, but by default.  The route looked different on the sat nav, honest!

Thursday

We headed East on another of Mark W’s routes.  The views on this were spectacular with Lake Misurina being particularly pretty.  A pleasant coffee break at San Vigilio with superb berry cakes before heading back over the Passo Sella which provided a good photo opportunity for junior lying in a field of snow.  This was also the day on which he scraped his first footpeg matching David’s Whatsapp announcement.  His riding was coming on in leaps and bounds.  Clearly he was fully acclimatised to the 500 by now.

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Once again we encountered sat nav issues with the sat nav sending us round in circles for a while.  There was a touch of Blair Witch about this as it kept bringing us to this gruesome sight.

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Friday

Friday was going to be a shorter day with the need to load the trailer and pack for home.  We decided on a cycle magazine route to the south uploaded by Steve M.  This proved to be yet another spectacular route with innumerable hairpins.  Lunch was had a very pleasant place in Siror.  The return over the Falzarego Pass was as spectacular as it had been on the Tuesday dropping into Cortina.

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Saturday/Sunday

Saturday/Sunday were for our return to Manchester.  For our return we had the pleasant company of Mark R, who had had an altercation with some gravel earlier on in the week.  Mark has often taken the mickey with me on my hyper cautious approach to gravel, so it was only fair to give him a little teasing!  Despite his sore ribs he clearly was game for a laugh brandishing a banana which he cable tied to Neil’s throttle before we left the hotel.  Neil’s comments were unprintable.  An overnight stop with the other old gits before heading for the ferry and that was it for another year.

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We’d had a great time, junior had thoroughly enjoyed himself pronouncing this a best holiday.  This was evident in the size of the bar bill at the hotel.  He’d fitted in just fine with the others.  Weather had been great.  The decision to take the stroker had paid off.  I hadn’t missed the Fireblade once, it had been faultless and proved to be quite capable of 1,500 miles of non stop abuse around Italy and Austria.  I’ll be using the “Ulitmate Tourer” again.

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Trip Notes by David Mc  ---

Total miles travelled by bike: 2775.5

Total time travelling: 61:00 hours.

Before the trip

During the 2018 trip James W mentioned that he had been to the Dolomites and recommended it as the destination for the 2019 trip. Given it was a destination we had not previously visited as a group, and a quick Google suggested it might be a good destination, the decision was made. We were going to Italy!

A quick poll of Old Gits indicated we would have a group of about 25, so I started the search for a hotel and found the Boutique Hotel Villa Blu in Cortina. 25 double rooms for single occupancy were booked.

As is always the way, after completion of the booking, 2 more people wanted to join the trip. One was Alistair Mcs son so they transferred to a twin room and another room was ordered.

A couple of weeks prior to the trip Andy F was involved in an accident and ended up with a plaster cast on one leg and another on one arm. David Y suffered a family bereavement and had to cancel the trip. Luckily, the hotel were extremely accommodating and agreed to move David Ys stay to the following week.

Friday 31st May

Miles travelled: 178

Home to Ibis Styles Bethune Bruay la Buissière

https://www.myrouteapp.com/route/open/1487253

The bike was packed on Thursday evening and I arranged a work from home on the Friday. At about 15:30 I closed my work laptop, put on my bike gear and set of for the Eurotunnel in Kent via the A12, M25 and the M20.

At Folkestone I met up with Mark R, Roger C, Terry H and Glenn C ready for the train. We obviously all looked a little dodgy as we were pulled by customs who wanted to look inside our helmets!!!

Once we passed “helmet inspection” we caught the earlier train than we were actually booked on and had a smooth journey across to France.

In France we settled in for the AutoRoute ride to Bethune Bruay la Buissière, where we arrived at the hotel, meeting Mark W. A quick wash and brush up at the hotel was followed by a meal at the local Buffalo Grill. (The “mandatory” requirement for an Old Gits visit to a Buffalo Grill when in France had been met!)

Saturday 1st June

Miles travelled: 500

Bethune to Hotel Amerika, Bad Schussenried, Germany

https://www.myrouteapp.com/route/open/1487252

The coach load of UK pensioners that had arrived at the hotel the night before had left really early. This was both good and bad news. The bad news was that, as is inevitable, the early rising pensioners had woken some of the Old Gits but the good news was that they’d cleared the breakfast area by the time we arrived downstairs so there wasn’t a battle for either food or seats.

Geared up and on the bikes, we headed back to the AutoRoute. We had all filled up in Folkestone so we didn’t need an immediate fuel stop. As we headed off down the AutoRoute, about an hour in, we were unaware that Terry needed fuel until he pulled into the service station slip road that the rest of us had just ridden past! Ah well, he had said he may prefer to do the journey on his own so “Top Gear Rules” applied! It was later explained to Terry that he probable needed to do a little more than wave from the back of the group if he wanted us to pull off for petrol.

The journey through France was the usual boring but efficient way to tick off miles. I’m not sure Glenn fully appreciated why we were referred to as the “splash and dash” group until, at a fuel stop around lunchtime, all of us having just consumed a Mars bar and a Red Bull, he asked when the “proper” lunch stop was. “That was it” replied Roger!

The cross into Germany initially had us riding on normal roads. Unfortunately, I missed one of the turnings, despite both my sat nav and Roger saying it was the one to take and we ended up with a slight scenic detour. I had to remind Roger that the only “correct route” was the one the lead bike was taking before finally getting onto a “no limit” Autobahn. Mark had mentioned his wish to try his bike at Autobahn speeds and off he went!!!  We all had fun legally playing at speeds that would likely get you locked up in the UK, with me happily sitting with 170mph on the speedo (161mph on the sat nav). Even with panniers, a tank bag and a tail pack, the Kawasaki H2 SX SE was behaving perfectly.

After a few miles disposing of fuel at an alarming rate, and having fun, we turned off the Autobahn (at a place called Ausfahrt I believe!! ;) At least, that’s what the sign said!! ) and headed down some nice Black Forest roads, with sweeping bends and great surfaces. Despite the fact that we were already over 400 miles into the day, we were all having fun.

All good things have to come to an end and we eventually arrived at the Hotel Amerika where we were warmly welcomed and invited to park our bikes in the underground car park. We met up with a few other Old Gits and headed across the road to a small restaurant for a meal and a few beers.

 Sunday 2nd June

Miles travelled: 322

Hotel Amerika to Boutique Hotel Villa Blu in Cortina

https://www.myrouteapp.com/route/open/1487251

After breakfast we collected the bikes from the underground car park and Roger, Glenn, Mark R and I headed off. As we came out of the car park onto the empty road behind the hotel, Roger needed reminding which side of the road was the correct side but, I think that was the only occasion, for any of the Old Gits, on the whole trip.

The Bavarian roads just got better and better as we headed towards Austria. The sun was shining and the roads were encouraging us to have fun and enjoy ourselves. A WhatsApp message from Alain had cautioned us that the roads in Austria were both busy and heavily policed (he’d been relieved of €30) had us well prepared when we crossed the border. Alain was wrong though, the roads weren’t busy, they were packed!!

A fuel stop at a little local garage had us confused as to which fuel was from which pump and convinced Glenn had filled his KTM with diesel.  30 minutes with a length of syphon hose and a large bucked had his tank drained then refilled with unleaded. As it happens, a real close inspection of the markings on the pump after smelling (and, for Glenn on the syphon hose, tasting) what came out of his tank had us now believing that perhaps it was unleaded and not diesel. Still, better to be safe than sorry.

After a number of miles on roads with nose to tail traffic, a few police, solid white lines and no real opportunity to get past, we eventually got onto a road with no other traffic and a climb up to Fern pass. This was much better and what we had hoped for. At the top there was a motorcycle museum beside a restaurant/café. While we didn’t really have time to look around the museum, it was lunch time and a food and drink sounded great.

We parked the bikes alongside a load of other bikes, then went and ordered lunch. This was when one of the others read the WhatsApp message from Alain that said “I’ve just seen a group of Old Gits heading up Fern Pass. You do know it’s closed don’t you?”!! Err … no, we didn’t! Confirmation from the waitress that the pass was closed due to avalanche risk meant we spent lunch time re-planning our route to Italy.

After lunch we headed back down the way we came up then onto the motorway to Insbruck before south on the motorway into Italy. The sun was shining and the temperatures were up to 36 degrees, which wasn’t a problem until we joined the huge queue to pay the toll at the end of the Italian motorway. 20 minutes in the sun, in full leathers, on top of a hot bike in that heat is really not that much fun!

Off the Autostrada and onto normal roads had us searching for petrol. In Italy, on Sunday, there are only automatic petrol pumps and many of them only take cash. A French couple in a Peugeot ahead of us in one station had paid €20 into the machine but got no diesel out. Not a good sign so, after trying to help and getting nowhere, we left them to it and headed off to the next station, using the last of the vapours in our tanks.

The final run down into Cortina was on a great bit of road. A taste of the week to come that was enthusiastically enjoyed by us all. We arrived at the hotel, checked in, changed and parked our bikes in the secure underground car park. Hello’s were said to the Other Old Gits that had arrived and Old Git tee shirts and hats were handed out before we all headed down into town to a pizza restaurant for some food and a couple of beers.

Monday 3rd June

Mark R, Steve Me, James W and Roger C

Miles travelled - Unknown

https://www.myrouteapp.com/route/open/1492117

The first morning in Italy and the weather was excellent. A quick breakfast, collect the bikes from the hotels secure underground car park, and we were off, through town and heading west.

The roads were simply superb! Out of town and up to the pass, with bend after bend, had us all talking excitedly on the intercom. A stop at the top to admire the stunning views and then we were heading down the other side. One of the nice things about Italy is that they number the switchback bends on the pass approaches so as we started down, with the first bend numbered 27, we knew what to expect.

As often happens on such roads, the group got stretched out as getting past the (very light) traffic between the bends slows some down more than others. When I reached the junction at the bottom of the pass road, about 1km after bend number 1, I was joined by Steve … James … Roger and … hmmm! …. where was Mark?

After a couple of minutes James did an about turn and headed back up the road, only to reappear a couple of minutes later. Mark had needed to move out to pass a couple of cyclists around a slight kink in the road. What he hadn’t noticed prior to the manoeuvre was the wicked off camber on the other side of the road and the fine gravel covering the final 50% of the other lane. This was all spotted at the last minute but despite his ABS his bike slipped further right on the gravel as the camber made its presence felt, resulting in Marks bike bouncing off the opposite bank before falling over onto its left side.

The cyclists had stopped and helped Mark pick his bike up, which was now nicely grazed all down the side and had a bent handlebar. While Mark was up and moving, and obviously frustrated with what had happened, it was also clear he was in a bit of pain around his ribs.

It was agreed by us all, using our vast medical experience!!!!!,  that Mark was in no immediate danger so the recovery truck was called for the bike and we waited. Other groups of Old Gits passed us, some checking that everything was OK, before the recovery truck arrived and took the bike and Mark off to Bolzano.

The rest of us, after waving goodbye to Mark, headed for the local town for some lunch and then headed towards Bolzano. Various closed roads meant that we did a number of back-tracks before finally getting to meet up with Mark at the BMW dealership in Bolzano.

Marks bike was left with the dealer for evaluation and Mark was taxi’d to the local hospital where he was x-rayed. 3 broken ribs were identified but there was no other damage so Mark was put in a taxi and sent back to the hotel.

James and Steve had left the hospital once we all knew Mark was OK but Roger and I had waited until Mark had received his pain-killing meds and had been put in the taxi. Roger and I then had an “enthusiastic” run back, enjoying the wonderful roads and the light mid-even traffic.

Back at the hotel, with Mark when his taxi arrived, we all headed off into town and enjoyed a pizza and a couple of beers.

 

 

 

Tuesday 4th June

Steve Me, James W and Roger C

Miles travelled - Unknown

https://www.myrouteapp.com/route/open/1487247

After the usual “where shall we go” discussion over breakfast, we decided to head East. The roads again proved to be great fun although our route had to be changed “on the fly” on a number of occasions as we came across closed roads and diversions. On one occasions we met up with Willy, Alain and Mark W who had also arrived at the road closed signs. It was just a little nerve wracking doing a turn in the road, on a slight slope, on a narrow road with a noticeable camber, in front of an audience of Old Gits! Luckily, everyone’s dignity remained intact.

A stop for lunch proved the joys of limited language understanding. We arrived and asked if food was available. “Yes, cheese and ham toasties” was the reply.

“Could I just have cheese?” asked Steve

“Cheese and ham toasties only” replied the young lady at the bar! Hmmm! Steve enjoyed his cheese and ham toastie!

After a return to the hotel, we all headed down into town to a different pizza restaurant. (It is worth noting that while all of these restaurants were primarily pizza restaurants, they did offer non-pizza alternatives!!)

Wednesday 5th June

https://www.myrouteapp.com/route/open/951091

Steve Me, James W, Roger C and Neil M

Miles travelled - Unknown

A coach load of oriental tourists arrived at the hotel the night before which meant our options of where to sit for breakfast was slightly restricted. A number of us had got used to gathering at a certain breakfast table and, this morning, we had to adapt. This was confusing to a bunch of Old Gits, but we eventually worked it out! ;-)

Neil M decided he wanted to join us for the day so was a welcome addition to our regular group. We were missing Mark as the target for jokes etc. while away from the hotel so Neil would make an excellent substitute. :D

After breakfast we said goodbye to Mark and headed West out of town. Again, the roads were superb and the weather was exactly what we would have asked for. It was warm, sunny and dry, but not too hot.

The others were in the group were using the new(ish) Cardo Pack-Talk headsets and were communicating without issue with each other. I, however, being a little tight, was still running my old Scala 9X unit connected to Roger (and thus bridged to the rest of the group). However, the others were complaining that the reception from my unit was poor and “crackly” and, when the roads gave the opportunity, I was getting disconnected from Roger until he caught up! The suggestion was made that I connect my units’ second channel to James’s headset, allowing an alternative bridge to the “pack”. That proved fun!!! We managed to set up a feedback loop that sounded like an album track from a cheap ‘70’s Prog rock band. That idea was abandoned.

It was great to have Neil back riding with us. He was thoroughly enjoying his unfaired bikes low gearing, fast turn in and generally tendencies towards hooliganism. Several times, we witnessed Neil’s tail light disappearing off into the distance on the climb up another pass, only to then meet up with Neil at the top where he’d stopped to admire the view. Given that the rest of us weren’t hanging around, it was pretty impressive!

One minor bit of excitement was when travelling up a narrow (only slightly wider than 1 car) road, we met a number of high performance cars (Definitely a Ferrari and a Lamborghini, but also others) coming the other way, They were obviously enjoying the roads too but the meeting on a sharp switch-back bend required a fair bit of “breathing in” on both groups to ensure passing happened without any contact!

After a return to the hotel we joined up with Mark and dined on the hotel patio, enjoying the warm evening air and the very nice hotel food.

Thursday 6th June

Steve Me, James W, Glenn C Roger C and Neil M

Miles travelled - Unknown

Glenn C joined us and we headed due west out of town and up the Falzarego Pass. What a stunning bit of road! Probably the best road we had ridden so far. We stopped at the top to take pictures of the spectacular views and to throw a few snowballs at each other.

After the pictures we pushed on further West, enjoying more of the superb roads. One of the highlights of the day was Neil making off after a group of Italian bikers up one of the passes. Neil was like a dog with a scent and disappeared into the distance as we climbed up the side of a pass.

Lunch was in a small restaurant near Cavalesa. While eating lunch, we had our first experience of rain in the Dolomites, and it can rain quite heavily!

Setting out after lunch had us in waterproofs with the rain coming and going. The roads did get quite wet at times, but luckily, this was mostly when we were on main roads. By the time we headed back onto the good roads, the rain had stopped and the sun was out.

That evening, after picking Mark up from the hotel, we headed back into town for a meal and a beer or two.

Friday 7th June

Roger C, James W, and Steve Me

Miles travelled 138

At breakfast, we all agreed that a gentle day was required given the miles we planned to cover the next day. A run around the roads to the north of the town was agreed upon and we set off, again with me in the lead.

A stop for a drink and a bite to eat was followed by first James, then Roger having a run on the H2 SX. Roger, in particular, seemed to be enjoying it most. When he got on, his first statement across the intercom was “bloody hell, it’s light!”. After a few minutes and confirming with me that I didn’t mind if he gave it some beans (which I didn’t mind) Roger disappeared over the horizon with “woohoo” being the last thing we heard on the intercom.

We caught him a few miles further on, where he’d pulled over to wait for us, with a grin wider that the Mont Blanc tunnel. “It’s a bit quick, isn’t it?”

The staff at the hotel had been really good to us, looking after us throughout the week. As such, I thought it would be a good idea to organise a group tip. I suggested €10 each. This was accepted as a good idea by most and I took on the task of collecting the money. Unfortunately, three on the trip decided they didn’t want to be part of the group tip, despite the request to just “go with the flow”, so the total didn’t quite get to where I’d hoped it would but the staff were still extremely grateful.

The evening meal was had at the hotel. Roger C, Mark R, James W, Steve Me Andy F, as is tradition for the last night, paid for my meal. Thanks chaps, it’s greatly appreciated.

 Saturday 8th June

https://www.myrouteapp.com/route/open/1487250

Roger C, James W, Glenn C

Miles travelled 594

Hotel Villa Blu in Cortina to Best Hotel Reims Croix Blandin

This was going to be a long day and would be on pretty uninteresting roads, but it was agreed to be the best option. 600 miles, mostly on motorways!

Steve Me was heading off to the South of France for an extra week of fun (lucky so-and-so!) so James W, Roger C, Glenn C  and I were up, with bikes packed, breakfast consumed, and on the road by about 08:00. We headed straight for the motorway out of Italy and into Austria but then had to endure a couple of hours of busy, non-motorway, very uninteresting, camera infested Austrian roads. I must admit that, from my small experience of Austria on this trip, I’ve not been impressed. One of the Old Gits described Austria as “Germany without the laid back, chilled, attitude!” I would find it very hard to disagree!

Out of Austria and onto unrestricted Autobahns in Germany was one of the few moments of fun on the trip. Again, high speed cruising was the order of the day, and we made the most of it!

Into France and back to keeping one eye on the speedo. About 150 miles from Reims I started to feel uncomfortable. My Airhawk cushion was not doing its job! Sure enough, the next petrol stop confirmed it had a puncture. Damn!

With the last 100 miles of boring French AutoRoute to do, James and I decided to do a couple of side-by-side top gear roll on tests between the K1300S and the H2 SX. I had never considered the K1300S as slow (and still don’t) but the quote from James – on the K1300S - summarises the results beautifully: “Jesus! You just f**ked off!” The Kawasaki is very quick!

After arrival at the hotel, followed by “the Alastairs” with Mark in the car and Neil, Terry and W illy, we all headed to the local “all you can eat” Chinese restaurant. Sorting the bill showed us again what we already knew. Agree how things are to be paid before you start! This didn’t happen and we ended up with the usual confusion and frustration! Hopefully – lessons learned

Sunday 9th June

https://www.myrouteapp.com/route/open/1487249

Miles travelled 303

Best Hotel Reims Croix Blandin to home

Up reasonably early, and before the reception of the hotel opened, James W, Roger C, Glenn C, Neil M and I headed of towards Calais and the ferry. The roads were reasonably clear and the weather was bright and dry. Again, the French AutoRoute’s proved their worth and we arrived at the docks in good time. After check-in and while waiting to be loaded onto the ferry we said hello to “the Alistairs” and Mark in the car, who were in the queue next to us! Even though they’d left the hotel before any of us “real bikers” were up, we’d made up the time and were on the same ferry.

Once the bikes were loaded onto the ferry it was the usual dash up to the restaurant for the full English cooked breakfast and a cup of coffee. Another Old Gits tradition.

At the end of what was a smooth and easy crossing I said goodbye to everyone as they were all taking the M20 and I was going up the A2. A fill up at Tesco just outside Dover and then the ride back around the M25 and up the A12 to home.

The 21st Old Gits trip was over. The week in the Dolomites had been a real success. Great roads, great company, great food and the bonus of great weather. This is what Euro jaunts are all about. The hotel in Italy had been unofficially voted as one of the best the Old Gits had stayed at and was very reasonably priced considering the level of service we received. Mark R’s unfortunate “tarmac interface” had not put a damper on the trip (thanks Mark for continuing with the trip in such good humour, especially considering I personally am fully aware just how uncomfortable broken ribs can be!) Despite the awful seat, my Kawasaki had proved that, as a do everything sport-tourer, the mighty K1300S could be and had been bettered. The only disappointment is that we now have to wait a whole year until the next Old Gits trip! Roll on 2020 and Northern Spain.