Friday. Work done. Bike panniers packed. Coffee by Princes Quay it is then!
Our secretary Chris Hood and Chair, John Wright, joined a motley crew of five other riders on an annual trip to Europe...cultural? Mmmm, jury out on that one!
John and Chris joined Lee, Howard, Robin, Patrick and Dale at Leonardo's for a pre-ride briefing and general introduction to one another.
Their steeds included two BMW R1200RT's, a Honda Superblackbird, a Triumph Explorer, a Ducati Monster, Chris' BMW K1600GT and John's Moto Guzzi Norge.
The novelty of the Norge quickly manifested itself as being the chosen name for John for the whole trip - feel free to refer to the chair as 'Norge' from now on!
The group rode en mass to King George dock where everyone boarded the Pride of Rotterdam, battened down the machines and retired to the restaurant for a feast mainly comprising BBQ Ribs!
Departing the ship the following morning after a hearty breakfast and having secured entry through the authorities to enter Holland (OK - waved through by a bored border guard) the magnificent seven made their way south under cloudy but dry skies.
Now Rotterdam is approximately 20km from the Europoort. A kilometre too far to keep the group together!
At 19km it became a group of three and four when Chris, John and Howard made a set of traffic lights but the others didn't, following the wrong group of three riders when the lights changed!
Thank goodness for Sat - Nav!
The group of four then further split into two-by-two! with Patrick and Dale getting to the Hotel Ochsen in Kehl, Kork on the outskirts of Strasbourg first, and more importantly, dry!
Chris, Howard and 'Norge' watched a huge black cloud swing in as they approached Strasbourg (just 10k from the hotel) and as they entered the city so did the Storm!
The sky turned black and the streets were flooded within about 10 minutes. Torrential was not the word!
Lee and Robin were half an hour later and also resembled drown rats!
Schnitzel was the order of the evening washed down with a litre or so of Deutschlands best Pils!
Sunday blessed the group with somewhat brighter weather and after breakfast Chris led them onto the B500 - the Schwarzwaldhochstrasse - reputedly one of the top ten motorcycling roads in the world.
A mixture of sweeping bends skipping over the top of the Black Forest led down to Freudenstadt where coffee was enjoyed in the medieval town square.
Further excellent roads were enjoyed as the group was led south to Bodensee/Konstanz where more coffee and local cuisine were consumed!
Heading east into Allgau, Bavaria the Ruchti Hotel and Restaurant was a welcome sight after nearly 200 miles of excellent roads.
Again, excellent food was served and one or two Dunkel and Pilsners imbibed as the day's events were 'reviewed'!
After a good night sleep the beauty of the Fussen area was revealed in glorious sunshine.
Breakfast completed, a quick fueling of the bikes in Austria and it was was into the twisties and mountains of the Tyrol.
The intended route was through Reutte along the glorious 198 through Steeg to Warth for lunch at the Tyrolhofer. Great roads, however the venue was closed!
A brief stop at the Zugspitz View was stunning however!
After lunch the route continued to Dornbirn before heading south to Bludenz then east and stopping at the Arlberg Stuben for a hot chocolate before the final ride up to Lech and back to Fussen.
Having returned fairly early the boys hit the town! Well found a Pizza restaurant before heading back for an early night!
The following morning a check of the intended route - Stelvio - revealed it was still closed so the Timmelsjoch was the next choice.
Also closed! However the decision was made to head south and see if there was a pass to Italy open.
Reutte, along the179 to Imst then through stunning scenery along the 189 to Obergurgl before ascending to the toll gates at Timmelsjoch. Snow was melting at the booths, but about a kilometre further on the road was impassable with 2 metres of the white stuff.
A similar route was taken back and an early return to the Ruchti saw a delicious local cuisine based meal - Schnitzels and meats was washed down with local brews. Mirth merriment and no pudding for Howard (spent too long gabbing and the kitchen closed!)
Garmisch-Partenkirschen is the venue for the annual BMW Motorrad Days bike rally.
A pretty town, but it's secret lies in it's location. It is set in the middle of some of the best roads in the Tyrol!
Guess that'll be today's ride then!
The intention had been to head out in two groups, those wanting a steady bimble, and the others a bit more of a 'blast'.
Dale, Howard and Norge set off first whilst the other four were only ten minutes later.
The 179 was the road of choice on this occasion, running mainly through a valley bottom, but affording phenomenal views of the mountain range and in particular the Zugspitz - the tallest mountain in Germany. However when the boys stopped for a coffee in Austria, it wasn't the tallest mountain in that country!
Lee went on the hunt for a new baseball cap but was more excited at the Golfclub Zugspitze with how cold to temperature was in the gents toilet!
Onward to Garmisch and after lunch Chris decided to head south to the Brennar Pass, skirting Innsbruck and then onto some fantastic alpine roads.
Robin headed back towards Fussen but found the Plansee road. And what a road!
Everything from twisty windy, to lakeside sweepers and open viewed undulating meadow cutting ribbons of tarmac. An awesome 25 miles of road which was so good it had two biker cafe's - one of which Robin found Norge, Howard and Dale noshing at!
Robin got back to Fussen then dragged lee out to 'do' the Plansee again - in both directions!
Chris meanwhile made it to Italy, then skirted the south side of Innsbruck on return and had a 'play' with a rider on a new Ducati 1198. The big K didn't embarrass itself in the Italian's company - racing on a highway? No SIr! Never...
The final night in Fussen saw the boys having a variety of differing meals as they all returned at different time, but did manage to meet up in a bar for last orders!
Setting off around ten thirty, a transit day commenced with ANOTHER ride along the Plansee route - this time Robin, Lee and Chris.
The others set off on a more conventional route, 'doing' the B500 in the northerly direction, back to Kehl/Kork and another night at the Hotel Ochsen.
The three musketeers somehow ended up at Ulm - in a McDonalds - watching 21 metre bendy-busses leaving the Setra/Mercedes coach factory!
Another pleasant evening at Hotel Ochsen with Armin, the owner, supplying the team with fire-water as an after-dinner digestif!
No matter which way you looked at it, how many times you checked the weather app, or looked for the behaviour of cows in a field - It was wet. It was raining. It was torrential.
Plans to 'do' a pleasant scenic route were shelved at sat-navs were re-set to 'fastest route' and ticked 'Motorway'
The rain eased a little as Cochem was reached, the bikes were tucked up in secure parking at Hotel Karl Noss and drying room was provided for the dripping waterproofs.
On the upside, as the garage door closed, the rain stopped and a pleasant evening stroll to the Weinstuble Hieronimi resulted in the Hauseplatte being shared between the gang!
The rump steak, Puten (turkey) Steak and Fleisch (pork) steaks were consumed not leaving room for the mountains of chips and bratkartofeln!
Howard still managed a pudding at the local ice-cream parlour whilst Patrick, Chris and Robin checked the local nightscene before joining Howard and Dale for last orders in the Irish bar next door to the Hotel!
The final day saw a mainly rain free ride until the last run from Antwerp into Zeebrugge, and the major unsigned roadworks meaning one had to follow ones nose to find the docks!
The Pride of York was the return ferry where final goodbyes were said after copious consumption of spare ribs again!
A total mileage in the region of 1900 miles was completed by each of the riders on machines that never let their owners down and delivered fun in bucketfuls!
A group of blokes some of whom didn't know each other before the trip, parted as good friends looking forward to another motorcycling adventure in the near future.