I just realised that I hadn’t posted about last year’s Eurothrash to the Harz Mountains in Germany, so here we are now.
It was a quick blast there whilst my partner was sunning herself in Newquay with her friends. We’d booked to stay with Gregory Niven at his biker-friendly pension – Gregory rode a Kawasaki Versys by then – so Yox (on his Versys), Purge (on his Kawasaki ZZR1400) and I set off to Germany on a really hot day. The beers at Gregory’s place were welcome by the time we got there!
Dinner that first night – as all nights whilst we were there – was at the nearby Zum Belgier with their large selection of Schnitzel:
The next day we went off on a route that Gregory had laid out for us. A nasty front wheel slip on the Sprint ruined my confidence in the OEM Bridgestones, though:
This was what the front tyre looked like when we stopped:
This was us at our stop shortly afterwards:
That evening, a somewhat peckish Yox ordered a light snack:
So Yox is having a weiner schnitzel with Bolognese sauce (meat) AND an 8oz steak on the side. Just in case.
The next day it was off to Colditz. Except it was closed…
En route to Colditz
Still, we got some footage despite my lack of confidence in the tyres:
The next day it was wet; showers throughout the day but in between the rain we were taken for a blast out by Gregory:
And then the heavens opened. You can see from the footage that I was just not at all happy with the (lack of) grip from the front:
Then it was back home and after I’d switched back to miles and got home, I reckon it was a pathetic 400 miles of rain on the way home rather than the epic Pyrenees deluge…
This year’s Eurothrash took us from England to France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy and we almost ended up in Lichtenstein too! 2,361 miles in a week, with two rest days.
I mentioned in the last blog entry that I’d fettled the Sprint ready for the journey. As it turned out, we did a quick pack on the Friday night and found we could fill the two panniers and then put the 30 litre roll bag in the top case along with Alison’s heated inner jacket and our liners. Gloves and bits and bobs went into the Kriega US-20 strapped onto the tank.
And so it was that we were up at 3.00am to shower, pack and hit the road around 4.15am to meet up with Mark (Purge), Martin (Yox) and Josie at the Stop24 services on the M20 near the Eurotunnel at 5.30am. Despite horrific weather being forecast for the journey, the only wetness we saw was a bit of spray on the A2 out of London. We were first to arrive and grabbed coffee and croissants at the Shell garage. Yox and Josie arrived a few minutes later on his Kawasaki Versys and we then received a message from Purge saying he’d woken up to torrential rain and would get a later crossing and meet us there!
Early start at Eurotunnel
I reset my dials and the satnav to kilometres for the rest of the trip to make it easier to work out fuel and rest stops.
Once boarded, we were told there would be a delay due to a train fault in the tunnel, so we were around 45 minutes late getting off in France. These delays continued and worsened, apparently, so that Purge had to wait hours for an eventual 1.50pm crossing and a blast down by Autoroutes to join us in Germany for our first night.
On the way down through France, we stopped off near Reims to stretch our legs at the old Formula One pit buildings of the Reims-Gueux Circuit:
Reims Grand Prix Pit Buildings
Reims Grand Prix Pit Buildings
We finally reached the Hotel-Landgasthof Hirsch in Neu-Ulm (mid-way between Stuttgart and Munich) at tea-time, so we showered and changed and hit the beers before dinner. Purge joined us around 9.30pm.
After a really nice breakfast on the Sunday morning we set off for Austria despite a light shower at one point, though nothing like what was forecast. Germany meant Autobahns so on one section I decided to wind the Sprint open and we hit 147mph – two-up and fully laden, don’t forget – before I backed it off down to 100mph. I wonder how fast it would have gone (especially solo and without all the gear)…
A coffee and a Snickers as we approached Austria and we were on our way.
Into Austria and we headed down to Hall in Tirol and the Gasthof Badl. Purge and Yox had stayed there before, but I wasn’t expecting much, to be honest. I was grateful to be proven completely wrong: a well-presented and large double room with a huge and very modern bathroom and a balcony with a wonderful view of the Alps.
Gasthof Badl (by Purge)
Gasthof Badl and Bikes
The view from our balcony
A shower and off we went into the old town to a restaurant in the castle for the largest Weiner Schnitzel you could imagine (pork, not veal, of course).
That was our restaurant for the evening
After a huge breakfast on Monday morning, we set off into the Alps to visit the Grossglockner glacier. Some great twisty roads and stunning views on our way, too.
Grinning at the Grossglockner Glacier
It had been very cold on one of the earlier passes, enough for me to switch on my heated grips and for Alison to plug in her heated inner jacket which kept her toasty warm.
Tuesday was supposed to be wet, so we planned our rest day. It wasn’t at all wet as we walked into town for coffees and then back to the hotel for beers before dinner.
Wednesday and we headed into Italy and Switzerland for the Jaufenpass and Stelvio Pass. Very impressive passes both, if a little cold as we passed through the snowline up to Stelvio for big hotdogs and wine just as the snow began falling. Epic twisty roads too after the light dusting dried out in the warm summer sun…
Stelvio Pass (photo by Yox)
Stelvio Scoff (thanks Purge)
Jaufenpass (photo by Yox)
Sprint and Stelvio
Sprint and Stelvio
The Hills Are Alive
Thursday was Josie’s 50th birthday. Our plan for the day was to head to the Kehlsteinhaus or Eagle’s Nest, which was given to Hitler for his 50th birthday (which was ironic as he had a fear of heights…). Yet more stunning scenery and very twisty roads on our way to the visitor centre. On arrival in the car park, the rain started falling heavily for around 10 minutes so we stood in our waterproofs before it stopped and we boarded the truly scary convoy of buses to take us up to the retreat itself, where we stopped for lunch and the views.
Lunch at the Eagle’s Nest
Celebratory fizz and birthday cake back at the hotel before heading up to bed.
Friday was another rest day with one or two light showers but after two days in the mountains on hairpin bends, we could all do with the rest!
Espressos and Iced Tea
Breakfast on Saturday morning was massive as usual. We then checked out – why was our bar bill so excessive again? Oops! – then it was off to Mulhouse. Purge wasn’t quite ready when we were going to head off and said he was going to go the quicker rather than the scenic route, so Yox and I headed off. A fab journey it was too through Austria and Germany (the Black Forest, mainly). We stopped at one point in Germany at Schluchsee in the mid-afternoon for drinks and ice creams by the huge lake. Purge had already reached Mulhouse and was sitting by the pool drinking beers (as per).
It’s tough, this travelling
Sprint at the Schluchsee
We rolled into Mulhouse after another day of scenery, hairpins and hot sun and ate outside by the pool at the Golden Tulip Mulhouse Basel at Sausheim.
Sunday morning and it was up early for breakfast before heading out for our long journey back. Purge opted for the “splash and dash” whereas we opted for more Alpine scenery and a less frenetic if longer route, with me leading us into the Eurotunnel in plenty of time for the ridiculously long (and hot) wait for the UK Border Agency to let us onto the trains. Our border control is frankly pathetic compared with every other country I travel to. Such long delays coming back home.
Once back in the UK, Alison and I waved Yox and Josie off and we stopped to eat and refuel before heading home mid-evening, 2,361 miles down:
And finally, a little bit of video:
Planning for next year’s Eurothrash has already started: maybe the Italian Riviera? Accessed via Bilbao and Northern Spain, Andorra and the French Riviera?