• Tag Archives BMW K1300GT
  • My bike history

     

    I wrote a post a while ago about the way that the bikes we ride shape us as riders, we may favour sports bikes rather than touring, or twins over  fours, but in any case over the years I imagine like me, people will have quite a number of bikes which have shaped  their riding and memories, so I thought I’d delve back into the sands of time and put pen to paper on the bikes I’ve owned and ridden.

     

    Puch Maxi

    This barely qualifies as a bike but it had an engine, all of 50cc and was my first foray into the world of two wheels. It was the single speed version (read slow!) and was bought brand new for the princely sum of £105. It had pedals which had to be turned to get it started, and returned miserly consumption of close to 120mpg, which as a teenager with little income was a real plus. I think mine was the N version which didn’t even had a speedo, probably because it was capable of speeds only marginally faster than running! I used to have to carry around a plastic bottle with two stroke oil to mix each time I filled up. As a riding experience it can be summed up easily, it wasn’t one!, but as a cost effective form of transport for a skint youth, then it was ideal and served it’s purpose admirably, till I got fed up of it and bought a proper bike!

    Honda CB125T-

    The first of many Honda’s I was to own over the years.

    I don’t remember the technical details, but Wikipedia shows it had an OHC engine and a top speed of around 65mph, which after the Puch was mega fast.  I do remember having to learn how to use previously unknown bike parts such as a clutch and gears, and mashing them badly for the first few days as I learnt how to ride. It carried me and my tent from the Midlands down to Devon for a rally so can be officially recognised as being my first touring bike.

    Yamaha RD250C-

    This was my first NEW bike and made an amazing impression on me. The colour was my favourite shade of blue, and the engine howled and emitted plumes of smoke from it’s twin exhausts. It’s 247cc oil cooled twin it made a massive 30bhp, returned 50mpg and had a top speed of 95mph. If those stats weren’t enough to get you excited, then how about it’s power band, something new to me after coming from a linear four stroke. The RD was not as exciting or dramatic as the hooligan LC models which came later, but had enough oomph  to catch out the unwary, and it did catch me out, twice! I sold it soon after those two offs, but it’s always held a strong place in my formative memories, and now that I’ve got an R1 in the same shade of blue it’s like I’ve gone full circle and returned to the Yamaha fold.

     

    Honda CB250N Superdream

    This was a “sensible” buy. We lived on one side of a river and my wife worked on the other. Public transport wasn’t easy or convenient and we couldn’t afford two cars, so the bike was bought as a commuter tool and worked exceptionally well. I bought it off a work colleague who taught me the pleasures of oil baths for the chain, and I upgraded the worn suspension for a pair of air shocks, which although far superior in performance looked a bit naff in red on a blue bike, as you can tell on the photo above. The bike wasn’t particularly exciting and I remember being shocked at having to pay £40 for an exhaust box, which back then was a huge amount of money, BUT, it was safe, reliable, and an ideal choice to have bought to get back in to biking after a few years sabbatical.

     

    Honda CB400N Superdream

    As always with bikers, a bigger engine means more fun, and the 250 soon wasn’t cutting it for the things we wanted to do. The 400 was a logical step up, with the same Honda reliability and was effectively the same bike as the 250 but with a bigger engine. We took it to the channel islands touring, rode with the local bike club, going farther afield and riding harder and faster, still not a bike to get the pulse rate soaring but it started, stopped, and ran like a dream (sic) and proved a great buy.

     

    ZZR600- May 1997-May 1998 ridden 9,600 kms

    The birth of my two children pretty much forced the sale of the 400, but 12 years later and the bug had resurfaced, so I did some research, found a good compromise for price and performance, and bought a ZZR600. Renowned for not having the best suspension, the saving grace for this bike was it’s engine. Like many Kwaks it accelerated like the world was coming to an end and it was always a rush letting it rip. It ended up costing me way too much in parts, so using male logic to confuse my better half I “persuaded” her the best thing to do would be to offload it and upgrade!

     

    VFR800-May1998- May 2000 ridden 25,600 kms

    Officially this was my reward for passing the IAM Advanced test, but it had been ordered before I took it so I was going to have it come rain or shine! I bought it without having taken a test ride as none were available, and it had been a toss up, between the VFR and the CBR1100XX SuperBlackbird. If I’d have ridden the Bird I’d have bought it, but the VFR was a “sensible” choice ratified by the wife, so it ended up in my garage.

    The trend I notice as I am writing this is that the bikes I’ve bought have all been “sensible” choices, with perhaps the exception of the RD250 a decade previously. The VFR followed that trend. It was a wonderfully efficient machine, the noise of the V4 engine was improved tenfold with the addition of an open Remus exhaust, it was powerful enough to tour on with luggage and a passenger, and when dirty always cleaned up like new. It ran perfectly, never missed a beat, handling improved with the addition of a made to measure  Maxton shock, and looked as good the day I sold it, as the day I took it from the showroom floor.  And why did I sell it? Because I’d moved to Switzerland and found the engine a little lacking at altitude, so something bigger was required of course!

     

    CBR1100XX- March 2000- March 2004 ridden 63,111 kms

    OMG! I knew within 10 yards of leaving the dealer I had to have this bike. The smoothness of the engine, the whispering exhausts, and unbelievable acceleration had me hooked instantly. I loved the stealth black, the paint quality was exceptional, the ride superb, I put the reworked shock from the VFR on it and improved its handling, and never looked back. Sue (the wife) loved it, we toured Europe on it. It ran and ran and ran, overtook lines of cars as if they were stationary, and all I ever did to it was change the tyres, brake pads and have it serviced, often! It only failed me once at around 55,000kms when the regulator stator failed, but that’s a common Honda problem and I’ll forgive it that one off failure. As a bike it ticked every box I had, it was a dream purchase, and if I hadn’t been forced to sell it when I moved to France I would likely still be on it today, what a bike!!

     

    Laverda 750s- March 2002-June 2002 ridden 3,205 kms

    From one extreme to another. I wanted a toy to go on track with or do some more sporty riding, but unfortunately this wasn’t it! Lots of nice parts like  Marchesini wheels and  Paoli forks, but the most agricultural POS parrallel twin engine known to man. It stalled, had gutless acceleration, and when friends who rode it confirmed my assertions that it was a pile of poo, it had to go. The only upside was I had bought it heavily discounted as Laverda had just gone bust, again, and I managed to sell it for what I had paid for it!

     

    Honda RVF750 RC45- July 2002-Feb 2012 ridden 21,854kms

    The Laverda was gone and thankfully the MV Agusta I had wanted to buy turned out not to be such a good idea so I bought this instead.No comparison. It’s true what the bike press wrote about this bike, it’s so much better than you’ll ever be. On the road it goads you into going round corners faster. The low seating position meant your knees decked everywhere, you became a riding god. It laughed at your best efforts on the road, 100mph, hah! All of this accompanied by a wonderful V4 soundtrack which could deafen you if you used the Micron open pipe and forgot your earplugs.

    I used it on track, a lot, but it was completely outclassed by just about every other bike out there.  Sure no one else had one and people would come to see what it was and to listen to the awesome sound, but other than it’s outstanding handling and rock solid road holding in bends, it became a real disappointment to me, and after 10 years of campaigning it I eventually sold it when I decided nostalgia wasn’t a good enough reason to hang on to it. I miss it but am glad I had one, something most people won’t be able to say!

     

    CBR1100XX – March 2004-March 2010 ridden 36,597 kms

    The original Blackbird was replaced by another one, why try anything else? But sometimes things aren’t the same. This was a French bike, originally restricted to 100bhp then derestricted, but it never made it’s power the same way as it’s Swiss predecessor had. It didn’t have cats in the exhausts, the paint was nowhere near as deep or the same quality as the black model, and although ridiculously fast, there was always something that you couldn’t put your finger on that made it slightly less good than the old one. It too had the regulator fault, but again it ran forever and only ended up being sold after we were knocked off a GSXR1000 and Sue ended up with a hip problem which meant the seating position became uncomfortable for her whatever we did to try and fix it.

     

    Suzuki GSXR1000K2 -Oct 2005-April 2008 ridden 5,588 kms

    A monster engine in a frame and with handling that never seemed to quite be in synch. Torque everywhere, but I was always uneasy with it. A big comfortable bike with a great pillion seat, but it was destined not to stay with us for long after some German lady decided that turning across a junction was a good idea, even though we were on the road in front of her. I repaired it but it had already been replaced by the bike below.

     

    Kawasaki ZX-10R (05) Sept. 2006-Nov. 2007 ridden 4,087 kms

    Polar opposites. A bike that handled telepathically. I don’t know what the previous owner did to it but it worked like a dream for me, and combined with that famous top end Kwak rush I had some great times with this bike. The howling top end was insane, made even more potent with an aftermarket Shark exhaust. I found myself riding like a maniac every time the road opened up ahead just to listen to the exhaust scream and to feel that huge rush of acceleration. It looked the dogs too in black, although as a pillion bike it sucked big style.  I loved it and was gutted when after trying to take it back into France, after having bought it in Germany whilst working there, found there was no way I could import it. What a shame, great bike and worthy of the future classic status the mags tout it as having.

     

    BMW K1200GT July 2008-July 2009 ridden 23,234 kms

    2008-07-12 001 026

    Back to sensible again and the only bike Sue was able to get comfortable on. It’s built like a bus but handles ridiculously well for such a large machine. ABS, heated seats and grips, cruise control, trip computer, ESA etc etc, it’s all there and is a great bike to tour on, as luggage and pillions seem to make no difference whatsoever . BUT, it was a POS. Riddled with problems it was always at the garage, was the first bike that stranded me (due to it’s crazy electrical servo assisted brakes), and I was only too glad to do a deal with the dealer to take it back against the purchase of another BM.

    BMW K1300GT -July 2009 to date ridden 70,953 kms

    K1300GT

    You might wonder what possessed me to buy the same bike again? Well this is the 1300 which supposedly corrected all the faults of the 1200 and improved it in many areas, and I have to say by and large its been a good buy. I’ve written several posts about it here on the blog, so if you want to find out more about long term and long distance ownership, it’s all here. I’ll summarise by stating I still have it and it’s a great tourer, but I’m wary of potential big bills in the future.

     

    Yamaha R1-Feb. 2012 to date- ridden 3,314 kms

     

    Full circle and I’m back in the Yamaha fold with my favourite shade of blue and 182bhp! A long way from the 30bhp of the RD250 back in the 70’s but I’m loving it. Bought for the track I’m still learning how to get the best out of it after 10 years on the RC45, but it’s coming. I’m consistently 8 seconds a lap faster on this than I ever managed on the RC, which makes me happy, as does having it wide open in fifth at Aragon. I’m hoping for great things and a long life together with this bike!

     

     


  • 4 years and 72,000kms with BMW K1300GT

    Continuing with my regular posts on life with my BMW K1300GT, I’ve just passed the 4 year ownership mark, so here’s an update on what’s happened in the past year.

    Well, the first thing is that I rode it less than in previous years, mostly due to a house move and a couple of operations which kept me out of the saddle for a few months. Nevertheless, since June 2012 I’ve ridden another 8000kms with basically two problems requiring fixing in that time, plus one comfort issue.

     

    PROBLEMS

    Switchgear-The left hand switchgear started to play up at 70,000kms. Originally replaced at 11,000kms, it seems that 60,000kms of use had worn it out, with new replacement requiring a not insubstantial €343 payment to the local dealer to supply and fit.

    Battery- I replaced the OE battery at 72,000kms, subject covered in detail in the previous post. The Odyssey PC680 replacement has brought renewed vigour to starting and an improvement in performance, so a good result!

    Saddle- At 72,000kms I decided that the pain the saddle was inflicting on my nether regions was no longer tolerable. Originally it was all day comfortable, but after so many kms it was becoming uncomfortable within a couple of hours, so I found a local company to fit new foam for the bargain price of €60, instead of the €400 required from BMW for a complete new unit, and although I’m still wearing it in, it seems to be pretty comfortable

     

    TYRES

    I am continuing to use Bridgestone BT023GT’s but will switch to their new T30 for the front tyre which needs replacement now. I did once manage to eke 10,000kms out of a front and 7500 out of a rear, not especially high kms given they are supposed to be high mileage tyres, so I will be very interested to see if the T30’s last a little longer.

    FUEL CONSUMPTION

    Remaining more or less constant at around the 5.6l/100kms mark so I’m more than happy with that!

    OIL CONSUMPTION

    Sometimes it uses oil, sometimes it doesn’t, it’s a mystery I’ve given up trying to figure out, Whatever it uses isn’t excessive so I just remember to check it frequently.

    SERVICING

    Always serviced at main dealers I got hit with a huge bill of just over €900 at the 60,000 service which included the valve clearance check , oil and fluid changes, spark plugs, air filter, and fitting the chain jump guard, an item which BMW now fit free as a safety modification. At 70,000 I paid another €300 for an interim service which included changing the brake fluid.

    Total servicing costs now amount to €2771 which is more than double the price incurred up to the 60,000 mark. This calculates to €0.04 per km over the four years of ownership.

    GEARBOX

    No change here, it clunks, it’s inconsistent, I’ve got used to it although Sue constantly complains about the poor shifting, seems there’s little can be done to fix it, unless it’s the clutch?, but with a new one costing in excess of €800 I’ll live with it for the time being!

    HANDLING/SUSPENSION

    No change, it works, and handles well. I use the comfort setting a lot more as the roads near my new home aren’t that great in places, and I can appreciate how this setting is working well in dampening out the poor surfaces.

    SUMMARY

    If I look at the issues I’ve had I guess I’d have to say that overall it’s not been too problematic, fingers crossed!!!. In 4 hard years of predominantly mountain and frequent two up use, it’s had two sets of left hand switchgears, two driveshafts (at 30k and 60k kms), broken down once, had one puncture, a new battery, and a re-upholstered saddle, reasonable? Probably?  


  • 136kms

    136kms, not really a very big number, and in fact there were times earlier this year when a ride of 136kms would have been considered just a warm up before mid-morning coffee, times when days of 600kms or more were the norm. It’s been an odd year though, and the long rides seem to have become fewer and fewer as the year has progressed, with an op at the end of July curtailing some end of summer rides, and rain ruining opportunities for far too many others. With less frequent weather windows, opportunities to ride need to be grabbed when they become available, so when an opportunity to ride finally presents itself, finding your BMW no longer has many functioning electrics, is definitely a pain in the backside.

    In mid-November the GT had its 70,000 service, and before it went in I had warned the garage that the left hand switchgear was playing up, but as it was working on the day it went in (sods law), they didn’t change it. Having not ridden much since then, and with sun and 13 degrees outside today, it was an unpleasant discovery to find that nothing operated from the left hand switchgear. No adjustable screen, no suspension adjustment, indicators, hazard warning lights, cruise control, or horn. I really didn’t want to miss what might be the last chance to ride this year, and this, coupled with the fact that I’ve recently moved and wanted to get out and explore some new roads, meant that the desire to ride soon proved too much to resist. Refusing to be beaten by BMW’s electrics, I figured that as the starter switch is on the right hand side and as the engine was running, I’d use hand signals for turns, so with this simple solution, I was able to grab the chance to take advantage of the sun while it was still warm enough to go out.

    Having studied the brand new map I’d recently bought, I quickly decided on which roads looked interesting, and set off. Riding on unknown roads and finding new places is one of biking’s pleasures. My new region has some fine chateaux, glorious countryside, plenty of lakes and woods, and best of all, it’s all new to me! Despite the sun, the roads were often damp under the trees, so surfaces varied between wet, damp, and bone dry. I had to concentrate hard to figure out where the grip was, in between enjoying the views, the buzzards in the trees, the hawk that flew across the road directly in front of me, and even finding a windmill! A bit of hard acceleration in 4th gear saw the rear slip quickly on a glacial looking piece of road, and there was a crest in the road that had an unexpected left hand kink immediately after it, but those were the only two small dramas of the ride.

    In the end, it may only have been 136kms, but I’d managed to get out and ride, rediscovered the joys of map reading and riding on unknown roads, explored new places, made mental notes of which roads and places to revisit, but most of all, had fun, and all regardless of the fact that 95% of the bikes electrics weren’t working.

    IMG_2282


  • Col de la Lombarde

    Sometimes a film and music just come together and I’m really pleased with the outcome of this edit. Riding the quiet and beautifully picturesque Col de La Lombarde in the direction of Isola 2000, this pass has been one of the highlights of the year. Enjoy.

     

    CLICK ON LINK TO VIEW

    Col de la Lombarde

     


  • Col de la Madeleine, Col du Glandon & Col de la Croix de Fer

    Ride reports are sometimes like London buses, sometimes nothing, then several come along at once. On a day where temperatures reached 33C, here’s the latest of my recent reports.

    I like to think I’ve ridden every major pass in Switzerland and a vast number of the French too, but checking the map I found a loop of 3 passes that I couldn’t recall riding. The first, the Col de la Madeleine I remember having attempted to ride, circa 2003 with my wife Sue, but we didn’t manage it as the pass was closed due to snow, in May, and it seems I didn’t go back and try again, so here was a start point, and with the Col du Glandon and Col de la Croix de Fer all in close proximity, there was a natural loop for the day.

    Always a good sign when you see a pass is actually open!


    A picture of the sign at the summit is irrefutable proof you’ve been there, here’s Sue at the top

    Lunch stop for the day, and judging from the voices around us there were as many Brits up here as French

    Nice in the shade til a sudden gust blew all the umbrellas over!

    Food beautifully presented

    Top left on the plate is foie gras and chocolate!

    Great scenery to admire

    Descent has great views but all too quickly you arrive at the first of several soon hit small towns and the road surface is variable at best. One interesting thing that happened was that as we entered a roundabout at the town at the bottom of the pass we were met by two gendarmes who were stopping the traffic at two entries, and getting drivers to take breath tests. When the female gendarme saw I’d got a full face helmet on, she obviously decided it wasn’t worth the 5 minute delay for me to take it off and blow into the bag so she waved me through, but the guy behind with an open face helmet wasn’t so lucky.  First time I’ve seen roadside breath tests though!

    Next pass of the day

    Beautiful scenery looking back

    Just in case you don’t know what pass you’re on the locals obligingly daub the name on the road for what seems like miles. Looks good on camera for the Tour de France I guess?

    Arriving at the summit

    I got talking to a Dutch guy who came over to talk to me after having seen my bike mounted film camera. We jointly agreed that the tar snakes (road repairs) were particularly slippery and we’d both experienced slides on the way up!

    The sign on the Glandon shows the Col de la Croix de Fer is only 2.5kms away. I can’t recall any cols, anywhere, where two summits are so close!.

    Not much variety in sign making, they all look the same!

    Some amazing scenery descending the Croix de Fer, I’m just mad at myself for leaving the camera at home and having only iphone pictures to post.

    I planned a route back past the Chateau du Miolans and down the Col de Leschaux, and here is where I’d like to add a warning tale to you all.

    During rides on any col you can’t help but be impressed by the number of people, young and old, whom will challenge themselves and their bodies to drag themselves up 2000m cols. As bikers sometimes we curse that they are mid bend and ride two abreast, but in the spirit of giving everyone a chance to enjoy the magnificent scenery and roads here, I always try to give them plenty of room. Sometimes however, they do the unexpected. I came across a group of riders from the same club spread over a km or two en route to the Col des Leschaux. With a clear road on the opposite side to overtake you’ll see from the picture that I’m practically straddling the white line as this guy turns round to either check where his friends are or because he’s heard the bikes engine.

    Seems at this point his balance and being clipped into his pedals is going to be an issue as he veers towards the middle of the road

    Taking avoiding action to swerve round him, look how close he got!

    So be careful out there fellow riders, it’s not just wild animals, birds and dozy drivers that are out to get you, cyclists can be just as dangerous a breed!

    Anyway, we had a great day, only 394kms but 6 hours 35 in the saddle.


  • Grand St Bernard to the Matterhorn (Breuil-Cervina)

    The weather! It seems that it’s impossible to write a ride report without remarking on it as it’s impacted on our riding so much this year.

    The previous weekend we had planned to go over the Grand St Bernard to lunch at Breuil-Cervina beneath the Matterhorn, but a landslide had closed the pass so we had had to make alternative plans. This weekend the pass was open, but the weather showed that the ever present rain that’s dogged this year was still about. Nevertheless, we decided that if we waited for a clear day we’d never go, so Sue and I agreed to meet Mark and Sev at 08.00 on Saturday. We hadn’t exactly agreed where to meet, but as we both needed petrol and had to pass the douane at Ferney Voltaire, chances were we would meet them at one of the other location, and sure enough they arrived at the petrol station as we were filling up.

    The sky started off overcast, and as we passed through and round Lausanne on the autoroute, it was clear that we were going to encounter rain fairly soon , and sure enough we did, enough to drive Mark off the motorway and into the nearest McDonalds for shelter. After a warm drink and Mark and Sev now in their waterproof oversuits, we set off again, and of course soon after, the weather started to clear, although as we climbed upwards towards the start of the Grand St Bernard we could see low lying clouds ahead. I don’t have any pictures of the ascent of the Grand St Bernard as they’d all be dull and cloudy, but once we ‘d crossed from Switzerland into Italy at the top of the pass and started to descend the Italian side, the weather completely changed, and although there was low cloud the sun was starting to shine through

     

    The road surface on the Italian side is fantastic, there are new barriers and plenty of new laybys to pull over and admire the views

    Bends we’ve descended already to the left and above, plenty to come going down to the right

    Wooded section nearing bottom

    In Aosta we stopped off at Moto America, a huge BMW, Ducati and Triumph dealer, and wandered round the showrooms admiring the bikes.

    The ride to Breuil Cervina is only one hour from Aosta. Passing through many small villages, today we were cursed with following camper vans and slow Italian drivers rather than the racier types you’d normally expect in Italy. The road climbs gently through the lower reaches before starting to climb more steeply with tighter and more interesting bends. I managed to get ahead of Mark at one stage and was amused when he rolled into Breuil Cervina later to hear he’s mistakenly followed another GT ride thinking it was me, until he had spotted the other bike had panniers fitted and mine didn’t! Passing the Lago Blau a couple of kms from the town, here is the view of the Matterhorn ahead.

    Matterhorn from restaurant

    Lunch was pasta and mushrooms, and whilst it tasted good there wasn’t much of it, and expecting a second helping which didn’t materialise, we were forced to have a desert to help fill our hungry stomachs. Declining coffees, we set off back the way we had come, back towards Aosta, and back over the Grand St Bernard. With excellent surfaces warmed by the sun it was time to let rip and enjoy the blast on strangely empty roads up to the summit

    Once over the top and back to the Swiss side however, it was back into the low level cloud.

    Water tower

    Mark posing

    Sev

    Sue and I

    Cloud looking back up the pass

    Not quite sure what this sign with Napoleon hat was supposed to portray, but there were a few of them

    Another water tower further down

    Once into the tunnels that mark the end of the pass, it was down towards Martigny, a stop off for petrol, and boring and windswept motorway back home. Final stats of 531kms and 7hours 01 in the saddle showed it was another big day, still can’t complain, if we’d have stayed at home based on the weather forecast, we wouldn’t have enjoyed ourselves!


  • A rainy July Sunday

     

    The plan was to ride over the Grand St Bernard to Aosta in Italy and onto Breuil-Cervina for lunch overlooking the Matterhorn. The weather forecast looked to be ok, and with Mark and Sev, Sue and I, Brian, Tim and David all saying they were coming, I was looking forward to a decent days ride.

    We planned to meet at 08.30-09.00 at La Cote services, and arriving there at 08.35 I saw Brians Panigale and Tims GS already parked up, and the twin headlights that had been gaining on us as we approached the services, turned out to be David and his recently purchased Triumph GT1050.

    I’d had a missed call from Tim before I left, and when we joined him and Brian in the restaurant upstairs, he asked me if I knew that the Grand St Bernard was closed due to a landslide? Some quick thinking and a couple of options thrown out to the guys, led to a decision being made to head to the Alps instead. Mark arrived sans Sev (who was feeling unwell) his customary 5 minutes late (he’ll claim 4), so we shared the new plan with him and we were off, 15 minutes later than planned, but hey, with the long nights these days we weren’t in a big rush.

    We stopped at Brig for the first of many petrol stops for Brian and his thirsty Panigale. It was amazing how much noise Brians bike makes! Inside the many tunnels en route the sound of the exhaust reverberated like a jackhammer and you could feel the vibrations though your body. It was so loud you couldn’t even hear your own bikes engine! How he managed to retain any sense of hearing after a day on it I’ll never know! Still, after a coffee and comfort stop at the adjacent McDonalds we were off again, through the quaintly named town of Bitsch, and into the start of the countryside leading to Gletsch and the mountains.

    The nearer we got to Gletsch the more variable the weather became. Roads were sometimes soaked from earlier showers, and from time to time we passed through others, a trend which was to repeat itself throughout the whole day. After a great run into Gletsch (always love that bit of road) it was up the 2431m Furkapass and a chance to enjoy some dry roads.

    Through paved tunnel

    View the other side looking forward to the Grimselpass

    I’d abdicated my usual leaders role for part of the day to film the others. I’ve 20+ films on Youtube featuring some great roads, but always with a forward facing camera and no other riders with me, so today was a chance to film something different.

    (The film will be posted on YouTube soon entitled “A rainy July Sunday”)

    Mark led part of the way until Brian decided to stretch the legs of his Pani and blasted past. Two up and on a bike weighing at least 100kgs more than his, I did my best to keep up and film. Stopping at the top after the usual brisk run up, it was then onwards towards Andermat and low level cloud and mist.

    Clouds ahead

    About to enter the clouds!

    The roads quickly became sodden, the drop offs suddenly more worrying, as visibility and speeds were reduced.

    Check the road dropping away to the right

    Time had marched on a little faster than I’d hoped, so we decided to have lunch at the Aurora hotel in Andermat, and were able to sit outside in the sun and relax for a while, hoping that the weather forecast Tim was looking at indicating more showers, would pass us by.

    Pictured left to right, Sue, Mark, Brian, Tim and David

    Out of Andermat then, through the tunnels down towards Wassen

    and the turn off for the 2324m Sustenpass.

    This pass is one of my all time favourites, but normally I ride it in the opposite direction, so today would make an interesting change, and its true, things seemed completely different.

    Stuck behind a group of Italians for a while, Brian David and I got past them leaving Mark and Tim stuck behind. As we got higher the roads suddenly became damp, and we hit the cloud/rain again.

    Brian was doing a good job leading, especially given his tyres don’t have much tread on the edges, but he at least had a rain mode and traction control to assist him.

    As we entered the tunnel at the top of the pass I decided now would be a good time to stop and don my waterproof top, as by now the rain was pretty heavy,

    Setting off a few minutes later after Tim and Mark had gone by, I passed David at the side of the road also putting his wet gear on.

    The lower slopes of the Susten which are so enjoyable going up were quite frankly a pain going down in the wet. Tight bends and wet roads don’t make for much fun, but once down in Innerkirchen the roads were drier and only moderately wet, as we set off towards Interlaken. A few kms before we got there, Brian came alongside indicating he needed petrol, so after dialling in a search for nearby petrol stations into the GPS, we dived off to the closest one 6kms away.

    After a few kms of main road we turned off towards Zweisimmen and some interesting cross country stuff, the best bit unfortunately spoiled by having to follow a couple of cars and a camper van. We turned off to join the 1509m Jaunpass where we stopped for a hot drink and the last stop of the day (except for Brian who needed yet another petrol stop again later!).

    Wet roads beckoned yet again as Mark led the group down towards Bulle and Gruyeres.

    Cross country towards Chateau D’Oex, and finally the rain had got to Brian. Clad in leather jacket and bike trousers rather than waterproofs, he’d braved the rain all day, but coming alongside at some traffic lights in heavy rain he forlornly asked “whats the quickest way out of here?”, and was clearly disappointed to be told “We’re going the quickest way”.

    The final pass of the day the 1445m Col des Mosses was probably a welcome sight for all as a wet and by now tiring group knew that at its end was Aigle and the autoroute home. Once on the autoroute Brian showed how keen he was to get home and he and I left the group as we headed back home, mindful of course of the many Swiss radars! Near Aubonne Tim turned off for home and Brian for yet another petrol stop. David parted company with Mark and I near the airport and we rode the final 5 kms home.

    Final stats were 635kms and 8 hours 02mins moving time.

    The day had been long, but we’d ridden several passes, got wet, but had fun. All in all not a bad day considering it wasn’t the route we were planning to ride. Just goes to show when the Alps are in your backyard there’s always somewhere to go!

    N.B   As it was so wet there was little chance to stop and take photos, so all bar two in this report are screen shots taken from film shot from my on bike camera