GERMANY TO AUSTRIA - COUNTRY NUMBER 6
This is the second day of riding on the European motorcycle tour Austria – It is the story of 3 ex soldiers who travelled 5,500 miles on a journey to Asia and back again.
They conquered 20 Countries in 20 Days and had a number of perils along the way to deal with.
Day 2 - Emsdetten to Kufstein (Germany to Austria)
The Days Events - European motorcycle tour Austria
On the first morning with us all together for the first leg of our European motorcycle tour Austria. The alarm wasn’t really needed as Ginge made enough noise to wake the dead, it was his first day after all, and he was just as excited to get going as we were yesterday.
We were all up before 05:45 am, showered and changed ready for a very healthy breakfast along with a strong coffee, this would be copied for the rest of the trip (the coffee and not the healthy breakfast). Fruit, yogurt and a sprinkling of muesli filled a small gap as we’d eaten late the night before. The bikes were already packed from the previous evening so we were all ready pretty quickly.
Riding in Germany
Around 06:30 am bikes were ready to go, we started up and were heading off as the ‘SOC’s Tour’ that had been in the planning for over a year. It was a quick start by Ginge as it was his first day.
He took off like a rat out of an aqueduct! It didn’t last very long though as we were soon into traffic and had to reduce the pace. The motorways were still pretty slow going in rush hour but only have two lanes and not three. All the same they were still moving better than ours do at this time in the morning. Ginge was soon at a respectable pace and slowed it down to a steady 85 mph, which is 130-140 kph on his German BMW R1200GS speedo.
Mike stuck himself at the back and very soon it became apparent he was being left behind. He really wasn’t too happy at the higher speed and slowly drifted further back as we crunched up the miles. We continued at a steady pace as we had a long way to go and he would catch up regularly but had to really launch his bike to higher speeds, quite aggressively to get back in touch.
His lack of experience was showing early on but I had expected this to happen because of the previous day’s ride to Germany. I was pretty sure he really didn’t have any concept of big miles and had wanted frequent stops the day before. Riding big mileage isn’t easy for everyone but you certainly cannot take a leisurely approach when you have big miles to do, as there are invariably problems to deal with – as we’d find out.
Mike was going to get tired very quickly playing catch up all the time, as dropping off and then having to ride faster to get back to the bikes ahead is extremely hard work and demanding. One of the reasons people find staying with bikes in front of them difficult, is because they listen to music and this interferes with their concentration levels as they get lost in the music they are listening to.
It is also a bit of a macho thing, not to be honest and say you are not experienced enough to ride in a certain way. Riders cannot maintain this kind of riding for prolonged periods of time, as it is exhausting. At this point in time we were not sure why he kept dropping off!
Bird strike at 110 mph
On one occasion, about half way down through Germany, Mike had dropped off so far that we couldn’t see him, so we pulled over into a service station to find out what was wrong – was it him or his bike? He was trailing behind this time because he’d
had a bird strike which had almost knocked him off the bike, broken the peak off his helmet, the visor had gone and the brand new Scala Radio comms system had snapped off and disappeared – suffice to say there is one less eagle flying around central Germany.
Mike reckoned his speed was in the region of at least 110 mph, as he was trying to close the gap between us when it happened. I’d seen the bird in question flying about 50 meters above us, when we’d passed the impact zone a few minutes earlier.
We pulled in and stopped at the next ‘rastplatz’ (German service station). A chap in a car said that our colleague had stopped on the hard shoulder further back. So we waited at the exit for Mike to show up. When he arrived we moved into the parking area for Mike to tell us about his experience. It was then that he commented that he was unhappy with the pace we were riding, as he couldn’t keep up.
We explained that by dropping off and slowing down all the time, it created a concertina effect and made the gaps very big. The problem is that it makes you have to ride much faster than those you are trying to catch up to and unfortunately this makes you much more fatigued, as you ride harder trying to catch up all the time. It also doesn’t help when they are listening to music, it is a huge distraction and creates problems when riding in a group.
After that Ginge was quite happy to let me do the work to help Mike ‘keep up to speed’. We were going to adopt a riding formation where each of us would ride in a certain position and have a role to play to help keep tighter together. I continued to try to help Mike throughout the tour, as he was definitely the weaker rider and probably not really up for this type of travelling on a motorcycle.
Hopefully though, the next 3 weeks of ‘free advanced motorcycle training’ would see him riding better in the future. After all riding at a steady 140 kph, is not very quick for an almost brand new GSA, time would tell!
He got a new dark visor put on his helmet and after a coffee and a quick chill out we were off again heading south. I tried to keep him in position but this was not an easy thing to do (in fact it was very difficult) and it just wasn’t happening! He was reluctant to fit in to start with but eventually got into formation and found keeping together as rider number 2 easier, but losing concentration was his biggest fault and created problems for him.
Riding through central Germany
We headed south through the industrial belt of Dortmund, down towards Kassel on the Route 44 and then towards Würzburg on the Route 7, before picking up signs for Munich and then onto the Route 9.
The journey south towards Munich had some very difficult riding conditions at times, high wind, heavy rain and excessive spray from the road surface due to standing water. The road was carved out through and between huge forests. It was a beautiful sight to see and the open plains of crops and arable land was vast and unexpected, it was just like Spain for many miles as we rode south.
A real highlight was the hop farms, a smell very similar to cannabis (apparently) and I had been told that the German farmers in this area were the biggest hop growers in Europe. It really is an amazing country, clean and well presented with everything looking perfect and in its place. (read more…)