Travel Through Austria, Germany, Belgium and France on a Harley-Davidson

By Peter & Kay Forwood

Austria, Germany, Belgium and France on a Harley (15/6/10 - 23/6/10)
Distance 1682 km (568566 km to 570248 km)

This is part of the sixteenth section of our around the world trip.
Complete Trip Overview & Map

Coming from Slovenia or read our previous visit to Germany  

15/6/10 We chose to avoid the motorways, (Austria has a vignette system of paying that doesn't favour short term use of their toll roads), and with the weather fine but cloudy, we travelled through Lienz and over the pass to Kitzbuhel before leaving Austria for Germany near Kufstein. At one rest stop we did an ohm meter test on the alternator/stator, which showed a dead short, so the 50 Euro re-winding of the unit that we'd had done in Montenegro, when the unit first failed, obviously wasn't worth the expense. Entered Munich in drizzle, and with a visit to the Harley-Davidson dealer in the city, we managed to purchase a new stator. As our motorcycle is old, and there are many new Harley dealers, who only stock new parts, we try to locate older dealers, ones that originally sold our model of motorcycle, and are more likely to repair and carry spares for them. It is a couple of hours job to replace the stator, so instead of opening up the primary we decided to carry the spare tillSome of the GS Challenge sections were muddy, and this was just the registration area the engine is replaced in a couple of weeks time, or about 1800 km's. With the car battery we use, carried in a pannier, it should only need a couple of charges, so we purchased a small trickle charger and headed out to the north of Munich, with it still drizzling, to our accommodation at the Polo Ranch, a new accommodation place near the airport.

16/6/10 It seems we are carrying an increasing list of items that need repairing on the motorcycle, mostly ones that will be fixed when the new engine is installed, like the primary to engine oil seal and now the stator. It rained all day and we stayed in the same accommodation again tonight, taking advantage to trickle charge the battery.

17/6/10 This global warming really seems to be stuffing up Europe's weather! It is all the talk! The sun has become invisible due to cloud! Drizzle rain from Munich to Stuttgart and on to the Touratech Rally in Niedereschach to the south, and because of the weather we stayed on the freeway the whole distance, stopping only to fuel the motorcycle's tank and empty ours. The day clearedI trialed the Husqvarna 310 at Touratech to patchy cloud late afternoon and as we set the tent it was sunny, so taking advantage of the good weather we decided to install the stator and repair the oil seal leak. It appears the seal itself was not leaking but had moved out from its housing, allowing oil to move around the seal. We have had this problem before with the original engine, and simply knocked the seal back into place and epoxy glued it there. The Montenegrin repaired stator had overheated and showed signs of damage. With jobs done we mingled with the 160 riders here for the BMW GS Challenge, run in conjunction with BMW and Touratech.

18/6/10 Constant rain overnight cleared to a cloudy morning as "The Challenge" got underway at 9 am, but the rain had made the event more exciting for spectators, more challenging for participants, the mud. After spending part of the day trying out the newish BMW 450 on the purpose built track at Touratech and also the Husqvarna 310, my first dirt bike riding in a long time, I was really impressed with the Husqvarna. Its one finger clutch and brake, smooth but attentive response to any twitching of the throttle reallyA bit hard going for some of the bigger bikes made getting back on a dirt bike comfortable. I found I was pretty heavy handed on all the controls though, a hangover from the H-D which requires real rider action to get any response. Later in the evening I took an hours riding course on the same track and on the Husqvarna 310, managing to raise my skill level considerably under tuition. Amazingly BMW and Touratech provided the motorcycles and instruction for anyone, with a license, free of charge over the three days of the event, not to mention free camping, and good, not gouging prices for beer and food, a great set up. We also managed to get to one of the more challenging off road sections of the GS Challenge later in the day when the riders were tired and their bikes hard worn. The weight of the motorcycles weighed heavily, their ground clearance, and of course the riders skills, the real telling points in the deep mud and mounds the riders were required to complete. Seven laps of each section, for maximum points. Many riders were novice, novice to the event and even novice to this type of riding, which isn't easily available in Europe, and their need for learning skills was shown in the many groundings, dropping and bogging of motorcycles compared with the better riders, and some brilliant riders,A free bike to ride and free instruction, can't do better than that who relatively easily covered the course. The top twenty riders, after another grueling day tomorrow, ride a set, trials type track, on a supplied BMW 800, leveling the playing field for the finals. The top three riders are all expense paid to compete in the South African world GS challenge later in the year, so there was plenty of reason to ride hard.

19/6/10 After a clear evening yesterday it rained all morning making some of the off road sections almost impossible for the less skilled riders. There were also many difficulties for the finalists on the trials type track and dropping the 800 GS motorcycle occurred often. It was almost dark when the last rider finished and with a long few days ahead of us we departed to the tent soon after. Charlie Boorman, of Long Way Round and Down fame put in a celebrity appearance, shaking hands and chatting, likely part of his sponsorship arrangements. Our old friend, length of time not age, Doris Wiedermann, also put in an appearance, and it was great to catch up.

20/6/10 We were up and off early, sunny weather, through the Black Forest to Ettenheim to Dietmar's place to collect a carby we'd had air freighted into GermanyCrossing logs, one of the most challenging parts of the finals for our new engine. Unfortunately Dietmar had almost as much difficulty clearing German customs for our carby as he did clearing parts flown into India on his world trip some years back. As we had owned the carby for some years we didn't have an invoice, so customs couldn't calculate what VAT duty was payable. Ultimately it was just a 15 Euro charge, hardly worth the officer's time, or the phone calls to sort out the problem. It was then a ride to Mainz, to Werner and Erika's place for an evening of catchup. They have both recently retired, Harley riders, early retirement, and are still sorting out a new life direction.

21/6/10 After a lovely breakfast, as always at this great house, it was on the move again, this time across Germany to Belgium and a return visit to Savina and Jean-Francois' lovely home, shared with their four children. The road was dry and the riding, although on motorways, reasonably comfortable with the motorcycle running well. Savina, who we first met in India, has been back to that diverse country since our last visit and has convinced Jean-Francois to accompany her to Sri Lanka later this year, a first for him. A lovely warm family dinner with the family seated in their new conservatory, with views over their two hectare property in the leafy Brussels suburbs.

22/6/10 With a five day rally in the UK starting tomorrow we left for the shortish ride to Dunkirk and to a Formula 1 hotel for some time to ourselves and to practice our rally slide show presentation. Kay generally takes a side seat in these presentations, while I do most of the talking. Neither of us are overly comfortable with talking in front of an audience and the larger the audience the more butterflies produced. It has been a year since we did a talk, the same rally, same time last year, and even though we are doing the same presentation this year it needs to be mentally reviewed. Some presenters rely on stories, some on humour, some on timing, some on their photo quality to enthrall the audience, where as we just throw up a lot of photos and hope they are in awe of the mileage and places visited.

23/6/10 It is a well worn path to and from the UK now. for the cheapest fares and today we are, two people and a motorcycle, on the ferry for less than 20 Euro, by late morning.  

Move with us to the United Kingdom or go to our next visit to Germany




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