Adam Hutchinson - Europe on a Scooter
There I was... in Tarifa, Spain. The southernmost point of Europe. It was 35 degrees, and I'd just arrived from winter in my home country New Zealand. Through a genious sales manager at Yamaha NZ, I was able to secure a new Yamaha Jog R that could handle the challenge of all the problems that could lay ahead of this European Odyssey from hot running temperatures to professional thieves. As my mechanical knowledge was limited to putting air in the tyre and kick boxing skills non-existent, I needed such comfort.
Tarifa is so far south you can even see Africa. I'd left the planning of the route to the 20-hour flight, but, once on board I discovered more than 80 movies to choose from, so I was kept pretty busy with them. I had a few days to sort everything out and buy the essentials. I left taking the 'straight up the guts' approach, but was soon to discover I'd be climbing mountains at 10 km/hr.
That would have got me to Denmark in about six months - too late for my university exchange that was due to start in just four weeks - so I decided to take the flatter Mediterranean route through Spain and southern France. It wasn't a bad move in the end, as I found myself passing golden beaches where I'd spend the hot afternoon.
The weather changed as soon as I hit the French Alps where I found myself without wet weather gear and stranded, due to the torrential rain, in a mountain town with a population of 4000.
After three days of being soaked and with a flattie (puncture) that no-one could fix, I put a can of silicon tyre filler in the tyre and, at the first sign of a break in the weather, I took off to the next biggest town, about 40 kilometres away, where I bought the coolest ever one-piece suit, complete with an oversized waist belt buckle.
I covered my gear in rubbish bags and made my way through Switzerland where I found myself illegally on the autobahn, at peak traffic and stranded on the wrong side of a two-lane exit and needing to cross it.
I waited for the smallest of gaps for 10 minutes and hooned across to the barrage of tooting and screaming. In desperate need of some peace and quiet, I got off that highway at the next possible exit and set up camp next to a lake.
I crossed into Northern France, the beautiful Luxembourg and onto Belgium where I figured out that motorbike riders thank people by putting their leg out.
On the few times a car was slow enough to pass, I tried this greeting. I almost lost my jandal.
Then it was on through the Netherlands, where I discovered he wasn't meant to be on the roads with my little Yamaha and he had to share the cycle paths.
Before too long, though, I somehow found myself back on the highway. With cars tooting and people looking in their rear vision mirrors, I knew I was in the wrong. But when a couple of highway patrol bikes drove past in the opposite direction and signalled me to stop I knew I was in trouble.
So now I became a fugitive, fleeing the law at top speed - about 55kmph.
I kept riding and took the next exit, knowing they had to ride about three kilometres back to cross the barrier, and I hid behind a petrol station.
Taking more care with my route, I crossed through Germany and finally into Denmark, which was in the middle of the hay-making season.
Not only did my WW2 pilot goggles look incredibly bad, they served a purpose of keeping the dust out. Finally, I reached Skagen, where the sandy point of Denmark drops into the ocean with the final odometer reading of 5180 kilometres. It had taken me just under three weeks, and with a tan that could have only been from an undersized leather jacket, I started my studies to the odd looks of fellow students.
A FEW STATISTICS:
Biggest riding day-14 1/2 hours, 475 kms
Average Speed- 55 kms/hr
Total weight carried-95 kgs
Friendliest drivers-France . No joke!
Best roads to ride on ... Switzerland
Total punctures 7
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