Adam Hutchinson - Europe on a Scooter
There I was... in Tarifa, Spain. The southernmost point of Europe and within sight of Africa. It was 35 degrees, and I was fresh off the plane leaving behind a cold winter in the South Island of New Zealand. Through a supportive sales manager at Yamaha NZ, I was able to secure a new 50cc Yamaha Jog R on arrival that could handle this European Odyssey scooter mission from Spain to Denmark, arriving in time for my University exchange in Copenhagen.
Earlier that year, I'd completed a similar trip the length of New Zealand. Perhaps a little naive, I'd decided to buy a Eurpoe Road map upon arrival and choose a route at random. Heading north from Tarifa, I found myself climbing mountains at 5-10kms per hour.
That would have got me to Denmark in about six months - 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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