October 09, 2013 GMT
Tracey, my boss at the Harley Davidson dealership where I work part time, mentioned a ride that would take place in conjunction with the Harley Davidson 110th Anniversary festivities in Taiwan. Since she told me about it, I was sure she couldn’t say “no” to a couple of weeks off work for another adventure, so I called Corey (my erstwhile partner in previous adventures)
and asked him if he might be interested. He immediately said “I’m in”. He reminded me that his son has lived in Taipei for a couple of years and neither he nor his wife had been over there to visit, so they were both in. It turned out that his son would also join the group for the ride. This was going to be different than the other rides that Corey and I had done in that it was a group tour, complete with tour guide, a following bus to carry our stuff, prearranged hotels, prearranged meals, and pre-defined routes. It was also going to be part of the 4th Anniversary of the Taiwan Grand Riders Tour (old guys on scooters). Look in here to see more about the 2012 tour if you are interested. Grand Riders Taiwan 2012
What the heck, Corey and I both qualified as “old guy” riders so why not join up? Corey’s wife Danusia and their son, Reider would just have to fake it. :=) The ride would also end at Kaohsiung, Taiwan as part of the Harley-Davidson/Taiwan H.O.G. Chapter 110th Anniversary Bikertopia event.
As I said, a bit different kind of ride than our usual adventure but since Harley-Davidson Taiwan was willing to supply us all with Harley’s (gratis) for two weeks, it seemed like a good deal. 12 of us met at the airport and headed west to Taipei. From Taipei, we rode the High Speed Railway (HSR)
south to Kaohsiung. The railway is aptly named since we were traveling 180 MPH most of the way. This one wasn't that fast.
We converged on the Harley Dealer where we took 12 of the 15 bikes he had on the floor (I managed to get a brand new Road Glide)
and rode away (trusting guy). The 12 of us (I know there are 13 in picture, the guy to my left was one of the route leaders)
met up with the Taiwan Grand Riders
and participated in several media events.
Seemed like there was ALWAYS a camera in our faces.
We also managed a little sightseeing.
Finally finished with the mandatory publicity stuff, we were able to take off on our own for a little more adventurous riding in the mountains of eastern Taiwan. Western/southern Taiwan in fairly well built up with lots of small towns right next to each other which meant riding from stop light to stop light so the mountains were looking good to us and hopefully the Harley’s could cool down.
Riding in the mountains, around the lakes and along the beach was MUCH better than the “scooter combat” riding in the cities. Nice lakes,
and local guides
made us almost forget the first few days of the media blitz. We finally arrived back in Kaohsiung, rested, relaxed and ready to party for a couple of days at the Bikertopia event.
Nursing our hangovers, we turned in the Harley’s, (thank you very much), got on the train and headed back to Taipei for a little more sightseeing
and then a flight back to LA.
There are a lot more pictures here if you're interested. Picture Gallery
Thanks for riding along on another adventure!
Posted by rickmcd at 09:35 PM
July 23, 2011 GMT
Back Home Again
After riding in 13 countries and involuntarily visiting another (I’ll explain) in mostly good weather (fog and wet at Nordkapp, fog at Timmeljoch Pass, and some rain getting back to Frankfurt) but otherwise sun and warm, we made it back home to Southern California. In order, we rode in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland (helped the economy there by paying a traffic ticket), Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. 5800 miles of riding gave us more scenery than we could imagine. Since I had a GPS for the entire trip and it was keeping tabs on us, I have a visual track of the route. Here is a large scale look at the actual route in the GPS.
It matches fairly closely to the planned route
but we added the area in the Alps since we had a bit more time than planned. This picture of the Stilvio Pass
shows a portion of the switchback road but there was much more of it than that as this enlarged look at the GPS track shows.
All in all it was an EXCELLENT adventure and another “ride of a lifetime”. It is good to be back to the old routines (especially the naps in the afternoon)! :=) Oh, almost forgot the involuntarily visited country. Our plane out of Frankfurt had some fuel delivery problems and had to land in Iceland on the way to Houston. Still didn’t have enough fuel to make it to Houston so we landed again in Newark, New Jersey. Just a little more excitement to add to an already exciting trip.
All the pictures are here if you like!
Stay tuned for further adventures. I need to go to South Africa to complete the “Four Corners of the Globe by Road Tour”.
Rick (glad to be home again).
Posted by rickmcd at 10:38 PM
July 18, 2011 GMT
Stilvio Pass and Beyond
As I said, the Mountain Passes god gives and takes away. He/She must have been feeling bad about our near death experience on Timmeljoch yesterday as we had an almost perfect day for one of the most famous passes in the Italian Alps, Stilvio and then later and little lower Ligano. Here is what we started out with on the way up.
Beautiful scenery, warm weather, and curvy roads.
At the top it was still nice and we were still considering ourselves incredibly lucky. From the top the GPS said that the village of Bormio (our next planned stop) was 4 miles away (in a straight line) BUT 11 miles by road and here is why.
NO STRAIGHT ROADS WITHIN A HUNDRED MILES! :=)
Made it over that pass plus another, Ligano
and down into Switzerland. Mother Nature decided to show that she was still in charge so we rode in the rain and cold the rest of the afternoon. Thank goodness for the Widder electric clothing. We are now turning north for a little side tour thru the Black Forest and toward Frankfurt.
More pictures here if you like.
Rick (all Heidi’d out) :=)
Posted by rickmcd at 04:18 PM
July 17, 2011 GMT
More Alpine Passes
The Mountain Gods give and they also take away. They gave us a perfect day to ride the Grossglockner Pass in Austria but they got even when we tried to ride the Timmeljoch Pass. It was beautiful
right up till just before the top. The we stared DEATH square in the face with one of the curviest roads and near ZERO visibility. The rain, fog, clouds and road contributed to one of the most stressful rides (don’t know about Corey) I have ever done. It was the best scenery that we have NEVER seen. :=) Major switchbacks in in these conditions is NOT fun. After we got down a ways the fog lifted, and THIS is what we were riding WITH NO VISIBILITY!!
I told Corey that he had my undying admiration for leading us thru that. There were some GREAT views when we got out of the fog. Here you can see some of the switchbacks closer to the bottom.
Tomorrow we will try Stilvio Pass and another in northern Italy (IF IT IS NOT FOGGY).
Rick (glad to be alive).
Posted by rickmcd at 03:46 PM
July 16, 2011 GMT
We blew out of Prague heading south with a general idea that we would explore some of the Austrian and Swiss Alps. From Prague we rode into the very northeast corner of Germany, then into Austria, then into Germany (again) and back into Austria. Some very nice roads
and LOTS of quaint villages along the way.
After a bit of research we headed for a village named Zell am See in Austria.
It is the jumping off point for some of the best motorcycle roads around and many of the Alpine passes that we were looking for. Unfortunately, we arrived in Zell in a little rain and right away met a fellow that said he had been waiting 3 days for the fog and rain to clear up so he could ride the pass. It wasn’t looking good for us as we couldn’t even see the tops of the mountains. In the morning, the nice lady at the reception asked if we were riding the pass. We said yes, but the clouds and fog had us worried. She immediately got on the internet and called up some real time web cams and said “It is a PERFECT day to ride the pass”. Sun and warm. We must have been good boys to get such a break. Many motorcyclists have said that you haven’t really ridden the Alps unless you have ridden Grossglockner Pass. Well, we rode it and did it in PERFECT weather. What Luck. It took us 4 hours to go 20 miles because we stopped so many time for pictures and such. Again I’ll let you decide which you think are best but here are some of my favorites.
Tomorrow we will head past Innsbruck and then on to St Moritz looking for more perfect weather and mountain passes. Wish us luck!
Many more pictures here if you like.
Rick (OD'ing on Mountain scenery)
Posted by rickmcd at 05:13 PM