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German International 2016- The Trip


Third time lucky, that's what I was hoping for as the last two years, Italy and Prescott Hill, were both rather wet trips.  Ever the optimist Germany was going to be great.  This year I took my 1957 350cc Royal Enfield Clipper, although it was the newest of the bikes in the group it was more in keeping with my fellow travelers rides.
This year's happy band of bikers, ten in total, were myself, Anita and Pete, Bill and Lorraine Herbert, Martyn Bratby, Snowy Ingles, Linda Jeffrey and Phil Clarke and Jo who, due to travelling on different trains and a big queue at the Belgium border, joined us at the first campsite.
Friday 22nd
Left home (Peacehaven) at 11:45 arriving at Molash just before 14:00, after a very pleasant ride through the Sussex and Kent countryside, to be met by Pete and Snowy with a cup of tea and a sandwich.  The rest of my fellow travelers arrived at various times during the afternoon and by 18:00 everyone was there.  While sitting in the garden, drinking and chatting, it was decided that a hair cutting session was in order as there were one or two hairy bikers, so Lorraine set about tidying them up.  This was followed by the Indian rally tradition of thumb nail painting, for the chaps, now we're all ready for our big adventure.
Saturday 23rd
Showered, breakfasted and bikes all lined up outside ready for the off by 08:00. Unfortunately according to the traffic reports there is a 90 minute delay at the tunnel check-in and a long queue on the motorway so it was decided to leave shortly, just in case.  We left at 09:10 arriving at the end of the check-in queue at 09:45.  On the way we, the bikers, rode along the middle of the lanes passing loads of slow moving/queuing traffic on the motorway.  Unfortunately for Bill and Lorraine in the van the journey was a bit longer.  As it happened we caught an earlier train than the one we booked which meant we were at the Auchan in Dunkerque by 13:20, where Bill and Lorraine caught us up, well in time for some lunch and to stock up on beers and wines for the trip.  The next stop was Adinkerke, a compulsory stop for the smokers!  Set off for the first campsite, near Ypres (that's wipers for the uninitiated😊), around 15:00.  At our next stop, for fuel, Phil and Jo texted to say they were 30 miles behind us and stuck in a queue at the Belgium border, and to save time, would go directly to the campsite. We had all arrived and were  camped up, drinking and waiting for dinner, just after 19:00 after which we tried some of Phil’s  'special Polish spirit' which he brought with him which was very strong and rather moreish.  End of another perfect day!
Sunday 24th
Up at 06:20, this is the earliest I've been up on a Sunday for a long time (retirement is a wonderful thing).  I forgot the joys of living in a tent, and the cold water running off the inside of the tent all down your back when you brush against it, certainly wakes you up in the morning.  Breakfasted and all packed up ready for todays ride by 09:40, sun shining and warming up nicely.  Eventually left just before 10:00am, after struggling for several minutes to get the barrier to open.  This was a municipal campsite and was reasonably cheap at €5.00 each with nice clean facilities.  The sun was shining and the day was warning up nicely as we rode along passing through a place I thought was called Warm Breaches, ironic I thought as I was getting that way myself, however I misread the sign it was actually called Wambrechies ( well I was only half paying attention at the time).  Anyway, further down the road at Forest-sur-Marque the sat nav thought it would be great fun to send us along one of the cobbliest of cobbled roads I have ever seen.   After what seemed like an eternity, riding along in first gear, the lead party ended up at Baisieux where we waited for the two vans and three bikes to catch us up.  However it transpired that Phil's carburetor apparently fell apart somewhere along the way and had to be loaded into his van, and Pete's bike developed a misfire but he made it to the end.  After a short intermission, to reassemble Phil's carb and fix Pete's Harley, all's well and we set off to find some lunch.  Sat outside a cafe in Tournai with drinks, burger and chips, courtesy of Phil, and passed a very pleasant hour.  The town was quite busy with loads of people sitting outside cafes eating, drinking and enjoying the sunshine.  On the way to the campsite Bill's bike overheated, and started to seize, so he loaded into a van so we could continue while it cooled down.  At our next fuel stop Snowy bought us all an ice cream, after which followed several minutes of frantic kicking to get his bike started again.  Arrived at the campsite on the outskirts of Mauberge around 17:30 and while checking in we spoke to a journalist from Newcastle who was researching the WW2 tunnelers in this area.  After dinner Bill got his bike going again with aid of a little redex.
Monday 25th
Up at 06:20 this morning, weather cloudy, looks like it might rain.  Everyone up, breakfasted and packing up at 09:00, and the rains just started, not too heavy though.  Bill's having a few problems starting his bike, but after a new set of points and fixing the condensor connection and re-timing it, all's well and we set off on todays ride just before 11:00.  Stopped for lunch at 12:30 at a cafe in the picturesque Belgium village of Treignes.  Just as we were about to set off the rain started again so we adjourned back to the cafe to wait for it to stop.  By 14:00 the rain had all but stopped but as we were getting ready to go we discovered that Bill's van had thrown a brake pad which was sitting by the front wheel.  Luckily the people in the cafe said there was a man at the top end of the village who used to run a garage and, after a while allowing for the language barrier, he managed to order a new set of pads to be delivered to him the next day.  As the campsite we were heading for was still a couple of hours away we stayed at a site which he directed us to which was only a short ride in the next village.  Phil and Pete between them got the van going and Phil drove it gently the 5kms to the campsite in Vireux-Molhain.  There was a supermarket nearby so we brought some provisions while Phil and Pete stripped the front brakes ready for the new pads.  Martyn got chatting to a Dutchman camping there who lent him a fishing rod to try his luck in the river that ran along the site, but after several hours he finally admitted defeat and gave up.  There was a large group of kids camping here, looked like a school party or scouts, with several adults in charge.  They were making a good bit of noise all evening till quite late, but were all fairly subdued in the morning looking a bit tired while eating their breakfast.  This was also a municipal campsite but it was not up to the standard of the previous site but at €3.50 each you get what you pay for!
Tuesday 26th
Up just after 06:00 cloudy start to the day but dry so far.  After breakfast Anita, Martyn, Bill, Snowy and me set off for the next site leaving the others to wait for the man to bring the pads.  Stopped after a couple of hours for a comfort break and lunch, spoke too soon about the weather, it's raining and we’re getting wet, eventually reaching the campsite at Clervaux in Luxembourg, just before 14:00, in the sunshine.  Very nice site with plenty of facilities and a swimming pool which was reflected in the price.  The others arrived around 16:00, set up camp and went for a walk around the town before dinner.  Brian and Jackie (and dog) were already at the site when we arrived, they were taking the holiday route to the rally as well.  There was a fellow camper here with an Airstream and a Buick who got chatting to us as he was interested in the bikes.
Wednesday 27th
Up at 05:45 today, we need to leave earlier as we have nearly 100 miles to get to our next campsite.  Cloudy and misty start as we are up in the mountains but the sun was shining and it was warming up by the time we set off.  The site owner asked if he could take some photos before we left so we lined the bikes up in front of the wall by the pool and smiled for the camera's as several of the other campers were there with their cameras as well.
After a couple of fuel stops, and a visit to Lidl to stock up on provisions, we arrived at the campsite in Koblenz at 14:45.  At check-in there was some confusion over the dates, they said we'd booked for last month, but managed to sort it out and we set up camp at the far end of the site.  Very picturesque place right on the junction of the Rhine and Moselle rivers (that's what Koblenz means) with a cable car over the river to a fortress overlooking the town which Phil, Jo, Martyn, Loraine and me took, after a short ferry ride across the Rhine, and had a very pleasant afternoon looking around.  In the evening we all ate outside in the on-site restaurant where no expense had been spared on the tables and benches, all being made out of old pallets.  The meal however did not reflect the surroundings and was delicious.  We walked down to the river after diner and had a chat with a couple of fellow brits in a motorhome with one or two of our group eventually getting back to camp feeling 'very happy’!
Thursday 28th
Up early again this morning, bit noisy through the night what with all the boats going up and down the river and the trains on the other side.  Bit of a cloudy start to the day and we set off at 10:00 after Martyn decided to turn the petrol on after several minutes of kicking.  Phil wanted to go to an Ikea type store in the town to look for some furniture for his new conservatory however his sat nav was 'having a moment' but we did manage to find it after a couple of round turns.   Our next stop was in an Aldi car park so Phil and Anita could synchronize their sat navs as they seemed to be at odds with each other and were trying to send us in two difference directions, and oh joy it's just started to rain. By 15:00 it started chucking it down so we stopped at a petrol station for a while waiting for it to stop.  After half an hour or so it had slowed to a downpour so we donned our wet weather gear and headed for the rally site, arriving just after 16:00.  There were several ralliers already there and the sun was trying to break through as we set up camp near the entrance, at the top of the hill as it was rather wet and boggy down towards the main area at the bottom.  Walked down to the main arena around 19:00, meeting several old friends on the way, and registered at the rally office.  While using one of the toilets I nearly got locked in as there was a problem with the water supply and one of the German helpers turned the lights off and was about to lock the door before I made my presence known, quite loudly.  There was a lot of beer drinking going on which lasted well into the small hours, everyone was enjoying themselves!

Photo Gallery

Friday 29th - Rally Day 1
Had a lay-in this morning, didn't get up till 06:50. Plenty of rain throughout the night and the drip drip drip on the plastic groundsheet kept waking me up.  Used the 'gents' in the bushes by the entrance as it was a lot closer than walking all the way to the bottom, unfortunately for the ladies, there was no such facility. Riding here yesterday Bill's bike was still getting a bit hot and, after a good amount of looking at, it was decided that the exhaust might be to blame.  This was rectified by several minutes of hammering a bar through the baffles which appeared to fix the problem.  Went down for lunch, very nice Bratwurst and chips, from one of the concession stands then sat around drinking and making some new friends. We went back for dinner, which was served in the big dining room, around 19:00 and what at first appeared to be soup and a roll turned out to be a very tasty stew served in a bowl that held quite a bit more than it looked.  Afterwards there was a one man band on a combination, set up outside, with an amplifier, drums and cymbals who 'silvered up' as an automaton and played Rock n Roll and Blues, he was very good.  At the back of the stage the previous German Rally in 2005 was being screened and there was a bit of an emotional moment when Tony Jeffrey rode passed.  Finally got to bed at 01:00. The only slight downer of the day was the weather, it could have been a bit drier.
Saturday 30th - Rally Day 2
Had a right lay-in didn't get up till 07:30 today and getting blinded by the sun this morning, that makes a change😊.  Everyone up getting sorted for the ride out later, all except for Martyn who had a really good night last night and didn't get to bed till turned 03:00 this morning.  We had planned to do a short ride out as we had had several already getting here, so we let the early birds go first and set off around 11:15.  There was the usual set up, when you get to a junction or turn off there would be someone there to send you in the right direction, unfortunately for us, and several others, at one particular turn off we should have taken the person who should have been there to directed us was 'otherwise engaged' and we carried on where we should have turned left.  After several miles of travelling on a large main road, some of the German riders leading the group decided that we were not going the right way so we all did an about turn and headed back the way we had just come.  After several more miles we came to a junction we had already passed, quite a while ago, so we carried on till we found a cafe next to a roundabout so we stopped for coffees and ice creams and sat outside enjoying the sunshine and watched several of the riders pass by, some we saw twice, till the tail end Charlie went past.  A while later we set off back to the rally with Anita leading following the sat nav.  Unfortunately Martyn broke the golden rule and overtook her just before we turned right and he carried on regardless not knowing he was going the wrong way, until Phil went chasing after him and bringing him back to where we were waiting.  When we got back it was preventative maintenance time to get the bikes ready for tomorrow.  Phil had brought a Harley bobber with him and I took it for a spin down the road, it's got a lot more poke than the Enfield and was a bit of a handful what with a foot clutch and a hand gear change, but good fun in spite of that.  Went down for dinner after but there was quite a queue so we hung around till it shortened then had to sit on the seats next to the food as all the tables were full. After there was a band playing outside with several dancers giving it their all and generally having a good time.  It was Donna's birthday and they sang Happy Birthday to her. Headed off to bed around 23:30, need a good night's sleep ready for the 'long ride home'.
Sunday 31st - Return of the Natives!

Up just after 06:00 today as we need to get an early start to catch the evening train to be home for Monday morning.  Packed most of the gear in the vans and headed down for breakfast, which was very busy, seems like we're not the only ones leaving early today.  Getting ready to leave and it started to rain, so wet gear on.  Phil had left a space in his van for my Enfield if it couldn't make it, but I wanted to ride all the way if I could, but if not it won't be a problem.  The ride home was going to be a more direct route on motorways for a lot of the way.  Throughout this entire trip the Enfield clutch has playing up with the cable going slack which needed adjusting nearly every day and unfortunately it didn't like travelling the distance and speed we were going and at various times throughout the day spat out most of its oil, blew all the bulbs and the clutch started playing up again (the joys of riding old bikes!).  After the second of the fuel stops we passed several miles of roadworks which didn't bother the bikers too much but the vans got caught, so we waited at the next service station till they arrived, and had some lunch.  Glad I kept my wet weather gear on as it rained on and off all the way here.  By this time the sun was shining and it was getting fairly warm and the rest of the afternoon's ride was very pleasant, well as pleasant as it could be anyway.  Back at the Dunkirk Auchan at 17:30, the vans a bit later, due to a long queue at the border again, where we loaded Bill's and Phil's bikes into their respective vans and headed for the tunnel arriving just after 18:00.  Checked in and rode round to the terminal as our train was running late.  However, as it turned out, Martyn and Snowy were somehow booked on a different earlier train so we, the rest of the bikers, went to the loading area hoping to get on theirs, which we did. The vans however had to wait.  Unfortunately for Snowy he hadn't realised we had  moved from the terminal carpark just after he went in to get a cup of tea and was in such a hurry to catch us up when he came out he wedged his tea in his front forks and, I'm not quite sure if he just under estimated the upward forces involved or he just didn't see the speed bump, but the result was almost the entire contents of the cup went all over the front of his bike, much to the amusement of some, but not Snowy.  The rest of the journey was uneventful and we ending up back at Molash sometime before 21:00 at the end of another successful international.  The experience was, as usual, an enjoyable one made more so by travelling with great companions.  I don't think the Enfield will make Sweden but France 2018 maybe a possibility.

Kim Buick Kim Buick



Indian Motocycles - you can't wear them out                                  Indian Motocycles - built to last  
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