Some of us get to use our bikes for travelling to the club on a Monday night, some of us get to show our bikes at events, some of us used to own bikes and some of us have raced and sprinted bikes. We all share a common love of them in whatever form. Some of us, including me, would really like to take off and ride lots of miles to far off places (after getting permission of course). Usually life gets in the way and we think maybe next year.
Well, one of our new and enthusiastic members (David Moss) recently made quite a trip to European Bike Week held on the shores of The Faaker Zee in Southern Austria, some 980 miles from Oxford. This event is mainly a Harley Davidson gig but being good bikers they obviously tolerate other makes. David still owns an HD but I have only seen him ride to our club on his very smart silver Norton 850 Mk3 Interstate.
This is his account of the trip.
“As I stand on the deck of the Rodin, I can see the glimmer of Dover lights in the distance and start to smile to myself as I think of my Bon voyage ahed of me.
In 1976 I bought myself a Yamaha XS 650 for £827, I couldn’t afford the Commando I’d been dreaming of for years, £1072 at the time. Now fast forward 37 years and I’m riding my Commando mk3 home with a big smile. Since purchasing it in May this year I’ve made a few alterations, gone is the black cap exhaust system, the points and the stiff front brake master cylinder, replaced with peashooters, electronic ignition and better braking system. A persistently slipping clutch has been replaced and with higher handlebars fitted the bike was ready for anything including a trip to the annual European Bike Week in Austria. I was so convinced that the bike was in tip top shape that I booked my ferry and set off across the alps to Austria. The trip to Dover was ok other than finding the seat very hard. I thought the pain would go as numbness set in, sadly it just got worse, I stood by the bike as I waited to mount the ferry making no attempt to hide the frantic rubbing of my sore arse.
The trip across France was interesting experimenting on ways to improve the comfort, I found laying out with my chin on the key fob and my toes being warmed by the exhaust gasses to be the most pleasing, this position could be held for over 2 hours while sitting proper like would be painful after about 10 minutes.
My first night stop was near Rheims where I slept in my sleeping bag in the picnic area of a service station.
Eventually the Alps were in view and the fun started to happen, gone were the straight roads and crumbling painted houses replaced by twisty smooth mountains roads and cow bells, this went on for mile after mile, the sore arse was forgotten as the smiles joined up into one great big smug grin that made my jaw ache. I eventually reached Davos and after filling my belly and fuel tank I found my spot for the second night under the stars. When I switched the bike off everything went so dark I had to find my sleeping bag by feel, I laid down and was mesmerised by the stars, I’d never seen so many, it was truly magical. As I laid there I started hearing noises. Trying not to get phased I dropped off only to wake at about 4am thinking are there still any bears in the Alps? Well, there was no chance of getting back to sleep so I packed up, went back into Davos and had a couple more hours in the safety of a pub garden.
Now on the last leg of my journey to Austria the mountain passes got even better, my confidence in the Norton got even better and my heart rate began to increase as I started to really go for it, I must admit to being quite a reserved rider but everyone has their limits and I was finding mine on a regular basis, it was hour after hour of total fun, spectacular scenery and the sound of cow bells now drowned out by the roar of the Norton. I eventually reached the Faaker See in Austria where European bike week was in full swing, I had a dip in the lake and joined in with the merryments for a day while trying to nurse some pain out of my butt which by now was more painful than childbirth.
After another night sleeping on a dusty path next to the Norton I started the trek back home. I made it to the border between Germany and France when the excruciating pain in my butt made it impossible to sit any longer. By then I was feeling like a caveman and the thought of another night sleeping rough was just too much. Ooh, this hotel looks nice, the shower is as powerful as a steam cleaner. I exchanged some Euros and went and stood in the shower. After a great meal I got into bed and had the best nights sleep I’d had for years. The last day was heading back to Calais and with my confidence at an all time high the French roads seemed to get more fun as my speed increased.
Well, here I am, back in England 2346 miles and two minor breakdowns later, I had a mystery electrical fault and a snapped chain, oh, and the clutch needed adjusting, not to mention feeling like a caveman with an incredibly sore arse. The Norton was the star, never complaining doing everything asked of it, the bike is seriously good and apart from the butt issue would I do it again? You bet !!”