1 October 2016 - European Test Ride
We crossed the North Sea by ferry arriving in The Netherlands, where avoiding motorways we rode across country, into Germany and onto Dusseldorf, arriving at the railway station. We loaded ourselves, and bikes, onto an overnight sleeper train, that runs on a daily basis (although sadly no longer), between Dusseldorf and Vienna.
Arriving in Vienna in a deluge meant a short but wet ride to our accommodation. After a couple of days exploring Vienna we continued on our way. From Vienna we rode south, into Hungary, then turned west into Slovenia, staying overnight in the regions main city Maribor
From Maribor we rode west, through the Julian Alps criss-crossing the Austrian border, encountering some of the regions gravelled mountain roads. We continued westwards and spent the night in Slovenia's mountain sports centre of Kranjska Gora, our visit coinciding with a large Harley-Davidson rally.
From Trento we took the less travelled route, through the vast apple orchards of the region, on our way to the Stelvio Pass. Having taken in the views we then rode west and stopped overnight in the mountain town of Livigno. Apparently it is a historic duty free zone on the Swiss border. Prices were accordingly reasonable, apart from the hotel bar.
The following morning we set off early for a long ride through Switzerland to Lucerne. Unfortunately an early fuel stop turned into half a day, after filling our tanks with diesel after confusing the differently coloured fuel nozzles and labels at the fuel station. Fortunately we realised before we started the engines, and we spent 3 hours or so draining and flushing the fuel tanks. This was a roadside learning experience, not having disassembled the bikes to this level previously, each bike having three interlinked fuel tanks. No damage was done, other than to our wallet, and we continued on into Switzerland, trying to make up time and distance. Our haste proved to be our shortcoming, and having missed our turn we had continued on blindly in the wrong direction, ending up on the Austrian border. We would not be going to Lucerne. that night, perhaps in the future, but not today. We decided to press on until twilight, to find somewhere to stay overnight.
We pushed onto to St Anton, confident that we would find a hotel. All that were open were fully booked, but the majority we passed were closed up. One of the hotel receptionists suggested we ride to the next village Stuben where there were some more hotels. We stopped outside the first hotel we found in Stuben and were relieved when the only room they had available was a large comfortable suite. We accepted the room instantly and after a long day we had an excellent meal in their restaurant.
We had to rearrange our schedule, to try and get back onto our preplanned route. This only meant one more hotel cancellation and reservation. The next day we rode from Stuben, on towards Germany and Lake Constance, riding the roads on the north side of the valley, leading onto the Black Forest and stopping overnight on Freiburg not far from the border with France.
From Thionville we rode north into Luxembourg, through the wooded Ardennes, into Belgium. After a stop at an obligatory Belgian roadside 'frites' shack we continued north into The Netherlands, stopping overnight in the picturesque city of Maastricht.
We are more than happy that the test ride has proved the abilities of our bikes for our planned journey Down Under.
Some pictures (in no particular order)
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