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Thread: First Europe Trip - France, Switzerland, Italy and Germany - 2000 miles and 5 days.

  1. #1

    First Europe Trip - France, Switzerland, Italy and Germany - 2000 miles and 5 days.

    After getting by (new to me) R1150GSA via this site, the intention was to do some trips with my brother and another good friend. They've been indulging in a trip each year for about the last 10 so time I joined them. We did one night in Wales last year, but this was going to be a 5 day tour.

    The intention was to head to Scotland and do the west coast and some of the NC500, though given the weather (this was the week before last) this changed at the last minute to head to France, specifically Bordeaux.

    We all met lunchtime on the M11 Birchanger services at 13:00 (Wednesday) and headed to Folkestone for our 16:00 train I was on a R1150GSA, my brother his trusty KTM 990 Adventure and the third was a R1200GSA LC. We arrived earlier and got on the first train we could so were in France by 15:00 (local time). The first stop was the small town of Monument aux Morts about 2 hours south of Calais via the back roads. Here we'd get a good nights sleep - preceded by a few beers and some good grub of course.

    During dinner, we looked at the weather and decided that the Alps were looking pretty good after all; when we'd checked the night before Chamonix was looking a little iffy. It was decided, Chamonix it was - and due to my brothers aversion to camping, he booked a nice hotel with a pool - don't worry - we made him pick up the tab!

    The plan was to get up the next morning and get on the French toll roads to just get there. I had a crap nights sleep (waking up at 2:30) so was glad to get a text at 5:30 to say we'd head off close to 6:00.

    I won't bore you with the exact route - though if you would like to see the trip as a whole I'll post a picture of it.

    Chamonix was 886KM away and after 10 hours in the saddle we pulled into the hotel by 16:00!

    Driving through the mountains was amazing, I've never seen mountains like it - the 'hills' of Wales can't really be compared. I spent some time in South Africa growing up, so had seen the Drakensberg's but never the Alps.

    Next day was off the bike, well the morning anyway. We headed up the cable car to take in the scenery - the views across the valley to Mont Blanc were amazing - the weather the whole trip was perfect - pushing 27 at times which was fine as long as your moving.

    In the afternoon we did the St Bernard Pass, so I was able to tick Switzerland and Italy off the 'Bike Bucket List'. The roads were great - a few cars and motor homes, though nothing to spoil the ride - up the top is was still covered in a lot of snow and the lake was still frozen, which I wasn't expecting being the middle of June (show's what I know about mountains). We didn't make it far in to Italy - just down the other side of the pass before turning around and doing it again - I really started to feel confident on the bike - for such a lump, the old boy gives a very rewarding ride - I though I must be close to getting the pegs down on the tight hairpins, but looking back at the video I'm hardly leaning! I guess a little more practice is needed.

    Back to the hotel in Chamonix for a dip in the pool before another night on the town (well kinda). Saturday night in Chamonix is good fun - lots of very, very, fit people all enjoying a beer or two and some really good food sat outside watching the world go by.

    We planned to head into Germany and the Black Forrest for our first night of camping - given we'd all lugged everything this far and were going to spend 3 nights in hotels we felt we had to! I was looking forward to it,

    Another early start (6:30) saw us heading back into Switzerland. Past Bern and crossing into Germany at Basel. From there we headed up to the Black Forrest on the 500 towards Barden-Barden. We got some supplies - wine, beer, some bread, ham and cheese and set about finding somewhere to camp. None of this camp site business - we were going all out - we were 'wild camping'!!!!! After about an hour we found the spot - up a walkers track on the side of a hill overlooking a small village. It was ideal - tents up and camp chairs set up around the pannier table - wine opened and sat back to enjoy the sunset.

    Some simple but enjoyable grub (Uncle Bens boil in the bag rice with some added ham and sausage! yum) we turned in. I'd got myself a new tent, a Vango Omega 250; the other two had these fancy MSR (I think that's the name) things which they left the rain covers off to get the most of the experience. The Vango was easy enough to set up, and big enough to store all my kit, given the location and weather it didn't really seem necessary, but given the opportunity I thought I'd try it out. Which turned out to be fortuitous. At about 4:00, I started to hear the rain, slow at first, but slowly getting stronger. Then it begin. The scramble from the other two trying to get their rain covers on and cover up their kit!!! I really should have got up and helped, but I couldn't for laughing - then I realised I'd left the door open to the vestibule on my tent - I got my bloody arm wet reaching out to close it!!!!

    Nobody really got any more sleep so we were up by 5:00 brewing coffee and sorting breakfast - bread ham and cheese; packed up and on the road before 6:00. Back down the track and on to the (new dry) 500 - that is a great road - busy with bikes the previous afternoon, but all ours this morning.

    The plan was to run back towards Calais and find somewhere in Northern France to camp the final night - we had tickets for the Eurotunnel at 9:20 the next morning so needed to be around an hour away. As we got to Northern France we quickly realised how little there was there. Long roads & open fields - not as interesting as we'd hoped. We decided to push on through and head back in one. If we knew this when leaving Germany I'm sure none of us would have managed it, though breaking it down in to little chunks it wasn't too bad. The French motorways put the UK roads to shame - good tarmac, well behaved drivers and decent speed limits - not that the 1150 could cruise at 130KPH, 120 was more comfortable; oh and people that don't hog the fast lane!!!! (a personal pet hate).

    On getting back to the UK the traffic was showing the Dartford crossing as tailed back - this was 17:00 on a Sunday - thank god we didn't wait until rush hour Monday morning!!!

    Driver discipline in the UK is dreadful - drivers sitting in the 2 outside lanes of a 4 lane motorway and not looking what's around them - we'd ridden 10 hours (including stops) across France and the most stressful part was from the M20 to the M11!

    Back to Birchanger to say goodbyes and then the final leg to Norfolk, getting home at just past 21:00 - 15 hours and 1,064KM ridden!!! Not quite the IronButt but close enough! The GSA was fantastic - I couldn't imagine doing it on any other bike - It was fully loaded and with fuel and myself I think it was tipping the scales at 450KG and didn't miss a beat. I can't wait for the next one!!!

    I'll add some images to the post from my phone aa I can't figure out how to do it easily from my PC.

  2. #2
    Pics as promised...

    Sent from my SM-G960F using Tapatalk

  3. #3
    And a couple more.

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  4. #4
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    Good one.

    Shows what can be done, quite simply.

  5. #5
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    Looks excellent, many more trips to come

  6. #6
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    That's looks great :-) Thanks for the write up.

    I know those roads well you took, yes that 500 to Baden Baden is great. And yes, when you get to the roads in this side, you wonder, wtf.

    This year I'll be in the same area as I head down to Italy. But not on the 1150, it'll be on the 1200 ADV. Your write up made me want to leave tomorrow! :-)

    Sent from my SM-N910F using Tapatalk

  7. #7
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    Great trip report and respect for getting stuck in on what is your first trip. Sod camping I prefer a hotel room every time, I only do one big trip a year so like to do it with ease and comfort.

    Nice to see a Hooton pannier table top in use though.

    Also goes to prove that you don't need the latest expensive designer fashion statement bike laden with gadgets and gizmos when a trusty old 1150 Adv does the job so well.

    It's all about the ride, not what you ride.
    ADAM

  8. #8
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    Looks a great trip. Off in that direction in a couple of weeks but sadly in the van

  9. #9
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    Nice trip, whetted my appetite for Garmisch next week.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pukmeister View Post
    Also goes to prove that you don't need the latest expensive designer fashion statement bike laden with gadgets and gizmos when a trusty old 1150 Adv does the job so well.

    It's all about the ride, not what you ride.
    Ahem, and a trusty old 990 Adventure.

  11. #11
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    Great pictures, thanks for sharing.

  12. #12
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    And how has your bike tolerated the trip? No significant issues?

    In fact, I recently bought a R1150GS and will have to do more or less the same trip as you've done for my job in August or September (I gotta check things like these in Switzerland, northern Italy and southwestern Germany since the boss wants to buy a villa there, but wants someone else to do the checking and negotiating!), so I am VERY interested in how the trip went and whether you encountered any difficulties, no matter whether they were related to your bike or not.
    I usually handle professional trips in a boring way, with a good ol' plane + rental car combo, but I've been itching to do something more interesting, with more personality.

    I know you didn't mention any significant issue in your message, but I wanted to make sure I can avoid any potential problem ; it's for a professionnal trip, so I can't afford to be delayed or to have health or bike issues. If there's anything that can be problematic, I'll just rent a car as usual and keep the bike for holiday trips!

    PS : I've already traveled on a bike a lot, not on this one, but I went around the Balkans, around Belgium and Northern France, and from Brussels to Vienna and back on my old Yamaha. So, I'm not completely green either, and have already driven in the mountains.

    Thanks in advance!

  13. #13
    Hi,

    To be honest the trip went without issue, both in terms of the bike and the journey (the road/directions/accommodation).

    I was a little concerned with my bike using some oil, though it didn't use a drop on the long motorway journeys of a 1000km in a day. However, 200km of on and off acceleration on the St Bernard Pass and it drank half a litre. (I made sure I took a litre with me).

    The bike was hugely comfortable, 4hr stints went by without issue.

    The French, Swiss and German roads put the British ones too shame, no issue tackling long journeys in a day.

    All in all I have more confidence in the bike and would tackle another cross Europe trip tomorrow.

    My advice. Just do it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Su_Flanker View Post
    And how has your bike tolerated the trip? No significant issues?

    In fact, I recently bought a R1150GS and will have to do more or less the same trip as you've done for my job in August or September (I gotta check things like these in Switzerland, northern Italy and southwestern Germany since the boss wants to buy a villa there, but wants someone else to do the checking and negotiating!), so I am VERY interested in how the trip went and whether you encountered any difficulties, no matter whether they were related to your bike or not.
    I usually handle professional trips in a boring way, with a good ol' plane + rental car combo, but I've been itching to do something more interesting, with more personality.

    I know you didn't mention any significant issue in your message, but I wanted to make sure I can avoid any potential problem ; it's for a professionnal trip, so I can't afford to be delayed or to have health or bike issues. If there's anything that can be problematic, I'll just rent a car as usual and keep the bike for holiday trips!

    PS : I've already traveled on a bike a lot, not on this one, but I went around the Balkans, around Belgium and Northern France, and from Brussels to Vienna and back on my old Yamaha. So, I'm not completely green either, and have already driven in the mountains.

    Thanks in advance!
    Sent from my SM-G960F using Tapatalk

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by patzx12 View Post
    Great pictures, thanks for sharing.
    +1.......
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