Sunday, 31 October 2021

Last Norton meeting of the season

 Hopefully not the last Norton ride out of the year but certainly the last official Tay Valley NOC meeting, the last weekend in October and it was of course stormy.

Not just stormy, flooded roads and very heavy rain, ideal conditions.... only three Commando turned up, myself, Philly and Wilson on his very nice newly acquired machine, Fiona was on the mk3 Le Mans, a great day, we were joined by Bert and Laurenne who were in the Land Rover (a more suitable vehicle for the conditions), Tam Bradley was a surprise visitor from Barrheed and in true form got lost and ended up doing 99 miles via Perth to get there. Alan who lives a mile along the road decided not to get his bike dirty for a mile and a guy (who's name I have forgotten, sorry) from the Glasgow Triumph owners club came along. Eric of Smokey fame called from Perth as I was leaving to say he was drookit (soaked through) and was turning back to Arbroath to try and catch a smokey as the roads were that wet he reckoned he could scoop some up without going to sea! 

A great blether, plenty tea and cakes and just as we were almost home I lost my clutch in Methven (careless I know) I jumped on the Guzzi, left Fiona to guard the Norton and rushed home for the van of shame, pondering why on the return to get the stricken bike I think I may have forgotten to tighten the clutch adjuster lock nut last week in the excitement of thinking about the meeting, whatever it is it won't be serious and has given the guys more ammunition to slag me.  

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Euro tour part 3

So the final installment of our 2021 Euro tour see's us heading over the Splugen pass and into Switzerland towards Chur, a pretty road with great scenery but eventually we ended up on the Motorway and that meant the dreaded Motorway tax or Vignette. Basically the Vignette allows you to travel on Motorways, a hefty 40 Euros each and valid for that year, unfortunately we were only in Switzerland for a few hours so as always its a bit of a huge rip off. The Police here are not known for lenience so its a huge risk to get caught without one as the fines are stellar. I suppose that is one of the few things the Swiss are famous for, Swiss knives, dubious banking practices (hoarding stolen gold etc) and robbing the poor people who have to travel through their country, I suppose though it was our own fault for not being better organised. 

We skirted Lichtenstein and then passed the border into Austria, they also have a vignette system but after paying 120 Euros at the last petrol stop for two vignettes and some petrol I decided not to add to the collective wealth of the EU and take a chance, the roads were very busy and at one point I could see a wide load ahead which looked like it was being escorted by two bike cops so we kept the speed down and kept our distance, after a few miles of boring slow progress the wide load turned off but the two "cops" didn't, as we caught up Fiona realised they were just two sad buggers playing cops with BMW's white helmets and dayglo jackets, she shouted over the radio, they aren't cops, cops don't have Givi topbox's on their BMW's ! Into Germany and a sigh of relief kind off, the land of no speed limits and no vignettes, hooray.

Germany though has got terribly busy, 3 lane Autobahns of nose to tail traffic doing crazy speeds, that's when the traffic wasn't at a standstill, funny how a day which started in the superb picturesque roads of northern Italy can change into something quite different in a short space of time. Roadworks were everywhere with the corresponding queues everywhere and despite filtering being illegal in Germany eventually we just had to go for it to get moving, roadworks seemed to be everywhere seemingly due to the construction of a new a high speed rail link causing the roads to be diverted, Chaos and not recommended. Our stop for the night was just south of Stuttgart at a town called Kircheim unter Teck, arriving at what I though was our hotel it turned out to be a meeting place for young people according to the bewildered guy who was wondering why this crazy Scotsman was doing blabbing on about a booking for a room, a youth club! Our hotel was across the road, Doh! As we went to move a guy came up and invited us to a biker party nearby that night, he tried to convince us to come along but we were knackered and just wanted a quiet nigh so we declined, very friendly though. 

After a night in a typical Bavarian Gasthouse we set off for Kaichen just North of Frankfurt, home to our good friends Tomas and Andrea who we hadn't seen for years, a pleasant night there before heading to Liege in Belgium for the Sunday night, once again roads very busy, in Europe trucks can't move on a Sunday but the inside two lanes were full of Motorhomes, the scourge of modern times and which made progress just as difficult.  Liege was a tad disappointing, we stayed here before a few years ago but it seemed dirty, rubbish everywhere and it appeared that groups of migrants were hanging around everywhere, at night as we wandered into the old town for food it felt like it had a bit of an edge about it, right outside the cafe area we witnessed two guys grabbing each other by the throat fighting and shouting in Arabic,  I won't rush back for a while.

Monday and heading through Brussels was the usual nightmare, the M25 looks quiet compared to this and it was pissing with rain but soon enough we arrived to our friends Guy and Karin near Gent, where we had a few excellent Norton rallies a decade or so ago. A very nice evening with our generous hosts, having a beer in Guy's excellent workshop and then back to the house for a typical Flemish meal expertly cooked by Karin, wonderful, the motorcycle family is strong! The following day saw us heading to stay with Geert in Kortrijk, a wonderful evening and a load of our friends appeared for a nice party, great hospitality and such a great evening, thanks to all.

The end of the trip was drawing near so we took our Covid test in Belgium and headed to Escalles near Calais for a couple of nights in a hotel, relaxing , excellent we even met a couple from Perth who live about a mile away from us, crazy coincidences. Friday dawned and it was very wet as we splashed up to join the Queue for the Chunnel, a bit miserable to be honest, compounded by the customs guy asking if we had enough petrol to get home as there was none in the South of England. Off the Chunnel and "No Fuel" signs at Ashford services (we had filled up and were both carrying a 5 litre jerrycan each) A bit further up the M20 we went into another services and managed a top up, now we were good until Cambridge, round the M25, M11 and eventually to Cambridge services where they had no fuel, the following services was the same but luckily the next site had fuel, after a lengthy wait in the queue we fuelled up but then mysteriously my Triumph wouldn't spin over on the starter so Fiona had to push, I also enlisted the help of two guys who were having a fag outside the building and it started. The following fuel stop I just kept it running then at Scotch corner forgot so Fiona had to push again, the A66 took 2 hours due to god knows what, huge queues and it had been closed earlier in the day. We had booked into the Buccleuch arms Hotel in Moffat thankfully as by the time we got there we were knackered , the usual warm welcome from Dave and his son Clint and I did warn Clint his pushing skills might be needed in the morning, in the event they weren't, it started.

So three weeks, mainly wonderful riding across Europe, so glad we got away, all in all around 250 Euros for Covid tests which is bloody ridiculous in my opinion, some rich people are getting richer out of this virus thats for sure, just hope they pay their taxes ! Until the next time.......

Tomas and Andrea
Inside the hut at his secret garden
Great day
Leige, needs a tidy
Really nice old buildings, it could be so much better
With Guy and Karine
The Boffe bar!
Brilliant workshop
Random guy paid for our coffee's
Our digs in Kortrijk
Geert and Fiona prepare the BBQ
Great night with great friends
pre dinner drinks
Ferry heading into Calais
Imagine what this would have been like during the war, horrific
Found this, we accidentally stumbled on the Escalles Hill climb course
Cyril Smith was a bit of a hero, nice monument in recognition
Up North, its a tad chilly for drinks al fresco
Why does it always rain here on the way home
Queue for petrol but at least we got some
Clint coming out to push the Triumph but it decided to start anyway

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Wee Smokey Classic meeting

 Eric Buick once again organised a fine Classic meeting today, despite the dreich weather in Perth this morning it did clear up a bit at Arbroath, I left with a very clean Guzzi T3 and came home with a dirty one. Eric also kindly organised a local farmer to spread mud around the roads in the immediate vicinity of the meeting thus securing his sponsorship with a well known bike cleaning product range. Big Guzzi turnout and Triumph T160's as well, I think I counted three, also the Panther Owner Club guys were there and even brought along their own meeting place in the shape of a huge Sidecar, the mighty Tay Valley Norton club were also well represented member wise but not so many on Nortons today (me included)  Dave brought not one but two Ner-a-Car's (his pal rode one, maybe not his pal now!) Bringing out a rare 1923 motorcycle on a crap day deserves kudos. The theme this time was 2 strokes so they were well represented, bizarrely , there were a handful of Tomos mopeds, maybe since C90's are getting stupid money this is the next big thing? Joking aside a great day out at dare I say it near the end of the season, brilliant turnout with some very nice bikes and many of them ridden a fair distance, well done to all, great to meet up with everyone and apologies if I didn't manage to get a decent chat with you all, I can bore you some other time. 

Panther, very nice
David T's well used Ducati 
Mr Mumford rode his CBX along 
T160 owner looking for a pal
Laverda SF 750, 
Rare to see these nowadays, Guzzi's 8 valve Centauro
Ner-a-Car 1 
Two stroke heaven
Ner-a-car 2 
Excelsior oil burner
And voted the bike the judges would like to take home, so would I if I could afford the petrol
Tidy BSA
T160 a popular choice
Panther and their meeting place attached, disco starts Friday at 7pm sharp
Eric and John looking official
Two stroke heaven again but not a clue
BMW and Guzzi leaking oil together
And phils JPN painted Commando
the only AJS, very unusual to see only one
T160 and CBX, 9 cylinders between them, thats enough for 4 Norton twins and a single

Friday, 15 October 2021

Euro tour part 2

 We left Vaison and headed towards Marseilles on the Peage before heading along the Cote Azure, skirting the Mediterranean in parts, it was incredibly busy, now its past holiday time so not sure why the normally quiet toll roads were so crazy, a short stop for fuel just before Nice and then into Italy. We took the highway thinking there was less chance of being stopped and having to show our papers (even though they were in order)  as we couldn't be arsed with petty officialdom, the situation reminded us of the TV series Allo Allo where the citizens are always being asked by the Germans "Where are your papers" .

We were correct, no hassle, dropped into Ventimiglia and then to my "home " village Rocchetta Nervina, as the old Tom Jones song says "The old home town looked the same" but thats not true really, it gets busier every year and it is popular with tourists, the village seems to have a bit more life in it as well, I see plenty younger people now living there which is the only way the village will survive. All of our friends and family are good and we spent a few days chilling out and visiting and drinking the odd vino (or maybe two) 

All too soon it was time to move, not too far , just along the coast to visit our pal Steva in Calice Ligure, we actually met him in a small town by the seaside for lunch with him and his colleagues, a very nice affair before leaving them to go back to work whilst we wobbled around and waited for him in Calice, a very pleasant evening and a good meal in town. Then we set off for Mandello Del Lario, home to Moto Guzzi, the roads were crazy busy and there seemed to be roadworks everywhere, once we got North of Genoa it quietened down until Milan, Milan and Monza were also crazy busy, it normally is but it seems to be busier which is probably good news for the Italian economy. We were glad to reach Lake Como and eventually Mandello.

We missed the celebration of 100 years of Moto Guzzi by a couple of weeks but that suited us, despite the official party being cancelled we heard 8000 people still attended which was considered very quiet (and better according to most) We had dinner at the campsite on the first night and in a nearby (new) restaurant on night two and then visited the Mandello Guzzi club clubroom (we had an invitation) another great night talking Guzzi! 

Leaving Mandello we headed North to Chiavenna for sadly our last meal in Italy this trip before taking the Splugen pass into Switzerland but thats for another Installment! 

Summing up Italy, great weather, fantastic food, great people, busy traffic and evidence of building and repairs everywhere so hopefully from those indicators the Italian economy is on the up.  Nobody asked for "our papers" except one restaurant in Mandello and when our QR code didn't work with the Italian Covid app it wasn't a problem, a shrug of the shoulders and "oh well it must only work for Italians" 

Rocchetta Nervina
A vino at our local

My favourite bar in Dolceaqua now closed and for sale 
Bruno's pal working on his Bianchi
Now fixed
And later on his Morini
The path to the village, interesting bridge
My own wine!
Cinquecento meeting in the village square
Chain adjustment
Lunch time
Triumphs parked
Bruno doing repairs to Luigi's pickup
Looking at the Med
Waiting for Steva in the town square
Bikes parked amongst the Olives
Stevas Montessa
Al fresco
Morning view
Fuel and respite just before Milan
Must be Mandello
It is
Even the beer pumps are Guzzi
small harbour on Lake Como
Sun going down, Fiona operating the drone
Lone canoeist
Guzzi club Mandello
Cin Cin
Some of the guys bikes
Mandello camping Continental
Ferry to Bellagio was full and we didn't want to wait an hour for the next one
So we waved it goodbye
Heading up the Splugen pass
Thats all folks!