View Full Version : Alps 2009

Tim in Yorkshire
18-09-2009, 07:18 PM
The Alps 2009 – Brought to you in Gixer 600/750 vision

Thursday – Prep finishing / Ripon - Sevenoaks

In Holland the bike had been washed, waxed, tank taped over, tank bag trimmed, new tyres, discs and pads fitted, chain lubed. I loaded up the tail pack with clothes, the tank bag with chain lube, spare visor and gloves, camera, wallet, tools and the first set of directions. Waterproofs, the rest of maps and wash bag in the rucsac, keeping it all nice and light on my back.

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Kitch had already left Kirkby Malzeard up in the Dales and was battling the winds down the A1, stopping for the odd burger before making Sevenoaks in plenty of time to catch up with an old school mate working dahn sarf.

Friday - Hellevoetsluis/Sevenoaks – Calais – Bruyeres

An early start for me from Hellevoetsluis in the dark, the winds blowing still and the odd patch of drizzle, heading south down the Zeeland islands, sand blown across the Oosterschelde sea defences just as it was getting light. Crossing into Belgium near Bruges (Brugge for you Dutch/Afrikaans speakers!) and it started to rain properly so on with the waterproof over the leathers. Soon I stopped for some pain au chocolat, petrol and let a few heavy shower passed, got a text from Kitch that he was about to board the tunnel, so headed off to Calais to meet him. A quick catch up and refuel and it was onto the autoroutes, getting south, dodging most of the showers, the roads were still wet with loads of spray, lots of fun on the visor. A few hours of riding and a couple of hundred kilometres had us just north of the Champagne region, another short autoroute trip had us peeling across eastern rural France on empty local roads to Bar Le Duc, the odd heavy shower, a sunny stop in Neufchateau:

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It was then more stonking fast roads to the edge of the Vosges at Bruyeres.

The town was so busy that we had to start on the beer whilst waiting for the local hotels to open. A common theme that would develop through France and their love of long working hours…

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The bikes were parked

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Time for more Beer, Food and some house plonk.

Saturday: Bruyeres – Geneva – Flumet

We headed out into the cloudy Vosges, up the Col de la Schlucht then ran along the Route Des Cretes, tracing the peaks, in and out of cloud and fog, glimpses of forested valleys down to the right, plains stretching out to the south. We were soon practicing our hairpins with a descent down to Wattwiller for a well earned coffee and some Tarte Tatin.

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With the lower altitude and the sun appearing we headed off for another autoroute bash, plenty of curves to Baume Les Dames, pitching through the rolling hills to Pontarlier, around the great lake at Malbuisson before stopping for a spot of Kebab and frites in a bun, mmmmmm…..

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Then up and across the Jura by the Col de la Faucille, stopping for a photo with Lac Leman (a.k.a.Lake Geneva) with Mt. Blanc peaking through the clouds on the horizon.

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We then dropped down into a hot afternoon, visiting my uncle who had just moved into a little ski village above Geneva. It was great to catch up quickly, his house was empty as his stuff was sat in a container waiting to clear customs from the states, an all to brief a visit but I’m sure I’ll be there again.

An evening ride round Geneva, than onto La Clusaz, joining in with a French wedding convoy, lots of horn beeping. Then the first Alpine pass proper, the Col Des Aravis, great in the golden evening light, dropping down to the sleepy town of Flumet for the night, beers and a pizza in the French filled Irish Bar.

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Tim in Yorkshire
18-09-2009, 07:20 PM
Sunday - Flumet – Val D’Isere – Briancon – La Condamine

An early start had a super crisp morning meet us, electric blue skies, lush green alpine pastures and crystal clear peaks, it was up the Col des Saisies, spotting hot air balloons on the way.

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Then the Col de Meraillet, stopping at the Lac de Roseland for some breakfast (crepe and coffee)

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……..and some typical French pissoir!

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It was then a run down the tight twisty lane to Bourg St Maurice, following a couple of French army trucks battling with the bends, 6x6 truck on a single lane hairpin = shunt-tastic. They soon let us by, into Bourg and out, heading for Val D’Isere stopping by the Lac du Chevril below Tignes.

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Through Val then up the Col de L’Iseran, very little snow up there this time, but enough slush for an ice ball.

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It was then down for lunch

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and up the Col du Mont Cenis and passed the lake to Italy. A Polo had somehow managed to hit a rock wall on a hairpin on its way up. Air bags had deployed, but the Caribineri were present. Along the Autostrada and up the Col de Montgenevre back into France, stopping in Briancon for some fuel and noting a bike shop for the future as Kitch’s rear tyre was just about on the wear bars.

It was then a great afternoon over the Col Du Izoard, the mountains changing in appearance,

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Before some gorge racing along the Combe du Queyras, an awesome contrast to the mountains and very fast. The smell of summer pines pungent in the air. Kitch pulled a rude move though, racing off from a photostop leaving me behind a bus along a single lane stretch of gorge.

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An evening push took us over the Col du Vars and down into La Condamine for a great, absolutely huge, 40cm metric monster pizza!

Tim in Yorkshire
18-09-2009, 07:21 PM
Monday – La Condamine – Roubillion –Briancon

It was straight up the Col de La Bonette, which claims to be the highest through road in Europe. A stunning top creast, with some old military tunnels that deserved exploring.

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It was then on to the very top,

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before heading down by some deserted barracks. The French idea of Health and Safety was refreshing, small signs saying no entry, but you were free to roam.

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We headed down and hit another great fast flowing road down the purple rocked Tine valley, passed Isola, lots of flat out 3rd and 4th gear bends, stopping for fuel we found we had to turn round and head back 20km, riding the great roads three times in total, life is tough.

It was then a bounce up to the mountain side clinging village of Roubion, this was the first time I regretted not changing the suspension settings from my track set up, but the sights and Galettes were worth it.

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Up the Col de la Couillole before heading along the Var valley with its black rock and up the Col de la Cayolle, again super bumpy, the road seemed to have been constructed entirely of repairs. We were getting wasted by bouncing pogo stick BMW GS’s which made us laugh.

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The down ramp was pretty similar, a Pug 406 coupe in front was lurching around and acted us our guide for impending bollock bashing.

It was then down to Lac de Serre Poncon, taking in the energetic eastern shore, more superbike heaven. We headed north out of Embrun, spotting a couple of UK GSXRS coming the other way on the N94 one in Corona colours. We then did a little bit of spirited touring with a Ducati 1098 and BMW tourer, lots of overtakes all the way to the bike shop in Briancon, they filled up with fuel, we attempted to get a new rear for Kitch, but apparently 4:30 is too late in France to do any work, we were told to come back for our Michelin the next mornig at 9am, so we headed up to the old walled city of Vauban just above the modern Briancon. Found an amusing hotel

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with a wobbly shower cubicle, and Kitch decided to do some hand washing, fetching.

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It was then beer and a walk around the charismatic old town, before heading down to the modern for some Tartiflette.

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Tim in Yorkshire
18-09-2009, 07:22 PM
Tuesday – Briancon – Bourg St-Maurice- Aosta – Martigny - Chamonix

An early start and down for the bike shop at 8:30 to catch them opening, although being hard working French they weren’t there until 9am, nothing like a 35 hr working week.

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A new rear and it was off up passed Serre Chevalier, up to the top of the Col du Lauteret where we turned north on to the Col du Galibier,

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Stopping at the Col du Telegraphe for a sandwich. It was then along the valley to join up with the Col de la Madeline, Mt Blanc towering in the background:

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Taking a quick diversion to this village:

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I was a little sad to be leaving, as this was the most we saw all holiday!

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A quick blast along the valley to Bourg with some local French bikers then saw us head up through La Rosiere to the Col du Petit Saint Bernard, passed loads of cyclists slogging their way up, rather them than me! Into Italy and down the other side to Aosta, where I managed to stall the 750 whilst trying to burn off a loaded builder’s van at the light. With my lightning quick reactions I was able to restart the bike and out drag 2.5 tonnes powered by an asthmatic diesel. Impressive skills.

It was then up the Col du Grand Bernard, this had a whole load of new barriers and a beautiful smooth surface towards the top, hundred of 1st and 2nd gear bends, the 750 was stonking its way up and I was glad to be along for the ride.

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We then dropped into Switzerland, a gentle descent and lots of wide bends, ideal for a little teasing of the boy racers who had the advantage of local knowledge, but a hot hatch vs gsxr is a pretty unfair match! Suzuki FTW.

From Martigny we climbed up through the steep sided vineyards, grapes ripening in the warm evening sun. Kitch got left behind a little as he doesn’t like roads with “edges” which isn’t always ideal in the Alps, and refused to overtake for the first 5 kms!

We were soon in Argentiere (part of Chamonix), for our night in this climbers Gite.

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Beer and pizzas followed for a change. I managed to get bitten by something that night, not sure what, but it left me with 80+ bites on my torso and neck, a few on my face and the odd one on my hands, nice.

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Tim in Yorkshire
18-09-2009, 07:23 PM
Wednesday - Chamonix – Laax

We headed out for the Furka/Susten/Grimsel pass combination, a steady run along the Rhone valley, watching for cops, then rising up into the lower alpine valley, full of meadows and farms, before heading up into the great combination of passes for a day of fun, no cops, fast roads, hairpins and sun = heaven.

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That’s Numberwang:

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We were playing guess the car/bike/van coming through the tunnel at our second coffee stop, Kitch’s guess of Astra most of the time was pretty poor.

It was then a case of catching the Oberalp pass, following the Rhein river from its source down to Laax for another night of beer and food, Schnitzels instead of pizza this time.

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Thursday – Laax – Davos – Val Gardena – Vipiteno

A good run up to Davos through some amazing Swiss villages, lots of jointed wooden buildings, then up over the Fluela pass, definitely one of my favourites in the Alps.

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We then ran down the other side infiltrating a group of swiss bikers, watching a Harley rider get plenty of heel down! We then took the Ofen Pass to Italy, and headed down the fruit growing Venosta Valley, full of apples, before heading down to Bolzano, then filtering along the Autostrada passed some road works and started to make our way up Val Gardena and the dolomites where some clouds were starting to gather.

Stopping for some food I went back to my bike for some change, where a local cop didn’t appearlike our parking, in the end Kitch moved his bike. I saw the exasperated re-approach me in the cafe, with Kitch retuerning across the road on foot in the background. He just had time to open his mouth at me and let off in Italian when Kitch started my bike to move it. I just smiled and pointed, the rest of the café laughed at this mini Mussolini.

We then headed off on the Sella round, the mountains teeth gnawing at a moody sky.

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Still, there’s always room for an attempt at comedy.

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We then endured a little rush hour traffice before arcing our way through some old world war battlements along a valley bottom, into the picturesque town of Vipiteno.

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Friday – Vipiteno – St Anton – Winterthur – Titisee

An immediate start up the Jaufen Pass, a crosser keeping us company on the way down on the odd dodgy surface, he was going well for a 2 stroke at altitude, although gravity was definitely his friend. We then took the Timmelsjoch skywards to skim the mist and clouds, bumping into a museum opening at the top,

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Before descending into the mist that was brimming the head of Otz Tal.

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Down through the mist, the odd smatter of drizzle teasing us into our waterproofs. With the weather we decided to take a more direct route across Austria, heading along the autobahn towards St Anton, peeling off before the long tunnels towards the Arlbergpass, where it started to chuck it down properly, so into a local eating establishment with a Finnish host, her special of fried potato, bacon, egg, carrot and onion was perfect for the weather. Although dropping through mist looking out for road markings to guide us was a little surreal.

On into Switzerland with the sun coming out, and a quick run over the hills from Altstatten to Teufen, a little Kwak 250 leading the way this time, caning a Ferrari F430, although some of his overtakes were a little iffy, entertaining to sit back and watch. A quick cruise on some Swiss autoroutes turning north at Winterthur, crossing the Rhein at Schaffhausen, before taking some super special roads into the Black Forest. We were soon back to Warp Factor 9, high in the rev range, inline fours screaming, left feet dancing from 3rd to 4th and back again. Some silly riding whilst getting not properly lost soon had us in Titisee, although I saw none.

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Tim in Yorkshire
18-09-2009, 07:25 PM
Saturday – Titisee –Baden Baden - Dottinger Hohe – Eupen – Oostende

The trudge day, started with some blasts along the Black Forest tops on the S500, some fun with a Swiss Kwak 636 who was running rich and wouldn’t let rip, before dropping down into little stream valleys, meandering with some Morgans, before rejoining the S500 for some of the best super bike roads out there, if you knew these well restraining yourself would be tricky,

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All this adrenalin needed to be fuelled from somewhere.

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http://inlinethumb15.webshots.com/44942/2405563850084392296S600x600Q85.jpg (http://rides.webshots.com/photo/2405563850084392296VLBHNw)

The autobahn then appeared, after following a GT2 for a bit it was time to stretch the 750. Soon we were at an indicated 276 km/h which seemed stable enough, a combination of cross wind, tank bag, tail pack, rucsac and a little traffic fast approaching on the horizon stopped me going any faster. Maybe I’m a wimp, the bike had more to give, but I’m still here, proper sports touring!

We continued on, stopping for fuel, coffee, and leg stretches, before heading Eifel-wards along the B258, stopping at Ed’s and the Dottinger Hohe snack bar for a refuel, it looked like the Nordschleife was open, but we didn’t risk our fate this time. On towards Belgium, high average speeds, swapping bikes for a blast before and through the border, Kitch’s worn 50p front tyre felt awful, and the 600 felt slow and unexciting after a week of the 750, although the standard suspension settings were great along the old bumpy Belgian tank road.

Bland E40, Liege, Leuven, Brussels, Gent and Bruges passed by in a slow blur of boredom, using my memory map I navigated us to the biker’s loft near Oostende. A quick welcome beer.

http://inlinethumb21.webshots.com/40020/2440281990084392296S600x600Q85.jpg (http://rides.webshots.com/photo/2440281990084392296TEXOUX)

Then park the bikes in the middle of the rooms.

http://inlinethumb26.webshots.com/15641/2898251060084392296S600x600Q85.jpg (http://rides.webshots.com/photo/2898251060084392296YEJvwm)

Head into the massive dorm

http://inlinethumb23.webshots.com/7190/2914046000084392296S600x600Q85.jpg (http://rides.webshots.com/photo/2914046000084392296akiPng)

Then cook our own food

http://inlinethumb31.webshots.com/45982/2440484260084392296S600x600Q85.jpg (http://rides.webshots.com/photo/2440484260084392296ZQdMSI)

Before settling in with some beers for the band and the last night.

http://inlinethumb55.webshots.com/41974/2935639410084392296S600x600Q85.jpg (http://rides.webshots.com/photo/2935639410084392296OJsudU)

http://inlinethumb47.webshots.com/24750/2191296060084392296S600x600Q85.jpg (http://rides.webshots.com/photo/2191296060084392296tlgKKM)

Sunday – Oostende – Hellevoetsluis/Kirkby Malzeard

A subdued start, maybe the Stella from the night before, maybe the low grey clouds scudding in from the channel, but more realistically it was the knowledge we were both soon to be home, no more mountains, no more hairpins, no more flying free to the limiter, no more thin air struggling to satisfy the airbox’s hunger.

http://inlinethumb46.webshots.com/26477/2936650060084392296S600x600Q85.jpg (http://rides.webshots.com/photo/2936650060084392296ozCrQj)

Once the few kms to the E40 were done Kitch headed west to the tunnel, I headed east before bearing north and along Zeeland, stopping for a stretch

http://inlinethumb57.webshots.com/43000/2311968110084392296S600x600Q85.jpg (http://rides.webshots.com/photo/2311968110084392296qwmkMs)

http://inlinethumb49.webshots.com/43568/2912835210084392296S600x600Q85.jpg (http://rides.webshots.com/photo/2912835210084392296dkDyqc)

Then I was home, 10 days, 7 countries, 4720 kms, some of the highest roads in Europe, no oil burnt, one can of chain lube down.

http://inlinethumb38.webshots.com/43301/2920043620084392296S600x600Q85.jpg (http://rides.webshots.com/photo/2920043620084392296DExRKE)

Kitch was back in Yorkshire by early evening.

The mountains feel a world and lifetime away, yet I can still smell the pines in France, the autumn leaves in the Eifel, feel the cool air at altitude prick my neck, the Swiss supersmooth tramc roll under my front tyre.


Shows what can be done with a low 8s BTG machine, although I'm sub 8 by Juanjo timing :lol:

18-09-2009, 11:52 PM
f'ing stunning report and trip - just what the doctor ordered :)

19-09-2009, 05:45 AM
Nice report Tim, good to hear that you enjoyed it, seems as you had a lot of fun :thumb:
Some really nice pics...

Dave B
19-09-2009, 07:42 AM
Great report Tim.
I love reading the 'Ring ones but every now and again one like this makes all the difference. :thumb:

19-09-2009, 08:53 AM
Brilliant!! :D :veryhappy: Makes me want to go out on the bike right now, never mind heading towards the Alps... :D

Bob Bobbleton
19-09-2009, 09:57 AM
Looks good with usual good weather blessing

sure beats the helmsley and hawes gp once a week

although I worry a little bit as you didn't manage to find a track to play on !

Surely your only non track trip this year ?

Bobby B

19-09-2009, 10:10 AM
Enjoyed that, looked a great trip :thumb:

19-09-2009, 10:14 AM
Brilliant report Tim - we really enjoyed reading it :thumb:

We've toured most of where you went over the last few summers, so the pics brought back happy memories for us.

Chris D
19-09-2009, 10:52 AM
I've quickly skipped through and i will read it later but from what i've seen already it looked awesome.

I'd love to something like that, would have to be in a car though, not bike :nono:

19-09-2009, 11:53 AM
What a cracking report ! :veryhappy:

Thoroughly enjoyed reading that, what a great trip. I like the random sightseeing when something took your fancy, good photos too, you should be pleased with that :thumb:

19-09-2009, 12:17 PM
Brilliant report mate! Thanks for taking the time to write it up and upload the pics :D

Great read, looks like such a great trip :D

19-09-2009, 12:45 PM
^^^ what he said :thumb:

19-09-2009, 05:23 PM
Excellent report Tim, looks like you had a great time..........something very special about bike roadtrips :thumb:

I really must get my ar5e in gear and post a report from our July Slovenia trip.

Tim in Yorkshire
19-09-2009, 07:02 PM
Cheers for the comments guys and girls, the write up is worth it as a reminder of the trip for myself in the future, come the cold winter or times away from the bike in the future the reminder of real life is only a click away.

19-09-2009, 10:14 PM
Originally posted by Tim in Yorkshire@Sep 18 2009, 07:18 PM

http://inlinethumb32.webshots.com/44383/2212943350084392296S600x600Q85.jpg (http://rides.webshots.com/photo/2212943350084392296QvwCWD)

Nice report Tim, but what's that very small old lady doing stuck on your tail pack???? :lol:

:thumb: :P

Tim in Yorkshire
20-09-2009, 06:36 AM
She's on Kitch's tail pack, the only way he could acheive the correct rider sag...

Dave B
20-09-2009, 03:15 PM
Oooh, wonder what he wrote before he had a rethink and edited..... :D

20-09-2009, 07:19 PM
Excellent :thumb: , some great pics there.

Really like the look of that kebab burger and chips! :D

21-09-2009, 02:03 PM
Thanks for sharing, looks like some good times were had!

14-10-2009, 11:29 PM
Not sure how I missed this until now but...

Absolutely superb report Tim :thumb:
It looks like it was a brilliant trip and a great experience in glorious-looking locations! Have been toying for some time with the idea of getting myself a motorbike but reading this has cranked the idea up several notches!!

Thanks for posting & sharing,
R :thumb:

15-10-2009, 07:58 AM
Only just read this now. Cracking read and it looked like an excellent trip :thumb:

15-10-2009, 12:32 PM
That is a good way to spend a lunch time, a great report, stunning scenery and a job well done!

Top work!! :thumb:

Dave G
15-10-2009, 12:56 PM
Excellent stuff Tim.

Looks like you had great fun.

I went skiing in Serre Chevailer last year, looks a bit different in Summer! :whistle:

Tim in Yorkshire
15-10-2009, 06:33 PM
This all feels like a life time a go, even though it's been just over a month. Roll on next Spring, but in the meantime, "Lets Offroad!"

16-10-2009, 03:57 PM
fantastic :D

i recognise most of the scenery in the first part, spent 5 weeks walking down france, and remember a few of those places. its a beautiful part of the world :)

loved briancon :D

17-10-2009, 03:50 PM
Originally posted by Rory O@Oct 14 2009, 11:29 PM
Not sure how I missed this until now but...

Absolutely superb report Tim :thumb:
It looks like it was a brilliant trip and a great experience in glorious-looking locations! Have been toying for some time with the idea of getting myself a motorbike but reading this has cranked the idea up several notches!!

Thanks for posting & sharing,
R :thumb:
Ditto! My 2nd fave "trip report", just behind Nige's standard-setting :veryhappy:

BTW - you didn't mention buying a larger set of leathers after so much beer and pizza :whistle:

17-10-2009, 08:16 PM
Nice report.
I've been to most of the places on the bike too.
Brings back memories.


21-10-2009, 10:06 AM
nice report Tim make me want a bike as well now

a friend has a 750 and loves it but came off 3 weeks ago after hitting some oil he's ok but the bike needs a rebuild

21-10-2009, 09:24 PM
Great report - Even if I am a little slow off the mark reading it :lol:

Thanks :thumb:

17-11-2009, 10:07 AM
Great report, really enjoyed reading it.