To get to Plzeň, I had several routes to choose from. Because I had no intention of going motorway the whole way, I chose a route through south-west Eastern Germany, with some country roads (the B 7, which is the same Bundesstraße as I could literally see from my childhood bedroom window around here) and a piece of brandnew A 44 somewhere in the backwoods and therefore totally empty (the Autobahn that's littered across half the country in short sections, and that I can walk to - although a different section - in like 20 minutes from home) before fueling up, having lunch and watching @shad_68's location marker fly by somewhere around Erfurt. I left the motorway behind for good somewhere in the Bavarian forest and continued on to the border Czech-point:
After some more driving, I arrived at our Penzion in Plzeň, checked the location markers of the others and decided to fuel up in preparation for the next day. When I returned, @Adrian, @leviathan and @ninjacoco were also just arriving. Good timing.
We headed into the city centre for dinner, and I got to try the Saab's backseat which was to my surprise completely usable, at least with the roof down.
Dinner was very good, I volunteered to drive the Tesla back to the hotel, so I had my drink after that:
Verdict: I still don't like beer.
The next morning, Dave was already working on his car. That inspired much confidence in things to come. But it wasn't the cooling system, that came later.... about an hour into our drive.
The route took us through the beautiful southwest corner of Czechia, along the river Vltava where apparently everyone was rafting, across the smallest border crossing I've ever seen into Austria and along very nice and sweeping country roads to Pöchlarn at the banks of the Danube. On the way there, we stopped in Freistadt for a very late lunch/very early dinner. Schnitzel and stuff, because Austria.
Naturally, I don't have any pictures from during the day because I was busy riding my bike...
... but behold the size of our portable fridge! @ninjacoco for scale.
Having a whole floor of a rear building of the hotel for us was not so bad. The hotel itself offered drinks and dessert in the evening and breakfast in the morning, so all was well.
The second day of roadtrip proper took us to Maribor, which meant for me that once again, like every time I've been in the Alps with my bike (thrice, counting this time), I took the road up to and past Mariazell, and that road is just a prime example of the glorious Austrian mountain Bundesstraßen. I had much fun gunning it up the mountain at the front of the group. At one point I noticed another bike quite close behind me, thought "if he overtakes an FG roadtrip convoy, he's bloody fast" and let him pass. At the fuel station in Mariazell, I actually met him and we chatted a bit, as much as my poor understanding of Austrian German allowed.
The day went on, and at one point we lost @DaBoom. Somewhere in the posts above are pictures of the rest of us waiting for him, before deciding he was probably already well ahead of us taking another route. And that was correct.
We arrived in Maribor where we found our accomodation was a very nice appartment, and the host invited us to a welcome drink of his homemade liquor. Welcome to the Balkans. @nicjasno and @IceBone also waited for us and treated us to a very epic "special stage" up the mountain to get a view of Maribor:
Then dinner in the city centre (meat with meat and meat, of course), which meant playing Sokoban with the cars on @nicjasno's yard.
There was also this store that had antique radios in the storefront:
I did write myself a storyboard of the full trip, but as usual it seems expanding that takes a bit more time. So have some scribblings of the days it took to get to the start point.
Home - Oulu - home FIN
As usual, it takes a bit of time to get from here to the actual start point of our roadtrips. If one insists on bringing their own gear along at least. This time I had an even longer route to cover. And for once I had others than myself to blame for that as well. My bike ended on the other end of Finland last year, while trying to find someone who knows something about those bikes. I’ve been promised the bike would be ready to pick up at the end of June and then mid-July. But this is a side job for him and he had been out for work trips the whole summer and putting the bike back together kept shifting.
So, Tuesday morning, I boarded a train north, so I’d actually have something to go on a roadtrip with. And while I’d have better things to do than head in the wrong direction, trains around here are a rather nice place to be.
Arriving in Oulu, I had to check out some roof tiles. And have a nice burger while at it.
At the garage, the bike was still missing some final assembly, so not at all tightly scheduled. And while adjusting the clutch I noticed that the cable was doing quite poorly. I finally set off into the night, for a short 550km ride home. Upside of the evening ride was that thunderstorms and heavy rain showers had been passing over the entire route the whole day, but now the sky was clear. Downside was that I was instantly reminded how unhappy Nelli was with Nordic temperatures, made even worse by some “intake optimisation” while the engine was apart.
Some spottings on one of many fuel stops, while putting on some rain gear.
As the sun went down, consumption went up, as the engine was choking itself. I needed my rain gear for wind protection and the engine needed to run above 6000rpm to even run somewhat smoothly. Eventually during on of many fuel stops I got the laptop out and guestimated some values in to the fuel map, as the consumption and my already limited range was getting ridiculous.
Home - Pärnu FIN-EST
So, having made it home at around 2AM, I had a nice and relaxing early morning wake up, as I needed to be at a tyre shop to get new tyres fitted, before packing and rushing for a ferry.
Breakfast of champions
Fortunately they managed to squeeze me in, but eventually I was too late for the ferry. So while waiting for the next one, I did some last minute electronics shopping, as there’s a nice electronics warehouse just by the harbour. Waiting for the next ferry meant that it would be a somewhat late arrival again, but at least it was only a short 130km to Pärnu after the ferry.
Admiring the well attached cargo, while queuing for the ferry.
Various options for touring bikes
This last bit for the day was of course made more stressful by Nelli showing some early squeaks of things to come, but at this point I just thought it’s not the engine, as that has been inspected, so whatever, too late to turn back now. And by the time I arrived the squeaks were gone again.
In relation to previous and following days, this was only a short ~300km ride, so arriving later wasn’t that big of a deal. But had I arrived earlier, we could’ve started sourcing help for imminent clutch cable change already. This way it was going to make the next long day even longer. Parking ended up rather exciting as well.
But a nice dinner at a nearby biker owned and themed restaurant and very pleasant weather made for a nice and relaxing evening.
Pärnu - Warsaw EST-LVA-LTU-POL
The morning started with a wait from a workshop, for the MR2 to be ready for pick up. Meanwhile we stopped at the bicycle shop next door to ask if they could change the clutch cable, which they of course refused without even asking about specifics. Then again, I wasn’t explaining the situation in the clearest way, so it’s understandable. The shop where the MR2 was said they might be able to do it, but were too busy eventually, so they pointed us towards the biker restaurant / hostel where we dined the previous night.
Eventually I ended up making the cable myself. And thinking back I could’ve done that in the first place and just asked for cutters in the first shop we stopped at. The one tool I was missing for that job.
Even if this was the longest day, I didn’t trust the old cable. At this point we were still in an area @Brotan knows, so might as well deal with this now, rather than risk doing the same by the road somewhere.
The old cable in its rather questionable state
Some excessive force cutters were sourced, which made the cable making a bit of a chore, as they didn’t really make for a neat cut that was needed. Eventually it took long enough that lunch was in order before trying to catch up the schedule a bit. Which is rather hard with speed limits of blistering 90 throughout Baltics and speed cameras aplenty, both regular and average speed zones.
And as usual, at one point my navigation guided me to a different route, so we got split up for an hour or so. And while I was playing fuel light bingo just before the Polish border, we managed to meet up at a fuel station, with 3-4 minute difference in arrival time.
Just like on the 2020 roadtrip, the sun set before the Polish border, but despite the darkness I could tell this was once again a new route through the country. Somehow it feels I always end up on a different route than before. Some roadworks also provided a fun moment of confusion and almost jumping off from an unfinished ramp.
But, eventually we made it to Warsaw, after a “short” 870km stint. Our hotel was pretty much in the centre of the city, but unfortunately it was already midnight by the time we arrived, so there wasn’t much time to explore. Too bad, really, as the city looked very different to what you see from the motorway that passes through it. Which has unfortunately been the way I’ve always seen the city so far.
Midnight arrival at Warsaw
Warsaw - Plzen POL-CZE
While the temperatures had gone up during the previous day, the non airconditioned room we had was surprisingly tolerable for the night. We didn’t get to enjoy the room too much either, as we had another long day ahead of us and arriving as early as possible was the preferred scheduling.
And skyscrapers make for pretty good sunshades.
It was already past 25C by the time we were setting off, so dragging all the stuff back to the bike built up a good sweat that would last the whole day. I also started the daily ritual of fiddling with my fuel maps, as things were way off. And at least if I made the tune worse I could return to previous settings, so nothing to lose with a bit of guessing.
As we had a long and very warm day on the motorway ahead of us, we stocked up on drinks and headed out for a proper transfer day. Eventually near the Chech border, my range and the fact neither of us really hear anything on the comms at motorway speeds lead up to an interesting fuel stop. While there, some motorway toll issues for the remainder of the route got sorted as well. We were at least 2km away from the motorway, so we thought we’d explore some smaller roads while at it. Waze clearly took this as a challenge and we ended up all the way to the Chech side of the border, before the route led us back to motorways. It was a nice pace change, with lovely countryside views and a bit too much traffic.
On the last motorway fuel stop I noticed my front right indicator had decided it's had enough and disappeared. So a bit of tape work was needed to keep remaining parts along before continuing.
Once again the sun was about to set by the time we made it to the start point of the roadtrip. That’s about 2400km for me. There was a bit of confusion with the check in and who paid what, but at least we got a room so I could change to something lighter than riding gear, before heading to town to meet with the rest of the crew.
For some reason I didn’t take more pictures of the town centre. A big parking lot isn’t the best view on offer there. Unfortunately it was too warm for me to feel like eating anything, as the menu of the place was very interesting.
As we were late to arrive, the Finn team was left behind. After a few drinks and a short walk about the town centre, we joined others at our accommodation for an evening of casual chatter and cheap beers for those interested. It was also time to make a new indicator for the bike, as some rain was forecast for the night and next day.
The last post ended with the evening in Maribor - logic dictates that
begins with breakfast in that very town. Well, kind of. Google Maps had two locations in the vicinity of our apartment listed as bakeries, so @Tram, @DaBoom and I went for a morning walk. There was no bakery. Instead, we found a pond, a cow and a cemetery.
Breakfast then turned out to be some Snickers at the fuel station where we all filled up our vehicles, including @leviathan's Tesla.
We then started that day's route. While putting it into my navigation before the trip, I had noticed that both Calimoto and Garmin refused to follow the waypoints. A quick look on StreetView revealed that @DaBoom had gone full Finnish on us and had chosen some gravel roads.
We discussed this and on the assurance that the gravel stretches were few and short, everyone agreed that what the hell, let's do this. So we went.
The first short stop, assembling the group again after what felt like half an hour at 30 kph max and everyone had left quite some distance to the car in front. Not pictured: The less than pleased faces.
Also not pictured: Dave's Saab. He stayed behind in Maribor to fix the cooling issue with @nicjasno's help and would catch up with us at the end of the following day.
On top of this mountain road, Slovenia once again showed its beauty:
Back down in the valley, @shad_68 used the opportunity of a fuel station stop to free his brandnew car from the dirt.
We then agreed to let gravel roads be gravel roads and take the fully asphalted "plan B" route. Except @DaBoom, if I remember correctly. After following the valley and having lunch at a lovely spot in Solčava (pictured in @Tram's post) we went off into the mountains again and crossed back into Austria at the Paulitschsattel border crossing:
Heading down the pass, I took advantage of being narrow enough to overtake some cars and positioned myself at the intersection to the main road to take some pictures:
And on towards Villach we went. On the way I learned that there is a Slovenian-speaking minority in Austria, so they have bilingual signs:
Finally, we reached our hostel in Villach. Which had a quite unique room for four for us:
Yes, the shower is in the room without much of a wall or divider. There's even a glass window between the sink and the shower. We were surprised that there wasn't a mirror on the ceiling over the bed.
Also, I am sure a hotel ad would call this a "mountain view":
Anyway, the town itself wasn't so bad. We had nice Schnitzel and drinks for a late dinner.
started with the unpleasant surprise that @Adrian's Donk hat pissed itself - cooler leak. Also, @ninjacoco still needed to buy some stuff due to her luggage adventures, but Villach being a somewhat sizeable town, that both got sorted out.
We had breakfast at the restaurant of a nearby furniture store, and that is a link because the breakfast was quite good, unbelievably good for the low price in fact. We didn't buy any furniture though.
Due to the Donk needing some work, the group split for the day. We in the leading group went first up to a viewpoint to enjoy the view:
Of course, everyone was lining up his vehicle for a shot:
And @Brotan inexplicably chose to push his car rather than driving it to a proper parking spot:
Sadly, there was no café or restaurant there, so we continued to...
and stopped very shortly after the border to have lunch - with a charging opportunity for the Tesla even. Looking back at the border station:
Continuing through Italy, we had great mountain passes, soaring heat, and at least I found the sight of this thoroughly dried up area not only sad, but downright frightening. Near the end of the day, we met up with @Beni who showed us the impressive Diga de Vajont. This involved walking from the parking lot along the road and through a tunnel to the viewing spot. Gorgeous gorge is gorgeous.
And with that, I close this chapter. No pictures - at least not by me - of the weird accomodation without any service, located above a laundromat, in an industrial area, that for some reason had a sauna in each room.
And on to the next, and last chapter of my report.
Apart from the "transfer days" to the rallying point and to Ringmeet, this was going to be the longest day. We started in Belluno with fueling up and buying a bit of breakfast at various bakeries near the fuel station. Then, off we went over some beautiful passes. At the top of Passo Manghen, we stopped for a few pictures.
@DaBoom then saved some fuel by rolling down the pass with the engine off, until he wanted to overtake the car in front of us and started the engine while being alongside the car. It was only from that sudden roar that I, riding a few metres behind, realized what he had done. My helmet could barely contain my grin.
We then stopped for lunch at Passo Lavazé, where they had interesting "burgers": Schnitzel instead of burger patties. But the area was place, even it was very touristy.
After that, the car people opted for going the "direct" route to save a bit of time, so @DaBoom and I split and continued on the planned route via Passo di Gavia, approaching Bormio from the south-east. Given that that pass road was only about three metres wide most of the way up and had very few places one could pass oncoming traffic, it was just as well we didn't have a five-car convoy.
But before, that: STOP! Picture time!
Up the pass:
In Bormio we made a couple of stops to fuel up (before going to Switzerland) and buy some snacks. That's when we got the message that the restaurant at our hotel closed the kitchen at 20:30 already, so we hauled ass up the south side of Stelvio to still get some dinner. Which we did, and it was glorious. As was the wine (see opening post of this thread).
Unfortunately, it was this day that my Calimoto app crashed on me and the track was lost. Well, before I enjoyed hearing it telling me "you have already climbed 7,000 metres today". It was quite the ride.
After enjoying the hospitality of the hotel at the top of Stelvio, we continued on our adventure to do five countries in five hours.
Waiting at the first border for the rest of the group before going down Umbrail pass:
Switzerland was beautiful as expected, and in terms of passes, had more to offer than I had expected. I also did the probably stupidest bit of driving of the whole trip, which earned me being honked (and probably cursed) at by a lorry driver. Well, I live to not tell any more of that.
Short snack break at Flüela pass:
We continued on to Liechtenstein, and on the way there the road went straight (well, actually, in a curve) through the historical Festung St. Luzisteig, a place with rich history that we were completely unaware of and drove right through.
Then, we entered the next country:
Liechtenstein is, as far as I can tell, like Switzerland, only even richer and even more expensive. And seemingly everyone there fuels up their cars in Austria. The border to Austria was in fact the only border we crossed that had a proper border station, although we weren't stopped or checked. But I didn't take picture.
Lunch break was at some shopping centre in Austria that had a decent mall restaurant, and we also stocked up on drinks and snacks for the evening. Then, on to Germany. The ride was pretty uneventful. Traffic around Lake Constance was hell, and as a result, the group got split up. After @narf buggered off to his hotel, I successfully caught up to the rest of the group with some more questionable riding.
For the main part of the group, the day ended with Döner in the local Döner place in the village we stayed in, and drink in the nice back yard of our accomodation.
This was transfer day to Ringmeet. We had planned the rather long route with several cut-off points where one could just enter the Autobahn for the rest of the way. Once again, somewhere in France the group split and the motorcyclists ended up being alone. I suffered quite a bit from the heat, and so we decided to abandon the rest of the route and take the Autobahn once we met the A 8 at Neunkirchen. @shad_68 and @MXM took the whole route, as far as I know.
This is our final stop at an Autobahn service area overlooking the Mosel valley:
And that was it. 3,000 km of roadtrip for me, more for others. Ringmeet followed, but that has its own thread.
I sure hope some others also tell their stories of the trip. I tend to take few pictures, and also there was plenty of stuff where I wasn't present.
hijacking the thread for my private little moan: it's insane to me how I'm perfectly fine to view the embedded grams here, but when I try to look at shit on the actual site, zuck wants me to log in. no account? fook yue!
Continuing at my own pace, just like on the road..
Plzen - Pöchlarn CZE-AUT
Always amusing on these trips how early I tend to wake up. Complete opposite to when I’m back home. So I was first at breakfast, taking sneaky pictures behind a white whale.
Saab traditions, nuts being checked
A comfortable and spacious cockpit for gran touring. No, that’s not it
While most people were up surprisingly early, the usual FG roadtrip takeoff ensued. I went to get fuel early to be prepared. Then others needed some as well, still. While waiting I was playing with my fuel maps as well. And since somebody wanted a shop stop and we met up there, of course half the people went for a shopping run as well (me included). Well, it’s not like we were in any hurry, so eventually we got going. And straight into trouble. Pretty much straight after we cruised out of the town area Saab was starting to show cooling symptoms it had done a week or so before. A lengthy Looking at Things and Filling Up the System -stop by the road kept us going for a short while, but too quickly a more thorough inspection stop was needed. And of course this was during the only time on the trip when we had a bit of drizzle. Fortunately most work was done before the drizzle started.
Pretty much the only bit of rain we had the entire trip. At least there was some use for the packed rain gear
After that Saab was set to steady cruise mode, while the rest of the group got to our first nice swoopy roads.Slightly unnerving on two wheels, as it was greasy in parts after spots of rain.
As the route of the day was on the longer side, with repair stops making the day longer, a late lunch stop was suggested. A nice old town was discovered on the way and after a bit of searching some food was found (which I skipped once again, opting for some heavy pastries instead).
I’m a fan of these narrow alleyways, with seemingly random additions
The Freistadt town centre square
The moat around the old town centre is a bit more inviting these days
Don’t remember why, I guess I stopped for fuel or something, but I ended up arriving at the hotel on my own. After our house was located and vehicles moved to the correct place, a nice relaxing evening at the hotel bar was had. Rain didn’t drop the night temperature too much, so it was still nice to hang around outside.
Pöchlarn - Maribor AUT-SVN
As I was up early as usual, a morning walk by the river was in order
Long standing places for a northerner like me
The scale of the river drowns even the rather sizeable bridge
“Great development project, with room for activities downstairs and river view upstairs..!”
Eventually a local guide dropped by to show me around
Our private parking grounds. And someone stressing about their luggage
A view from the apartment. Not the most scenic, but nice and calm (apart from rather busy train traffic).
As the Saab cooling wasn’t doing too well, the HMS crew took the shortest route to @nicjasno garage for further inspections. The rest of us got going along the planned route in the usual leisurely and still oddly chaotic manner.
While looking browsing, several times I was wondering why I took this picture
Oh right, some sign spotting
..Or maybe it was some church in the background
While stopped there, I found a new friend for Nelli.
As the roads got faster, I felt like I needed more space, so I dropped back several times when fun roads came up. Eventually I calculated wrong and some town hopping dropped me out of radio range. And as my Tomtom seemed to always have different ideas which specific roads to take, I guess I went past the group at some point.
Windmilling somewhere in the mountains, trying to track from Telegram where others are
When I got the phone out, I noticed they had stopped for lunch as well, which I rarely do, so I was too far ahead to turn back, so I just kept on the route, on to the wine ridge at the Austria/Slovenia border. I’ve driven through the area once, but was in too much of a hurry that time to stop and admire the scenery. And I was not going to make the same mistake again.
Climbing up to wine country
Seems a bit restrictive
A fair few stops were made along the ridge. Looks very similar in pictures of course, but after every crest there was a new view to behold.
That road on the main ridge is very narrow, but excellent for scenic cruising
Since I arrived earlier, I got some help, to fix my indicative issues
While bikes and cars were worked on, others were hard at work too
We once again ended up at a really nice place, which was filled with many worries about missing luggage throughout the evening.
Maribor - Villach SVN-AUT
Morning walk was in order again, this time in search of some breakfast. That part didn’t turn out too well, but at least some serene surroundings were found. Meanwhile in town, a search was on to find some new clothes, medicine etc, to cover for missing luggage. This didn’t turn out too well either, but at least plenty of time was wasted. And when we got going, the route got off to a gravely start almost straight away.
Unintentional motion blur because of the greenery. Donk speed
Nice hill to roll down
After a short navigation stop in the woods I went ahead at my own pace until the end of this gravel expedition, so I had time to set up for roadside pics again.
Having gotten up the hill, the views got a bit wider
Since breakfast options had been very limited, some were getting a bit hangry, so a fuel station snack break and reconsideration of routes was in order at this point.
Surprise wrongSaab, to complete the group
So, around here we got split into three groups. Most doing a slightly longer route to the original, but going around gravel bits that I somehow managed to miss several times when drawing and rechecking the original route, which I was the only one to continue on here. Two cars set off to a direct route towards the border, with a promising looking lunch place as a rendezvous point. I stayed with the direct route for a while, before dropping off to a different side of the ridge where the main road was. The route got off to a good start, with mostly empty roads in good condition, hopping from village to village
Steadily more elevation and curves were added to the mix and despite occasional bumpy bits, it was a joyous ride. After enjoying lovely and empty twisties for a good while, road conditions eventually got a bit Finnish
I knew there’s some gravel on the way, but somehow managed to misread the distance. While I had fun, the bike disagreed a bit. A clutch cable suddenly clicked a bit and I lost half the operation range. I of course assumed my self made cable was about to give up. Spent some time inspecting the cable and tighten it, which could be done in worse surroundings.
Moving on ahead a bit more gingerly, the scenery didn’t get worse
And despite fearing that the clutch cable could break, the roads were still fun
Dropping down to the village I happened to see the fuel station, so I went for a refuel before going to the restaurant on the other side of the stream. This turned out to be a great decision, as the place closed soon after. As I was second to arrive, I walked up to catch the arrival of the touring group.
Surprisingly for a place in the mountains, the menu was quite seafood oriented. Made for a slightly more tolerable temperature as well. As the Donk was parked at the front, I noticed first signs of it marking its territory.
Usually it’s rest of the crew facepalming
The border crossing chosen was freshly paved on the Slovenian side, but still very narrow. Which usually means I’ll end up ahead a bit eventually. I did spot a nice scenic spot to take pictures, but stopped too far to walk back in time. But better than nothing still.
Elevation was dropping as we were nearing Villach, but the view still opened up occasionally. As the roads got wider, we picked up the pace a bit, to make it to town earlier.
And what an interesting place we had.. “Penthouse apartment with a mountain view”
With an escape hatch. This motel had all kinds of quirks
Good teamwork and parking skills, as street parking had very limited availability