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Travelogue: Jubilee Trip 2011-1
16 September 2011 - 5 Day Jubilee Trip to Mandello del Lario
TLM's Anniversary trip, 90 years Moto Guzzi
From : Els (driver's mate of Chris)
Wednesday, September 14
About two yours ago we subscribed to the trip to Mandello. Today, Wednesday September 14, we will start our trip. We have decided to leave one day earlier as this is the first long trip together and we both find a 700 km drive on the first day a little bit too much. Normally we drive up to a maximum of 300 km a day to make it more relaxing.
Just one final check of the route, luggage, lock and then ..... ? Keys? Grrr.... The start was delayed an hour, the keys almost ended up with the laundry. Our neighbors Niek and Jet need to come out of their home several times to check whether or not we have left already. They want to say goodbye to us and are wondering why we are still have not left. Packed we leave at 12.00 am and Niek takes a last picture of our departure.
The weather is beautiful and even on this first day we get enthusiastic greetings from other Guzzi riders. This must be other members of the TLM-group who also departed one day earlier. (TLM license plates are recognizable from thousands ....) and that gives me an exciting feeling and also that we are not wimps because we left one day earlier. The route is beautiful and we are led through beautiful landscapes. This is the good life! In time your food and drink and then drive on to the next stop.
At 04:00 PM we arrive at the hotel in Nassau, take a bite and go to bed.
Thursday, September 15:
When we have breakfast at 07:30AM. I am wondering how many people today have started from Nijmegen. Tonight I have to ask Martijn or Michiel who will stay in the same hotel in Germany.
Again it is a beautiful day and during the day we see more and more Guzzi riders. This is really great! The feeling of knowing that there are about 240 people in the group that we may encounter. We stop because my helmet is not comfortable and we are loudly greeted by a group of about eight riders. This is really kicking. You drive on your own, but basically you're not alone. We drive on and eventually we join a group waiting at a traffic light and Chris tries to make a talk with a biker.. Of-course he doesn't speak Dutch and says in fluent English that he is one of the Aussie's. Shit happens ....... Before we can explain the concept of the Dutch parliamentary democracy the light turns green and off we go.. We try to stick to the group but their speed is much higher and we tune out. A little further we see in the field, by the roadside, a couple waving and greeting us. This feels so good ...there are more crazy people who want to experience this journey.
It is warm and the tiredness starts to hit and I hope that soon we arrive at our hotel. We arrive at 04:30 PM at "Gasthof Brauerei Adler" in Hundersingen. We are not the first, and there are already three men relaxing and enjoying their beer on the terrace. Egbert has even left that morning from Den Oever. Gosh. ... That's a long trip or did he think he was on a race track? He is telling us that he just has returned his license because he tried out his new bike a bit too enthusiastic .... :-)
For parking the motorcycles, two garages and a large barn are reserved. But who cares, nice weather, so all the bikes park outside in front of the Gasthof/hotel!
It is a nice hotel near a church and the beds are wonderful (as always my first check in a room). First a refreshing shower and then enjoying a drink with the rest on the terrace. Each engine noise bends the heads towards the road to see who's arriving now. This is fun!
During our third beer we see the couple who have greeted us during the day arriving from a different street.... but.... uh ... that's a very strange arrival. Atte and Cisca, both being exhausted, are stepping down. Their Zumo has told them some 20 km back on top of a hill: Destination reached ! ...... So you see .... Technology is not everything! long live the paper version..... For Atte and Cisca this is also their first trip with the TLM bunch.
As finally (...) also Michiel and Martijn arrive, I ask how many people have left this morning from Nijmegen.
That were about about 50 bikers.... So there are a lot more people who thought it was better to leave earlier. The 'fast guys' are pretty much the latest. Of course, you need to tamper the racing engines during the trip don't you? And finally at dinner were missing four riders.
For dinner, everybody sits along two long tables and you can guess what we got to eat..... Schnitzel !!!!! (I see Carl's big smile and after reading previous reports I understand why). Everybody enjoys the meal, so almost complete silence.....
During the meal finally the last 4 bikers arrive and they all get a big cheers. Finally ... the whole team is complete!
In the other hotel there is still an Englishman and Norwegian missing! Similar stories of lost passengers and nights in bus shelters are told spontaneously.
We go to bed and sleep at the back of the hotel overlooking the church. Well, we noticed the church during the whole night ! No offense, but the priest must have thought about the Jenny from the block song... "Let's get loud".... The whole night the clock every half / hour pounded and at 6:00 the priest must have thought, "Let's make some NOOOOOISE!!!" Everyone was on time for breakfast? ! gosh ....
Friday, September 16
Today we drive along with Cisca and Atte. Because they have more confidence in our paper route map than their Zumo- technology. Carl also does not have complete confidence in his Zumo and wants to drive with a group who takes it easy . We depart at 09.00 AM with three bikes to Italy with our paper route map on front. It's a little foggy and we need a refuel. Here we see several bikers coming from different locations. Do they all have a different interpretation of the route? We follow the designated route (we're pretty sure), but apparently our group is the only one who takes the right turn at the roundabout, the other riders are divided over the other four outputs of the roundabout .... random ....... :-)
For me it is strange to get used knowing that several bikes behind you are relying on your route and speed. We are far from race monsters and I'm therefore somewhat uncertain of our driving.
Cisca and Atte didn't succeed to get money from the ATM near the hotel in Germany and we look forward to the first convenient possibility to withdraw cash. We are seeing much more bikers on the road than yesterday, even in directions you least expect. Have more people problems with their Zumo?
The first long stop is at the filling station on the highway with a large restaurant. Coffee and cake taste delicious. Sit back and relax, just enjoying a quiet moment in the sun on the terrace. The weather is beautiful and the area is flooded with Guzzi riders. Really kicking! Just before Liechtenstein it is easy to stop at a bank to withdraw cash. Cisca shows the money as a trophy in the air !
Liechtenstein is a place to forget. Many traffic lights .. it's busy and there are many speed cameras .... This little piece of road took as quit some time but we we rewarded by the beautiful Julier pass.
Chris has limited experience with mountain-passes and he finds the hairpin bends difficult to drive and a lot of groups pass us because they can take these hairpins bends must easier. About halfway down the pass we decide to stop for lunch where Carl teaches us in driving in groups through the mountains. Gladly, he left home his cowbells .......... The restaurant is located next to the road and a lot of more bikers have the same stop. I cannot image what I'm going to experience in Mandello. This can only be a madhouse. After lunch, the way to the top continues over the Maloja Pass. The view is magnificent and I wish that I had stopped more often to take a picture. And there we have the border with Italy! The first village must have taken the anniversary in consideration as the asphalt of the complete road is scraped and we can only drive through this village very slow. Does the nephew of the mayor have a road construction company? Or has the mafia stolen all the asphalt?
On the right I see a beautiful waterfall and because we are driving so slow it is very easy for me to take pictures. It's hot in Italy (I think about 30 degrees) and we drive along a lake where it is crowded with kite surfers. A beautiful sight! This really feels like vacation.
With all this chaos on road-No 72 we finally arrive in Bellano, From here everyone will ride to his own hotel. Our destination is hotel "Albergo Maggio" in Maggio di Cremeno where we will stay for three nights. Carl 's destination is a hotel next to our hotel but unfortunately Atte and Cisca have to take a different direction. I am going to miss them as I enjoyed their company very much.
Our paper route map indicates that from Bellano, on Lake Como, it is about 3.5 kilometers to our destination. Again we have to take very small bends and in front of us a bus is trying also to take these small bends and must maneuver very well to take them.. pfffff... this is a tough road to drive. The road surface is bad and does not seem to end. The uncertainty strikes because we think it is only 3.5 kilometers to the hotel. We have, however, driven much more. Could it be possible that our paper route map is also recalculating the route?
We ask Carl to drive with his Zumo ahead and we hope that this piece of technology will bring us to our destination. From all directions we see Dutch bikers appearing. Could it be possible that more people have lost their way to the hotel ? Spontaneously we decide to participate in the polonaise of engines and finally we see again recognizable town names. Carl is the first one who reaches his hotel and we arrive at our hotel about 100 meter further. We are the first bikers who arrive and we are warmly welcomed by the hotel employees. It is a beautiful hotel built in 1920 (luckily the waitress is much younger ...). In the dining room they have beautiful mirrors and I also see a jukebox and radio of days gone. Also the tile floor is original from 1920. This is really magnificent . We are guided to our room. We have a room on the top floor (thank you Michiel and Martijn that you have responded to our wishes) and Chris enjoys the old hinges of the door (photo moment).
We have a beautiful view of the church and the other TLM-booked hotel. We take a nice shower and decide to take a cold beer on the terrace because it is a lovely warm summer evening. We are started both of the first noise of the church bells.
Could it be possible that in Italy they also have priests who enjoy to ring church bells and keep everyone awake all night ? We ask our waiter for more information and it seems that these clocks are quiet between 10:00 PM and 06:00 AM. I am so glad.... that's a lot better organized than in Germany.
On the terrace we meet Maurice and the two brothers Arie and Jan. They also stayed in the same hotel yesterday in Germany and I notice that Jan looks very alike to my colleague Henk. From that moment, Jan is Henk for me (so don't get confused later on in this story).
Not everyone reaches their destination around 06:30 PM and we decide to have dinner anyway so we do wait for the other bikers.
Again we have the same table with Maurice and the brothers and we have an enjoyable evening.
It's nice that during such a trip your get to meet so many people. We go to bed early as the last three days were very tiring. Near 01:00 AM I wake up by some boys who have some kind of dropping in the hotel to take a bath in each others room.
Saturday, September 17
The next morning we have breakfast at 08:00 AM and I enjoy my breakfast with croissant, cake and coffee. Everything is organized very well and I am not complaining (this is unique according to Chris) ! Together with Maurice and the brothers we ride to the railway station in Bellano which will be our meeting point for today's trip to Mandello. The weather is great .... and maybe (and yes ... the Dutch always complain about the weather) just a little too hot.
From the road above we see that we are not the first ones at the station. Oh, this is going to be great! According plan we arrive at 10:00 AM and the whole group will ride together to Mandello at 11:30 AM. about 15 km along the Como lake. On the square people are telling me who is Teo Lamers....a man, almost 60 years old, with many gray accents and massive sideboards (photo moment).
Although the parking lot is full of bikes, still some Italians think they will find a spot to park their car. So stupid ! We also see Italians getting irritated as their cars are blocked by bikes and cannot leave. I see Michiel moving all engines so they can get out.
I have a quick stop at the shop to buy some water as it is very hot and as we have to wait for another hour before we will depart to Mandello. Together with Carl, Cisca and Atte we look for refreshment in the shades and here I see a biker sleeping backwards on his back with a smoking cigarette (another photo moment).
Unfortunately we also hear that there are delays in the schedule as someone in the group was hit by a car and taken to the hospital. Very sad .... and I hope he will be OK.
Martijn calls everybody and we retrieve a goodies bag which includes a logo, t-shirt, bag, baseball cap and rubber bracelet used as entrance ticket for the Guzzi factory.
Quickly I take a picture of the oldest member in the group (somewhere in the 70´ s) with his Japanese bike (with wicker basket on the back) and then up in convoy to Mandello !!!
This is an incredible sensation ! This is about a procession of two kilometer if you calculate that there are over 200 engines. The road to Mandello has many tunnels, and is really close to the water.(A great photo opportunity). From the motor I manage to shoot some more pictures. This is really something I will never forget !
The arrival in Mandello is complete chaos. Wherever you look bikes are parked and everywhere we hear the so familiar sound of the Guzzi bikes. What a great moment !
It is really a complete madhouse! Finally we are able to park our bike on a deserted square where you can come only through a small alley. Apparently others bikers had not come up to this idea. At the beginning of the alley I guide more bikers of our group to this square.
Next destination: the Moto Guzzi factory!
During this walk we pass small city parks where bikers have put on their tents. I do not want to think about how they take care of their selves all these days and which place they use a bathroom (this is typically woman remark, right ? (no....this is not a photo moment)). We have never seen so many Guzzi bikes together. This is really overwhelming.
On the square on front at the Guzzi factory it is also very crowded. Also here a lot of bikes are parked and may places to get food and drinks (is there some kind of connection?). The heat is almost killing us and we see a large crowd at the entrance of the factory to enter.
Everywhere you see the T-shirts which were handed out by the TLM group. I even understood later that people have raised questions where they could buy this T-shirt! My compliments to the organization! After half an hour we are inside the factory. First, the women have to make a pit stop. I'm still so full of adrenaline of the ride to the factory that I hardly give myself time to take a good look. Of course we take the time to make some group pictures. I notice that the Italians have no talent in organizing events. In our country the courtyard would have been stuffed with food and drink stalls. Well here I did not even had the opportunity to get some coffee. This is a missed opportunity of the factory!
The heat, the desire for fluids, decides us to seek refuge outside the factory to score drinks and sandwiches.
You see the strangest people AND Guzzi models. It is fun to see people dressed up for this event and especially I want to mention the half-naked men in leather pants with their belly hanging over their belts (no photo moment). Yet we get very tired of strolling and we decide to look for a terrace! We even manage to get a chair on a terrace !!! Honestly I did not expect to sit anywhere else than on a sidewalk edge along the side of the road where you still need to be careful not to run over by bikers.
It's now about 04:00 PM and we decide to go back to the hotel because the sky looks very black of coming bad weather. Quickly we say goodbye to Cisca and Atte, get some fuel and together with Carl we ride back to the hotel on the same road full of hairpin bends near the station ..... and yes .... now we know the road!
At arrival we take a quick shower and then enjoy a (couple of) beer(s). Maurice shows me some movies made with a camera today that he can fix to his helmet. This looks very cool.
At dinner, everyone is looking for his familiar spot on the evening of arrival (people are creatures of habits, right ?) Jan (in other words Henk, my colleague) wants no pasta today ..... and we cannot persuade him to take a bite.
The racing team has managed to get the waitress on the lap of one of the guys for a photo moment ......... poor girl .....
Maurice is also very hilarious ... as he can imitate here face very well by pulling op his noise in a funny way.After dinner it starts to rain and we gather below on a bench outside under a small roof (photo moment) .
That night grandmother haunted in the hotel, it seemed she was looking for her chair.
Sunday, September 18
When we wake up it is still raining and there's so much moisture in the air that we almost cannot see any mountains.
When leaving the room for our breakfast I notice that a small closet is switched with the granny-chair? (haunting granny ?).
During the day I have seen many souls in the arms of our bikers at the hotel. The rain really fell in buckets. You can only conclude that we are forced to take a resting day without any riding. There have been people who have undertaken an effort to use public transport to go to Milan and one member of the family of the hotel dropped them at the railway station of Bellano.
Well... do you know that joke of people who went to Milan? Well they did not go. Of course the Italians have chosen this particular day to go on strike in the public transport. Later I understood that the group had to spent in total some 120 Euro taxi fare to get back to the hotel .... that's a lot of money !
We spent this raining day at our hotel and also visit the other TLM-hotel.
A number of bikes are parked under a party tent put to tinker. There we also see a copy of our own bike, and I can remember a really convincing story of Michiel at the time we bought our bike, that this bike was unique in the Netherlands. I have bloody seen seen three of these Guzzi's in the same TLM group. ! Well Michiel.... I do not know if we have to believe your stories in the future again :-)
Of course we also took the opportunity to take a look inside the church and encountered a filming Maurice on the road.
Again we have pasta as a starter for dinner and also this time Jan (or Henk?) skips the food served but he makes things up by eating the chicken leg of Maurices's plate.
So....now to bed and tomorrow we will enjoy riding mountain passes again. Grandma apparently thought the same..... there was no haunting during the night or the combination of alcohol and earplugs worked finally.
Monday, September 19
During breakfast the next morning we get a call from Cisca. The mountain passes are closed because of fallen snow and today's route is adjusted. I ask her whether this is a joke but it appears to be a serious matter.
Actually I already knew yesterday that this would happen when Chris looked at the weather forecasts on his laptop. Two minutes later Martijn enters the dining room to actually confirm this message.
The intention is now to take a route via Como and Lugano through the Gotthard tunnel to Germany.... and yes...we are lucky as we already bought our permit for Switzerland at home!
Cisca, Atte and Carl will join us at our hotel and together we will drive to our hotel in Hundersingen in Germany again.
In the parking lot the race team has promoted the hotel waitress now as their team member with leather jacket and hopla there she goes on the bike ... She loses here ponytail and hangs over the engine so everyone can take pictures (and yes, also three pictures by me) .....Italian design, so not all photos are suitable for publication ....
Cisca and Atte started their ride again from the goat-path in front of their Hotel ...and yes we saw the results lying on the saddle . Probably a farmer somewhere is now missing some kind of sheep or goat ....
You can of course ride with a paper route map or with a Zumo or just take some time to take a look at a map and rely on the Italian road signs. Never make that mistake in Italy! Take the time to map out your route very well and you certainly will win a lot of time and prevent a lot of oops sorry moments for others.
We arrive at the border using a touristic route. You can buy vignettes anywhere, but the hint for next time ...ANWB vignettes are the cheapest.
Switzerland is thorough, dull and yet so incredibly beautiful. They have white mountain tops, good roads and above all good road signs. So why using a Zumo?
The Gotthard tunnel is surely a point to remember. Before the tunnel we had 10 degrees, in the tunnel the stove heated up to 35 degrees and the oxygen content dropped to a dangerous level, and at the north side of the tunnel suddenly everything went back to a normal with the exception of the temperature. Winter gloves at the next stop!
There it shows once again that every Guzzi can give you surprises. But fortunately the not technical persons Atte and Chris can solve Carl's starting problems directly. No, we will give you no more details, we promised Carl.
In the meanwhile however, Chris has lost is keys already 26 times and 27 times I found them in my handbag and Cisca is thinking about taking a sheep dog to gard her sheep/goat.
The atmosphere is great and we continue our journey via Luzern (yes yes, we missed exit 36) towards Zürich. I just wrote earlier that the Swiss roadsigns are excellent ...but uhhh in Zürich they certainly can make improvements. Gladly the Zumo can help us in this situation and after sightseeing Zürich City Center we can resume our way.
We speed up as the sky is getting darker and darker.....
A good pace, because the sky is becoming more menacing. Unfortunately, although the Guzzi rider can drive fast, the rain overtakes him finally after all. Drip, drip drip.....and splash at the border with Germany. "Pauze machen und auch pipi machen..... ". The only die-hards we have seen driving are Maurice, Arie and Jan/Henk,
I'm proud of them!
The last 100 km or so to the hotel are cold, wet and tiring. The bikes must have smelt their shed at the hotel and keep on running until we reach the hotel. Of course Egbert and his comrades are already in the pub fort quite some time (counting the stripes on the beer mat). Proudly they show us moving images of snow on the st Bernadino mountain pass. Well, if you make a wrong turn, go through the snow, right?
The bikes in the garage, shower, sheep/goat in the pasture, beer in the glass and enjoy the exciting stories of all entrants who arrive after us. This night the priest also tries to keep us awake but the tiredness hit so far that even without earplugs he doesn't manage to keep us awake. Whether it haunted at the inn, we do not know.
Tuesday, September 20
Then you wake up, look out the window and....no, no photo moment....very thick fog. It even looks that they have moved the church to a different location. We have Breakfast punktlich at 7 (and not a moment earlier we see light in the restaurant). Pack up, oops where's the strap? Well, Chris can do thorough searches (...everyone stays far away, I do not know why)..... and after finding the strap he manages to hide it again somewhere....... No, that's no photo moment, this is more an angry young man (grumpy old??). Say goodbye to everyone as you will run against them again anyway, and hop "ab geht die post".
First we fill up, of course we miss the first possibility, but then hop to the second village. Probably this is the place where Hans lost his glasses. Through a foggy road we ride to the highway, where Carl once again proves his 110 years A2 experience by navigating through the traffic-jams. Great to see this but also so tiring to follow. Each 100 km a stop, fill up fuel or lose water. Strikingly, all three bikes are different, but they ride all around 1:20 or less.
We have chosen to take the highway back home and not the original route as Cisca and Carl have to go back to work on Wednesday (bad planning, very bad planning!) and at the last parking lot before the split we plan to say goodbye and to take last pictures.
Oh, missed ... . So we honk to each other and we make the famous "we will call" sign to each other.
It takes longer to lose Carl. Somewhere just before Gladbach we find a parking spot where we can take a last picture moment and of course some coffee. The last 100 km we ride alone to Malden. Now you realize how much fun it is to ride in a group, all sharing the same passion, and how wonderful it was in Mandello .
Next time I will join again, at least, when Chris wants to drive and if he can find his keys ......
TLM, thanks for this great trip and really a great compliment to all participants, everyone has done their best to make this trip unforgettable!
Els (and yes... Chris contributed also to this story)