Friday, September 26, 2014

Good Evening!

Riding with the new-to-me seat installed, it's looking good. And it is comfy, too. Wishing everybody a great (moto-) weekend!


***

Ein guter Abend!
Ich habe gerade meinen neuen Sitz eingeweiht. Er sieht gut aus und ist super bequem. Allen ein schönes (Motorrad-) Wochenende!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

W.I.P.

A couple of weeks ago I was digging through my basement in quest for some stuff to sell on Ebay, and came across my old solo seat. Should it stay or should it go?


I pondered awhile over the matter. My Sportster, although fully functioning is a project bike. So I decided to give the seat a second chance, have it reworked and use it just for different looks on my W.I.P. bike.

Here is, what my local car upholsterer did with it. I can't wait to install the refurbished seat. It should match perfectly to my recently procured frame bag.


And here it is installed:

***

Noch in Arbeit
Meine Sportster ist noch längst nicht fertig. Klar es funktioniert alles wunderbar, aber es ist eben doch noch ein Projekt. Vor ein paar Wochen hatte ich den Keller aufgeräumt und wollte ein paar Teile auf Ebay verschachern, als ich über meinen alten Solositz stolperte. Ich überlegte einen Moment und entschied dann, meinem freundlichen Autosattler um die Ecke den Auftrag zur Umarbeitung zu erteilen. Das Resultat kann sich sehen lassen. Der Sitz wird bestimmt super zu meiner im Juli gekauften Schwingentasche passen. Ich kann es kaum erwarten, den Sitz auszuprobieren.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

How to make proper Use of spare Time a.k.a. Carpe Diem!


It had been a while. Roland had either been busy with family issues or had been out of town for professional reasons. But finally our schedule and the weather cooperated nicely, and we got out the Vespas for a sweet 160km round trip through the Black Forest. Autumn is already closing in and the colours of the leaves are changing. My favourite part of the year is about to begin. 

The route
Baden-Baden

***

Nutze den Tag! Carpe diem!
Es war schon wieder eine Weile her, dass wir einen gemeinsamen Vespa-Ausflug gemacht hatten. Entweder war Roland mit privaten Terminen geblockt oder geschäftlich unterwegs. Doch letztendlich passten mal Wetter und Zeit zusammen und wir machten eine spontane Tour durch den Schwarzwald, bei der mal wieder 160km zusammen kamen. Der Herbst hat schon Einzug in unserer Region gehalten und die Blätter welchseln bereits ihre Farbe. Meine Lieblingsjahreszeit fängt an.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Bob(skoot) Leong


I lost a friend.

Like many others I made Bob's acquaintance while getting my feet wet in the virtual world of blogging. He left his first comment related to riding solo only weeks after I had started my online diary about two-wheelers. On October, 14, 2009 he wrote:

"... I like the independence of being alone sometimes, but miss the security of a riding partner. I keep thinking to myself, what if something happened? Being alone gives you the freedom to stop where you want to snap a photo or two..."

He was passionate about riding, photography and people, and he made it his mission to meet as many bloggers as he could, and to document its happening.

I lived in Calgary back then, and little did I know about the man and his passion. Even less did I know that I would once not only get to know the man behind the blog but that he would become my riding buddy, and that we would meet other bloggers together.

He continued to leave comments at my humble attempts of contributing to the moto-blogging community, and encouraged me by becoming a regular visitor. I started returning the favour and so we kind of build up a virtual friendship. For his Blog --> click here.

When my job catapulted me to Vancouver back in 2010, Bob was the first to welcome me, and to make me feel home. He and his wife took it on to introduce me to the local (riding) community, the wet coast lifestyle, as well as the culinary experience of sushi, oh, and Crocs of course.

Bob was there, when I picked up Nella, my yellow Beemer from the dealership, for its maiden voyage. With Bob I discovered the beauty of the wet coast, rain or shine. He showed me his favourite places that soon became mine, too. The pier in Steveston, the rocks at Whitecliff Park, the restaurant Sharkey's in Ladner, the beach at Boundary Bay.

We went on an epic road trip through Washington and Oregon in 2010, and got to meet other moto-bloggers. Did I mention that he made a point of meeting as many bloggers as he could find? He was very particular about it. In 2012 there was another IMBC (international moto blogger convention), where we met some of the same and and some new people from the moto-blogging community.

And he probably broke his own record on his final moto-journey in 2013, when he rode solo across North America and back. He did not ride as much in 2014 but he had different travel plans for this year, and so he started writing about his hometown. I still believe he had some hidden agenda of making me feel homesick by doing so. And of course he continued to meet people who were visiting Vancouver.

When he stopped commenting on my blog in mid August, I wasn't worried, because he was venturing out on a trip of a lifetime with his wife Yvonne in his beloved Corvette. I wasn't worried, when he stopped blogging on August 30, 2014, because he had previously mentioned that he had bad to no internet connection at times.

I was devastated when I heard of his recent passing, and my heart goes out to Yvonne and his family. I never thought about not meeting him ever again. The Wet Coast will not be the same without him.

I am going to miss you, Bob. Ride on.

The man and his Crocs
 Bobskoot having fun.
Bob Leong, the business man
Bob, the husband - with Yvonne
Bob did it again and again and again... meeting bloggers all over North America
We had the best of times.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Gateway to Autumn


It's September, and we are heading towards my favourite time of the year: Fall Season. The sun isn't as hot as in July, but still strong enough to warm our faces. Yet there is a bit of a chill in the breeze. It's a good time for outdoorsy activities, we thought, and so we tried out our new-to-us hitch mounted bicycle rack. It was easy to install and did the job. We arrived with all pieces still attached. Mission accomplished. The bicycle route took us along the Rhine, and through the old Rhine area, a floodplain, which is a natural reserve. We had the opportunity to watch birdlife, and even saw a critter, that we hardly expected to encounter in Germany: a beaver. (German: Bieber, not the Justin one). It was a good day in fresh air, and nice weather for a change. I honestly would have needed some of that on my recent Stelvio Pass tour.

Mounted and safe (at least we think it is)
Riding up the Rhine
A path through the forest
Sky high crops
At river Rhine
A barge waiting for another load.
Swan Dance
The beauty of a quarry pond

***

Der Herbst steht vor der Tür
Es ist September und wir gehen auf meine Lieblingsjahreszeit zu, den Herbst. Die Sonne scheint uns nicht mehr heiß auf den Buckel, aber streichelt uns noch warm das Gesicht. Dennoch ist der Wind etwas frischer geworden. Ideales Wetter für einen Ausflug mit den Fahrrädern. Wir, d.h. Roland montierte die Räder auf den neu erworbenen Fahrradträger und wir - er - musste alles richtig gemacht haben, da bei der Ankunft am Rhein noch alles dran war. Wir fuhren am Rhein entlang und dann durch das Auengebiet des Altrheins. Dort hatten wir Gelegenheit, Vögel zu beobachten und entdeckten auch einen Gesellen, denn wir hier in Deutschland nicht erwartet hätten: einen Bieber (nicht Justin). Wir hatten einen tollen Tag mit super Wetter. Ein bisschen davon hätte ich ganz gut auf meiner Stilfser Joch Tour gebrauchen können.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Hard Day's Ride

Last view on Bormio

A very long riding day, most of it included riding on major trunk roads and highways, lied ahead of me, with 450km one of the longest rides I had done on my Sportster so far. After breakfast we said our goodbyes, exchanged email addresses and after a refill session at the petrol station I was on my own again. And guess what, it started to drizzle again. Not the best weather for another pass conquest. I skipped the idea riding Stelvio again and opted for the seemingly easier road to Livigno. I carefully climbed up Passo Foscagno at 2,291m elevation. Alas, the road was covered with a diesel track, and I was not amused, however I managed quite well, considering. There was some familiar slippage but no downfall.

Foscagno Pass
It's raining again.
View on Livigno

After Livigno I hit the road to Davos but before that I had to conquer Flüela-Pass (2.383m) in Switzerland. This one was fairly easy, the surface was dry, and I had a good grip. It was fun but, oh my it was cold and windy. On top of the pass road it had a mere 3C, yet I had to stop and admire the view.

Flüela Pass

In Davos I stopped for a warming bowl of soup (cauliflower curry) and a big mug of tea at Schneider's, where I met a nice couple from the Lake District in England, who were actually headed to Bormio. I warmly recommended the hotel in which Gary's group had stayed the night before.

At Schneider's
Walensee, Switzerland
Doing slab time with a nice backdrop in Switzerland

From then on it was slab time, but it had to be done. I traversed Switzerland, crossed the border to Germany and got home around tea time. It was a long ride but well worth it, and I can't wait to get back on the road again. But for now it is back to work.

***

Ein harter Tag
Vor mir lag mit 450km ein langer Motorradritt, das meiste davon fuhr ich auf Hauptstraßen und Autobahnen. Nach dem Frühstück verabschiedeten wir uns herzlich, tauschten Email Adressen aus. Unsere Wege trennten sich nach dem Auftanken. Natürlich musste es wieder anfangen zu nieseln, nicht das ideale Wetter, um wieder Pässe zu erklimmen. Also sparte ich mir die Rückfahrt über das Stilfser Joch und fuhr stattdessen den vermeintlich einfacheren Foscagno Pass (2.291m). Leider war die Straße durch eine Dieselspur fast unbefahrbar. Ich fuhr vorsichtig und überwand die Strecke ohne große Probleme. Danach ging es über den Flüela-Pass (2.383m) nach Davos in der Schweiz, wo ich mich im Schneider's bei Blumenkohl-Curry-Suppe und einem Pott Tee aufwärmte, denn es waren gerade mal 3 Grad da oben und beim Fotografieren erfror ich fast. Hier traf ich ein nettes Pärchen aus dem Lake District in England, welche geradewegs in die Richtung wollten, aus der ich gerade kam. Sie waren nicht sehr begeistert, als ich vom Wetter berichtete. Ich empfahl ihnen wärmstens das Hotel, in welchem Gary's Gruppe in Bormio übernachtet hatte. Nach der Pause in Davos ging es auf die Autobahn. Erst durch die Schweiz, dann über die Grenze nach Deutschland und schließlich war ich am frühen Nachmittag wieder wohlbehalten zu Hause angekommen. Es war eine lange und anstrengende Fahrt, aber es hat sich gelohnt. Ich kann es gar nicht erwarten, wieder loszuziehen. Aber jetzt heisst es erstmal wieder: An die Arbeit!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It's a Bucket List Thing: Stelvio Pass!

Another riding day of roughly 340km lied ahead of us. We were buzzing with anticipation because it was Stelvio Pass Day! And while Gary was headed to the dealership to get his tire fixed, Oliver guided the group over picturesque Bavarian byways (Allgäu).

Somewhere in Bavaria
A native Allgäuer

After a coffee break in Immenstadt we learned that Gary would already be able to join us for lunch. The dealership staff must have gone out of their way to get him back on the road. Lunch break was held at Zugspitzblick, which offered a pretty panoramic view of the surrounding mountains, if it weren't for the heavy rain clouds.

Another promise of rain
Fenan, Tom and Collum getting all excited.
At Zugspitzblick - Viewpoint Zugspitze
Clouded view on Zugspitze, with almost 3000m elevation Germany's highest mountain

The roads were getting wet again when it started drizzling. Everybody was hoping for some weather improvement when we would get closer to Stelvio Pass. We rode over Fern Pass, located in the Tyrolean Alpes in Austria at an elevation of 1,212m. The scenery was awesome, and I caught myself already planning another trip into the area, likely with Roland on Vespa. Unlike in France we hadn't any issues finding petrol stations along the way and my Sportster was well fed all the way with the best stuff - 100 octane - they had to offer.

Stelvio Pass, here I come.
On the bottom of the pass road Gary instructed us to leave each on their own pace. Some wanted to take the opportunity to ride hard and fast, while others wanted to take in the scenery and take lots of pictures along the way. It took me about ten hairpin turns before I got into the rhythm. My Sporty seemed to like it as much as I did. I often had to shift back into first gear to manage the steep turns, but the surface was dry. I forgot all about being cold. I kept watching my mirror expecting to be overtaken at times but no traffic narrowed from behing. In the beginning I was suspecting the guys to have blocked the road for me to provide for a nice ride up, but no, there was indeed next to no traffic. What a bliss.

Stelvio Pass (Stilfser Joch in German) at 2,757m elevation is the second highest paved mountain pass road in the alps and belongs on every two or four wheeled motor head's bucket list. It was featured on Top Gear, and Moto Guzzi even named a motorcycle after it. Construction started 1820, and it took five years to completion. The pass road is about 50km long, and with it 48 hairpin turns overcoming an elevation of almost 1,900m from Spondinig. After reaching the top it was another 36 breathtaking turns down towards Bormio in Italy. At the end of the ride only surgical intervention could have removed the wide smile on my face. No mistakes were made to put a damper on my ride. I was indeed in biker's heaven. And I was proud of the accomplishment, as the road is considered one of the most challenging pass roads in Europe.

Everybody on their own now.
Where I came from
Where I am headed
I did it!
On top
Gathering before riding downhill as a group
This looks easy, doesn't it?
Smiling all the way.

For the last stretch downhill we gathered again to ride as a group to the hotel. Our accommodation was again a very nice one, and well worth a repeat visit. Underground parking for the bikes, big rooms, outfitted with hardwood floors and furniture, and yes, another rain shower head in the beautiful bathroom. I had my last supper with the group at a fantastic Italian restaurant (you just can't go wrong with Italian food). The other riders would continue their journey to the European Bike week at Faaker See in Austria, while I needed to return home the next day. I wish I could have stayed with them. It was a great mix of people (aren't bikers somewhat family anyway?), friendly, caring, and I was glad to have met them. Each of them helped me to become a better rider. 

Gary who did an outstanding job planning the tour, organising the accommodation, and leading the way on his Leading Ladies. Thanks for having me. Oliver, who had my back and showed me how to conquer mountain roads. Kay, who cared the way women do, and her husband John, who turned out to be a tremendously funny guy once I got to understand his lingo. And the four Irish lads who very gentlemanly took turns to check on my well-being. In a way the Stelvio Pass was my Yellow Brick Road, and they reminded me a bit of the characters of the Wizard of Oz (I hope they'll never read this.). Tom, the wizard, seemingly able to solve everybody's problems, and taking charge when needed. Fenan, the Cowardly lion, who was not at all a coward, but a very sweet and shy man. Collum, the Tin Man,  slender, laid back and with a big heart and last but not least, Jack, not really looking like Scarecrow, but rich with experience, and a wise man, helping me overcoming my fear of riding second. I had a blast, and I certainly hope to be able to join Gary again on one of his tours.


Nightlife in Bormio, Italy
My last supper with the group.
From left to right: Gary, Kay, John, Oliver, Tom, Fenan, Jack (Collum avoided being in the snapshot)

***

Stilfser Joch - Man muss es mal getan haben.
Und wieder lagen 340km vor uns. Wir waren aufgeregt und neugierig, denn der Tag war dem Stilfser Joch geweiht. Gary ließ bei einem nahe gelegenen Harley Werkstadt den Hinterreifen reparieren. Es stellte sich heraus, dass das Ventil kaputt war. Oliver übernahm die Führung und leitete uns durch das Bayrische Hinterland (Allgäu). Nach einer Kaffeepause in Immenstadt erfuhren wir, dass Gary uns bereits wieder zum Mittagessen einholen würde, welches wir am Zugspitzblick einnehmen würden. Die Straße bot zwar schöne Landschaften, aber leider fing es mal wieder an zu nieseln, und so war der Ausblick eher verhangen. Jeder hoffte auf Wetterbesserung für das beste Teilstück des Tages. Wir überquerten den Fern Pass in den Tiroler Alpen in Österreich (auf 1.212m) und ich ertappte mich dabei, dass ich bereits die nächste Reise in diese Gegend plante... vielleicht mit Roland und den Vespas. Anders als in Frankreich hatten wir hier keine Probleme, Tankstellen zu finden und ich gab der Sportster das Beste, was die Tanksäulen hergaben (100 Oktan).

Am Fuße des Stilfser Jochs wies uns Gary an, dass jeder in seinem eigenen Tempo die Passstraße hinauf fahren sollte, und das war gut so. Manche wollten heizen, andere lieber Blümchen pflücken und Fotos machen. Ich brauchte etwa zehn Spitzkehren, um meinen Rhythmus zu finden, aber dann war es Fahrspaß pur. Auch meine Sportster schien die Kurven zu lieben. Erster Gang, zweiter Gang, wieder zurück... alles kein Problem. Und überholen kam mich auch keiner. Ich hatte schon die Jungs in Verdacht, dass sie für mich die Straße gesperrt hatten, damit ich in Ruhe hinauf klettern konnte, aber es war wirklich kein Verkehr. Großartig!


Mit 2.757m Höhe ist das Stilfser Joch der zweithöchste asphaltierte Pass in den Alpen und gehört auf die Wunschliste eines jeden Zweiradfahrers (oder Auto-Enthusiasten). Top Gear ist hier gewesen und Moto Guzzi hat ein Modell nach diesem Pass benannt. In 1820 begann man mit den Bauarbeiten und es sollte fünf Jahre bis zur Fertigstellung dauern. Insgesamt 50km lang, hat der Pass 48 Spitzkehren von Spondinig kommend. Dabei werden fast 1.900 Höhenmeter überwunden. Hinunter nach Bormio sind es dann noch einmal 36 Kehren. 

Am Ende der Strecke musste ich mir das Grinsen chirurgisch aus dem Gesicht entfernen lassen. Ich hatte so einen Spaß und machte nicht einen Fahrfehler. Die Gruppe sammelte sich nun wieder, und wir fuhren die letzten Kilometer gemeinsam zum Hotel, welches wieder eine ausgezeichnete Wahl war. Große Räume, Echtholzböden und -möbel und ein tolles Bad mit Regenwasserdusche. Was will man mehr?

Es war mein letzter Tag mit dieser Gruppe und wir verbrachten den Abend in einem phantastischen italienischen Restaurant (Italienisch ist ja von Natur aus gut.). Die anderen würden nun ihre Reise zum Faaker See in Österreich fortsetzen, um die European Bike Week zu besuchen, während ich am nächsten Tag wieder nach Hause musste. Ich wünschte, ich hätte mit ihnen fahren können. Es war einfach super, und jeder leistete seinen Beitrag, mich zu einer besseren Fahrerin zu machen. Vielen Dank Gary, Oliver, Kay und John und Tom, Fenan, Jack and Collum.  Ich hoffe, dass ich nächstes Jahr wieder mit Gary auf Tour gehen kann...