When we toured Europe in ‘06, ‘07, ‘08 we wrote it up in these pages and they were
read by motorcyclists in several countries. One of those readers was a rider from
our own home town. He purchased a used GoldWing and had it shipped to Europe in 2014.
He and his wife have become good friends. Last fall he decided that this year’s trip
in May would be his last and asked my advice on selling the bike. I said “I’ll buy
it.” So we acquired a used 2001 GoldWing that is already in Europe. It is yellow,
just like “Lemonade” here in the States and is already named “Buzz”. It doesn’t have
ABS so I have to avoid the “too much front brake” that caused our trip ending wreck
in 2008 but is essentially the same bike as we have here.
After agreeing on the price, easy because he set it very reasonable and I wasn’t
going to argue, we ordered tickets to Germany. This was in October, 2107. Much could
go wrong, but everything went well and after their trip in May we paid and headed
to Germany in June for two weeks. We’re both working and couldn’t reasonably get
more time off.
The bike is stored with Knopf Tours in Heidleberg, Germany.
This was our first view of Buzz. Stefan Knopf had is outside ready for us. Stephan
has a bike storage, rental, tour, B&B, repair, etc. business. He has been doing it
for many years. He does bike transport to the Daytona Beach Rally for Europeans that
want to visit the USA. He is about a hour south of Frankfurt which has a major airport
for freight and passengers. When we shipped the “White Dragon” to Europe this is
where we got it and cleared customs. A train (S-bahn) runs from the airport to Heidleberg
leaving you within walking distance of Stefan’s business. We spent two nights here
getting the bike set up to us, getting over jet lag and generally enjoying the atmosphere,
food and beer.
We then headed to the German Treffen. A “Treffen” is what the GWEF (Gold Wing Federation
of Europe) calls their rallies. Each country in Europe has a Treffen on a weekend.
Each country has its specified weekend that is the same each year. One could travel
all of Europe, including the old “Iron Curtain” countries through Treffen attendance.
This picture is the preparation for the “Parade of Nations”. Each country that attends
has all their bikes grouped together in a very long parade through the local town
and countryside. The police block cross roads and it stops only for trains that may
be crossing the route. The bikes are often decorated with banners and country flags
We were there only on the final day. We watched the parade, checked out the goody
booths and watched the awards ceremony.
The host country always provides some entertainment to the crowd.
Germany provided kids in lederhosen doing some dances.
And some adults doing the same.
If you notice in the center is a log and some axes. This is a wood-chopper song and
dance. After circling they kneel down and chop to the beat of the music.
This was somewhat entertaining but we had seen it before at our last visit to a German
The next morning it is back on the Autobahn (freeway to Americans) and headed south
to Italy and Passo dello Stelvio.
We arrived at this walled town in the late afternoon. Too late to try for the pass.
We had a beer in the town plaza and got a room at the Post Hotel. (The Post is their
mail system and many towns still have the hotel associated with it. For Americans
think of the stage coaches and stage stops of the old west.)
We have been over the pass before and this is why we’re here again. What is not shown
is the whole bunch of switchbacks behind the hill with the power pole.
There are 48 of them. And they are sharp, not rounded like American switchbacks.
These switchbacks climb like a flight of stairs.
Other places the road is protected from avalanches by a roof as it clings to the
side of the gorge.
Another delight is coming around a curve and finding a castle guarding the access
to the valley. Today it is completely ineffective but at one time it collected tolls
and guarded the village.
The bad, there was also a lot of construction. Both on the Autobahn and in the mountains.
We spent 10 days riding the Alps, crossing about a dozen passes with hundreds of
switchbacks before we headed back to Stefan’s. Some of the passes I had marked to
cross were still closed by snow or rock falls. It was still early in the season.
We spent the nights in hotels we found as we went along.
We had dinner at a local restaurant that has been serving locals 1687. That is 90
years before America declared independence from Great Britain. The food was great!
We spent the last day at Stefan’s packing the stuff to leave, packing the stuff to
take home, changing the oil in the bike and putting it to bed in the storage area.
Stefan takes good care of your bike by letting it sleep on Oriental carpets.