Northants TOMCC at Tridays 2014
Paul & Julia Anderson, Neil & Lynne Wooding, and Geoff & Linda Davies go to Tridays 2014.
Trip report by Paul Anderson
On a cloudy and dull June morning, three intrepid Triumph bikers and their prettier halves met at the service station in Raunds, with the intention of going to Tridays, the biggest Triumph event in Europe, taking place every year in the village of Neukirchen (Newchurch) in Austria. Bikes loaded and fuelled up, setting off at 7-ish, only to stop at 7:15 (if that!) to put our wet weather gear on. I should have listened to Neil (more about him later)!
Then, Neil started to explain about why his satnav system did not work. Lynne’s fault according to Neil. But ask Lynne the real reason (and we believe Lynne!) and she’ll tell you that the satnav battery was flat and needed recharging. Technical fault or human error?
For the record, the three couples undertaking this fairly long ride were Paul & Julia Anderson (red Thunderbird), Neil & Lynne Wooding (black/red and chrome Rocket), and Geoff & Linda Davies (red Rocket, tribal motifs).
Back to the story. It stopped raining and the M25 was like always, pretty busy. Filtering came to mind sooner rather than later! We stopped to have breakfast at Brands Hatch - Geoff's idea (nice one!). We’ll come back to Geoff later.
M20, Euro Tunnel, French toll roads, and we arrived at the hotel in Reims (champagne country). It's about time the French issue exemption cards to foreigners for their toll roads!
Anyway… The Campanille hotel was OK. Not the cleanest hotel in Reims by any stretch of imagination, but the Chinese meal was absolutely top notch, and a great opportunity for us to get to know one other better.
Early morning start the following day, setting off with a view to get to the Black Forest in Germany for our second night. A little while into the ride and Julia touched my back, asking me to stop. After some discussion, "we" agreed that the journey would be more pleasant if we rode a bit more leisurely. So I slowed down for about 1/2 hour, then I gradually increased my speed again. Julia was happy, and you cannot beat sunshine rays on your face and a happy wife behind you!
We stopped at Pension Williams in the Black Forest, which was a very pleasant and well run place. We got there at 3:00 pm, so after unloading the bikes we took the B500 road to go for a ride. We followed a twisty and windy road all the way up a hill, turned left and, at last, found some really excellent biking roads. Stopping by a beautiful lake, we had food and drinks, and relaxed a bit, watching the world go by and the various bikes enjoying the same ride as we had done. This was followed by a cracking evening meal, and we retired to our rooms fairly early so we could hit the road by 6:30 the following morning (Neil’s idea to get to Tridays sooner rather than later). Little did we know what was to come!
I just happened to look at the weather forecast the night before, and saw the rain was due to make a comeback around 7:30. Poo… I hate riding in the rain! Anyway, off we went and rode until a service station in Stuttgart, where we stopped for coffee and petrol. This is when we encountered the "crums, where are my house keys" problem. At some point or another, we have all mislaid our keys, but finding this out at a service station in the heartland of Germany is not the best time, if ever there is a best time for this to happen. We looked everywhere. Someone even suggested a full body search of Geoff, but we had not taken the right sort of gloves with us! So after searching for about 1 hour, the call was made to leave Geoff sort this one out and phone his insurance company, and we carried on riding towards Austria. Not the most auspicious start to the day!
Onwards and upwards, we rode through the rain and the sunshine, our mind still thinking of Geoff and Lynda staying behind. We got to Newchurch about 4:00 pm, where I found that I had been booked in a different hotel than the one where Neil & Geoff would be staying. Their hotel was halfway up the hill, at the end of a winding road, whilst Julia and I were staying in Newchurch. So we had to split. Would we ever team up as a 6 again?
After unpacking, Neil and Lynne took the shuttle bus down to Newchurch, and we did some sightseeing around Newchurch, looking at the many bikes on display, and taking time to browse the goods on offer at the many stalls. Good news came when we heard that Geoff had found his keys and was on his way, planning to arrive at his Newchurch hotel later on that evening. We enjoyed a meal, drank some beer, and watched a couple of bands. amogst which Jimmy Cornett & the Deadmen (go to YouTube and search for "Raise the dust", a song written after the band rode on 4 Scramblers the Transpyrenaica enduro event, taking place along the Franco-Spanish border, from coast to coast).
The following morning, we woke up to be greeted by beautiful sunshine and a fantastic view over the village. Julia and I decided to go on a ride out, organised as part of the Tridays event, to the Grosseglockner (the highest mountain peak in Austria). With a start planned for 8:30, leaving from the lower square of the village, about 400 bikes assembled. We set off at a brisk pace in groups of 30, each with a leader and sweeper. One thing’s for sure, the Germans do like their Speed Triples and Daytonas, two models represented in force. After riding for about an hour, we arrived at the toll road up the pass. And what a road that was! 30 km of twists & turns, ups and downs, and hairy hairpins. You could visualise that one being described by a misty-eyed Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear!
We kept riding up the mountain, to end up at an altitude of 3100 metres. The scenery was out of this world. As you can imagine, we took lots of photos there (you can see a few in the pictures gallery). We then stopped for lunch, took our time, and rode back down to town, returning to Newchurch at 5:00 pm. That evening, we were back to full complement, as Geoff & Linda had arrived by then. We joined them, Neil and Lynne, to be a 6 again. Stories, drinks and leg-pulling followed... We met quite a few English riders that evening, swapped tales and found out information about the planned events on offer for the morning.
The next day (once again in the presence of some sunshine), Julia and I got up early once again and went for 2 test rides, trying a Rocket, followed by an Explorer. With the help of local Triumph dealers, the organisers had every Triumph model currently on offer available for a test ride. Great effort Triumph! I then proposed that we should do a 'Top Gear challenge' which was to take back home with us and give to The Crown, ou new HQ, a large Tridays poster. The winner would be the one to bring back the poster in the best possible condition, and the 2 losers having to pay £5 to the charity of their choice. We all decided to take the cable car and go to the top of Newchurch, where we had coffee and apfelstrudel at the café by the ski pistes, whilst enjoying the beautiful scenery. We all had a bit of trouble with our posters at some point or another, but Geoff managed to get his stuck in the cable car doors! (£5 pending Geoff?). During the afternoon, we took a trip to a waterfall, which name I cannot remember, a lovely 20 km ride. We rode, stopped, had a look, drank, ate an ice cream and went back to the hotel. In the evening, we had a meal at Neil and Geoff’s hotel, in the company of two other English guys (Rocket and Storm) and a friendly French chap (Thunderbird), who proudly showed me the ground pegs on his Thunderbird (he did walk with a stick as he had broken his leg in two places).
After a great week-end in Newchurch, Monday morning came too quickly. We took our breakfast and started packing the gear on our bikes to start the long journey back home. We chose to ride out of Austria on a nice route, along a toll road that leads to a mountain pass. We stopped after 2 hours at a local MacD's for coffee (and for Neil to have his ration of cake), and we said our goodbyes. Julia and I were heading off to Munich to visit BMW Welt and museum, then Stuttgart (Mercedes museum), before pushing to Belgium and the towns of Ypres to see the Menin Gate and the Tyne Cot Cemetery near Passendale. Neil & Lynne and Geoff & Linda were going back to the Black Forest, then to France for one last night, and going home the next day.
Our trip to Munich was very good. In the afternoon, we spent quite a bit of time wandering in the city, following a morning visit to BMW Welt (impressive building). Riding on to Stuttgart, we went to the Mercedes museum in the afternoon, followed by an evening meal in the city centre. We arrived in Ypres very late that evening, where the hotel was the very best of the entire trip. The following morning, quick shower, then breakfast. The latter was a real treat; possibly the best I have ever had! This set us up for the day, and there was so much food on offer that we made ourselves a packed lunch! We set off to the Menin Gate around 8:00. This was a very moving moment to see so many names of ordinary people, like you and me, who got caught by unimaginable events at a wrong time in history. From there, we travelled to Sanctuary Wood and the trenches of Hill 62. After the First World War, a farmer returned to reclaim his land in and around what was left of the wood he had left in 1914. A section of the original wood and the trenches in it were cleared of debris and casualties, but the farmer left a section of a British trench system, Hill 62, as he found it. To finish our tour of WW1 memorials, we set off to find Tyne Cot, the largest WW1 cemetery, where 12000 soldiers are buried. This was another of those times to be in a reflective mood, thinking about all the brave lads who lost their lives for us all. After this, we rode back to the Tunnel, then home.
Well... what a trip! It was truly memorable. We saw some fantastic scenery, rode cracking routes, had great food and drink, and stayed in nice hotels. Best of all was the fun had by 6 people who did not really know each other when embarking on this journey, but who had struck a friendship by the end of it, not an uncommon occurrence when bikers meet. A special mention goes out to Linda and Julia who, both in various ways, were very apprehensive about the trip, but had a go, overcame their concerns, and ended up enjoying themselves.
One last word about the trip. I am really glad I did it. Yes, it was a long way to ride on a Thunderbird and it left me pining for a touring-type bike, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Same next year?
PS: The Top Gear challenge was won by Neil and Linda, leaving myself and Geoff both £5 poorer, a small sum that went to the Air Ambulance service.