Five days in the Moselle, the report

Planning a motorcycle holiday isn’t easy nowadays. In June we had to convert our trip to the Alps into a staycation. In September I had a week off work, but where would I go to?

The Covid-19 colour code carousel changed my plans for that week more than once. My first idea was to give our getaway to the Alps a second try, but the green zone of France quickly said ‘Adieu’. Next idea: Dolomites. I was already plotting out routes when that green zone turned to red. Arrivederci.

Germany still looked good, but what about preparing a trip on German roads? Not that obvious in my opinion, because of the lack of Google Streetview. Would I spend my time researching to see a green zone turn to red once more? I didn’t feel like doing that.

So I changed my plans. No more figuring out routes or looking for overnight stays myself, I was just gonna go for a last minute all-in package: a motorcycle hotel in a green zone, with gps-tracks in the deal.

That wasn’t simple either. The five days in the Harz mountains which I hoped for fizzled out when the green disappeared just a few days before my departure. So I booked five days in the Moselle with Horizon Motorreizen. Nothing but green over there, or at least when I visited.

Day 1: Off we go

The outward route is 277 kilometers long and starts near Aachen, which is 30 minutes from my home. I leave the highway after a few kilometers of full gas on the Triumph Tiger 900 (test report coming soon).

I’m crossing the Eifel to reach the Moselle valley and even though this is nothing but the ‘route to get there’, I’m having fun. There’s a wide variation of corners: slow, winding, sharp, pointed, fast, it’s all there.

The countryside changes from woods to sloping meadows and fields as far as the eye can see. Add a lot of climbing and descending to this and you can say Continue reading

Off to the Alps

Corona is forcing us to stay home, so what else can you do than finish those plans for when we can go ride again? Together with biker buddy Shih, I’m prepping a trip to the Alps. Based on the Route des Grandes Alpes we plotted a week’s trip, that currently looks like this:

(Click here to check it in detail on Google Maps)

On a Saturday – we’re hoping for June – we’ll take the highway from Belgium to just below Lake Geneva. The fun part starts on Sunday. The next Saturday around noon, we’ll say goodbye to the Alps, then ride up to Basel where we’ll spend the night, and ride back home on Sunday.

If you think we’re missing essential roads or you know great campings, good restaurants or must-see spots, drop a line in the comments below or reply to our Facebook post.

Report: Magic 12 Belgium Rally 2019

I guess the Iron Butt Association (or IBA) doesn’t need a big introduction? Their most talked-about long-distance rally is the Iron Butt Rally in the States (11 days long!) but also elsewhere rallies are being organized regularly since you can find IBA’s in South Africa, India, Brazil and Australia and Germany. And it’s the latter who organized the Magic 12 Belgium Rally on a Saturday this September.

The format of a Magic 12 Rally: collect as many points as possible in a maximum of 12 hours by visiting predefined locations. The Germans wanted to do something exotic and decided to do a rally in Belgium. Even as an IBA rookie I thought: home match! On top of that BMW lent me a 1250 RT (my opinion about it at the bottom of this article), so 12 hours of riding shouldn’t be a big issue.

The preparation

Five days before the start, each participant received a file with all locations (77 in total) and the rallybook. In addition to some explanation about the rally, the rallybook contained more information about the locations.

It was impossible to visit all 77 locations in 12 hours, so you had to plan a route. A route that got you a high score preferably.

Every location had a certain amount of points (from 190 to 3,450 points) and a photo assignment. Because of course you had to prove that you had actually been on the claimed locations.

Usually the photo assignment was something like: take a picture of this building or that view, but there were also some special assignments. For example, to claim the 3,450 points location, you had to walk to a statue and take a photo. A 3.4 km walk to be precise!

Also an obligatory element in every picture: the rally flag (which you could print at home) with your starting number (which you only got the evening before the start).

In addition to the points per location, you could score extra points by collecting combos. A number of locations where grouped thematically, for example Statues, Beer and Borders. The more locations of a combo you visited, the higher your extra score.

Feeling a bit stressed when you hear you should plot a route with all that info? Grab a stress ball, ‘cause there’s more! Three days before departure we received the “minimum requirements” in our mailbox: six groups of 24 locations in total. Per group you had to visit at least one location of your choice. Again there was a theme: Flanders, Wallonia, Brussels, Dutch-speaking, French-speaking and German-speaking. Skipping one group would result in 5,000 penalty points. If you missed two, you were disqualified, or DNF (did not finish) in IBA jargon.

With all that info, I could start setting up a route. The Street Art combo drew my attention: this combo had the most locations but also the highest score. If I did all ten locations, I’d receive a bonus of 12,000 points.

So I loaded the locations into MyRouteApp: visiting all ten street art locations in 12 hours wouldn’t be Continue reading

Tournée Pyrénée: ready, set …

Finally! Tomorrow morning we’ll be heading for the Pyrenees. After the first draft, we’ve updated our routes, spending a bit more time on Spanish ground. I won’t be riding my own bike but a Moto Guzzi V85 TT. If you’d like to hop on virtually, I’ll try to post something every now and then on Instagram and/or Facebook.

Click here for a bigger version of the map.

Three days of riding on Gran Canaria

The Canary Islands are my favourite last minute destination: reasonably cheap, plenty to see and do, and most of all: the weather is good year-round. They are called “the islands of eternal spring” for good reasons. I had already visited Tenerife, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura so Gran Canaria was the next logical choice.

In my search to ride a motorcycle on the island to awaken from riding hibernation, I ended up with Canary Motorcycle Tours. Martin and Joy, an English couple, offer guided motorcycle tours on Gran Canaria for groups of up to 8 motorcycles. Prices are only slightly higher than renting a motorcycle yourself.

Canary Motorcycle Tours is based in Vecindario, a small town on the east coast of Gran Canaria, fifteen minutes from the airport. It has a pedestrian street with plenty of cafeterias but altogether there’s not much to do. For touristic Canarian highlights you need to go elsewhere. If you book a tour with Canary Motorcycle Tours they offer you a 2-star or a 4-star accommodation in Vecindario. Should you stay somewhere else, they will also organise transport from and to your hotel, on the condition that it’s not too far away.

After only a few emails the deal was done and dusted: three days of riding with stay in the 2-star hotel in Vecindario. I booked my flights and a week later I set foot on Gran Canaria!

Joy picked me up at my hotel in the morning. Upon arriving at the motorcycle shop the obligatory paperwork was swiftly done and I could choose my riding gear if I wanted to. The vests, boots, helmets and gloves they offer all looked in good condition, however I had brought my own gear.

Together with Martin I decided I would ride the Honda NC750X (he has 8 bikes in total, all Honda’s, of which I had already ridden the CB500X on Madeira). The NC750X is, according to the general opinion, that somewhat boring Continue reading

Prepping for the Pyrenees

Together with my biker buddy Shih I’m planning a trip to the Pyrenees. One week in June, riding mainly on asphalt with a sporadic stretch of gravel.

We’ve already been playing around with MyRoute-app. At the moment our plans look like this:

(click here to check it on Google Maps)

Saturday will be a highway day to Valence, from Sunday till Friday we’ll do our Tournée Pyrénée and then we’ll ride back to Belgium in a day and a half.

If you know roads, campings or other spots we should not miss out on, do share them in the comments below. Thanks!

Ride report: The Dutch 1000 – 2018 edition

I don’t think I have to introduce The Iron Butt Association and their rides. Long-distance riding challenges till your buns are burned, such as 1000 miles in 24 hours or visiting 48 US States in 10 days. When I learned that a similar ride was being organized in the Netherlands for the very first time, I got curious (and my buns got grumpy).

The event is called The Dutch 1000. The goal: to cover a predetermined route of 1000 km throughout the Netherlands within 24 hours, via a number of checkpoints.

Such rides aren’t really designed to take you on the most beautiful or most winding roads. It’s all about the distance and the challenge that comes with it. Can you endure the long hours, the saddle sore, your aching body? So a nice ride through jaw-dropping scenery wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.

The first edition of The Dutch 1000 would take place this year, but apparently there was more to it than the organizers had imagined, so this year they decided to do a “dress rehearsal”: a ride of 500 km instead of 1000, with as little motorway as possible.

The communication around the event was rather chaotic. Besides the website, there’s a Facebook page, event and group. Combined with enthusiastic organizers, we got so many posts that things became a bit cluttered. In the week before The Dutch for example, various tracks were shared, commented on, adapted and shared again. The fact that the organization wasn’t very well orchestrated could be declared: it was a last minute decision to plan a “demi-Dutch” this year.

Anyway, in the end everything worked out well, so on one Saturday morning in September I parked at Dani’s house, one of the organizers. Before leaving for the starting location, you could take your breakfast or a coffee. We were with about twenty participants, including three Belgians. Mainly allroads and touring bikes, I had a Continue reading