I must confess I had a certain lack of confidence in this summer's weather.
with that in mind I decided to drive my van to Chur (Coine) in the east
of Switzerland. Thus if it was wet on the return journey, I would have
one less day to drive in the rain.
Thursday morning, I headed east, out of Chur towards the Albula Pass at 2315 feet. This took me through some lovely small but quite rough winding mountain roads with very little traffic, which was, as with the rest of the trip, great Indian territory. Mine being rather heavily and clumbsily loaded, I let prudence rule, and desisted from grinding away the footrests.
To keep the Chief running sweet, I had to screw the mainjet needle down three clicks by the top of the pass. And strangely, only opened it two by the time I had come down to the Austrian valleys, also quite high.
That first day took me 290 miles (~500 Km) from 9AM to 8PM through magnificent mountain terrain: Huge lakes, waterfalls, glaciers, and all. The only time I had come down low was to pass Innsbruck before heading up again to Pleasureland. That evening was spent at St. Johan in Pongau with still 150 Km to go to the destination.
The satifaction of a good day of travel, and a comfortable eve in a hotel for dinner and delicious Austrian beer was rather dispelled at around 2:30AM when the horrible tik-tak-to of raindrops on the tent commenced. Friday morn while breaking camp in the rain, the only pleasure was talking with the Czech neighbors in faltering German on both sides.
It took three or four hours to arrive that day: A day of terror cause by not having changed my front tyre. It is a worn out and deadly, lethal, mortal Kenda. I'm sure the things have graphite or glycerine in the compound, as they are so slippery. The Metzeler on the back is excellent in the wet.
After establishment at the camping grounds, it was time to get into enjoying the company of fellow Indian riders. A cup of tea or two with the English, Dutch, and New Zealand riders, a beer or two with the Germans, Scandinavians, Czechs, Slovenes, Austrians and Swiss, and... Well.. I couldn't mix those beverages with wine with a Frenchman.
All over I searched, but not one Frenchman. I doubt it was a boycott owing to Austrian politics. Which, by the way, was one reason quoted why there were only (!) ninety-one Indians there, five less than the German rally, and only twenty more than the Belgian one.
After such an enthusiastic start, Saturday morn was somewhat slower. I attended Euro-Club President's meeting so that I could report to this journal. The first item on the agenda was the tricky problem of Tony Leenes not holding the presidency of the Dutch Club for the moment, and the problems of organizing the Euro Raly in Holland next year. The arrangements are well in hand for us all to enjoy another great rally in NL at the end of next July. The plans for the following years will be Slovenia in 2002, and Denmark in 2003.
(Please note: While on the subject of Raly dates, the German Rally wil be one week earlier than usual on June 23-24, 2001, which also means, my Riders Rally will also be a week earlier on June 30-July 1 of 2001, here in Savoie.
So after a bit more President's discussion about coffee, or not, it was time to go to Gmünd for our lake cruise. After a lot of non-starting, I undertook the usual investigation of a drowned Indian patient, and found that the little Honda battery I bought as an emergency while enroute to Belgium last year had boiled dry. I missed the boat. However, in place of the boat ticket I was given a really delicious Vienna gateau and a very satifying long ice-coffe. It was good compensation.
Starting problems again for the return trip. Once underway it was clear to see that I was heading into a storm so black that it would make Michael Jackson look white. While diving for cover under a Shell station canopy, I had the luck to meet the rescue vehicle. Would I like a lift back? Oh, Certainly!
Another good evening of food, drink, and blah-blah. Someone won a prize for something, and somebody sang with the band. I do remember getting into the subjects of Maori and Fijiian politics with John and Miryam Denny, and trying to find Mrs. Elvenkemper to know her opinion on whether the Japanese ever got over the traumatization of the Edo period, etc.
Sunday was cloudy,...no, WET! I imposed on the generosity of Allan and the Dennys to squeeze in amongst them to get a ride to southern Germany.
There were a lot of interesting machines including the Friedl brothers' Camel Back Indian and their Ace. There was a second Ace there also, and a very original 1925 Big Chief and sidecar, and well, everything Indian and some others besides.
Luckily, we couldn't get into the camping we wanted that night, so we had to be comfortable in a "Zimmer Frei" in an old farm house. The next day was clear and warm, and I had a pleasant day riding fast through the undulating German countryside, and was back in Chur by 6PM, and home by 4AM.
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