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Old 06-18-2009, 02:51 PM   #32
tserts OP
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Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Yunanistan (Stans baby!)
Oddometer: 2,551
Day 6 – Let’s do some shopping

One of the organizers’ major shortcomings was the fact that they hadn’t translated the official route descriptions to any other language. Subsequently, anyone who didn’t speak German (more than half of the participants), could not decide on which route to choose (from the 12 available, if I’m not mistaken). Under the fear of public unrest, a simple handwritten English translation was posted on the board, but late at night. The Greeks (the vast majority of them anyway), most of us already worn out by the previous days, decided to wake up a bit late, head to Regensburg, some 90kms away, visit the two motorbike gear megastores (Polo and Louis), do some shopping, walk around the city, and return early enough for the evening buffet.

After breakfast, a group of about 20 bikes left for Regensburg, and stopped at the first gas station to refuel. Me, the other 3 bikes from the first part of the trip and another fifth bike (also Greek), left the others in order to refuel at the next gas station, so as to speed things up. Naturally we got separated, so, after waiting at the other station for a while, we left for Regensburg independently.







A little later we were entering the autobahn for the second time. I went berserk once again and I got separated from the other 4 bikes (save it, I know how it sounds), as I was pushing the bike and rode pretty fast (I knew the others had gps as well). After I had enough, and about 15km from the exit, I slowed down to about 120km/h, in order to regroup with them, but still, when I got to the exit, there was still no sign of them, and, as a bonus, it started to rain, heavily this time. I later found out that “Regensburg” means “Rain City” and it did live up to its name. I had my rain-proof gear in the back, but, as the temperature was high (~20C) I decided to test the cordura jacket and pants. Luckily, they didn’t soak. I also put the rain cap on the tankbag, and secured the camera in the topcase (I always have it hang around my neck to take pictures on the go, but I bet you’ll have realized that by now)…

I reach the center and start to look for a bike parking spot, to call the others and tell them to join me, but they arrive shortly after me (the 5th bike had left their rain gear at the hotel and they were soaked) so we stop somewhere on the side and decide to call the first group to give us directions for “Polo”. After a while we get the address, punch it on the gps and leave again towards the suburbs. From there we leave for the second store, “Louis”, and the shopping spree continues there. Both stores are turned into Bagdad Bazaars for the duration of our visit, with hysterical Greeks running around the aisles with various merchandise put on, asking the others how do they look… Besides the revenue, I bet the store owners and staff were a bit relieved to see us leave…

All I got was a pair of enduro Alpine Stars pants and some socks, as I found the prices not as low as I was expecting compared to the Greek market. Nevertheless, both stores had an impressive variety of gear, and it felt nice to be in a “bike-supermarket”…

We head back downtown (I went separately again, since I went back to Polo to get the pants) and we meet again at a café. I got a beer, and I was a bit hungry so I asked the waitress if they had any sausage related treat, for hungry tourists… She says no, but across the corner there is a restaurant called “Wurstkuche” (sausage kitchen), which is very famous and adored by the locals… The buffet at the hotel was not bad, but it was nothing special, and not traditional, so I suggested we go there and get some German scent into our stomachs.

The restaurant is at the river bank, next to an old bridge. The weather was getting better (it had started to rain another 5 times in between, Rain City and all), and the mood was just as good. The restaurant has been in operation since 1320 (one thousand three hundred and twenty, no typo there, it is actually older than the bridge!) and only serves a special kind of sausage with sweet pickled onion, a mustard/ketchup sauce, and beer (or any other beverage). That’s it. I love Spartan menus, they usually have few but very special dishes, and this was no exception. We were supposed to eat lightly but we had to have an encore on these heavenly sausages, and some more beer, until we were full.















We went for another stroll towards the bikes through the town, which was wonderful and very well kept (this goes without saying for Germany; everything is freshly painted and well maintained, it is just insane how organized and tidy everything is). I later found out that Regensburg is actually a unesco world heritage site (the old centre), and it is definitely worth visiting, if not for the amazing gothic cathedral, then for the sausages alone!!



















Back on the bikes and another 68kms of autobahn await us (the A3 east-bound this time). It’s just the 4 original bikes again and the same scenario happens: The capos leave to collect bug-slime on the windscreen, while the transalps follow at a slower pace. Again I enjoy the whole section in average speeds of about 200km/h, but Yani (capo), stays a bit behind and just before the exit he goes full throttle and reaches 225 (I only managed to reach 213 on the gps because of the traffic). Immediately after that we exit, we turn off the bikes, start screaming like girls with excitement, and wait for the others.



The others eventually come, and Teo (TA650) signals me to enter the next gas station and takes the lead as they didn’t stop. There was a gas station only 100 meters ahead, and I see some bikes, enter the station, only to realize that those were some other bikes and that Teo and Yani had missed the station. Anyway since I had stopped, I fill up my tank, go and pay, and as I come out I notice that neither Yani (I know you ‘re still confused, I mean the capo one) is at the station. I hear my cell phone ringing in the tankbag, I take the call and I hear Yani (capo) shouting and telling me that he has no ignition and why didn’t I check on my mirrors when I left. I walk to the side of the road and I see him where we had stopped after the autobahn. I ride back towards him, and he shows me that indeed the capo seems to have no power to turn the engine; the ignition button makes a single click when it’s pressed and the bike is dead. I fear that these are symptoms of a failed regulator, which I have a spare, but at the hotel! There is a small downhill section where we are, so I push him and the bike comes alive when he releases the clutch.

I tell him to ride straight for the hotel (he should have enough gas for that), and we will look into it there, where I have more tools and a spare regulator. We reach the hotel, having again lost the others (they went to the next gas station), and we get to work.

First thing we notice is that the bike now starts normally! I check the battery’s output and the numbers are slightly off, the regulator fails to pass 14V throughout the whole spectrum of rpms. It should give up to 14,6, so we conclude that the regulator is at fault. Just to make sure, I take out my seats and check my own battery’s readings, and our assumption is verified. I start replacing the regulator, which involves cutting all the wires (5 points of contact, 10 wires in total), connecting them, and then insulating them. It seems easy but I don’t have the right tools. Thankfully a German guy who had driven with his van (with his transalp inside) to ITT had a fully equipped toolbox, which he brought us and that made all the difference.



Now remember this is an international transalp meeting. 90% of the bikes are transalps, africas, and varaderos, and these people think that only Hondas never break down (I call it the Honda universe, it is an isolated place where people believe that when a Honda breaks down, it’s bad luck, but when the other bikes break down it’s a sign of inferior build quality).



We are parked by the road next to a swarm of Hondas, and two capos with the seats off and the open toolbox placed nearby are an easy target for mockery and sarcasm…

- Italian bikes, what did you expect…
- I told him to get a honda…
- Japan, I always say…
- What’s wrong with the espresso machine?

You get the drift…



Anyway, despite the adverse conditions (I think every single participant walked by that spot in that hour), I manage to replace the regulator and the bike starts giving the right electrical readings. It has gotten late, and we manage to eat only because Teo and Yani had kept two meals for us from the buffet.

Before we return to our rooms for the night, we sign our names to the participant’s list of tomorrow’s route no10. It enters the Czech Republic via small country roads and some people who had ridden it today said it had been an interesting ride…

Next up: Multiculturalism on two wheels, the tower of Babel, and the glorious re-emergence of potholes…
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