12-27-2013, 03:20 AM
Joined: Jul 2008
Location: Cambridge, MA
The first week of the trip was planned as a bit of a family outing. This is also the reason why I left kinda late. The idea was for me and my cousin to meet up with my uncle and his buddy and ride in Corsica. My uncle is in his seventies and lives in Hungary and I sure hope I’ll still be riding a bike when I get to be his age.
Europe had a very crappy and rainy spring. On the evening before our intended departure my cousin called and told me that they wanted to wait a few more days to see if the rain clears.
I finally left on 28 May. It rained on and off on my way to the Vogtland region. There was a lot of snow around Schöneck, which isn’t even that high. Normally, I like the single lane roads through the Vogtland mountains but it was pretty damn slippery and I was getting cold. I pressed on to the Czeck republic and found myself a little campground in the forest. The guy running the place was genuinely surprised to see me. The place was empty and I got myself a little A frame.
Home for a night
The next morning I continued on to Regensburg (literally translated Raincastle) where, funnily enough, it stopped raining. I met up with my cousin at another relative’s place for a huge breakfast and espressos. I got the news that our two oldies had pulled the plug due to the weather. Can’t blame them.
We looked at some weather maps and webcams of passes in the Alps and decided to stick to the Autobahn for the fasted possible route. It stayed dry and we made good time, only stopping for food, fuel and the toll sticker at a rest stop right after the Austrian border.
Getting ready for departure in Regensburg. Just one more Espresso
Rest stop with a view of the Austrian Alps
In Trento we got off the fast track and continued to Lake Garda. When we pulled over for a pee stop I noticed a small coolant leak on my bike. WTF? Just as the sun set we found a cheapish hotel with a dry parking spot where I could check out the coolant leak. I was hoping the BMW dealer just didn’t tighten some screws after changing the coolant. Well, that was not the case. All screws tight and still leaking.
Somewhere near the lake, on the way to dinner
Lake Garda at night
The leak wasn’t all that bad and we continued on to Livorno the next morning. We made it to the ferry dock with just enough time to buy tickets.
When I got back to my bike on arrival, there was a pretty big puddle of coolant under the bike. I asked at a gas station if there was a motorbike repair shop and they pointed me in the direction of a BMW dealership. Well, we went up and down that stretch of road and never found it. It was getting dark and we just checked into a hotel in the industrial zone of Bastia. After I got on the internet I found the dealer, right next to the hotel. Some online research revealed that this was the water side seal of the water pump leaking. So I knew what needed to be done. I went to the dealer in the morning and first thing they told me was that they only do BMWs . Fantastic, look again mate. Than they gave me the song and dance about having to “properly assess” the problem before they could order parts from mainland France. I told them which parts I needed, but they wouldn’t have it. So first time in my life I had to use my ADAC membership. They did some phone based shuttle diplomacy to no avail. They wouldn’t budge. It was also a Friday and French repair shops are closed on Mondays as well. This didn’t look like it would get done quickly. In order to keep things moving and keep us mobile, I took ADAC up on their offer to pay for a rental car. So I would see Corsica only form a car and from the back of my Cousin’s bike.
My view of Corsica
Not quite the bike tour we had hoped for but it was still fun. We would basically base ourselves in an area for a few days at a time and then go exploring from there on the 1200GS.
While we were traveling around the Island ADAC kept me updated on the repair status, which basically was that things weren’t moving and they were still waiting for parts. When my cousin left, the bike still wasn’t done and ADAC didn’t know what to do anymore either. They suggested that I keep bugging the shop in person to speed things up. It kind of worked but these guys really were an uncooperative bunch. I wanted to look at the clutch clover, which they had to take off anyway, to see if there was evidence of another common problem with the XChallenge. They wouldn’t let me. When I finally picked up the bike I had to return, because the coolant level was too low. In the end ADAC paid for a rental car for my entire stay in Corsica, a couple of taxi rides, and picked up the tab for the two extra nights I had to stay on the Island. That membership paid for itself this time.
Well, not off to a good start but it could have been worse. The problem could have occurred in a much worse place, leaving me stranded for weeks while waiting for parts.
The one good thing about my two day delay was that another ferry company was doing the run to Livorno now at a much lower price. I saw only a dozen pax on the huge ferry, most of them bikers.
Boarder06 screwed with this post 12-27-2013 at 04:04 AM
Reason: fixing sucky photo link