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Old 11-22-2014, 08:39 AM   #1
Joined: Sep 2013
Location: San Diego
Oddometer: 12
Laugh "Business Trip": The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium

**Edit: If anyone can help me resize the pictures, please let me know... I'm not sure how to fix this**

When I found out my company was sending me to the HeliTech conference in Amsterdam, then straight to Orlando for the NBAA conference the following week, I was excited. It seems as if I'll have a weekend in between... what could I possibly plan for that idle weekend in Europe?

It seemed like Silverline was the best place to rent a bike in the Amsterdam area. They had a Street Triple (the bike I bought once I finally got home), a Monster, Hypermotard, V-Strom. Not being sure what I was going to get myself into, and the fact that I would be heading into Germany, I went with their BMW F800GS.

I went through a lot of phases during my trip planning, first thinking I should go down to Bastogne, the scene of one of the most important battles of WWII. Then, I thought maybe I would try to hit as many marquee towns and cities as I could, to pack in as much as "I've been there" as I could. Finally, with the help of inmate Zender, I had a route:

Friday: Amsterdam to Drolshagen, Germany, a small town in the Sauerlands with a motorcycle-centric hotel called Landhotel Haus Dumicketal
Saturday: Ride around the Sauerlands, and head down through Belgium, and up to Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Sunday: Leave Nijmegen early to return the bike in Amsterdam and get on a 1:30pm flight to Orlando, FL

After a great week roaming around Amsterdam, it was Friday morning and I was time to pick up the bike. The first problem was that I had 2 huge suitcases that was a combination of work clothes, product and marketing materials for the conference, plus my moto gear, including a small backpack and a magnetic tank bag (more on that later) inside one of the suitcases. The people at Silverline were great and let me store all my stuff at their shop while I was out.

I have to say, the bike was in incredible shape - brand new as far as I was concerned. I chose the Givi case instead of panniers because I had never ridden with panniers and I'm from California, used to lane splitting etc. With the narrow roads, I wasn't comfortable with panniers sticking off the side. I don't have any experience on a bigger bike like this - the bikes I have owned were a Ninja 500, Daytona 675, and now a Street Triple R. It turned out to be the perfect size for my stuff.

As you can see, and as many of you may have already predicted, my idea of a magnetic tank bag on an F800GS wasn't the brightest idea. The tank is plastic, and I thought I was screwed. Luckily, Dennis from Silverline had some straps that I could use to mount the tank bag on the rear seat. It ended up working perfectly, maybe even better than if the bag was in front of me because it was out of my way and very secure.

It had rained in Amsterdam every day that week, so I was worried about riding a "big" (vs what I am used to) motorcycle in a foreign country in the rain. As it turns out, the skies cleared just as I was about to set off.

As part of the rental package, I added their TomTom satnav system. It was great to have, but it has a couple issues. First off, it is NOT connected to the bike's battery, so I could only plan on about 4 hours battery life. This was a little concerning when I planned to ride all day and I really didn't know where I was going. The other issues was that it took FOREVER to calculate a route. I was trying to use the "find twisty roads" and "avoid highways", which I am sure adds to the processing power, but I"m talking about 15 minute calculation time for a 160 mile route. Then, if you make a wrong turn, it has to re-calulate the whole thing! /rant

So, after that wrong turn, this is what I had:

Somewhere between Utrecht and my destination in Germany, I learned that you have to pay to use the restroom at a gas station in Europe...

After experiencing the Autobahns' speed, it started to sprinkle a bit. I took this opportunity to stop and put on my new BMW ProRain suit. I really probably didn't need it, but I was anxious to try out the new suit and it was getting a little cold, so it helped there too.

Finally I made it to my hotel in a tiny town in rural Germany, and was glad that they had a garage for me to put the bike. Note the American flag hanging on the wall! They had a picture of the twin towers on the staircase wall too.

To me, the countryside in this area was incredible. Just a beautiful fall scene. Here's a picture I took from the balcony in my room:

I called it any early night. I was by my self, and the hotel was EMPTY, so there wasn't exactly much to do.

The next morning, look who arrived:

Inmate Zender met me at the hotel for a full day of riding. I really have to thank him - he led the way for our route that day and I saw a lot of great roads, towns, and even a tourist attraction or two!

We stopped in Cologne to see the gothic cathedral, which was amazing. It's so big it was hard to get a good picture.

Zender clearly was more experienced in this than I was, as he brought roadside cookies and chocolate. He rides with a full coffee making kit too, which unfortunately we didn't have time to try!

This one's for Zender... a church somewhere in Belgium:

We had some great pizza in Belgium too. As an American, I'm always interested in trying pizza from other countries. So far, Belgium and Brazil take the cake (pie?) for me. Much better than the Domino's I had here last night...

That night (Saturday), I stayed in Nijmegen so that I could make it back to Amsterdam to make my flight on Sunday. The hotel let me park the bike off to the side.

Early Sunday morning, I left right before sunrise to return the bike. I wish I had pictures of this, but I was on the highway during sunrise, with the colors of the sky acting as an amazing backdrop to the windmills on the side of the road. It really was a great way to end the trip.

All in all, I was happy I bought the bike back a little dirtier than I picked it up...

Lastly, I had a GPS/Iridium tracking system with me for the whole trip. Here's the tracks. Note that it ran out of battery as we came north from Belgium to Nijmegen. Nothing to see on that part anyway- it was dark and we were on the highway just trying to get home.

Big thanks to Zender for helping me with the trip planning and for spending a Saturday riding with me!

TXTBOOK screwed with this post 11-22-2014 at 08:53 PM
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Old 11-22-2014, 11:48 AM   #2
Inquisitive tinkerer
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Joined: Oct 2013
Location: The Netherlands
Oddometer: 155
What a nice ride that was. Good to see all that nice German mud on the bike , although that forest path was a bit to enthusiastic. The weather was great, slowly being roasted in black leathers, and eyes becoming irritated from the continuous sun. Even with polarized sunglasses, it was a bit to much at times.

And just for those who want to know:
Nijmegen -> Drolshagen -> Cologne -> Malmedy (cookie break) -> Visé (Pizza break) -> Nijmegen (taking the A73 from Maastricht)

I must confess that I actually had no idea where I was going other than those towns, and trusting that this region of Belgium and Germany has some nice twisties in there. Without sat nav, it would have been impossible.

Thanks for the great ride Matt, the first (of I hope many) inmate I've met face to face. If I find myself on the other side of the big pond I'll let you know.
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Old 11-24-2014, 10:40 PM   #3
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Joined: Nov 2014
Location: Toyama, Japan
Oddometer: 27
Very nice trip, beautiful European architecture and cool motorcycles.
You can resize photos by using image editor such as GIMP.
Import photo > resize > export photo
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