On the 27th of April this year, the first of many Magellan motorcycle tours of the year kicked off the season with a fantastic group of people who all met me at the stop 24 service station in Folkstone. We all shook hands and made our introductions and then headed off to the channel tunnel like a bunch of excited school kids on their first big trip away from home.
A quick coffee and off we went onto the train, headed for France, sorting out paperwork and sat nav’s along the way, while experiencing the first part of a new adventure, the train itself. An amazing bit of engineering and for those first timers, the big smiles of “tick the channel tunnel on my bike check list complete”
The beginning of this trip has a reasonable bit of motorway riding to get you into the Harz as quickly as possible. Due to a train breakdown we were a little bit late on our arrival to France and so we caught the morning traffic. We made our way through it to our first coffee stop and everyone cut their foreign riding teeth in quickly. A quick coffee and some snacks and it was an effortless ride on through Belgium, finally arriving in the Eifel mountain region in Germany at our incredible first hotel der seedhof.
The first nights meal is always great fun on a tour and everyone really comes together quickly sharing backgrounds and past biking experiences, this first night was exceptional and really set the tone for the rest of the tour. In fact I’m sure all of us laughed ourselves to sleep.
The Harz tour is incredible in its own right, the scenery, the roads, the castles and the history all make for a full and interesting itinerary that knocks your socks off.
There’s the two famous world war 2 Dam’s, Mohne and Eder Dam made famous by the Dambusters. We even had a relation of bomb aimer Fredrick Michael Spafford who was awarded the distinguished flying cross medal for his part, with us on the trip. The mind boggling 88 bends of the Kyffauser where its easy to lose your foot pegs by way of grinding them off, if you ride an Indian scout like a certain lady on this trip!
The B500 black Forrest road which just gets better and better every time we ride it! Add the Vosges Mountains, the Harz mountains, Colditz castle and if you add a stack of cultural and historical experiences to it, you are still only half way there!
This years Harz tour really was special for me because it was the first time the bride of the guide (my wife Storm) came on a long hauler with me. I loved the fact that while I was a biking mad nut who’s conquered the world on two wheels, she was telling everyone, he’s really just a big softy who loves riding his bike!!! This further encouraged the group to take their pound of flesh from my already bare torso!
We had it all, from one day of torrential rain that pushed everyone’s skills to the limit and made us all better riders for it, to a beautiful sunny afternoon on top of a mountain, sipping cool refreshments, taking in the views from our ski lodge hotel.
There’s something no one can explain to you about a Magellan tour unless you experience it for yourself. It’s the way a bunch of strangers who have never met before can come together from all walks of life and various backgrounds with just one thing in common, motorbikes! Then make bonds that you couldn’t possibly do anywhere else doing anything else.
For me the best part of every tour is meeting and making new biking friends who I will share a short but unforgettable part of my life with, making memories and creating new stories that I will cherish forever. Having conversations that teach me new things and of course the most important thing, the humour.
You always get a variety of riders at different stages of their biking careers and this tripwas no different.
Michael on his RT, a senior rider if I may be so bold, who had breakfast and dinner with us, but who rode during the day with the elegance of a majestic white Swan that sits beautifully still upon the waters surface, all the while its feet below, or in this case Michaels RT 1200, propelled him effortlessly across the land at a speed which meant we rarely saw him in day light.
Des on his brand new triumph explorer, an experienced rider who for some reason always seemed to pass us each day on the wrong side of the road going in the opposite direction, but arrived at the hotels each afternoon at the same time as the rest of us.
Ray(spider) who brought not only joy and humour to Germany in his own unique style, but who also introduced them to his play list ranging from the likes of abba and Labi Siffre to Simon and Garfunkle. Naturally blasted full pelt from the on board speakers on his mighty triumph trophy.
Geoff on his bullet proof transalp, cruising on like a real wild hog, constantly low in fuel but refusing to fill up until the final mile on the trip computer, because Geoff was on a biking holiday and the normal rules of fuel consumption wouldn’t stop Geoff having a good time, oh no! Only losing his wallet on the last day and nearly missing the train home home would do that! I’m sure Geoff’s wife doesn’t usually let him go that far unsupervised and if your reading this Geoff’s wife, I’d be honoured to have him along again. 😉
Paul and Nene, 2 wonderfully funny full of life characters who made each day great fun. Paul rides a lovely GS adventure bike in a similar manor to which Guy Martin rides the Isle of Man TT. Both Paul and Nene sit perched upon their noble steed sometimes facing in different directions, while Paul effortlessly lets the bike float along and around corners at speeds that a joy rider on a stolen fire blade could only dream about.
Will on his Kawasaki, a man of such a laid back character and with amazing concern for his riding mates, jumps fearlessly over 300ft high Dam safety rails to collect his fallen keys. Sorry Will this is the last time I shall mention this……….honest! Will was the founding member of the Magellan basket case dinner time award and for that I thank you sincerely. A new tradition to be carried on in my future tours.(watch out Felix no ones immune even me)
Michael on his versys, which we found out actually means Michael versys the rest of the group at cornering and high speed overtakes, safely of course. A man of few but harsh and side splitting words. He dodged the basket on this trip but I’ve got a feeling he may earn his right of passage on the Spain tour in September.
Kev on his Kawasaki. A new to foreign riding chap, who on the first day reassured me even though he was a professional truck driver for a living back home, would not be leading the group at any time during the trip as this was solely about gaining a new experience. Later on in day 1, Kev led the group without fault from lunchtime to the hotel with the same prowess of his Dambusting relative many years before him, earning the Magellan distinguished riding cross medal.
Louisa on her magnificent Indian scout. Another rider who said on day one “listen I’ll be riding at my own speed and never at the front and if it rains I’ll be really slow” normally when someone tells me that many fibs in a row i begin to wonder if you can ever really trust them. So as it unfolded within 2 days Louisa was leading the group, grinding foot pegs by the middle of the trip and after a brief discussion about grip percentages, rode through the rain like a cruise missile all the while setting fire to her self with her heated vest! Louisa is now a recent new volunteer in the London blood bike riders team and we wish her all the very best and a massive congratulations. If an Indian scout pulled up with 2 pints of blood in it I’d be only to happy to have it in my veins.
Gerry, some say diva, some say hooligan but I say the ultimate male, a man of distinction and a character full of fun with a pinch of naughty in there for good measure. Gerry rides a mighty 1290 KTM like its on fire and he’s trying to put the flames out by achieving speeds high enough to simply blow the fire out. Able to say anything to any one and get away with it by simply tilting one eyebrow and nodding in a Roger Moore like manor, I’m convinced he would have made a great 007, although money penny wouldn’t have got a moments peace.
Storm, my lovely wife, I now must not miss this opportunity to return fire. My pillion wing man who I enjoyed having sitting comfortably behind me, forgetting occasionally our headsets were connected. Occasional outbursts of singing, occasional warnings of imminent danger ahead, occasional constructive criticisms like “why do you grind your left peg more than your right” answer- because your luggage is in the left side pannier dear! And of course some occasional “ooofs” “watch outs” “god sakes” and of course my all time favourite, a few hundred “can you hear me”.
Thank you all for making this years Harz tour an amazing trip and I hope to see you all again someday for a new adventure on one of our other tours. I know I’ll be seeing some of you again this year soon on an amazing tour of Morocco and I can’t wait to get going again. After drooling at Paul and Nene’s GS adventure and telling several people I love them but I prefer my old varadero, mile munching trusty steed as its simplicity is more manageable for the mileage I do…… The day after we returned we walked into the local dealership and said “We will have that black one there thanks”. For this I have rightfully taken much abuse from my Harz group!
Ride safe guys and Myself and Storm wish you all many more happy and exciting miles.
Very best wishes.
Billy and Storm.