Birthday celebration! It’s a dieselbike thing...

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Diesel Dave
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Birthday celebration! It’s a dieselbike thing...

Post by Diesel Dave » Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:43 pm

How to spend your 55th birthday - diesel biker style.

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One reaches a certain maturity; work decides they no longer require your services, your turning 55 years old (where did the time go!); there’s only one thing to do…ROAD TRIP!

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So leaving the missus at home nursing a broken ankle, wake up at an ungodly hour and make for the Channel Tunnel in Folkestone for the 05:50 train to foreign parts. the bike’s heavily loaded but running well wandering between 50 and 60mph depending on incline. At these speeds I can happily tailgate any truck and perform the occasional swift overtake.

For those who have not, (or will never), take the bike on the Eurotunnel; I have only one thing to say - BORING but fast; and at 40 quid for the single crossing, very good value.

Off the train and avoiding the toll motorways old Sluggy and I head south for warmer climbs. I had intended to camp near Reims but after a few text exchanges with the Scarry brothers (yes I spelled this correctly). I push on to Eperney to join them at the municipal campsite.

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Next day we make full use of the Tom Tom ‘Winding Routes’ function to press on to Sarbruken, we have plenty of time to enjoy the scenery.

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At Sarbruken in Germany where we will meet up with:

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Arno and Yvonne (Diesel MZ outfit racer and all round good people)

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Alex the mad Dutchman (longest diesel bike build in history)

We pitch up for the night and as it’s my birthday (never thought I would make such a grand old age) we head into town and it’s drinks by the river.

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With slightly fuzzy heads, sleep comes rapidly. After a swift breakfast and coffee at the campsite it’s time to hit the road again (I seem to have the Willie Nelson version playing in my head all the time during this trip). Luckily Arno is the guide so today I can just enjoy the scenery and not worry about navigation. We stopped off to see the cave houses in the cliffside.

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And before long we start to climb…..and climb and climb some more. We are heading for the winter ski resort of Gaschney, where we will camp for the weekend and enjoy the spectacle of race bikes ancient and new being mercilessly pushed up the 2km final climb - against the clock. Arno has been 9 times previously and competed in the diesel bike class in his MZ outfit. Sadly last year proved too much for the clutch and it withdrew service within sight of the start line. The outfit remains safely garages awaiting repairs. We do however still have a competitor in the class as Andre and his Centaur Enfield are ready to do battle.

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We search for a flat piece of ground on the mountainside, some are luckier than others and some get a very close neighbour as more racers arrive with vans and gazebo tents for bikes and equipment. I still don’t understand how they all managed to fit in.

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As Arno knows the course well he leads us down the mountain path to a viewing spot on a great hairpin that provides a fantastic view of the proceedings.

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The racing was not without incident, a Goldstar runs wide and finds the outside banking, a 1932 Condor outfit has a rather harder hit at the same point leaving the front wheel a long way from it’s intended placement; and a supermotard fails to brake in time and the rider bails over the inflatable barrier at the apex and leaves the bike on the road. In all cases the riders escaped without serious injury.

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After practice runs on Saturday and a whole host of drinking what appeared to be beer without alcohol because only myself and Alex remained in the beer tent at the end of the night:

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Our valiant Diesel bike entry was not without hiccup’s, a blown main fuse put paid to a practice run and a broken front brake lug on the fork leg finally put paid to our hero’s entry. Luckily Andre did manage to put in a timed run and so became the unchallenged winner of the diesel bike class.

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Now I have never been so grateful for…

1) Not being a football fan (that’s soccer for those that think football needs to be played in a suit of armour)
2) England getting knocked out before the final.

Sunday evening provides the cup winners ceremony and also the World cup with France becoming the ultimate victors - to say the indigenous population were ecstatic to say the least. Thanking the starts it was not an `England v France' final or we may have not made it out alive.

All too soon it is Monday morning and time to hit the road again. Arno has booked us a personal tour of the museum in La Grange A Becanes and we make good time over the twists.

A museum full of French Rabatt motorcycles of all shapes sizes and ages, the displays include a sidecar outfit you can ride upon and twisting the throttle speeds up the 3D forward display so it really feels like you are riding it (just needs a diesel soundtrack to become perfect). Also a classic racer for the photogenic but as I have a face designed for radio I decide to mug it up anyway.
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‘On the road again’ as willies soundtrack repeats in my head, we mount up and head off once more. By this time Jeff’s rear wheel on the Ruggerfield is showing district signs of distress, following the bike the wobble in the wheel is visible and somewhat alarming although Jeff manages to control the machine with aplomb.

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The road ahead continues to amaze us with spectacular views, we stop off to catch the emergence of one of the sources of the ‘Blue Danube’ and partake of a coffee at the adjoining restaurant to spark up jaded road weary brains. As always the diesel bike attract attention and we make somewhat stuttered conversation with a bicycle mounted french chap who has a summer house locally. It always surprises how much of a conversation starter and ice breaker diesel bikes can be.

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After some deliberation we decide to head for Jochen Sommers workshop and diseselbike rally ahead of schedule as we need to fix Jeffs increasingly wobbly rear wheel. Before setting off the bearings had been replaced but the hub was worn and even the application of shim stock and Loctite did not prove to be a lasting repair.

We arrived Thursday afternoon and set to with spanners to reveal a very broken wheel hub indeed. Yochen had replacement parts available but we needed to modify the swing arm to accept the later type stub axle rear wheel setup. After a few hours work in the hot, hot, HOT sun we had a fitting wheel and a short test ride proved successful.

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As we were early, Yochen needed to rally the town troops to mow the village green and set up the toilet, shower and washing facilities (handily created by the town creative specialist ‘Herman the German’). For such kindness we are eternally grateful. The day was spent lounging at the local swimming lake and a more perfect day could not have been wished for. Sun, shade, warmth and the company of good friends.


Saturday and the Sommer diesels start to arrive in force, old friends and new all tied together with a common enthusiasm for what must be one of the most marginal forms of transport ever created. The weather closes in however and the rain falls consistently for the entire weekend.

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The village hall provides a perfect venue and the food exceptional, sufficed to say we ate and drank to our hearts content.

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Come Sunday and virtually all have departed for home, Arno and Yvonne, Stu and Jeff too.

The hardcore however remain once more (Myself, Ian, Alex and Pascal), and we turn our hand to the clean-up campaign (would you believe not a single scrap of rubbish was left on the camping field). Given the weather forecast we move camp to under the Village hall awning. Alex thinks he is smart and decides to sleep in the hall itself (later to regret this decision as he became food for 1000 mosquitoes). Pascal in his usual dry humour states that he is not a p*ssy (like Alex) and will sleep outside. Ian pitches up his tent under the cover and I do likewise between the bikes and sleep like a log.

Monday morning, an early start for the crew and we bid farewell to Ian and Pascal. Ian will wander back through France to meet Stu and Jeff on the Friday Newhaven bound ferry and Pascal heads home for the Swiss mountains.

Choosing a winding roads route; Alex and I forge our way North through spectacular wooded countryside, however all is not well with Sluggy’s gearbox and it’s getting increasingly difficult to change gear and missing a change when heading into a downhill hairpin provides much excitement. Eventually we find a little gem of a campsite and settle in for the evening; Alex has to satisfy his appetite with just a catering size tin of Ravioli (about 2 kilo’s I would guess).

The tents are packed away wet the following morning and once more we hit the road (queue Willie Nelson again). After a short while it becomes obvious that Sluggy’s gearbox is getting worse with each change and so we change our routing to use the motorways so I can stay in top gear - it’s boring but at least the miles pass easily as we maintain a steady 50+ mph. Amsterdam here we come!

It’s with great relief that Sluggy manages to pull into Alex back yard under his own steam as I’m using the Enfields neutral finder as a shifter with just 2nd and 4th gears available. I get a personal Tour of Amsterdam and the surrounding regions in the ‘Benz’ (a rather immaculate example of diesel powered Autobahn cruncher); nothing beats local knowledge for seeing the best bits of town.

All too soon It’s Thursday morning and I have to head for the Hook of Holland ferry and home, I stick to the m with a large otorways and manage with just the 2 remaining gears available in the ‘box and breathe a sigh of relief as I park up at the ferry port fish & chip shop with time to spare. Kibbling and chips with Mayo sauce is devoured and then it’s time to board. I spend the whole journey asleep as the previous 2 weeks adventures are catching up on me.

Off the ferry and just 70 miles to home; the light is fading as I’m heading into a setting sun; it’s one of those times where you have both happiness to be almost home but also sadness that the adventure is over. I pulled into my driveway and killed the engine for the last time…it’s over.

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wightegi
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Re: Birthday celebration! It’s a dieselbike thing...

Post by wightegi » Sat Jul 28, 2018 10:09 pm

Great stuff Dave, just think in 5 years time you will be old enough to do the Dragon.

JOHNBOY
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Re: Birthday celebration! It’s a dieselbike thing...

Post by JOHNBOY » Sat Jul 28, 2018 10:17 pm

GOOD ON Y DAVE YOU ENJOYED YOURSELF

Leiba
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Re: Birthday celebration! It’s a dieselbike thing...

Post by Leiba » Sat Jul 28, 2018 10:23 pm

Brilliant. :D

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Dr_StrangeTrick
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Re: Birthday celebration! It’s a dieselbike thing...

Post by Dr_StrangeTrick » Sun Jul 29, 2018 5:10 am

Well done Dave, happy belated birthday :D

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Bogger
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Re: Birthday celebration! It’s a dieselbike thing...

Post by Bogger » Sun Jul 29, 2018 7:10 am

55 my arse.

Bogger

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Bogger
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Re: Birthday celebration! It’s a dieselbike thing...

Post by Bogger » Sun Jul 29, 2018 7:10 am

Nice write up and pictures Dave.

Bogger ;)

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Diesel Dave
Posts: 10538
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Rides:: 1965 Enfield Diesel, 2017 Sterling, Modenas Kriss and CT200 - the only Cub left
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Re: Birthday celebration! It’s a dieselbike thing...

Post by Diesel Dave » Sun Jul 29, 2018 7:51 am

Bogger wrote:
Sun Jul 29, 2018 7:10 am
55 my arse.

Bogger
I keep telling everybody, it’s not the age but the mileage that does the damage.... :D

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JohnS
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Re: Birthday celebration! It’s a dieselbike thing...

Post by JohnS » Sun Jul 29, 2018 9:38 am

Great write up and pictures DD.Belated Happy 55th Birthday.55? You're still just a kid.😀

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onittino3
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Re: Birthday celebration! It’s a dieselbike thing...

Post by onittino3 » Sun Jul 29, 2018 10:45 am

Looks like you had an epic adventure, Happy belated Birthday Dave. :P

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