20th June 2017


I woke this morning at 5:40 to the sound of the chap in the tent next to mine checking his BMW 1200GS. He was attentively checking the oil level and tyre pressures. The front must have been microscopically low as he then attached his flashy electric pump and turned it on for literally two seconds. He then checked the pressure again and smiled to himself. Once he was happy he folded up the instruction booklet and packed it all back into its box. Just as I thought his bike was ready to go he took out an expandable pole and stuck it into the ground about ten feet in front of his bike. I was intrigued so continued watching. He switched his bike on checked the headlight was hitting the right mark on the pole. Crikey, now that is what you call attention to detail!

Taking his tent down was equally as detailed. Each of the guy ropes were loosened, unfastened, then folded before carefully packing them into their own little baggies. Before taking the tent down he wiped it over with a cloth then took the cloth to the sinks and washed it. He then hung the cloth on a mini washing line that extended from his panniers to his handlebar. When the washing line sagged a little he spent a few minutes adjusting the tension on the line. This went on, and on, and on. Camping on a motorbike is not easy at the best of times but with a serious dose of OCD it must be almost impossible. Still, he seemed to be enjoying himself.

With everything packed up he sat on his bike. Dressed in the full compliment of BMW gear he looked like a living, breathing BMW advert. I thought he was just about to ride away but no, there were lots more checks and tests to perform. He checked his brake light, front and rear indicators and other things that I think only BMW people know about. After about ten minutes of tests and checks the chap in the tent on his other side stuck his head of of the door and shouted at him. I don’t know exactly was what said but I think it was the Swiss version of “will you just fuck off!” And with that he rode away.

After watching Mr BMW packing his stuff up with such military precision my effort seemed a little sloppy. I took everything out of my tent and stuffed it all into my panniers, took the tent down and stuffed it into its bag, tied it all the the bike and buggered off. The bike is a Honda so there is no need to check the oil, tyre pressures or headlight alignment. Hehe.

So, yesterday someone kindly posted that I should ride the Furka Pass (you Furka!) which I thought was a great idea so I checked the map and set off. It turns out the Furka Pass is absolutely stunning, and when ridden at around seven in the morning it’s completely deserted. Meandering around the beautiful roads surrounded by the most incredible scenery was a moment to remember. However, as I climbed the bike started to falter. At just 5000 feet the air had thinned enough to cause my poor old girl to run rough. By 6000 feet I was restricted to first, second and third. By 8000 feet even third gear was out. I found the bike was okay going very slowly or with the throttle fully open but would fart and bang at anything between. Oh joys of carburettors eh?

Coming Down the other side was far better, with the thin air, my maladjusted carburettors and agricultural exhaust pipe the bike popped, spat, belched and farted its way down the mountain. When I got the the bottom I had no idea where I was and didn’t really care; it was a beautiful day and I was on my motorcycle meandering around Switzerland. I refused to stop and check the map or GPS instead I just rode around feeling the full force of freedom. Without meaning to I accidentally rode over another two incredible passes; Oberalppass and Sustenpass. As I descended down from Oberalppass I was getting faster and faster and was having a great time feeling like some kind of racing god when I was rudely overtaken by a post office van that had snuck up behind me when I wasn’t looking. It was probably driven by none other than The Stig himself! On the way down from Sustenpass I stopped for a coffee but had run dry. I also needed some fuel so stopped in the first petrol station I came across.

I believe there are two types of enjoyment on a trip like this, one is experiencing the beautiful scenery, the topology, the countries individual styles, et cetera and the other is the people. I experience the full compliment of the first type but am so paranoid about getting stuff stolen from my bike that I don’t really get to experience the people. As such I decided to trust a little more.

I filled up with petrol and made my way inside. I refused to keep on glancing at my bike and wandered around the shop picking up a jar of instant coffee, loads of water and a nice, home made chicken salad. I then went to the checkout and started paying. As the lady was typing in the prices I glanced over to my bike and saw a van stopped next to it with a thieving tosser leant out of its window trying to remove my GPS from my bike. I dropped my stuff, shouted “Oi!” and legged it out to my bike. Luckily the thieving tosser was also a shit-for-brains and couldn’t work out how to remove it so fled empty handed, I ran up the road after the van for about two feet then gave up. When I went back inside the lady asked if I wanted her to call the police but I didn’t want the agrovation so declined. So, as I’m sure you can imagine, the trust thing’s not going that well at the moment. Perhaps ‘paranoid’ is the right level to have when touring around on ones motorbike.

So, with a tank full of fuel and a bitter taste in my mouth I continued on my journey. Luckily the horrible experience was about to be replaced by a rather pleasant one. As I was riding up a hill just after a place called Selva I spotted a group of around fifty women skiing on skateboards. Judging by the way they were moving and the distinct lack of much clothing I’d say it was hard work. I slowly made my way passed them being sure to wait until it was absolutely clear before overtaking each one.

I continued through Laax, Surava, Davos and eventually into Austria and have found my resting place for the night; Innsbruck. I’m in a camp site by the airport so every now and again something lands or takes off which is quite a spectacle.

I have no idea what tomorrow will bring. I’m going to look up Austria and see what it offers. Much love. Rich 🙂

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  • I assume the BMW rider was german or swiss.
    Fabulous photos! ….reminds me of my childhood holiday in the volvo to Austria and back….. and the “Wank!” story.
    missing you a bit

  • Another fabulous read Rich! It’s the stuff dreams are made of, but perhaps take your Sat Nav with you next time! Ride safe, love you x

    • Yeah, the bastard. Sod doing the trust thing. I will continue to take everything with me whenever I venture away from the bike. Hope you had a super birthday! Rich xx

  • Not all BMW riders are like that, just 90%. They use oil so much you can even get a little top up bottle to stash on your GS.

    Progress going well. Shame about sat nav attempted theft.

    • To be fair, I’ve only ever met the one, the rest seemed almost normal. 😉 Yep, shame about the GPS thing but hey, could have been worse. The real bigger is that my bike doesn’t like mountains; not good for a trip to the Alps and Carpathians eh?

By Richard