Tour De Twist 2004

Photos are here

Wahey, it's the TdT 2004 tomorrow. Mark & Valerie Harling have a fun route planned for us,..... but the weathermen are forecasting rain. Ahhh, what the hell, I need a good ride and the GTR fairing is great in the rain. So, I persuade Ella (the new love of my life) to squeeze a weekends worth of clothes, shoes, hairdryers, etc. into one pannier, manage to get all my stuff into the other and we go to bed.

Next morning Stan arrives well early and since my doorbell is playing up, we don't know he's there until we get up. Sorry Stan. ;-)
Big Stu arrives at 10:30-ish and after coffee for the caffeine junkies (everyone except me) and breakfast for some, we saddle up and head for Folkestone and the EuroTunnel. (http://www.eurotunnel.co.uk)

No major hassles at the tunnel and we arrive in Calais at about 16:00 local time where after a fuel and nicotine stop and a frown at the dark clouds that are gathering, we head off for Dunkerque (where I missed the turning for the Lille Motorway), Lille, Tournai,  Mons, Charleroi, and arrive in Namur at the F1 (http://www.hotelformule1.com). We hit the rain somewhere near Mons and by Charleroi it was getting serious. Around the same time Big Stu noticed a vibration from his bike, and when we stopped just short of Namur to fill up with petrol his back wheel locked up. It seems that the bolts holding the rear brake caliper on had vibrated loose and fallen off and the caliper had machined a couple of millimetres of alloy off his rear wheel. One of the bolts was still in the clip so we bolted the caliper back on with one bolt and he spent the rest of the weekend avoiding using the back brake,...... which is not easy on wet roads.

At the F1 we are met by Hans V-D-Berg and Rene Kelder (Hi Guys!), get our rooms, unpack, dry out (I have leaky boots but the rest of me is dry) and then Stu, Stan, Ella, and I head for the nearby restaurant to meet up with Hans & Rene and for dinner. The food takes a while to arrive but is worth the wait, the beer is good, Bernd Neumann, Armin & Gerdi Herwig, and Ad Lambrechts arrive while we are waiting and we all say our Hello's. Jesal arrives at about 22:00-ish having ridden over on his own after work. About 23:30 Stan, Ella and I head back to the hotel as we are girly lightweights (and tired), get absolutely soaked to the skin in the 5 minutes it takes to walk back, and meet Mika Pitkanen and Juhani Kolehmainen (Hi Guys), both from Finland. The bed is dry and warm, doesn't have bumps (unlike the Belgian motorways), and sleep comes quickly.

Saturday morning we awake to find that the hotel has been taken over by the TdT participants and intermingled with breakfast and getting ready we meet Mark & Valerie Harling, Mees & Inga Minkhorst, Clemens & Brenda Lettinck, Marc Kleefstra, Gie Lambeir, Michel and Jacinda Mykytiuk and their friend Koen and probably a few others (hey, I was still half asleep! <LOL>). Mark gathers us all together and explains what is to happen, where we are going and we all pray to the weather gods for no more rain.

We head off down the E42 and then E411 to J23, Here we are split into 3 groups of 6 bikes and then head off through Chanly, Resteigne, Tellin, Wavreille, Nassogne and on to La Roche en Ardenne where we stop for Lunch at "Le Nulay". After lunch we head out through Nisramont, Grande Mormont, Houffalize, Tavigny, and stop at Wincrange for petrol and a break. Then on to Clervaux, Marnach, Marbourg, Dasburg, and down the N10 to Stolzembourg. From there we head into Germany to Waldhof-Falkenstein, then Bauler, Roth, and back into Luxembourg. Bettel, Hoesdorf, Reisdorf,  and on down the N10, through Echternach (where they seem to be having a Morgan Cars Owners Club rally) to Steinheim where we are staying the night at Hotel Gruber (http://www.hotelgruber.com/).

On arrival we find our group, led by Gie Lambeirs are the first there which is strange because Mark Harling's group had left Wincrange before us and we hadn't passed them on the road. The last group, led by Marc Kleefstra, arrived about 30 minutes later but still no sign of Mark's lot. An hour and a half later they finally arrive, minus 2 bikes. It seems that Mark took a wrong turn (it's a habit of his <LOL>) and while doing the U-turn Clemens and Brenda Lettinck's BMW had grounded and ripped off the centrestand spilling the engine oil everywhere. Nobody was hurt except for a bruise on Clem's leg and Ad Lambrechts had stayed with them for assistance. Ad arrived later and Clem & Brenda were dropped off at the hotel after a long wait while the breakdown recovery people went to the wrong place. Everyone was relieved that they were ok and proceeded to take the piss a bit, as you do. ;-)

The dinner at Hotel Gruber was excellent with the Salmon Pastry being especially delicious. Service was good and the beer went down a treat. Our room was excellent with a huge bath that Ella took full advantage of and had a comfy bed. Had a good nights sleep and an adequate breakfast. Not bad for 55 Euros each ( a group rate organised by Mark Harling, good job Mark!).

Sunday morning, after paying the bill and loading up the bikes, we are joined by two more people, Stephan Schleich and his brother and we all head off into Echternach to fill up. Then on to Berdorf, Mullerthal, Heffingen, and on to Diekirch. North of Diekirch we turn off towards Michelau and the Sure valley. Just short of Goebelsmuhle, Mark Kleefstra (who is leading our group today) suddenly turns off into a layby and I miss the turning. Ella and I stop in Goebelsmuhle and wait for the group to catch up. After 20 minutes and having seen Mark Harling's group go by, we decided to head off on our own. The Sure Valley has had much of it's road resurfaced and it's massively better than when we rode it in the 2001 TdT. Ella and I ride on at a gentle pace taking in the scenery and enjoying the road. On through Esch-sur-Sure (spectacular views) and on up to the Junction with the N23 where we stop for a break. Some 15 minutes later Gie's group arrives followed by Marc's group, and finally Mark's group. Seems that Ella and I were leading the whole TdT since Esch where Mark's lot had stopped for a break. <LOL>

On to Martelange where we find the N848 to Neufchateau is closed so we detour up the Route de Bastogne to Warnach, then take a backroad to Bodange and onwards on the N848, N825 and N85 to Neufchateau where Mark again takes us on a small detour. Hey Mark, at this rate we will have to call it the "Tour des Detours" <LOL>

Lunch in Neufchateau was the end of the TdT 2004 and after lunch and watching Michael Schumacher on the cafe's TV well on his way to winning the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona, we say our goodbyes and Ella and I lead Stan, Big Stu and Jesal to the Luxembourg services on the E25 (cheap petrol and tobacco shopping) where we leave them and head off to my Dad's in Strassen, Luxembourg.

After spending the night at my Dad's, Ella and I decided we'd had enough of the rough Belgian motorways and roadworks, and took the southern route to Calais, via Thionville, Reims, and on to Calais. It cost about 10 Euros in tolls but the roads were empty and smooth which made it worth the extra 70 miles and 10 Euros.

On getting back home I discovered that my back tyre was bald in the middle (whoops) which may have explained some of the handling problems I had through the weekend. I blame the rest on having a pillion (it's all Ella's fault <LOL>) and on the wet roads ;-).

Both Ella and I had a great weekend. Despite the weather this was a great TdT and I would like to thank Mark and Valerie Harling for their massive efforts in organising the event. Big thanks also go to Marc Kleefstra and Gie Lambeir for leading the other two groups and to anyone else who contributed. I had more riding fun on the 2003 TdT but then we had dry roads and I spent most of the first day in "hustle" mode with Michael Cockram. The 2004 TdT was fun riding in a different way but the social side of the event was the best ever.

Mark has hinted that he may not organise a TdT 2005. I personally think that would be a great shame and ask you all to email him and beg him to reconsider. It would also help if someone could volunteer to help out with the organisation next year as Mark & Valerie are moving house and will have a lot to do before then.

I can not make it to the German GTR Rally at Rheda-Wiedenbruck on June 4th, 5th & 6th but urge you to go along and have some fun. Udo has arranged a good rally and there seems to be a huge list of participants. See http://gtr-rally-2004.de.vu/ for details. Some of it is in English, Dutch, & French but most in German.

See you all in Bunnik, Holland for the GTR Rally 2004 on July 3rd to 7th. See http://members1.chello.nl/~e.kleefstra/gce04uk.html for details.
I'll be there for the 3rd, 4th and 5th but then will have to head home as I don't have enough vacation left.

The Participants;

George "Boomer" Garratt & Ella Yates – European Blue & Black 89 GTR1000 “Otto”
James Stuart "Big Stu" Murray - BMW K100RT "Evie"
Jesal "Osama" Odedra – Strange Green 89 GTR1000 "GeRTie"
John Paul "Stan" Boardman - Merlot 94 GTR1000  "Ethel"
Marc Kleefstra –  Wineberry 89 GTR1000 “
GerTRude”
Clemens and Brenda Lettinck – Blue BMW K1200LT "Sofa"
Mark & Valerie Harling  - Red Honda ST1300
Bernd Neumann - Red Honda ST1300
Armin & Gertie Herwig - Silver Honda ST1300
Gie Lambeir - Strange Green 89 GTR1000
Mees & Inga Minkhorst - Red 90 GTR1000
Ad Lambrechts - Barney Purple 99 GTR1000
Hans Van Den Berg - European Blue 89 GTR1000
Rene Kelder - Red 90 GTR1000
Mika Pitkanen - Barney Purple 99 GTR1000
Juhani Kolehmainen - Yamaha FJR1300
Michel & Jacinda Mykytiuk - Forest Green 98 GTR1000
Koen - Yamaha R6
Stephan Schleich & his brother - GTR1000 & ZZR-1100