The Sahara and Us Morocco 2011

Sunday, September 25, 2011

All Good Things Must Come to an End

Oberursel Old Town

Our direction from Stuttgart was Heidelberg to visit Stefan and then Frankfurt/Oberursel where our friend Heiko lives.

Town Centre
As the saying goes ‘all good things must come to an end’ and the drive allowed us to extend our incredible statistic of riding in only 1 hr. of rain for 150 days and over 22000 kms. easily over 130 days were over 26C and we never wore our rain/wind liners from May 4th until Sept. 16th. We never wore the insulated liners period.

Forever indebted to Heiko for his hospitality we headed back to Frankfurt to take Heiko out for supper before he headed off to Romania for a ‘guys’ dirt bike trip. 
"Val", Heiko, Sandra and Brian
As he inventoried his trip hardware we set out to walk and see more of Oberursel, a small town of 49000 plus residents. It so happened to be the same weekend as the Autumn fair which coincides with Oktoberfest in Germany.

Apple Wine Tasting Contest
Fair Crowd
While it was a rather cool day it suited us fine as we munched on Bratwurst, hot apple wine ( perfect for the day), and Flammkuchen (similar to pizza) hot from a wood burning oven at the fair.

Similar to fairs in Canada the Autumn fair showcased antique tractors including a Porsche Junior, the crushing methods for apple wine, a taste test set up at the town fountain, and local retailers. It was such an enjoyable afternoon of Oomph pah bands, food and sightseeing fun of the old town.

Crushing Apples for Juice
Crushed Apples

Still more to Come

Zum Schwanen (swan sign)
We even found an excellent old town Gasthaus  "Zum Schwanen", built in 1705, where we enjoyed the company of locals, there to celebrate their mom’s 81st birthday and who wondered why Canadians were in ‘their’ place. We must have visited for over an hour after our meal (excellent food) as they were so interested in where we’d been and were so friendly, as well as the staff. It was truly one of those most memorable moments of the trip. They even helped us order our meal in this German speaking only establishment.

Our plan originally was to sightsee around Frankfurt/Rhein valley, meet Igor B. from VSRI, a staunch Vstrom guy who has made numerous mod’s to his bike and is a friend to all Vstromers who pass thru his way. Then prep the bike near the end of the week, and attend the Frankfurt international auto show before heading home.  The strike mandate of the Air Canada flight attendants to strike effective the Wednesday morning would cause us to change our plans or leave us in Europe for an undetermined amount of time.

We called AC and they offered us a flight out the next day (last before strike) so we took it. That sent us scurrying for oil and filter for the bike, and train tickets to the airport, one of the easiest commutes we have ever experienced.

Arriving for an Oil Change

My visit with Igor was abbreviated but productive. He had drawn my attention to some LED light technology that I wanted to see on his bike. While there to change oil we compared the stock lighting to that of the available LED's. You can judge for yourself how simple and cost effectively you can have 'the best' lighting for very little extra money. And Igor has made some other changes, which include raising the clearance of the bike ( raises stock seat height as well), brembo front  brakes and braided stainless lines, a Wilbur rear kit,( I have the  Hyper-pro progressive spring), and the list can go on. I even saw his new availables, the SV twins. Now that would be nice to have an extra 30HP, even though the bike doesn't need it, I would love it.
LED's light up the rear, yes my tail light is on
Me leaving and the bike heading to bed

New Headlights with 35w technology

So now our bike rests in Oberursel until our next adventure -  next year. 

Most of our Family  together in Calgary,
Riley, Gramma, Abbey, Blair, Sandie, Kaden, Granpa, Shannon, (missing Jim)

Kaden Serenades
After a 9:45 hr flight we arrived in Calgary to be greeted by our children and grandchildren, where we enjoyed a great visit and meal, including my grandson Kaden serenading us in the parking lot on his new guitar. Then back on a plane to the coast and home.

As I write this we’re still suffering from jetlag but reflecting on a truly amazing adventure. 

Stay tuned for more.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Welcome to Porsche

1st Design Concept

Back in 2006 we stopped at the Porsche museum in Stuggart. It was old and not representative of the cars they produced. Later the same trip we also stopped in Gmund Austria where Ferry (Ferdinand) Porsche built his first cars during WWII and worked on the VW Kublewagen  later the Beetle for Hitler.

Large Exhibit Halls state of the Art
Now, Porsche has opened a state of the Art museum in the suburb of Zuffhausen that is far more representative of the cars and models that have been produced over the years. It was very impressive.

We couldn’t believe we spent over 2 hours wandering around the new place it was that nice. The displays are first class with many of the cars placed against black backdrops so they photograph much better.

If you own a Porsche then a trip here is in order. 

Now we just found out from Heiko that the Frankfurt Auto show is on. Stand by for the last pictures of the new vehicles and themes from the major car manufacturers.

Here are some of our 78 pictures.
Where Ferry got his money - Hitler and the Beetle

Original 356 C

Prototype of my 944
The Porsche Carrera GTS Spyder

Thursday, September 15, 2011

“Routes of the Grande Alpes”

Summit of Col du Bonnet

The Route des Grande Alpes is a made in heaven set of linked roads that wind their way through the French Alps. These roads are also always on the Tour de France (Climbing section). And of course you will recognize names like Albertville, Chamonix, Mont Blanc and Val D’Isere, as ski destinations. They are all on this route or within 20 kms. And the made in heaven is because they nearly reach it!

Day 1 saw us head up from the coast through Sospel to ride the Col de Bonnet a 2802 M. pass. The day was sunny and warm. The scenery is spectacular even when you aren’t on a pass run but the passes are beautiful. Col De Bonnet once you get above the tree line becomes quite stark and it was good but not the Oh Wow! we had come to expect.  We did really enjoy Col de Vars though, much more interesting scenery from our view though the pass wasn’t as high.
Perched Church in Mountains

By comparison, we have ridden the highest pass between NA and Europe in the Beartooth pass at 10498 ft. (3340M) it stands quite a bit taller, however it still doesn’t hold the interest of some other routes. Transfargarasan to this point (Day 1) is still tops, not because of elevation but because of all the scenery, history and intrigue factors. We could imagine army tanks being hidden from view in tunnels, and closed off military bases masking the entrances.

We stayed the night in Briancon at an IBIS there that gave us their promotion offer for Motos, that was great.
Architecture in France is gorgeous

Day 2 saw us leave Briancon while it was still cool and head over Col Lauteret (2058M) and then Col du Galiber (2642M). Col Galiber was very intimidating since there are no guard rails and the road is laid out so you can’t see the edges. I shot full video of this ride and it is very wild.

Then onto Col Du telegraphe(1566M) and then Col de Iseran near Val D’Isere. This was the most spectacular one we have ridden from a scenery perspective. Elevations are great, well above the tree line for  a long time and well engineered roads.
View from Col du Caliber

Vstrom at summit of L'Iseran
As we descended from there we could see this village well below us and wondered how the %^$#@ do we get there from here. We were right over top of it but 1100M up.

Well we did on some of the wildest switchbacks you’ve seen, including banked corners so you stay on the road. Unfortunately there were also off-camber corners that lean in the wrong direction. You do have to be careful.

High Alpine Lake
Actually what we saw first thing this morning as we drove towards one of the summits was a woman in a car turn off the road to go down a country lane and high centre her car so it stopped dead with the back end out on the highway and the front down the driveway, but the left rear wheel spinning in the air. Only in these mountains do they engineer stuff like that.
Fort of St Therese just pops out around

Church Front Statue

Elevation info

Day 3
Lake Geneva Castle near Lausanne Switzerland

We overnighted in Megeve at a nice modest hotel amidst some 5 star resorts that apparently have attracted the rich and famous. We stopped here by chance and ended up finding out it’s the top ski resort in Europe. I guess Saudi prince’s , the Rothschilds, and many Hollywood stars have places here. Sandra looked at the real estate listings and saw a modest chalet selling for 5 Million Euros. I think we might be able to afford a bathroom in the place, no wait, a walk-in closet.

We headed north to finish the Grande Alpes route and went over the final pass in the fog. We expected to see rain, but it was clear and sunny. Just our luck, it’s still holding.
At Evian, yes the famous water place we turned east and went around Lake Geneva. it’s not worth it, since it is developed so much you can’t enjoy riding. It’s stop and go traffic.
Waterwheels in Vollarbe are still working
Vollarbe is a gorgeous village

Our scenery luck changed though when we got to Vollarbe, a small village on the Swiss/ France border. What a beautiful little village with many historic water wheels and village buildings that make up a town core. 

Fortress near Pontalier France
We headed on to Pontalier and saw more fortresses and castles there than in the past several weeks. This part of France is so beautiful and we are glad we are somewhat retracing our steps here. The french roads again are very well engineered for enjoying by motorcycle.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

French Riviera

Sunrise over Menton
The View from Our Room
After spending 15 days being residents of the village of Levanto it was time to be on the road again. Our last major riding route is that of the French Alps from the Mediterranean to Geneva Switzerland. Stefan had provided me with some wonderful maps of what is called “Routes Des Grande Alpes”. A good entry point would be Menton, so that is a short one day drive from Levanto, and we get to enjoy one last day on a Med beach.

Menton is a very pretty place where water activities and people watching are front and centre.

The next few days will be in the French Alps and from what we've seen so far the video footage will be spectacular.


Fabulous Church Archtiecture

And who do we see?

Home of Christopher Columbus

 We have tried to stay true to keeping our blog entries event/location driven rather than holiday pics.
What he'd sail today

With that in mind we had taken a 15 day hiatus back in Levanto and did a 1 day trip into Genoa to visit it. It is such a beautiful city architecturally.

Known best now as a port city, it was the hometown of a pretty important guy, Christopher Columbus.  Now while he was raised here, he discovered America for Spain and that is why the 3 ships are on display in Huelva (May entry). But just like good old St Nick, and Marco Polo, everyone wants a tourist piece of that action so Genoa commemorates his birthplace here.

Genoa has a large marine basin,  with a lot of 
Mega Yacht

Ride to shore by Heli please?
expensive boats. Check out the heli port on the one.

A university that is the 3 or 4th oldest in Europe. It was an enjoyable, but hot day, while we were there.
University Lion
CC's old House

Monument to Chris