Thursday, April 30, 2015

The journey continues: Holland to Luxembourg

Part 3 of our trip around the world started today in earnest. Part 1 had been Australia, New Zealand and the Americas. Part 2 had been Europe of course and now the ride back to Australia had properly started. The first kilometres felt weird. Of course we were ecstatic that we could finally continue, finish the job if you like. We were also keen to do the route we had worked out. But at the same time we both felt unsettled and sad about leaving the grandparents behind for such a long time. I'm not ashamed to say that I shed a tear too... 

All the emotions of the last months seemed to come together, the frustrations of incomprehensible paperwork, the many times when it all seemed over as some bureaucrat had thought up a rule that simply didn't work because of Mike's age or simply because of where we were from. The relationship break up and all that had created hadn't helped either. So we were happy, to put it mildly, that we could continue at all, but also very sad to leave... if you know what I mean. It's hard to imagine you won't see your mum and dad, granddad and grandma for a year or so, especially as we had had such a good time there. Through the break-up between me and Jeanette they had been so supportive, so loving, even though they rather not saw us do this trip at all. And now we had to leave them behind to do the trip we worked so hard for. It all felt wrong... and when my mum wished us the best trip we could hope for, all the emotion came out...

We both felt like we were starting a new trip as everything had changed! The bikes started like nothing had happened though and ran fine. First stop was filling up the tanks, and then we headed south. Anyone who has been on highways in Holland will know that riding them is hardly an eventful event. The roads are wide, smooth and... boring. North-eastern Belgium isn't any better. Just after the border we took a shortcut, avoiding the motorway and hoping for something more interesting to see. A big mistake! The 144 was chock-a-bloc with traffic, roadworks every second town and chaos everywhere. 

The trip was also to be a test for several modifications we had done. Some worked great, others needed a bit more work. Mike's modifications to the screen worked perfectly as did his gel-pad. The suspension upgrade by YSS is a massive improvement over the stock Yamaha setup. The guys from YSS Europe had waived their magic wand over both front and rear suspension setup which has made it a new bike. Handling has improved, suspension feels firmer and yet more forgiving than before and sidewind stability has improved massively.

The Tutoro chain oiler works a treat!
The Tutoro has also been a godsend! The chains are now continuously lubricated with oil, which not only means they are better lubricated than before (despite my strict lubing regime) but also means all I have to do is keep an eye on them and adjust when necessary. Once we worked out what adjustments are needed for the various riding conditions, we can do it on the fly too. For the moment we work on 1,5 turns out as a base setting, with up to 2 turns out for rain.  

Once we entered the well known Ardenne region and into the Kingdom of Luxembourg, we found ourselves travelling through a prettier part of the world. Not as spectacular as the Alps perhaps but pretty nonetheless. Early in the season meant little traffic, although it still seemed to be 'road work season' here too. During the summer, being in close proximity to quite a few major towns, the area is quite popular. There are plenty of campgrounds and hotels in the region but book ahead if you want to be there in the weekend or during the holiday season.

As we were about to leave Belgium for Luxembourg, we saw one last sign of what Belgium is famous for: Friture!  So what's a Friture I hear you think. Well... Forget French Fries, especially when made by fast food chains. The best fries in the world are made in Belgium in a Friture! Belgians don't like skinny fries but big ones, so that's what you get in a Friture. The bigger the better it seems. As it was, we are desperately trying to loose some weight after having been spoiled with grandma's cooking, so we resisted the Friture...

We camped along the river Mosel, on the border between Luxembourg and Germany. A nice quiet spot. Birds singing in the trees on the other side of the river completed an idyllic spot and a wonderful evening.