Friday, June 01, 2007

Diary of a Goldwinger Part 1 - Holland 2007

by Steve Faulkner

So what is a Treffen? Treffen is a German word meaning friendship and is used by Goldwingers all over the world for their rallies.

Lorna and I were involved with the Treffen committee in the UK; we would go to the Treffen site and help other volunteers to build the site ready for the weekend. This would include erecting marquees, bars toilets etc ready for the many Goldwingers who attend such meetings all over the world.

We decided to go to the Dutch Treffen as we had met some friends from the Goldwing Club (GB) whilst they were in Spain on holiday in early May.

We sold our Goldwing, trailer and all our camping equipment when we came to live in Spain 5 years ago, so rang the Dutch Goldwing Club for hotels in the Kronenberg area of Holland. We were told that all the hotels in the area were full; we were disappointed with this so emailed our friends to tell them we would not be going to Holland.

Tony and Helen ride a magnificent yellow Goldwing outfit and tow a trailer tent, they assured us that it was not a problem and would bring an extra tent and camping equipment with them for us to use, so that solved that problem and our trip was back on.

Day 1
So with our 1800 Goldwing packed to the gunnels we set off on Monday 22nd of May bound for Kronenberg in the south of Holland.

The 1800 Goldwing can certainly eat up the miles and is very happy cruising at high speeds. It has cruise control but I don’t use it much as I like to feel in control of the bike. With intercom and music into your helmets and a very comfortable riding position you soon use up the tank full of fuel, and 300 k’s later we were pulling in for fuel and a welcome coffee.

So at the end of day one, we were in Perpignan, just over the Spanish border, we could have carried on but with a hotel pre-booked and a cold beer calling we called it a day. A great days travelling with about 7 hours on the bike and a good distance covered.

Day 2
The weather looked great so we set off after a continental breakfast (what no bacon?) and what the French call coffee. We were soon eating up the kilometres, our plan was to get to Nancy in France by mid afternoon, We were soon in Lyon and passing through the long fume filled tunnel, if you have rode through that one you will know it well, it must be the biggest health hazard of the journey. You can taste the fumes for ages after. We soon found that we were having a great days travelling and decided to get a bit further up and we ended the day in a very nice hotel in the centre of Metz very close to Luxembourg, we do try and get hotels in the centre of towns, this gives a chance for a bit of sight seeing and a better choice of eating out. Having never been to Metz we had a walk around and found a beautiful old town with cobbled streets and lovely old buildings.

Day 3
We were away without breakfast having decided to eat later, we stopped in Luxembourg at a motorway service area. The service area was packed with about 5 coaches of Dutch pensioners on their way home, we were soon engulfed by the oldies (bless ‘em) with many questions which we couldn’t understand but did our best, you do tend to get a lot of this when you ride a Goldwing as many people ask the normal questions. How fast does it go? What is the weight? And is it easy to ride?

With breakfast over we were soon into Belgium and out on the open motorway. We could not believe the amount of lorries on the road between northern France, Luxembourg and Belgium at times it was a bit frightening with so many of them around you. I drove HGV’s for 25 years but they seem a lot bigger now and the sheer numbers was amazing.

As we rode down the motorway heading for Holland the weather was quite chilly and we soon pulled over for extra clothing, it was quite misty, the motorway was very quiet and the cruise control came into good use, there is a severe lack of service stations along this motorway into Holland and when the fuel light came on I was thinking we may have to pull off to find fuel, but we managed to get to a service station.

The fuel prices here in Spain maybe on the up but at 1.51 € this was the most expensive yet. In Spain if I fill up when empty its approx 22 € in this one it was 31 € so quite a big difference.

That afternoon we arrived in a town in Holland called Venlo, very close to the Treffen site, as it was quite early we had a ride to Kronenberg to find out where the actual site was.

We never did find it as it was on the outskirts of a small village so rode back to our hotel via a trip up the road to ride into Germany. We were well in front of ourselves and very happy with our trip up having covered 2,350 kilometres in 17 hours riding time.

Day 4
As we couldn’t get onto the Treffen site until 12 noon we had a walk around Venlo and did a bit of shopping, one of the good things about shopping when on a loaded bike is you haven’t much room so had to keep the shopping down to a minimum. Anyway we would be buying at the Treffen so needed all the spare room. (Bless her)

So it was up to Kronenberg for the Treffen and meet up with our friends who had come overnight to the Hook of Holland on the ferry from Hull. This done we pitched our tents and got set up ready for the weekend. In Holland it seems to be more of a family occasion and I would think that maybe 50% of the bikes were outfits. I have never seen so many outfits at a Treffen.

Day’s 5 and 6
All in all there were approx 1200 Goldwings on site from all over Europe, bikes from UK, Spain, Italy, Germany, Holland, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Austria and Switzerland. Excellent on site facilities always help make the weekend, the toilets and showers were some of if not the best we have ever seen at a Treffen and with some great music on every night and great catering facilities all made an excellent weekend.

We rode into the local town of Sevenum a few times and all the locals enjoyed their town being invaded by the bikes.

Day 7
Due to my daughter arriving in Spain on the Tuesday we had to leave early and departed from the Treffen site on the Sunday morning, unfortunately it was raining very heavily, this rain continued for hours and it was not the best riding conditions, luckily the traffic was light and we managed 1140 k’s that day and arrived in the town of Nimes at approx 6 in the evening. What fantastic timing that was as it was the towns fiesta and after finding a small but expensive hotel we watched the bull running up the main street, once again it started to rain and we found a restaurant and had a very nice meal and back to the hotel for an early start in the morning.

Day 8
8 o’clock saw us leaving the hotel, we had not gone 2 k’s and it started to rain, only light rain and much to our relief we left it behind us and carried on in cool but dry conditions.

All went well until we got to Andorra and then we rode into very high winds, this reduced our speed down to approx 60 k’s an hour, caravans were stopping on the motorway, we followed a coach at one stage and the wind was lifting the back wheel off the road, we carried on for about 2 hours in this wind and at one stage I did consider pulling off and hoping it would die down, luckily we rode out of it and once again set off at a good cruising speed.

We arrived home on Monday evening at 7 o’clock, tired but we both enjoyed our weekend and both enjoyed riding our bike through 5 different countries, we covered 4535 k’s in approx 36 hours riding time, we spent 391 euros on fuel and spent 181 euros on tolls.

I think and hope that we avoided the many speed cameras en route (unlike the one at Albacete) and are now planning our next Treffen trip which should be the Italian in July.

In my opinion the Goldwing GL 1800 is the ultimate touring machine, I have owned a 1200, 1500s and now the 1800 and have covered many miles over the last 8 years and find them very comfortable and enjoyable, they are a heavy bike but very easy to ride. A lot of bikers seem to knock and ridicule them but don’t knock it until you have tried it.

Gold Wing Club Holland