July '95 was the month of an excellent adventure: Road Trip '95: a 26-day, 8000 km motorcycle extravaganza that took us through 5 countries and one hell of a lot of mountains. Read on to find out how two canadians (Neal on the right and Chris on the left) discovered some of the best roads in Europe.
Neal and I are both Canadians that have been living in Copenhagen, Denmark for a while (1 year and 3 years respectively). If you know something about Denmark, you're probably thinking that owning a motorcycle there isn't the wisest idea since a) the weather is only nice for a couple of months a year and b) there is a 180% tax on new motorcycles (and cars), the effect of which is to triple the cost of any given motorcycle, new or used, when compared to home. However...when you have a dream and you want something...you just have to do it!!
It all started last summer when I decided that I wanted a vehicle to travel around Europe in. After taking a couple of harrowing rides in Citroen 2CV's, I finally decided to get a motorcycle instead of a car. This meant that I had to take care of a couple of minor details, like learning enough Danish to pass my motorcycle licence, but after a long struggle I bought an almost new Yamaha Virago 535 in October. It's a nice little bike with a price tag of $US 15,000 in Denmark...yep, no comment, politicians are great. I love it though - it's got a reasonably good-sized engine (for what I could afford) and it looks pretty good. Ok, I admit that it wouldn't be my first choice for a trip next time I hit the road, but it's a good bike for starters.
Neal's two cents
I followed Chris's efforts towards getting a bike with no small amount of envy. After selling my Yamaha Radian (fantastic bike) to pay for my flight over from Toronto to Denmark, I did without two wheels for an entire year, which lead to me suffering some serious withdrawal. Even worse, for some reason I decided that I needed 4 wheels that summer, so I picked up an old BMW 2002, which one should never do if one a) has no garage, and/or b) lives in a cold, wet, dark, clammy, miserable climate anything like that of Copenhagen's between October and April. After a year of keeping that bucket of bolts on the road, I was pretty hard up for cash.
I had decided to travel all the way down to Spain that summer, but I wasn't too excited about doing it alone, having just returned from a gruelling 11-day 5000 km solo trip to the south of France. Just travelling is great, but it gets a bit lonely at times. I had mentioned the idea to Neal back in the spring and he was totally into it. Later, though, he backed out due to a lack of money. This was not the end of it though.
When Chris told me about his plans I got VERY excited. Then I tried to sell my car, and reality set in. After a couple of months of trying, I had to tell him that I couldn't go.
Miraculously, on June 13th, 1995, the previous owner of the bimmer called out of nowhere and bought it back from me for almost the same price. However, a motorcycle newer than 1975 was still WAY out of reach.
One day Chris asked me to come by to help him out with his bike, which wasn't behaving properly for some reason. After working at it for awhile in the rain, we came in and sat down for a Tuborg. What followed marked a turning point in my year.
Chris casually pulled out his map of Europe and began describing his plans. I listened briefly before grabbing the Blaa Avis (used everything trader) and flipped through the bikes section. I looked up.
"Chris...can you lend me some money?"I made some quick calculations, and picked a number.
"Sure. When do you want it?"
Simple as that, the next day I went to a place called Koege (Køge) and picked up a 1989 Yamaha XJ600.
Follow The Trip day by day with pictures and maps of some great places in Europe.
Day: One | Two | Three | Four | Five
| Six | Seven | Eight | Nine-Fourteen | Fifteen | Sixteen | Seventeen
| Eighteen | Nineteen
| Twenty | Twenty-One
| Twenty-Two | Twenty-Three
| Twenty-Four | Twenty-Five
| Twenty-Six | Epilogue
Here are some pictures which didnt fit in the diary.
|...And we conquered those French mountains... (F)||...And we conquered those Austrian mountains... (A)|
|That's 2640m... (F)||Snow and bikes just go together (F)|
This page is maintained by Christian Vandendorpe (cvandend -at- zorglub.com). Please feel free to contact me or Neal Bach (neal_bach -at- hotmail.com) if you have any questions or comments. We are always glad to hear about other people doing motorcycle trips. Let me know if you have a roadtrip page and I will link to it.
Chris ran away from tax-hell Denmark and now lives in cool Amsterdam.
He had to leave his over-priced Virago behind but for the same price he
now got a new TDM 850. Neal is back in Toronto and now
has a '84 FJ1100 AND a Kawasaki EX500 (GPZ500 in Europe). There will be more trips
to come for sure!