Here is a Article I wrote up for the Green Knights Paper. It did not get published since the guy that makes it lost it and I have not sent it to him again.
Here you go:
It was a warm morning in early June. Sean and Cole were at the Spangdahlem Air Base Gas Station at 0900. It was already 0852 and I was still at my house. I pulled my Sportster out of the garage and tried to start it…. Nothing… OK?!?! Dead Battery… that is not good. We have been planning this trip since January, changed it, planned it again, changed parts of it… changed all of it and then we had it… 12 countries, 6 days and 3 Harleys. Our final stop would be the legendary Swiss 500 miles in Zürich, Switzerland. 500 miles of Switzerland’s roads, passes and all in between in 24 hours with one stop at 0300 for one hour. All in all we thought we were up to the task. But I had not even started mile one. So there I am, pushing my overloaded Sportster down the road about 500 yards to a hill nearby. Calling it every name in the book. Half way down the Hill, she starts up. With the bike started, I hauled like a bat out of hell to Spangdahlem, a 15 minutes ride. As I got there, Sean and Cole were waiting. Top it off and a final wave to Sean’s wife and we were gone… Sean was leading us with his new Zumo 550 GPS mounted, with our trip preloaded. Riding at about 75 MPH and 50 minutes later, Cole and I see this fairly nice, expensive piece of plastic skidding on the Autobahn, shattering in 100 pieces… both Cole and I were watching it skid wondering what the hell that was… Sean’s 4 way flashers come on and then we knew it for sure… it was the GPS. Luckily I had borrowed a GPS from one of our members and had also pre-loaded the route…. So now, under new lead we embarked on our journey that had not started to swell. After a few hours we finally made it to the boarder to our first country, The Czech Republic. Our next stop would be the Harley Dealer in Pilzen about one hour from Praha… the Capitol and our destination for the day. After running around the industrial park in Pilzen, wondering where it might be, we came across it. A small strange looking shop on the edge of the forest. After spending a good 2 hours plundering in the T-Shirt department we engaged in the Art of eastern county gassing up. In the evening we arrived in Praha. The street was Americka (yes, with CK) so we just had to stay there. We got to park our bike in the back yard of the hotel. After spending time in the nightlife of the city and a few brews we finally called it quits for the day.
On day 2 we planned on heading to Hungary to stay at Lake Balaton. At the same resort most Communist leaders have stayed during the cold war era (Erich Honecker, Fidel Castro to name a few). We started fairly late after a visit to the Hard Rock Café. At 10 miles into the trip, it started to rain cats and dogs. We pulled over and suited up in Rain Gear. We did not know that the next 12 hours would be a rain filled time. Since most countries in Europe have tolls on the Autobahn, we needed to pull over at every crossing to find out if we needed a toll sticker or if it was a pay as you go system. Slovakia being a toll sticker country required us to get a sticker at the border. With eastern roads being more or less neglected for over 40 years, have its fair share of potholes. The biggest one being in the middle of the road with a 30X45 foot size in the middle of the road on the top of the hill. I noticed it first and managed to ride around it. Cole saw me and avoided it too. Sean, who was a bit behind did not see it until it was almost too late. After pulling a swerve that would have made any MSF Coach proud he barely made it too. The rest of the day was more or less normal riding. We managed to get to Hungary at the beginning of dawn. With about 2 hours left until our hotel. We stopped for food and some gas and continued on. Right at midnight we made it to Club Liga, the Communist Party’s prime resort in the Cold war. There we found out that eastern Hotels close at 1900 and that you had to call the Duty Manager… well this one was nowhere to be found… So with the problem of us being soaked wet and no hotel, we looked for new accommodations. After 45 minutes riding in the rain (again) we found a nice hotel in Siofolk, the Party Capital of Hungary. But it was by then 2 am and none of us were even thinking of party at the time. We had our good night Beer and hit the feathers.
The next morning, we started off on to Aviano Air Base, Italy, a run that would take us though another 2 countries (Croatia and Slovenia) for a total of 7 countries in 3 days. At the boarder of Croatia, we were stopped and our Passports checked. I guess they do not get many Americans at that boarder since all of the border patrol came out to see us. After about 20 minutes of them looking at our passports we were granted access to the most gorgeous country we had seen so far on this trip. With its rolling hills and wonderful infrastructure. Not much reminds you of the gruesome acts during the Yugoslavian War in the 90’s. Stopping at the outskirts of Zagreb and the Photo-op we continued to the city center where we found the #1 export franchise of the USA- McDonald’s. Sean only said:”We ride half way around Europe and then 3 Green Knights go to McDonald’s.” Anyhow, we did a window tour of the city center before hitting the Autobahn. Slovenia being part of the EC and part of the Euro Money Zone we were happy to be back there. But note to myself:”never tell the Slovenian Boarder guy you are coming from Germany when you are at the southern border…. That makes them ask you more stupid questions.” So after clearing Customs, we went on to Bratislava to stop at the Harley Café for lunch. No one spoke a word of English, but all menu Items were in English
. That sure helped ordering. After a great meal and drink it was time for the last stint of the day…. Aviano AB. We made it there right before midnight. With AAFES food facilities being closed and nothing on the economy open, there was only one place left--- the Chow Hall!!! So we ride all day to Italy and we get Chow Hall Food… What a life!!! After dinner we all went to our room and started posting on Facebook
Leaving the Hotel right at 1100 and stopping at the Shopette for some on-the-way snacks and some 4 packs of Monster we started on our Tour de Alps. There we played around and rode all passes that were thrown at us until it was almost dark… well, now we had another problem… we were still 150 miles from our next Hotel and the starting point for the Swiss 500 miles. We jumped on the Autobahn (after getting the Toll Sticker again) and rode there. We managed to get to the hotel right at midnight (do you see the trend??). We were welcomed by friends of ours and soon went to bed, catching z’s for the endeavor of the next day.
The Swiss 500 was a totally new thing to me. 500 miles does not sound much, when you think about it… you can do that in 5-6 hours with gas. Well that is what I thought, until I saw what I had gotten myself into. 460 Bikes, one event and 9 stops. We would go from almost sea level to over 6391 feet at the Klausenpass …. from burning your skin to freezing your buns off... green grass to snow on both sides and multi 100 feet drops on both sides of the road. If we have not seen it until then, we were doomed to see it now. All in all the even went smooth. We were in a pack of 24 Bikes. 3 were Navigators, 4 were Communications and 3 sweepers. One guy stayed behind at the hotel waiting for us to call and pick up a bike in case we needed. So at 1400 we took on the challenge. As all 460 bikes rolled out of the parking lot and the small City experienced its first total loss of traffic regulation, we then soon found the open road. Going up 17% mountain passes, down the mountain valleys into the dark of the Central European night. We managed to survive the night, taking our fair share of breaks and no mechanical defects until about 0600 in the morning. It took us exactly 23 hours and 59 minutes to finish the course, but we did it. 523 Miles in less than 24 hours. We made it!! The 3 Mousecaterers did it again. Sore, tired but we did it. The next scheduled event was the after ride party at the hotel and a dinner at the Stars and Stripes Restaurant. The day finished for us at 0100 with the feeling of actually pushing yourself to the limit and knowing that you did not put yourself or others in harm’s way.
To finish our Euro Tour was only one more thing left to do. Going home!! So after all of the trip being a test of our abilities and mental strength we were now ready for the final ride of the trip. Awaiting us would be our wives and kids (well in Cole's case his cat) and our own bed and dry shoes. Right after breakfast we saddled up and headed out. Passing though Basel into the southern tip of Germany. We took the fairly fastest route hitting the last Esso Station and McDonald’s before entering France. We took the back roads home as far as it seemed feasible and entered Germany again just south of the old Zweibrücken Air Base. From there it was another 2 hours until home. We all stopped at the old base for a quick smoke and talk before we would set sail to the last leg of the trip. As we got closer and closer to home everyone broke off onto their own trail heading in the direction they lived. Until it was just me again, hauling like a Bat out Hell, wanting to get home.
here is a link to my FB pics of this trip