12 September 2013

12 September 2013 Southern Europe

I got the rivets replaced on my panniers and even had to have a lower support made because it had fallen off. The shoddy workmanship in Germany even caused me to lose this. I was lucky to find a shop who could create it. 
I got to a campground outside of Venice where I met Nigel and Wendy from the UK. They were on a Suzuki Intruder, a metric cruiser. I saw Venice (not as smelly as I had assumed) with them and then rode with Nige up to Liechtenstein. I have now named my motorbike, Wendy, in honor of Nigel's wife. 
On the way north from Venice, I had sung the praises of going via the Stelvio Pass, something I am told that every European rider must do. Sorry Nigel, it was not pleasant on his cruiser and I did not really care for very tight, very steep uphill, 180-degree switchbacks with long straights in between. I usually love twisty mountain roads, but those turns were too tight and the descent almost killed me. I much preferred the roads in Romania.
I posted the following on Couchsurfing: 
Engine Braking CAN be Useful
Since stopping racing, I have not used engine braking as I would rather replace brake pads than overhaul an engine and it uses more gas. As I have been traveling on my motorbike almost continuously for the last four years, and am on a fixed disability income, I need to reduce costs as much as I can. But after a recent almost-death experience in Italy, I am back to using it sometimes, especially when heavy braking on long descents are involved. The following was posted on my face book page and I wanted to warn others here. "I found the famous Stelvio Pass to be not much fun with basically 180 degree turns with straights in between, even though I was a racer not long ago. It got very exciting coming down when I lost first my back brakes, then my front ones! At one turn I was actually hoping a car would come around the corner so I could hit it instead of sliding off the edge. Fortunately, by using a combination of heavy engine braking, which I rarely use, and extreme hanging off, and using the whole road, I made the turn. I rode VERY slowly after that and about 15 minutes later my brakes came back. I guess the brake fluid boiled from over use. I was lucky not to crash."d we traveled together for few days. He has taken off a year from his wholesale online drug sales company that he started and had just ridden from Goa, India, where he lives, to his second home in Germany. It was very nice to meet someone else who knows India and travels off the big highways. We had some great riding. I met Stefan just after I had gotten to see more of my favorite architect's work, a house Gaudi designed in Comillas, Spain.
Anyway, I survived, but had to change my underwear. I got to Liechtenstein and then rode down to southern Italy and across the French Rivera to Andorra. All quite expensive.
I have serious problems with some Italian, French, and now Portuguese drivers in cages. They seem to have no respect for motorcycles. I ride slower now, only up to 120 kph and was frequently passed in a dangerous manner. While going almost the speed limit, a car would come up  behind me going upwards of 140 kph. If they could not just fly by me, they would often come to within a car length behind me; at times even less than that. Then they would usually pass me without bothering to go out of my lane entirely! A couple of times they would be half in my lane. A few times I got out of their way and would then be in the slow lane where I would wave them up to as close to the car in front of them that they had been behind me moments earlier. I was trying to make the point that just because I am smaller than a cage, it is risky to come up too close. Nobody tailgates trucks, do they? 
Since trying the above tactic to make my point in Portugal, I had a couple of cagers actually go up behind the car in front as close as a half car length. I no longer do this.
After tax-free Andorra, I continued across northern Spain, passing through Catalan, Basque country and then into Galicia. I met a German/Indian man on the road and we traveled together for a few days. We saw thousands of pilgrims walking on the roadside beginning hundreds of kilometers/miles away with their final destination of Santiago de Compostela. Coming into Portugal was apropos as it gave me a chance to get a helmet that I wanted that is made in Portugal, but not sold in Spain. My Nexx Carbon full face uses carbon fiber to make the lightest helmet made. I love it.
I am now back in Spain in Seville. I will either stay here for a week, or go on the Morocco. I don't have to be in Tangier until 5 October, but I may just go to ride the hills of Morocco.
My last picture is a service department I found in Portugal that serves cold beer ... gratis!

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