Our first holidays week we were in Czech Republic to watch a road race: Czech Republic TT
After one week in Czech Republic, we went to our next stop, chosen on a rainy day with the map and some luck: Austria. The truth is that we made a mistake when booking, and we were lucky to end up in a very nice place at about 50km of Vienna, close to a mountain. We had booked a small house with a balcony with views to the fields and mountains. The owners had a farm and fields and were very very nice. It took me 1 week to remember some German studied long ago, but their son luckily spoke perfect English, so it was nicer for communication.
We took some hours to cover the 380km, we got lost, we found ourselves in the middle of a Harley charity ride after Vienna, and we had to follow their pace on the motorway during 30km… and when we arrived at about 6.15pm, the supermarket was about to close and we had nothing for dinner nor for breakfast. The owners indicated us a restaurant in the village where we had a very nice dinner (though we had rain on our way back).
The first day in Austria was spent in: having breakfast (optional with the rent: with homemade products like jam, bread, brioche, strawberries and blueberries from their garden, and so on… sooo good!), going to buy some food for the week, resting, and going for a walk around to see where we were.
The second day we went for our first “twisties” ride out. When we went out it was sunny, but we could see some clouds on the horizon. Being a mountain area, there is always a possibility of rain. The road was full of corners, and of bikers (with signals inviting bikers to slow down… and loads of bars indicating “bikers welcome”), probably the playground of Viennese bikers…
When we stopped to eat our picnic in a small village, it started to rain. Though there was one table under a small roof… so that was perfect!
Then we went again, first putting on our rain gear, as there were some quite bad clouds on the horizon… And it did start to rain… We missed a cross, and we started to go down by another road, first quite “flat”, but then quite steep, and quite wet… during 55km… we were not going too fast I’d say…
After a short stop in a petrol station to rest a little, we finally got to the motorway to get “home” quicker. It had stopped raining… not for long. After about 15km (of 90 we had to do) it started pouring down on us, with those kind of summer storm that usually lasts 15mn maximum… except that this one lasted about 70km… at some stage we could hardly see anything… We were lucky that there were quite a lot of tunnels on our way, one of more than 5km, but it was worst when we could see the end of the tunnel and outside it was still the same! First my gloves got soaked through, and then the rest in some places… We finally arrived, and the most difficult part was to find enough places to hang everything for drying…
The next day we wanted to go to see an Enduro race at about 15km, but everything was still completely wet (suits, helmets, gloves, boots). So we put everything on the balcony (it was sunny) and we took the day to rest. With loads of newspaper in the gloves and boots…
The next day it was 15th of August and it was bank holiday there. It was sunny again, so we decided to go back to the place to complete the ride out we had to shorten the first day. This time we had good weather and good temperature, and we could ride all day with loads of corners and nice landscapes without getting wet.
The next day we had some rest and went for a walk between fields and forest.
At last we had to leave this wonderful place with so nice people, to get back little by little to reality and end of holidays.
But we first had a last stage (well, really we did not want to come back lol), in a small hotel at about 20km of Innsbruck: still in Austria, and also in the Alps, in the “Tyrol” area. We got up at 5.00am, and after breakfast and finalising the packing, we started… well, I started, because Juan’s bike would not fire… After half an hour she finally decided to fire (maybe she didn’t want to go back either…) and we finally left just before 8.00…. We had a 430km trip to do. It took us 11 hours to get there, because the landscapes were so nice and we just had to stop to take pictures ;D .
We went through some passes, one of them with toll.
In Austria you can travel on the motorway buying a tax disk. For the motorbikes it costed 4,90€ for 10 days. Then you can have other roads (usually with tunnels or mountain passes) which have to be paid apart. We did not know that. The best would have been to buy the tax disk for passes (13€ for 10 days) to travel through this area and avoid surprises. But as we did not know we just bought the tax disk for this pass (5,50€ one way per bike). The landscapes from one side and the other of the pass were well worth the cost of it though…
Going up to Gerlosspass
View over Speicher Durlassboden
The road was also in very good conditions. At last as it was starting to be late, we went back to the motorway until past Innsbruck. A very nice motorway, with mountains all around. The hotel was close to Seefeld in Tirol, and we arrived at about 7.30pm. The dinner time was over in the hotel (dinner was at 6.30) so we had to go to another restaurant in the village where they served dinner until 9.30pm (not many… some Italians arrived some time after us and they were not served…).
The area was very nice also, with mountains all around, which we could see between 2 clouds…
The first day started with rain while we were having breakfast. Anyway after the previous day “small trip” we preferred to rest a little. But the hotel owner did not let us, and gave us a map and advice to go for a small walk (supposedly 1h40) above the village through the forest, to a place with nice views. So we started to walk, the path was well indicated in the forest. The problem was that along all the path there were strawberries and blueberries all over the place, so that we were stopping all the time to eat (me mostly…) and after 1h30 walking we hadn’t even reached a restaurant we could see from the village.
We finally got to the restaurant (which was closed) and we tried to find the path to the views, but it was all muddy and we had not the right shoes for that, and besides it started to rain, so we went back to the restaurant to eat our picnic under a small roof, and waited for the rain to stop… At one time we were completely surrounded by the clouds, and it was beautiful, but by the time I took the camera out, they were gone… at last the rain was less strong and we went back down by a shorter and steeper path.
The next and last day we had planned a trip to the famous “Passo dello Stelvio” which seemed to be quite “close” (about 155km), and come back through “Passo del Rombo”- but this last was with toll (11€ x bike), so we decided to go back through “Jaufen Pass/Passo di Monte Giovo”.
So there we go, with a small diversion through Switzerland as the “Reschenpass/Passo di Resia” was cut for works. Beautiful views and wonderful roads.
We finally arrived to the famous road by Trafoi. I think I will never forget my try to go up the Passo dello Stelvio… but because I had such a bad time. First corner, I find myself in the middle of the opposite lane… good start 🙁 . We go on. Second, third corner (the worst thing is that the corners are numbered, starting with nr 48 and down…), the road is very narrow, you have to open to the opposite lane to take the corners, but most of the time you don’t see if someone is coming down… If someone is coming down, you can’t open and you end up on the other side of the road on the upper part. That’s what happened to me on the 6th corner… with 2 motorbikes coming down… 🙁 and I got really scared. We had to stop and come back down (with Juan leading) after Juan turned my motorbike. It was not easier going down… 🙁
Back to Trafoi we parked the bikes and went to eat some giant, good and cheap pizzas and I tried to put my head together again…
My big problem with those corners is that I do not get too well to the floor, and the road is not flat (on the sides) either. Sometimes I ended up with only one foot touching the floor (when waiting for vehicles to get through on the other side) and apart from the kind of corners I am not used to, I got scared of falling, which was not in our holidays plans… and got very nervous.
After getting my nerves back, Juan convinced me to go up to the path, but with my bike only, and him driving. It was worth a second try and there we went with one bike. The clouds had gone and the snowy peaks were clear, it was just beautiful. We bought the Stelvio sticker and postcards for the family (they stamp them as the higher Alps path- as it seems that the supposedly higher path in the Alps “Col de l’Iseran” in France did some trick to get to the 2770m), and took some pictures. We saw that the road on the other side seemed to be quite better, and we went back to Trafoi to get Juan’s bike back. We went back through the same way as with all that it was quite late and we would not arrive before night if we took the first planned road.
So if we come back there some day, we will take the road from the other side, unless I get another motorbike, easier to handle… (which is not planned for now!).
Well, holidays were coming to an end, next day was Friday and we had to go back home. Supposedly 900 and something kilometres, most through German motorways, but we had 2 problems: 1- We started late AND 2- I didn’t want to go back so I said that we could avoid the motorways and stop one more night somewhere if necessary…
This got us to problem number 3: we took the “Fernpass”, and it seems that ALL the German, ALL the trucks, ALL the motorhomes… took it also, and then we went along the “BodenSee”, giant lake between Switzerland and Germany, where it seems that ALL Swiss and German go to spend the week-end… So it was quite a nightmare of traffic jams… We finally went out of the nightmare and arrived in Colmar, France at about 5.00pm. But we wanted now to get home, and we decided to go on to Nancy, but instead of the tunnel we took a nice road with corners. Bad idea, there was another traffic jam due to an accident, and it took 1 hour to cover 20km…
We stopped for dinner and rest a little, and we went back to the motorway, with a 100km detour to Troyes, but we had no choice, it was too exhausting to go on through smaller roads. We finally arrived at 2.00am, after 17 hours on the bikes, beaten and with a welcoming downpour half an hour before arriving… Welcome back to Paris! End of the good things!
The 2 days resting before going back to work were not too many!
Holidays 2014: 5076km, 1000 pictures (350 after sorting them out), 6 borders crossed, 1 Deluge, a few passes up and down, wonderful landscapes, nice and interesting talks with nice people, a lot of improvisation (the last one not the best), and a great lot of smiles.
This year we had 3 weeks for holidays. Because of the circumstances we were not able to organise anything in advance but we had an idea: to go to Czech Republic on 9-10 of August to see Horiçe Road Race, and maybe going on with Brno GP the following week-end, on my motorbike. This was the plan.
Finally, one week before, we were able to confirm what we would do and we booked a full week (Wednesday to Wednesday) in a hotel 15km from Horiçe. So that we had some time to know the place, the circuit, the practice and races schedule (not updated on the website in English and no clue of Czech…) and so before it started (Saturday and Sunday).
We started the journey on 5th of August, finally with the 2 motorbikes. As we almost don’t use them during the year, at least they can breathe one week per year…
The first day, through national roads, consisted of 400km of straight line, then some twisties, and then we entered in Germany. First night in Heidelberg, just for taking a break and have some rest. Nothing to declare apart that I realised that I couldn’t remember a word of German I had studied a long time ago, not even to say “I don’t speak German”…
In the morning we went on, this time by the motorway with 2 advantages: it is toll free and in some parts there is no speed limit. I don’t really like to speed, but it is really, really pleasant to ride without being all the time looking at the speedometer to make sure you don’t get caught by a radar (in France it is just awful). There were 3 lanes, and everybody respecting the speed of the other vehicles in their lanes. The left lane the quicker, with some vehicles going very fast, but if you happened to be passing a slower vehicle in this lane, the fast vehicle would just slow down and wait for you to finish overtaking. Respect. Nice. Very pleasant to ride this way.
I though put the SV to 170km/h… never put it that much before (maybe my husband did, but he didn’t tell me lol) with the topbox and sideboxes.
Finally, at our pace, we arrived to Czech Republic border where we stopped to buy the toll sticker for motorways. The good news was that the motorbikes don’t have to pay it. Free ride on all the country motorways 🙂 .
So we followed to Prague and then to Hradec Králové and then to the North to our hotel at about 15km from Horiçe. And about 60km from Poland. The GPS took us through the quickest way, but not the best roads! Though the important was to get there, without the GPS we would still be turning around…
The hotel was up a hill with a forest, with very nice views from the terrace, the best for the evening beer (good and very cheap) in the sunset.
The first days we had some rest and some small ride outs around with the bikes, and we went to see the circuit. The circuit is so great, with ups and downs, part of it in the village, another one in the middle of the forest, it’s addictive, even being slow! We first had one lap to check the places from where taking nice pictures, but then I forgot why we were turning around and it took a few laps before I remembered… 😉
On Friday, while walking around the village, we ended up talking to a man, who was called Georges, was English living in Germany, was 69 and had come with his Triumph to see the races. He had no place to stay and the tourist office had recommended the hotel where we stayed. As we had nothing else to do, we told him that we could go with him to the hotel as he had no GPS. We met him later on the terrace after his dinner and before ours and we were chatting until late.
Saturday was practice day. The races were organised by the village motorclub, and the SBK and SSP races were part of the IRRC, International Road Races Championship, organised and ran mainly by Dutch, Belgian and German (www.irrc.eu ) with 6 circuits on the continent. Most circuits are much like circuits (although on roads), wider than Irish road races circuits, except Horiçe circuit.
But there were more races, Classics (175, 250, 350, 500, 750 cm3) and side-cars.
Roads were closing at 8.00am, so we had to arrive early. We were a little exaggerated with the “early” thing as we arrived almost before the marshals where we had decided to settle for a start.
The good thing about this circuit is that you can move all around it from inside. And with many places to eat and drink all around.
Where we were in the morning, in “Na Dachovech” was a very good spot to take pictures, which was what we wanted (it’s better to take pictures during practice and then follow the races… because it’s difficult, for us at least, to do both at once, even more when you don’t know the racers and you can’t understand a word of the comments…).
Sammy De Caluwe
Karel Brantner (?)
Jochem Van den Hoek
Radomir & Jiri SIMEK
Jan Polivka & Zdenek Sedlacek
Richard BILY & Jiry NESPESNY
At lunch time we moved to the paddock to buy something to drink and find another place for the next practice sessions. After the picnic we explored the different places for next day, some better to watch the races but worst for taking pictures.
The afternoon finalised with the first Classic 175-250cm3 race. The poor lads got pouring rain when it had been sunny all day (typical), with those bad conditions for racing when some parts are very wet and others are dry.
After the race we went back to the paddock to buy the entry fee for next day (about 10€), which can be bought in several circuit points or that some volunteers going around the circuit sell you before and during the races. The access to the paddock was also paying (it seems that they had problems with stealing some years ago).
Then we went for dinner and back to the hotel soon, as the next day we had to wake up early (not so much as the first day as we knew where to go).
We arrived to the circuit at about 7.30am, and went walking until the bend we had chosen, outside of “Dachovské Esico”. A good viewpoint, at the end of a straight line with 2 followed bends.
We watched from there, in the shade, the first 3 races Supersport, Classics 350 and Superbike.
After each race, the first 3 got a round around the circuit in a pickup car, so that everybody could celebrate with them, not only people with access to the paddock. We thought it was a brilliant idea.
After the 3rd race and coinciding with lunch break, we had to move to another place as we had the sun in front and it was starting to get too warm. We moved to the internal part of the circuit (in the forest) and looked for a place to eat and drink something. There was no fresh coke (the only thing we could ask in Czech lol), and they gave us a kind of local raspberry soda which was quite good and refreshing.
We went back to the external part of the circuit after “Stasovo Esicko”, in the straight line, where we watched the sidecar race. They were quite varied, oldest from 1963 and most recent from… 1978… The race itself was not too spectacular as the levels were too different, but it was really amazing to watch the passengers’ postures.
After the race we went to another point recommended by Georges, in the external part of the “Lukavecky Vracak” corner to watch the last 3 races: Supersport, Classics 500/750cm3 and Superbike.
It seemed to be a very popular place among the local people, with an amazing view to several corners. We had said not to take anymore pictures but we could not resist 😉 .
An accident during the Classics race delayed the last race, and many people left, so that we could have a good viewpoint for the last race.
The circuit is amazing, we were able to take a lot of “good” pics without a professional camera, and to enjoy the races. The racers were very close to the public with many Czech pilots, and the Czech are great fans of motorbike racing, you could feel it in the atmosphere and there were many families with children.
The only frustration we had was not being able to communicate with people, most didn’t speak English, and us, after one week we knew how to say “Dobry dén”, “Prossim”, “pivo”, “voda” (Good morning, Thanks, Beer, Water) and not much more… which reduces a lot the possibilities to get to know the people.
The same happened in the petrol stations, where there is always someone coming to you and asking where you come from, where you are going, and so… well, there we couldn’t understand what we were asked nor answer…
Well, the day was over, we went to the village for dinner and back to the hotel, with a small stop for taking pictures of the full moon.
The next day it was raining all day, so we took the day to plan where we could go 2 days later when we had no more hotel booked, as we had prepared nothing, but did not really want to go back home… we spent the day with the map (Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Benelux) and the mobile phone, looking where there were some nice roads with loads of corners and where to stay.
The next day we went for a small trip to some mountains at the border with Poland.
At last we did not find so many nice landscapes, we went into Poland were we got stuck behind cars going at 50km/h, and ended up (mostly Juan in those cases) completely wrecked after 9 hours on the motorbikes without really enjoying it.
The next day we would leave Czech Republic… But not to go home yet…
To be continued…