BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Brussels to Luxembourg. 
Dashing through the snow, on a 110 horse powered bike...

Sung to the tune of "Dashing through the snow".


First up. WOW! What a bloody fantastically awesome, brilliant day we've just had. This was an experience that I never imagined I'd actually get a chance to enjoy. I spent a whole day riding through country with the ground covered in snow on either side of the road, in temperatures below zero. I did think more than once that this is what dad's village in Ukraine was probably like, but he was riding a horse, not a bike.

Anyway, let's start at the beginning, or before the beginning...

Something I forgot to mention in yesterday's blog was a shop that Suzanne and I visited in Brussels that is definitely worth mentioning. We walked into a shop around the corner from our hotel that looked VERY exclusive. We could tell it was going to be pricey as soon as we walked in the door.  They only had one piece of everything they sold, not multiples. I found a nice jumper I liked, and it was only 650 Euros (about 780 AUD!) I decided it really didn't suit my complexion, so I didn't buy it.

So back to today. We actually managed to get up in time to enjoy our free breakfast at the hotel this morning. This is the first time in seven days that we have managed to take advantage of our free breakfast. Going forward, when I book hotels I think we'll take the cheaper option without breakfast.

The best news was that he skies were clear and there was no snow falling. Of course you know what clear skies mean don't you. It WILL be cold. We said our goodbyes to Bruno who shared a last little bit of wisdom with me. There is a large bridge in Luxembourg. People go there to commit suicide. Stay away from it. Thank Bruno, I'll give it my best shot.

We headed out of town and after a few detours due to the sat nav now not talking to the intercom (Man, Tom Tom are going to get a very long letter from me, probably containing many small pieces of a number of smashed sat navs. I would suggest now that you NEVER EVER buy a Tom Tom sat nav) we were on our way to Luxembourg.

I was pretty excited because there was snow on each side of the road. Suzanne maintained that it wasn't snow until you couldn't see the grass. Now Suzanne lived in Melbourne and went skiing nearly every year since she was sixteen, so she's used to snow. I'm a Sandgroper (West Australian) so snow is totally foreign to me and when I see any snow, I reckon it's fantastic. Suzanne thinks it's no biggie (but she's never ridden a bike in the snow!) . . . . (Insert Suzanne here . . . "I have been on a snowmobile! Does that count? And if it's not three feet deep it isn't really snow!! But hey Sime, it was nice seeing how much you enjoyed this, I did too. It was a day I won't forget in a hurry xx : )

I'll just point out that the thermometer on the bike had been reading between 0 and 1 degree C. (I don't know if the thermometer reads below zero?)

We rode for about an hour before my thumbs became so cold that I just had to stop and defrost them. It amazing how a feed of burgers and chips can make you feel better when you're cold.

 Check out the thermometer - Zero degrees. I don't know if it reads minus temperatures, but my guess is it doesn't. 160km to go. Also, take a look at our poor little Koala, and the snow through the screen.

Suzanne and I disagreed about this. I reckon that's snow on the side of the road. She reckons that if you can still see undergrowth it doesn't count.  

  Eskimo Suzanne. No, she hasn't put on weight, it's the twenty seven layers of clothing she's wearing. 

It was at this stop that I tried to buy another pair of gloves to wear. Three should be enough shouldn't it? With no luck on the glove front I tried to modify my hand guards. I added duct tape along the bottom edges to keep the wind off my thumbs. Epic fail! It did no good at all.

We headed off out into the cold again. I was very concerned about black ice on the road, and all the signs warning me about it didn't help at all. Then of course the bike was also telling me to be careful  OK, I get the idea. Look out for black ice.

Meanwhile Suzanne was battling her own demons. She couldn't work out what was better. Helmet visor down, to keep her face from hurting with the cold (which fogged up with each breath), or visor up to clear the fog so she could see the landscape. She decided seeing where we were going was the best option as it was stunning and kept her mind off how cold it was.

Our second stop came up very soon. It was really cold, and we needed another break. I can't believe that riding in zero degrees can be so much colder than two or three degrees. Once we were inside Suzanne said she needs to put her gloves on before we walk out the door, not once we're outside. I thought that was a good idea, and to add to it we found a radiator and warmed up our gloves. Then we took our boots off and warmed up our feet as well. We were nice and cosy when we left.

The road in the car park had a little snow. 

 Just like a ski chalet. I did the big slide on the ice, but managed to regain my balance before I fell flat on my bum. 

 It doesn't really look that inviting does it?
We were happy  to hit the road
after our warm up stop though.

 Christmas card stuff eh?

 These cute little birds were all over the
food left out for them at the road stop.

 I wanted to sit outside and have a coffee,
but Suzanne said no!

The bike sat waiting patiently for us without complaint.

I now declared that there was real snow on both sides of road. I actually said to Suzanne "It's like riding through a Christmas card."  And it was. Snow on the ground, and all over the trees. It was magical. There were even people tobogganing on the side of the road.

Just to finish the day off perfectly, the sun came out. Bright sunshine on the crisp, white, snow covered, fields, and the fir trees, was just sensational. It was just too damn cold to stop and take photos though. We did pull into one truck stop, but the view wasn't anywhere near as good as it was from the road. It's OK though. I think we'll have some more opportunities to take snow photos before this leg of the trip is over.

After another 89 kilometres (about 40 minutes) we were outside our hotel in Luxembourg. For the last fifty kilometres I counted down the ks for Suzanne and she coped OK. 

(Insert Suzanne here . . . "The human brain is very powerful, I was soooo f'ing cold after about ten minutes, but I told myself that  it wasn't that much further really, and I could do it ! Every ten minutes Sime would say 30 kms to go, 20 kms to go, which helped. I was counting down in my mind. First my fingers and toes went totally numb, then my torso was way past the shivering point where all of my muscles were tensing up so much that it hurt when we stopped. So coping, yes. Hurting later, yes. Enjoying it, hell yes!!!!). 

We found our hotel, and it's in the main street of Luxembourg. Perfect. We can walk anywhere as it's a very small place. The Park Inn by Radisson is very nice, and only 85 Euro per night. We booked in for two nights. One disturbing thing was the weather forecast for the day - A high of minus two, and a low of minus 4. So it probably was a bit colder that zero on the way here.

Once we were in our room I decided that warming up your toes, then your socks, with a hair dryer has to be a good idea. Makes sense doesn't it?

Ohhhhhhhhhh, that feels sooooooo good.

Next thing there is a knock, knock at the door. "Is everything OK in the room?" asked the staff member. "Yes, there's no problem." I said. I think the hair dryer and our socks set off the smoke alarm. Then the phone range and it was reception, "Is everything OK in your room?" Yes, it's all fine, we were just using the hair dryer. We might have to be a bit more subtle in the morning.

Once we had warmed up we went to the bar for a few drinks and Australians. They are everywhere. These guys work in IT in London and were in Luxembourg for a weekend. How good would it be to be able to do that?

We then wandered off and found a very nice Italian restaurant just around the corner. Once again the food didn't disappoint. 

So it was an early night for us. Tomorrow we'll explore Luxembourg. We've been told the Christmas market is exceptional, and well worth a visit, so I guess that will be our first stop.

No comments:

Post a Comment