Ride Report – Adriatic Adventure 2019
We love Europe. We love riding bikes off-road. We love riding bikes on narrow twisty bitumen roads. We love exploring new places. We love eating good food. We love seeing places of great natural beauty. We love sharing good times with good people.
With this in mind, our 2019 tour through Europe was promising to be a smorgasbord of good times. Highlighting our “to do” list was attending the KTM Rally Europe which for 2019 was being based in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Now as for most Aussies our knowledge of Bosnia was pretty limited and most of us would be hard pressed to point to it on a map of the globe. Nonetheless we were keen for adventure and going to the KTM Rally seemed like a damn good excuse to check out some new countries.
Joining Nick & Trudi on the tour this year would be five riders:
- David “Captain”
- Jeff “Honky”
- Matt “Handschuhe”
- Derek “The Postman”
- Dave “The other Dave”
Our tour was to begin in Munich in early June 2019.
Munchen In Munich
Lets just say international travel isn’t really all that glamorous when you have to travel some 22 hours from Australia. Flying into Germany and seeing the snow capped Alps certainly does reinvigorate the soul though and gets you ready to hit the ground running.
Well, riding to be more precise. Our first order of business was for Trudi and I to borrow a couple of bicycles from our hotel to ride across Munich city to collect our event t-shirts. What better way to shake off the jet lag?
The other way we have found excellent for shaking off jet lag is a visit to our favourite gourmet grocery store in Munich “Kafer”. Inside this multi-level gourmet delicatessen you will be amazed at the range of foodie delights and the quality of the fresh produce. The colour of the tomatoes smacks you in the face with a blemish-free red skin so perfect that you would swear they are fake but the taste proves they are the exact opposite. The range of sweet treats are amazing but we love grabbing some fresh bread, a little butter, a wurstsalat (sausage salad), caprese salad, a couple of coffee’s and then sitting at the little table at the front of the store. A nice little picnic watching all the Munich locals coming in to collect their delectable groceries.
Our accommodation for the first night is the beautiful Hotel Munchen Palace. This quality hotel has had the same staff on board since we first came here in 2015. That speaks of its tradition and quality service.
Our first dinner in Munich was taken at an awesome beer garden called Hofbraukeller. The meal, as expected in Germany, consisted of meat and potatoes with one single tomato as contribution to non-carbohydrate or protein. Our waitress dubbed “Euro Rachel” was rather forceful as she tried to stuff Jeff’s mouth with his uneaten potatoes. It would appear leaving potatoes on your plate is a sin in Germany!
Relatively early to bed tonight for tomorrow we must travel to Austria to collect our rental bikes. Woohoo!
Munich, Germany to Salzburg, Austria
Roberto our trusty driver arrived on schedule in front of our hotel at 9am to transport us and our gear bags to Austria.
For anyone that has not been on a German Autobahn it can be somewhat surreal seeing cars racing along at 200kph or more. What can be even more surreal is being in a Mercedes Sprinter van loaded up with 7 riders and all their luggage barreling along at 160kph without a problem!
We took the opportunity to sync in our Sena Bluetooth headsets using their Mesh system so we would all be in comms during the trip. All except for Dave Farr. Poor Dave. He had no idea how much shit was slung his way during the remainder of our ride!
Gunter is our man in Austria and once again he had our fleet of KTM rentals primed and Ready To Race when we arrived at his workshop.
Günter had brand new bikes ready for us with just a few hundred run in kilometres on the clocks. Two riders would be 1290 R mounted with most of us choosing the new 790 Adventure R and Trudi on the 790 Adventure.
Saddle Up To Salzburg
Try as we might to organise a KTM factory tour through our contacts we came up short. Never mind, the newly opened Motohall in Mattighofen would serve our purpose well and satisfied our lust to learn about the orange brand.
Our ride across to KTM’s home in Mattighofen Austria took us through golf-course like green rolling hills with barely a fence in sight.
Arriving in Mattighofen and it seemed at least every 2nd person walking down the street was wearing a KTM shirt. To put the town in perspective Mattighofen has a population of about 6,000 people. It resides in amongst rural fields and from the outside is very much a farming community and yet here is Europe’s largest motorcycle manufacturer. Let that sink in…
This is in a town smaller than Kyneton Victoria or Wauchope NSW. KTM produces more motorcycles than any other manufacturer outside of Asian and in 2018 produced 261,500 units. You would justifiably be pretty proud of being a “Mattighofenian”!
Great lunch and coffee at Garage cafe next door with probably the best lemonade I’ve ever had.
KTM Motohall is an incredible new building dedicated to showing off KTM’s heritage. There was a fantastic display of race bikes and accompanying mannequins of riders wearing the full race suits including Toby Price and his 2016 Dakar winning 450 Rally.
There was also a great display of production bikes which clearly showed the brands linage. An interesting one I came across was the “KTM Ponny II” being the largest selling bike for KTM in its history. A scooter! It rolled off the production lines for 25 years and for many years it was built in Rome.
It’s early days for KTM Motohall but it looks like it’s going to be a great base for some interesting displays into the future.
After leaving KTM Motohall we dropped in to the marketing workshop to catch up with part-time Aussie Clemens Maschler who hooked us up with a pre-production low seat for Trudi to use on her 790. Clemens was loading the marketing truck to head down Bosnia and join us down there for the Rally. Good to see you Clemens!
We departed Mattighofen and made our way south to the beautiful city of Salzburg. A quick scout around the city to take in some scenery before heading out for dinner. We had a great dinner in Salzburg with Reno and Christoph from KISKA. KISKA is KTM’s design partner in Salzburg and Reno came over to Australia for the KTM Rallye in 2016 (try!) to understand what Aussie riders wants for the 790. Christoph is the adventure product manager and would join us again later in our tour after Bosnia.
Salzburg, Austria to Sappada, Italy
Most of us took the opportunity to have an early morning walk or jog around Salzburg before breakfast. We were rewarded with stunning views of this old city with the hilltop Hohensalzburg Fortress dominating the skyline.
We suited up and made our way out of the city. A quick visit to a Polo Motorcycle to stock up on some last minute supplies. Interesting to see the german translation of some products!
In complete contrast to the old city of Salzburg was RedBull Hangar 7 with its brilliant display of motorised toys next to Salzburg airport. Oh to be an energy drink tycoon and have a garage like this! The stunning glass dome building is loaded with motorised toys like F1 cars, Nascar, taxi, WWII bomber, helicopters, jet suits, Dakar bikes. You name it, it was there. All branded with the charging bulls of course!
OK, enough sight seeing. It’s time to ride!
Our first mountain pass was a stunner too with a beautiful road out of Salzburg near Eagles Nest. Eagles Nest was one of Hitler’s hideouts during WWII and commands stunning views. So smooth this road would spoil us a little but was a great representation of the roads to come over the following days.
Descending from the mountain we briefly passed back into Germany before running through a valley to Zell am See with a scooter brigade a constant flow on the road.
One of the most famous mountain passes in the Austrian Alps is the run over Großglockner which was windy but warm. Although riders must pay a toll to enjoy this road it is so worth it with beautiful smooth tarmac and great views. Sadly no cute little marmots were seen this year.
Our destination for the evening was Italy and our third country for the day. Our run to the Italian border took us over Plocken Pass which is a great fun pass despite the broken road surface. Sappada was our overnight stop and although it was a big day to get there, we arrived in good time. Sappada is a small village nestled in the Dolomite mountains sitting at an attitude of 1,250m but is surrounding by peaks towering up to heights of over 2,400 metres.
The crew got distracted by a bar on the way to dinner which delayed proceedings somewhat. I think everyone was feeling the euphoria of our first day riding and felt like celebrating. Bar keep Andrea was an excellent host and fed us grappa after our couple of starter beers. “Gianduia” which is made with sweet hazelnut chocolate spread was my favourite grappa, tasting like Nutella! We promised Andrea we would be back after dinner if he kept the bar open for us.
Our walk to the restaurant was reasonably long but was made considerably longer by the staggering going on from some riders. This was going to be a tough tour if this pre-dinner drinking pace was going to be sustained! Food helped to get us straight again.
Upon leaving the restaurant we saw Andrea’s mate Eddi driving by. We flagged him down and without us really being able to speak Italian and Eddi knowing even less English we managed to talk our way into convincing Eddi to give us a lift back to Andrea’s bar.
True to his word Andrea kept “Enoteca da Franz” open for us. Andrea runs the family bar and another mate Stefano dropped in too.
A series of local Grappas were subsequently sampled working our way up through the alcohol percentages (or “degrees” as Andrea termed it) until we arrived at the mother of all rocket fuels. “Bin Laden” was the name given to the lethal shot served out of a massive bullet casing. It was quoted as being 70 “degrees” and after one “taste” no one could deny the strength.
Sore throats were the norm for the next morning!
Sappada, Italy to Porat, Croatia
Leaving Sappada we retraced our tracks through the mountains for a few kilometres and made our way out of the steep sided mountain valleys to Tolmezzo in Italy’s north.
After crossing the river flats of river Tagliamento we headed back into the mountains towards the Slovenian border. This was a very interesting tight little road that progressively got tighter and narrower with an almost non-existent border crossing greeting our arrival into our fourth country of the tour. This road would have been great fun on a go-kart but was equally fun on our adventure bikes.
A quick stop on a bridge at the border crossing and we had a chat with a few other riders that were travelling through from Germany.
Our first road section into Slovenia bought us out into a lovely valley before climbing up along Kolovrat Mountain range to some old war ruins from the Isonzo Front of 1915. A series of trenches and tunnels were scattered amongst the hillside creating refuge for soldiers defending their country. Certainly the mountain top afforded brilliant views down to both Slovenia and Italy.
A beautifully smooth road back down into the valley led us towards the town of Tolmin. It was decided over intercom before arriving in town that a lunch stop should be in order. On the way into town we passed over a bridge with stunning iridescent blue water below tumbling over rocks that beckoned strongly to us. A sign advertising food was the clincher that sealed the deal and a quick multi-bike u-turn was performed with precision and back over the bridge we went.
Alongside the river was a picturesque camping area with plenty of shade under the trees to spare us from the daytime heat. Whatever we had on under our riding gear would serve as our swimming togs today and the fact that not a towel was to be found between us it didn’t stop any of us from stepping in. What a rude shock it was though! The turquoise blue water of Tolmin river was frigid cold having not long melted off the nearby mountains. In spite of the bracing cold it was irresistible and stunning. So clear. So blue. This would be the first of many swims on our tour.
Once the chills turned into the feeling of stabbing needles on our legs, we decided it was time for lunch. Now that we were in Slovenia and moving into the Baltic country meat must be on the menu. Cevapici it was! Matched beautifully with French fries and Coca Cola it went down a treat right next to the river.
A great fun bitumen section over a small mountain range woke us back after lunch. With time escaping us and another country to cross before we found our bed for the night, it was necessary to jump on a motorway to make up some distance and time.
A traffic jam on the motorway with lots of slow moving traffic in hot conditions was not our preferred way across to the coast but once clear of the motorway we were treated to a fun playful session with the king of scooter riders that wasn’t afraid to crank it over around the corners or bomb deep under brakes!
The welcome sight of the Adriatic Sea signalled our arrival to the Krk Island region of Croatia with an amazing bridge across the waterway. Our arrival at the hotel couldn’t come soon enough as we were all very hot and ready for a beer. Many said Villa Margaret was their favourite stay of our trip. A small boutique hotel perched right on the Adriatic Sea with nothing but a swimming pool and an olive grove to distract us from the view of the Adriatic. Expertly prepared fish was made all the more delicious by the deft separating of flesh from bone by our waiter. The day was done.
Porat, Croatia to Sibenik, Croatia
The warm waters of the Adriatic were irresistible to each and every one of us and a pre-breakfast swim was the done thing.
A great breakfast spread at the hotel filled us up after our swim. We geared up and decided to take some of the inland roads rather than following the busy Croatian coast road south. We knocked over about 100km before the coastal town of Senj beckoned us to stop off for a snack. With the heat cranking up, most of us devoured ice cream sundaes before having a quick wander around the old town. With history stretching back over 3,000 years there were plenty of interesting buildings and alleyways to explore.
Try as we might to cross through Sjeverni Velebit National Park we were met with a boom gate blocking our way. We backtracked a little before picking our way through a series of narrow bitumen roads with only the company of a scurrying ferret on the road to slow us down. We tried our luck on some gravel roads which rewarded us with sensational views of grassy valleys and rocky mountains but we all felt little uneasy on our heavily loaded bikes and not so off-road orientated tyres. The KTM Rally was just a couple of days away and that would give us ample opportunity to dial in our off-road settings.
Yugoslavia is a country name that exists no more as a result of the war that was waged in this region during the 1980’s and 1990’s. We would stop off for lunch today in the town of Gospic which still bears the scars of the war termed the “Battle Of Gospic”. Many buildings show bullet holes that have not been rendered over. Three factions fought hard over a couple of years around Gospic and apparently it still hasn’t recovered.
We wound our way up through a lovely beech forest and into an amazing karst mountain pass. As we were climbing through the rocky landscape there was a military attack helicopter hovering and flying overhead which was somewhat disconcerting. We checked our passports were close at hand just in case they landed! With the coast back in site we passed by the Church of St Frane which seemed completely out of place in amongst the harsh mountain landscape. Quite what it’s history is we still don’t know but it was an impressive sight.
The coastal town of Sebenik would be our destination for the night. Parked right out front of our seaside hotel was a massive cruising yacht that would not be out of place in the harbour of Monaco. The night was warm and we could tell something was afoot amongst the locals as everyone seemed to be rather dressed up. In fact, many of our group were rather distracted by the finely dressed ladies strutting down the promenade. A party in the street with fireworks and so many people out and about on their “passeggiata”. It was a great cap to the day.
Sibenik, Croatia to Dubrovnik, Croatia
With Krka National Park just out of town we did a short early morning ride in casual clothes out to the stunning natural formation of lakes. Based in a region of limestone rock these lakes hold crystal clear water that spill over a series of waterfalls.
It is a popular tourist attraction with coach loads of tourist swarming it every day. Not really our scene but it was certainly worth visiting Krka. Even though the air was very warm the water was very very fresh. We scrambled over some rocks before making our way to the deeper pool in front of the main waterfall. Gorgeous.
We had an early lunch back in the carpark and then rolled back into town to collect our gear from the hotel and load up.
Everyone was keen to maximise our time in Dubrovnik as it promised to be a great city so the decision was made to make todays route a transport day and motor on down the freeway.
Although Dubrovnik is in Croatia and we were already in Croatia we actually had to pass through a thin sliver of land that reaches down to the ocean which is Bosnian soil. This meant we had two border crossings to pass through and as Bosnia & Herzegovina is not part of the EU it meant each crossing was completed only after a a little extra scrutiny than the regular EU borders.
While patiently waiting our turn in the border queue we got rounded up and passed by a bunch of GS adventure riders from Montenegro which pissed us off. We hunted them down through the next section of road but they were riding like complete knobs passing traffic so we let them have their way.
Wow! Dubrovnik impressed. Arriving into town the first thing we saw was a massive cruise ship parked in the dock. Interestingly ,I had read that Dubrovnik is one of the popular cruise ship destinations that had shunned the hordes of tourists that get dis-gorged from these massive cruise ships and take over cities for a few hours of a day without actually giving much back to the city in the way of overnight stays. Some controls were being put in place to ensure the soul of Dubrovnik’s old city was not lost to mega-tourism. A good thing I would say.
We checked into our hotel Rixos Libertas with stunning views out across the Adriatic. It was damn hot once again so the first order of business for everyone was a swim and despite there being a beautiful pool right there at the hotel how could we resist another plunge in the Adriatic Sea? The temperature was divine and there was a bunch of young guys diving off the rock wall into the ocean pulling all sorts of back flips. Most impressive.
We sat around the pool having some pre-dinner drinks and telling stories of massage incidents prompted by Jeff’s experience of having his paper g-string snapped into place by the masseur.
A shower to freshen us up before heading into the Old City for dinner. Our meeting location in the lobby just happened to be next to a function room which just so happened to have free food on offer so it seemed the ideal place to hang out and wait for our group to gather. Just as we were about to leave we were approached by a lady with an American accent who asked if we were walking to the Old City and if she could tag along with us to make sure she got there safely. As it turns out she was a professor named ‘Jonas’ who asked if we were part of the conference that was hosting a symposium for professors from all over the world. Now we didn’t deny or agree that we were professors but the babbling from our group must have had her concerned and she started backing away. It was only the arrival of Trudi joining our group that gave her any confidence that us group of seven professors were capable of getting her safely back to the Old City.
It was lovely walk to dinner with so many people out enjoying the summer evening warmth. Just as we arrived at the gates to the Old City we witnessed a troop of ceremonial guards marching out through the city gates.
No sooner had we got within the gates of the Old City when Jonas our fellow professor bailed on us with barely saying goodbye. We get the feeling she preferred to slink away without being followed!
Dinner in old town that night was a rather drunken affair with far too many drinks being consumed before food finally entered our stomachs around 10pm. Nevertheless, it was a great dinner and the walk back to the hotel helped square us back up before a couple more quiet nightcap drinks back at our hotel. For some, the allure of the Adriatic was far too strong to resist and a nudey dip felt like the perfect remedy.
Dubrovnik, Croatia to Bjelasnica, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Despite the over indulgence of alcohol the night before we made the effort to get out for another earlyish start the next morning to enjoy a walk back through the Old City in the daytime. Trudi was determined to nab her own photo at the gorgeous spot we had seen in so many tourism guides and indeed a stock photo we had used to promote the tour. She was rewarded when we walked out on to a headland and found the angle. Azure seas laid out before us with the medieval like buildings being the perfect backdrop. No wonder Dubrovnik featured in so many scenes of the hit TV series “Game Of Thrones”.
Reluctantly we suited up and left Dubrovnik but another exciting date awaited us this afternoon as we would arrive in Bosnia & Herzegovina to begin our KTM Rally experience.
Before leaving the the coast we had a brilliant view back to Dubrovnik with an impressive cruise ship moored in the harbour below.
It became blatantly obvious after we had crossed over the border that we had passed into another country as Bosnia somehow felt a little more like the Wild West. Bosnia & Herzegovina is not part of the EU and it kind of shows. Cars were suddenly coming at us on the wrong side of the road. The roads were a little rougher. Some of the towns we passed through had far too many men hanging around the bars in the middle of the day.
Nevertheless it is a country of great natural beauty with the stunning gorge we passed through a tall testament to that.
We looked ahead on the map and planned to stop for lunch at a town called Gacko. We did a lap through town trying to find a cafe but the centre of town somehow gave us a bit of an uneasy feeling. We rode back to the outskirts of town to a truck stop we passed on the way in. Fresh food was short on supply so we made do with Clips chips, Coca Cola and so many other processed delights.
Bosnia has certainly seen its fair share of bloodshed from war and as Australian’s that is probably how most of us relate to the country. The incredible Tjentište war memorial in the middle of majestic mountain ranges seemed a fitting recognition of the many lives that were lost during the battles. Much care and effort had been put into this monument so it was clear the lives lost were not in vain.
We rode the final few kilometres to Bjelasnica, a ski field just out of Sarajevo which would be the home of the KTM Adventure Rally for the next four nights. We rolled into the village which looked not unlike an Australian ski village except there was a horde of bright orange vehicles that clearly stated KTM was in town. It has buzzing with activity with a cool RedBull truck housing a DJ and sporting massive speakers belting out the metal and riders from so many countries speaking so many languages, getting bikes checked and tyres fitted.
We found the main registration tent and soon found Julia, the event coordinator for KTM, who we had organised our group with. Our riders received their goodie bags for the Rally which included; portable shower cloths, Power Shower body wash, stickers and a trick custom KTM riding jersey which featured our names and numbers on the back. Awesome!
The riders briefing shortly followed our sign in where we were told there were about 150 riders in attendance from 21 countries and Australia got a special mention with our group of 7 making our country the third highest represented behind Germany and Italy. We were pretty proud to make such a statement from afar! Thankfully for us, English language is the standard spoken for the Rally and so it was easy for us to get the hang of what was going on.
Dinner followed where we caught up with Kiwi mate Chris Birch who was interviewed by KTM’s Joachim Sauer and a did a presentation on off-road riding techniques to help prepare riders. After the week adventures just getting down to Bosnia we were all thankful for an early night.
KTM Adventure Rally – Day 1
Breakfast at our hotel the next morning and in amongst the sea of orange jerseys was Dakar legend Laia Sanz who was joining us for the week at the Rally. Laia and fellow RedBull athlete Chris Birch would ride with the group all week which was cool.
The European KTM Rally follows a bit of a different format compared to our Australian version with riders nominating their skill level prior to the event. This grading is then used to group riders together in groups of about 10 riders of similar skill level who are then assigned a guide for the week. We met our fellow group members in the carpark in the morning and our group of seven became 10 with two Germans and a Czech joining us. Our guide was to be Alberto Senigagliesi, who was a very cool Italian guy that happened to be the manager of the French national downhill ski team. Alberto was a friend of the KTM family and also served as a tour guide at the first KTM Rally when it visited his home town of Bardonecchia Italy for the first year of the Rally in 2017.
Another Aussie that made the trip over to Bosnia was Adam Riemann of Motology Films who would also be acting as a guide for what was called the “A Team”. Apparently this group of riders that had all ticked the box as being Expert level riders. By weeks end, we got the impression from Adam that this may not have been the case!
Our route for Day 1 was only about 138km but it delivered some incredible terrain and scenery. Straight out of the ski village car park and up some mountain trails through a band of oak and fir trees. Trudi soon got “Bacic’ed” when Jeff baulked halfway up a hill leaving Trudi nowhere to go and when she stopped, she could find nothing but air under her feet causing her to have her one drop while on the 790 Adventure. Unfortunately this drop took out her left mirror.
Riding along some great trails through open treeless hills, Alberto our guide led the way off-piste down through a gully and up an almighty hill. Just as I dropped into the gully and got on the gas for the climb I felt a hard hit on a rock followed quickly by a “foosh” of air equalising into the outer atmosphere. I’ve had enough flat tyres in my day that straight away I knew I had put a cut in my tyre or flat spot on the rim. I did a u-turn back onto the road to park the bike up and begin a repair. I quickly discovered it was indeed a gash through the soft sidewall of the front Karoo 3 tyre. It was right about now I was wishing for my Australian Motoz tyres tyres I normally run with their uber tough carcass! I set to work stripping the tyre and inserting a tube to convert to a tubed wheel because I didn’t have any faith in plugs or strings holding in the sidewall with the rocks that we had already encountered in the first hour. We were soon joined on the side of the trail by another group with one of their riders scoring a puncture too. We shared tools and compressor to make the job go faster.
We rode through a small village with huts like out of a ‘Lord Of The Rings’ film. We went off-piste in a few sections and simply rode across and up the mountain slopes. It certainly gave a feeling of freedom being able to go off-piste while riding through this Bosnian landscape. One of the open hills was very steep and unless you hit it at the bottom with full commitment in 2nd or 3rd gear then you wouldn’t make it as Dave found out. An ugly sideways tumble down the hill thankfully hurt the bike and Dave’s pride more than his body. Birchy and Laia were at the top of the hill and were suitably impressed with Dave’s acrobatics! A few quick “adjustments” to Dave’s bike and we were away again.
Some of the random sights we saw along the trails that reminded us of where we were included a pair of naked mannequins perched up on a stone wall absolutely riddled with bullet holes. As I stopped to take my photo a creepy thought came through my head and I looked over my shoulder just to double check the gunmen weren’t still perched across the other side of valley waiting to get a more challenging shot. Thankfully, all was clear, so I quickly grabbed my shot and got the hell outa there!
We were told earlier in the morning we would be visiting a canyon and soon we descended into a deep valley that had sheer drops of what looked like a few hundred metres pretty much straight down! Indeed looking back at the GPS track log we went from a height of 1,580 metres that day down to around 430m. At the bottom of the valley was the stunning Rakitnica River Canyon with the water running crystal clear over boulders. An ancient stone bridge at the bottom of the valley was the perfect place to stop, strip off and try out the frigid cold water. Our group of Aussies were the first in and despite the laughter from the bridge above we were soon joined by a few other brave souls. One Russian gent in particular who was built like an Antonov cargo plane was bitching and whinging how his normally staunch “under carriage” had shrunk to that of a Cessna light aircraft!
Swimming at every opportunity had seemed to become “the done thing” on this tour and it really did give us a better appreciation of just where we were in the world and to not pass up any opportunity for a dip. Live life to the full as they say!
Onwards and out of the canyon the trails led us through gorgeous open hills that again seemed fitting landscape for a scene in “Lord Of The Rings” with the ruins of stone huts about. Almost “other worldly”. Still, it never ceased to amaze me throughout our time in Bosnia how the ubiquitous VW Golf became a 4WD in these parts and we passed several on these goat tracks. It impressed me no end to the skill their drivers must posses to keep the cars functioning in this terrain.
At one stage I caught up to Birchy and Laia who were playing around on a little side track off a perfectly good sealed road. Birch used all his trails skills to pop the 790 back up onto the trail but Laia unfortunately didn’t carry quite as much momentum and spun out right near the top. Lesson for the day – never follow a Kiwi!
Just as we arrived at our lunch stop for the day the clouds opened up and dumped a load of wetness on the surrounding hills. Thankfully KTM had set up a big marquee tent in the middle of the hills with some catering served up out the back of a truck. We were thankful for the food provided because we sure hadn’t passed any Macca’s or even a cafe along our route! As we had experienced so far in the Balkan states the lunch consisted mainly of meat and potatoes. Although somewhat lacking in flavour or healthy nutritional value it was hearty and lined our stomachs well for the afternoon ride back to base.
Our final stop for the day was at a mountain top ski lift house that looked out over Bjelsinica ski village and in a valley further over we could clearly see the city of Sarajevo. On the front of the ski lift house was the 5 circles of the Olympic Rings which was evidence of the Winter Olympics which Sarajevo played host to in 1984. Inside the lift house was further evidence with a massive concrete slipway which had apparently been extended onto the lift house to ensure the downhill ski run met the IOC guidelines of how many metres long the ski run had to be to comply with Olympic rules. Sneaky Bosnian’s just whacked some concrete on top of the mountain!
We returned to the village and our route led us back an amphitheatre where RedBull were cans being handed out by young ladies and an afternoon snack of, you guessed it, meat and potatoes was being served. The KTM Ultimate Race qualifiers were underway with riders performing some challenges for our viewing pleasure. Back to the hotel room to freshen up.
A bus saved us a walk back to the outdoor amphitheatre that would host us tonight for a special unveiling of a new adventure model bike. None of us knew what it was and all the KTM staff were being very tight lipped about exactly what the model was. We knew nothing. The time had come and were prompted to grab a set as Jochi again introduced KTM Adventure Ambassador Chris Birch who had the pleasure of pulling the covers off the 790 Adventure R Rally. This was a real surprise that none of us saw coming. As if the new 790 Adventure R wasn’t good enough, KTM went out and built a super-duper race version “because we can”.
She was a beauty. Knowing how good the 790 R was this Rally version would next level. Scant details were revealed except to say 500 units only would made available worldwide.
When we got back to our hotel room I hurriedly uploaded some photos in a Facebook post in the hope that we could achieve a world first news release on the 790 Rally. I think we came damn close to it judging by the shares and feedback from our social pages!
KTM Rally – Day 2
Second day of the KTM Rally would take us south east of Sarajevo towards Nacionalni Park Sutjeska. More sublime landscapes were to greet us and probably the gnarliest track of the Rally with a rocky bastard of a track that was mostly 1st gear with the occasional click up to 2nd. At the end was a stunning view with grass covered rocky hills stretching off into the distance. Divine.
Back out the way we came to our lunch stop which was perched in a spectacular grassed valley with a massive tarn lake at the bottom. A few photos at the top before riding off-piste down the hills towards the RedBull truck which was again pumping out the metal tunes over lunch. As unnecessary as the music was it didn’t overpower the vibe with big long tables laid out on the alpine meadow giving us a beautiful natural amphitheatre to enjoy our lunch in.
After lunch I was wandering around the parking lot of bikes and happened across Birchy’s 790. I took the opportunity to make Birchy an honorary Australian for the day by planting a few Aussie flag stickers on his bike. He did “thank” me later on that night back at base but I’m pretty damn sure he didn’t find all of them in the one go!
Unfortunately, one of the riders in our group Pavo from Czech Republic had an off in one of the slippery mud sections this afternoon and got his foot caught on the edge of a rut twisting it back and snapping his leg. I had been acting as sweep rider for our group all week so here I found myself in the middle of a dense forest in Bosnia & Herzegovina with a guy from Czech Republic with a broken leg. Fortunately one other rider was still within earshot so I told him to head down the hill and tell Alberto our guide what had happened. I spoke to Pavo and as it turned out he is a doctor so he was pretty damn sure he had broken his tib/fib. Much to his credit he sucked it up and we decided the best course of action was to get him on the back of my bike to ride out of this Bosninan forest to medical help. With the help of Alberto who had come back up the hill, we loaded Pavo on my back seat and I gingerly rode down through the forest to get him out. We knew we weren’t too far from the end of the days ride but thankfully at a major intersection the KTM arranged mountain rescue medical team were waiting at a small hut so Pavo was now in professional hands. Sadly though, his Rally had finished a day early. Next thought was how the poor bugger was going to get himself and his bike back to the Czech Republic. Makes you think about the logistics of support with overseas adventure travel!
I’ve since spoken to Pavo and he got home OK and was recovering well.
Todays route was longer as we covered 202km of gorgeous alpine terrain. We celebrated the completion of the day with a few local beers at the bar straight across the road from our hotel. The barmaid was looking after our Aussie group rather well with a steady supply of pretzels ensuring we kept our stamina up in ordering beer and Captain Morgans. We didn’t feel it was right to disappoint our host and I’m pretty sure we matched her usual monthly takings in just a few nights there!
KTM Rally – Day 3
Our final Rally day had just 156km planned taking us to the northern side of Sarajevo but what a surprise day it turned out to be! Sarajevo was the host city for the 1984 Winter Olympics and it was amazing to see how much infrastructure lay around the hills.
The other infrastructure we saw was the military installations at the top of mountains. Many concrete buttresses lay broken in the grass. One bunker in particular had a massive 1 metre diameter hole in the ceiling, presumably from a bomb dropped squarely on top of it.
This was one aspect of our visit to Bosnia & Herzegovina that hammered home the brutal domestic conflict that was not that long ago. For Australian’s this is difficult to comprehend. War in your backyard just doesn’t compute.
One other thing we didn’t expect from Bosnia was damn flies! Yet here we were atop beautiful mountains with stunning views all around only interrupted by the bugs bashing into your face! God I hate flies!
Still the riding made up for it with more off-piste adventure riding action as we cut our way across the open mountain tops with just a pair of scant twin-tracks to show our path. It was riding across one of these open meadows that prompted Birchy to later tell Trudi how impressed he was with her speed through the open terrain. That’s my girl!
We stopped for a meal in the ski village of Jahorina. We weren’t quite sure if this was supposed to be morning tea or lunch but we tucked into their salami and cheeses none the less. It was a welcome relief to not be presented with potatoes at this meal. A little sun baking on the sun lounges outside went down very nicely along with the excellent coffee served.
During my research for this trip I had read about an old bobsled track that existed in the hills just outside Sarajevo. I was determined to see it during our time here so I had asked Alberto about it earlier in the week. He told me to keep it quiet but we would be visiting it later in the Rally. That satisfied me and I didn’t give it another thought, until we got to a stunning lookout over a Sarajevo where I saw a sign with an image of a bobsled or luge.
The view was exciting enough in itself but I was stoked that we were at the luge track. We rode along a “road” that seemed nothing more than a walking track and we soon rounded a corner where I saw the concrete semi-tube of the bobsled track. The next thing I saw was an 1190 rounding the corner coming towards us halfway up the banking! Woohoo! How cool is that?
My first thought thought was that it was the KTM Ultimate Race qualifiers that were getting a shot at riding up the track but as we soon found out through broken English, we were all getting a shot at it! Some pointing and waving by Sarajevo police and one KTM staff member directed us towards the concrete chute where the KTM staff had formed a dodgy looking ramp made of timber pallets up over the sides of the luge channel and down into the groove.
It suddenly sunk in. I was going to ride a KTM 790 Adventure R, up a bobsled track, in Bosnia & Herzegovina with my wife on a bike just in front of me. Talk about a money can’t buy experience! I don’t know what bribe money KTM had to pay to the local police to make this happen but by god it was worth every penny!
Trudi was assisted into the track by our guide Alberto who walked back to me and gave me a high five. He was just as pumped as we were to be riding the track! How many people could say they’ve ridden their bike up an Olympic bobsled track? Not many we are guessing! In fact, probably only the lucky few riders at this years KTM Rally.
I got the signal to go and to be honest even though I am a professional motorcycle riding coach I wasn’t quite sure of the correct techniques required for riding a bobsled track uphill on your adventure bike! The channel wasn’t that wide and it seemed like we had barely 200mm clear each side of our low-slung 790 fuel tanks to the concrete walls. Although the concrete would normally offer plenty of grip, the base was covered in pine needles in places and we all know how damn slippery a layer of pine needles can get!
Through my headset I could hear Trudi squeal with laughter as she rounded the first corner. This filled me with happiness that she hadn’t face-planted into the first vertical wall that confronted her so I followed suit and launched myself up the track. Now being faced with a concrete tube that curves up beyond vertical to about 270 degrees is an intoxicatingly scary proposition! How much gas do you give it? Do you go high or stay low and let g-forces run you up the corner? How many g’s can you pull around the corners? How many g’s can the 790 R’s suspension take? Surely this wasn’t in the KTM design brief!?
After a few corners I started to relax and just giggle my head off as the reality sunk in. I even got a little brave and pulled a couple of little wheelies up the chute in between corners. In one section I was sure some concrete reo steel was going to rip my head off so I ducked my head to make sure I cleared it. As I got to the end of the run I was so pumped that I had just ridden up a luge track but I didn’t notice the 1 metre sheer drop off the end of the concrete pad. As I gassed it off the pad I then realised I was coming up to a gaggle of parked KTM’s at a great rate of knots and was still in the air! As soon as the wheels touched down I squeezed both brakes on and luckily pulled up before I caused a domino of KTM’s!
What a buzz! We were all high-fiving and fist pumping one another when someone said “Can we go again”? All our faces lit up like Christmas trees at the prospect of doing it again so we raced back down the path to the entrance shoot to give it another crack. Sadly, we were met by one of the police officers who was holding up his arms in a crossed forearms sort of way indicating “no deal”. Sadly, just one run it was to be. Still, I’ll take that any day!
We watched Birchy take his final run at it and were impressed with his height up the wall. It still looked just wrong!
The final section running back into our ski village was a hoot. Full on enduro trials through a forest with some very slippery mud that was manageable if you kept your momentum going but as soon as you stopped it was very difficult to get going again. These few muddy puddles really kept your attention up. I stopped briefly to secure my Aussie flag onto my backpack for the final burst into the KTM village. Riders were on cloud nine after the days adventures and many high fives and hugs were shared around the village.
Back to the bar across the road for some celebratory bevies with our new favourite barmaid. Kiwi’s Mr and Mrs Birch joined us for a couple of drinks where we announced the new members of the first Australian KTM Uphill Bobsled team!
Our surrogate Aussie mate and KTM Technician Clemens was sharing around some fine Maschler family schnapps back at base that evening. Our new best mate Alberto had a taste of the Maschler family home brew and started to tell us about an Italian liquor called genepi which is made from a special alpine flower that is only found in elevations of around 2,800-3,000 metres. He stopped short of telling us the full recipe but we vowed to visit his hometown of Bardonecchia Italy to taste it for ourselves.
Bjelasnica to Zeljava
The KTM Rally was over but our Adriatic Adventure was only half done. We loaded the pannier boxes back on our bikes and made our way north-west out of Sarajevo with our overnight destination all the way across Bosnia & Herzegovina back in Croatia.
Our group size had increased by one for this next leg of the trip as Christoph from KISKA was joining us for the trip back to Austria. Christoph is a product planner with KISKA in charge of the adventure segment so he was keen to hear input from a genuine group of Aussie riders about their experience riding the KTM’s. Fortunately (or unfortunately!) Chrisopth also had a Sena bluetooth headset so he could hear all the crap talking going on. Quite a few things needed explaining…
Our route took us through some fascinating little villages on back roads that went from nicely sealed bitumen, to broken bitumen with loose gravel, to bitumen that was so bad you wish it was gravel, to beautiful gravel roads that led through a magnificent remote forest. The tour group were starting to doubt my navigation skills but I proved them all “Doubting Thomas’s” when we burst out into the lovely town of Jajce. Phew!
With a significant 22 metre high waterfall right in the centre of town and a pretty little lake on the outskirts with the quaint “Watermills Of Jajce” this was a real juxtaposition to the rural mountain villages we had earlier passed through.
We passed through the outskirts of the rather large Bosnian city of Bihac just before arriving at the border crossing back into Croatia. Our overnight stop in the tiny village of Licko Petrovo Selo was chosen one, for it’s proximity to Plitvice National Park which we would visit in the morning but secondly for it’s proximity to Zeljava, an abandoned Yugoslavian airforce base with underground hangars. I was eagerly awaiting the chance to explore this base in the morning.
Zeljava, Croatia to Lake Bled, Slovenia
We were up extra early today at 5.30am. Not for a walk, but for a ride into the unknown. Zeljava is the location of a former Yugoslavian air force base that now lays abandoned as there is no more civil war to fight. Sadly, there is no more Yugoslavia either.
Getting up so early was partly because we had a lot to fit on today but also because we wanted to sneak onto the base before the local police did their rounds. I had read that the underground tunnel network had been used in recent months by refugees trying to immigrate towards Germany and other EU countries and the police occasionally came by to flush them out. Technically we weren’t supposed to be there either so we hoped an early start would see us clear of the base before any police patrols.
The airbase straddles both Croatia and Bosnia with multiple runways stretching out across the plain sitting at the base of a mountain range. It was the mountains themselves though that held the most secret and intrigue about this base with stories of a series of tunnels receding back in the mountain to form well protected aircraft hangers. The airbase was used extensively in 1991 during the Yugoslav Wars. After the war it was decided to make the base inoperable by blowing up both the runways and the tunnel network. In spite of 56 tonnes of explosives being donated inside the hangars the tunnels remained largely intact.
Stepping foot or turning a wheel on this base does not come without caution about bodily harm either. This Baltic region of Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina is well known for still being home to an extraordinary number of unexploded land mines. These devices kill indiscriminately and even though the war may have ended in 1991 the mines continue to wreak havoc on residents so when we passed the first of many mine warning signs alongside the road we took heed. The road ran out into the end of a runway where we turned left and passed through thick growth on the side of the roads, which did a great job of hiding some sizeable buildings. As tempting as it was to wander off the road and explore through the buildings, the reminder about land mines was plenty enough warning to stick to the sealed surfaces.
One of the first sights we came across was an abandoned twin-engined Douglas C-47 aircraft sitting in amongst the undergrowth. With two pilots in amongst our group it didn’t take long for the plane to be explored in detail with heads popping out of hatches. Further along the road network and we came onto one of the first runways. Off to our left the runway stretched out into the morning mist blending out of sight. To our right the runway disappeared into the mountain with an oddly shaped concrete entrance. The reason for the oddly shaped entrance with its tall triangular peak in the centre was to allow the tail of aircraft to pass through into the tunnels.
The allure of riding into the tunnels was unshakable but once inside it quickly became rather eerie and daunting. Just inside the entrance the atmosphere was thick with mist. Scanning our eyes around the tunnel lit by our headlights revealed a chamber of solid concrete. The floor was broken in places leaving gaping metre wide holes. The roof was mostly smooth except where the oddly shaped blast doors had been blown apart by explosives in an attempt to collapse the tunnels. All the explosives had succeeded in doing though was making the steel reinforced concrete into a warped and twisted wreck that looked like an alien was coming out of the ceiling.
We rode further into the tunnels and came to see just how large these hangars were. A key part of their defence network were the metre thick sliding concrete blast doors. These receded back into the mountain side powered by massive diesel engines that still sat there rotting away.
We pushed further into the tunnels and saw light protruding into the darkness from another entrance. We made our way towards the light and out one of the other entrances which revealed another runway stretching out well into the distance with trees encroaching in on the sides.
The length of the runway was something like 2.5km and this clear distance was far too tempting for us, so a series of speed runs and wheelie practice ensued.
The sound of the KTM’s cutting through the morning air was just awesome. We lined four of us across the runway, two 790’s against two 1290’s. A hand was dropped and clutches released. The 790 underneath me launched hard off the line and I fully engaged the clutch as quickly as I could while keeping the front wheel close to or on the deck. Up through gears I went, banging away on the quick shifter without lifting off the throttle nor touching the clutch. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th gear all went past and still a 1290 hadn’t gone past me. My speed went above 160kmh on the speedo before the sound of a 1290 V-Twin over powered my 790. We held our throttles on the stops right up to about 215kmh before shutting off as the mountain approached. A respectable challenge given by the 790.
We figured it was time to clear off the base before the local constabulary was called to investigate the source of noise from the airbase. Maybe locals might have thought the strip was being used by aircraft again!
Back to our hotel for a breakfast feed before we took off on another excursion. This excursion would be somewhat more touristy though with a visit to Plitvice National Park. This Park is a gorgeous series of lakes interconnected by waterfalls and boardwalks. We took a walk through the park and marvelled at how clear the waters were. A chance encounter with a slug on the path showed just how fertile this ground must be, it was the length of a mans hand with the girth of a big thumb. Ewww!
Back in the carpark we noticed a couple of KTM’s sporting Rally stickers. One of them belonged to Jorge from Colombia who was the nicest gentlemen you could meet. He sported a moustache any Colombian drug lord would be proud of! Such a top guy.
Lake Bled was calling us so we cut a path across the middle of Croatia towards Slovenia. Now one thing Bled is famous for is their vanilla custard slices. In Australia we might well call them “snot blocks” but in Slovenia they are far more delicate. They have the making of them down pat and even a visit to a simple roadhouse diner proved that the Slovenians have indeed mastered this pastry delight. It wobbled like Pamela Anderson’s boobs in the opening credit sequence of Baywatch!
It turned out to be a long weekend holiday in Croatia so the traffic on one motorway was quite heavy and we had gotten word that one of the border crossings was jam packed with delays of a couple of hours! A quick check of the map and I found another crossing we could take which hopefully wouldn’t be as busy as the roads afterwards essentially went into forests and farmland. Perfect for us! We took a punt and the roads ended up being great riding with a beautiful forest section giving us lovely smooth gravel roads to slide around on. Following Derek ‘The Postman” through here was rather amusing!
We passed through many Slovenian towns and then around the outskirts of Slovenia’s capital city, Ljubljana. But our goal for the night was Lake Bled and it was indeed a stunning sight when we arrived. Our hotel looked out over the lake and we all went different directions when we arrived in town. Some took massages, some went for a swim, others shopping. I took the opportunity to go for a run around the lake and up to Bled Castle with its gorgeous views across Lake Bled and the island. The castle is supposedly the oldest in Slovenia dating back to some time prior to 1011 when it was first mentioned in a deed. It sits 130 metres above Lake Bled with a myriad of walking trails winding up its slopes. I enjoyed the trail running here but my ageing legs and knees would hate me tomorrow and for the next week!
Dinner was taken late back at our hotel as no one really wanted to venture far after the days activities. It had been a big one starting at 5.00am with an exploration of the airbase but it had been so worth the tired body. We would all sleep well tonight.
Bled, Slovenia to Wagrain, Austria
Breakfast in Slovenia, lunch in Italy, dinner in Austria.
Today was the day that made us all vow to return to Slovenia. It’s simply stunning. A mix between the neat ordered prettiness of Austria and the relaxed rustic charm of Italy. Somehow Slovenia achieves a great balance in between.
Many riders in our group stated that Slovenia was the hidden gem of Europe.
We rode out of Bled to Triglav National Park which was somewhat in the opposite direction we needed to head but it turned out to be oh so worth it. Triglav is Slovenia’s largest protected natural area and it is clear to see why. Imposing granite peaks rise up to a height of 2,864 metres at Kranjska Gora.
On our way up the mountain pass we came across a traffic jam caused by a tourist coach that had failed to correctly negotiate one of the many switchback hairpins on the way up the pass and had bottomed out causing its back bumper to get ripped off. Quite how the driver thought he was going to get that massive coach around the hairpins I don’t know. I also don’t know how he was going to get the coach unstuck but we weren’t sticking around to find out! Luckily being on bikes we were able to carve our way through the jam and sneak past the bus that was taking up all the road. Arriving at the saddle between two mountain peaks we had a glorious view of Soca River Valley below which was an absolute stunner.
After soaking in the view for about 15 minutes we next raced down a great series of switchback hairpins dodging tourist cars before we slowed it all down to take in the stunning views along the river. Soca River is a super popular rafting spot in summer and the water looked so damn inviting. Absolute postcard pretty stuff. We will definitely be coming back to Soca Valley on future tours. Just beautiful.
At the bottom of the valley we merged into another road that was absolutely choc-a-block with sports bikes and tourers carving through the mountains on a Sunday. There must have been 50 or more riders in a couple of groups. This was like a red rag to a bull for our group as suddenly we had so many bogies to hunt down! The chase was on and we quickly carved our way through most of the group but after 15 minutes or so we got caught up with an Africa Twin rider who obviously knew how to ride. I got prioir warning of his arrival by a flash of his headlight in my mirrors as I changed direction through some corners. He was brave soul and not afraid of putting himself on the wrong side of the road to overtake. I was a little more cautious than him but even still he was quick. Punching the gas early and hard out of each corner. Derek enjoyed the challenge too and kept him behind and then held onto his tail for longer than I did. A respectful nod of acknowledgment was given by all parties when Africa Twin boy pulled up at the next cafe stop and we cruised by. Good clean fun was had and thankfully we all stayed upright!
Our Austrian friend Christoph took us to an Italian trattoria for lunch in Travisio that he had promised to take his girlfriend to. Instead he got to share a romantic lunch with a ravenous group of meat hungry Aussies! Trudi was the one female consolation. The food was amazing with beautiful antipasti of local salami & cheeses.
After lunch Christoph said “Auf Weidersehen” to make his way back home to Salzburg but not before telling us about “Nockalmstrasse”, a wicked piece of Alpine road just over the border in Austria. It is a favourite stretch of road for the KISKA staff and in fact the original 790 Adventure photo shoot was done there.
The 12 euro price of admission to Nockalmstrasse was well worth it. Considering it has a beautiful smooth surface and there was something like 40 hairpins curves to negotiate that calculates out to .30 euro per hairpin. Money well spent!!
After the twisty good fun, we did a short blast up the motorway towards Salzburg before peeling off to the ski fields region of Wagrain. Trudi once again excelled in her choice of accommodation with a luxury ski lodge perched on the side of a mountain looking down a pretty valley. Everyone in our group vowed we would return to our hotel in Wagrain for some winter skiing action with 25 ski runs accessible with the one ticket and it’s basically ski in – ski out. Since returning to Australia, one couple have indeed made good on that promise and have booked 10 days there this December. Bliss!
The owner joined us for schnapps after dinner and explained a little history of the family owned hotel. We will return.
Wagrain, Austria to Munich, Germany
Our last day on tour but we still had many adventures ahead. We took a transport section up the motorway to Salzburg as we had an appointment to visit KISKA headquarters. To explain KISKA is an interesting thing. I first became aware of who KISKA is in 2016 when Reno and Anita came out to Australia to attend the inaugural KTM Rallye in the Victorian High Country. As it turns out they were on a fact gathering mission to understand what the Australian market wanted from an adventure bike. Little did we know at the time all this research data would go into the design and launch of the 790 Adventure R in 2019.
And that, in a nutshell, is what KISKA does. They research and design product then define and execute the marketing messages for this new product. The interesting thing is KISKA is a third party company separate to KTM that also do work for many other brands on various products such as; alpine skis, binoculars, cars, bicycles, lawn mowers and even water bottles! KISKA have been involved in the design of every KTM model for the past 23 years. And now with Husqvarna they have the responsibility to redefine a brand that has a history since 1903 but has been through many owners in that time. It strikes me as being quite unique that this responsibility is outsourced but such is the relationship between friends Gerald Kiska and Stefan Pierer, the owner of KTM.
Christoph took us on a tour of the design offices upstairs where we saw the epicentre of a global business employing 140 staff. All around were product samples, design sketches, mood boards and computer screens with various product in various stages of development. Last year we were super fortunate in being able tour through the design studio downstairs where the clay models are carved out and sketches become three-dimensional reality. Sadly, this year the studio was out of bounds because there were too many sensitive products being worked on. Indeed last year of the 20 odd motorcycles we could see in the studio, more than half of them had black cloaks draped over them to conceal the details. Still we got a glimpse of some new design concepts that I expect we will see revealed at EICMA motors show this year or sometime later. That’s all I can say about that though as we had to sign non-disclosure agreements on our way in. Secret squirrel stuff!
After the office walk through we went out for lunch with a few of the KISKA crew including the designer of the 790 Adventure, Jules, a nice French dude with crazy hair and a wicked laugh.
Our time in Austria was nearing the end so we said our goodbyes to our KISKA friends and headed north out of Salzburg to return our rental bikes in Andorf. A check of the odometer revealed I had travelled over 3,000km through Europe on this 790 Adventure R and it had performed faultlessly. The only time it touched ground is on the last day of the Rally in Bosnia when I slipped going up a slippery mud covered hill. This two weeks of road riding gave me a new appreciation of how incredibly versatile the bike is. I’ve been super impressed with the bikes off-road abilities from the first day I rode it but fiddle with some buttons and the bike transforms to a very comfortable bike capable of intercontinental expeditions. Impressive.
Beers In The Bus
We stripped our bikes of our personal gear and stuffed it all back in our gear bags that we left at the rental depot. We shook hands with Gunter and said so long until 2020 and then climbed back in the bus with Roberto our driver. A quick stop off around the corner at a roadhouse and we were stocked and ready for the drive back to Munich. It’s real handy when service stations sell 500ml cans of beer and bottles of Captain Morgan!
Paired with some crisps and two hours in the bus went by really quickly with many laughs about the memories of the past 14 days of our tour. We asked the guys what their highlights of tour was and probably the best quote was “I did things that weren’t even on my bucket list”!
By the time we rolled into our hotel in Munich we were well and truly primed for dinner. In fact so well primed that none of us finished the litre steins of beer we ordered to go with our sausage and schnitzel dinner. I think two weeks of excess had finally caught up with us!
Many of our crew were flying back to Australia tomorrow to go back to regular life of pulling teeth, installing pools or fixing aircraft. For Jeff and ‘The Captain’ the European adventure was only halfway done as they would be joining Nick & Trudi again in 4 days time for our Pinnacle Passes tour of Italy and France. One could get used to this lifestyle!
Will You Join Us In 2020?
Maschine are going back to Europe again in 2020 with two tours planned again. Every time we travel we find more incredible places to include on our itineraries to delight you. Our Adriatic Adventure and Pinnacle Passes tours will be similar but different for 2020.
Register your interest to be kept in the loop was soon as details are announced.