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  • Writer's pictureIan Speight

September 2023 - The month I 'celebrated' my 60th birthday......I know, I can't believe it either!!


It's been a slightly quieter month from a training point of view, as I was away for the first 2 weeks to celebrate my 60th birthday.....I know, 60....can you believe it! You'll be pleased to know that I've left the holiday stuff till last because my holiday snaps might not be of interest to everyone......or anyone for that matter!!

Training.

Due to my birthday trip, a few other commitments, and the weather, training was very quiet in September. I did however, manage a few sessions. One customers had 2 sessions, but decided to exercise their right to anonymity, so no photos or details, but I can tell you that they successfully passed their RoSPA test in September, so I'm well pleased for them and hopefully they'll allow me to pass on full details in due course.

Simon was my only other customer who managed to dodge the weather and came over from Hebden Bridge for his training, riding his Suzuki Bandit 600. Simon wanted a skills refresher and for some coaching in respect to bends and corners. Cracking session and all done in beautiful Autumnal sunshine.

BikeSafe.

On Saturday 16th, I assisted Humberside Police to deliver their latest BikeSafe event. 8 candidates, paired up with 8 volunteer observers, representing various post test organisations, with a couple of police riders thrown in for good measure. I was paired up with Al on his R1250RT. Al already holds an advanced car qualification and is now looking to transfer those skills over to his riding, and has already signed up to his local RoSPA group. Really good day and no rain, result.

IAM Roadsmart.

As I told you last month, after a couple of years away, I will be returning to the IAM as a motorcycle Examiner, Masters Mentor and an Assessor for National Observer qualification candidates for both bikes and cars. On Monday 12th I attended a meeting in Hull where Steve Ellis (IAM Area Service Delivery Manager) was giving a presentation. It was good to hear so many positive comments about where the IAM is heading and what they're looking to achieve. On the 25th, I met up with Steve to shadow him as he conducted a NO assessment on a National Observer candidate. It was good to see the theory being put into practice. I should be up and running in October so there'll be more on this next month.

RoSPA.

No tests in September and not very much group training either, but I did attend a meeting with the groups Advanced Tutors to discuss training and what we need to achieve for the group moving forward into 2024. Later in the month, I had a great social ride with member of my 2 local RoSPA groups, which was great to be involved with. 150 miles around the local area, with a couple of stop offs for cake....obviously.

Thanks to Martin (1250GS), Chris (1250GS), Darren (1250GS), Mike (900XR), James (K1600), Steve (Triumph Tiger) Russ (S1000RR) and Lee (Tuono 660).

European Holiday and 60th Birthday.

Here's a summary of my birthday tour, apologies for the length but there's a lot to show you! On 25th August, Kim and I set off for a 2 week bike tour. We used the ferry from Hull to Rotterdam and then headed to Koblenz in Germany via the Nürburgring for our first night. Aaaaaaand.......we're off.

Little stop off at the Nürburgring on route to Koblenz.

Koblenz, where the Rhine and Moselle meet, and where many 'cruisers' take tourists up and down both rivers.

The very impressive statue in Koblenz. It was huge!

The following day we headed south, initially hugging the Rhine, and crisscrossing from either side via bridges and a ferry. The landscape is littered with Castles and the waters full of tourist river cruisers. At Rüdesheim we stopped for lunch and then turned inland and on to our hotel for the next 2 nights in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. We've stayed in Rothenburg before and loved it. It's a beautiful walled town - one of only 3 in Germany with their entire walls intact. (The other 2 are Nordlingen and Dinkelsbühl).

One of the many castles on the hillside along the Rhine.

On the ferry to cross the Rhine.....again.

Beautiful Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

It's Christmas everyday!

We even climbed the Town Hall tower.....

The stairs were VERY steep!

I did briefly step out onto the 'balcony', but not for very long!

Checking out the cannons!

From Rothenburg we headed to Salzburg in Austria, stopping off at both Nordlingen and Dinkelsbühl. Unfortunately, it rained all day, for the whole 256 miles, so although we stopped, we didn't stay very long. Both are on the list for future visits.

Neither of us had been to Salzburg before and were very impressed with it.

Mirabell Gardens with Fortress Hohensalzburg on the hill top in the background.

Marko-Feingold-Steg foot bridge, where people attach their own personalised padlocks....so did we add ours?

Of course we did!

The birth place of Mozart.

After 2 fab days in Salzburg, we moved on to our next destination, Bolzano in Italy. We rode some amazing roads in between the two, including the Grossglockner high alpine road - the highest paved road in Europe. Here's a quick photo at the toll booths having just bought our toll ticket (30 euros!).

Views from the top, although the clouds were rolling in and out so not as clear as it could have been.

On our way down. The road surface was superb, the views amazing and there was very little traffic.....happy days.

Bolzano was the destination for my 60th birthday and proved to be really nice, and bigger than we thought. I had a fab birthday, we explored Bolzano, had a great lunch, took a cable car ride, ate some more food and drank a few more beers, and I even got a surprise birthday cake!!

This is the Catherdral in the centre of Bolzano.

Small gauge railway that takes you around the various hill side villages.

Cable car ride. Stunning views of Bolzano and surrounding landscapes.

Last beer in my 50s!

Kim 'smuggled' a few cards in the panniers and also surprised me by having a birthday cake delivered to our hotels apartment.

All in all, Bolzano was great and I had a fantastic birthday. From Bolzano, we headed to Fussen in Germany. We had intended to ride the Stelvio pass but on the day in question, it was closed for a cycle event!....bugger. Non the less, riding through Italy and Austria rarely disappoints, as can be seen by these photos.

Lunch by the Church Tower in Lake Resia

Afternoon coffee on the Fern Pass.

After a long day in the saddle, we arrived in Fussen, a place we've been to before, so knew what to expect and as usual, it didn't disappoint. It's a lovely town and only a 40 minute walk (10 minute bus ride) from Neuschwanstein and Schwangau Castles.

Fussen even has it's own Castle.

Next stop after Fussen was Colmar in France. It was a bit of a long hot slog, but we did hop on another ferry on route, this time to enjoy lunch in Koblenz, which turned out to be another lovely place, worthy of further visits.

We left Koblenz and finally landed in Colmar several hours later. I've been to Colmar about half a dozen times, and always thought it was a place Kim would like. We had 2 nights in Colmar, and fortunately, Kim loved it! I also discovered there was much more to Colmar then I'd previously seen, so it was win, win!

We left Colmar and rode through France to our final night in Marche En Famenne in Belgium. We stopped off around the Verdun area to visit a few war memorials, the most impressive of which is without doubt, the Douaumont Ossuary. It was built to remember those who were killed during the battle of Verdun during the 1st World war.

The Douaumont Ossuary, Kim even went to the top of the tower.

The interior of the building.

Verdun memorial, a short distance away.

From Marche En Famenne, we headed for the ferry via a lunch stop in Antwerp. Another place neither of us have been to before, but was a lovely city, and another location on the list for a longer visit. I think this is the 'City Hall' of Antwerp.

The huge, and I mean HUGE, Cathedral.

Inside the cathedral.

The Castle on the river front.

The weather was pretty kind to us, with only 1 day of rain, but it was ALL day, for 250 miles! Other than that, everyday was fine and dry, with most days seeing the temperature in the high 20s or low 30s, which was great for the days we had off the bike, but not so great when we were in full bike kit! Total mileage for the trip was approximately 1800 miles.

MY 1250GSA.

Mileage this month - 2766

Total mileage on the GSA - 8654

Total for the year - 18,654.

The bike continues to perform faultlessly and I have to say I am really loving it. It's my 4th GSA and it's the best one so far. Best engine, best gear box, giving the smoothest ride. A big bonus is that Kim really likes it too and says it is the most comfortable bike (for her) of all the bikes I've owned in the 11 years we've been together. Her second favourite was the 1300 Pan European. Although I've clocked up so decent mileage fairly quickly (I only got it at the end of May) things will slow down a little over the winter months, but its looking very likely that my total mileage for the year will pass the 20,000 miles mark and maybe even 21000.

So, that's September 2023 summarised. Next month I should be confirmed and up and running with the IAM and also hopefully have 2 new projects to tell you about.

Thanks for reading, ride safe.

Ian S

2/10/2023

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