May 2009 Distance: 1'000km Ferry trips: 1 Vehicle: BMW R1200R
This trip took place in May 2009. This was a month after I had started a new life in Zurich, as of April of that year. I had found a room to stay in Zurich and had a newly-purchased bike in London. I therefore had to take a one-way flight from Zurich to London, and a one-way bike trip from London to Zurich. This was the first real trip with my own bike. I arrived in London on a Thursday evening. The next day I raced to the cannon-bmw shop in Witham, the shop where I had bought it from two weeks prior, in order to install the paniers . I then returned home and spent some time with a manual on the left hand and a spanner on the right trying to install a newly purchased fairing for the bike which I had orderer from Z-Technik. I then packed the bike with as much stuff as I could fit and drove to Farringdon to say "good-bye London" forever (happy and sad at the same time) and had lunch with some work colleagues from AKT for the last time (that was definitely a sad moment...). That's when Murphy's Case 1 of this trip kicked me in the crown-jules so hard that it left a mark. Firstly, just before reaching Farringdon I saw a police car and the road was cordoned-off. I drove around to get to my destination (even had the restaurant booked) but saw more police cars and more roads ware sealed-off. After driving through heavy traffic in circles for around 30 mins I realised that the area had been cordoned off with epicentre (you guessed it) the restaurant I was heading for! With so many circles around the block the police finally opened the road and I managed to meet my old work colleagues a bit late, but better late than never. Timing was bad but not that bad. I enjoyed my last meal with my (now x-) co-workers. Leaving London just after lunch on the way to Dover I got a flat tire (Murphy case Nr. 2). This was a bad omen... I called bmw-breakdown who told me that they could not help me as I was not on their database (Murphy case Nr. 3). I was having none of that, I explained that I had just bought the bike and managed to convince them in the end. An hour later the break-down vehicle showed up, fixed my tire by inserting a repair kit and sent me off after a "repair kits are not permanent, drive at your own risk!" which was not a very reassuring comment. Off I was again. I arrived at Dover and checked-in for the Euro-tunnel train which connects Britain with France. Of course with all this endeavour of sealed-off roads and flat tires I had arrived ca. 2 hours later than expected and I was on a very short fuse. They told me that they would transfer me on the next availabe train free of charge (one good omen on the whole trip). I arrived at the gate and just as I was about to board the train I was told that I was 2 mins too late and that the next train would leave in just 1 hour (Murphy case Nr. 4). Now my fuse was getting shorter. Not having any other options I had to wait. It now started getting dark. I cought the train and after a 25 minute ride I was on the other side, in Calais, France. While disembarking the train I realised that my light shone a lot of light into the sky but almost nothing onto the tarmac... hmmm, very peculiar. I then remembered that in order to install the fairing I had to unscrew the front light which I re-installed at the correct height to my finest knowledege (Murhpy case Nr. 5) i.e. totally wrong. The light was beaming light much too high and I had no view of the road ahead. I realised this as everytime I passed under a road-sign, the sign would be illuminated with what seemed to be 1000 suns, whereas the tarmac was pitch dark. I had no tools to fix it and a 270km ride to Reims where I had booked a hotel, so I had no options but to drive on. Eager to get a good night's sleep and enjoy good french cuisine before the restaurants' closing time I just had to bite the bullet and drive on. I broke my 1st golden rule of biking: avoid riding in the dark at all costs ESPECIALLY when your front light is not shining on the road. After a three hour drive I finally arrived at Reims in one piece and could once again admire this city with its great Cathedral. Nothing unexpected happened in Reims this time, unlike my 2008 trip. I reached Zurich and now owning a bike meant that this was the start of all my bike trips that ensued in the coming years.
Bike trips in 2009 thereafter consisted mainly on weekend trips to Ticino and back. First stop was a picture near Brunnen (picture on left). To get to Ticino there are two options: Gotthard Pass or Gotthard tunnel. The pass takes you from the Zurich plateau, which lies on an altitude of around 400m above see level, up to 2'100m within a ca. 40km ride. This means that temperatures can plummet from a comfortable 20 Degrees down to freezing level, as it happened on that day, within 30 minutes of riding. One does get rewarded though with breathtaking views. The other altenative, Gotthard Tunnel, just a tedious straight 16.7km tunnel which all so boringly connects the two sides of the Alps. Although a great feat of engineering, real bikers always prefer the mountain-pass to the tunnel. On one of the summer weekends I lost count on how many GSs and Harley Davidson's I saw on that mountain pass.
My first time on Gotthard Pass. That's when I realised what the difference in altitude can make. Zurich lies 400m above sea level, whereas Gotthard pass is at 2100m above sea at its highest point.
Pictures: Gotthard Pass in June with ca. 3m on snow on the side of the road.
The year 2009 comprised of lots of weekend trip to mostly Ticino, but also Italy, and getting familiar with the life of a biker. I also used the bike to commute through the centre of the city, which was a complete waste of time as traffic is horrendous. A few weeks after moving to zurich I shipped my bicycle from London to Zurich. I never rode a bike in Zurich again. This is not biking, this is just ruining your clutch.