martyn

MY TRIP TO AUSTRIA ON A 1977 NORTON COMMANDO. By John Heath

MY TRIP TO AUSTRIA ON A 1977 NORTON COMMANDO. By John Heath

 

I left Feltwell to catch the overnight ferry at Harwich to the Hook of Holland. At 61 miles into my journey my speedo stopped working but I decided to carry on to the port and try to sort it out after the ferry crossing. As my speedometer does not show kilometres per hour stickers were added at home so that I would ride at roughly the right speed.

 

Boarded the ferry, found my cabin, showered and settled down for a fair nights rest.

 

After breakfast,  left the ferry and whilst still in the port but after customs and passport control I looked at the speedo problem and managed to repair the problem.

 

Left Hook of Holland heading towards Germany. Had to stop at toll road to pay a 2 euro toll, not easy on a motorcycle as you stop, gloves off, unzip pocket, extract wallet, take note out, pay, unzip other pocket to put change in, put wallet back in pocket, (not easy as you in a sitting position), zip up, gloves back on, select gear and of I go. Sorry to the traffic behind me. Crossed the border into Germany and the weather was looking grim and about 30 miles into Germany the heavens opened and it was torrential rain. Still carry on regardless. After 400 miles and a overnight stay, the weather looked better and off I went again.

 

A major accident on the motorway slowed the ride down but being on a motorcycle I could ride to the front of the queue slowly and safely. After a fifteen minute wait a lane was opened and off I go again. Entered Austria at dusk and booked into a hotel for a overnight stop.

 

Next morning at breakfast all staff were wearing national dress and looked exquisite. 100 miles to go, weather looking dry but overcast, 40 miles to go and the hills are not alive to the sound of music as they are covered in mist.

 

Wednesday.  Arrived at the Red Bull Ring F1 racing circuit which is the location of my destination for the Norton International Rally 2018. After booking in, pitching tent and getting acquainted with 18 different nationalities mostly riding Nortons. After tea a DJ playing  60s 70s music and a few beers which was nice after the long run down here. A great evening.

 

Thursday after a good breakfast and more talking bike talk we set off for a organised run out along mountain roads and tracks, a nice change from motorway riding. What a great sight to see a snake of motorcycles winding their way along the winding roads through the Alps.

We stopped for a snack and drink at a Restaurant high up in the Alps with a large outside area, good job it was a nice day. All riders wearing sensible clothing and riding at suitable speed. We were told before the ride that there would be no petrol stops as it would prove very impractical filling up 100 plus bikes so make sure we had enough petrol for a 70 mile run. Back at the campsite we had a live band playing Stygian folk music and typical Austrian slapstick dance. Another great evening.

 

Friday another ride out was planned but with a slight difference. We had a amazing tour of the local area with low roads and high roads, villages and mountain passes and eventually to a meeting point where a police escort awaited us. 150 plus motorcycles, roughly 95% being Nortons from 18 different nationalities were escorted to the town square which had been closed off except for the Norton owners club group. We were met by the Mayor of Bruck an der Mur and the Austrian TV and national press. Many of the older bikes from the 1920s onward were paraded through the square with the owners being interviewed. We were treated to the ceremony of the opening of the beer and sampled a little taster along with Austrian sausage, bread and sauerkraut. I think the public enjoyed the show as much as we did. The rest of the day was then for us to do as we pleased. I left the bike in the square and walked around the town and up into the hills for some stunning views of the town. Returned to square where my Norton was the only one there so a solo ride back to the campsite. After our evening meal another live band playing Rockabilly music, again a great evening.

 

Saturday again was different as it was qualifying day at the Red Bull Ring circuit and I was lucky enough to get a pit pass as a colleague was racing a classic Manx Norton. Very interesting seeing it from the inside. Very noisy but exciting. After tea again a live band playing rock music.

 

Sunday was classic race day and again in the pits with the noise and excitement. Both bike and riders are classic, met up with Peter Williams who was a 60s and 70s racer, designer and development engineer. He won the TT with record race and lap speeds. Peter is no longer able to ride as a crash in 1974 ended his racing career. Also met up with Giacomo Agostini who was a word class racing rider who can still hold his own in the world of classic bike racing.  After our evening meal we had our awards presentation and our guest of honours made their presence known with some of their stories about their racing escapades. Peter even had a Norton badge on the back of his mobility buggy. After the festivities we had a DJ playing music and dancing.

 

Monday was leaving day and after breakfast it was pack up the tent, give the motorcycle a quick check over, load her up, say my goodbyes and off we go for the journey back to Blighty. After about 350 miles I stopped in a small lorry park with no facilities but a nice park bench which I spent the night on. It was a bit noisy but I was rested and in the early hours I was back on the road again. I made good time so with 150 miles to go I phoned Stena line ferries to see if I could catch the earlier ferry to be told that they had no inside cabins left but could offer me a outside cabin for £16.00 extra which I agreed too and then they said also there will be a £92.00 supplement  which I said no to. When I asked why as I had a flexi ticket they said that the nearer the leave time and with only 4 spaces left the price went up. I’m sure they could fit a motorcycle on even a full ferry. So for the next stop for the night. After checking the price of a local hotel I decided it was to expensive for me and pulled into another couple of lorry parks but nowhere suitable until the third one which was a 24hr garage with coffee, food, and toilets with washrooms that cost 50cents and most importantly a hotel park bench. With full waterproofs on to keep the dew off, motorcycle parked up at the bench, water and torch on the bench and goodnight to all. Slept like a log  till 03.15 where a quick look round to check the motorcycle and went straight back to sleep till 07.30, best nights sleep for the last week or so and ended up with three gnat bites to my cheek.

50 miles left to do which passed uneventfully. Back on British soil again and home to Feltwell.  I covered 1873 miles and spent £117. 25 on fuel plus the full tank I left with. Used a litre of oil. The Norton never missed a beat and performed impeccably throughout the whole trip. An incredible experience by an old rider on a incredible motorcycle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whitwell Camping weekend September 2018

 

Friday,

First our thanks to Sandra and Alan for the setting up of the site, well done.

 

Friday evening we had a great social gathering which saw the gazebo packed out. We all had many stories to tell ranging from bikes and events to ginger haired people, Alan’s willy and telescopes. We had a pet wasp who kept us amused with its marathon walking antics but sadly it passed away and we had our moment of condolences that lasted all of 2 seconds. The laughter and merriment went on and Sandra, bless her, fancied a slice of toast. Well, after everyone licking their lips, Sandra ended up doing toast for all. Sandra toasting, Helen and Sue buttering and jam, honey or Alan’s maryport marmalade. Cracking social evening.

 

Saturday,

After breakfast some of us geared up for the ride out and after a delayed start we headed for a petrol stop and then on to Walcott where we had our lunch break by the sea.  Left there on time as we had a tour of the railway sheds and works at Weybourne station, very interesting.  Also at Weybourne they had a forties nostalgia event throughout the day, great to see the spivs, home guard and armed services well represented, forties music sung by a live band with dancing from that period going on.  I had a little giggle to myself seeing a 1940s American soldier in full battle dress on his mobile phone. Ride back to camp. After tea we again all met in the gazebo for another evening of merriment, another great evening with organised toast on hand but no maryport marmalade as we ate it all last night.

Sunday,

After breakfast we said our goodbyes to some and Sandra, Helen, Alan and l went on a pleasant walk around the lanes and villages to Reepham before heading back to pack away with the help of all the Norfolk branch and Max.

 

A great weekend away and our thanks go to Sandra and Alan for organising the event, Martyn for another excellent ride out and all the people who have helped  and attended our event.

 

Our apologies go to John from Lincoln for not being able to ever  bring his wife to our events as we have got too much on him and it would lead to divorce proceedings.

 

To Malcolm and Sue, Malcolm told us that he would have to sleep under the caravan to escape the wrath of Sue.

 

To Helen for not being able to dognap Otto.

 

To Sandra for taking all her bread.

 

And finally to Alan for telling him where to stick the telescope and they did.

 

As told by John Heath, Branch Secretary

and photographed by Martyn Guest, Branch Chairman

 

Bradenham Village Fete 2018

It was a glorious sunny day for the Fete held on late May Bank Holiday Monday

After we got the gazebo erected John lined up the bikes which eventually totalled 15 Nortons

Plenty of tea was brewed for members, friends and random visitors. The biscuits were rather popular too!

The branch regularly attend the fete and it is usually our first group event of the season

a happy gathering at the gazebo

 

Great line up

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8:00 pm Branch Club Night @ The Golden Dog PH
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