Tyndrum to Tuzla – Part 1.75 / riding on the Continent.

It’s interesting and educational riding on the Continent. We’ve been through a substantial number of countries on this holiday, all with different standards of driving and roads.

Italian drivers for me get the prize for being the most erm… ‘progressive’. That’s the polite description. They happily squeeze their way through unfeasible gaps to get by you. If you haven’t driven or ridden in Italy, brace yourself. It’s an eye opening experience. That’s when you will TRULY find out just how good your observation skills are. Guaranteed, for those who are a bit inexperienced, you will have the WHERE THE HELL DID HE COME FROM?! Generally resulting in a bit of an imbalanced weave / wobble around your side of the road….. well, what you ‘thought’ was your side of the road. That’ll teach you.

We moved from Austria into Germany today with the intention of following the ‘Romantic Route’, I would try to impress you with the German translation, however, I find the English language hard enough. It did however start in Fussen. We knew where the start and finish lines were. The only problem seemed to be the bit in between. I was asked about 30 miles into it if I was feeling ‘romantic’. Not bloody likely, just get on and ride!

The boys have been in charge of the routes. I do have a sat nav and do use it when I have to. On this holiday, I’ve only used it for music on a particularly mind-numbingly boring stretch of Bosnian motorway. Listening to Greenday is a good way to keep awake.

I have been riding #2 or #3 most of the time; ‘buddied-up’ with my hubby. The boys took their turn leading the way and did very well too. Today though there were closed roads, rubbish signage and all in all what should have been a lovely ride ended up being a pain. The boys took a ‘sod it’ vote and jumped on the motorway.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been distinct advantages to ‘getting it wrong’. Slo-mo practice.

I don’t know about anyone else, slo-mo is like skiing, I have a preferred turning side. Always have, always will have. It’s the same with slo-mo on the bike. Clockwise; happy to go round in wee circles all day. Counter-clockwise? Not keen. As for full lock turns, well… Spend two weeks riding on the continent, your counter-clockwise slo-mo gets put to the test. By deduction it has to; you’re riding on the other side of the road! Given there’s generally no one to criticise or alternatively take the piss for potentially being crap, it’s a great opportunity to just get on with it. There was a bit of slow-mo practise today.

Popping on the motorway in Germany is a delight. What is it that the German’s do to educate their drivers? What is it in that education process that makes them polite, a good standard of driver, excellent anticipation skills, fast but safe. Let’s see; what else is good? They pull in after an overtake, watch their mirrors, don’t get angry and it seems they’re not bad road designers either. Like their driving education system (must find out about it), it’s logical. They drive fast with awareness; if there’s a slip road or a bend coming up they reduce the speed a bit. Once the hazard’s out the way, great, crack on. If only we could trust British drivers to be as disciplined, then there might not be the big debate about our 70mph speed limit on motorways.

A couple of things to note on German Autobahns: rear observations are vital. PAY ATTENTION! Audis, BMWs and other swift cars will be going at warp factor speed. It takes ‘things in your mirror are closer than they seem’ to a different level. The other important thing; remember, you might be tempted to give it YEEHAH on your pride and joy, given we don’t really get the chance. If you are touring, your speed will be restricted if you’re are carrying panniers. Guidelines on my speed capability for my GS are pretty clear. Follow them, if you don’t, it might be carnage. Smoggy’s limit fully laden is 100mph. Generally though I am shaken to bits before I even get there.

As for Austria, much the same standards of roads and driving – though not unrestricted mental motorways. There are more speed traps, especially in the Tyrol region. Be warned! 😉 speed cameras look like a grey bin. Best just to believe me on that tip!

We were going to have an early day today. Finish early, have chill and an early night. Yesterday’s jaunts up mountain passes in slithery conditions made it tiring, what didn’t help was about 4 hours sleep for me.

At 2:30 we started to look for a hotel. It took us until 5:30 to find one. It wasn’t so bad though, we went along the most fantastic quiet country roads, the only hazards being slow moving tractors or other distractions, such as ostriches. Yes, really. I thought I was seeing things. Ironically, the 3 hours at the end of our day were actually on the Romantic Road. Don’t know how Mr Brown managed that one!

Damned if we could find accommodation. We ended up in Ulm. Big cathedral. Early night. Bonus? Late breakfast, short ride tomorrow. Well, might be. Haven’t had a short day yet. Not that I’m complaining!

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