THE THREE MUSKETEERS GO TO MANDELLO

from Bicilindrica Nr. 4, 1996
by Jørgen, Jan Erik and Nils
Rewritten to English by Ths. J. Johnson



Our trip began at the Statoil station at Hinna, Stavanger at 4 p.m. sharp for everyone except Jan Erik, who is a perpetual latecomer. His deadline was quarter to four, but the good Mr. Torkilsen held true to his nature and managed to arrive at quarter past with a pocket full of excuses ("...ahhh, couldn't find my passport because my dear wife had hidden it...!") The mandatory cigarette- before-the-trip ritual was observed, even though everyone else had already smoked four by that time, and then we were ready. Full tank and high expectations started us on the first leg of the journey - Kristiansand and the ferry to Denmark.

Golly-gee-whiz, boys and girls ! I have forgotten to present the three musketeers! Introducing Jørgen, riding a California 1100 from 1995, Nils on a SP 1000 II from 1984 and Jan Erik on a California 1100i from 1995. Now, back to our story.

On the ferry, our bikes were carefully roped and tied - because you never can tell... We made landfall at 6 O'clock on Wednesday morning - a little tired and in need of a solid breakfast. That was no problem to remedy in Denmark with a bakery on every corner of every village and town. We made good time on the way south through Denmark, and stopped about once an hour for coffee, smokes and "pressure relief" brought on by all the coffee drinking. On the way, Jørgen solved the problem of why there is always plenty of sidewind in Denmark; "...'tisn't strange at all, with all those fans standing out there in the countryside...!"

After leaving the German border behind us, the need to crank up the speed and blow out some soot was unresistable. Even a GUZZI must be blown clean once in a while. Funny thing, the Autobahn seems to have a gas-station about once every 50 kilometers. By stopping at every other station, we could stick to the necessary breaks at about once every hour.

Biking the Autobahn is nothing to worry about, even for first-timers. German drivers are a disciplined lot, and they are careful with motorcyclists. So, choose your own speed and watch your mirrors.

Up to this point, the weather had been on our side. We had high hopes that it would continue to smile on us, but we were alone on our bikes, with plenty of baggage space, so we were prepared for anything. As Wednesday drew to a close, we found a campground near Hildesheim and settled down.


On Thursday morning, once the old eyeballs had rolled into place and the autofocus was working properly, we discovered that things had changed. The world was grey and miserable, and everything was wet. But, a GUZZI'ist is the real thing, and we weren't about to let a little water put a wet blanket on our trip. We continued on, following the Autobahn south although it rained cats and dog at times. We had our coffee-and-smoke breaks and the occasional bite to eat, and made good time.

The rainclouds began breaking up a short ways before we arrived in München, and we were able to crank the speed up a few notches. Our goal for the day was Kitzbühel in Austria. We had heard that there was a special rooming-house for motorcyclists there that we wanted to try - Pension Neuhaus.

We were met by the owner, our bikes were given a place in the garage, the rooms were good and the welcome-drink and beer was included in the price. At NOK 200 pr. night (about 30 USD) with breakfast, nobody complained. If you ever are in the Kitzbühel area, we recommend both Pension Neuhaus and a night on town at the Londoner - absolutely.

Friday morning was Thursday all over again. GREY, with snow over 1200 m.o.h. and we were going to cross Grossglockner, at 2600 m.o.h. We were told it was a bad idea, but with our year-round riding experience from the Homeland of Snow - Norway, we were not inclined to be discouraged. After some discussion with the powers-that-be, we were allowed to risk it. The only condition was that we drove straight over, without any stops on the way. It wasn't the best weather at the highest points of the run over the top, but we got over without mishap. What impressed us the most was how quickly we arrived in summer again once we came out of the last tunnel and started down the south side of the plato.

On the way down to civilisation again, Jan Erik noticed that one of the bolts on his brake-calliper was loose. The nut had worked itself off. We took the rest of the descent quietly, and after a short time, came to an Opel dealer. A nut is something any repairshop should have, isn't it? One of us went in to ask. The other two waited outside hoping for the question "Kann ich deine mutter kaufen?" (Note: nut is "mutter" in Norwegian) But it all worked out for the best.

Austria is an unbelievable land for motorcycle-riding. The roads are good and there are plenty of curves. All along the roadsides, there are signs saying "Achtung Radarkontrolle"! Important info for guys like Jørgen who hate to be passed by other GUZZIs. Guys who forget to read the signs when the adrenaline is pumping. (Guess who is a lucky bastard!)

The Italian border is no problem when you coast up on a GUZZI. It's almost like coming home. (Mamma mia whata mistaka they maka...) Immediately after the border, we discovered that the speedlimit must have been a "lowest allowed" limit. Everyone drove like pigs. Happily, we managed to get past them all. The hardest to put behind us were, strangely enough, all driving the same blue cars -- with "Karabineri" printed on the doors. (Ha - Ha !!)

The trip over Grossglockner had delayed us a bit, and it was quite late by the time that we arrived at our reserved campsite in Delvio campground, about 20 km. north of Mandello. Putting up a tent in the pitch-black night on a field hard as concrete is no joke, and neither are the "small surprises" just waiting to be discovered when the tents are put to use. I thought I had found the ideal spot, directly under a tree. What I didn't know was that the tree apparently thought the ground was hard, too. The roots tested the camping mattress to its limits, and I was stiff most of Saturday.

We breakfasted at the campground café. The weather was bright and clear, but the wind was as wild as it had been through the night. In fact, I would probably have been blown into the middle of Lake Como sound asleep if I hadn't been up several times in the night to save the tent. Most likely, it was the snoring contest between Jørgen and Jan Erik, their "unsyncronized event", that saved me from death by drowning. Although they clung to the theory that it was really just the echo of my own snoring kept which kept waking me, Jan Erik (hereafter known as "Mr. Snorkilsen") was declared the clear winner.

We had pitched camp on a small peninsula in Lake Como together with a number of Germans. The French had occupied a large area for themselves - which of course had instantly been christened "The Latin Quarter".




After Breakfast, it was time to make for Mandello and the Anniversary Meet. We hadn't gone far, when Jørgen's bike fired off a resounding "salute" complete with a smoke-screen and the works. Donald Duck, in his darkest hours, has nothing on Jørgen just then. The cumulo-nimbus cloud with appropriate lightning bolts clearly seen hanging over his head was almost frightening enough to keep everyone from saying what they were thinking.... "Maybe a tune-up might, aaahmm ....?" But a man's gotta do, what a man's gotta do. It was amazing how much crap there is room for in a little carburettor. The conclusion: low-quality Italian gas.

Our first stop was at Augostini, were we picked up a little of this, a little of that, before it was time to leave for the factory. We signed in and were given the grand tour, including the museum. But what impressed us the most, was the sight of 8 to 10 thousand Guzzis gathered in one place. It's a once in a lifetime experience.

Most of the day went to wandering around and looking at bikes of every shape and size. While there were plenty of beautiful sights, there were some ugly. In the evening there was live music in the town park in Mandello. The park was also used for camping. In fact, there wasn't a green spot in all of Mandello where there wasn't a tent.

The toilets in Italian campgrounds deserve a word or two. A hole in the floor and good aim are the standard for both "ladies and gents". Toiletpaper is not. It's all B.Y.O. (Bring your own) However things are with toilet-training, at least the wine is good and cheap. The prices are as low as 10 - 12 NOK (about 2 USD) pr. liter.

We round off Saturday at a restaurant and then retired to our tents. There we relaxed with a little something bought on the ferry from Denmark. It was good to sort out the impressions and experiences from the day. Our conclusion is that the program the Guzzi factory has developed ensures all GUZZI-ists an exciting future.

Sunday morning was a lazy affair spent eating breakfast and drinking coffee (filter coffee purchased by mistake) cooked on the primus while we made plans for the rest of the day. Everyone agreed that we had to follow a different route home again, so we ended up with a crossing of Passo Stelvio this time, at 2760 m.o.h.

The weather was perfect for putting some distance behind us, and we had our next food-stop at the top of the pass. While we stood there admiring the view, the National Norwegian Ski-team drove by. They were there for altitude- training. The descent from the pass was fantastic. There were at least 50 hair-pin turns. Tyrol is heaven for motorcyclists. The trip continued north through Italy and Austria until we entered South Germany and found a Gasthof (guesthouse).

On Monday we decided to stop by the Moto Spezial shop to see what they had to offer. We were a bit unlucky, though. The shop closed about 15 minutes after we arrived.

We had heard about a place called Villa Löwenherz, an old mansion just north of Kassel which had been restored and used as a motel for motorcyclists, and we wanted to try to reach it by Monday evening. We called and made a reservation during one of our smoke-and-coffee breaks. Even though it was late in the season, we had no problems in getting a room. We used the Guide in the Meet- Calender as a map, and had some trouble finding the place. But we finally arrived, a few hours later than planned.

Villa Löwenherz was a positive surprise. Good service, friendly employees and a price on level with Kitzbühel (about 30 USD breakfast included) all helped to lift our impression. It was obvious that many Norwegian motorcyclists had used the place; they had an enormous collection of Norwegian MC club patches there.

The next day we started out at about 9 O'clock. We held good speed on the Autobahn, and by the early afternoon we were in Denmark. It felt as if we had all the time in the world to make the ferry that evening. It was almost a bit sad to think that this trip would soon be history, but there wasn't much to do about that.

The ferry trip back to Norway wasn't as comfortable as the first crossing. We couldn't get a cabin, and trying to sleep in a "sleeper" isn't the best way to spend a night. But we survived. Kristiansand to Stavanger went at a much lazier pace. Everyone seemed to want the trip to last as long as possible.

In summary, our journey of more than 5000 kilometers met with no mishaps. We all agreed that "it had been a fine tour". So... Thus ends the written story of the Three Musketeers on Tour.



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