I was in a reflective mood in the early hours of Friday, JC’s problems from the previous day had meant that we had arrived late and so instead of pitching his tent, JC bunked in with us. Listening to the others asleep was a little like being at a stony beach by a rough sea, with the snoring endlessly rolling around the little wooden structure. The chalets at the overnight stop are simple affairs and are more like large wooden summer houses; a door, two windows, one of which we left ajar, and two bunk beds. The simplicity works well, they’re catered for those who accept the basic lifestyle of camping. There’s no wall socket, although there was an electric light, and washing facilities were served elsewhere. If you need somewhere cheap to stop over then they’re just right; splitting the costs, we each paid 18 Euros. We’d broken the back of the journey in the first leg, covering almost 600 miles through UK, France, Belgium and now in Holland. The next leg, albeit a shorter one of less than 150 miles, was now uncertain until we knew what was going to happen with the 675.
Les’ new trike was also a cause for concern. The previous evening, his trike had been idling high during the last 20 minutes of the trip and what little was left of the coolant was spluttering out of the front as we stopped. This was the first major ride out for the trike and gave Les the opportunity to get to grips with its handling. He was carrying a large load and we were wondering if we’d been asking a little too much of the engine. Les had been considering future redesigns to make the bike much lighter. There was more to think about in the morning, and so, as I listened to the endless snoring, taking a “can’t beat them” approach, I rolled over onto my back and went back to sleep.
Before retiring the previous night, I’d used my Blackberry to search for a Triumph dealership nearby and JC was relieved after calling them to find that they had a replacement alternator in stock. One of the many advantages of riding as a group is the support of the collective. Dave volunteered to travel with JC to dealer in Grave. The remaining three of us were free to progress to the campsite in Heckenbach, however as there was still uncertainty around the bike, we decided to wait for their return – we’d complete the next leg together if we could.
Whilst Dave and JC were away, Ted, Les and myself relaxed outside, sipping coffee and getting to know each other. Les had refilled the coolant and took the trike out for a short ride to verify that he’d sorted the problem. Neither Ted nor myself had ridden one and when Les came back we had a go. I have to admit that I learnt a lot watching Ted go first. To be fair to Ted, it was very close to the tree and it was also facing it head on. I think all three of us were relieved as Ted figured it didn’t work like a normal bike and took last minute action or we’d have had something else to worry about. You get so used to leaning when you have handlebars in front of you, but that doesn’t cut the mustard when you have more than two wheels.
It felt unnatural to me, your steering has to be more pronounced to get the thing around corners, particularly when navigating between tables, chairs and objects that don’t bounce such as trees. It’s width is something else to get used to. Les is more mechanically minded than I and the clever bugger designed it himself. This isn’t some conversion kit you buy off the Internet, he’d designed the back end himself and had it made up to his specification, albeit with input and advice from the company that helped put it together. My own skills are IT based and I have to say that experience has taught me that when I approach anything with a spanner or hammer in my hand that it’s got to be with some in-trepidation.
Dave and JC returned victorious around 3pm, with the 675 sporting a new regulator and battery (Just as well Dave as you were becoming Chairman of the Bored). We left at 4pm and by 4:30 we’d crossed the border into Germany. We were probably only 30mins away from camp when, at 7pm, we stopped at hotel / restaurant overlooking some beautiful German countryside for a light dinner.
We only had rain during the last 15mins of the journey and I’m glad to say it cleared up as we approached the campsite in Jugendheim, Niederheckenback.
The main camping area was already full and so, after registration was complete, we chose a spot close to the centre of the event and pitched the two tents. The ground was uneven and full of tree roots but we’d arrived late and had limited choice. Les’s new family size tent hadn’t been erected before but it didn’t take too long before we’d figured it out.