25th March 2015
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Saga Louts Hit Colditz
Jon Sturgess boldly agreed to tackle a Continental trip on his misfiring 350 Morini, in company with some much bigger bikes and without knowing quite how far they'd be travelling. What followed is an excellent example of growing old disgracefully...
It all started with a question from Nick. We’re going to Colditz on our bikes, are you coming? Count me in, says I, after all it is only in Belgium, an hour off the ferry. As it turns out I was wrong about that. For those that don’t know (me), Colditz it is in east Germany not far from Dresden. Oh well, it looks like the Morini is in for a hard time.
Before the journey the bike was prepped by changing the oil and ignoring the low speed misfire. After all we would be on the autobahns at large throttle openings. The big day arrived. Nick was riding a Harley 883, Dave a BMW 1050, Tony a Hinckley Bonneville, Lance a Kawasaki (not sure which sort but it was blue). Dave had meticulously planned the route because that is the sort of thing Dave does.
Off we set, only to get split up about 10 miles from home with Nick and Lance nowhere to be seen. On the motorway, one of my eBay bargain mirrors flew off, never to be seen again. We stopped for fuel just as my bike ran out of petrol: luckily it managed to coast to the pump. After filling up (tea and petrol) Nick and Lance also pulled in for fuel. 10 minutes later, after bickering about whose fault it was that we got separated, off we go again down to the ferry. On and off no problems, we got through France as quick as possible and into Belgium. Stopped for fuel, ignored the misfire and lubed the chain. Luckily Tony had brought some chain oil with him, cheers mate.
Off again only to stop about an hour later to change Nick’s regulator. Oddly enough he’d bought a spare with him. At about the same time, Dave reported gearbox problems on his BMW. The Morini was still going very well if you don’t count the misfire. After doing about doing about 550 miles in the day we stopped to camp at Essen. Off to the pub for food and drink, very pleasant evening, very friendly and talkative crowd. It turned out to be singles night so we left before anything needed to be reported to the wife.
Next day’s destination after an early start was the Mohne Dam. It is a magnificent place, good riding and with much talk of Barnes Wallis and The Dambusters. All bikes going well, excluding gearboxes and misfires. Our next stop was the US shop in Paderborn. The lady in the shop was most helpful. She called around some local shops to locate some chain lube (Tony had run out). She also gave us a bottle of Coke each and a bandana to stop the sunstroke on my exposed bald head. The next stop was Uftrungen where Tony owns a half derelict / disused explosive factory. This is where we stayed for the night.
Next morning the bikes were checked and the luggage was left in Tony’s factory and off to Colditz we go. Good riding with the Morini flying along on 103 octane fuel, which is readily available from most pumps in the area. It almost but not quite cured the misfire.
Colditz. Brilliant. Dave had pre-booked us a room in the castle on the German officer’s side as Colditz is now run as a hostel. We took loads of pictures, did the tour and ran out of the door pretending to escape. Dave said the last bit was compulsory and the locals would be most offended if we didn’t do it.
Next morning another early start: you can see a pattern emerging, I blame Dave. We checked the bikes and rode back to Tony’s factory. Nick and I then went off to Nordhausen for a look about and to buy some oil for the Morini. I could tell it needed a top up as passers-by were commenting on the tappet noise. Tony Lance and Dave rode up to the Kyffhäuser, the home of the Barbarossa Monument.
That night we had a large bonfire at the factory and a beer, a winning combination. Next day we rode to Kassel to buy pressies for wives, etc. Then off to Naumberg where we rented two caravans and into town for a greasy burger. By then we were craving home-cooked food, vegetables and cups of English tea. That night we went to the pub on the caravan site where the barman put on his English biker-mix CD. This was absolutely brilliant; I had not heard Nazareth for years.
After drinking lots of schnapps we were very drunk, as was Sven the extremely large and nasty-looking barman. I don’t think he liked that we kept toasting the RAF. Towards midnight, Sven’s wife came to tell him it was chucking-out time. It turned out that we’d had three litres of schnapps between us, plus beer. Tony paid the beer bill but we had no money for the schnapps. So we suggested that Nick would arm-wrestle Sven for the bill. Sven accepted the challenge, lost, went mardy and threatened to kill us. Nick not very tactfully blew cigar smoke into his face and pointed out that he wasn’t actually strong enough. Time for a sharp exit…
That night we were very, very poorly. I think that was due to drinking out of damp glasses. Not sure how but the caravan got slightly wrecked.
Next morning Dave and Lance were both as fresh as daisies. Nick, Tony and I were still worse for wear. We lost Nick for 90 minutes when he fell asleep in the shower. Dave and Lance set off at about 9.30 in the morning agreeing to meet us at Echtz. We left at about 2.30, still hung over like hell. Before we left we swilled as much vomit off the decking and out of the caravan as we could. Sorry to the owners if they read this… I bet they won’t let the Saga louts in again.
All the bikes were going well, except for the misfire. Three of the riders were not so good. We stopped after an hour for fuel and an exhibition of projectile vomiting by Tony. After a long day’s ride we finally reached our destination. No sign of Dave or Lance. It turned out that they had gone to completely the wrong town. No worries, we would meet them at the ferry.
Next day was the run for Blighty. Flat out, going well. On the ferry, Dave and Lance were conspicuous by their absence. We got off the ferry straight into a good old English traffic jam. Aah, dear old Blighty.
Into the Dartford tunnel where the attendant waved me through but put the barrier down at the same time. This smashed my one remaining mirror, broke my visor and I managed to snap the barrier clean off with my head. Of course I did the decent thing, gunned the throttle and made my escape.
Next stop, Milton Keynes, having said goodbye to Tony. I only just made it on the fuel. Got home about 21.30, face covered in grime and with my eyes bulging out like Nookie Bear due to no visor. Ahh: Real English tea at last.
Dave called to say they had managed to get an earlier ferry. All well.
Right, so let’s sort the misfire says I. I took the bile to North Leicester Motors to get the low-speed jetting sorted out. Ollie, possibly the best Morini mechanic in the country, looked at the bike, checked the compression and pointed out that if it were a horse they would shoot it. Took the bike home and stripped it down: broken rings, burnt valve and cracked head. No wonder it was misfiring.
On reflection I think the Morini was amazing for keeping up with the big boys and doing 2000 miles with that misfire. The bike has now been re-bored, the head repaired and valves redone. The Morini is currently being run in.
Things that stick in my mind from the trip: Tony stopping on the autobahn to put on his leggings during a downpour. Dave ignoring his broken gearbox. Lance’s Kawasaki being faultless. My misfire. German people being very friendly. Nick arm-wrestling over the bar bill. Good riding with mates…
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