15th April 2011
Gavin Shaw has been to the top of the European continent, and now he's heading home. Will mechanical mishap waylay him on the last leg?...
I'm on the road by 6am and realise that I've left my towel back in the hostel. It's not worth going back so I press on. Today feels like an endurance event: the weather's bad, the wind's blowing me about and I'm bone tired. The only thing that seems immune to problems is the MZ.Leaving behind the empty landscapes
At Linkoping I pass the home of Saab; so that no one forgets there are examples of the firm's aircraft mounted on pedestals by the side of the road. The weather closes in and Lake Vatten is obscured in the mist. By Husquavana the bike is starting to protest at the incessant pace. I have to take up a significant amount of chain slack and also retard the timing - try that with a modern GS - it appears that I've filled up with some dodgy petrol. Although the adjustments produce a slight improvement, the bike's power has dropped significantly and I have to change down for inclines which we would have stormed up before.Keeping hold of the treasured memories...
At Helsinborg I catch the ferry for Denmark and 20 minutes later I'm there. I decide to mark my last night with a small celebration and enjoy my first beer of the whole trip. It turns out that I've struck lucky as tonight is cruise night and the harbour is awash with custom cars, bikes of all ages and styles, and the good, the beautiful and the rich are promenading around. I spy five Nimbus motorcycles - they're getting common! Tomorrow I have only 175 miles to go to catch the ferry home.
On what feels like a gentle cruise of the final miles abroad I cross the bridges between Halsskov and Nyborg, which make the Severn and Dartford crossings look like miniatures. To look down onto the decks of a super-tanker as it passes beneath, with its crew like worker ants, is surreal. At the ferry terminal a posse of British-registered Gold Wing trikes arrive and cause something of a stir. I've never seen so much chrome and accessories on a bike before!
The ride back to Woking is surprisingly uneventful. After the delights of the M25 the trip is suddenly over.
So in my riding life I've been as far west as you can go (with the exception of the odd island) and the furthest south; and now I've done the northern tip of mainland Europe. So that leaves the furthest eastern part of Europe to reach. By my estimation this is still Istanbul so that'll be the next great MZ tour.
For this trip the MZ only needed a new chain and sprockets, two fork oil seals and a damn good clean. I replaced the rear tyre but it still had another thousand or so miles left in it. The bike didn't even need a new spark plug and has now done over 10,000 miles, with 6000 of them travelled on this trip.
And the moral of my tale? Carpe Diem!Gavin's MZ ETZ250 as it was before setting off
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