Friday, July 17, 2009

Troy Bayliss, Colin Stockdale. One and the same. No 7.

> Olimbiada. Aristotle was born on the hill above my Hotel. Walked around the pile of rocks that used to be his house. Alexander the Great's mother was born here. Enough culture for the trip. I don't know about Captain Ernie Stroud anymore. Saw a few Greek fishermen. None had hats like Ernie's so called 'Greek Fisherman's Hat'
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> Long breakfast with my Pommie mates, Allan & Barbara, left Olimbiada to late, it was to be an easy ride to Igoumenitsa, via Thessaloniki and Ioannina. Famous last fcuking words. It pissed down pick handles for 560km of the 580km ride. I did not know it could rain while there was fog. Fog in the bloody tunnels as well. The fog disappeared, then the wind blew its guts out. What a bastard. I thought I had lost me nerve, I could not ride properly, sliding all over the joint. First gear around the hairpins. Would have been a great ride in the dry. I am told Greece's roads are famous for being incredibly slippery in the wet, bikes, cars & trucks all have the same trouble. Beer was $5 for a six pack at the wharf at Igoumenitsa. I bought a couple and handed them out to the motorcyclists as they arrived to wait for the ferry, they all needed them. I had bread, smoked meat of some description and cheese. Ended up a good little party, a Greek, an Italian, three Croats, a German and a few Dutch. They all had big trouble with the wet roads. Met the leftovers from an international Africa Twin/Veradero/Transalp rally. Had been 200 bikes in Greece for it.
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> The number and size of the ferry fleet is incredible. Mine, 'Olympia Palace' was 214 m LOA and good for 31.6 knots I timed it at 53 kph with the GPS. 1912 pax and bloody hundreds of trucks and cars. It was in good nick (built in 2001) a very professional operation. Travelled with my new best Mate, Cosmos (Honda CBR600) Rode most of the way up to Monza with him. Bloody good bloke! On the boat from Greece to Ancona in Italy.
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> Greece was fantastic. I had also forgotten how good Italy was. Got off the motorway, even paid the toll, first since Cambodia, and got hopelessly lost, just headed NW by the compass, many, many, many lovely little villages. They ride a lot of pushbikes in Italy. I think riding pushbikes is good for the girls backsides.
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> Monza. Unbelievable!!!! World Superbikes. Unbelievable!!!!The prettiest campsite ever, (apart from Gloryvale) right on the track. 13 Aussies racing and I met or saw them all. My new, new best Mate, Paul Seaton, got me into the paddock all weekend. Talked at length to Chris Seaton, Brendan Roberts, Russel Holland and Gareth Jones. All great young blokes and fantastic riders. Saw Franki Chilli, Dr Costa, Davide Tardotzi and anyone else who was anyone. The best race meeting I have ever been to. Me, in the fcuking paddock/garages at Monza. All weekend. How good is that?
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> A quick blast from Monza up to Bardonecchia to Steve and Julia's ski 'lodge'. Rained all the way. Bloody cold and it snowed at night. What a joint, what an area. Steve must have known I was on my way. He was in Australia. Julia treated me like a king. Rode through the Italian Alps, fantastic roads and scenery. Aosta, how good is that joint! Through the 11km long Mont Blanc tunnel into France. Exited the tunnel. Four men in uniform on the road, one with a large paper in his hand. French immigration? Not fcuking likely. Police. Speeding again, 86/70 in the tunnel. 'My speedo is a GPS and doesn't work in the tunnel Officer' Bad luck . Pay $200 cash, now, or you can spend the night with us. Had the Rooney's photo and the camera reading already printed. Couldn't eat this one. Welcome to France and have a nice day. Get fcuked.
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> Spent a few days riding (slowly) through France. Radar camera's every where. Top roads and country side. Camping, wine, cheese. salami, ham, beer all cheap and quality. Natives friendly. Through Switzerland briefly, French Alps, Swiss Alps. No borders anymore, one currency, how simple.
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> Caught a Tassi Cat from Boulogne to Dover. She was the 'Speed One', Ex 'HMAS Jarvis Bay', 85 metres, 200 cars and 800 passengers. On the bridge most of the way across. Much traffic, 2 nm vis and 30 plus knots. Talked wages and conditions. We are not over paid. To Lydden Park race circuit to watch Stockers and 250 of his closest mates race their classic race bikes. Met Stockers at the gate. His van full with his race bike, beer, red wine and Jacquie must have spent all week cooking. He had 'Advance Australia Fair' at full blast on the CD. Sang the Anthem as we drove down to the track. What a couple of wankers. These guys, and girls do not show any respect, mercy or consideration for the age and value of their machines. One race had in excess of $200,00 in the value of the 4 bikes on the front row of the grid. The Rooney was awarded a bottle of champange for best bike of the meeting and me a trophy for solo rider of the meeting. A TV interview and I made the 6pm news. Signed my first autograph. Felt like a bit of a fraud actually. What have Stockers and Troy Bayliss got in common? Both did well in their first race and had a DNF in their last race. The best race meeting I have ever been to!!
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> Up to Warwick to Toc and Sue's for a couple of days. As usual, Sue tried to kill me with kindness. Good to see Debbie and Louise as well. Toc took me to the Coventry Transport Museum. The Poms do fantastic museums. Saw Charlie Borman's R1150GS Adventure. I don't feel so bad about by bike and riding gear being putrid after seeing Charlie's.He probably had a team to wash the bike and do his laundry as well. Down to London by bus a couple of times to get Russian, Kazakhastan and Mongolian visa's. All done in three days. Caught up with Ron and Gloria, played tourist and did visa's together. Drank beer and crashed for the night on their Hotel room floor.
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> How long can this sunny weather last? Rode up the Brotton (near Whitby) to Stockers and Jacquies place. Broke a throttle cable on the way. The Rooneys first breakdown. I had replaced the cable in Bankok as a precaution, they don't make them in Thailand like at home. As I jury rigged a length of string to the left hand carbie a lot of cars slowed down to watch the action. They don't seem keen on leaving a safe distance from the car in front. You guessed it, an almighty arse ender. three cars stuffed. Cars locking up and sliding everywhere. On the Rooney and outer there! Stockers has all the gear and we will make up three new ones and go for a ride tomorrow. Went to a party with Kat and met her new guy, Dave. Must be a good bloke as he rides a bike. Down to Felixtowe to pick up Ron and Gloria's bike. A little bit of TLC lavished on the Rooney and we are ready to to to the Isle of Man for the TT tomorrow. Stockers is coming too. Do things get any better?
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> Try this : www.brainsweb.co.uk/uploads/the-wrong-bike.wmv Thanks Ian. Bails will have my photos sorted out on photo bucket in a couple of days. Check them out. http://www.photobucket.com/ and cowper_photos I think you click on Cowper RTW trip.
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> Take care,
> Chris.

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