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 Swiss Laverda Rallye, 19-21/08/2011

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PostSubject: Swiss Laverda Rallye, 19-21/08/2011   Sun Aug 07, 2011 12:26 pm


let me point out the LAVERDA RALLYE of the Laverda Club Swizerland:

We expect a couple of Atlas to com (Nick, Frank, all the swiss, anybody else?).
You do not need to registrate. Just put your sleeping bag (and eventually a tent) on your Atlas and go.

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PostSubject: Re: Swiss Laverda Rallye, 19-21/08/2011   Sun Sep 04, 2011 4:56 pm

Nick wrote an amazing traveling story about his turn to the LCS Meeting on his Atlas.

The calender reminder crept in to my inbox and kept winking at me over the next
couple of days - next thing I've convinced Mrs A we're going to Switzerland!Looking
at the location a ride to Switzerland would provide an opportunity to return to
Belfort, last time I was there I left by airplane with a plastic tube in my kidney
so there was unfinished business! The slight problem with the plan was of course a
rather secondhand Atlas that was providing reliable transport to work each day but
was in need of some fettling. New front pads, tyre and clean oil were rustled up
along with a replacement LED rear light that I cunningly hid under the original
glass to retain the look of originality (it still makes me smile 3500 kms later that
I don't have to worry if the wretched bulb has shaken out of its bayonet or blown).
The only thing I decided to leave was the slightly raucous exhaust - I kind of liked
the 'buzz-saw' effect as I pushed on through the gears but it did lose it's appeal
after 250 kms of uninterrupted motorway at a constant 6,000 rpm on the way home...
The other piece of preparation was to check out a route. I was delighted to find a
use for some 10 year old maps I found in the cupboard as they showed all the old
main roads - perfect. On a bike limited to a maximum of around 130 kph you need
small roads. The plan was to avoid motorway going down but to use them on the return
when time would be more pressing. I had the route already for Cambrai as I'd stopped
there when Dean and I rode down to Belfort so Wednesday night and the first stop

I always take the first few kms steady just to check the balance of the bike. The
Atlas felt good, Ortlieb bags lashed low on the pannier frames along with wide
handlebars made it a fairly stable package which was as well because we were heading
in to rush hour traffic on the dreaded M25 motorway. Trips to the continent nearly
always involve the horror of the M25 which is seldom free flowing. My theory is that
it's both a test of your resolve (do you really want to go) and also a punishment
for all those misdeamenors that you haven't owned up to (was it me who clipped a car
mirror on my way to work the other day and didn't stop...)! Suitably chastened we
arrived at the Channel Tunnel and whizzed smoothly to France and then onward to
Cambrai with no incident despite the pathetic glow of light coming out of the square
headlamp - a tradition carried over from the RGS hey? Thursday was going to be a
long day in the saddle - somewhere in the region of 650 kms (errr I didn't fix the
speedo) down to Mulhouse. As we rolled out of Cambrai we turned onto one of those
glorious French roads that go on and on, mainly straight but for a few gentle
sweeping bends that cut through open fields. The heat of the day had yet to arrive -
infact it felt quite autumnal, so I enjoyed the warmth of Mrs A snuggled in to my
back as we started to find the rhythm of the road. Things were going well as the
Atlas flicked over to reserve petrol, not a problem as the Atlas has a reserve of at
least 50 kms. 50 kms later and still no sign of a petrol station and now the bike is
starting to misfire as we go uphill - as we reach the summit all we can see is a
straight undulating road for miles, and now of course the heat of the day has
arrived and I'm starting to wonder how Mrs A will react when we grind to a halt (not
good is my guess)! I'm on such a gentle throttle we're moving on the pilot jet - the
satnav assures me petrol is just 2.5 kms away...but the garage is closed down,
another victim to the 'Supermarche' culture which is gradually monopolising fuel in
France. As luck would have it we spot a garage as we sit at lights - 22.5 litres of
fuel goes in - we were down to our last litre! 50 kms + without a petrol station
thank god we weren't on a 1200! As we pushed south the heat of the day became more
intense - 33 degrees is just too hot for motorcycling - but the roads also became
more 'interesting'. Solo the Atlas outhandles a triple on the twisties and this also
applies with a pillion and luggage. For such a small capacity bike the Atlas is
physically big and the radials seem to cope with weight better than cross-ply tyres.
By Neufchateau we'd managed to get the panniers down through a bend which made me
smile until we reached Mulhouse and I realised how easy it is to wear through an
Ortleib bag... The other thing I discovered in Mulhouse was just how much heat the
Atlas chucks out from the high level exhaust. We rode the short distance in to town
that evening for a drink and I wore lightweight trousers and sandals (I know, I
know) and was amazed at how much heat I could feel without my motorcycle boots on.
33 degrees and you can't turn the central heating down! Friday was going to be a
busy day. First stop was going to be the Schlumpf car Museum in Mulhouse, then
Belfort and then onto the rally in Switzerland for late evening. The Schlumpf Museum was simply fantastic! Entrance price
of €10.50 included a free gadget that provided a commentary at significant exhibits
and when you consider there are over 200 separate commentaries it gives you some
idea of the number and quality of what's on show. More Bugatti's than you can shake
a stick at, Formula 1 through the ages, pioneer vehicles, iconic and idiosyncratic
cars all beautifully presented. I must admit I often find myself getting bored in
Museum's but we spent a couple of hours here and left wanting more. Seriously if you
are ever in the Mulhouse area you must go and spend at least half a day. We left for
Belfort and a meeting with Christian Fleuriet who'd looked after Atlas whilst it
awaited repatriation in June. It was good to be walking around Belfort and to
finally get up close to the lion on the hillside which I could just see out of my
hospital window. We chatted about bikes (of course) and a couple on a BMW joined in
(they'd never seen an Atlas before) and I was soon discussing the merits or
otherwise of 16 wheels on a Guzzi Le Mans 4 (which they owned also and had a picture
to prove it...)! Their advice was not to speed in Switzerland and to go the Schyw
via Zurich...hmmmmm. We aimed the Atlas towards Basel at around 4 pm and headed out
of Belfort down some pleasant sweeping roads. It was hot and we were just taking our
time. The scenary had changed now or more specifically the houses started to look
less French and more Swiss/German - quaint chateaux's and tidy, clipped villages. As
we chugged along following a couple of cars we were overtaken by natty Gendarms in
shirt sleeves and shades riding quickly and efficiently as only police seem able to
do - they didn't look so cool a few kms down the road hiding in the bushes trying to
catch the unwary speed demon - must've been odd for them hearing the Atlas coming
from miles away only to register 70 kph in their trap! The big mistake was not to
pay the vignette to allow us to ride on the motorways in Switzerland. It was going
to cost €40 (same if you use them for a day or a year) and I resented paying this
much but I didn't understand. France has the 'Bugatti Royale' of road networks -
excellent roads with pay-as-you-go option for those wanting uninterrupted 130 kph
cruising for as far the eye can see. In Switzerland they just have pay-as-you-go to
get between major towns/cities and once you arrive at these points you then use the
free roads for the local part of your journey. There is no intention to join up the
network so that 'poor' people can enjoy free motoring. The local roads are a
stop/start series of 20/30/50 and 80 kms limits (and yes the Swiss motorist keeps to
the limits) with only the mountain passes providing the opportunity to stitch
together some decent (illegal) rhythm. The consequence of my tightness was to give
an awful introduction to Switzerland. Horrid stop/start riding passing through much
of industrial scenery and by the time we got to the 'nice' bits the light was
failing and both Mrs A and myself were too tired to care - if only... The lousy
headlamp played its part along with a satnav which I'm sure was determined to really
rub in the fact I'd enabled the 'avoid toll roads' function and we headed in to the
hills on switchback roads, some of which were partially gated and some of which were
populated by cows (with bells)! By the time we arrived at Schwyz it was 11 pm
(remember we left Belfort at 4) and the gps coordinates provided by LCS were saying
we had 32 kms to go! Fortunately I'd taken my own reading off google maps and this
suggested 5 kms so that's the route we took. We're now high on the side of a hill on
a single track road, no correction we're now on a dirt road riding through woods
ahhh now we're back on tarmac and then the rally site came in to view. It's 1978 and
I'm back on my BSA Lightning. There's a field, one loo, a cabin with running water
and a stove, a huge tarp' strung out over a campfire and a fridge filled with beer.
All the essentials for a boys weekend, except we're not boys anymore and crikey the
girls ain't girls no more. It makes me laugh to think how sad we must've looked. The
morning however brings a different picture - a mountain view looking down into Urner
See - stunning.
Bruno Schleiss acted as our guide for the day and we rolled out of the campsite at
9.00 headed for the beautiful city of Luzern. It was good to be riding in the
company of a local - someone who seemed to know intuitively when speed limits could
be ignored! After a visit to Luzern we headed up into the Alps and the passes. Bruno
is a smooth, confident rider who cut through the passes with little fuss or
incident. We pulled over to the side of the road to take in the stunning views (we
made another stop opposite a glacier - stunning site but also the cool air it
produced making a welcome antedote to the 33 degree heat) and also to take in the
antics of all motorcycles heading to the summit. There was just bike after bike of
varying degrees of competence. You could gauge the level of skill by the way the
rider controlled the throttle - the 'on/off' technic giving away those whose
ambition exceeded their talent...A Harley rider narrowly avoided a head on when he
ran out of ground clearance and the footrests forced the bike into the path of an
oncoming car who fortunately knew how to brake! On the other hand many of the
sportsbike riders managed to kiss the tarmac with their knee but first prize went to
the Morini 175 rider who cut up through the pass with confident assuredness - the
site of the Morini bringing back strong memories of the Laverdaforhealth ride to
Breganze We arrived back at the campsite
around 17.00 to be greeted by the site of at least 50 new Laverda's, oh and Tom
Eatman with a bottle of beer! Tom arrived on an immaculate 500 which won the 'best
bike' award and his partner Cynthia was aboard a similarly immaculate Atlas which
again was testament to the quality of his work. Tom has commissioned a run of Atlas
screen's so I squirreled one away to be fitted back in the UK - thanks Tom! The
quality of Laverda's was a rare treat - I haven't run about with my camera like I
did for a long time. An unrestored big headlamp 3C - the 65th triple made no less -
was parked up and very low key with its understated green paintwork. Those headlamps
are like hen's teeth so I always admire someone who takes one on the road...just
think one stone is all it would take! A couple of SFC Electronica's - one of which
had been ridden 700 kms to the rally but both of which appeared regularly ridden and
not restored. Respect hey - lash a tent to a motorcycle worth £30,000 and ride it to
campsite halfway up Swiss hillside! An unrestored early RGS with the little master
cylinder slot in the right hand sidepanel and the high rise bars. 5 Atlas's
including a recently restored series two ridden by Tom Eatman's wife, Cynthia. A
couple of 120 Jota's, two Corsa's, two outfits, one an RGS and one a 1200. A gaggle
of SF's and 3C's/Jota's/1200's - many of which still sported the 'for Switzerland'
rubber noise obsorbsion inserts in the cylinder fins (in the UK these would have
been thrown away a long time ago...). Some nice race rep' triples built around the
SFC 750 theme but sporting four pot brakes and carefully machined rear sets and
swinging arms (these specials also had their batteries located in seat humps which
made me wonder if the vacant space could be used to house a monoshock
conversion)....Tom Eatman's 500s. A Strike Cafe Racer an ordinary Strike and a Sport
holding up the Zane end and last but not least a 125 two stroke. It was a real treat
to see a collection of bikes spanning the range of Laverda's but also some Laverda's
still sporting owners modifications and innovations. It's nice to see a well
restored bike but for me I enjoy seeing what a bit of imagination can come up with
(for better or worse) and these 'specials' will soon be gone as the march of
'originality sweeps through the ranks...shame.
The evening involved a BBQ, music and lots of chatter. The Atlas picked up the long
distance award (1400 kms) for which I bagged a very nice Swiss Army knife complete
with LCS logo (Schwyz is the home of Victrinox). I know I rode the furthest but I
think the SFC 750 owner who'd done 700 kms deserved the award over the 'shed-like'
Atlas...As I said Tom picked up the best bike with his 500 (rumour had it that my
Atlas would've picked this up too if Tom had supplied the bolts to affix the new
screen ah well another year without a 'best bike' trophy) - interesting to see the
often ignored 8 valve twins running off with all the silver ware hey? Having taken
soundings during the evening we decided to risk the motorway without the vignet and
headed north at 8.30. The advice was good and we passed in to France with no
incident and stayed on the motorway until Strasbourg. A quick coffee and then a
stint of non-motorway to Trier. It was good to take a break from the monotomy of the
motorway but on the other hand there was still a long way to go. It's always the
same once you're homeward bound however much you try to keep the spirit of adventure
alive the pull to make the progess always seems to overpower the will to squeeze the
last drop from the trip. I regret not spending time in Strasbourg and certainly
regret not taking more time over the beautiful scenery to be found on the Wellem -
Trier stretch. We took stock and banged Gent in to the satnav and next thing were
heading through Luxembourg on the motorway (it's a sin to by-pass a country like
this...) and then swinging north towards Brussels. The ability of the Atlas to cover
400 kms per tank helped mitigate the 110 kph cruising speed but by the time we
pitted for fuel my arse was in agony! I became fixated with the satnav 'countdown'
introducing mental strategies that took my mind away from the time it was taking to
knock off kilometres (thank goodness I wasn't working in miles) but we finally
rolled into Gent at 19.30 - eleven hours on the road...

Gent is a beautiful city, again we did it a disservice by spending just one night
there however we had a train to catch so we back on the road at 9.45 for the 11.50
connection. By this time the cruising speed of the Atlas had been pushed to 120-130
kph, a speed it seemed happy with but for me a cruising speed just 1,000 rpm off the
red-line seemed to be asking for trouble. So it was that we had our only machine
issue when we were 10 kms from the train - the sidestand spring broke. A simple fix
with a spare bungy and we duly made the train on time (just). So fuel, coke, packet
of crisps and point the Atlas back round the M25 toward home. 3,000 kms, six
countries in five days aboard a 21 year old 600 twin seems a good recommendation for
a model often regarded as a footnote in Laverda history...maybe the gods smiled on
us - even the M25 was clear.

Nick :-)
Pics at!1371

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Swiss Laverda Rallye, 19-21/08/2011
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