Varadero International Meeting
held 13th to 16th May 2005
Jess and Theresa's Pictures and Comment
We share our experiences with you.
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As last year's VIM was overshadowed by the loss of Rob Densum in a tragic motorcycle accident on his way home from VIM in Spain, this year was sadly overshadowed by the loss of a dear friend, the co-founder of the Greek Varadero Club,
Many of you will remember Panos because he had attended all the VIMs since 2002 and was always the leader of the Greek group. He died on the 24th April 2005, the result of a road accident. For sure, Panos must be very disappointed (wherever he is now) to have missed this year's VIM in Poland, since he was very excited to go and had planned the whole trip months ago, up to the last detail, as he always did. This year's Greek participation (three motorcyclists only!!!) were unable to have the same enthusiasm as in all the previous years.
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Here follows a few photos that we took at VIM 7, followed by our diary and comment.
Base Camp with a duck from VIM5 and a
VIM7 shirt. A few coming back from a ride
out. Andrey's Vara from Moscow with the
biggest top box known to man or beast. Our guide at Malbork Castle, the
biggest Gothic castle in the world. She was
excellent! Malbork Castle. Sadly, our French
contingent found it hard going. Not much French spoken in
Poland! We learned that this fellow is Old
Nick (the devil) who points the way to the
toilets. Devastation at Malbork during 1945
blew the chapel to smithereens with these fragments being
reassembled, a glimpse of a former splendour. Mr Arse (aka Silver Fox, Phil), Max
and Mrs Arse (the fair Catherine who has much to contend
with). All at their ease at base camp. The wanderers return! Harald from Austria with his amazing
side car outfit and others unknown.
Base Camp with a duck from VIM5 and a VIM7 shirt.
A few coming back from a ride out.
Andrey's Vara from Moscow with the biggest top box known to man or beast.
Our guide at Malbork Castle, the biggest Gothic castle in the world. She was excellent!
Malbork Castle. Sadly, our French contingent found it hard going. Not much French spoken in Poland!
We learned that this fellow is Old Nick (the devil) who points the way to the toilets.
Devastation at Malbork during 1945 blew the chapel to smithereens with these fragments being reassembled, a glimpse of a former splendour.
Mr Arse (aka Silver Fox, Phil), Max and Mrs Arse (the fair Catherine who has much to contend with). All at their ease at base camp.
The wanderers return!
Harald from Austria with his amazing side car outfit and others unknown.
Here follows our personal record of our trip to VIM7 in Poland.
This year, we decided to bring our two sons, Lewis aged 12 and Harry aged 10, to VIM which meant that we needed two bikes instead of one. Theresa is in possession of very short legs and is therefore unable to handle a Varadero. When we purchased our Honda Varadero XRV1000 in 1999, we also purchased a Yamaha Virago XV535. The Vara had seen several VIMs before. The Virago had not. This was the big test for bike and rider. Both did very well!
The children were excited about coming with us as it meant 'no school' for a week. We tried to dissuade them from coming with talk of grumpy bikers, having to write diaries, cold and wet weather, learning different languages, etc. - but they insisted that they wanted to come.....
Tuesday - This was our son Harry's 10th Birthday. A day to remember as he was off on an adventure with his Mum and Dad and his brother Lewis. We spent most of the morning packing our things and making sure that everything was secure at home. We set off at 2.30pm to get to Harwich for the 4pm boat to Cuxhaven, arriving just in time to check in. We boarded and found our cabin and headed for the bar for the first beer of our holiday. Because it was Harry's birthday we allowed him to choose the restaurant and we ended up in the most posh one. Both the boys sat by the window and ended up feeling seasick and both departed before the meal was ended. Not a good start to VIM7 for all of us!
20 miles travelled by Varadero
Wednesday - We woke fairly early, the boys feeling better and they started their task of each writing a diary of their adventure. We docked in Cuxhaven at midday, local time, an hour ahead of UK time. Once off the boat we headed for our preplanned first stop at the site that once was the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, travelling via Wilhelmshaven and Bremen. We felt that it was particularly important for the boys to see this site and to remember what happened over 60 years ago. We walked through the site viewing the many burial mounds and plaques.
Lewis and Harry at Bergen Belsen. May we never forget what happened here and work to make sure that it never happens again.
The boys probably not able to fully understand the significance of what we were seeing. Lewis and Theresa went to watch the video which showed the full horror of what was left of the internees when the camp was liberated in 1945. The lady at the reception told us that they did not recommend children under 14 seeing the film so Harry and Jess sat outside, Jess having already seen it some years ago. We rode on to Celle where we happened upon the Schapenkrug Hotel. We had a lovely meal in the restaurant and retired early feeling very tired.
188 miles total travelled, 168 miles today
All our fuel stops were geared to the tank capacity of the Virago which was approx. 110 to 130 miles to the reserve, dependant on the speed/road type travelled. The Varadero fuel light never came on! We were limited by the top speed of the Virago of approx. 80/85 mph (128/136 kph). The following tables show fuel consumption and cost data.
1.199 / (0.803) / -
Thursday - After breakfast we checked out and continued our journey to VIM, headed for Berlin where we had booked a room for the night.
On the ferry across the Elbe.
We arrived around 6.30pm after some difficulty finding the address. With typical German hospitality, we were invited to leave our bikes in the hallway of the building thus overcoming any security issue. When we had settled we determined to go to see the famous Brandenburg Gate, about half an hour's walk, and spent some time looking at the displays and reconstruction boards that were there. It was a magnificent sight and such an important monument in Germany's recent troubled history.
Lewis and Harry at the Brandenburg Gate.
Why do the Germans make such a spectacle of happenings from more than 60 years ago? Isn't it time to let history lie and to move on?
We stopped at a bookshop on the way back to buy a proper historical guide and went to an Italian restaurant for a pizza and salad for us all, all served up by a very bubbly young lady from Italy. Ice creams for the boys and another couple of beers later we finally left for our apartment close to midnight very impressed with Berlin and the relaxed atmosphere on the streets. This is a city to be visited again at some time.
376 miles total travelled, 188 miles today
135 trip miles
1.199 / (0.803) / -
149 trip miles
1.189 / (0.796) / -
Friday - The boys are getting on with their diaries despite Lewis' protestations and countless excuses. We left Berlin around 10. We headed towards Szczezin (in Poland) having covered 376 miles, heading north east on the autoroute 11. We joined the queues at the border to have our passports checked, but once over the border we stopped for our late breakfast. We changed our Euros to Zlotys. We had a nice meal of 'eier mit speck' (eggs and bacon) for the kids and omelettes for we grown ups. We saw other bikes arrive, four Norwegians with two Varas & a lone Belgian on a Vara. The road was terrible up to the border and then again after the border and we began to dread what was to come. But no! after a few kms the roads got better and all was well. The sun was shining and Theresa had some gnats in her teeth. On and on we travelled heading for Gdansk with incomprehensible words written all around us. Sklep is a shop. No supermarkets, no bikers, no Macdonalds, no apparent sophistication. At Koszalin we turned off the main route and headed for Bytow - the GPS working well for us, showing us the way. We noted many decorated crucifixes along the route, presumed to be associated with Whitsun. The road was excellent with much forest, occasional lone cows, aged tractors, vast acreages of pasture and crops. Cars passed us at speed but almost everybody slows right down through villages, with no speed limits marked. Most dwellings are quite basic with occasional brightly coloured new houses to be seen. It was less than 20 years ago that Poland was a communist state in the Eastern bloc, but more recently freedoms and capitalism has been allowed, with joining the EEC the latest big social change. The roads stayed good and we had a fast ride through some lovely countryside. Children would often wave to us as if we were a rare site. Two little boys with a piece of drainpipe between one's legs making a funny sight with an expanding 4 foot penis gesture.
We stopped for a rest near to our destination and soon afterwards one Bennie, riding a Varadero, and his mate on a Kawasaki, pulled up and kindly offered to lead us to VIM. A further 20 km or so and we found ourselves on a sandy track leading through a pine forest, with VIM7 signs strategically placed. We arrived to the cheers of a multitude of Varaderoists and many old friends greeted us. Good to see the NI crowd from last year, Geert Smit, Nugget, Wolfgang, Bernard, Karinda, Short Alex, Ratman, Bodgan, Barry and many, many more. A beer first and then to reception to register. We had no. 6 log cabin on the shore of a beautiful lake. Quick unload, unpack and change of clothes and back to see the others, with new arrivals continually coming in.
Our location at base camp.
We soon learned the sad news of the death of Panos Tzitzos, on of our Greek friends, who had died in a motorcyle accident last month. The Greek contingent was therefore much reduced, with the usual Greek dancing being unlikely to happen at this VIM.
It took a long time to get anything to eat in the camp's restaurant, despite Bernard's efforts on our behalf. An early introduction to the ways of Polish waiters! The boys cleared off to bed around 10.00pm and we stayed up until 1.30pm drinking too much beer and leaving ourselves the worse for wear. It was great to back at VIM again.
666 miles total travelled, 290 miles today
124 trip miles
(1.02) / (0.68) / 4.07
low figure due to high speed
129 trip miles
(0.998) / (0.68) / 3.99
Saturday - We woke late with bad hangovers and missed the welcome ceremony at 10.00am. We had intended going on the ride out to Gdansk today but decided to stay away from our bikes with Theresa feeling very rough with an upset stomach. We went for a coffee and later for some lunch in the restaurant. We went for a walk around the site, which included a walk around half the lake with the boys. There were horses, a pig and goats and the whole place was surrounded by forest. Absolutely beautiful! The weather has been good to us - sunny and breezy today and quite cool. Some really bad weather was here last week, which made it bad for the likes of Barry who always sets off a few days early to do some touring. We went for a lie down and then went to watch everyone returning from the trip into Gdansk. The Norwegians had a disaster with a rear brake fire on a Suzuki cruiser and headed for home. Paul and another from NI had hangovers too. In the evening we had a lovely meal of pig roast and beer and there were two bands playing in the bar. The Debrzyno site is excellent, as we are all together on one site, unlike Portugal. The boys went off to bed around 10.30pm and we were not far behind. We both left the beer alone as we wished to have a good day tomorrow.
Theresa is one of three lady riders. Karinda (aka Karinda) is the real lady rider. She has Bernard's old Varadero. Nugget (aka Barbara Timmerman) is riding her Transalp and Theresa has her trusty Virago. We also have Harald on his amazing sidecar outfit, although he detached it with two bolts and headed off to Gdansk with the others.
666 miles total travelled, 0 miles today
Sunday - We got up in time for some breakfast and were only just in time to go on the ride out to Malbork Castle, the largest gothic castle complex in the world. The tour started at 12.30pm but we had not made allowances for the ride there. We left site at 10.30 in the rain. Theresa was not very happy about riding in the wet but soon settled into it. We arrived at the castle and were escorted in by a softly spoken guide who had been booked in advance. The castle complex was an amazing series of buildings dating back to the 16th Century but which had changed dramatically over the last 300 years. As much as 60% was destroyed during 1940-45 and has since been undergoing extensive renovation. We stayed afterwards to get something to eat in the restaurant but retired to the cafeteria, as it took too long to get served. The boys happy with pizza and cake!
This group shot of the British contingent was taken at base camp. Can anybodyt help me here? From left to right there is:
Theresa, some prat in a hat, ? at the back, Lewis in front, Mr Arse, Big Geoff from Brantham at the back, Harry at the front, Mrs Arse (the fair Catherine), Max, Mr Blue Eyes Pete from Uxbridge, ? at the back with hat, ? with hat, Barry Tinson (Veteran of VIM). Is Happy Chappy and Red in the picture? Please identify yourselves. A few of these guys are known to party. Please identify yourselves.
Back outside to get the bikes lined up for a group photograph and then we rode back in a small group, without rain. In the evening we had a relaxed meal in the bar followed by closing speeches and awards. Lewis and Harry received a knight each for being the youngest participants and Barry from England received the award for the oldest (and most cantankerous!). Bernard Stikfort had brought a set of clogs from Holland to present to Bogdan. In the restaurant downstairs there was a Polish family party for a young girl's 1st communion. We sat in the bar and chatted with Geert Smit about life, the universe and everything. We got to bed at a reasonable time having not had too many beers - again!
782 miles total travelled, 116 miles today
137 trip miles
(0.99) / (0.66) / 3.96
Monday - Rain in the night but clear in the morning. We packed our things, loaded the bikes and went for some breakfast. Quite a few people there getting ready to set off for home and we said our goodbyes to Bogdan and the other organisers and set off around 10.00am. The guys from Northern Ireland had started their journey back yesterday and a lot of others had also already gone. It was raining and cold making the journey back towards Bytow miserable and made Theresa's hands freeze. We stopped a couple of times to get our bearings as the GPS had run out of power. There was an odd sight of a dog and goose - the one eating the other in the middle of the road. We continued up to Slupsk and picked up the main Sczczezin road and the weather started to improve. On and on westwards, stopping at the border to fill up and spend our Zloty's. There were big queues and, as is usual with bikes, we made our way past the waiting traffic and to a vacant petrol pump. An irate Polish man came to give us some grief about our behaviour saying that in Poland you wait in the queue. Theresa apologised profusely and was amused to see that although he had parked his car in front of a petrol pump he did not buy any petrol but sat talking on his mobile phone and wiped his car down before driving off! After filling up we moved the bikes away from the pumps to allow other people to use them and the forecourt attendant got on to us as he thought we were avoiding paying. A seething hotbed of anger and frustration! We paid our dues and slunk off across the border into Germany and through the several bits of roadworks where they seem to be trying to bring the old East German roads up to good standard. We had a following wind for a while, down to Berlin which let us hear our engines running. A lovely sound! We got as far as Brandenburg and found Hotel Axxon, Quite Posh! Brandenburg full of trams and tramlines, making it difficult to ride the bikes safely. A steak each for us and pizzas for the kids in the restaurant and then to bed with T feeling exhausted after such a long days riding. Two separate rooms - one for the kids and one for us with T taking advantage of the lovely shower facility having not had a shower for quite a few days!
1158 miles total travelled, 376 miles today
163 trip miles
1.01 / (0.678) / 4.05
Stop 8 Polish/German border
112 trip miles
as we were
129 trip miles
1.159 / (0.776) / -
Tuesday - Got up and looked out of the window - more rain! Wet and miserable start to our journey but soon picked up Road 2 headed for Magdeburg and one and on through the day until we crossed the border on Road 30 into the Netherlands. Both bikes were 'coughing', although each of us didn't know about the other. We were secretly dreading that there was a breakdown on the way, Jess imagining a fuel pump failiure that has been spoken of so many times. It must have been the rain or some duff fuel, because the fault went away as we drove on. At 6.00pm we decided to find somewhere to stay, taking the back roads and discovering a lovely hotel. The rain had ceased around 4.00pm so we had a much faster run on the autobahn. Theresa got up to 85mph at one point but cruising at 80mph much of the time. Amazing difference in housing in Holland and the way bicycles are catered for. In Germany we saw many wind powered generators, something that the Brits set up fighting committee's against. The road discipline in Germany is also amazingly good. We booked into the Dalzicht Hotel with two rooms and after changing, went down to the restaurant for dinner. The meal was very good, although expensive with Jess and Tess polishing off a bottle of wine each.
1486 miles total travelled, 328 miles today
105 trip miles
1.194 / (0.800) / -
115 trip miles
1.204 / (0.803) / -
102 trip miles
1.299 / (0.870) / -
Wednesday - A good night's sleep and we woke refreshed and ready for the last leg of our journey home. We paid our bill and loaded the bikes. We took a few photographs of Theresa with the Virago for the Biker Babe website and a few of us all (one shown here) and then got under way heading for Rotterdam and Hoek van Holland. We had a good ride across Holland, although the roads are busier there, arriving in Hoek van Holland at 1.00pm. The boat home was due to leave at 4.00pm so we sat in the town square, having a cup of coffee and apple pie with cream (slagroom) and watched the world go by. Jess sat and worked out our mileage and fuel consumption as the Varadero crowd always seem interested in that information. We watched the boat come into port taking a few pictures and then boarded at 3.00pm. We arrived back in UK at 6.50pm and disembarked by 7.30pm. Theresa led the way home (approx. 20 miles) for the rest of the journey and we were all safely back in doors by 8.15pm happy to be home. All was well, our Koi carp were fine, the website told us that people were home safe from VIM. Another great adventure! School tomorrow for the boys, work tomorrow for us - but not before we sat in front of the television for a while and enjoyed a bottle of wine and contemplated our great adventure.
Ride safe everybody!
1639 miles total travelled, 153 miles today
110 trip miles
1.299 / (0.803) / -
The Fast Cat came and took us home to dear old blighty!
The conclusion on fuel consumption is that the Virago fuel consumption takes a nose dive at high speed. It is restricted to 30bhp, as required by UK law for new riders. We intend to derestrict it soon.
The Varadero achieves around 10 km to a litre of fuel.
The Virago achieves between 11 and 14 km to a litre of fuel, dependant on the type of riding.
Fuel in Poland is a lot cheaper in Poland. A little cheaper than Britain in Germany and Holland and bloody expensive in Britain.
Typically 100 cents per litre in Poland, 120 cents in Germany, 130 cents in Holland and 133 cents in Britain.
Our VIM Comment.
This was our 5th VIM. Each one has been enjoyable for so many reasons.
1. Luxembourg was good because of the countryside, the castles, the roads - but bad because of the rain and the horrible damp accommodation. We were in a caravan and the bike fell over in the wet ground and our windscreen shattered.
2. Vienna was good because of the beautiful ride to get there and the impressive riding that we were shown. The guided tour of Vienna was superb. We didn't enjoy this VIM so much because we were separated from the main group due to our accommodation. We don't do tents or dormitories!
3. Germany was good because of the biker motel at Holtgast. The food was excellent (those schnitzels!) and the organisation was superb. It was bad because we were separated again by our accommodation, but Bernard and Karinda made up for it with their taxi-service. It is not Germany's fault either that there are no mountains or scenic routes in that area, making the riding a little dull.
4. Portugal was exceptional because of its location in the mountains and the beauty of the country. The riding was superb and the organisers were a great team who really knew how to guide us on the various routes. It was bad for us because our accommodation was so far away from the base camp and because we ate at restaurants away from the site, thus preventing us from enjoying the beer properly. The sun shone and we were bowled over by the beauty of the country. Despite the limitations of the base camp, this was the best VIM for us because of the sun and the excellent food and the beautiful hotel that we stayed in - and of course, the riding.
5. Poland will never be forgotten by us because we took our children with us. The base camp that was chosen was superb, the best location that we have ever experienced at a VIM. Our accommodation was comfortable and everybody was able to be together. The organisation was excellent, the food was brilliant (best breakfasts ever), the entertainment was great, the barmaids in the bar were beautiful, the area chosen was lovely to explore. But it was wet! It was the wrong time to visit Poland for us.
Sadly, Sicily is too far for us to travel in the week that we have. We could not go to the VIM in Greece for the same reason. We hope that the Northern Ireland VIM will happen as that will offer some beautiful riding country. We would like to see a VIM in France some day, one in northern Italy, in the Austrian Tyrol and other warmer parts of Europe. What matters is that we all meet as friends in this thing that has been created for us, and continued by, some very good people.
Thank you Bogdan and friends. We hope to see you all again some day.
last updated 310505