A 2020 review on two wheels
This year’s review is a quite different. Well, the whole year was „different“. Maybe you noticed that the heading is not called „motorcycling review 2020“, but „a 2020 review on two wheels“. There is a reason. It has something to do with a small virus that changed many plans, also mine. It had planned to do a trip to the Western Balkans with my mate Stefan in June, visiting all the white spots on my imaginary maps. But this trip had to be postponed like so many things.
First, it started quite normal. End of January, I visited John’s gathering at the Pottal Pool House. I took the Chunnel train Friday evening and stay at the same cozy Inn in Thurnham like the year before. In the morning it was very cold and I had to de-frost the BMW before I could set off. With rising temperatures in sunshine and the heated gear, the ride to Cannock was a piece of cake. When I arrived at the roundabout next to John’s house, I thought I heard a starting jet plane. What the…? Before I entered the yard, it occurred to me what was going on….surrounded by some 50 bikers, John had started his „Easy Rider Jet“ moped. A curiosity. Impressive. Madness. Fun.
I met a lot of known English riders and had a lot of nice talks. I stayed for the night at John’s place and his hospitality was very generous as usual. The next morning, I returned home, not knowing that this weekend was my only multi-day motorbike trip in the whole of 2020.
Suddenly, the pandemic kicked in and just before Belgium went into lockdown, I did a final short ride with the „6“. Over the next weeks, I kept myself busy with a hilarious attempt to paint the panniers of the old Pan and another cowl for the one seater. I had found one in ebay and wanted to replace the one with an auxiliary tank. Do you know „oil change for men“? It slowly turned into this…
After the grinding and filling of the panniers, I applied a layer of primer, I realised that I had ordered the wrong colour!
Right, I had to order the correct primer and topcoat paint. After the base layer and the top layer, I realised the the colour was not the correct tone.
Bad quality. I ordered ANOTHER set of spray cans from another supplier, this time the colour should be right. I applied another layer of base paint. A first layer of top paint. And then happened what had to happen. Dust, flies and paint tears made the parts look like….. dung. I ordered special products to grind down of all the imperfections. Another top layers (several). Looked good.
However, the last step (colourless varnish) did not seem to have worked properly, maybe the hardener did not do its job. Anyway, the job was finished. Looks ok, but I could have carried the parts to a professional painter, saving a lot of time and money. But, as I said, it was like an oil change for men….
I did a nice test ride with Pan. In June, I did a test ride with the cleaned XBR. In the following months, I did two short day trips to Luxemburg (I wanted to see some winding roads) and one quick ride to the Netherlands. And…..that was it. This was the motorbike year. Less than 3000 km. Never in my whole life since I was 15, I had done less kilometres in a year. Thank you, SARS-CoV-2!
In April, the article about my trip the Japan was published in „Motorrad Classic“. Very nice. It does not happen very often to see your face in a magazine.
This could be a short post, but remember, the article is about „two wheels“.
I always liked to cycle a lot, but in 2020, I was on fire. I cycled more than ever. During the last Christmas holidays, I did a lot of cycling in the mountains north of Valencia. When I climbed up the mountains on my old, but trusted Stevens hybride bike, an idea ripped in my brain: what about an e-bike? My intention was to cycle more to work, and this should lower the bar to cycle more and more often. One thing was clear: I wanted to have a speed pedelec (max. speed 45 km/h). I did a lot of research and tested extensively two brands: Stromer (the Swiss cycling equivalent to Mercedes-Benz) and M1-Sporttechnik (the Bavarian cycling equivalent to an Audi Sport Quattro S1). In the end, I ordered the M1 Spitzing, for a number of reasons. The bike is a multi purpose tool: I can blast to work if I want, or I can ride off-road on single trails. It is a full suspension, top-notch mountain bike with premium parts. The most powerful motor on the European market. AND it is produced 7 km from my Bavarian home place. Named after my favourite home mountain area, I had no other option than buying it 🙂 .
But first, I needed to order and wait for it. In the emerging COVID crisis, I cycled a lot with my old Stevens bike. I am using the Komoot app a lot, but this year I started to discover a lot of mountain bike routes in Belgium. Crossing the nearby border to the Netherlands wasn’t an option for most of the year, so I did a lot of cycling in the provinces of Antwerp and Limburg.
As I publish a lot of trips on my Komoot page, enriched with comments and nice pictures, I collected a lot of followers and points. Over the year, I visited lots of very nice places and routes.
Finally, I received by new bike on April 24 at noon. Wow, what a sight! I managed to get one of the last bikes of the old series that still has a higher top power than the newer „Evolution“ model.
I had to wait until after work to make my first test ride. I set off for a ride on the nearby mountain bike track. In the next hour, I blasted 28 km through the forest on small and large tracks. What a performance! Breathtaking! I was flying over the bumps. Deeply impressed, I returned home. Hmmm, I should still go to the grocery store. Why driving if I could take the new bike? Grab the backpack and take off, it’s only 30 minutes until they closed. I zoomed down my dead end street and wanted to turn around the corner. What happened next seemed like a film in ultra slow motion…to my surprise, there was an oncoming car in my trajectory!!! I did what I was used to do on my old bike: full slam on the breaks! While this might be a good idea on a hardtail bike with hydraulic rim breaks, it it is a very bad idea if the bike is equipped with brutal, hydraulic, four-piston disc breaks. Add this to a still unadjusted, too low damping suspension, and you get the perfect recipe to turn a kinetic energy of 9500 J directly into rotational motion, ultimately heating temporarily the impacted surface of the street by an estimated 1.2 degrees centigrade.
During my flight, I realised that the car was….a police car! F……k!!! I remembered that my bike did not have a road registration yet, there was only an empty number plate holder…meaning I was riding a not road legal vehicle….damn! After my salto, I quickly picked myself up, picked up the bike and leaned it against a wall with the empty number plate holder facing away from the two policemen who got out of the car, asking if I was alright. I mumbled something like „yeah, alright, no problem, I’m fine“….“but you’re bleeding“…“Oh?“ I touched my chin…indeed, the pulsating pain correlated with a big patch of blood in my hand. I felt in my mouth that at least two teeth were damaged…„ah, no problem, that’s nothing!“ I wanted to keep them away from the bike. „Can we help you?“…“Nono, I’m fine, I live not far from here in this street“….“Should we bring you home?“ Hell, no! „Thanks a lot, but I live 50 metres from, see, there, down the street“. They seemed convinced and wished me well…I pushed the damaged bike back home. Next stop hospital, emergency room. In the middle of a corona crisis, fantastic!
In the next two hours, I filled in the papers, by bruises and scratches were treated by some fantastic professionals and the big wound on my chin was stitched with three stitches. I also established contact with a dentistry help line, arranging a corona test and an emergency appointment at the University Hospital of Leuven.
Back home, I had a look at the poor bike: the control display shattered, the left break lever brace broken…the bike needed some thorough fixing!
Meanwhile, at the butcher, the young lads in the dental faculty in Leuven chiseled the smashed tooth out of my jaw. Yes, they chiseled. Pulling didn’t work, apparently they didn’t have a cutter…so they chiseled like some berserks. BAM – BAM – BAM!!! A traumatic experience, not to be repeated.
So the start with the new bike was suboptimal and I had to wait ten weeks (!) until I got it back from the dealer. In the meantime, I did more riding with my old Stevens. My bruises healed slowly (my right index finger still isn’t fully recovered) in the meantime. I understood was was going on: I had slammed so hard on the brakes that my chin smashed against the handlebar? lamp? and split one molar tooth completely and ruined another one partly. The latter could be saved, but the smashed one required a pontic later in the year. My first buy was a full face helmet, the bike’s top speed merited good protection. I had found out that the inner shell of the old helmet was completely smashed, gulp!
Later in the year, I got more and more protection. If you really want to blast on bumpy tracks with a 30, 35, 40 km/h or more, you better want to protect your head, knees, elbows, shoulders, back and chest. In November, I got me a closed downhill helmet with googles. Snugly for very low temperatures around the freezing point. I also invested a lot in optimising the outfit of the bike and the rider. As I had basically no expenses for motorbiking, I could afford it easily.
I finally could ride more advanced tracks and I was enjoying it. For the first time, I had a top notch full suspension mountain bike. AND the most powerful e-bike on the European market. A fantastic combination! In the past five and a half months, I rode a lot with it, in total 4300 km(!). As it was my intention, I commuted to work a lot (that’s some 28 km per day) AND I discovered a lot of new tracks in north-east Flanders. In September, I finally convinced MJ to do some long-distance touristic weekend rides together. We did a ride to Leuven and one to the Maas at the Eastern Belgian border. Each of the rides was a 160 two-day roundtrip and we both enjoyed it a lot. To be repeated next year!
I found out that I could push the range of my battery with a low speed. Now I know that the range depends if I go in „Hooray!“ mode (range 35 km) or in „Snail“ mode (range 90 km), anything in between is possible, depending on the riding style. Later in the year, I got me a second battery, from now on, I don’t have to worry about my range and just can have fun. And what a fun it is! Most people think that an electric bike rides on its own. Very wrong. The more you push, the more power you get back. You don’t realise how much you are pushing yourself. Very often, I arrive panting at work although I thought I had an easy ride.
The bike just asks for more, more, more. Pretty much like a juicy KTM motorbike. And it’s fun, fun, fun. Over the year, I lost quite some kilos without getting knee pain from stressing the joints too much under high load.
As some normal holidays were impossible, I spent twice two weeks at my someplace and did also some nice rides there, taking the „Spitzing“ bike to the Spitzing Mountains. I enjoyed blasting up the mountains. Unfortunately, too many stupid bikers have ruined mountain biking there and biking is only allowed on fire roads. But still, you can get up to visit some huts and have some fantastic views.
At the end of the year, I have to conclude that I did some 3000 km on motorbikes and some 6000 km on the two bicycles! I’m sure there will be better motorbiking years again, but I definitively want to keep up the strong biking performance, it has given my fitness a boost that I want to keep.
Here is what my Komoot summary says.
I add some of the best cycling pictures of this year as well: