Monday, 6 June 2011

Onwards and upwards

I'm off to Lago Maggiore today crossing by way of the St Gotthard Pass (the tunnel is quicker but at 16 km is likely to asphixiate me). Switzerland is as beautiful as ever and I enjoyed the approach to the St Gotthard. The pass proved to be something of a challenge to my emergent riding skills with hairpin bends and precipitous drops into goodness where. Nonetheless, I felt chuffed with myself when I arrived safely at the top.

However, my satisfaction was short-lived. On the Italian side a fine and persistent drizzle began and then came down a disorienting mist. When finally the visor of my helmet (and my spectacles) misted up also, I felt I might be in real trouble. (Did I mention that the helmet visor had broken the previous day and I couldn't get it to open?) The solution of course was simple - just ride excruciatingly slowly until the weather cleared. It wasn't excruciating for me of course but I fancy it might have been for the terribly long line of cars that snailed after me for two or three miles. I can't tell you how relieved I was when we got down to the lower and kinder slopes where I could at last see more clearly where I was going. I'm seriously thinking of designing a T-shirt to commenmorate the event.

There are lots of motorcyclists over here - I mean, really lots. And they make signals to me which I don't understand. Some come up from behind and signal me so it could have something to do with my GB number plate. But riders coming at me from the front do so too, so it can't only be a reaction to a Brit. In one action - when a rider is coming up from behind - he takes his right foot off the foot rest and makes a downward move with it. Whatever could it mean? Perhaps, "Get down off that bike and make room for real riders you slow prat?" Or another one - when a rider comes towards me - he (it's almost always a 'he')  extends his left hand horizontally in an action like a signal for a wide in cricket (but with just one arm, of course). If Martin Seidel is reading this blog, perhaps he could explain the mysteries of motorcycle signals to me.


  1. Great photo John, great to read about you giving caravanners a run for their money, as well as interesting illustration of the challenges of acquiring tacit knowledge!

  2. Hello Mr Lodge !! The other riders are just "waving" in the motorcyclist way! this is how we say hello and show our respect to other motorcyclists when we are driving! I'd suggest you start doing the same when you see another motorcyclist !! Hope you are having fun !


  3. After a while, I got used to these waves Stavros. There seems to be a real camaraderie between bikers here in Europe.

  4. No doubt. It's a great feeling isn't it? What is more, it can get much more practical! Motorcyclists will always stop to ask if you need any help if they notice that you're in trouble (out of gas, flat tire or whatever). I'm not saying that a car driver wouldn't, but it's all about that "camaraderie" you mentioned..