Today I received an e-mail from MCE telling me that they have finalized the deal with their new
Vancouver shipper and that the Marsupilami can be shipped with any non-stop flight by Air Transat to
Amsterdam - which basically means either Monday or Friday afternoon.
This of course means that MCE and Internationalmotorsports need to talk to each other and arrange the details, as I am unable to help very much from Switzerland. I'll keep you posted on the progress.
Mike, the service manager and my contact at Internationalmotorsports advised me that the dealership is closed on Mondays, so the only option is to ship the bike on a Friday.
Last Monday MCE asked Mike for a shipping address to forward the new airwaybill to, but as the dealership was closed Mike didn't reply.
I sent a reminder to Mike on Tuesday evening, which was Tuesday morning Vancouver time. Mike replied with this message:
I can only assume that some exchange of information between Mike and MCE must have taken place that I know nothing about, so I decide to wait for what these two companies can come up with. Surely Mike will send me a mail once he has received the paperwork or at least once they have transported the bike to Vancouver airport on Thursday afternoon?
Due to the nine hours that Vancouver is behind Switzerland I didn't expect any E-mail yesterday, but I am somewhat surprised that my mailbox is still empty this morning.
I go to work in the morning and check my mail frequently - nothing arrives. I am not easily concerned, but category nine airwaybills most certainly do not grow on trees, so in the evening I E-mail Mike. He replies quickly and confirms that the bike has been handed over to the shipping company yesterday as planned.
I suppose that MCE expected Mike to tell me this and Mike expected MCE to do the same, and in the end none of them did. Anyway, I am potentially just 14 hours away from my bike touching down at Amsterdam (900 kilometres away from where I live) and I have nothing; no railway or airline ticket and no copies of the airwaybill, the dangerous goods declaration or even the airwaybill number.
I mail MCE and ask for the airwaybill, which they then supply. Shouldn't these things be provided automatically instead of on request?
While waiting for the airwaybill I buy a rail ticket to Zurich airport and an airline ticket to Amsterdam, leaving at 1230 hours tomorrow. Why is everything on this journey planned weeks in advance, but then only materialises hours ahead of schedule?
This morning my kitchen table is once more rather covered with kit. All this has to fit into one of my 37 litre pannier liners:
I take the train again, and by 1000 hours I am at Zurich airport. This is the main summer peak of air travel, and the place is absolutely packed with people who for reasons entirely beyond me want to leave burning hot Switzerland for places down south that are even hotter:
My flight to Amsterdam is supposed to leave at 1230 hours. This time the gate is changed three times. And on top of this we have a no show, i. e. a passenger that checked in with luggage and then failed to show up at the gate in spite of the airport speaker system frantically calling for him by name. I read a study about this phenomenon, and apparently there are people that get so stressed out at the airport that they turn into a state of complete mental meltdown.
The luggage compartment has to be reopened and the guys luggage is removed. The plane takes off an hour late and heads straight into an oncoming storm front. Upon descent into Amsterdam it gets somewhat bumpy. It appears as if my bad weather luck from the way out two month ago is still with me.
In Nice the cargo building was within walking distance of the passenger terminal. But Schiphol is such a massive airport that the distance is 10 kilometres. I find a Swissport office at the airport where I ask if there is a customs office nearby the cargo terminal that is open on weekends, and that is confirmed. Of course I checked on the web yesterday, but the results were unclear.
The information office at the airport is very helpful and even phones the cargo terminal. I am told that bus line 191 will get me there and that the bus station named "Shannonweg" is where to alight. That is good advice, but my mission is time critical - I have another business meeting next Tuesday that I am unable to postpone. I take a cab that for 30 Euros gets me there in 15 minutes. The cab is a Tesla, my first ride in one, and it accelerates like a motorbike. The cabbie seems to enjoy that, too.
At the freight terminal I am told that the shipper, WFS, has changed his location to the far end of the building. That's a kilometre walk and it has just started to rain. I haven't brought an umbrella, which turns out to be a mistake. Even worse, when WFS hands me the customs release form I am told that the customs office is another 800 metres down the road - and by now it is hammering down out of a large thunderstorm. Luckily another guy in the building has to go to the same place and offers me a lift in his beamer. Very decent of him.
Customs takes about an hour before the bike is released. By then the rain has mostly passed, but I'm still slightly mouldy by the time I have walked back to the bonded warehouse. Finally the paperwork is done and the Marsupilami Mark II emerges from the depth of the warehouse:
The bike is fine except for a loose rear mirror. It is fixed with a 14 mm nut - and I notice that I packed a 13 mm spanner in my toolkit. How silly of me, the bike uses 14 mm throughout and has zero 13 mm nuts or bolts. The warehouse has no tools, but a friendly French trucker helps me out. By 1800 hours the mirror is fixed, the battery reconnected and the pannier liner I used to carry my luggage has been reunited with its pannier.
The bike starts fine and I see immediately that Mike in Vancouver strictly followed the shipping rule that no more than one U.S. gallon should be in the tank. It is too late in the day to cover any mileage, so I look up the nearest petrol station, which is just under 5 kilometres away. At the station I easily dump over 18 litres into my 20 litre tank. First problem sorted.
Then I look up hotels in the vicinity and find one 6 kilometres down the road that is nice and reasonably priced.
The storm front has also passed through and aside from the odd puddle on the road everything is fine. For tomorrow I am basically following the storm front south-eastwards.
I wake up at 0600. I think that flying is getting me jet-lagged even if the flight is within the same time zone. Luckily breakfast is served from 0630 onwards, even on a Sunday. As a result of the early start I am on the road by 0800. The Netherlands are flat, boring and overcrowded, so I take the fast roads until I reach the German border after 200 kilometres. The Eifel hills are under my wheels next. Here is what the countryside looks like:
Many of my readers may never have heard about this area, but one feature I am bypassing today lures bikers and sports cars here in droves; the Nürburgring racetrack. Lots of German and foreign cars and bikes head that way and most ride on the public roads as if they were already on the track:
Note in above picture those special traffic barriers with the closed off bottom end to prevent a crashed biker to slide through underneath the top part.
Next on the menu are the Hunsrück hills, a sparsely populated area of the Rhineland Palatinate.
While the day started pleasantly, every kilometre south gets me into warmer air, and by 1500 hours the mercury shows 30 degrees. It will get progressively hotter over the next couple of days, so I ride until after 1700 hours and end the day at Johanniskreuz, a tiny hamlet in the middle of nowhere. 550 kilometres today out of a total of about 900 kilometres means that tomorrows ride will be much shorter.
That pseudo-jetlag wakes me up at 0600 again. Well, I suppose I can use this early hour to bike some distance while it is still nice and cool.
At the hotel reception this sign is greeting the guests:
These Krauts have no intention to fund the credit card companies fees. Instead they charge you five Euros extra should you have the audacity to pay your bill with plastic. And AmEx isn't accepted at all. If you, dear reader, are a North American AmEx card holder, then you can leave that piece of plastic at home on your next visit to Europe, as only the very large places accept this exotic payment method out here. In most places that card is about as useful as a snooze button on a smoke alarm.
I of course pay with the stuff that goes from hand to hand but never gets warmer.
The temperature is about 16 degrees when I leave at 0730, but it is clear that today will be a swelteringly hot day.
The scenery is nice with river valleys and castles all around:
After a short ride through France's Alsace region the next range of hill rises up beyond the Rhine river which forms the border to Germany; the Black Forest. The altitude is about 700 metres which keeps the noon temperature under 30 degrees.
But when I reach the Rhine again at Diessenhofen and the Swiss border it is 31 degrees. By 1430 hours I am home and put the Marsupilami into my garage - exactly 66 days after I rolled the bike out of it.
And finally my 2019 spring vacation is over.
As usual I will add the combined tracklogs, altitude profiles and the videos to these pages over the next couple of days, so watch this space.
Below is the usual map with my GPS tracklog.