Tour of Luxembourg - June 2013
(Click the photo to see a larger picture in a slide show.)

The cast for this adventure consisted of :
Terry and Dilys Hopes and their 1931 Ariel
Rob Jones and his 1959 Velocette MAC
Dave Jones and his 1964 James Superswift
Bill and Jean Phelps and their 1925 Indian Scout
Josie Suddery rode with Rob on his Velo

The event consisted of three days riding, Friday the 31st May, Saturday the 1st and Sunday the 2nd June. The whole event was based at Camping Fuussekaul in the north of the country, which is by far and away the prettiest part of Luxembourg. Terry and Dilys took their motorhome, Dave and Rob had hired a cabin as Jean, Josie and I had also.

Things started wednesday evening at around 8pm when we set off for Dover and our 6am sailing to Dunkirk the following morning. We parked up on the Marine Parade at around 2am and settled down for a few hours. At 5am we moved off for the ferry which got us into Dunkirk around 9am. It was basically motorway all the way and our convoy soon was on the E42, through Lille and past Tournai, Mons and Charleroi. We stopped at the services at Spy for a bite to eat. Then it was around Namur and down onto the N4 for the run into Luxembourg. The N4 was the main dual carriageway from Brussels to Arlon before the motorway was built and it now is a much quieter road. We left the N4 at Bastogne and took the road into Luxembourg.

Arriving at Fuussekaul we were soon booked into our cabins. It wasn't long before we had a call from Terry, as his Motorhome had sunk into the field and he needed a shove to move it. Try as we could it wouldn't budge and it took Dave's Suzuki 4x4 before we got the outfit moving and onto a more solid ground.

Thursday evening was spent in the camp restaurant where they produced one of the best horse steaks that I have ever eaten.

Having had a long drive and little sleep the previous night we were soon all in bed for a good nights sleep.

Fridays run didn't start until 3pm and the sky was looking pretty grey and 'orrible. After a quick conflab we decided to give the Friday run a miss, especially as it was being done on the 'drop off' system. There were two groups - fast and slow. I didn't fancy it as I was unaware of how slow the slow group would be, so we watched the bikes away and then headed for the bar and a few beers. Just as well as there was a touch of rain later that afternoon.

Saturday dawned dry and overcast with the weather promising to improve almost daily. The run started at 10am so it was a case of sort the bikes and head over the road to the assembly. The run commenced with a guided tour through the campsite - not sure why, but we followed.

We had a route card to follow so were able to ride at our own pace. The route was about 80 miles in all with a lunch stop at a Bio-gas farm.
As soon as we had eaten we had a guided tour of the farm. Not interesting, I thought, but how wrong I was. It had been put together by a co-operative of 5 local farms and was fully mechanised. The cows in the milking shed were even milked automatically - when the cow felt a need to be milked she just went into the pen and it was all done automatically. We were told that under normal farming conditions there would be 2 milkings per day, but under this automatic system the yield was 3.3 milkings per day and was all down to the cow deciding that she needed milking.

There was even a programmed robot that travelled the length of the milking shed and back
whilst pushing the feed in towards the cattle. The feed was a mixture of grass etc and was designed to give high milk yields. It was fascinating to watch the robot rotate and slowly do it's job. There was even an automatic slurry gatherer with all the waste then being moved to another shed for the production of the Bio-Gas. All in all a very interesting insight into mechanised farming.

By now there were patches of blue sky showing with some welcome sunshine flowing through. The ride back to the camp was along the upper reaches of the Moselle river - and pretty it was too. We were passed by the gaggle of BMW and Zundapp sidecar wheel drive outfits just before turning right and heading uphill. This caused me a problem with the Indian as it just wouldn't pick up enough speed in first gear to be able to get into second. So it was a slow crawl for over a mile in bottom. Eventually we reached the top and headed back to the campsite after a super dry day out.

The evening consisted of a meal upstairs in the large room above the reception. Soup etc, followed by a buffet and a pudding. We sat on the end of one of the long tables and at one point, Barry from Plymouth, walked around to talk to Rob - The conversation went:
Barry: "Are you the chap with the three Velos?"
Rob: "Yes"
Barry: "What medication are you on?"

That did put us all into fits of laughter - it was an enjoyable evening but could have done with one of the organisers saying a few words of 'official' welcome.

Sunday dawned and todays run was again on the drop-off system, which works well if everyone does their bit. The leader and tail end Charlie wore yellow tabards, so that when a corner is turned, the number two bike stops to point the way - and stays there until the tail end Charlie arrives. The girls had decided that they were going to allow us guys out on our own today - Isn't it amazing as to how much faster the bike goes when there is no pillion passenger. The sun was out and it stayed that way for the rest of our stay.

We all set off in convoy - yellow tabard in front and yellow tabard at the back. On each corner the number two rider stopped until the last rider came along. There were a few hiccups - the rider of the Nimbus outfit didn't wait for the last man and then, whilst riding number 3, the number 2 rider just carried on at one junction. So I stopped to do my bit instead. The roads were nice and uncluttered and a real pleasure to ride.

At one point Dave's James suffered from the gremlins and ended up in the recovery truck.
After about 35 miles we stopped at a local hostelry only to see the James ride in. The recovery had stopped on a hill and unloaded the James, which started easily on a downhill push.

After a sit down it was a case of head back to camp on a short route of a dozen or so miles. Part of the route took us up a very long hill past the castle of Bourscheid. I don't know why, but most long hills in Luxembourg start with a hairpin bend at the bottom, This was the case and I couldn't give the Indian a run at the incline. This time, I did manage to get into second gear, but that was soon flagging again. Not wishing to get into the intricacies of the Schebler carb, I started to ponder the reason for having to slog up hill in bottom gear on no more than half throttle. It should take full throttle - then, something came to mind!. The handbook says about the carb - 'Open the high speed auxiliary air valve by means of it's handle at the side of the carburettor body when extreme speed is desired'. While struggling in second I reached down and opened the window in the side of the carb body. I don't quite know how to describe what happened then, but the bike took off like a scalded cat and I was able to change up into top and give the motor full throttle. That did put a smille on my face and from then on I left the little window open and was able to ride back to camp on more than half throttle. Rob reckoned that I was getting along at around 50mph.

Back at camp, the girls were complaining of the cold and they set about warming their hands on Terry. Riding finished, our attention turned to what we were going to do for the rest of our time in Luxembourg. Firstly, for the evening we went back to the campsite restaurant for another first class feed before falling into bed.

Monday, and we decided to go to the large shopping centre at Pommerlich, about 8 miles north of where we were staying.

We spent the morning wandering around the shops and not buying much at all - amazing when considering that Jean and Josie are 'professional' shoppers. Lunch was taken before we returned to camp by an indirect route, so as to see some more countryside. We had bought some baguettes etc with a view to missing out a restaurant that evening, as most were closed on Mondays. Just as well, really, as Pierre phoned to say that he was coming to see us all. He arrived to find us in the bar at around 6pm where we all had a good natter. Pierre left at around 9.30 for his 180 mile drive back home to Kruishoutem.

Tuesday and Paul was expected around 2pm so we just stayed around the campsite. Paul was bringing a donation of a Velosolex for me and Terry and I chatted about them, with various suggestions as to starting the South Wales Velosolex club. Can't see it taking off myself. but Rob was chuffed that I was getting a bike that had Velo in it's name.

Okay, I know what you're thinking! Just in case you're interested and slightly jealous - it's a model S2200, built in 1964 in Holland under licence by Van der Heem and called an OTO. The bike had languished in the cellar of one of Paul's neighbours since 1975. I shall probably keep it in original condition as an oily rag example - we'll see, of course.

After Paul's departure back to Brussels our evening meal was taken in a superb Chinese restaurant in Neiderfeulen - about 3 miles down the road from Fuussekaul.

Wednesday, and a bit of the packing was done. My new treasure was loaded and strapped onto the middle runner of my trailer. It could be hidden nicely in between the James and the Velocette. We had already decided to go to Diekirch today and arrived there and parked up alongside the river. We had been there back in 2007, which was the last time that we had been to Luxembourg.

The girls decided to 'do the shops', whilst us fellas headed for the local motor museum.

Seen in the Museum:
When we entered to pay our money we were talked into buying a day ticket that would allow us into the Military Museum and other places of interest. So after our saunter around the cars and bikes we headed up the road towards the military museum.

There was just so much stuff to see and it would have taken days to study it all. I suppose that the availability was plentiful as Diekirch had been occupied by the Germans several times, despite the Allies kicking them out each time. The town was right on the 'Battle of the bulge' southern front line, so there must have been plenty of armament etc lying about just for the picking.

I soon had had enough so left to try and find the girls - guess where? Eating Ice cream! I really didn't want one but was forced into it and as I was tucking in, the others arrived to join us - didn't take much persuasion.
rel="lightbox-gallery" title="I was forced into eating this"
Back at camp and we loaded the bikes onto the trailers before retiring to the retaurant for the last time.

The trip home started at around 8.30am as we headed for the 16.00 hours ferry from Dunkirk. As it happened we arrived at the port by 13.30 and managed to get on the 14.00 hours boat. That got us into Dover at 15.00. It was obvious that we were back home with all the road works on the M25 - only one accident this time, but it was certainly stop/start until we got out onto the M4, eventually arriving home around 21.30 - which was not too bad.

We all had a good time in good company - give it a try and join us next time we venture into Europe.