Sep 20

GPS – Going Places Slowly…

by in Germany

Crossing the bridge into Bernkastel-kues was a pretty exciting moment. I was on a high all the way that morning from where I’d camped on a wind generator farm.

It proved disappointing to later find that my helmet camera hadn’t functioned after taking a movie of the great day’s ride, with a few steep hills, alongside the river, through the tunnel and into the most beautiful town I’ve ever seen. Bernkastel-kues is nestled beneath steep slated hills covered with vineyards, beside the lovely Mosel.

Barges and passenger boats ply the river constantly, while traditional brass bands play to the crowds of visitors that flock to the region every summer. Lynne was on bridge to capture Effie & I as we rode proudly into town. Of course it’s never fun trying to negotiate traffic, especially scores of motor homes that I encountered on roundabouts and traffic lights that always seem to change just as I approach but to see her jumping up and down as Effie and I came over the rise made my heart leap.

I’d hardly stepped from the bike before I had my first interview for the day. One or two other early arrivals were there but most were expected the next day. That evening Dieter, the amazing rally organizer and his family, invited Lynne & I to join them for a wonderful supper where we sampled Federweisser a deliciously fruity young wine that has not yet finished fermenting. This wine is available for only a short period each year and is called federweisser because it resembles white feathers in your glass.

Dieter himself makes wine and each entrant in the rally was treated to a bottle of his special vintage, complete with FN label & cap. Thomas, our wonderful friend who organized the tyres be sent to Iran, drove several hundred kilometres to meet us at Bernkastel. It was so great to finally get to know him and it was as if we were old friends. Before he left for home Thomas presented me with a lovely momento – a book featuring the age of Indian motorcycles, one of his special passions.

The rally next day proved challenging as after six kms I had to withdraw due to a mechanical problem. Pieter a local chap kindly lent me his workshop and did some welding. At first when I began hearing an unusual noise I suspected the transmission gears were out of alignment – a major problem. But on removing the rear wheel and engine, (I’m getting proficient at this now), the only obvious cause was the clutch dog that was terribly worn on one face. The transmission gears themselves were still perfect. The same noise though re-occurred a week later and I found it was only the pedal gear housing rubbing on the tyre! What a bummer, I missed riding in the rally because of a false diagnosis. I should have realized that Effie wasn’t about to give up that close to home.

That afternoon I had lunch with two other blog followers, Mark & Geert from the Netherlands. Talk about a small world. When I showed them a picture of a previous restoration, Mark informed me that he had the same picture on his wall! He’d found a magazine in an old bookstore (I think in NZ when he was visiting there) and flicking through it, admired my AJS that had been used on a calendar that was a supplement to the magazine. What are the chances of that happening? Also while we were lunching a guy stopped to say hello who I’d met previously when he was traveling in Romania. I had mentioned I was riding to Bernkastel and he decided to ride 200kms to meet me again! Unfortunately we didn’t get the time I would have liked to spend chatting as we were being hurried to the hall for the Rally presentation. If that Kawasaki rider is reading this, do send me an email.

I was honoured to be the recipient of the longest distance trophy and grateful to all those people who helped get me here. Dieter does such a splendid job of organizing this annual rally and to be part of the 10th anniversary FN run was very humbling given the attention paid to me and Effie. There were many people present who’d followed my journey since its inception and it was terrific to meet them all. Congratulations to all the others who also traveled there from 10 different countries to make this a great weekend.

For those who stayed on til Sunday there was a boat trip organized and a tour of one of the many locks which operate on the Mosel. Dieter had a surprise for me which was to have been a float plane ride, but due to heavy fog it had to be cancelled. Such a shame, but the kindness and generosity behind this though were warmly appreciated. Thank you Dieter.

Before I set off for Belgium next day Dieter and Marita, a local tour guide and reporter showed me around the old town with its fascinating history and architecture. Many buildings still show the high water mark of floods dating back to the 1700’s.

I rode out of Bernkastel while Lynne caught a series of trains to Belgium, this time with much more luggage than she’d had before. Both of us left with many wonderful memories, newfound friendships and experienced the warmth and generous hospitality of so many people. I may not have GPS on my bike but “Going Places Slowly” has meant I’ve come into contact with people I might never have got to meet and enjoyed experiences that only Effie could provide. One of the things that tickled me was to see people photographing my “GPS” route directions – just simple bits of paper with town names listed and attached to the tank for easy reading. I may not have the latest tracking equipment but what I have works well and sure beats unfolding maps in the wind!

Now it’s on to Liege & Herstal, Effie’s birthplace. I wonder if she senses my excitement now that we are so close to the end.

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34 Responses to “GPS – Going Places Slowly…”

  1. From Shane Kuhl:

    Hi Ron,

    Shane from the Australian Adventure Travel Film Festival here. Our next festival is in Bright, Victoria from 15-17 Feb 2013 and we would love for you to come along and chat to some of our lovely adventurers. Your tale will inspire us all. If you are interested, please send me an email.



    Posted on October 15, 2012 at 3:39 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Shane

      Will send you an email over the weekend. Would be great to get together with other adventurers. Just need to get myself back to Australia first!



      Posted on October 19, 2012 at 8:35 pm #
  2. From Fank Vandijk:

    Dear Mr Tibesar,

    The undersigned is looking for more information regarding the journey that Justine Tibesar made from Saigon to Paris.

    I understand that you are her nephew and would like to ask if you have more detailed information about her extraordinary journey.

    Thanking you in advance,

    Yours sincerely,

    Frank Vandijk
    Halen – Belgium

    Posted on September 28, 2012 at 3:55 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Sorry Frank

      The email address Marcus posted on the blog site is incorrect and your message came back here rather than to him directly. Hopefully he will visit the site again and can help in your search for more information. It’s a shame that there is not more information about Justine’s journey as it was such a remarkable one. You can read about it by Googling her name – you may need to speak french though!



      Posted on September 29, 2012 at 10:44 am #
  3. From wal haylock:

    hi ron plenty of admiration(well deserved) from all over the place and birthday wishes (from me also) congratulations on your wonderful achievement and i hope to catch up with you in oz so will attempt to make contact might mean a trip to tassie? i still have a huge no. of bits and pieces to manufacture———can’t go to the corner shop and buy them eh’ hope to catch up with you again some time kind regards to lynne and yourself
    wal cheers!
    p.s. it will be a long time before mine is running but i will keep trying/

    Posted on September 28, 2012 at 7:08 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Wal

      Belated thanks for your birthday wishes & for your congratulations. Hard to believe it’s all over! Have admired some great bikes here lately, so many marques we never see in Oz. Hope to see you in Tassie on your FN – keep on with that restoration, you can do it!



      Posted on October 4, 2012 at 7:55 pm #
  4. From Paula:

    Happy Birthday, Ron. Enjoy the day – hope you have something special planned. Lots of love from P & B

    Posted on September 27, 2012 at 9:34 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Paula & Branden

      Thanks for your birthday wishes – it was a special one with lots of celebrating that I’ll remember for years to come.

      Ron xx

      Posted on October 4, 2012 at 7:51 pm #
  5. From B of Brisvegas:

    Congratulations Ronnie & Effie – WOW what a road travelled! We were so excited to hear that you’d made it and we can’t wait to hear about everything. Enjoy the glow of this wonderful achievement and the celebrations (hic) and we wish you continued safe travels. Your hardcore fan – Love ya……B:) xo

    Posted on September 26, 2012 at 8:13 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi B

      Looking forward to getting back and meeting up with family & friends. A good excuse for another celebration don’t you reckon? I’ve even taken to drinking a glass or two of wine lately – and enjoyed it! The accolades have been overwhelming and it seems like everyone got as much pleasure out of the ride as I did, so that made it all the more worthwhile. The memories will keep me going for years to come. Hang in there for the sequel!

      Love you,

      Ron xx

      Posted on September 26, 2012 at 12:23 pm #
  6. From Patkó Zoltán (RR_ZOZY):

    Hi Ron!

    Congratulations to U& to your wife (from me, and the name of Mz Club Hungary)…

    And last but not the least…congratulation from your FN bike 🙂


    Posted on September 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Zozy

      Effie & Lynne, along with all our supporters, including yourself & the Mz Club Hungary did a splendid job getting me to the end. Hope you’re all still getting a bit of riding in before the winter hits. It’s getting a bit cold here so we’ll be heading back to the sun and the opportunity to restore the FN again. Have great memories of that wonderful ride through the mountains. Can imagine how much fun it is to do it on a bike like yours.
      Thanks for your friendship.

      Cheers from the old Aussie bloke,


      Posted on September 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm #
  7. From Billi Gaven Foord:

    Ron, Lynne & Effie,
    You did it! Fabulous Wonderful & Amazing all rolled into one.
    We are amazing & truly impressed.
    love & Hugs
    Billi,Richard,Arlyn & Mackenzie Foord.

    Posted on September 24, 2012 at 9:59 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Billie

      Thanks for all the praise from the Foord family – it meant a lot to have you following the ride. Effie definitely has a smile on her tank now she can take a rest. In fact all of us are looking forward to putting our feet up for a while.

      Love & hugs to you too!

      Ron, Lynne & a yippee from Effie

      Posted on September 26, 2012 at 11:50 am #
  8. From Branden:

    Congratulations uncle Ron!

    What an amazing journey you’ve been on, can’t believe how quickly you churned through so many countries, so many kilometers in such a short time span. Truely an amazing feat!


    Posted on September 24, 2012 at 2:03 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Mr B

      Great to hear from you. Hope life in the big smoke is agreeing with you. Thanks for your congratulations – I never doubted Effie could make it (though the distance did have me worried a little towards the end) but I am amazed at how quickly the time flew by. I only just got the helmet camera I bought in Coff’s Harbour sorted the other day and managed to take a movie. LOL Sure wish I’d got the hang of it in Pakistan! Maybe i need to go back and do it all again?


      The crazy old bloke

      Posted on September 26, 2012 at 11:39 am #
  9. From Mark Fellowes:

    Who is this man we all followed.

    He could be your a Dad, a Grandad, a mate, an inspiration or a modern day hero.

    You have given all of your followers a taste of what can be achieved when 1. Your a nutter or 2. Have a dream.

    I personally think a mix of both was needed.

    I’m sure we all share the same words Erin posted.

    Love you heaps and look forward to the movie.

    Your Mate, and Son Alb
    Kahren, Talun, & Jesse xxxxoooo
    See you back in Oz

    And just a early happy birthday wishes from all of us

    Posted on September 23, 2012 at 11:09 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Mark, Kahren, Talun & Jessie

      Thanks so much for the lovely tribute. I agree, you definitely have to be a bit crazy to do this but the dream became a reality and it’s something I’ll continue to enjoy for many years to come that’s for sure. What do you reckon for a movie title, “The Nuttiest Kiwi”? LOL Definitely crazier than Bert Monro, as I was on a 35 year old cracked front tyre!

      Thanks for the birthday wishes – I’m expecting to put on a pound or two enjoying some Belgium chocolates if your Mum gets the hint. Love you & look forward to seeing you all soon back in Oz.

      Pa xxxx

      Posted on September 26, 2012 at 11:32 am #
  10. From Mairead:

    We are so proud of you. You truly are an inspiration.
    We look forward to the day that we meet face to face and hear all about your amazing adventure first-hand. Love to you and Lynne
    Mairead & Steve x x x x

    Posted on September 23, 2012 at 7:19 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Mairead & Steve

      Thanks for your kind words and for following me to the end. I have to pinch myself when I read my diary as it sometimes seems like some other old bloke did this!
      Lynne and I look forward to seeing you again before the year is out – what a year it’s been!

      The tired but happy old bloke – Ron

      Posted on September 26, 2012 at 11:19 am #
  11. From Erinn Macfarlane:

    I am so proud of you! YOU DID IT. Look at you, my famous grandad riding around the world on an old beautiful bike. I knew this dream of yours would come true and I am so happy it did. Your determination and motivation is an inspiration to us all. I hope you come back soon, so I can give you a massive hug and tell you how proud I am of you in person. I hope when some day I will be travelling the world with the person I love because it would be the most amazing feeling in the world. I love you and Grandma so much, and I am missing you both.

    Lots and lots of love,
    Erinn xxxx

    Posted on September 23, 2012 at 5:31 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Erinn

      You made my day with your lovely message! I look forward very much to getting that very special hug from you when we meet up soon. I hope you find that special someone to share all your adventures with and that you’ll be as happy and laugh as much as your Grandma & I do. We miss you too and all the family.

      Lots of love

      Your old Grandad on a bike. xxxx

      Posted on September 26, 2012 at 11:06 am #
  12. From Marcus Tibesar:

    Congratlations Ron!

    Enjoyed your travel log immensely.

    Marcus Tibesar (Justine Tibesar’s cousin)
    The Tibesar Archives

    Posted on September 23, 2012 at 2:43 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Marcus

      Great to hear from you and know you’ve enjoyed my adventure. Not sure if it’s possible to be granted access to your website but would love any additional information you have regarding Justine’s background, family and what happened to her after she returned from her fantastic FN journey. Do you still have my email address?



      Posted on September 26, 2012 at 10:50 am #
  13. From Tania Grose-Hodge:

    You did it!
    All those years ago you had a dream and through patience, determination and bloody hard work, you made that dream come true. We are sending you the biggest pat on the back – better still we are giving you a HUGE hug.
    Make sure you take a quiet moment to sit (on anything other than a bike seat), reflect, smile and say to yourself “Fuck I did it!”
    Well done
    Lot of love
    Tania & Simon Grose-Hodge

    Posted on September 22, 2012 at 2:42 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Tania & Simon

      Thanks for your continued support & the HUGE hug. It really helped over the past seven months knowing there were friends like yourselves urging me on. The enormity of the ride is still sinking in and I have moments of wondering if it was real. Still lots of loose ends to organise before I can really unwind but i’m doing my best to smell the roses when I can.

      All the best to you both,


      Posted on September 26, 2012 at 10:19 am #
  14. From John Galvin:

    What a fantastic achievement. Your(all three of you)single minded determination leaves me speechless with admiration. It was great to meet up with you two in Bruchsal, and very kind of you to take the time and share a coffee with me. I had a couple of difficult days at home following our meeting, but all is ok now. Please let me have an address in OZ where I can send the newspaper recording the Bertha Benz memorial run from 2008 (120 year anniversary).
    If you want to consider next years trip to include the Bertha Benz run, it will be in August. Next year will be 125 year anniversary….something special. Safe driving to the FN factory. Cheers John

    Posted on September 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi John

      Thanks so much for your good wishes, interest and continued support. So sorry to hear that there have been some difficult days recently – here’s hoping these get easier for you both. Will email you with an address. i can imagine the Bertha Benz run next year will be pretty amazing.

      The run to the factory was a fantastic end to the journey – will write a post about this asap.

      Take care John & we hope we get the opportunity to meet again in the near future.

      Best regards

      Ron, Lynne & Effie

      Posted on September 26, 2012 at 10:06 am #
  15. From Calif Wingnut alas Jeff Maltby:

    Yee Haaaaaaaaaaaa ~:<)


    Posted on September 22, 2012 at 5:56 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Jeff,

      Guess that means we did it! It’s a bit of a strange feeling to be walking again now instead of riding but I’ll get used to it. LOL


      The old bloke.

      Posted on September 26, 2012 at 9:51 am #
  16. From Paul Louis Venne:

    Ron, I wonder how many spokes you broke total? What gauge are they? Thanks so much and carry on! Paul

    Posted on September 21, 2012 at 10:58 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Paul

      Just off the top of my head I think about 120 spokes were broken. They’re 3.5mm (8 gauge). The bike was carrying a huge weight which probably contributed to most of the breakages, not to mention some of the road conditions. Thanks for your good wishes.



      Posted on September 26, 2012 at 9:43 am #
  17. From FN Oldtimers:

    Hi Ron, it was nice to met you at the FN meeting in Bernkastel, I enjoyed it.
    You where more then a star there, it turns totally around you ( that was what it makes specialy the 10 the time)and you were like a rock star, but one with a old bike.:-)
    I was wonder how easy you turns on Effie, a small trow at the rear wheel on see runs like hell!
    A friend of me with his single FN 1907 will give you on friday 21/09/12 a escort,to the FN factory I could not follow because I have to work this weekend.
    I crossed my fingers to see you again some where with Lynn and Effi and you, and then with a little more time to talk about motorcycle things.
    FN Oldtimers from on his IPad.

    Posted on September 21, 2012 at 7:14 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Jacques

      Not sure I’d enjoy being a rock star. All the attention in recent months has been enough for a lifetime I think!
      The ride to the factory and the welcome there was very emotional for me. Thanks to all who attended the event, including your friend, it was humbling to see so many people interested in sharing my adventure. I’m not going to push my luck with the bike any more at this stage given she’s showing definite signs of wearing out, but Lynne & I will be visiting Bruge within the next couple of weeks before we leave Belgium. I look forward to getting together with you and chatting about bikes and seeing your collection. Til then,

      Best regards my friend


      Posted on September 26, 2012 at 9:22 am #

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