Told by his son through a family album, this the story of an Englishman, Geoffrey Gander, and of his friends going on a motorcycling holiday around Europe, in France, Germany, Austria, Italy & Switzerland. At the time, it was probably quite an adventurous trip to take. Enjoy all pictures…
“We think of old bikes as being unreliable, but my father and his friends were keen riders and engineers and completed the trip without much more than a puncture. The bikes that took part in the trip were: GAU 856 Brough Superior SS100 with fuel in the loop sidecar, AHC 650 Triumph Thunderbird. He bought this one on 22nd July 1950 for £219 16 9 and by the day they set off in July 53 it had done 24,900 miles. KBY 571 Sunbeam. VMM 871 Sunbeam. AHC 963 Triumph.
When we cross from England to France now we have a ferry or the tunnel. For this trip they choose to fly the bikes from Lympne Airport in Kent, UK over to Le Touquet, France. They were all smartly dressed bikers and whilst helmets were not required, a jacket and tie certainly was. The bikes were swiftly loaded at the English end, it took a while for the French to unload the bikes.
So what do you do just a few minutes into France as an Englishman… of course you brew tea whilst you wait. My Father stands on the right of this picture, clearly dressed for a motorcycle ride! Customs at Le Touquet, France.
Entering Germany at Kehl and about 600-700 miles into the trip. My father was 18 when War was declared and having listened to the radio broadcast with his mother, had a cup of tea and then rode his motorcycle down to the recruiting office and signed up for the RAF. I assume that his friends were in the war and wonder what their banter was as they crossed into Germany.
They had to stop and pay to enter the Grossglockner Pass. This was a very well visited tourist road with over 90,000 vehicles using it in 1952. It has a beautiful selection of bends that must have been wonderful on the bikes. Soon after a stop for tea is required. The Tunnel at the top of the Grossglockner Pass. The road peaks at 6,400ft.
Re entering Germany on the way to Salzburg in Austria
They stopped for a while in Salzburg and then took the Inn Valley to Rattenburg where the picture above was taken. If you have ever wondered if Germans really did walk about in leather shorts …. They must be about 1300 miles into the trip now.
After Rattenburg they head for Innsbruck and after that Steinach in Austria and then onto the Brenner Pass. The Brenner Pass is one of the principal passes of the Alps and will take them from Austria into Italy. It peaks at 4,500 ft
After the joys of the Brenner Pass they continued on to the Giovo Pass into Italy. The Giovo is very small and twisty and splendid on a bike, except when they did it the road was just dirt and gravel with no safety barriers. The traffic jam has been caused as two coaches have become stuck.
Then onto Zernez and onto St Moritz with around 1,600 miles completed.
After the lovely twisty roads of the previous week, they are back onto the arrow straight French roads and it seems a bit cooler by the riding gear. It must have been tempting to open the bikes up on this straight.
And on to Langres for a stop. I have ridden some of the roads between Troyes and Basel and they are excellent, fast sweeping undulating roads.