Today was one of sadness poor Queen Bessie died… RIP Queen Bessie.
When we arrived in the UK we had already organised to see a bike, Ron had been looking at a variety of different bikes and decided on a Pan European which would suit our needs. He had seen one that was not far from Michele’s Mum’s place so it was convenient and a good price.
We decided that although it was no spring chicken at 20 years old, she had low mileage and recently had a bit of work done on it so it would be fine for what we needed. So we became the proud owners of Queen Bessie.
She didn’t miss a beat on our trip across from the UK to Luxembourg and we were feeling pretty good about our choice when we arrived at our housesit.
When we arrived our hosts were preparing for their month long holidays travelling in a Winnebago style van so they spent a few days setting their van up.
Ron spent the next few days day helping our hosts trying to iron out some of their problems with their van. It was quite fun and rewarding working on the plumbing to get the water running properly. The system had blocked up with calcium but after cleaning filters on the pump and all the taps, water was soon flowing like the Burrunjuk dam. The toilet was a problem with a fuse controlling the flush function in the most awkward places. It kept on blowing fuses which meant that water slowly leaked into the toilet. Despite our best efforts this one was not so easy and best handled by the professionals. There were other little jobs to be taken care of and pretty soon it was dark. Just after dark our hosts had the van all packed and they were ready to head off on holidays. We wished them well and soon they were happily motoring out of the village.
The next day was an absolute corker, sunshine and not a cloud in the sky, a great day for a ride. We were really hanging out after working around the house for the last few days watching groups of motorcycles slowly motor past. The weather had been awesome and everyone from all over Europe was in Luxembourg enjoying the scenic roads in the sun.
We were happily motoring along around a corner when the motorcycle cut out, I dropped the clutch expecting it to burst back into life but it was dead we slowly coasted to a stop on the side of the road. I tried to start it but it wouldn’t turn over and judging by the noise there was something more than just a fuse. We watched as groups of riders zoomed past. As no one was stopping we decided to walk back to a little village just up the road.
After a bite to eat at a restaurant we asked the waiter if there was a taxi nearby. To our surprise he replied that there was a taxi driver but he’d died. With satnav in hand I started walking the 6 km’s back to the house to pick up their car. It was a nice day for a walk but trudging along in full motorcycle gear and boots became less and less fun as the distance wore on. Soon enough I was home and after a drink I returned to Marnach to pick up Michele.
After dropping her off I headed back to the bike with some tools to check it out a bit further but soon it was evident that it was beyond my capacity. I then started trying to search out a bike shop by asking at service stations, shops and every biker I saw, and a local biker hangout which I’d been told about but there was just nothing. I just drove around from village to village hoping to see signs of a bike shop when I saw a big Blue van with Harley Davidson stickers on the side…. Bingo if this guy doesn’t know where there’s a shop they don’t exist.
I knocked on the front door and soon the door opened and I was greeted by a massive Luxembourger, Monte. I asked him if he spoke English and he spoke a little so I told him how the bike had broken down and I was looking for a bike shop. No sooner than the words were out of my mouth than he was bundling me into his van and we were hurtling down the road to pick the bike up. We loaded the bike up after checking and coming to the decision that it was a terminal problem. He took the bike back to his place and put it in his shed telling me that he’d call around the bike shops tomorrow and organise for them to check it out. What a top bloke.
True to is word the next day I received a phone call he’d rung around all the bike shops in Luxembourg and Belgium but they wouldn’t touch the bike. He called back later to tell us the bike was booked in for three o’clock. I headed over to his place and we headed off to the Garage George’s in Mersch, about 30 km’s away. The French mechanic took a look shook his head and we could tell it wasn’t going to be good. I had a nagging suspicion that the previous owners had skipped the 60,000 mile service and not replaced the timing belt. Judging by how big the Honda dealership was I knew it was going to cost a large sum to repair it whatever the outcome.
The next day we received the phone call we were dreading that the timing belt had broken and the pistons had been damaged by the valves. Valves and Pistons are like wives and girlfriends if the two ever meet sparks will fly and it’s gonna cost you a lot of money. The shop wanted €2,500 yep Euros to fix it, $3,700 geez Ned Kelly was a gentleman compared to this mob of highway robbers. That was more than we paid for the bike. After all the other bike shops didn’t want to touch it, it was obvious the price was so large that anyone in their right mind wouldn’t proceed.
The next day Monte tried to call but Luxembourg it seems has a few “black holes” in its mobile phone network and where we were staying has a large one. We’ve since discovered if we want reception we have to put the phone outside on the window sill. He picked the bike up for us, had paid the bill and took it back to his shed for us. I told you he was a top bloke. When I offered him money for all his troubles he refused it. I suppose that’s the “code of road” or “code between bikers” not to leave someone behind.
We met up that night with Monte at the Garage Hangout in Hosingen and met some of the guys from the hangout. The hangout is pretty cool with a small bar with the walls covered in all sorts of biking memorabilia they even have a space where the guys can work on their bikes in the rear of the building. While we were there the boys were busy surfing the net and calling friends to find a new bike for us. They found a bike shop in Belgium (because bikes are cheaper across the border) and there were a few we decided to check out.
The next day we took a trip to Belgium to find the bike shop. What a scenic trip it turned out to be with the satnav diverting us onto farm tracks with huge hump in the middle of the road (caused by all the tractors) threatening to rip the sump off the engine. We drove with one tyre on the hump and one on the edge of the bush as the satnav happily babbled away “in ten kilometres turn left on Rue de Goat-track….”
We finally arrived at Kaiser.com bike shop and had a look around. Unfortunately the salesman didn’t speak English and we struggled in broken French to ask if they would repair our motorbike to which he replied no. We looked around their bikes settling on a Honda Deauville 650cc as a replacement and headed to the cashier to organise payment. Hopefully this one will last longer than the last one and at least this time we have a warranty.
The payment became a challenge they charged and extra 3% for us to us the credit card and with the banks 1.5% it added a few hundred dollars to the cost. We paid them a cash deposit and went home to organise a transfer through our bank. After a few hiccups and emails backwards and forwards we got it sorted.
I can’t say the service at this shop was friendly or courteous I think indifferent would be closer to feeling I got. I miss Perth motorbike shops, I know if we were at home we could’ve repaired the bike. The two encounters with bike shops in Europe hasn’t left me feeling overly confident in support. I think these shops would soon be out of business in Australia because of their indifference.
Monte phoned a few days later to say he’d found a buyer for “Queen Bessie”, for parts. So after 14 days and travelling about 1,000 miles she was headed for the scrap heap. Poor old Bessie :-(