"Just a tale "

As said, just a tale, and the start of a beautiful friendship

Just a tale


Disclaimer: All what is written below never happened, any resemblance to real facts are pure coincidence…


We were both tired after an 900km ride from Brussels to somewhere near Grenoble in France. A traditional first day of a traditional motorcycle holiday aiming at covering as many kilometres as possible so that the following days could be spent on touristic small tours, visiting a castle here and a small historic town there, and ending with a fine dinner and a good bottle of wine in the evening.


It was our first long trip with our new KTM 1190 Adventure and it had served us very well this first day. Still, we were tired. 900km is not nothing, even when the first Belgian stretch was highway, and a whole day in the saddle brought too much reality to the internet claims that the 1190 seat was not at all comfortable on long distances. In addition, the thing always seems to be in a hurry wanting to go much faster than even the most relaxed speed limit permits and requires constant attention and concentration.


In short, all we wanted was to reach that hotel, take a shower, a quick dinner and hit the sack.


Then a kind of X-mas tree lighted up on the KTM dashboard. There had already been a discrete warning that fuel was getting low but now it was shouting “EMPTY”, also meaning “re-fuel now or start pushing soon”. I really did not want to add an extra stop barely 5 km from the hotel but…


While filling the tank, three BMW motorcycles zoomed by, an older but colourful 1100 GS, a 1200 GS, and a relatively new water-cooled R 1200 GS. I could not help but staring at them. It had been a difficult choice a few months earlier between buying a KTM or a GS, and doubt was still on my mind whether I made the right choice.


Back to reality, and with a full tank we reached the hotel a few minutes later. On the parking lot I could easily spot the 3 motorcycles. My heart leaped while I parked my KTM next to them looking forward to an evening of sharing strong motorcycle stories with likeminded souls.


Check-in, shower, dinner and we headed for the hotel bar where we could spot the motorcycle friends. An older guy with a huge moustache who was alone, and two younger types with their partners. Judging by their noise, they already had a few drinks.


We took a “strategic” position, not imposing ourselves but still close enough to allow for conversation. Unfortunately, we did not have to wait for long.


One of the younger types turned to me and asked: “Is that little ugly orange bicycle outside your thingy?”. I did not understand what I was hearing, “you mean my KTM???” I asked surprised. “Yes” responded the other goon, “the ugly thing, how on earth can you be so stupid to buy such pooooor bargain instead of a real motorcycle?”.


My wife, who has a lot more intelligence than myself in dealing with such situations said: “This is bringing nothing positive, let’s go to sleep” and we left in an orchestra of laughter and cheering from the goons who clearly thought that this was hilarious.


Next morning, I was in a bad mood. Did I really buy the wrong thing? Anyway, we made as planned a short trip and visited a war memorial, and got back to the hotel way to early. My partner decided to go inside and dive into her KOBO reader, I forced myself to another ride in the mountains.


It was a ride without any inspiration. I had my mind somewhere else and the KTM seemed angry that I did not defend it the evening before. It behaved like a stubborn goat swallowing like a drunk sailor through corners, bucking at each attempt of acceleration, and generally pretending that I was not at all worthy of its services. Pooooooooor bargain, I heard in my head.


In short, this did not make sense, and after an hour or so, I stopped to configure the GPS to bring me back to the hotel. While doing that the three BMW passed by and one of those goons gave me … the finger. Damn, I thought, there we go for another evening of miserable jokes at my expense.


I reluctantly pushed the start button. The KTM responded with a huge roar, RPM soaring to 8000, falling back to a steady 4000 before coming back to its normal idle level. I was totally surprised. It had never done that before and I didn’t touch the gas handle. I swear, I DID NOT TOUCH the gas handle... but I got the message.


My fingers flipped over a few buttons, “Comfort” and “Street” turned to Race and we took off, back to the hotel, but first… hunting some Beemer ass. Soon I understood why the younger brother of my 1190 Adventure is called “the BEAST”. My god, what an engine. The twisty road I was on was just perfect and we digested each corner with growing confidence.


It did not take long before I noticed three taillights a few hundred meters in front of me. One of them must have noticed me at the same moment, I heard him sounding alarm and frantically waving he accelerated past his two friends, apparently to stay ahead of me.


But it was too late, a few minutes later I was on their tail waiting for an opportunity to overtake the 1200 GS that was in the third position. I did not have to wait for long. He went wide in an uphill corner, I cut inside and past him getting on the tail of the moustache on his 1100.


It was a surprising experience, the leading R1200 in front torturing his boxer to stay in the lead, me at the back of the cue frantically searching for an opportunity to pass the Beemers, and the Moustache in the middle on the least powerful and oldest machine, totally relaxed milling through the corners as if unaware of the on-going race. Boy, that man definitively could drive.


Finally, the R 1200 made a wrong gear shift right after a corner and his speed dropped suddenly.  I expected the Moustache to take the lead, but he squeezed the brakes and stayed behind his friend. Not only was he an exceptional driver, he also was a lot wiser than the rest of us and thus stopped this competition before an accident would happen.


I jumped in front of them and accelerated away noticing how all three behind me stopped while the R 1200 was clumsily searching for his first gear.


I continued the ride at a more reasonable pace, parked the KTM, ran to the bedroom, changed clothes, and was together with my wife in the hotel bar behind a colourful aperitif before the others arrived.


An hour later we were in the restaurant, on a table next to the other company who seemed to contemplate on all possible variations of the theme “silent as a grave”. My wife, who completely missed the previous episode, finally remarked “they are very quiet this evening, aren’t they?”.


I grinned cheaply and responded “They probably think about the difference between bargain and poor bargain”.  


The atmosphere on thetable next to ours turned to heavy storm and total darkness, except for the Moustache who smiled ear to ear and took a huge gulp from his massive pint.


I still love these fantastic BMW motorcycles. They are great traveling bikes and I enjoy each time that a friend let’s me do a few kilometres on his GS.


However, me and my horse, we are true friends since that day near Grenoble, I understand his nature, and he accepts my limitations. We drive safely, and largely within legal boundaries…  and sometimes, we let the beast out and have some fun…


But all this never happened, of course not.


  • There are no comments here. Why not leave one?