Trip to the Roller Touring Freunde Hannover scooter club

Half a year ago already, Hannover's local scooter club published its plans for an interregional scooter meeting. Last February, I decided to give it a shot and sign up. As anyone who knows me expected, I started to prepare things weeks before due date. I tried a bag on the Elystar's seat, I studied maps of all kinds, I spelled out the weather forecasts from all available TV- and online stations, filled up fuel and oil, charged batteries of my phone, rasor, camera and handheld, almost forgot my wife's Birthday in the process, and finally woke up way too early on the 19th of June...Departure Day!

The facts
DepartureJune 19, 2003, 08:00am
ReturnJune 24, 2003, 12:50pm
Total km1,085 km
Total fuel consumption   30,1 litres
Average fuel cons.36 km per litre
Total oil consumption0.88 litre

Day 1
On Thursday, June 19, I left home around 08:00am for the first 230km from Monnickendam via Enkhuizen, Lelystad, Kampen, and Dedemsvaart to Wietmarschen, a small village exactly half way between home and the destination point.

The weather was not bad. There were some clouds, but it would remain dry until Dedemsvaart (after 160km) where I was surprised by a shower. Otherwise, temperatures reached a nice 22C and the westerly tailwind made the Elystar fly.
For the first time, I wore ear plugs during the trip. And I can only say that I will keep wearing them whenever I make any trip longer than an hour. They make one helluva difference and the advantage of relative silence outweighs the disadvantage of slight discomfort (ear pressure) by a large margin.

A special part of the trip: the 30km dike between Enkhuizen and Lelystad, right through the IJsselmeer. Sometimes, this road is closed due to stormy winds which definitely will blow an Elystar off the road and into the water easily. During my trip, the road could be used, though. Dozens of bugs have slammed my helmet, but even more interesting were the hundreds of sea birds I was fighting my way through. Luckily, I didn't hit any of them so I crossed the lake safely.

(c) 2003 HeilemannWietmarschen is the home village of Hotel Heilemann, where I had booked a single room for the first and last night of the trip. The room turned out to be a comfortable, clean double room with TV and a nice bath room. I paid EUR 33 per night, including an excellent breakfast buffet and free use of the fitness facilities. The Elystar could safely and free be parked at the hotel's garage at the side of the building. The only downside of this hotel is, that it's situated in the middle of nowhere. Ideal for bicyclists, but not for scooter riders who would like to walk through town a bit.

This hotel was also the place where I was to meet Urs Werffeli, an Elystar rider from Mühlheim/Ruhr in Germany, about 160kms south of Wietmarschen. He read about my plans of going to Hannover and e-mailed me. We agreed to meet at this hotel and ride to Hannover together on Friday. "Whoever arrives last, buys the first beer", Urs said.
He lost the bet, but only by a 30 minutes margin. Anyway, before we went to the hotel's "Gasthof" in the building next door to get those beers, we first took some time to inspect each other's Elystars, meanwhile safely parked in the garage. Note that Urs added side mirrors from a car accessories vendor to his (red) Elystar. An excellent solution to the problem that the regular mirrors usually only show the rider's elbows.

Day 2
Friday, June 20, showed nice and calm weather. Partly overcast, 20C and a calm west wind.
Breakfast at 7:30am in the wonderful "Frühstücksraum" at Heilemann's. Rolls, all types of hams, cheeses and jams, cerials of various types, scrambled eggs, coffee and juices, you name was there. Of course, they didn't mind us preparing an additional sandwich for the road.

Around 8:30am, we left for Hannover. Due to some tailwind, we managed to ride the 231km (Lingen, Diepholz, Sulingen, Nienburg, Mellendorf, Burgwedel-Engensen) in only 4 hours and 50 minutes. It didn't take us long to realize, that Urs's Elystar took off quicker than mine, while my top speed was 5-10km/h faster. It didn't really slow us down, though, and in fact, it was a very pleasant ride. We took a 10 minutes break in Ankum (clean public toilet available at the bus stop), Freistadt (there was this Bratwurst-and French-Fries booth right next to the road, so we had our lunch there) and Schwarmstedt.

Then, suddenly, we saw a couple of tents and a whole bunch of scooters at the right side of the road, but we continued our trip, since Engensen was only ten more kms up the road. At the next traffic light, we realized that we had just passed the meeting area.

(c) 2003 VogesA little later we reached the small village of Engensen. Our stay for the next three days was the Gasthaus Voges, a nice but simple Bed & Breakfast. For EUR 26 a night, we each got a large room (they even installed a bed without foot shelf upon my request), more than decent breakfast, but had to share the bath room. Mr. and Mrs. Voges then emptied the shed in the back yard, so we could park our Elystars there.

One hour later, we were ready to go to the meeting area. It was 15:00pm now, and slowly, scooter riders from all over the northern part of Germany were coming in. By far the most of them were owners of big scooters, like the Burgmans 400 and 650, the Yamaha T-Max and the Piaggio X9-500. Plenty of 125cc (Suzuki, Peugeot, Yamaha, Kymco) scooters were present as well, and also some oldtimers like a couple of Helix and one Simson Schwalbe, an old 50cc scooter with a manual 4-gears box, parking light and foot brake from the former German Democratic Republic. These scooters are allowed 60km/h because the GDR rules still apply, while modern 50cc scooters are supposed to be restricted to 45km/h.

The rest of the day, it turned out that the organisers hadn't planned for anything special. They figured that scooter riders would be coming in, setting up their tents and then be ready for some beers and chatter. It wasn't quite what I was looking for at a three day scooter weekend, but Urs and I stayed around for a couple of hours, talking to people, discussing their scooters and add-ons, eating one more Bratwurst and then left for Engensen. After a short walk to get to know the village, and a quick beer at the Voges B&B, we called it a day.

Day 3
This day, Saturday, June 21, was supposed to be the big day! The organisers had announced that we were having a "demo" scooter ride through the centre of the city of Hannover. Sounded like something to be looking forward to.
So, after a nice breakfast we rode the 11km down to the meeting place. When we got there, our scooter friends slowly crawled out of their tents. Apparently they had had a rough night.
The Rollertouring Club's president showed me the leaflet they would be handing out to bystanders during the ride today. It listed some demands: they wanted the roads to be repaired soon, more tolerance for scooterists in traffic and a law change so car drivers can ride a 125cc scooter as well. Obviously, this wasn't just going to be a demo ride, but a protest march as well.

Around 11:30am, little over 50 scooterists left the meeting area. The weather was fine again, although at first it looked like we might get a couple of showers. In convoy, at 50-60km/h we went to a big parking space in Hannover, where we were supposed to meet other scooterists and bikers for the demo ride. This trip to Hannover was a little over 30km and it took us 40 minutes to get there. When we got to the parking lot, about 50 other scooterists were already waiting for us. Also, policemen were ready to get us through the city safely.
When we took off, there were about 120 scooter riders and 30 bikers! During the 45 minutes ride through the city, several other scooterists joined the convoy, which reached a length of more than one kilometer. I'm not quite sure whether or not everyone out there on the streets knew what all these scooter riders were doing (and I don't believe the protest factor of this ride will be very successful), but it surely was interesting to be part of it. Policemen on motorcycles constantly raced by us in order to make sure that we could safely cross at each junction. This was fun!

Around 14:15pm, we went back to the camping area in small convoys and upon arrival at the camping area, soon the beer and music tents delivered their merchandise. This calm athmosphere was used by Jürgen Neumann, the club's president, around 17:00 to hold a speech and hand some prizes. There were cups for the oldest (73 yr.) and youngest (15 yr.) participants, for the scooters with the highest and lowest mileage and for those who had to travel furthest to get here (the riders from Monnickendam and Mühlheim!).

At 19:00pm, we went back to Engensen.

Erick left, Urs right

Being fed up with Bratwurst, we finally wanted to enjoy a decent meal. At a five minutes walking distance from our B&B we found a marvellous little local restaurant serving local specialties. Of course, they had a wide range of asparagus dishes. But I chose the 'Heidschnucken Braten', roasted heath sheep at EUR 12,20...a ridiculously low price compared to Amsterdam restaurants. Now, how do I report the smell and taste of this great dish at a "multimedia" website?
After another walk through the village, this third days was over.

Day 4
Three lively days...that's what the organisers promised. In fact, today, Sunday June 22, was just the morning when everybody left the party. Urs already understood, so he decided to leave for Mühlheim in the morning. This time, he wanted to make the 360km trip in one Day. On a 50cc scooter, that's quite a trip, especially now that the wind had turned and would prevent him from going any faster than 65kmh and temperatures had reached 28C.
Because I had made hotel arrangements long ago, I didn't want to change them, so I stayed. Talked to the organisers and other scooterists for an hour or so, then said goodbye around noon. The rest of the day, I simply had some fun riding the small roads around Engensen, having another nice dinner at the same restaurant, and watching some TV on my room.
Urs reached home safely after 8¾ hours of scootering.

Day 5
Monday, June 23. Breakfast at 8:00am and riding back to Wietmarschen at 08:45am. The weather forecast was really bad, talking about thunderstorms and showers. To my relief, I only encountered one little rain shower. Otherwise, the weather wasn't bad at all.

Riding in Germany is very different from riding in Holland on a 50cc scooter. In the Netherlands, such scooters are not allowed to use any larger road at all. Instead, scooterists are treated like bicyclists and are supposed to stay on the bicyclists paths parallel to the road. Also, In Holland, 50cc scooterists are limited to 30km/h in residential area, and only 40km/h outside town.

In Germany, 50cc scooters are generally considered motorbikes. Scooterists use the roads, even the "Bundesstrasse", and are only banned from the Highway (Autobahn) and Fast Traffic Roads (Kraftfahrstrasse). Most roads actually have a small track parallel to the street. At first, I thought that 50cc scooters had to ride there, since the sign says "frei" below a picture of a moped. Later I learned, that these tracks are only to be used by "mofa" riders. A "mofa" is a moped which is restricted to 25km/h. Real scooters have to use the road, which I did. In town, scooterists simply ride the middle of the road, and swim along with the rest of the traffic. On the countryside, you stay on the ride side of the road and to my surprise, car drivers will definitely pass you by a large margin. I haven't been cut off the road a single time. Anytime there's traffic coming from the other side, car drivers will calmly stay behind me until the road is free to pass safely, although they could easily have tried to squeeze by me at 20cm distance.

Arrival at Wietmarschen: 13:45pm, after exactly five hours. At Hotel Heilemann they were expecting me, allowed me to park the Elystar in the garage again, and gave me the same room. The rest of the day, I made some phone calls, walked all the way to the Wietmarschen village (a pilgrim's town) and back, and enjoyed a wonderful meal at the Heilemann's Gasthaus. This is where a dish with three different pieces of grilled meat with baked potatoes and tzaziki only costs EUR 8,20 and where you pay no more than EUR 2,30 for a glass of Irish Coffee.

Day 6
Tuesday, June 24. Breakfast at 7:00am and riding back to Monnickendam at 07:45am. On this final day I had to fight the wind a bit. Sometimes, especially when climbing a hill, the scooter fell back to just over 45km/h. No problem, though. At 12:50pm I reached home and the trip was over.
The Peugeot Elystar proved to be a very good travelling scooter. Always reliable, good fuel and oil consumption, and comfortable. I would make such a trip on the Elystar anytime again, but would probably make sure that the programm at the venue is interesting enough to spend a couple of days.