The time had come to wave goodbye to the wife and kids and set off on a road trip to Friedrichshafen in Germany for the annual Eurobike. Neil was due to pick me up at 3pm on the Sunday for the long drive, it looked like it could potentially be a VERY long drive as Neil got lost twice trying to find my house despite him only having to make two turns once he came off the slip road he knew!
Anyway, armed with a good old fashioned paper map and a UK satnav we set off on our merry way. We made a pit stop around Manchester to carb up on Burger King meals and stretch our legs before I took over the driving and before we knew it we had arrived at the Euro Tunnel. Now when I say “before we knew it we had arrived at the Euro Tunnel“, I wasn’t in anyway implying that I was speeding, of course I kept to the legal limit.
A quick toilet break was had then the light deflectors were attached to the car and it was off onto the Eurostar and into France. I’ve never been on the Eurostar before and to be fair there’s not much to it, you just drive your car onto the train, put your handbrake on, put car into 1st gear, roll your windows down and wait till you get to the other side, which takes little over 30mins.
We left the Eurotunnel at around 1am UK time, 2am French time to a mass of signs reminding us to keep right! Neil drove the first leg of France and after around 2hrs we pulled into a service station and grabbed 4hrs kip before getting breakfast. I was now about to complete a first for myself, driving abroad! I’ve held my UK license for 18 years but have never driven on the wrong side of the road before, but was surprised at how easy it was, just as long as you remembered to keep right, especially when going round roundabouts! The only thing that felt weird was signalling right coming off a roundabout.
I completed the driving through France and through Germany to what would be base camp for the next week in Friedrichshafen. 26 hrs later we had arrived at our campsite, pitched the tent then did what you do after such a long journey…….. hit the bar! A couple pints *cough *cough later we headed back to the tent to get some sleep in preparation for Demo day.
The sun was shining as we left Friedrichshafen for the short 30 min bus journey to the demo day location. As we drew into the car park all I could see was pop up gazebos and brand banners galore. My eyes lit up like a kid in a sweetie shop as we collected our tickets and walked through the gates. There were high end bikes, accessories and clothing galore, all of which you could demo by just handing over your passport as security.
First off we headed to the e-bike stands to see what was on offer and to try out a few different brands and models. E-bike’s really have taken off, I’ve never seen so many e-bike brands in my life! We tested different types of e-bikes from folding, commuting/hybrid to hardtail e-bikes and was pleasantly surprised at how they performed. The e-bike came in all shapes and sizes, with some I wouldn’t be seen dead on if I wasn’t at the biggest bicycle trade show in Europe! The hills became flat with a flick of a switch and a love for e-bikes started to emerge. All I could think about was my upcoming Pedal for Scotland 110 mile cycle little over a week away, and how much easier it would be on an e-bike! Lol
Next we took to the road bikes and tested a few different brands and models including what was my dream bike before attending the show, the Pinarello Dogma 64.1 equipped with electronic shifting. Wow I loved it! Really stiff frame with seamless gear changing and auto trim feature of the electronic shifting left me sounding like a spoilt we brat……. I want, I want *tantrum! Lol
Next up was what has become my new I WANT bike, the Colnago C59 equipped with electronic shifting and hydraulic disc brakes. Now I have been a little sceptical about disc brakes on road bikes and the need for them but after trying them out and being blessed with a downpour while trying it out I am now convinced. The power offered by the hydraulic disc brakes in the rain was immense, one finger was enough to control the bike and stop safely in the downpour on wet roads!
The Colnago C59 turned out to be a very stiff bike with great handling, easy gear changing due to the electronic shifting and powerful braking and is now my bike of choice. Comparing side by side with the Pinarello Dogma, I really didn’t notice much of a difference between the Dogma and C59 with the exception of £1,500 – £2,000 price tag!
After testing several more bikes it was time to say goodbye to the demo day and make our way back to Friedrichshafen where we managed to sneak into the centre for a sneak peek at the displays before the show opened the following morning. I was blown away with the size of the place and the number of halls and exhibitors on display, some names I knew and others I’d never heard of before! Some of the stands were all finished and ready for opening in the morning while on others people were frantically working away building and painting to get the stand ready for the opening day.
The following three days consisted of attending the trade show, walking around taking pictures and wiping the drool off my face! So many shiny new toys on display!
Saturday Neil had a meeting then we set off on the homeward journey around 11am arriving 4 hours early at Calais for our Eurotunnel crossing. We were sent away as they had no spaces left on earlier trains and you weren’t allowed into the area until earliest 2hrs before your train. We parked up and grabbed a quick kip before checking in for our train and completing the final UK leg of our journey arriving back home just before 8am and heading off to a proper bed!
I really enjoyed the trip, learning more about the industry and drooling over shiny new toys, and Friedrichshafen is a lovely wee town which until my visit I never knew existed. I was blown away with the sheer size of the exhibition with lots of recognisable brands on display and just as many brands I’d never heard of before.
Roll on Interbike in Las Vegas….. eh Neil?