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Digital Subscriptions > Fast Bikes > Issue 323 February 2017 > SHUTTLE DIPLOMACY

SHUTTLE DIPLOMACY

A trip to the Alps usually begins with a ferry - not a shuttle - but this adventure was going to be a little bit special…

SWISS ALPS

Dear Swi tzerl and. Sorry….

It seemed like an odd notion to travel north on the A34 to head to the Alps. This was really twisting my melon, man. Being based ‘darn sarf’ I’ve always shuffled across the busiest part of the country to the Channel Tunnel or wizzed down to Portsmouth to catch a ferry to wend my way to the biggest lumps in Europe. But here I was, heading due north, now along the A43 to get to Towcester, and then a few miles up the A5 on my longterm KTM 1290 Super Duke 1290 (not forgetting the SE suffix) to rendez-vous with my transport to Geneva.

Bikeshuttle is in its second year of operation, and its premise is simple. You drop your machine off at its depot, it gets safely loaded onto the back on an artic lorry (along with all your riding gear) while you head off for a nice pub lunch. Shortly after the cheese and port course (sadly there’s no time to choose a cigar from the humidor) you get taken to Luton airport to jump onto a late afternoon Easyjet flight to Geneva. There, you get picked up from the airport, spend the night in a decent hotel and by the time you’ve wiped off the crumbs from your croissant the truck rolls in, your bike gets unloaded, you get kitted up and then head off to… wherever you want!

Geneva is right in the thick of the Alpine action, hence the destination of the truck, and there are great routes whichever way your compass is pointing. After a week of hard or softcore action in the Alps, you meet the truck back at the Geneva hotel again and repeat the journey homeward, with you reuniting with your bike back at Bikeshuttle’s HQ, exhausted but with a week’s worth of brilliant biking memories – and a set of tyres that haven’t squared off after riding to Geneva and back on the thoroughly dull French Autoroute with only jambon et fromage sandwiches for sustenance.

What with a busy summer scheduled in, it wasn’t until the middle of September that we were able to take advantage of Bikeshuttle offering us two spots on the truck. But knowing what awesomeness the Alps offered, I didn’t have to twist Dangerous Bruce’s farmer’s spec arm much to be my wingman on an operation to hit some of the very best biking roads in the world. He’d never been before, and I didn’t need to do much of a sales job for him to agree to put his longterm Suzuki GSX-R1000 through its paces here. We couldn’t afford the time to spend the whole week there (the mag doesn’t write itself, you know!), so we reckoned on three days of intense action to get our fix before autumn kicked in with a vengeance.

The Bikeshuttle part of the plan worked brilliantly. Even their location, a few miles from Silverstone, proved to be a boon. A resistor on my rear indicator had broken, so I popped into KTM’s new HQ at the circuit to get it fixed on the way up – I didn’t want a silly pull from the Swiss police to ruin my holiday. If I was going to get nicked, it was going to be for something far more serious…

This meant that I was the last of 18 bikes to arrive at the truck, but it was no bother as there were machines still being loaded. Bruce had arrived before me, but was still repacking for the fourth time, meaning I got out of my leathers, stuck them into a special crate, secured my lid into another box and was in my civvies by the time he’d finally sorted himself out. All we then had to do was drink tea in the heat of September’s hottest ever day while we watched the bikes get devoured by the truck and expertly fastened in place by the Bikeshuttle team. The tough job of deciding what to eat at the pub came next, as did the equally onerous task of choosing what sized Starbucks coffee to have after breezing through to Luton’s departures hall – something that never happens. This was going well. Too well? Perhaps.

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