Four weeks ago we adopted a new member in our family. This is her story; the story of Ceebee. It involves discovery, anxiety, impatience and excitement.
Ioana finally passed her motorbike license on the 18th of June. Even before that two big questions "which bike should I get?" and "how can I get a bike?" culminated in a single, often repeated statement: "I want a bikeee".
"I want a bikeee"
Figuring out which bike to get turned out be straight forward. Thanks to Jenifer Morgan's excited testamony of the CB500X on Adventure Rider Radio, we headed out to Limbaecher to see this beauty in the flesh (or rather in the metal). In defiance of the questionable color choice made by the German Honda importer, Ioana swiftly developed a fond appreciation of the nimble 500cc two-wheeler. The Honda looks the part, but would she like riding it?
That's where question number two comes in: how can I get a bike? Ioana was not sure if now was a good time to buy a bike. It all seemed rushed. She had just passed her license, and already we were talking about spending a few grand on a bike.
Nonetheless Chris got a tad forward in the matter. Within days he found a white/red CB500X in mint condition (built in 2015 with roughly 4000km on the clock). What a steal. Chris being Chris his impatience kicked into high gear and he contacted the seller to get more information and pictures - not even waiting for Ioana's "approval". And, there was one more catch: the bike was located some 800km north of Stuttgart, close to the Danish border. Getting there would be hard.
Shortly after discovering the Ioana's future ride, we came up with an itinary following our motto: make every situation as complicated as possible and turn it into some kind of adventure.
- Stuttgart to Hamburg: On Friday evening (23:00 at night) we would take a bus to Hamburg,
- Hamburg to Schleswig: upon arrival on Saturday morning we'd take a train to Schleswig, where
- Schleswig to Ellingstedt: the owner of TK-Bikes would pick us up and we'd drive to Ellingstedt.
- Ellingstedt to Hamburg: After looking at and hopefully buying the bike we'd ride back to Hamburg,
- Overnight stay in Hamburg: stay at friends for the night and
- Hamburg to Stuttgart: head back to Stuttgart the next day, 700km, two up on a 500cc motorcycle.
We both got rather excited at the prospect of such an adventure. Particularly Ioana is in love with any northern place and the place we were heading would not disappoint.
The eight hour, overnight coach trip was surprisingly pleasant. Our fellow travelers were quiet and contrary to our expectation the odor was not bad. We even managed to catch some shut eye on this trip towards to the sea. Luckily FLIXbus, a coach operator like National Express, keeps their buses tidy and punctual enough.
A few hours after dawn we arrived in Hamburg. It is a beautiful place. Even the main station is a pretty one. Old school architecture, steel and tracks. We enjoyed a lovely view of the landscape thanks to the double-decker train. The place looks astonishingly close to the UK. Actually it felt like Great Britain. Bricks are ubiquitous around here, there are plenty of old warehouses and the houses themselves are small and pretty. Most of the infrastructure looked close to home (the UK, that is), as do the many oak trees. Ioana would move there, up north, in an instant.
In Schleswig we were greeted by Tim, the owner of TK-Bikes and proprietor of two-wheeled desire. He kindly agreed to pick us up from the train as getting to Ellingsted by public transport, on a Saturday proved to be next to impossible. Tim is a really great guy with an honest friendly demeanour and inviting personality. Tough and heartfelt, much like the north itself. On our way to Ellingstedt we passed by epic villages where everything is just a bit smaller and prettier.
When we arrived at Tim's house he led us to his garage/showroom. All the pretty bikes in there did not manage to distract Ioana from the sheep grassing in the garden next door. Even at this point she did not believe that she would actually get a bike. After a few minutes she managed to pull herself together and began to admire the white beauty next to her. It was just like the pictures had promised: well maintained, practically new. The bike's previous owner, a motorcycle instructor, had taken good care of it.
You can't buy a bike without riding it (at least you shouldn't). So, Ioana geared up for the test ride, realizing in the process that she had forgotten her gloves at home. Not a problem for a short test ride, but it might pose an issue for the 700km ride home. Confidently making her way past a wet patch of grass, through some sand and loose gravel on to paved road, Ioana set off to see if she and the bike would get along. First thing off: the button for the horn. It's just in the wrong spot. Thus we had a lady riding through a small northern village, honking about all the way.
This was Ioana's first time riding on her own on the right side of the road. So in her head she had a voice constantly screaming: RIGHT, RIGHT, RIGHT! During her return leg through the village she first missed the entrance, which left Chris and Tim standing in the driveway turning heads like train spotters in Euston.
Ioana's first date with Ceebee went well though. The two got along beautifully, which given the CB500X's finer qualities is hardly surprising: pungent exhaust note, lightweight, quite maneuverable and comfortable seating position - unless you're the pillion.
As we quickly found out on our way back south: the pillion seat is intended to carry luggage, not people. After we finished the purchasing formalities and bid our farewell to Tim, we made for Hamburg. Some 20km down the road, Ioana's knees started to complain. The angle they were forced to maintain due to the passenger seat/footrest geometry did not make for a comfortable ride. Combine that with a distinctive lack of gloves (which were comfortably resting in our living room in Stuttgart) and you've got yourself a very unpleasant ride. No way she would do 700km like that.
Back in Hamburg, while escaping the short-lived but heavy rain, we booked Ioana's ticket home. Because riding back two up on Ceebee was not in the cards, she would take the same bus we came with earlier that day, except this time going back south. Christian would spend the night at a friend's place and ride south the next morning.
We had about four hours left to spend in this beautiful city. Upon completing the obligatory stop at the "Landungsbrücken", and riding through the "Speicherstadt" (twice), we parked our latest two-wheeler in a garage near St. Pauli. All this was followed by drinks in the "Sternschanze" and St. Pauli itself (skipping Reperbahn, mind you). All in all, a wonderful place with friendly and down to earth people, gorgeous buildings and copious amounts of seagulls.
Later that night, as the clock showed 10, Ioana boarded the bus to Stuttgart. To her surprise, she found her hair-clip which she had forgotten in the morning, still attached to the seat. It had gone all the way from Hamburg to Milan and back. Quite the traveler that little plastic trinket.
As for Chris, the 700km motorways which he embarked on the next day, are nothing to write home about. Constantly escaping the rain by just a few minutes he arrived in Stuttgart some ten hours after Ioana.
The first two things that happened to Ceebee in her new home, were a ride to the Black Forrest (Schwarzenbachtalsperre if you must know) and she had a sidestand, crashbars and a new windshield fitted.
All in all this was quite the journey. We covered more than 1500km in two days by bus, train, car and bike. Would we do it again? Anytime! If it would just be to have a chat with Tim, see Hamburg or meet another pretty bike.