Tuesday Aug 2 (9am)
Our £1K Italian bikes had made it as far as Luxembourg early on Tuesday morning (Aug 2) after the GPS they were using packed up and they got horribly lost.
The three MCN staffers trying to make Italy and back on £1k Italian bikes had to camp at Rochefort in Belgium last night after a wet day in the saddle.
Used Bikes Editor Angus Farquhar, who is on a Gilera 180 scooter, said: "We got seriously lost last night. We'd been through France and were in Belgium when the GPS stopped showing any roads!. We turned off the main road and couldn't find a way back on to it."
They had covered just 411 miles yesterday - less than half the 996 miles it is from the office to Italy's Lake Garda - and that's by the most direct route. Plans to hit the Black Forest in Germany on night one were well and truly scuppered.
Farquhar spent the night in a £15 one-man tent he bought from Argos in Dover after 'forgetting' to pack his.
"We're going to have a long day today," admitted Farquhar.
The team, Deputy Editor Ped Baker on a Guzzi V50 and Road Tester Adam 'Chad' Child on a Ducati Monster Dark 600, had covered 100 miles before breakfast on Tuesday. They were then heading across Luxembourg towards Ulm in Germany and will go from there towards Italy - aiming to make Garda on Tuesday night.
Farquhar reports no problems with the bikes so far - except that his is showing 90mph as a maximum speed but is actually only doing 75mph - and Chad dropped his Monster on its side when flip-up stand flipped-up while loading up on Tuesday morning. Another dint won't make a lot of difference.
The skies are blue today and the roads dry.
See below and links right for previous updates and links explaining the challenge in full.
Monday, Aug 1
Our trio riding £1k Italian bikes to Italy were just arriving by ferry at the port of Calais at 2.45pm on Monday. They hit Dover just before noon after a 9am start from the MCN offices in Peterborough.
Used Bikes Editor Angus Farquhar rang in to let us know they will be heading for the Black Forest in Germany tonight (Aug 1) - with the intention of pitching tents there. In Farquhar's case he's going to have to buy one first.
Adam ‘Chad’ Child’s Monster has even been running on both cylinders – at least for some of the way this morning. But even when it’s running on one it’s faster than Farquhar’s choice – a Gilera 180 Runner.
Ped Baker’s Guzzi V50 has also made it to the ferry port. It was ‘smelling a bit funny’ though.
For more about the trip – and the rules of the challenge – see links, right.
And for regular en route updates keep checking back on the site.
The riders in our Italy-and-back-on-£1K-Italian-bikes mission are now back home in Peterborough.
Friday Aug 5 12 noon
The Gilera Runner 180 - ridden by Used Bikes Editor Angus Farquhar and the Monster 600 - ridden by road tester Adam 'Chad' Child have both made it back to Peterborough. The Guzzi V50, ridden by Ped Baker had to be recovered to a garage. He was taken to Paris where he was aiming to get a flight home - to avoid being late for his own birthday celebrations! He's now at home nursing his ego.
There were initial hopes the Guzzi could be sorted and ridden home. They were dashed when the garage took a look. It will now be transported home by the recovery firm.
Angus and Chad arrived back in the UK late on Thursday night, breaking their journey to sleep before proceeding to MCN HQ.
See the whole remarkable story unfold in MCN on the issues of August 10, 17 and 24...
See below, and right, for more details of the challenge, video and audio links.
Thursday Aug 4 (1.20pm)
Here's the latest update - from Used Bikes Editor Angus Farquhar ringing in from a service station at Vilmy le Moulin between Metz and Reinds.
Things are not looking good for the team as the first serious mechanical trouble occurs. But surprisingly, it isn't the Ducati Monster, despite the engine now sounding like "a load of marbles rattling in a tin".
In fact, it's the Moto Guzzi V50 of Ped Baker which has blown a cylinder and is losing oil. The trio have limped into the services with the aged Guzzi running on one cylinder at a maximum speed of about 35mph, and with their ferry leaving Calais at 8pm, they now face the decision of whether to stay together, or leave the stranded Deputy Editor with his classic motorcycle and head for the ferry.
Luckily Farquhar has no concerns about his Gilera scooter which is running well aside from a stuck seat lock, which had to be broken open.
Wednesday Aug 3 (12.50pm)
Farquhar rings in to report the team is about to cross into Italy - finally and about 16 hours behind schedule. Now, instead of a relaxing night on the shores of Lake Garda they must instead take a quick hack through twisting Italian mountain roads before turning back to head for Zurich with the intention of making camp in the Dijon/Lyon area of France tonight.
The plan remains to be back in the UK tomorrow night.
Farquhar said: "We've just gone over the Maloja pass from St Moritz. It's very steep. My Gilera 180 Runner coped better than Ped's Guzzi V50 because it has the shorter wheelbase."
All three bikes are still in one piece and still running - so far so good.
Wednesday Aug 3 (9.45am)
Farquhar reports from St Moritz: "We ended up getting lost again last night. It had rained all day and was raining when it stopped. Chad couldn't stand the thought of another night in a tent so we bottled it and stayed in a hotel.
Click here for live cams in the St Moritz area.
"We were in Austria, close to the Lichtenstein border. Now we've made it to the St Moritz area. It has been raining again today but the weather seems to change with each valley. Now we're heading for Italy on some very twisiting roads."
The challenge's schedule demands that they are back in the UK on Thursday night so they'll need a much shorter route back - with no map-reading errors.
Farquhar says his Gilera 180 scooter has now lost all front fork damping, making cornering in the wet 'interesting'. Ped's Guzzi V50 has blown out its silencer and is sounding "better than ever, particuarly with backfires through the tunnels."
All the rain is taking its toll on the Guzzi's electrics, with lights flashing on and off in a random way.
Chad is experiencing gear-change problems after dropping his Monster while loading on day two. Now he's hitting false neutrals regularly - often when he could do with some engine braking on long downhills...
Tuesday Aug 2 (4.35pm)
Used Bikes Editor Angus Farquhar (riding the Gilera Runner 180) rings in from Ulm, Germany.
"We're well behind. We've only been doing 60-70mph. It's just such slow going," he moaned.
Oh, and it's been raining again. He does say the Runner seems to be going better the further it goes. Chad's Monster appears to be sounding rougher by the mile. The Guzzi is ploughing on in an unconcerned way.
The plan now is to head through Switzerland with the intention of reaching the St Moritz area by dark tonight. The schedule demands that they reach Lake Garda before sleeping.
Farquhar said: "It depends on what time we reach St Moritz. If we do make it early enough we could go on into Italy. If we don't then we'll go into Italy first thing tomorrow morning before choosing a shorter route home."
The mission demands that they are back home by Thursday night.
Farquhar said that while much of today's journey had been ridden in rain the skies had brightened now and it looked promising for the last leg of today's journey. He'll be sending more pics back this evening.