Three chapters, one destination – the Morzine Avoriaz Harley Days Festival
Morzine Avoriaz Harley® Days Festival is now a regular destination for many UK chapters, with the bi-annual event attracting thousands of people – both riders and civilians alike.
This year saw Black Mountains Chapter Wales return for their fourth visit in a row, with 13 bikes travelling over three days (two overnight stops). “It all started via a Chapter member who owned a chalet nearby, which meant we could all stay over,” says Chapter Director Steve Link.
“We’ve been to many H.O.G.® rallies all over Europe and the USA and Morzine is arguably the best. It’s a combination of things – great venue, welcoming hospitality, fantastic roads and riding and amazing scenery. And you can pretty much walk to everything in the town.”
In contrast, Red Rose Chapter took the long way round to Harley Days. “We always aim to make it a tour of around two weeks,” says Chapter Activities Officer and tour organiser Rob Harvey.
In fact, 19 people on 14 bikes covered close to 1,900 miles over 12 days, arriving in Holland via the Hull/Rotterdam overnight ferry with two stopovers on the way, each day covering approximately 200 miles.
“In our group was a mix of experience – some completely new to European touring. In France, speed limits are now 80kph (50mph) anyway so the aim was to enjoy the ride rather than 'race to the rally'. We mostly avoided motorways. The route was through Belgium and Luxembourg then down through France via Plombières-les-Bains, dropping into Geneva from the north and then round the lake on to Morzine.”
This year was also Bob Wilkinson’s fourth visit, and this year he took 16 fellow 1066 Chapter members along on 10 Harleys. “My top tip if you’re in a large group is to leave the UK at midday, ride a few hours into France and then meet up for an overnight hotel stop,” says Bob.
“This way you get an evening to chat about the trip and build up some excitement for the journey ahead as you’re all at the same starting point the next morning with no potential delays at the Channel Tunnel or ports. A nice easy ride with three nights stopping on route is far safer than a fast blast to the event.”
However, for those who may feel the Alps are a trip too far, there’s a sensible alternative available. “The great thing about Morzine is it’s only an hour from Geneva – some of the ladies and a few older members who can't ride long distances anymore flew out – very inexpensive with Easyjet!” says Steve, who planned numerous activities while in France.
“Every day was a highlight for us – we rented speed boats on Lake Geneva, went paragliding off the top of a mountain, rode fantastic alpine roads, held a chapter party and had a BBQ. We’d rented three adjacent chalets with shared gardens.”
Bob’s Morzine highlight was two-fold. “The parade of flags is a great event, with chapter members from across Europe and further afield riding down the mountain from Avoriaz into Morzine town centre, and the trader village is one of the best I’ve been to. Of course, there’s also the evening entertainment, although it was rather crowded, possibly because there wasn’t an event in St Tropez this year.”
For Rob it’s the overall ambience that the Morzine rally provides. “There are always headline bands for Harley Days and the town does a fantastic job of hosting the event. The sound stage takes over the whole central square, and all the side streets are full of stalls, food stands and bikes, bikes, bikes!
“The bars and restaurants are full, there is music everywhere and the atmosphere is superb. Walking round it's easy to meet old friends and we hooked up with H.O.G. chapters from the UK, Netherlands, France and Switzerland. It’s what these rallies are all about, coming together as one big Harley family.”