Is there an event somewhere?
“Holidays in the Sun” or “On the Road to Nowhere”?:
September 3rd - 13th 2020, the „No Show“ around Lake Faak...
Harley-Davidson left no doubts: As early as June 4th 2020, European Bike Week was cancelled – and all activities to promote and support the event which in 22 years has developed into a multi-million money machine for Carinthia’s tourism business that also had to deal with the absence of summer tourism and – now that infection rates go up again as the Austrian schools re-open – a similar bad autumn season! Arneitz Custom tried hard to compensate for the cancellation of the Harley-Village, but was beaten by the local lawmakers that eliminated all hope for a “Lakeside” portion of Custombike flair. It was Velden on the Lake Woerth that scored during this years “No Show” which was nevertheless attended by almost 10.000 visitors who kept their reservations or came anyway. And Klagenfurt Harley-Dealer “Motodrom” cut off a piece of the cake and brought “European Bike Week” back to Klagenfurt…
It will be impossible to count how many riders came down to Carinthia to celebrate in the second week in September, the traditional timeslot for European Bike Week. Quite a number of Harley-fans kept their traditional rooms and used them, but despite all efforts to offer at least a minimum of attractions, the roads around Lake Faak itself remained void of all biker lifestyle activities – local authorities made sure of that when “Arneitz Custom Bike World”, the Corona-save alternative to Arneitz Custom Show, had to be cancelled after the local “Farmers Market” (Bauernmarkt” in Faak drew thousands of visitors which ignored rules and regulations to wear masks. As Arneitz Custom Show and the accompanying concert area was too big to fulfil the limits that were given be the everchanging regulations, as Corona meant the cancellation in most European countries. Arneitz kept open facilities and adequate parking for bikers, but most visitors did not stay longer than to have something to eat and drink: Bureaucracy had stamped out all plans. 2 Kilometers on, Faak itself was even more deserted: With the otherwise “packed” eventsite empty it was visible how little the town has to offer when there is no event running on the area. A sad view! Still a “secret tip” after 22 years, the Tabor Hill was better visited, still offering a great view on the Lake itself and the empty eventsites. A lot of activities are now offered up there – and it seems some bikers used the free time to “hang around” in the trees or practise archery.
If you wanted to see some “authorized” Harley-action, Klagenfurt was the only choice to visit, as the MOTODROM in the South-West of the City held it’s “Bike Week Village” from September 5th to 12th, hosting a few booths including Exhaust manufacturer “Dr. Jekill & Mr. Hyde” who were among the few Customparts manufacturers that made it to Carinthia this year. While the dealership added parking for motorcycles at a nearby supermarket and had “live music” present too, the visiting crowd was not really the numbers they would have served in Faak. To put it mildly. But they did do something!
On the other side of the “Woerthersee”, Velden has already been a prominent Corona “Hot Spot” in May – and did announce some of the strangest Corona regulations ever heard: mandatory masks OUTDOORS from 9 pm to 2 am, while NO MASKs are necessary indoors, including crowded pubs, bars, restaurants and (of course) the Casino! Despite many on the usual “motorcycle parking” spots were cordoned off, many others remained and the town was “packed” with bikes, riders and visitors that cared a damn about “distance” and “safety”. Velden was as close to any “Bike Week” as you could come this year. And if there will be an “after-event” spread of infections, Velden will sure be “the Hot Spot” again. However, few exhibitors made it downtown, Cult-Werk, now united with Kess Tech, the only big manufacturer to show their parts in their traditional spot on mainstreet. Peter Penzenstadler was seen visiting Velden, Fred and Len Kodlin were sitting outside the Casino, no display, no premieres running this year.
Most riders took the chance to explore the touring opportunities, of which there are so many in Carinthia and the surrounding countries. The steam railway at Ferlach was running on both weekends – and the technical museum there is also a great place to visit. Other than the usual “standard” short trips, it was time to reach out to places that take a longer ride, such as the spectacular Troegener Klamm, a narrow “drive through” gorge or the “Eisenkappeller Huette” at 1500 m, the Loibl Pass with the Tscheppa gorge and plenty of other scenic, often narrow and time consuming roads that usually fall victim to the activities around the lake. It was also a time to remember how it all started: Harley-Davidson’s 95 Anniversary in 1998, its European Version was the founding date of European Bike Week. Bon Jovi played on a field outside Ledenitzen, next to the now modernized railway station, and rumours have it, you can still find womens underwear out there. The first “Custom area” was situated in the valley just outside Egg, today also occupied by a “Billa” supermarket and yes – it took Harley several years to turn the riding direction counter clockwise to have visiting riders arriving FIRST at the Harley-Village rather than the then two customizer areas where wild “burnout” scenes were regular biker action, now all stamped out by the law…
How “European Bike Week” will go on, how any biker events will go on, will be determined in the future. The Pandemic is still rolling – and as these sentences are written on the Sunday of the “No Show” Bike Week in Faak, stiffer regulations are already announced to hit Austria this Monday, first day for Austria’s school kids. Infection numbers are rising, in particular in Vienna – and Carinthia’s Lake Faak will face another popular Nemesis this week and next weekend: As early as this Sunday evening, the Harley’s at the Arneitz parking have been replaced by other roaring engines. Moved from its traditional date, the Volkswagen GTI fans are back in town – good luck boys, you’ll need it too!
Text & Photos: Horst Roesler
100 years ago, World War 1 was still fought around lake Faak: Carinthian
troups fought off then newly founded Yugoslavia!
The 1998 site of the first Custom Area in Egg, now next to the Billa Supermarket.
The field of the one-time-only “Bon Jovi” concert for the 95th Harley-Anniversary.
No chance to run a program: Arneitz Campgroud and Concert hall tried…
In 1998, the first Harley-Parade took a route of incredible length, passing through Villach, Velden, all along the Woerthersee, Klagenfurt and back along the Drau River!
Faak_Harley-Village_ Completely empty! The Harley-Village site 2020 in Faak am See.
FaakerSee_TaborHill_The Tabor Hill has always been a “secret tip”
for a quick “escape” from the hectic around the lake!
Usually running during the Bike Week weekend days,
the steam train near Ferlach is a great tip for a visit.
The technical museum at Ferlach is a cool visit – especially on rainy days!
The toll road up the “Hochobir” is challenging, but not going completely to the top: There are 600 meters missing to the summit view,
Klagenfurt_Motodrom_; Motodrom_Motodrom is the official Dealer of Klagenfurt, this year running their own “Bike Week” on own ground. Obviously without any problems by the town of Klagenfurt.
Kuchler_Biker stop for good food: Kuchler in Treffen near Villach.
A trip to the top of Loibl pass always incudes passing the spectacular Tscheppa gorge and its waterfalls
The spectacular “Troegener Klamm” is a super narrow (and “Dead End”) Gorge which is especially nice on a motorcycle: You are sitting “in” the landscape!
Velden_In many ways, Velden was THE “Hot Spot” of this years “Bike Week” and crowded beyond believe! Adding to the already busy biker scene, Saturday saw a international swimming completion with participants swimming 3,5,10 and 17 (!) km in the Woerther See!