I’m slowly making my way towards Sweden

The WIMA rally is over and I am slowly making my way towards Sweden. There is no rush, I have a shade over a week to use so I can take detours and do what I feel like. I left the rally site on Saturday, crossing over to Slovakia and riding to the far east, near the border of Ukraine. A lucky coincident again, my friend Andrea from Madrid was home to see her parents and since I was “nearby” (at least by motorbike definitions) I popped by. This gave me the opportunity to meet her family and see where she grew up as well as getting a glimpse of the unique culture of wine making in this area. We went to see the neighbouring village’s wine cellars and picked peaches in the family’s fruit orchard. Her parents are also growing grapes and making wine, they have a wine cellar underneath their house. To overbridge the language barrier, I showed pictures of my parent’s house and their vegetable garden. We could also watch the TV broadcast on Hungarian TV together and they got some additional knowledge about WIMA and what I had been up to before visiting.

Picking peaches, and eating peaches, there is a first time for everything, what a lovely experience.
Picking peaches, and eating peaches, there is a first time for everything, what a lovely experience.
Traditional wine cellars, this is a comunity of 80-ish cellars and every door leads to several cambers - i can't help woundering if Tolkien modeled his idea of Hobbit holes on these.
Traditional wine cellars, this is a comunity of 80-ish cellars and every door leads to several cambers – i can’t help woundering if Tolkien modeled his idea of Hobbit holes on these.
And it gets even better, samling the wine made by Andrea's parents, in their wine cellar.
And it gets even better, sampling the wine made by Andrea’s parents, in their wine cellar.

They treated me to fresh fruit and vegetables from their garden as well as traditional Slovakian food and home made wine. With additional fruit and veggies in my top case and with my horizons broadened I continued my journey, again crossing Slovakia – but now in the north. My first experience of Slovakia had been a terrifying ride in the dark on narrow, unmarked roads through the countryside and a bridge closed due to a bomb scare. My second experience was better, riding to the village Kralovsky Chlmec – it was raining and one stretch was so windy I could hardly hold the bike, but apart from that the scenery was beautiful. Therefore, I decided to explore more of this country and Andrea suggested a nice route for me to take up to Liptovsky Mikulas, where I spent the night. Onwards from there I spent a day riding in the mountains without any special plan, except the hope to at some point be able to buy a map – petrol stations in Slovakia do not generally sell maps, and when I ask for one the staff usually smile and shake their head as if the thought of selling maps in a service stations is amusing. Well, I’m from Sweden where virtually everything can be bought in a petrol station. Finally, near the Czech border I got hold of one and I tried to retrace where I have been, which is not so easy but my ace mountain riding took place in Narodny Park, between Ruzomberok and Stare Hory then onwards to Valaska Bela and to Trencin. The plan is now to ride through the Czech Republic and north through eastern Germany towards Schwinoujsie and the ferry to Sweden.

I love to see this on my GPS!
I love to see this on my GPS!
Beautiful fields in northern Slovakia, love the combination of colours, blue, green and gold.
Beautiful fields in northern Slovakia, love the combination of colours, blue, green and gold.
Lazy Cat posing with some impressive Slovakian architecture.
Lazy Cat posing with some impressive Slovakian architecture.
Coffee break in the mountains, the flag that was mounted for the parade is still hangin in there! Promoting WIMA all over Slovakia!
Coffee break in the mountains, the flag that was mounted for the parade is still hangin in there! Promoting WIMA all over Slovakia!
I love travelling because of the odd things I see, like a group or touring old tractors from Austria
I love travelling because of the odd things I see, like a group or touring old tractors from Austria
Slovakia is full of castles, this is my view from the camping in Trencin..
Slovakia is full of castles, this is my view from the camping in Trencin..

Tonight I’m camping in Trencin near the Czech border, I cut my riding short in favour of a run along the river here. I managed a 10k run, the first since the marathon and sadly I’ve lost speed during my convalescence, instead of a shade over an hour it took 1h 11min, but it was nevertheless good running. It is movie night at the campsite and I quite liked the idea, to snuggle up in my sleeping bag and watch a movie outside the tent – until I realised that it was a Slovakian movie. I did watch the intro while I ate my dinner and the plot seemed rather funny with dream sequences but without actually understanding the dialogue the meaning is lost on me.

I’ll try and get some sleep instead. Tomorrow, I need to find a garage again, disappointingly enough I need help adjusting the clutch cable, it isn’t one bit better than before I got it changed in Esztergom. I’m building a diverse service history for this summer, heated grips mounted in Sweden, service and rear tyre in England, chain in Germany, sprockets and clutch cable in Hungary – and it seems like a neverending story.

The fields of the Czech rep. on a quite hazy and warm day, but going up in to the mountains was cool.
The fields of the Czech Rep. on a quite hazy and warm day, but going up in to the mountains was cool.
Lovely riding in this area, the courner of north Czech rep. boardering to Germany and Poland.
Lovely riding in this area, the corner of north Czech Rep. bordering to Germany and Poland.
This gives a rather different meaning to "doing ones laundry in public"
This gives a rather different meaning to “doing one’s laundry in public”
Mountain forest, the light was magic!
Mountain forest, the light was magic!

A few days have past since I wrote this and I’m now in a campsite with WiFi planning to get it all up on the blog. I did get the clutch cable fixed, at least temporarily and with the advice to change it. Hmm, I have heard this before. Well, all is good for now and it didn’t matter that I lost half a day’s riding, I’m in no rush. I did, however, do some great riding in the Czech Republic as well, just a bit complicated to travel without local currency. I have really become complacent, no maps, no money… I’m reading Zoe Cano’s book, “Bonneville, Go or Bust” and it is quite amusing to compare our journeys, which are quite the opposite. She is travelling across north America, one language, one currency and she has pre-planned and booked everything. I’m crossing Europe, changing country and currency everyday, sometimes several times a day. The language changes and I have no clue what people say, I can’t even memorize the place names because they seem to contain too many consonants. After a couple of days beautiful riding in the Czech Republic, twisty mountain roads, curvy riverside roads and stunning countryside lanes, I made it into Germany. Now I can sometimes make out what people say to me and I have money to spend again. I celebrated this with what was my first warm meal in 5 days (times passes quickly on the road), with beer and coffee.

Welcome to Germany where money can be spent again!
Welcome to Germany where money can be spent again!

Not pre-booking is now my preferred way of travelling these days, in the past I planned everything and then I got stressed when my plan didn’t work. Now there is no reason to stress, if I need to get the bike to a garage and miss half a day of riding, no worries. The negative side of this is that some areas don’t have that many campsites, in addition, both my map and my GPS shows places that doesn’t exist and they don’t correspond with each other either. As a result, I stayed in a Bohemian beach camp without water in the northern Czech Republic and now in a beautiful small countryside camp in Eastern Germany. The latter was found by my support crew back in England – Christopher found it on the internet after I spent a few hours checking out campsites only existing on my map but not in reality. Well, this last place is so nice so I decided to stay another night, take a day off riding, update my blog, do some laundry and rest. My riding trousers really needed a wash, when else are you wearing a pair of trousers for 6 weeks without washing them?

WIMA rally Hungary

The Hungarian WIMA rally is over and, as always, the feeling is “wow, what a week!” When I had recovered from my exhausting arrival and sorted out myself it was time to start mingling and enjoying. The weather was hot the first couple of days and I was thankful for the pool. As my bike wasn’t rideable, due to the problem with the clutch and the need to get the sprockets mounted, I just chilled at the camp site. There were silly games to take part in, wine-tasting and random socialising, not a bad way to spend a couple of days out of the saddle.

Party on the dance floor, WIMA welcome dinner and opening night!
Party on the dance floor, WIMA welcome dinner and opening night!
There was no need to dance to keep warm but it was impossible not to dance with such great entertainment as this fantastick rocka billy band - The Prison Band
There was no need to dance to keep warm but it was impossible not to dance with such great entertainment as this fantastic rockabilly band – The Prison Band

Luckily my bike got fixed in time for the rally ride. I do enjoy this game and wouldn’t have wanted to miss it. The ride ended in a city whose name I have forgotten 🙁 and after a long, leisurely lunch we all met up at the police station for a ceremony in memory of fallen riders.

Lunch with the Estonian lot, I had tomato soup and pancaces with cheese, yummy scrummy!
Lunch with the Estonian lot, I had tomato soup and pancakes with cheese, yummy scrummy!
At the memorial, a very emotional moment.
At the memorial, a very emotional moment.

The following day was the parade, my all-time favourite (even more so than the rally). I had an early morning rise because the TV was coming and I had promised to help our International President prepare for the interview. As a last minute decision, she asked me to stay to answer some questions as well, so here I am on Hungarian TV without having combed my hair or brushed my teeth, but hopefully that isn’t all that noticeable. Luckily I was wearing the right top for talking about WIMA’s fundraising so that was suitable at least. From 21.40 is the report about WIMA.

RTVE: Hungarian TV

I was then in a hurry to get ready for the parade, which took us into Budapest with the help of an impressive group of police motorcyclists who, with flashing blue lights, lead us, a group of 200 riders, uninterrupted into the Peace Square in Budapest. As our parade was in aid of the Pink Ribbon we ended with a ceremonial meet with doctors from the cancer treatment and a hand over of a cheque for 250,000 Florints on behalf of all of us. In the rush, I forgot my camera but luckily others snapped great pics.

We're all proud to be part of this fantastic assocciation! Photo courtesy: Okunishi Sonoko
We’re all proud to be part of this fantastic association! Photo courtesy: Okunishi Sonoko
An impressive colection of bikes, belonging to an even more impressive group of women! Photo courtesy: Okunishi Sonoko
An impressive collection of bikes, belonging to an even more impressive group of women! Photo courtesy: Okunishi Sonoko

As I’m currently the vice-president of WIMA, the rallies are no longer just fun and games, it is also a bit of work. This year, we focused on spreading the knowledge of Motorcycle Outreach and inspiring other WIMA members to do different types of fundraising. Therefore, we had an information meeting and Anneli and I told a bit about our fundraising marathon. We also had a lottery and an auction which, altogether, raised about 700 euros. Impressive and a good reason to be proud! WIMA is a generous bunch of women! For next year, Anneli and I are considering our different options for another marathon and hopefully we inspired some people to take on their own project – of their liking.

Aspire to inpsire!
Aspire to inspire!

All good things come to an end and so do WIMA rallies. It was rain gear on for departure day and I soon realised that my new waterproof boots were not at all waterproof, at least not the left boot which was full of water within half an hour. On the positive side – my new rain trousers kept my bum dry all across Slovakia, and that is something to be happy for!

See you next year in Estonia! Photo courtesy: WIMA Estonia
See you next year in Estonia! Photo courtesy: WIMA Estonia

Just another repair

Live update from Slovakia: yet again my bike needs repair. The clutch was giving me problems, again, so I’m now at Total Moto in Trencin hoping to have it sorted and be on my way before the day is over.

Ny greatest thanks! Swiftly I'm back on the road again!
My greatest thanks! Swiftly I’m back on the road again!