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.
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.
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.
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.
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?