We woke up the next day, had breakfast, and prepared for the ride. It was departing at 9.30h, and the Germans stuck to the plan religiously, so we tried hard to be on time (no small feat for a Greek) and managed to be at the right place (a specific section of the front parking lot) with a couple of minutes to spare.
There is a group leader who has a gps device with the whole route programmed, and the convoy is secured by the last bike (tail), who also has the complete route and makes sure no one gets left behind. Both leader and tail wear reflective yellow vests to stick out. Strict rules apply in order to minimize accidents and breaks of the line. Personally I have grown tired of this type of riding, but in large non-homogenous groups it is the only way to go.
We left on time but were guided to an open area, joined by all other groups, to get some group photos, which were to be burned on cds and were handed out for free to all participants the next day. Yani (capo) was the only one who hadn't filled his tank due to yesterday's adventure, so he went to do that, given the opportunity. We finished our modeling obligations, and left in an orderly way, under a clear sky.
We started to ride through the forest, on beautiful open twisty roads, and we were shocked at how chilly the air was in the dense forest. We stopped a bit later in the middle of nowhere for some pics, and us Greeks put on an extra layer of clothes since we were a bit too lightly dressed. A bit later we made our last stop before entering the Czech Republic and had coffee at another beautiful and scenic village in Germany.
Shortly after that we entered the Czech Republic (the border control booths are there but are not in use anymore), and immediately, we could notice the difference in the tarmac, which was in much worse shape with occasional potholes, which called for a more careful driving.
In all fairness, the Czech Republic has a very well maintained road network, but those areas near the border were strikingly worst than the German part. Another thing we had forgotten existed were the power and telephone lines which are exclusively subterranean in Germany... The scenery is equally impressive though and spirits were high once again.
We stopped at a small village to eat (breakfast for us, lunch for all the others, we were laughing with the different time habits between us), and relaxed a bit more.. At around the time for departure, another ITT group stopped at the same place, coming from the other direction. We took some photos and went on our way.
Next stop was at a supposed "duty free" market which was in fact an Asian run market with b-rated stuff and hardly “smokable” cigarettes, we stayed there very briefly and continued our tour.
From there we rode back, after managing to break the convoy and get separated, as some riders failed to keep an eye on the following bike. I should mention here that we made 4 u-turns by the leader's missed turns, but, in general, Pete (the German group leader), did a good job navigating through the forest.
Back at the hotel, we sat at the front balcony with some other Greeks and exchanged stories from our day, as we waited for the day's barbeque dinner to start.
At some point I saw Dave, a lovely and friendly Dutchman, who I had met at last year's ITT in Parga, and was one of the few people who I was looking forward to seeing again this year, as we had an immediate mutual friendship, in the few hours we had spent together. He, among another 1000 people, had walked in front of the outdoor repair shop I had set up last night, but as I had my hands full, we hadn't been able to sit and chat.
We started catching up, then later went at the campfire where the barbeque had started. After dinner, the Germans had prepared a mini show, with some Bavarian folk dances and then some undefined dance show to entertain us. I was introduced by Dave to the entire Dutch crew, who were all very sympathetic and joyous. It was funny how (almost) all of them had Africa Twins, and some more than one, so we joked about that for a while.
The music was getting too loud (and not to my taste) so me and Dave went to my room to copy some photos which he had brought from one of last year's official routes, which we had done together. While copying we had a nice chat (with the gentle snoring of Yani Capo relaxing us), and a bit later he headed to his tent as he had to ride 800kms next day.
By the time he left Theo had also returned with some photos of a fireworks show, which had closed the curtain of this ITT.
We went to bed almost immediately.
Tomorrow, the capos head their own way, while the majority of the Greeks run for the ship…