Planning a trip is something I enjoy, it's a bit of the trip before it actually happens. Sometimes I plan trips just for the heck of it. If I were to be laid off work tomorrow and had some time and money I'd have quite a few already planned trips I could pull out of a drawer. This trip partly came out of said drawer.
Initially, my plan for this year was to go back to Russia to explore the northern region around Murmansk some more. Maybe even on the DRZ400. But during winter plans of going on a trip with Andi resurfaced. He rides a Daytona 675 and a KTM 300 EXC. So we decided maybe the Daytona is more capable for a three weeks ride than a two stroke KTM. The only thing left was the destination. I knew for sure it had to be someplace with some kind of an adventure appeal to it. Everybody can ride the Alps.
Andi luckily let me do all the route planning and I picked the Balkans as a destination, Istanbul being the turning point of our little trip.
Since I was rather disappointed by my luggage from the last ride, I invested in a Great Basin saddle bag. That plus a small dry bag for the camping gear and I'm set.
My SV650 has a bit over 70'000km (~45000 miles) now before the trip starts. I had some problems with a cable frying and killing the ignition during the summer, but I got it sorted out before the trip. New tyres (Pirelli Angel), brake pads and chain and we're good to go!
On the first day we planned to ride as far as we could - away from regions we can reach on weekend rides. This is a map of the route covered in this installment:
(you may want to zoom out a bit)
Having planned this route, I have quite a few expectations and image of how the trip will be. I formed many images in my head, some more and some less detailed. This anticipation is great - because no matter how much you plan and prepare it will be different. So that way you get two trips for the price of one.
A short stop on the Gotthard - I mean you can't just ride THROUGH the Alps when you can ride OVER them.
On the south side we are greeted with more rain. Hello rain pants!
Somehow, we often see gas station clerks with expensive bikes and cars. But then again, have you seen the gas prices?
I wouldn't mind riding that thing.
Speaking of highway robbery... Almost 2€ for the liter on the italian Autostrada. That's about 10$ for the gallon.
After the Alps, there is a long stretch of flat land ahead, it's a long way across the Po Valley from Mailand to Slovenia. But the Italians are also a bit less anal about speeds. So I test out the capabilities of the now unrestricted 72HP the SV has. 200km/h with luggage is not too bad.
We have a cruising speed of about 140-150km/h and make breakes every hour. With this strategy, we're not really that fast apparently. Every time we get back on the Autostrada, we have to pass many cars and buses we've already passed. After a few times of overtaking the same guys again and again, we start to honk at each other and wave.
The heat takes its first toll - goodbye straps.
Almost 900km later the Autostrada drops us off shortly before the Slovenian border and we decide we can't leave Italy without having eaten here.
A short digestion ride later and we cross the slovenian border - the last bordercrossing without passport control for a while.
After setting up our camp we enjoy a cold beer and the lure of what lies ahead of us. It is absolutely windless and only a few crickets chirp in the distance.
Our stealth camping spot turns out to be a very nice place the next morning.
We left a part of our dinner outside - constricted in a plastic bag. These critters were not impressed a bit. We'd probably have to learn a lot for camping in bear country.
In beginning rain we finish packing our stuff and head out onto the twisty road. The asphalt is unpredictable and in a right turn I feel my front wheel going loose but I manage to stay upright. Andi has less luck and I see him sliding into the ditch in my mirrors. Damn. I turn around after the next corner and find him standing upright again. He's fine and the bike only has some minor scratches and a broken indicator. The sidebags, already weakened by the missing strap need some fixing. He want's to continue riding and I snap a picture of the scene. He doesn't know of this picture and I'm sorry if you see it here, Andi.
Riding towards the croatian border.
Slovenian coffee stop.
Shortly before the croatian border we exchange for some Kunas and buy some fruits - I love those convenient roadside fruit stands.
Welcome to Croatia - we have all the dark clouds you could possibly wish for!