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Old 02-21-2013, 05:32 PM   #16
Circle Blue
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The tweets...

I followed you all the way on the other site. Yay!

I've been eagerly awaiting the "rest of the story"...

And, the photos.
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Old 03-03-2013, 08:37 AM   #17
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Old 03-03-2013, 08:55 AM   #18
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Ride Report: Canada North to South 2008 here
Drive Report: Ice Road Trucking 2005-2014 here

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Old 12-31-2013, 09:41 AM   #19
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Hell by C90 - The Beginning

It had been an odd series of things that had brought me to the conclusion that this would be a good idea, but here I was on a dark wet night in West Devon looking at a reasonable example of Honda's legendary C90 Cub, it seemed clean, had covered a reasonable mileage before effectively being mothballed, save for its annual MOT run to the local dealer, and it even had a working battery and E-start, Luggage, and it was all backed up with a healthy wad of paperwork.

I put down a deposit and promised to return at the end of the week with the balance, I drove away smiling, but it was a nervous smile, ahead of me lay a great big unknown, I had absolutely no idea what to expect, whether what I hoped to do would be achievable by me? whether the consequences of failure meant freezing to death someplace and whether or not it would be worth the effort

I had basically taken stock of my tattered finances, worked out I should just about be able to raise the necessary funds to complete my trip and just had to hope that my efforts would be stupid enough to motivate people to show their support by means of a donation to the charity I was raising sponsorship for.

I had a fixed window of time based around two weeks in which I basically didn't have any work on site.

I was fearful of two things, outright failure, giving up, or lacking the grit to carry on but more worryingly - spending my small resources to fund a trip that cost me more than I raised for the charity in question, I sought assurance for the latter, I promised myself that if I didn't reach a certain limit, I would sell off the Honda and give the proceeds myself directly.

Some people thought I was insane and it was impossible, others thought it was a cakewalk and a holiday, but universally nobody else wanted to come along for the ride, the fact of the matter was I just didn't know!

In an age where we can get all sorts of information at the stroke of a keyboards keys there was a surprising lack of information as to what was involved in operating a motorcycle in very cold conditions and deep snow, let alone on a mini budget, then there was the fact I'd decided to camp or couch surf to keep costs low.

I was terrified, but I hoped I would at the very least have a faithful little companion in the guise of Honda's tough as old boots utilitarian motorcycle

Two great Icons of engineering

As it purred away neatly I almost felt guilty for what I was about to put the poor girl through though
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Old 12-31-2013, 09:54 AM   #20
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I had a couple of weeks familiarisation with the little bike, and time to make some modifications, I also had the same time to try and figure things out like,

What would I eat? (I certainly couldn't afford to dine out) as I was thinking cold weather might require a few more calories
What should I wear? (I don't own any real cold weather gear)
How cold could it get?
At what point would the oil in the bikes sump start to solidify?

I needed to put on my thinking cap

Of course with a big budget solving most of these issues would be relatively easy, but whilst I was making a big thing of keeping costs low in the spirit of the trip the fact was my funds, and chances of success were marginal at best, everything had to be balanced out as costs vs benefit

I am therefore forever indebted to a few wonderful folk for giving me a helping hand and I'd like to name them now before I get carried away with my story

I was given a cold weather suit by a submariner

The double walled goggles were bought due to a timely Lidl's (budget supermarket) offer for 7.99!

I received a whole bunch of ration packs from another group of serving personnel who all had a rummage around their kit lockers and supplied me with all manner of sustenance and also a whole bunch of isotonic drink whilst educating me to the fact that dehydration is a big deal in very cold conditions

I received some technical advice from a local company Opie oils about what to run in the C90 as the standard oil had a good chance of solidifying

A rather nice chap I met through this very forum sent me a hand warmer, which was amazing and unexpected

Snugpak were also absolutely awesome, I've always used their products, they are great value for money compared to other outdoors brands but there was just no way I could afford the right sort of 5 season sleeping bag for the trip so I pinged them an email that went something along the lines of

Dear Snugpak, I am doing this trip, I know that you would advise me to take this product but it's just not possible for me to do so due to being horribly poor, however luckily I have always used your products and so have both a 3 and a 2 season bag made by yourselves already, I know its a slightly strange request but in your opinion do you think using both of these might afford a similar or appropriate degree of warmth to make sure I don't become a popsicle, love n kisses n all that Stickysidedown

their reply was something like this,

Dear Stickysidedown, as the technical director for the company and specifically involved with our sleeping bags development over the last 17 years I am probably best placed to answer your question, the answer is it might work, but there are too many variables and so you might have to wait until spring before you thaw out, you are obviously an idiot and that is why you are poor, as a large successful organisation we get asked for freebies all the time and we would be poor like you if we obliged but I have a cunning plan, if you can get the finances to buy the correct bag at a trade price from us I will personally ensure its sent to you in time for your departure and if you fling it up on ebay after your trip it should easily be worth at least what it cost you,
firm manly handshakes and all that, The Big Cheese - Snugpak

OK, so the correspondence was a little more formal than that and I may have paraphrased a little but what is correct is that despite being a very large uk based company managing many millions of pounds of orders for both our own and the US military for example, they not only read my letter that basically said their was no money in it for them but could I trouble them for information, escalated it to the highest level appropriate, and came back with a completely personal response and an excellent solution to my dilemma.

Given the offer being made, and after speaking to my family a little whip round for an early birthday present from my dear old mum and my brother secured a 5 season sleeping bag that promised a comfortable night to -20c and survival to -50c

This was an enormous relief (and an enormous sleeping bag for that matter!)

My old school friend Jonathan and his wife were incredibly supportive, built a website for the project and knowing a few handy people from his line of work as a freelance race team manager managed to get us a donation in the form of screw in tyre studs from one of his race engineering contacts based in Sweden, he was also the one updating the website and twitter feeds as the journey went on.

one thing that did crop up was that if the weather swung to the very lower side of things there were a few complications centred around the business of breathing, basically your Arctic explorer chaps now all use breath boxes with heat exchangers, as big gulp of extremely cold air causes freezing and subsequently scarring of the throat, It seemed a lot of cold weather campers actually slept in builders nuisance masks!

Anton, the amazing Russian we had met on the Russia/Mongolia trip had already got behind the project by publishing a magazine article for the Russian Moto magazine all about the proposed adventure, but finding out my concerns actually offered to buy the appropriate apparatus and although the kindness of that offer deserves thanks here I couldn't accept, it was touching that someone should be so genuinely concerned for my well being though

There are others I should thank, probably too many to list, but I hope that I did so at the time, you know who you were and that I am humbled by your support!

Back in the real world I was quite enjoying the C90, we had a little bit of icy weather and the humble bike was proving it's light weight, gentle power and easy kick start made it a pretty useful tool, I made a point of trying to ride it everyday to find out if all was well, it even got pressed into service for work when the van needed to be off the road for a couple of days for welding work

After a week or so I found some suitable(ish) tyres and had them delivered to my door

A bit of skip diving at work saw me recycling some powder coated box section into a crude rack to support extra fuel cans

The front fender had to be cut to allow for the extra width of the knobbly tyres, being 2.5 rather than 2.25 in width, there was always a concern that the snow and ice would build up in the mudguard so a hacksaw blade was packed in case further modifications were needed en route

Some enormous green handguards were made from some old KX fenders I pulled out of the bin where I'd managed to borrow a workshop for a night

The clutch had started slipping the week of departure so as well as an oil change it was necessary to swap out the clutch, it was actually quite involved compared to doing it on a motorbike being a strange semi auto set up, quite a lot of the bike needed to be stripped down, but the very rudimentary toolkit seemed to hold most of the needed tools which was reassuring

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Old 12-31-2013, 09:55 AM   #21
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Finally she started to look adventure ready! but was I?

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Old 12-31-2013, 10:08 AM   #22
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Well the answer to that question would certainly have been no, not in the least, though curiously in the week before departure I got messages from two different people, one who had travelled in Norway's winter before, and by C90 and another chap by the name of Ed March who lived just up the road in Devon and had a fair amount of experience with the machine having ridden back from Thailand on one, more bizarrely he was heading in the same direction as me albeit via Finland a week later.

It's a small world when it comes to cold weather exploration by Honda 90! Andy, the guy who'd been there and done that was a mine of information, unfortunately for me much of it came too late for me to benefit, which sort of added to the prevailing sense that I was perhaps committing some sort of protracted suicide.

I finished work and loaded up the bike, the official start was actually to be the Ace Cafe in London, simply because every journey needs to start somewhere and I'd heard many had started from this place to which I'd never been

There was the small issue of the fact that I don't live anywhere near to the Ace, or London, or even the SE of England, I live and work in Cornwall, which is a fair old trek by 90cc bike.

I'd also had a bit of a spanner put between my spokes in the way of the weather, when I'd originally planned the trip I had reasonably figured the main roads in the UK in Europe would be snow free, and indeed that until somewhere North of Oslo all would be simply cold and boring! Well I could not have been more wrong!

England was gripped with severe weather warnings and undoubtedly the words 'since records began' were uttered somewhere on the tellybox as it was enjoyed by sensible folk congregated in their warm homes with a steaming tea in their hands

I meanwhile was heading up the Dual Carriageway of the A38 in the pitch black, straining to see anything at all with the Honda's ridiculously underpowered headlight, I turned off the main road and after following some directions arrived at the home of the rather nice chap I know from another forum called Tomcat, As I was passing nearby I took the opportunity to pick up an old MX lid to be freecycled and availed myself of a hot cuppa before heading back out into the night, I was already learning the almost total absence of light was making it impossible to distinguish between types of road surface/ice in darkness, a slightly troubling though given that I was heading quite far North and the days were going to get shorter and shorter

Luckily I was confident that my splendid 10 Karimoor Snowboots and my donated Hi Vis Builders Yard Jacket I was surely set for success!

Meanwhile my buddy and former travel companion Ed had sent me a cheery image to warn me that the weather had in fact been considerably worse further East in Bristol where I was heading for the night

But I still had the 100 odd miles to go before I could worry about that.

Annoyingly I ran out of petrol quickly on the motorway! I had not expected such poor economy and I certainly warmed up as dressed in all my gear I pushed the bike the 1km to the services at a jogging pace, then began the painfully slow process of removing my gear from the bike to access the filler under the seat, this was to become the most annoying part of the journey, unclipping all the kit every time the tiny 3.8 litre fuel tank was dry.

I had to do this once more before I even reached Bristol?? so less than 50 miles a tank! at this rate I couldn't afford to ride to Norway! I pushed that thought to the back of my mind.

I turned off near Weston Super Mare and took the A38 towards Bristol airport where suddenly the roads went from cold and frosty to proper snow

Cutting across the centre of Bristol City I was looking forward to my home for the night, a sofa at the house of Ed's (MY partner for the mongolia expedition) girlfriend, As I came to a set of traffic lights a big Land Rover Discovery was waiting on the Red, As the light changed to green he pulled away and proceeded to drive away at quite literally a snails pace! the road was relatively clear and no particularly hazardous cambers or anything, and there was this muppet seemingly driving around in low ratio 1st!

To my left was a bus lane, less travelled it had more frozen crap on it but I figured the black in the centre of the red bus lane was in fact a dirty slush, I pulled into the bus lane with a view to getting past the 4x4 guy only to find that I had been quite wrong about the black line in the centre of the lane, it had in fact frozen solid, and given that thinking it to be slush I'd unweighted the front and gassed at it to try and push through it I know found myself in a bit of a predicament as the bike tried to wheelie towards the curb, I fought it around but with a horribly overloaded machine I ended up in a violent tankslapping move that lasted about 20 metres, just towards the end I actually had the notion that somehow I might save this before the bike literally seemed to jump up from the spot and throw itself down sideways, my head hit the asphalt hard as did my knee, this was about the time I realised I hadn't put the armor back into the knees of my trousers....ow

I jumped up as quickly as you can when you are dressed like the Michelin man and have just face planted tarmac, strained to lift the bike giving it a cursory look over in the darkness, everything seemed to be in order except for the fact the front brake lever had snapped and so before the adrenaline wore out or the swelling in my knee got too bad I fired her up and off I went.

To meet Ed meant taking some yet smaller roads, and these were just sheet ice, in a sense this was better because as well as being in residential areas with streetlights, the fact it was just ice meant no traffic and a predictable surface, Ed, his Girlfriend and I all sat in the warmth of a pub for an hour or so, ate a kebab from nearby before heading back to get some sleep, I needed a fair few hours to get to London and the Ace in the morning and so aimed to be on the move by 0530

I woke up with a start!

Sh*t!!! wheres my tent?

somehow my waking thought was that I hadn't seen my tent when I unloaded the bike the night before

No idea how to post it here but Ed was kind enough to video interview me that morning, stating that I was just going to have to go without a tent, but not to worry because I did have a bivi bag with me and that without a GPS or a map I was going to go and find the Ace Cafe. He broadcast the interview via the facebook page in the hope someone might come good with a tent we could blag or borrow, that morning, despite being the most optimistic individual I know, Ed did keep telling me that it wasn't an acceptable thinking when I said 'If I don't get a tent then I'll just have to do it without a tent' but I was focused on one thing only, getting the job done.

I stopped for Petrol some more, I was really getting concerned about this fuel economy? and drove around in circles for a while whilst trying to find the Ace (before discovering that I had been past it a few times!)
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Old 12-31-2013, 10:15 AM   #23
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After such an early start, having crashed quite badly already, nursing a bad knee, and frozen from the long ride, I was probably fairly incomprehensible to the two brave Forum members who had battled the snow and ice to come and see me off on my journey, A massive thanks goes to Echus and Scootabout from Therevcounter for making the effort, my friends Jon and Jo also met me there to take a few snaps for the website and to mark the official start of a journey that had already been pretty darn eventful.

TRC Forum legends, Thank you!

My best angle some might say

Lightly loaded, that's without a tent!

Chianti and Fava Beans anyone?

Between them they managed to come up with some suggestions as to where I might find a replacement brake lever, unfortunately the Honda dealer didn't carry this part for the firms most sold motorcycle and so we were steered towards a smaller independent who might have something along those lines. Billy Bunns motorcycles, now I immediately liked this bike shop when I walked in, it had a feel of bike shops I remember, bits hanging from the ceiling and the smell of workshop oils and solvents from the overcoats of the guys on the front desk.

Yes they had something, it probably matched but didn't say it was for that year C90, but they used common sense that this was not a part likely to have changed for years, something the microfiche kids who can't/wont help you without a VIN number are terrible with at some swish modern dealerships.

They asked me to wheel the bike around the back to the workshop where they would take a look at it and fit it for me, not only that, when we got into a discussion and I said what I was up to they wouldn't let me pay for the part! so top blokes all around, if you are in their area they deserve your business I reckon

Another massive thanks goes to Scootabout, not only did he take me to the bike shop, he steered me through London knowing I would be clueless and might struggle as someone had crashed a helicopter into the road somewhere in the middle of the London at that time so some key routes were closed.

And despite the fact he must also have been cold and with better things to do than muscle a pan around London whilst trying to go slowly enough for my loaded C90 to keep up he was patient as I filled up with petrol yet again?? Cheers fella!!

It meant a lot to me to have some of the TRC contingent behind me (maybe just making sure I really left?) I knew what lay ahead would be a challenge

I took tea with another TRC Forum member and Ex GF LadyB and she also kindly gave me a tent to use, nothing fancy, a 30 auto store special, but the thought of it verses just bivying the whole way? it might as well have been the Hilton.

I said goodbye and pootled down to Maidstone to spend the night with my mates Jon and Jo with a view to getting a good nights kip before tomorrows ferry from Dover
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Old 12-31-2013, 10:26 AM   #24
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The next morning started with more snow, and an empty petrol tank!! however as I'd failed to turn the petcock off on the Carb the reason became clear as there was a hole burned into the snow by the fuel leaking from the Carb bowl, which closer inspection revealed was loosely connected to the machine by just one of the two set screws supposed to keep it attached

straight away we rescheduled the ferry for later that day and set about a bodge

We looked around for a suitable fastener and came up with an item supposed to be holding a plug socket or light switch face plate, it was a little undersized but we found a corresponding nyloc nut to secure the exposed end of the thread and so it was I headed out into a grey snowy day bound for Dover ferry terminal

I attracted some strange looks waiting for the ferry, I was simply sat still like some flourescent garden gnome in the ferry queue, obviously the only bike with a lane to myself as people stared on from the cabs of their vans and cars, keeping the engine running for the heater whilst snowflakes settled on me

I figured I might as well start getting used to being so exposed, as it was only going to get much much colder there was a long way to go

My good friend Jonathan had placed some calls and called in a couple of favours, and so rather kindly I'd been upgraded to the reserved lounge on the crossing, being a moped riding Prole I was quite unaccustomed to such luxuries and made full use of the free beverages, newspapers and nibbles but it made the crossing a pleasant one as the ship carved its path through the unrelenting grey of sea and sky that was to be the fundamental colour of the trip

The ramp finally lowered and with a slight sense of trepidation I pootled onto the continent after quickly being waved through without so much as a glance at my passport or machine (it seems drug barons and arms dealers don't use Honda Cubs all that much) and I was relieved I could keep my gloves and helmet on

and so the journey really seemed to start, to my mind at least, Europe, and it seemed so much bigger today than it had 6 months before when I rolled out into the sunshine on the KTM 990

I parped and rasped my way to the first turning where it was time to get more petrol into the tank hoping that the foreign sorts would be way more switched on about clearing snowbound roads than we are in the UK, after all we are supposed to be the laughing stock of the world when it comes to our readiness for anything over a light dusting of powder snow??

time to hit the Autoroute!

I was so very wrong about the snow ploughs, in fact, it seemed that French Snowplough drivers didn't work on Sunday nights, as the light faded so did my morale, on a good day a C90 stator pumps out about 40W of power, now given that a normal headlamp bulb is 55W and the Cub needs to run the rest of the bike as well as keep the headlight going the stock 21W bulb could barely penetrate a few yards up the road, nad of course heated grips or waistcoat were never an option, the snow came heaving down in lazy fat flakes, the road was rutted and packed with snow and ice, the only saving grace was the conditions were so horrific even the trucks and cars were reduced to sub 30 mph

I only got as far as Belgium's first service station before calling it a day, at this rate it would be summer by the time I arrived to Hell, but I reasoned the weather would have to improve and at least by day I might see something, I also hoped snow plough drivers in Belguim did at least work on Monday mornings!

I tried to find a spot to pitch the hefty tent I'd borrowed that was a little out of sight, the best I could manage was just behind the bin store, but at least all the urine soaked ground I knew that would be there would have frozen solid

I unpacked the tent for the first time........Merde!

it was a basic tent with fibreglass poles, the ends of the poles had aluminium end caps which in turn received a pin built into the fabric inner of the tent to hold them in a curved shape, only one of the two poles was missing an end cap

Super, so now I didn't have a tent, just an extra 7 odd kg weight mounted high and far back on the bike, not only that, it wasn't mine and so I couldn't really just fuzz it in a skip, I went to plan B

The airmat was laid down on the ground, I threw my army surplus bivvy bag down and after placing my two roll bags either side of my head and stretching a small piece of roofing membrane cloth I had with me over my head between the bags, the redundant tent outer was thrown over the bike by way of a cover and I drifted off to sleep with thoughts of how nothing good ever happens to me in Belgium, so far this was a miserable venture, destined for failure and quite possibly a sticky ending for yours truly, obviously not cut out for this trip so will continue anyway in the morning

^ home sweet home, first night on the road
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Old 12-31-2013, 10:35 AM   #25
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I woke from my bag into another grey day, the fact that the snow had stopped was encouraging, though I felt pretty stiff and unpleasant as I loaded the bike up, underneath my army surplus waterproofs I had my biking textile trousers and on top of my fleece jacket I had my heavy halvarssons safety jacket, which in turn was under my Travis Perkins Hi-Vis jacket, by the time the weight of this and my Kriega was on I felt restricted and uncomfortable, then the slow process of trying to line up the neoprene mask so my MX lid didn't push it into my eyeline would begin before finally trying to insert my fingers into the thick winter gloves that I normally avoid using at all costs (I'm a summer gloves and heated grips man in normal winter conditions)

If you are wondering about my decision to ride in a MX lid, it was a deliberate choice, I'd been doing my homework and looking at what the snowmobile guys were using among other things, the full face helmets seemed to feature electrically heated visors I could neither afford nor power from the Honda, moisture would freeze inside a full face lids visor, and pinlocks apparently failed below about -20C

so the double lensed goggles from a timely supermarket offer stepped up to the plate for the princely sum of 7.99 and for the most part did the job

As I rolled up my airmat I couldn't quite believe what I had found, there in the snow was a small piece of aluminium tubing yep the missing piece of the tent, so at least I wouldn't have to bivvy the entire journey!! good job I'd not fuzzed the tent the night before

I got back onto a much better road than I had left, there were still icy patches to keep you paying attention but the combination of salt, plough and traffic had made the inside lane rideable at a pretty good pace (for a C90)

the unpleasantness came from being overtaken, especially by the articulated trucks, their wheels catching the spare ice and slush and throwing it sideways into my face.

All in all it was quite an egregious ride, and there was little mercy being shown by the powerful saloons of the Eurobusiness men who persisted in overtaking in my lane despite a clear lane to overtake.

I hunkered down and shivered, my feet were already freezing and I was not convinced my feet would make the whole journey through Norway without the loss of a toe or two, I would ponder a remedy as I rode and told myself that being cold was good, and that once I stopped being cold I needed to take shelter, especially if I couldn't feel discomfort in my extremities

part of me thought I was overanalysing the situation, I was trapped in a little circle of thought in my head where the doubts had crept in because I had little or no expectation of what to expect, in a previous winter I'd first experienced -25C and I remember walking from a warm cellar bar in Krakow into a blisteringly cold night only to feel my heart pause a moment as my lungs drew in a the first draw of icy air, nothing about that experience had led me to believe camping in it was a good idea

However a van pulled up alongside, wound down the window and a guys arm came out with a big thumbs up, and I should express a thanks to this random gesture of approval to this Latvian van driver as it did lift my mood a little.

I found myself in the wrong place somewhere in Belgium, IME almost everywhere in Belgium is the wrong place, but this time I was also heading in the wrong direction, the fact this was the wrong place was confirmed by the presence of a plethora of weirdly mulleted Euro-rednecks, driving giant ford pick up trucks and wearing checked shirts loitering around the petrol station, I'm not sure, I think some of them even wore cowboy boots?? a strange aspect of Belgian 'culture'

Phil Collins 'Easy Lover' was being blasted out through forecourt speakers and would annoyingly play on a loop in my head for the next few hundred miles as my brain tried to mask the noise of a mercilessly thrashed 84cc engine as its 9500rpm rev ceiling beat the beejeesus out of the 600cc's of oil expected to maintain it

A few more waves, hoots and stares came along, that one in every thousand overtaking vehicles that cheered me a little, and so when another transit van came alongside I didn't focus too hard on the driver who was waving at me, but after about a minute the fact he was matching my speed was a little concerning, he was holding up the other traffic on a 2 lane section of road, I looked across and a man was waving at me frantically

had something else come off my bike? was I on fire? I waved back and started to try and figure it out as he sped off up the road pursued by many impatient drivers.
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Old 12-31-2013, 10:41 AM   #26
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I needed yet more fuel, and besides it was lunchtime so I decided to grab the next service exit and give the bike a looking over

As I pulled into the services I immediately recognised the markings of the van that had pulled alongside me, the van was now heading the wrong way up the one way of the rest area towards me and I started to wonder what the hell was going to happen next had the driver been mad at me? it had been hard to make him out as the passenger window of his van had been misted up, damn, there was no way I could fight anyone dressed in all this clobber, all my muscles had tightened up anyway from shivering, I could barely move, I reminded myself where the short handled shovel sat on top of my things, no, that's too lethal not your style, however angry he is approach him with an outstretched hand a smile, if he hits you then hopefully it will all be over quickly!

about 6'6 of young man stepped down from the drivers side door and a huge smile came from both parties, it was Roy!!!

Now at this point I daresay that last statement needs clarification, who is Roy? well first of all he's not a giant Dutch Psychopath so that's a win, but I can go further and say he is actually a pretty decent guy who I met briefly the previous summer in Ulaan Batoor so as far as coincidences go this was a happy one, he had driven his Landcruiser there as part of a convoy and having been made aware of a French biker on an Africa Twin who'd had a starter relay issue since some local welding had been done to his machine, had been trying to source a replacement in UB for him, at that point I didn't know I would bump into that French biker as part of a party of three one day outside of UB, so having a spare starter relay on me I left it with Roy hoping someone would help me if I needed such a part but not being able to deny a fellow biker a needed spare.

I don't have a picture of Roy, he's probably too tall to fit into the frame of the shot or something but here is his lovely blue Landcruiser in UB behind an Ozzie on a Tenere

Apparently he'd seen some photo's on Facebook and had figured I was the only C90 with Lurid green handguards likely to be riding around Europe that morning, so when he happened to pass me on his way back from his work servicing heavy plant equipment in France he'd determined to stop me for a chat.

I took note of his instructions to find his home in the Netherlands and refused his kind offer to load the bike into the van before immediately wishing I hadn't been so proud, it just didn't seem right though, and so I waved him off promising to call in and see him on the way past that evening, hmmm that van cab had looked warm

I treated myself to a mug of coffee and a warm meal after using the shovel I'd contemplated killing Roy with to clear the snow from a bench

the rest of the ride passed without too much drama and somewhere near Appeldoorn I found my way to the right house (a miracle as I had struggled to find the right motorway earlier with the worlds most inneffective map of Europe on a scale that included half of Russia as well)

He hadn't finished work yet and so I parked on the virgin snow of a quiet little town outside what I sincerely hoped was his house

A half hour or so later he appeared and my bike was wheeled into a fantastic garage, shadow boards full of tools adorned the walls and more organiser trays and bins bejewelled the wall than I had ever seen away from an aircraft hangar, turns out Roy's father has a lifetimes experience as a HGV driver and looks after his own gear, and The two of them were living here, the heater was switched on in the garage (not like we have a heater in the UK, I mean instant 22c lovelyness that puts most houses to shame) and we unloaded the bike and duct taped the wandering aluminium doodad from the tent poles in place in a somewhat anticlimactic way given the all round awesomeness of the garage

I spent the night in the spare room after swapping stories of Mongolian adventures the summer before over a cold beer and a pizza with Roy and his father who very kindly told me to visit again if I was passing and was welcome to his home, lovely people so I didn't even mind that having made the mistake of ordering a pepporoni pizza I received what we would call peppers instead of salami ;-) it's not even the first time I've got that one the wrong way around!

The next morning I left reasonably early, but hit trouble early on

The Passat pulled in front of me and the Matrix on it's roof flashed up the message, 'follow me' I was escorted from the highway to a minor road and then a car park, three armed police officers stepped out the car and started to ask me about my bike, wanted my documents and so forth, after about 5 mins they seemed to soften a little, I'd made sure to check the C90 was allowed on the motorways of Europe before leaving, and I lied when they asked me how fast it went, there was nothing they could do so they let me carry on my way satisfied that I was not, as reported riding up the motorway on a chicken chasing 50cc bike (even though at times my bike was slower!)

I made it just somewhere North of Hannover that night and joyfully pitched the tent in the corner of a restplatz off the Autobahn
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Old 01-02-2014, 06:30 AM   #27
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I heard the thudding of a car door, it was definite and close, to my knowledge I don't have any superpowers, canine hearing or a third eye, but I knew I had visitors, and this was confirmed by the definite crunching of snow towards me, two pairs of feet, heavy

Hello,Hello, enquiring voices rang out

I knew it had to be the Polizei of course, who else could it be? but then I was a little unsure as to whether or not I was allowed to pitch a tent in a restplatz on the autobahn, I'd just assumed there wouldn't be an issue as people weren't exactly competing for the spot, but I was aware of a saying relating to the Germans, that in Germany many things were forbidden, but what wasn't forbidden was what was the best response?

I turned on the Britishness and boomed out a cheerful Gut Morgan, how can I help?

I unzipped the tent door and felt the cold air rush in to greet me

Two smartly dressed officers stood in front of me, shivering having come from the warmth of a nearby 5 series

They looked at each other for a moment, Erm we got a call from somebody concerned you might be... well nobody thought someone would...erm you are OK!

It was quite sweet actually, my forced cheer had disarmed them as it appeared they had been sent out to investigate a human popsicle, so a good result all around I'd say.

camping off the Autobahn in Hannover

The ride from Hannover North was predictably cold and after a while I was also numb to the terror of doing 40 mph on the Bahn, in hindsight being passed so close by cars exceeding 120mph was a sign they hadn't seen/believed just how slowly I was going. but with my enormously large scale map only just showing motorways I couldn't navigate onto smaller roads, and my budget was finite, even 10 for a map was a risk.

Actually as a footnote about finances, putting the purchase of the bike aside I had started the trip with about 300, this was just enough, though I needed to book a flight home from that, I was worried about the thirst of the C90, I was getting no more than 70 miles a tank, sometimes 50 miles, with both my cans full I had four tanks, well three and a bit, every fuel stop meant taking all the luggage off, Rok straps are an awesome invention, but when they twang back into really cold hands it hurts for sure :-)

Because funds were tight my bike was also loaded with all the food I needed for the trip, this largely comprised of Army rations, porridge oats, chocolate bars, peanuts and two chorizo sausages.

Other little oddities? well batteries don't like the cold (one reason for taking the C90) so I had two dozen Cyalume snaplights, chemical lights, these were what could be scrounged, so came in blue, yellow, green and red.

I also had tubes, a pump and tyre levers, I didn't much fancy having to hang around for hours for a puncture.

So the miles were racked up, and I was on my way to Denmark which mentally had become my goal, counting down the KM's to the border, this was a bit dull, to put it in some sort of perspective I've done Bristol to Sweden in a 24hr stretch before on my big bike in the summer, I was on my fourth day and dreaming of reaching Denmark, had completely lost sense of how many daylight hours there were, what time I was getting up or how many riding hours I was putting in, for goodness sake it wasn't even properly cold yet and I seemed to be struggling with the basics. I knew I had to start inventing some self discipline, some routine to measure myself against so I'd know if I was too cold.

I was sure I wasn't that cold, I was just cold but I didn't know what the temperature was and I did know that the cold is in many ways, a good way to go, the reason for this is you stop being cold, and you get slack with things, ultimately you stop being bothered to put up a tent, cook a meal or anything of that nature, so I was overcompensating, I made a routine for washing, teeth cleaning, all the stuff you'd normally just do became a point, something that had to be done. BTW apparently people who die of the cold quite often take of all their clothes and are found naked, This would not be good for anyone!

You can probably tell I had too much time to think on this ride! in fact one of the few things to break the monotony was the C90 changing to second from third of it's own accord at the end of the slip road after stopping to fuel up, joining the Bahn at 20 mph is an experience!

I was so close to Denmark when it happened, more Polizei! I was told via matrix sign to follow them and they escorted me from the autobahn, again having been told there was some mad Englishman on a moped driving on the Autobahn.

A man and a woman they were initially quite aggressive, but I pointed out that I knew full well I was legal and asked them to categorically deny it, they came back and asked me if I would consider taking the minor road to Flensburg for my safety and their peace of mind, I explained my concern about navigation and the lesser roads being more ice covered, they assured me the road ran next to the bahn so no distance penalty would apply and that the roads were in good condition

After I'd explained what it was all about, and they'd stopped trying to bully me, but instead asked me nicely, they asked if they could take a photo for a friend at the station who was into Vespas and things! I agreed of course, and gave them some business cards I had printed with the web address to donate, but said I should be allowed a photo too!

I was glad to get that information and enjoyed a nice road on lightly trafficked routes, though every road sign tries to get you back on the Bahn which is a bit of a pain.

I arrived in Denmark in the dark, so pulling of the main road I found a field which was grassy (well under the snow) rode to the far side and made camp! Germany had been crossed and all was well apart from the fact my bike kept seeming to try to stall as if it was low on petrol? I thought about this as I prepared a little meal on my primus omnifuel stove by the gentle light of a glow stick or three, very ravey dining, reach for the lasers, safe as f*ck and all that!

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Old 01-02-2014, 02:20 PM   #28
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You said you had a large "Unit" but I think what you also meant was you have some Large BALLS... Ride Safe. Ride Far. This is a true ADV Adventure.
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Old 01-02-2014, 05:42 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by FotoTEX View Post
You said you had a large "Unit" but I think what you also meant was you have some Large BALLS... Ride Safe. Ride Far. This is a true ADV Adventure.
Hey thanks man, but I can assure you after a while on the road in this trip my balls were far from large!

If there had been such a thing as electrically heated underpants I would have desired them, but as the little moped can barely run it's own headlight the chance to run an electric anything was non existant
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Old 01-02-2014, 06:00 PM   #30
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Well now.....


This is off the charts.

To a kindred spirit I say

I can get more done in a day than you can in an hour.
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