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Thread: Western Europe Trip Report

  1. #1
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    Western Europe Trip Report

    The Sibirsky Extreme Project was finally under way. Walter had made his way from London to Ystradgynlais on the Friday afternoon but due to work commitments I had to leave early on the Saturday.

    Well I finally got under way and left Cheshire at 6am. I rode west and then took the A49 south towards Shropshire and beyond. I had put a predetermined route into the sat nav and enjoyed the twisties all the way down to Touratech. It was a day of sunshine and showers and generally very enjoyable riding weather with the odd rainbow thrown in.



    I arrived just before lunch and the usual suspects were there. Friends from UKgser, people I’d met at last years event and the staff at Touratech.

    I got the camcorder and camera setup for Walters talk on the Sibirsky Extreme project. I had intended to do one of the Touratech off road rides but I arrived a bit late and had other duties to perform.

    By mid afternoon I had a realisation. I had unknowingly made a sacrificial offering to the road gods… Somewhere between Cheshire and Ystradgynlais I had lost a bag. It was a decathlon dry bag on top of my right pannier. It had my tarp, one man tent and my Andystrapz in it. Not expensive kit but a pain in the arse nonetheless. I was hell bent on travelling light and so this meant I would have to go home and get my big tent (home being 200 miles north) I could have purchased a cheap tent but I had other things to sort out.

    Because we have taken on the Sibirsky Extreme Project we have automatically become more manly, more attractive to the opposite sex, capable of amazing feats of endurance and able to withstand the extremes that mother nature can throw at us... So after a fine evenings entertainment from the legendary raconteur, adventure motorcyclist, general HE MAN and male portion of team nutkin aka Austin Vince we stepped into the sub zero temperatures of Ystradgynlais took a deep breath and decided to secure a warm cosy sleeping bag for the night inside Touratech.



    Austin had also managed to gain access to Fortress Touratech for the night. He slept beside me on the floor and I don't like to say this Lois but he was amazing . There was the 5am incident where Austin had nipped outside and got locked out by the self locking door. it was -3c out there and I’m not sure how long he’d been out there but he was very grateful that we let him back in and offered to make it up to us.





    After a hearty breakfast and some fine tea we were ready for the off. The cameras were rolling and with Billy (www.biketruck.com) and Austin on the mic it was the finest send off anyone could ask for. It was a great feeling and what adventure motorcycling is all about. I recommend everyone should do it. There have to be some sacrifices but the rewards are great!



    Les Wassel from www.HID50.com joined us on the ride out and he accompanied me all the way back to Cheshire. We stopped to have a brief chat and decide when we would regroup.



    I felt it would be fitting to have a symbol that would reflect on the days proceedings and act as a talisman for the days and weeks on the road ahead. Walter, Myself and Les felt the first sign from the road gods just didn’t have quite the right ring about it…



    So as Walter forged on alone to London it was left to Les and myself to find a better sign. 2 hours later we think we found it and with due pomp and ceremony at the roadside we stamped our seal of approval onto the talisman by furnishing it with a Sibirsky Extreme sticker.



    So the first day ended with Myself and Walter at opposite ends of the country because with all best laid plans they often change. Walter needed some documents from a storage unit and I needed some promotional material for the trip proper. It was a good opportunity to test the gear, the bikes and our setup and I certainly benefited from reworking my setup.

  2. #2
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    Belgian Castles

    Well it’s only the end of Day 2, and its already been an eventful couple of days.



    The departure from Touratech was a huge buzz. Getting a send off from Austin Vince was pretty special. I like to read, watch and keep abreast of all sorts of biking trips, but for me, none come close to the 2 magnum opuses of the Brothers Vince. There is one thing that sets their projects apart from almost all others, and that’s the fact that they (too) seem to value the satisfaction of being the first to do something on a motorcycle.





    I guess everybody gets what they want out of adventure biking films, but for me it’s the trailblazing spirit, the desire to do something that hasn’t been done before that makes a great adventure. Mondo Enduro and Terra Circa both set out to do what hadn’t been done before. That’s why they’re great. There were no trip reports to read to help them do the bits that no-one had done before. It was virgin motorcycle territory.



    I like to think my earlier trip, the Tokyo to London Project, shared the Vince philosophy in that way. If I am able to reach some (or all) of my objectives in this current project, then I hope to build on that spirit. I still believe there are plenty of interesting roads out there yet to be ridden. It’s harder and harder to do a trailblazing adventure biking trip, but there is still potential out there.

    Day 2 began for both Jonathan and myself in our respective homes in Manchester and London. The plan was to meet at Folkestone Eurotunnel terminal about 10 am. As it happens, both of us were delayed (I had to search for papers in my self storage shed near Gatwick and Jon had traffic problems) and we met at about 12:00 before rolling under La Manche to Calais. The delayed start to the day meant we were squeezed in terms of schedule as soon as we rolled off the tunnel at 2:30pm local time in France. We wound our way through the Flanders Fields around Ypres and Passchendale before realising we were far too late to make a 6pm dinner date in Tongeren on the other side of Belgium with Norbert and family. Norbert was a contact through Horizons Unlimited who I had written to of number of times but had never met. There was no other option – we had to hit the dreaded motorways for over 2 hours.







    I had also arranged to meet Stijn and friends, a couple of other Belgian guys planning a ride to Siberia, Mongolia and China for next year, and to meet my 8 year old son Michael – who lives in Holland – that evening. It was going to be a rushed evening and I had no idea how I would be able to link it all together. Fortune favours the brave and the answer was apparent as we arrived at Norbert’s. He lived in an old Castle! Fantastic stuff. So thanks to the fantastic hospitality of Norbert, Francoise and Thierry, all things came to pass that evening in the Castle. After an evening speaking with Stijn and his friends, Jon and I spent the evening in the guesthouse with our motorcycles, while Michael and his mum spent the evening in the Castle itself.





    A stressful day, and what was probably the longest day of the trip (about 500 km for me and probably 700 km for Jonathan) ended with dinner and wine in a fantastic castle. The Brothers Vince would have loved this one!

  3. #3
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    So we all make mistakes ... enjoying it very much

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    The next day after a hearty breakfast, a tour of Rolls Royce collection and a few moments to take some photos we were off.



    We headed for Maastricht in the Netherlands for those that don't know and then turned south towards France, Luxembourg and Germany.







    we kept off the beaten track where possible. The sat navs both started acting a bit weird around Saarland which was a re-run of last year.



    As we rode across into France Walters bike conked out on him. This was to be a recurring theme. Walter soon deduced he had fuse problems but that was it. beyond that neither of us knew. Maybe a short circuit somewhere but alas... where do you look?

    We took a fantastic route some of which was a happy accident and the rest was planned. Traffic cops hiding behind trees were a plenty. Walter cautioned me as to my speed. I was doing 50mph on the open road which is not excessive but still those small towns do crop up pretty regularly the speed is often 50kmh.



    We took a lot of video on this day just to get the practice in, but not many photos. By nightfall we had made it to Baden Baden and from there we went in search of a campsite. What we found instead were snow covered mountain villages and dark freezing forests with campsites that were still cold. Not everyone was sharing our love of the extreme it would appear

    In the endwe found room at the inn in Enzoklosterle and despite the late hour managed to get beer and a light meal.






  5. #5
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    The next day we rode through the black forest towards Switzerland. The plan was to skirt around lake Constance, also known as the Bodensee and navigate through Lichtenstein towards Austria. It was to be our first night camping and while the day grew increasingly warmer we were frozen solid at night despite all the gear we'd brought along to counteract the cold.



    a murky Bodensee


    choices choices...



    after we made our way up through the passes and casually passed a few tiddly snow drifts



    we mingled with the skiers in St Anton



    someone was keenly following our route because everywhere we stopped we spotted Sibirsky Extreme stickers

    The sat nav's also started bleeting again. This time it didn't like the length of the route



    The Khyam tent really did go up in 20 seconds. Because there was no wind it didn't really need the guy lines so we staked the corners and that was it. A lot less faff than my North face tent.



    from our newly pitched base camp we headed into feldkirch for some much needed dinner and access to the Internet.


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    Feldkirch to Lake Garda - Italy



    after defrosting in the shower for 30 minutes we packed and hit the road. Our ultimate destination today was Italy.



    we made good progress through the mountains en route to Innsbruck. We managed to get separated near the village of Karres in the Tirol. It was one of those happy accidents that leads you up a road with an amazing view.



    Taking photos is time consuming and in some places I didn't take any because I'd taken many in the same area in previous years but I can tell you now that the central valley running to Innsbruck is stunning. You ride East with snow capped majestic peaks to your left and right and you realise this is why you do trips like these.



    we took on the twisties of the Brenner pass in glorious sunshine. The weather was beginning to turn against though as we descended into Italy.

    Walter had previously visited Santa Magdalena and said I was in for a real treat.

    Sadly when we arrived all we saw was this...





    instead of this...



    we carried on down through the Trento wine region. I snapped a few photos from the bike as we went... which wont win any awards but you get the feel for the moment.





    damn narcissist, street hawk wannabe...



    We were pretty close to lake Garda and it was decided that it would be a pretty good place to stop. We found a biker friendly hotel and a mexican eatery across the street. after a shower, a change of clothes, some fajitas and beers the Sibirsky Extreme Project was firing on all cylinders







    We had a minor difference of opinion with the matriarch of the hotel. She quoted us a cheaper price when we arrived and then had a different more expensive price when we came to leave.



    she also put us in room 101 so we thought we'd better not mess with her...

  7. #7
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    Lake Garda to Ancona

    The next day was sunny with clear blue skies

    The ride along Lake Garda was amazing. Sadly we filmed it all so I don't have the photos





    We made our way towards Verona and onwards towards to the point where we crossed the Rubicon. (Crossing the Rubicon is a metaphor for deliberately proceeding past a point of no return. The phrase originates with Julius Caesar's invasion of Ancient Rome when, on January 10, 49 BC, he led his army across the Rubicon River in violation of law, hence making conflict inevitable. Therefore the term "the Rubicon" is used as a synonym to the "point of no return".)



    Once we had crossed the mighty Rubicon we headed to The Most Serene Republic of San Marino. San Marino is the oldest sovereign state and constitutional republic in the world, having been founded on 3 September 301 by stonecutter Marinus of Rab. According to tradition, Saint Marinus left the island of Rab in Croatia with his lifelong friend Leo and went to the city of Rimini as a mason. After persecution because of his Christian sermons, he escaped to the nearby Monte Titano, where he built a small church and thus founded what is now the city and the state of San Marino. The official date of foundation of the Republic is 3 September 301.

    The views from the top were great despite the hazy afternoon sunshine. The ride up to San Marino is also a lot of fun.







    We felt we had a good amount of time to get to Ancona when we started our ascent but after spending some time on the twisties and being led astray by the sat navs we had lost our advantage and had to step up the pace to get to the port.



    Ultimately we made it in time



    We were checked in with the minimum of fuss and even had time to head into town to surf the internet and get a kebab of all things







    Once we had uploaded our photos, checked our emails and updated the blog we headed back to the port with our unopened kebabs.







    Once aboard we learned that because of the late hour food was no longer being served. Thankfully we had smuggled a sneaky kebab or two on board. Despite being actually stone cold they were spicy enough to give the illusion of heat . With a bottle of Fanta it was a feast fit for kings.

    After some investigation Walter managed to find a plug socket outside the door. We surmised that while there were no sockets in the cabin surely the cleaners would need a plug for a vacuum cleaner. Sure enough we found one outside.



    We did some filming up on deck and down in the cabin to mark the end of Western European leg of the Sibirsky Extreme Project. 7 hours on and it would be a new day and the start of the Eastern European leg.

  8. #8
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    Excellent stuff - looking forward to more

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by SamD View Post
    Excellent stuff - looking forward to more
    Walter is blazing such a trail across the globe that events kind of overtook the trip report

    I'm just filling in the gaps of each section so that each section will be complete

    The Eastern European section will be next up. Which will join up Ancona with Walters departure from Romania. It's lighter than the blog as I don't want to duplicate it but I know you guys appreciate the photos

  10. #10
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    Click here to find out how to remove these ads

    Quote Originally Posted by everywherevirtually View Post
    Walter is blazing such a trail across the globe that events kind of overtook the trip report

    I'm just filling in the gaps of each section so that each section will be complete

    The Eastern European section will be next up. Which will join up Ancona with Walters departure from Romania. It's lighter than the blog as I don't want to duplicate it but I know you guys appreciate the photos
    That we do

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