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Old 10-19-2012, 07:19 AM   #75
Thijs_B OP
Keeps on dreaming
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Joined: Oct 2011
Location: That floaty bit just north of France
Oddometer: 84
Cool2 Day 20 - Home at last

GPS track:

After breakfast I went down to the car deck as soon as it was open. The ship is nice but way, WAY too luxurious for me and I felt really extremely out of place. I just wanted a way to get to Kiel by boat, so I didnít really need or want a full on cruise.

Only bike there, and I was happy I could strap it down the day before, the ocean got a bit rough through the night.

Last day of the trip, and I wasnít looking forward to the ride home over the German autobahn. To make matters worse I started off going in the wrong direction on the highway despite of my GPS. I donít even know why that happened but it didnít really cheer me up.

I was constantly on guard because of the sparkplug, and at the lunch stop at some gas station I saw it was loose again. It didnít appear to be as bad as when I first found out about it, and because I didnít want mess up the thread more by forcing it in I left it like it was. MistakeÖ

Something like 30km further I was approaching a truck from the rear on the slow lane, and because there was a lot of traffic on the fast lane I reduced throttle to slow down a bit. The moment I changed the throttle position to do so I heard a loud bang from the side of the bike and I instantly lost all power. I knew of course what had happened, grabbed the clutch and steered to the hard shoulder. Crap.

Obviously the spark plug had come loose. I found myself removing the side cover and screwing another one in, standing on the hard shoulder (the one that popped out was way too hot to handle). The hard shoulder was only 2 meters wide with heavy traffic rushing by, but that in itself is not the worst of it. Only 10km before, I had seen a truck suddenly breaking out of its lane onto the hard shoulder as if the driver startled awake. If something like that were to happen here I wouldnít even be able to see it coming since I was ducked down next to the engine, and the pannier was blocking my sight to any oncoming traffic. Iím not easily scared in traffic, but this was definitely one of those ĎI-may-need-new-underwear-sooní moments.

The bike luckily started back up like normal. The thought of getting a tow truck just for safety didnít even occur to me, there where exactly 299 kilometers to go when this happened and I wouldnít even have to refuel to be able to get home. No way I was gonna chicken out in the last 300 km after almost 7500 km of riding.

After crossing the Dutch border I stopped one more time with only 160 km left to go, and fastened the spark plug again. After this and a few sips of water I got going again and did that last bit without any further stops, and keeping the throttle as steady as possible. At that last stop I had also prepared a text on my phone for my family, so I could send it while riding when I entered my hometown.

Then I got home at last:

My family was there the greet me. I made it!

I could hardly believe the places that I went and the distance I had traveled, it had all been a very surreal experience. Even now, a month after I got back, I don't feel like I actually did all of the above. The photographs and memories are however very real, and I wouldn't trade these in for the world. This trip really was a dream that came true.

Hopefully there will be plenty more of these to come!

Day 20 stats:
690 km travelled, with 90 km/h average in just under 8 hours in the seat.
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