ADVrider

Go Back   ADVrider > Riding > Ride reports
User Name
Password
Register Inmates Photos Site Rules Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 07-31-2013, 02:04 PM   #1
LethPhaos OP
brb
 
LethPhaos's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2012
Location: Belgium
Oddometer: 419
Balkan ADV

A couple days ago I returned from a 6 week trip through the Balkans (former Yugoslavia) and Eastern Europe. This concept was new to me in many ways.
The longest trip I had ever done before this one had been 3 weeks, and I wasn’t alone then, and not on a bike either. This was my first solo trip, and my first trip by motorbike. I went camping for 1 night to test my loadout,, but apart from that I had never taken the bike camping. I had only camped illegaly/wild one time before, by car. I had never done roadside repairs before. The list goes on, let’s suffice it to say I was a rookie on pretty much every possible level.


My steed was an RD04 (1990) Honda Africa Twin. The bike was new to me, I bought her before winter, and she immediately died on me. I managed to fix her only a few weeks before I left on the trip. These few weeks allowed me to do a short trip into the German Eifel region. I managed to ride 1000km, so she got slightly tested, but there was no way of knowing if she would keep going for the expected 10000 to 15000 km. As for spares, I didn’t bring the usual fuel pump or rectifier. I preferred to keep the money in my pocket for other purposes (fuel, food, whatever). I didn’t get breakdown cover/roadside assistance. I checked a few companies but I strongly disliked their policies, so I decided if a problem arises, I’d find a way myself.




Over the course of about 6 months (probably longer) I scraped together all and any info I could find about motorcycle traveling and the countries I was planning to visit. In the end I had a huge checklist of items to bring (everyone has different ideas, and I had no idea what would work for me) and a ton of waypoints for the GPS. I decided not to plan anything in advance, and figure out my route on the way. That way I could slow down or speed up where or when I wanted. Looking at my waypoints, I expected a route somewhat like this, but I knew this would change.





I considered the checklist and made a subset of what I thought I needed. I ordered everything I didn’t have yet (quite a lot) and I was ready to go.
I ended up doing 12000-something km (about 7500 miles).


How all this went, you’ll be able to read over the coming days/weeks. I need to scrape these posts together from memory, limited notes, my pictures/videos and the track logs, so it might be a post a day, sometimes slower, sometimes faster. We'll see.



I'll try to make it worth your while




(this picture will come back later in better quality, this is just a preview)

I will be keeping track of various statistics. I will update them below as the report progresses.

Bike dropped - 3
Africa Twins spotted - 20
Rained upon - 1
(Roadside) repairs - 2
__________________
| KTM 690 SMC RRP | Honda RD04 Africa Twin (for sale) |
Balkan ADV - RR around Europe on the AT
Bacon trip log

LethPhaos screwed with this post 09-05-2013 at 01:02 PM
LethPhaos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-31-2013, 02:24 PM   #2
LethPhaos OP
brb
 
LethPhaos's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2012
Location: Belgium
Oddometer: 419
Day 0 - 2013 06 14

As a kid we spent most holidays traveling around in a motorhome/RV. That's probably when I started to love traveling. When I started working, I used my company car for roadtrips, and loved it. I never considered traveling long distance by bike. But then I discovered ADVRider.

I started reading ride reports pretty much on a daily basis for almost a year. Like many, I was hoping to do a RTW one day. But after a while it dawned on me (thanks to Paul and Noah for helping me see this through their ride reports): I should live now, not later. So that was it. Just like that I had decided to do a big trip, by motorbike.

I warned work I'd be taking a longer time off (luckily they allowed me to), bought gear, tried preparing myself for what was coming. But really, I had no idea. In the beginning it looked like a friend might be joining me, but that never really took shape, so I was always keeping in mind I'd probably be traveling alone. Could I do that, be alone, no friends, for an extended time? No idea.

It's day 0, the day before I leave. I'm excited, and at the same time I can barely comprehend what I'm getting myself into. It took me about 2 hours to get everything ready. By midnight I went to bed.

In the morning, my dad would be joining me, we would ride the first 2 days together. The bike now has 51671 km (32107 miles) on the clock.

__________________
| KTM 690 SMC RRP | Honda RD04 Africa Twin (for sale) |
Balkan ADV - RR around Europe on the AT
Bacon trip log

LethPhaos screwed with this post 09-02-2013 at 11:09 AM
LethPhaos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-31-2013, 02:47 PM   #3
LethPhaos OP
brb
 
LethPhaos's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2012
Location: Belgium
Oddometer: 419
Day 1 - 2013 06 15

The first day. While I wait for my dad to arrive, I shoot a few pictures.


My previous travel companion and the current one. The king is dead. All hail the king!


This is how I packed all the crap I was carrying. Yes, I was carrying way too much. I know better now. We all had to start somewhere
The cases I got with the bike, I didn't buy them separately. That's why I used them, otherwise I'd have gone for soft luggage. But it was an easy way to stretch the budget.


Bacon would be traveling with me. On the left my dad, who had just arrived.


Somewhere in the South of Belgium. We'd try to reach France, close to the Swiss border today. I had traveled some parts of France before so we'd 'rush' it. I wasn't planning on doing any highway during the trip though, so we didn't take any that day either.


Both steeds, only just getting warmed up.




A good soldier eats and sleeps when he can




I locked this picture on my camera SD card, so it wouldn't be removed. If someone took my camera while I leave it on a tripod for a while I could try and prove it was mine this way.


Still clearly in the civilized world, where fun is forbidden

We slept in a house, my last bed/luxury for a while, I didn't know for how long.

I spent 61,91EUR (80USD) on fuel, and covered 611km in 12 hours (including stops).

---

That's it for today, more to follow tomorrow!
__________________
| KTM 690 SMC RRP | Honda RD04 Africa Twin (for sale) |
Balkan ADV - RR around Europe on the AT
Bacon trip log
LethPhaos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-31-2013, 02:52 PM   #4
LethPhaos OP
brb
 
LethPhaos's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2012
Location: Belgium
Oddometer: 419
Oh yeah, one more thing: we had been riding for one day only, but I already had 3 near accidents:
- An Alpha Romeo tried to ram me off a roundabout
- A pedestrian decided it was a good idea to try and jump under the big flashy yellow GS
- I stopped for some traffic situation and my dad couldn't stop in time. Result: a black rubber marking on my right side case.

Off to a good start
__________________
| KTM 690 SMC RRP | Honda RD04 Africa Twin (for sale) |
Balkan ADV - RR around Europe on the AT
Bacon trip log
LethPhaos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-31-2013, 02:56 PM   #5
Rango
Phaneropter
 
Rango's Avatar
 
Joined: Oct 2012
Location: Kingdom of Belgium
Oddometer: 995
Looking very promising.
You're a good soldier.
__________________
Moriunt omnes pauci vivunt
Rango is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-31-2013, 09:39 PM   #6
alainmax
ca vaut le detour !!
 
alainmax's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2008
Location: Portland, Weird
Oddometer: 602
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rango View Post
Looking very promising.
You're a good soldier.
Haha oui c est vrai ca.

Nice RD 04.

Have fun guys, France is beautiful and i miss riding there
( but from Belgium myself)
__________________
04 GS 1150
93 Africa twin RD07
alainmax is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2013, 03:17 AM   #7
Gliga
Gnarly Adventurer
 
Gliga's Avatar
 
Joined: Apr 2010
Location: Serbia
Oddometer: 106
I'm in for this one
__________________
http://www.balkanadvtours.com
Gliga is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2013, 03:24 AM   #8
Mr&MrsErnbo
Taggin' Machines
 
Mr&MrsErnbo's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2011
Location: Outside Hotlanta and the Sandbox
Oddometer: 1,239
Best Wishes

Good luck on your trip and I wish you fair weather and easy access through the region.
I will watch your journey and look forward to your reports.
__________________
Where shall we ride today??
Iron Butt Association No. 48951
Coastal Empire TOR Map


Mr&MrsErnbo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2013, 10:10 AM   #9
Belgian Waffles
Studly Adventurer
 
Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Green. Wet. Oregon.
Oddometer: 869
Bonne route

Merci pour le reportage! Say hello to Kortrijk for me if you go near.
__________________
Always chase your dreams. Even if you don't catch them, you'll have a hell of a time trying.

Current: 1989 Honda Transalp, 2006 Scorpa TY125F trials
Past: 1999 KLR 650, 1990 Tengai 650
Belgian Waffles is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2013, 01:57 PM   #10
LethPhaos OP
brb
 
LethPhaos's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2012
Location: Belgium
Oddometer: 419
1) My primary language is dutch/flemish (but I understand/speak french as well)
2) The trip is over, sadly, but thanks for the wishes, I'll keep them in reserve so I can use them next trip

Next day report coming up!
__________________
| KTM 690 SMC RRP | Honda RD04 Africa Twin (for sale) |
Balkan ADV - RR around Europe on the AT
Bacon trip log
LethPhaos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2013, 03:14 PM   #11
LethPhaos OP
brb
 
LethPhaos's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2012
Location: Belgium
Oddometer: 419
Day 2 - 2013 06 16 - Switzerland

I took the opportunity to give all my electronics a good charge overnight, with the luxury of socketed electricity and all.
We got up at 08:00. My first real route would take me over le Chasseral (Switzerland) and further southeast, didn't matter how far. I was hoping for some Alpine passes.

It looked like we would have great weather. And indeed, by noon it had warmed up quite well. Only a short ride later we were over the border. There is a checkpoint where we crossed, but it wasn't manned, it was Sunday. This picture was taken on Swiss territory, looking back at a tip of France, across the meandering river Doubs which is the border line.



Looking around from the same spot:









Trying the full range of the camera, from macro-ish to 30x zoom. I didn't buy an allround camera for nothing





By the time we had reached Le Chasseral I was already sick of the weight of the bike, and I decided to give some stuff to my dad, who would be returning home from there. Since I still didn't know what I would be needing, I could only loose 1 or 2 kg, but every bit helps.







See the Alps in the distance? The camera didn't capture them as well as our eyes did, but you can still see them.



There was a supermoto track down there, I must remember that for next time I take my KTM there







This guy was Swiss, not farm from home at the time. But the decals on his topcase were clear: he travels that thing. He told me he would be leaving the country soon after to go to a big meeting, I don't remember where it was. Germany or Belgium, I think. Tip of the hat to you, kind sir!

We had a picknick with a great view, and around 14:00 we parted ways. It felt weird to be heading off on my own, but in a good way. I was excited and looking forward to things to come.



The GPS decided to send me through Bern instead of around it (a tendency it would keep the rest of the trip, if a major city was on my route, I'd be riding through it). All in all it wasn't too bad, there's lots of nature in the city, it was modern and clean. Somehow it didn't feel like a break from the surrounding farmlands, it fit in nicely.

There was a lot of american muscle driving around, the Swiss seem to like nice stuff :)
At 15:30 I noticed it was 26°C (79°F), which was awesome, as I had left behind weeks of questionable rainy weather at home.

Somewhere after Bern I saw a kid riding passenger on an old tractor, which was cutting grass. It reminded me of how I used to spend the holidays in France (exactly the same, riding passenger with a farmer, and in later years behind the wheel myself), so I regret not stopping for a picture. It was a very peaceful scene.

The bike was performing well, no issues so far. The only 'problem' I noticed was due to the luggage rack bending under the weight of the panniers. The uneven load would make it wobble left and right. After a few days I learned to balance the weight in the mornings, but there's only so much you can do. Over the course of the day food and drink consumption would make it uneven again anyway. I learned to live with it, as the bike didn't seem to mind it at all.

I got sent through Zurich, which is a very picturesque town. Which is why I don't have any pictures . After Zürich, I got fuel. It was pretty expensive with the VISA overhead, over 2€/liter....

This is the Thunersee





On the way to Grindelwald:









Autostitch messed up the bottom part a bit, but the part that matters worked out fine:




It must be awesome to parasail in a location like this. Álmost as awesome as riding in a location like this





To give you an idea of what you can do with 30x zoom. A nondescript building:


The same building without zoom








Still so clean


A common sight...

This is an airstrip:






The only example of muscle I have a photo off:

The guy waved shortly after, appreciating the interest in his car



After I had to backtrack 2 times due to traffic signs forbidding me to go somewhere, I decided to find a camping spot. I didn't even mind the backtracking, the Alps hadn't really started yet but the roads and views were heavenly already.

By 21:15 I had made camp, my first illegal/wild campsite of the trip (which is the correct/common word to describe such a place?). I wasn't really hungry, but I made a travellunch anyway. I messed up (really, how hard can it be... add boiling water and let sit. I didn't master the procedure till the end of the trip ), and didn't finish the bag, it tasted bad and as I wasn't hungry I couldn't shove it in.







It got dark soon after, and the mosquitos came out to play. The bottle of 40% Deet was working fine, so apart from their annoying noises, I wasn't bothered too much.

I spent some time playing with the camera, trying to capture the moon while it was evading me behind the treeline. Meanwhile I noticed my bike was sitting there pretty visibly due to all the reflecting decals I had sticked on it, so I covered them up as well as I could. I didn't think I'd be bothered though, I was on a dead end logging road, with no signs of recent activity.
I was surprised I was allowed to ride in there, no sign for once. Pretty much every road is closed for motorized access.



I think I picked the perfect time to visit the Alps, there were waterfalls everywhere. Way too many to photograph them all. Also a lot of Asian tourism, you could see a lot of them and their cameras walking around in the more famous towns
Well, I assume the towns are famous, I never researched them. I'm more a nature kinda guy. And nature was beautiful, very beautiful.

I think I barely rode over 50 or 60 km/h (40 mph), towns are littered over the valleys, having great backdrops of the mountains around. Even if the road was straight, I was never bored.

I covered 281 km that day, with about 7 hours of seat time.
I spent 15€ (about 20USD) that day, on fuel.

__________________
| KTM 690 SMC RRP | Honda RD04 Africa Twin (for sale) |
Balkan ADV - RR around Europe on the AT
Bacon trip log
LethPhaos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2013, 03:14 PM   #12
petkostas
n00b
 
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Greece
Oddometer: 6
Keep them coming
petkostas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2013, 03:37 PM   #13
LethPhaos OP
brb
 
LethPhaos's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2012
Location: Belgium
Oddometer: 419
Setting up camp for the first time, only the second time ever I pitched this tent. The first time was a test, a few months earlier, at home, in a spare room of the house. Later attempts were a bit quicker every time, by the end of the trip I don't think I needed much more than 20 minutes to go from packed to settled.



I thought I had some footage of me and my father parting ways but I seem to have misplaced that :(
__________________
| KTM 690 SMC RRP | Honda RD04 Africa Twin (for sale) |
Balkan ADV - RR around Europe on the AT
Bacon trip log
LethPhaos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-04-2013, 09:43 AM   #14
Treadless
used 2 b aventuring
 
Treadless's Avatar
 
Joined: May 2005
Location: Santa Barbara Ca
Oddometer: 5,134
Quote:
By 21:15 I had made camp, my first illegal/wild campsite of the trip (which is the correct/common word to describe such a place?).

Wild is most common and doesn't have negative overtones .

Enjoying your efforts LP.
__________________

Treadless is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-04-2013, 10:06 AM   #15
TheBlurr
Beastly Adventurer
 
TheBlurr's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2013
Location: Montana
Oddometer: 3,377
I really wish my experience in the area had been different, what an amazing experience for you, absolutely beautiful.
TheBlurr is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply

Share

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

.
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


Times are GMT -7.   It's 10:07 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ADVrider 2011-2014