DK > South East: the Homesick tour

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by lucsali, Sep 1, 2019.

  1. lucsali

    lucsali Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Day 19: Bolu (TR) > Göreme (TR)
    Day 20: Göreme (TR)

    MADE IT TO CAPPADOCIA!

    When I originally thought of this trip, Cappadocia was the distant goal I had in mind. I was captivated by those pictures of hot air balloons drifting slowly in the sunrise, those chimney rock formations, the sandy rocks, etc.
    Well, yesterday evening, after a long 6/7 hours ride that tested my buttocks, I finally made it there.

    It was quite magical arriving in this area at dusk, as daylight was ending. I did nit have clear what to see where, so i just rode to a panoramic point to get a taste of it.
    Well, I noticed some ATVs riding the area (ridden by badass looking chinese tourists), and if they could ride there, so probably I could too. In fact, I seldomly saw any forbidden access sign in the whole time I spent in this area.

    Riding these trails at dusk was like a big playground. Most of it was hard packed dirt, but some time it would turn to rock, or sand. The trails were very ondulated, and riding slowly following the flow was an a solute pleasure.

    At the time I didn't wanna bother taking a properly exposed long exposure picture, but the colors were just mesmerising.

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    I slept in the cheapest hotel I found, yet.
    I had a lucky streak of finding cheaper and cheaper hotels, for increasingly comfortable stays. I assumed it was because I'm visiting out of season.
    Well, this last hotel reset the balance.
    Whoever thought of putting tempered glass on the main door of a hotel room, facing a corridor, is NOT a genious. Especially when the movement sensor in the corridor is busted and the light keeps flickering on and off by itself, flooding the room interior with light.
    Eventually I just needed a bed and a shower, and for as uncomfortable as it was, I got what I needed.

    In the morning I woke up early to leave well before sunrise (would have been nice catching some sleep), and set off to find a scenic spot, leaving most of my luggage in the hotel room.

    Finding a cool spot was hard, in darkness, as everything kinda looked the same and I couldn't see the surrounding features.
    At first I thought of following one of the puckup trucks pulling hot air balloons "crafts", but there were too many and they all seemed to go un different directions.
    I then decided to go to the same area I visited in the evening, and to my pleasure I found many trucks preparing for the morning rides.

    I rode up a small hill, left the bike and walked to the top. Annoyingly, a group of tourists thought the same, the kind that fills every moment of silence with conversation, or that literally voices their funny poses when taking selfies. As we appriached the sunrise more and more people showed up, but by then I had found a nice spot overlooking the valley below, wbich I was not gonna give up.
    It was entertaining looking at what lengths will people go to take selfies, including walking on steep slippery surfaces with inappropriate shoes, just to take that insta-shot.
    Unfortunately nobody fell, that would have made my day.

    Back to the balloons. When thinking of hot air balloons, I always thought of silent drifting, and of the hissing flame. I never considered that, while filling them up, loud machines flood the air with a lawn mower / compressor sound. As there were tons of balloons, imagine the cacophony.

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    I was a bit concerned tgat this, being a very touristy sight, would be awkward. Like when you go to a spit and take the same picture as everyone else, surrounded by people woth selfie sticks, etc.
    Maybe it's because of the initial darkness, and how it added a courtain of mystery. Or maybe because I'm really i to astrophotography, and the whole long exposure photography is my thing. But the result was that I really enjoyed the wait, and when the sunrise eventually come, it was a majestic sight.
    The compressors stopped, and one after the other, in pairs, or in big groups, all balloons started taking off.
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    When the sun was up the crowd that had slowly accumulated quickly dispersed - each small group being picked up by the very many tour operator vans, going to visit the various sights in the area.

    I went for a short hike in the nearby valley, that by now was empty of people, and then set off for a vague and redundant itinerary, that saw me riding many of the trails for a few hours.

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    This place is FUN. You can follow the asphalt roads to go from place to place, or yoy can cut via a vast network of dirt roads that bring you through that environment, rather than around it. If you choose to do so, you immediately leave all tourists behind, and the few people you cross are the locals working the occasional vegetable crops.
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    During the day I visited an open air museum set in a valley surrounded by those rocky formations. It was interesting seeing how peiple had carved mills, wineries and even churches into the rock, but as I ran out of water and was mostly on an empty stomach, the heat started taking a toll on me. I finished the museum at a slow pace to conserve energy, moving from shadow to shadow, and as soon as I hit the exit I raided the restaurant for food and water. An omelette never tasted so good!

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    Some hours of riding later, and it was time for an early return to the creepy hotel, where to rest, do laundry and catch up on the sleep i missed tonight.

    Tomorrow the long trek back to Denmark begins. I have about 2 weeks left, so I won't be able to explore tge countries on my way as thoroughly as I wished.
    The plan is to stay on the move, but make every day meaningful. If I find myself out of time, I will sacrifice the countries closer to home, as they will be the one easier to return to in a following trip.
    #21
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  2. lucsali

    lucsali Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Day 21: Goreme (TR) > Antalya (TR)
    Day 22: Antalya (TR) > Ölüdeniz (TR)

    I left Cappadocia heading south. The timing was perfect, as the weather had turned gray and cold. Perfect time to put some miles under the wheels, and leave the tourism for warmer days.

    A drizzling rain, cold temperatures (14, compared to the 32 of the previous day) and a massive crosswind were a good test for the autumn weather that awaits as I make my way back to Scandinavia.
    The Revit Pacific 2 H2O that I carry came on, a full rain suit, and kept me warm and dry for the whole ride. It's great even as a wind breaker, given the fact that I left the inner and waterproof liners of my jacket home to save space. As I approached a mountain range, I really started feeling the temperature dropping, so I had to wear an extra layer under the jacket to maintain comfortable.
    What I can see will be a problem is the gloves - they are great for summer, but I will freeze my hands at the first real cold. Thank god for heated grips.

    As soon as I crossed that mountain range, the weather immediately changed, for the better. The temperature raised again to the 30s I'm used to, probably thanks to the Mediterranean climate.

    The last couple of days I've been riding coastal primary roads, with a few detours to mountain passes nearby. Some were disappointing (eg following dried up rivers, which on the map looked very promising but in truth were calm and boring), others were exceptional!
    For example, as today's sun was starting to set, I approached a mountain pass leading to Butterfly Valley.
    An intense ride of hairpin switchbacks on gravel, quite exposed.
    I took it easy and rode slowly, taking in the scenery, and was rewarded by spectacular scenery.

    This part of Turkey looks much more like what I imagine Greece will be like. I've been to Crete, but never to Greece itself, so I might've up for a surprise there too.
    I guess historically it makes sense that this part of the country feels so similar.

    As I was preparing to shoot some aerial footage, the drone decided to end it's life. A propeller came off, and chopped off another one. I found one, but one went missing.
    Annoying, as I have spares at home but didn't think of bringing them, as the only reason I would need them is if I flew the thing into a wall, which I had no desire for.
    So, from now on no more drone.

    Tired puppy after the many hours of riding, so I'll let a video tell the story.

    #22
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  3. mrtblc

    mrtblc The_Honeyman Supporter

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Istanbul, 34800 Turtkey
    Hello Friend, I live in Istanbul, very close to the asian side of the second bosphorus bridge(Fatih Sultan Mehmet). Send me a message if you need anything on the way back or just coffee/drink/meal..Cheers..Murat
    #23
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  4. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    ᛏᛅᚾᛘᛅᚢᚱᚴ - Scandinavia.
    Are you still alive Lucas?
    #24
  5. lucsali

    lucsali Adventurer

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    Thanks for the offer, Murat!
    I'm now in Greece, heading west, so I won't be able to take you up on that coffee, but I guarantee I leave your beautiful country with a smile and a good experience!
    #25
  6. lucsali

    lucsali Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Day 23: Ölüdeniz (TR) > Kusadasi (TR)
    Day 24: Kusadasi (TR) > Adatepe (TR)
    Day 25: Adatepe (TR) > Alkiona (GR)

    The last few days have been relaxing, although uneventful. The scenery I rode through was starting to look familiar, so I didn't take much footage as in the previous day's, when every corner hid an environment I had yet to experience.
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    I took some time off the riding to have long breaks by the sea. This, after all, is a holiday, and it would have been a pity to just ride by those beautiful beaches without stopping to savor any.

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    I also thought it would have been wonderful to see some of the ruins scattered on my way to Greece.
    I'm not especially into history, and I definitely did not do much research before this trip itself, but a good storyteller can make an experience even out of a flat plot. I thought audio guides would have brought old ruins and sun baked rocks to life, with tales of conquest and beauty, gods and great men.
    Unfortunately, the places I visited mostly lived on their own reputation, and the audio tour, while being informative, was dead boring.
    Mixed to the amount of tourists waiting to check things off their grand tours, and with the scorching hot 33 degrees (yay, let's visit ruins at noon!), at a certain point I realized I was totally not into the ruins thing, packed up and left before wasting any more hours or vibes.

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    After giving up on the tour I came back to my bike, where I had left my jacket and armor tied to the crashbars with a wire lock.
    A few days ago I had posted that the lock was broken, but I eventually found out the opening combination had just shifted digits.
    I never thought much of that lock, I thought anyone could break it just by pulling hard enough.
    Well, I forgot the code. And after a bit of screwing around, I gave up and tried to use brute force. To my horror/pleasure, the wire would have more likely cut into my hand, than give up and break. Eventually I did remember the code and managed to unlock the lot, but this was a very confidence inspiring test. I now feel very comfortable leaving my gear locked to the bike, in public places where I don't expect people to carry/use pliers.

    Anyways.
    As most of the sights I had plotted on my route to Greece were historical sights, I was a bit uncertain of what to do instead.
    For one of the days, the answer came from a group of guys I met in a hotel, who invited me to join them at their table while having breakfast. They recommended me some areas to explore, which were just as beautiful as they promised. Always trust the locals.
    Yesterday I also had vague plans, but as the weather was gray and grim, I decided to step on the throttle, and steam on towards Greece. It was wonderful to have a long ride lost in my thoughts, listening to podcasts, or music, while riding on simple roads to simple destinations. A needed change of pace.

    Today started similarly.
    I wanted to visit some historically significant spots, although more modern this time.
    Gallipoli and the Dardanelles were on my path, and I thought they deserved a stop.
    The closer I got to them, however, the more I felt like I wasn't really interested in museums that portrayed those horrific events, and that the reason I was planning on seeing them was, well, because they are considered to be a must-see.
    Not this time. I've seen plenty of military museums, and after a while they all look the same, with few exceptions.
    Moreover, I was not in the mood for a place which would try to inspire patriotic thoughts, as these museums often go.
    I chose to skip that all together, and keep moving towards Greece, a new land to discover.
    Crossed the Dardanelles on a short ferry ride, thinking of how easy it was for me compared to the Anzac forces, and rode the rest of that peninsula, heading north.

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    I passed Gallipoli nearly by surprise, and on my way I stopped at a monument that was literally on my path.
    I was glad to read that this monument was about medics on the front. I felt that Hacksaw Ridge vibe.
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    On my way to the border I stopped at a gas station to convert my final Turkish Lira into gasoline. I was just coming back from the cashier when I decided to go back in, and have a coffee too.
    To my horror, my wallet was gone. I had literally walked from the cashier, to the bike, and back, and the thing had teleported to another dimension.
    More and more agitated, I backtracked my steps, to see if it had fallen from my pocket.
    I noticed a car stopped by my bike, where a passenger was hurried by the driver to get in, and leave.
    "Could it be that they found it and took it?"
    The third time I backtracked my steps, after asking the cashier and the employees around if anyone had seen it, a man noticed me. He made gestures pointing at his wallet, made me follow him to his ice cream truck, and voilá, returned my wallet to me.
    All the money was there (polish and Bulgarian notes, that is), and I believe he just wanted to keep it safe, to deal with it later and maybe try to get in touch.
    There's no way of telling what he would have done with it. But this situation got me thinking about the fact that, in those circumstances, I had absolutely no control on the outcome. But I could stay positive, and believe that if someone found it, things would have worked out, or just feed the negative thoughts, and blame in my head the phantom thief, the evil of men.
    Situations like this are worth reminding that most people are good, and however much work it takes, I want to keep on reminding myself of this, to meet the universe with good vibes, rather than a standoffish self-defensive attitude.

    After this mini miracle, I decided that was it for Turkey. I had a great time in this part of the journey, I loved the scenery, met good people, had positive experiences. I wanted to leave on this high note, and so I did.

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    Welcome to Hell..as.

    The last very many nights I slept in hotels. For my daily budget, I figured I could get a room with private bathroom + parking, in Turkey.
    This part of Greece ses however more expensive, so I'm back in my little tent. I'm fairly sure tonight will be a better sleep than the nights at the start of the trip, as the temperature has raised considerably.

    Tomorrow I'll head West. Although I'm close to the end of the time I have available for this trip, I would like to visit Meteora and it's surroundings, before starting heading north, towards Denmark.
    Tomorrow could be a day of covering distance to place me well for that plan, sacrificing stops and sightseeing along the way.
    We will see what the riding mood says!
    #26
  7. lucsali

    lucsali Adventurer

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    ..aaand we are back! :photog
    #27
    Don T likes this.
  8. lucsali

    lucsali Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Day 26: Alkiona (GR) > Paraia Panteleimoneos (GR)

    Today was a simple day - a sacrifice for what's to come.
    6/7 hours of primary roads, skirting Thessaloniki, to make it to the a town on the coast time, which will make a great starting point for exploring Meteora and the surrounding area.
    I wish I had the time to visit all in my path, but as I don't, I have to make decisions of this kind, which I think will pay off.
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    I started the day trying to answer a mystery that puzzled me, yesterday. Throughout the little part of Greece I visited so far, one can see many miniature houses, hanging in poles, by the roads.
    In my mind I had decided that's where Greek gnomes or elves must live in, but upon closer inspection, it turns out to be some kind of religious shrines. Same same, but different.
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    After a fairly uninteresting day of riding, I finally made it to my destination, purely chosen for it's location. It seems to be a sea resort village, full of campings and hotels. Which is great, as I needed a place to sleep.
    I've never been too fond of beach campings. In my experience, they are very crowded, and tent spaces lack privacy of any kind. Well, it looks like I got lucky by traveling out of season, as although the infrastructure is there, the camp is half empty, giving me the peace I crave.
    Why not wild camping, if I like peace? Cause I also like hot showers, and not having to look over my back to see if a land owner spotted me.

    Interestingly, I noticed that while walking around the camp people avoid my gaze. It's a curious feeling, after spending a bit of time in Turkey, where at the very least eye contact was guaranteed. I half miss those looks, now, and the prayers being broadcast by speakers all around town at multiple hours of the day.
    I also came across one of those long-term camper looking dude, sitting on the porch, by his autocamper, giving me the "GET OFF MY LAWN" Clint Eastwood-ish look.

    I think I'm the youngest person in this whole village, everyone else being of pensionable age, or above.
    ..I exaggerate. I did see one guy of my age, this afternoon. He must be the caretaker of them all.

    The good thing about this beach camp is that, well, is very, very close to the beach. So close, in fact, that the sound of the waves overpowers that of people talking, which is great.

    I had dinner on the beach, at dusk.
    I'm not a grand chef, but I do know how to make a tasty camp tortilla with cheddar, mortadella and rucola. Not exactly Greek food, but I don't travel to experience a country's gastronomy.

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    As I was looking all happy to my tortilla, I raised my eyes, to meet the gaze of a big doggo, standing a meter or two from me, a hungry look in his face.

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    Now, I do not know much about stray dogs, we don't really have that problem in Denmark, but I reckoned it would be better to avoid feeding it, in case the mortadella awakened in him a desire for more.
    I went full Homo Erectus, turned on the gas cooker, and the flame was sufficient to disenchant the fiery beast, discouraging him and making him leave me alone.

    I'll spend the rest of the night plotting tomorrow's route.
    If everything goes well, after checking out a road to Olympiada that was recommended to me, and Meteora, I will wry to finish the day by a lake town that matches the start of one of the stages of the ACT track of Greece. There's a bit of off-roading left in this trip, after all!

    Tires situation: this set of TKC-70 has now over 8000 km. There's no apparent scalloping, and the rear wheel still looks great, with plenty of thread left. The front is starting to show signs of wear, with some of the sections flattening out. I'll be taking it easy on the ACT, playing it safe. It's supposed to be an easy and scenic day, so I'm quite confident that with a bit of extra care, I should be able to either power through, or call it a day at a safe place.

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    #28
  9. lucsali

    lucsali Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    27
    Location:
    Denmark
    Day 27: Paraia Panteleimoneos (GR) > Trikala (GR)
    Day 28: Trikala (GR) > Mesovouni (GR)

    An intense couple of days, the last two have been!
    As per plan, I was in a good position to go visit Meteora with enough time to savour in it's surroundings.
    The road I took led me through a nice mountain pass, at first, but after that it started turning a bit dull and repetitive. Easy fix, in Greece. Took a detour that seemed to lead up a hill, and all of a sudden I was gifted with stunning views and gravel roads.
    Little by little those trails turned harder and harder, until becoming proper Enduro. I wasn't really expecting that, but it was fun and challenging. To make things more spicy, every once in a while stray dogs would run up to me from hidden corners, usually at the most technical times.


    Arriving to Meteora was an experience. I had seen a few pictures of the place, but the whole area is truly stunning and lives up to such an evocative name. Human made meets nature, and little monasteries fuse with immense rock boulders, creating a fairy tale picture.
    There are few panoramic spots, where naturally many tourists also came together.
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    I noticed that on my map I had marked a spot - no explanation nor name, just coordinates. I didn't remember what it was nor who had told me about it, but decided to check it out nevertheless.
    The "road" to get there was technical and at times tricky, but upon arriving I was met with some kind of camp spot, sitting on a small opening in the surrounding woods, circled by huge rock boulders. Not a single person around, I had my own little personal Meteora.

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    After exploring the area by foot and relaxing for a while, I decided to head back to Meteora itself, to try to snap a sunset picture.

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    I decided to sleep in a hostel, that night, in a town halfway between Meteora and the start of the ACT track stage I meant to do today.

    Fun fact. When I stopped at lunch, on the side of a road, at the beginning of the climb to Meteora, I noticed two backpackers who had arrived little after me, and had set their lunch spot just on the other side of the road. A nod, when I left, and that was it.
    ..Until I found out that I would be sharing the hostel dorm with the two of them! In a different town, two hitchhikers and a biker, completely different travels and way of transportation. Small world.
    We had a good talk and a laugh, and after prepping some dinner for myself, both my mind and my tummy had been stimulated.

    In retrospective, thinking back to many of the camping nights, hostels often have a much more interesting crowd to hang around, being travelers themselves. I'll consider doing more hostels before this trip is over, and during future ones.

    Today was dedicated to the last stage of the ACT track. I started early, I had a lunchpack prepared the night before, and a bike full of gas. By 10:30 I was at the start of the stages, confident that I would have had plenty of time for the 260 or so km of the day.
    Well, once again the ACT kicked my ass.
    The stages in this trail are so incredibly long, that I feel like there's no time for breaks along the way if you plan to complete the day's itinerary.
    As I was interested in a spot at the very end of the stage, and as I wanted to prove to myself that I could finish a whole stage, I pushed, and pushed.

    The start of the day was fun - technical Enduro stuff, mountain gravel roads.
    The rest, though, was a whole lot of twisty roads, mostly on pavement, trough inarguably beautiful scenery.
    Had it been a shorter day, I feel like I would have enjoyed it much more. I stead, I was focusing on riding, until at 18:15 I finally reached the end of it.
    I feel like the length of the stage drawns the beautiful parts with "all the rest", making the good sections less memorable.
    But hey, maybe it's me, maybe faster riders have no trouble doing the whole lot and stopping for chills too.
    One thing though, it's fantastic that people went through the trouble of making this track available to the public. Their work is appreciated, even if it made for a rough day of riding.

    I met a couple of offroad riders on the track. Traveling solo, I very seldomly meet other like-minded riders, so it was great to exchange a couple of stories, plans and hints. Most importantly, wishing each other good luck, I'm sure we both needed a pinch of that.
    It was a nice sensation knowing that there were other riders on the same track I was doing, it gave me a sense of security. I later discovered that plenty of hunters seem to use those roads, hopefully not for chasing bikers.

    I have six days left for this trip. I want to save two for the highway ride home through Germany, and two to explore a couple of beautiful spots in Croatia.
    The rest.. will probably be somehow pointing north. I'll enter Albania tomorrow, and take it from there.

    Video recap!

    #29
  10. lucsali

    lucsali Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2019
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    27
    Location:
    Denmark
    Day 29: Mesovouni (GR) > Larushk (ALB)
    Day 30: Larushk (ALB) > Medugorje (BIH)

    Full steam ahead, this bike is heading home! With only a few days left to reach home in time to celebrate my gf's birthday, I'm trying to cover what seems like a monster distance.
    To be able to make it in time I have to be diligent, and stick to the main roads, and to what seems to be the fastest way home that skips highways, to be able to at least see a little of the scenery I'm crossing in such a haste (for now, until the last couple of days).
    I do not feel in a hurry, but if anything, a bit sad that I have to skip these last few very interesting countries.
    However, this was a sacrifice I had decided to make a couple of weeks back, staying longer in Turkey, and leaving the Balkans for a future trip.

    Starting from my last night in Greece, I was lucky with the choice of accomodation. I stayed at a small guesthouse/tavern, which seemed to be the local hangout for a few of the residents of this little village.
    After arriving looking a bit lost, undecided on where to park the bike, I realized that my auxiliary lights were blinding everyone sitting outside. Mix that with the ATGATT gear which makes me look a bit like an astronaut compared to the t-shirts of local riders, and I was up for a few cold looks.
    As soon as I noticed I quickly turned off the bike and apologized, proceeding with the check in process.
    Upon coming back to the bike, the locals had enough time to give it a good look, and one of them started chatting me up asking questions about it. The kind of Greek man with the bushy eyebrows and accent that you would expect a caricature of a Greek man to have.
    It was great to have this one common topic to break the ice, bikes. After that, the conversation flowed like wildfire, about the trip, the scenery, etc. A hearty talk at the end of the day, just what I needed.

    The morning after, just before to leave for Albania, some of the same locals were once again sitting outside, chatting.
    It was nice having someone to give a goodbye to, it felt like a connection, even if we had only talked in two occasions.
    I reckon a different kind of trip, one where you stay for far longer time in the same location, while exploring an area, can bring up this side of getting to know people, which can be very rewarding. A different kind of trip than this one, but many more await in future.

    Albania (the little that I did see while riding through) seemed very nice, in the coastal part close to Greece.
    Fast main roads climbed up and down the side of mountains, overlooking beautiful beaches with the most clear water.

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    The second half of the day was uneventful. Covering kilometers to buy me time in the last real stop of this trip, some spots in Croatia that I wanna check out.

    Something worth mentioning happened in the afternoon.
    I stopped at a gas station to tank up, and upon asking if the guy accepted credit card, I was told he didn't. He picked up on my accent, and started talking Italian to me. Funny man, who lived in Italy for a while, working. He asked about my trip, etc.
    Now, it would have been easier just riding on to a bigger station, but i didn't really think the situation through, and when the guy proposed I pay in euro I accepted without really thinking about it.
    First fuckup: I didn't know the currency exchange rate (to be honest, I didn't even know what currency Albania has). I also ran out of mobile data, so I couldn't quickly check it.
    Second fuckup: in my confused state, I asked for a full tank. I had a 10€ bill and a 50€.
    Eventually the full tank costed more than 10€, so I had to give him the 50, and, solely based on trust, let him give me back an appropriate change, in Albanian money.
    At that moment I realized how much I had fucked up. He could have destroyed me with a ridiculous made-up exchange rate, especially as I made it obvious I didn't know what the current one was.

    I parked the bike besides the station, and was planning on buying some more data roaming to be able to check the rate. At that point, some kids showed up. One offering me a glass of cola, which I refused with a thanks, knowing that there would be a catch after that. Next, offering me to clean my bike. At last, straight up asking for "soldi" (money), coming closer and closer, until being all around the bike, a handful away from my cellphone and whatever luggage I had strapped on the back seat.
    At that point I decided to bounce, excused myself, and when they wouldn't make room, persisting to ask for money, I turned on the bike with a big rev. That worked, and they took enough of a step back for me to get slowly moving and riding away.

    For a good while later I rethought the situation through, angry at myself for how unprepared I stepped into it.
    Eventually, the guy had given me a favorable exchange rate, wether he knew it or not, so he did not screw me up. But I really have to be more careful in situations like this, in the future.

    To cool down my restless mind, I decided to find a nice place to sleep in and recharge the batteries.
    As mentioned, I ran out of mobile data. I wasn't aware there was a limit to how much data you are allowed to use abroad, I thought I'm EU it was unlimited like my plan back home. I stopped at a big gas station with a restaurant, had dinner, and used their WiFi to find a good but cheap place, with a so-called "queen room with SPA bath".
    Well, the SPA bath was there, and for the first half of the bath, so was the warm water. Things were not really working out at my favour, so I just finished the bath in temperate water, and used the bathtub to do laundry instead.

    The room, the so-called Queen room, was suspicious to say the least. SPA bath, short distance from an airport, advertised soundproofing, oversized mirrors facing the bed and.. private entrance from the back of the hotel. Some monkey business happened in there for sure. But hey, as good a spot to do laundry and any.

    Today was, just like yesterday, only dedicated to covering miles.
    It was with a knot to my throat that I crossed into Montenegro, skipped all of it, and went straight into Bosnia, where I found a place to sleep.

    Upon arriving to the guesthouse, chosen purely for the cheap price, I noticed how deserted, austere and religious the place looked. I once slept in a monastery/hotel, so I reckoned this must be something similar.

    _20190930_205337.JPG

    The hosts spoke Italian, and gave me a warm welcome with coffee, cake and grapes from their own garden. This is a wine region.
    As I had seen many tourists on my way to the guesthouse I asked what made the region special. Was it the architecture? The scenery?
    The guy looked at me like I came from another planet, surprised I didn't know what this town was known for.
    In his defense, up to a few hours ago I wasn't even sure of what time it was, phone and bike disagreeing on that, so I did feel a bit lost.

    Apparently, I booked a place in a pilgrimage town, where the Virgin Mary was seen in 1981, and (if I understood correctly)any times since then.

    As I needed some cash, I went to the center looking for an ATM, passing store after store of religious memorabilia and Christian souvenirs. Plenty of pilgrims walk the streets, in large groups.

    Going back to the hotel we spoke some more about the topic, although I was trying to avoid the subject.
    Being an atheist, the whole story of miracles and apparitions seems a bit far fetched to me, but I didn't really feel like it was the time nor place to challenge him. It's a hard topic to avoid, though, when a whole town's service industry is built to cater to that audience.

    Walking the streets, looking at those shops, the thought of buying an oversized Virgin Mary statue to strap to the back of my bike was quite appealing, or a big poster, to be glued to my windshield. I struggled keeping a straight face, and while all this silly and unrespectful thoughts crossed my mind I'm sure someone must have caught my smirk.

    The hosts also cooked a hearty meal for me.
    An entree of soup, followed by pork chops with Ratatouille, tomatoes and fries.
    The problem? The size of the portions.
    As I thought it would be rude to leave uneaten food to throw away, at first I tried to finish each part of the meal. EVERYTHING.
    I had three full plates of soup, before the entree was over.
    I then moved to the two pork chops, countless tomato slices and mountain of fries.
    I tried. I lost.
    Just when I was about to give up, excusing myself for my lack of manliness, for my inability to eat this whole family-size meal, the host came by with a pudding dessert.
    Well, I did have a little bit of space left for it.

    Tomorrow, Croatia! I wanna ride up to Plitvice lakes, and visit it now that I hope it's out of season. I had already been there once, and I remember the crowds spoiling the experience a bit. Looking forward to seeing it with far less tourists around.
    #30
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  11. muf722

    muf722 Muf

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Oddometer:
    250
    Location:
    Scandinavia
    No data limit, but a 30 day limit.

    Most providers will limit the data usage to 30 days away from home to stop misuse of the dataplan. After 30 days you need to be home a few days to reset.
    #31
  12. lucsali

    lucsali Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2019
    Oddometer:
    27
    Location:
    Denmark
    That can be, too. However, in my case the provider had informed me via SMS of a limit reached on the 15th, only 15 days since I had left.
    I was running Spotify, podcasts, sometimes HBO, so there comes the big data data expenditure, but most of all, I think it's because I had Google Photos set to back up photos and videos also when roaming. It backed up the originals of the videos I made the last few days, as I was working on them.

    Speaking of data, noob mistake: when I got to Turkey I bought a prepaid SIM to avoid roaming charges. All good.
    After crossing back to Greece, I put back my original SIM.
    Problem is, I did so too close to the border, and a Turkish network picked me up, rather than a Greek one. And poof - all remaining data gone, a new sms from the provider, and a big bill probably waiting for next month.
    #32
    muf722 likes this.
  13. lucsali

    lucsali Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2019
    Oddometer:
    27
    Location:
    Denmark
    Day 31: Medugorje (BIH) > Tusilovic (HRV)
    Day 32: Tusilovic (HRV) > Zajako Selo (HRV)

    This trip might soon be over, but it's still giving me incredible experiences! Yesterday might just have been one of the best days of the whole journey.
    As I had mentioned, I wanted to slow down one last time I'm Croatia, before pushing home on highways.

    I was recommended (by @Don T , from this very forum!) to check out an abandoned military base. I got it's location, and a stern warning not to veer off from asphalt roads for the risk of mines left from the Balkans war.
    This risk became all of a sudden very real upon reaching the destination, confirmed by some signs along the way.
    I had no intention to test my luck, that day, so I kept well within pavement.

    20191001132546_IMG_4560.JPG

    One of the features of this location is the long landing strip used by airplanes at the time. Now, used by every type of motorized vehicle, I guess. A German man was riding a quad with his son on his lap, close to two humongous military-styled travel trucks. You often see this kind of trucks from German travelers, they do know how to have fun!

    Well, once I cleared the man and his son, I implicitly gave myself permission to take off, and pushed the bike to warp speed.
    At the end or the runway, I stopped taking pictures. I saw some lights approaching, slowly. Go figure, it was the police.
    I acted distracted, looking for stuff in the top box, and they just rode by, responded to my nod, and moved on. A little traffic infraction was apparently tolerated in this place.

    20191001133247_IMG_4562.JPG

    I then moved on to the bunker itself.
    I was told you could ride/drive in it, but during the first attempt I quickly realized how hard it was. With only the bike lights, I had no peripheral vision, and could only see where I was going. That made things difficult, as there were some debris, and as I couldn't see anything around me.
    I decided to strap a headtorch to the helmet, and that gave me a much better lighting, a spot light aimed at where I was looking at.
    Inside the bunker, the humidity was crazy high. This caused a kind of most/fog. Shining a light through it you could see the whole beam, which was neat.

    20191001140843_IMG_4567.JPG

    As the only way for the headtorch to stay in place was to hold it there with the helmet lid closed, I quickly started to feel like an astronaut in a horror sci-fi movie. The torch was partially lightning the helmet peak, and because of that I could clearly see the lid, and condensation forming inside of it.
    Astronaut, or scuba diver from the movie Abyss.

    It was a really intense experience riding in those bunkers. Every sound was amplified by the resonance of the empty space.
    After riding for a while, I left the bike outside and went in walking. The humidity caused droplets of water falling from the ceiling all around me. In the darkness, this was a really scary feeling.
    Moreover, every sound would propagate across the very many halls, making it impossible to know where it was coming from, nor how close it was.
    In darkness, I heard a metal door closing, echoing. Steps. Voices. Eventually, one big monstrous bark.
    Eventually I did find out that it was a couple of German travelers with their dog, also visiting the place. The door had been from their van, parked outside of the bunkers.

    I keep on repeating that I'm not afraid of darkness, but places like this, solo, are like the most intense of haunted houses.

    Video proof!



    Once I had explored enough, I started heading out (at this point I was back on the bike). In the pitch black darkness, I spotted a light, turned off the high beams, and rode besides the German guy of the couple I just mentioned, who was doing some long exposure photography.
    I felt a bit bad for probably ruining his pictures, but hey, how could I know.
    I exited the bunker, and just as I was getting ready to leave, he also came outside.
    It turns out that my bike had illuminated the tunnels from far away, making it possible for him to take great pictures!

    On my way back to civilization, I stopped at a parking where an old plane, covered in stickers, was laying. I tried to see if I recognized any of the people I follow on Instagram, but I unfortunately couldn't.
    I don't always like when people spams their stickers, like a graffiti tag. But in this case I feel like it added to the object, in a positive way.

    20191001144535_IMG_4583.JPG
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    As I was riding through a nearby village, I was thinking to myself how much traffic from travelers such a place must get. I was wondering how the locals felt about that attention, and if they would ever monetize it, in case the place becomes a more well known destination.
    Just as I was lost in these thoughts, an old man gave me a full arm length wave, which I quickly answered.
    I rode a few meters, and then decided to turn around. I stopped by his garden, off with the helmet, and in gestures and smiles tried to express what an amazing place he lived besides, and that it was a great day.
    The old man shined, invited me into his garden, and between toothless laughs and burps (he was sitting besides a case of empty beers) told me a story which I completely did not understand. Something about his leg, Bosnia, being a prisoner, etc. We had a big laugh, and when I left, I hoped that small encounter brightened up his day just as it did with mine.

    20191001144308_IMG_4578.JPG

    I next rode to Plitvice Lakes, a touristy destination I had already visited in the past, but that I was curious to see again.
    Little did I know, I arrived there 30 mins after they stopped selling tickets. I wasted a whole lot of time gearing down, hiding and locking the gear that would stay on the bike, etc, just to have to do the whole in reverse.

    At that point it was getting a bit late, so I drove to a nearby camping and decided to call it a day.

    I was the only guest, at this small camping. All for myself!

    20191001171627_IMG_4587.JPG

    A little while after, though, a French girl arrived on a big van, accompanied by the cutest small white kitten. A cat with only one eye, for added personality, who would wall around the grassy camping like a predator, pouncing and jumping and hunting things only she could see.

    I was getting ready to eat my gas station sandwich, when she offered to share a meal, a proposal I quickly accepted.
    We exchanged stories and learned about each other, until the camping owner arrived, to do the check in process.
    Now, in 32 days of this trip, never had I have a camping host welcoming me with a shot of homebrewed Rakja (a local spirit), and with a warning about a fox that apparently often would show up at the camp, and often would steal shoes from tents.

    A little while later, a couple arrived with their van and dog.
    What a small world, it was the same guys I had met at the military base.

    We spent the whole night drinking and getting to know each other. Really had a blast. The fox did eventually show up for the party too.

    DSC_5082.JPG
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    DSC_5081.JPG

    Although yesterday I had decided to skip Plitvice Lakes, due to the fact that I had missed the opening hours, I decided to try again this morning.
    I spent most of the day there, taking pictures, hiking around.
    It is a dangerous place to be in, when you didn't really catch a good night's sleep - the turquoise water, soft breeze, falling leaves, nearly sent me into a deep coma.

    I had hoped it would not be very crowded, die to the fact that it was a rainy October morning. The place was however full.
    I noticed that if you choose some of the longer circuits, though, there is far left people on your way, if any at all.

    I have two days to cover about 1600km. It will be a big push from here. Highway, music and podcasts.
    I'll have to be more diligent in my riding distances, and won't allow myself any more stops. But just thinking back to these diverse past 30 days will keep my mind occupied during the ride home.
    #33
    Don T likes this.
  14. lucsali

    lucsali Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2019
    Oddometer:
    27
    Location:
    Denmark
    Some more pics from Plitvice Lakes

    20191002123913_IMG_4645.JPG
    20191002120509_IMG_4630.JPG
    #34
  15. lucsali

    lucsali Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2019
    Oddometer:
    27
    Location:
    Denmark
    Day 33: Zejacko Selo (HRV) > Wiesau (DE)
    Day 34: Wiesau (DE) > VEJLE (DK)

    I made it home! And I made it home in time to spend a few hours celebrating my gf's birthday, which was the same day!
    Had the bold face to show up all freezing, wearing unwashed gear, an unshaven beard and a tired look, and just pretend I was the birthday gift.

    What a hell of a ride the last two days have been. Had to cover 1600 km in two days, and the weather passed from the warm 30 degrees I had in the last month, to a cold and rainy 10 degrees. Mix that with highway speeds and .. ugh .. summer gloves, and making it on time took quite some resolve.
    As the gloves got completely soaked, had to keep the heated grips running at max power to keep my hands working. That, plus handguards, did the trick. Although maybe they worked even too well, as I have a big blister on my throttle hand, for either too much pressure

    It was a bit comical flying through beautiful countries like Bosnia, Montenegro and Slovakia like a heat seeking missile aimed home, but there was no time for them in this trip, so I did not even try to stop and savour them, and just pushed home.

    Here a map of the itinerary: green markers are overnight stops, dark green means I spent two nights there.

    turkey roadtriå.jpg

    Although I was expecting the route to be around 8/9000 km, I had decided to round it up to 10000, when "planning" it. The final itinerary was just about 13000 km.
    Not counting the start/end highway runs, this puts it at in average 350 km a day, a number I'll remember when planning future trips.
    In the past I had trips where I spent a lot of time, weeks, nearly, in the same country/area, to the point of nearly getting bored.
    In this trip I definitely did not have time for that, and the balance might have even swinged to the other side, feeling pressure to keep moving, but for the sake of reaching a concrete goal. There's no right or wrong, just different kind of trips, but in future I'll plan for a slower tempo, for sure.

    The tires. These TKC 70 have been a fantastic choice. I had them on for 14000 km so far, and it feels like they can keep on giving. They have been extremely confidence inspiring in the many hours of asphalt twisties and turns, they did endure thousands of km of highways, and they allowed me, with care and moderation, to go through some of the stages of ACT trail in Romania and Greece.
    I definitely hit a limit in some of the gnarly trails I put myself in, with loose rocks, but I was expecting that, from a tire that hasn't gotten those big blocks.
    The front tire is about to go, I think, I might replace both for the next season in favor of a big block pair, but for a long roadtrip on mainly road and few off-road technical days I wouldn't think twice about going back to these.

    TKC70, rear middle at 14000km
    DSC_5126.JPG

    TKC70, front middle at 14000km
    DSC_5129.JPG

    I wanna post two more things: the gear I carried along (what worked, what didn't and what I wished I had), and a final recap video of the best bits.

    Soon this ride report is gonna be over. It's my first one, and I was hesitant at first, but in retrospective I can see what a fantastic memory it will make. For someone not used to writing diaries, this thread will keep all those small daily thoughts and memories, which after all are the texture these kind of roadtrips are made of, destination aside.
    #35
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  16. lucsali

    lucsali Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2019
    Oddometer:
    27
    Location:
    Denmark
    ..closing in to the conclusion, here the gear I carried along, and some thoughts about it.

    _20191005_170654.JPG

    - Inflatable sleeping mattress
    - Tent (Nordisk 2 ultra light weight https://nordisk.co.uk//telemark-2-ulw/forest-green/p/364)
    - Isolating aluminum foil
    - Summer sleeping bag

    My camping setup. The tent is from my backpacking days, an ultralight tent very fast to put up, and which weighs very little. Although it's a 2 people tent, there's just enough space for one person + all the MC gear and a big bag. I definitely would not go for less space than that, and in future might even buy a bigger one. I find the tunnel format a bit claustrophobic, as you are forced to lay down. Maybe an igloo style tent would be more enjoyable in rainy days, where tent life is more than sleeping.
    The aluminum foil was good to have. It provided good isolation, and in cold nights I used it as a cover, among with my MC jacket. Moving around at night, though, I found all these extra layers to fall off, so I just slept wearing my quilted jacket. For a few nights I was not concerned about it, and it was much more comfortable than a tower of layers to keep in place.

    - Towel
    - Toiletries bag
    - Clothes bag
    - Drybag for dirty clothes
    - Sandals

    Before the trip I tried looking at some of those videos about how to pack clothes small. I found them to be very entertaining videos, but not at all practical. I much more prefer a compression bag, to reduce the size of the bulk, without having to worry about inventive folding styles. It also helped keeping things organized, rather than folding socks around tshirts around underwear to keep volume low.
    The towel was a bit of a pain. I often end up with a wet towel which doesn't dry properly, which gets nasty after a while. I would try to keep it strapped to the top of the luggage to let the air vent it out, but even that was not always sufficient to dry it.
    A drybag for dirty clothes was nice, especially in case of wet clothes.
    I chose not to carry shoes, only having sandals or MC boots. I did not feel the need for smth in between, especially since the climates I visited were warm, and fashion was not really a concern. Sandals were also good for swimming on rocky shores, or for the showers block of nasty campings.

    - electronics bag

    Every charger, cable, adapter, battery, etc, in a big bag, with a transparent side, to find things easily. Notable mentions, a very long cable for the phone (often the socket is far from a comfortable place to use the phone while charging), a multiple outputs power socket, to being able to plug everything at once, even if there was to be only one outlet, and a power bank with a ton of capacity (Anker Power Core 20000mA https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00X5RV14Y). In the past I relied on a tank bag and the auxiliary ports of the bike to recharge devices on the go, while riding. I found that to be a huge distraction (devices stop charging, cables disconnect, lights flicker). A power bank this big allowed me to recharge devices countless times, overnight, even in tents with no electricity. Such a power bank is very portable, too.

    - DJI Spark drone

    A small, yet very smart drone. In a long trip, I find photography entertaining, not carrying much else. A drone gave me a unique perspective, and the capacity to capture footage from a 3rd person view, which is normally very hard to get when traveling solo. It's a great way to tell a more interesting story, I think.
    This little drone has also intelligent flight modes that auto track you as you ride.
    I would only consider carrying a drone in scarcely populated countries, as there's a lot of regulations on where you can and where you cannot fly one (if you care).

    - First aid kit
    - Tire repair kit
    - Lifestraw water filter

    These you won't need, until you do. Of the first aid kit I only used painkillers after the accident, and moleskin to cover a blister in my throttle hand on the way back.
    I use tubeless tires, and such a small tire repair kit is a must, IMO. Packs small and can save the day.
    The Lifestraw water filter was a bit of a fail. My idea was to have a reliable filtration system for unsafe water. However, I drink most of my daily intake of water via a camel back backpack. As I couldn't use this filtration system for that, I ended up buying bottled water anyways.
    Moreover, I am not actually sure a Lifestraw can filter non potable water, as I read articles about the fact that it won't filter heavy metals or viruses, and I'm not sure of what non potable water contains. I bought it seeking a sense of security, which I did not feel. It's still a good peace of kit for emergency filtering from sketchy sources, eg when backpacking.

    - Rain suit (Revit Pacific 2 H2O )
    - Quilt jacket

    The rain vest was great. It's a full suit that comes on in few minutes. I didn't carry the waterproof layer of my jacket to save space, leaving to this the responsibility to keep me dry in case of a sudden rain shower.
    It's also a great wind breaker.
    I bought the super high visibility version, which really is bright. Once you get over the fact that you look ridiculous, you actually realize you are the most noticeable thing on the road, be it on a rainy highway or at night. Looks stupid, but it works damn well.

    - Luggage strap
    - Extra bungee net

    I started the trip with only a bungee net keeping the luggage in place. I would sometimes lay clothes over the bags, under the net, for them to dry while riding. This was hard, the first net being super tight. There wouldn't really be any space to hold anything else, but the bags the first net was aimed to keep in place.
    I eventually bought a second net in turkey, and this was a great addition. Be it to transport the occasional food bag, or to keep the armor strapped to the bike, under a rain cover, while sightseeing, having a net to attach to the first net was liberating.
    The luggage strap I never used.

    - Very thin bike cover
    - Emergency triangle
    - Fire extinguisher

    Questionable items, here.
    I decided to bring a very, very thin bike cover. The idea was that, had I needed to leave the bike in a sketchy place, I could have left it under a cover. Out of sight, out of mind. Less tempting for opportunists, at least. Eventually I never used it, always finding a place I felt comfortable leaving the bike, but as it occupied so little space (a foil under the bottom of the luggage) I might consider having it with in future trips too.
    Emergency triangle is a must have.
    The fire extinguisher: I bought it for a trip to Baltic countries, where I had read it was a legal requirement. I like the idea of having it with, especially when traveling in summer to technical trails. Having to stop the bike on high grass, to turn around, on a hot sure day, the possibility of starting an accidental fire is not to be dismissed.
    Bulky, but it might save the day.

    - Motocross goggles
    - Playing cards
    - Compass
    - Notebook + pen
    - GoPro
    - Helmet bag

    The helmet bag was great both to keep all the small things organized, but also to carry along when checking into hotels. I found it important to be able to organize the luggage thinking of what comes indoor/stays on the bike, to be able to unload the bike and take all overnight necessities in one go, without walking back and forth.

    - Gaffa tape
    - Zip ties
    - Chain brush
    - Chain lube
    - Spare fuses
    - Tire inflator

    Never used the chain brush. In fact, I didn't even have chain cleaner with, so it was dumb having it with to start with.
    I originally left with a small tube of chain lube, travel size, from Motorex. That lasted me a third of the trip. Had to buy a full size can, to keep living the chain.
    The tire inflator was bulky, but useful. Either for me, or for others. I did use it to inflate a gipsy trailer tire, in Romania. Its likely it will come in use again, in future.

    - Alarmed disk lock
    - Small lock
    - Wire lock

    The alarmed disk lock was mostly for show, but it did give me a sense of security in some of the most public places I had to leave the bike parked overnight, in hotels.
    The small lock was meant for hostels, as they often have lockable closets. Eventually I realized that if I needed a lockable space, I could bring the topbox, and even lock it to other things, with the wire lock. It was great to have my own portable lockable space in a hostel, to leave devices charging while cooking, showering, etc.
    The wire lock has been great. Fantastic way to lock armor and jacket to the bike, under the second net, and under the rain cover, while sightseeing, or shopping groceries.

    - Adventure food
    - Emergency water bottle

    Having a bit of dried food gives me peace of mind. If I were to have a problem in an isolated place, I would have enough to eat and recharge the batteries. The small water bottle is for when shit hits the fan. I hope never to need to open it.

    - Gas cooker
    - Cooking supplies

    In previous trips I too often ate cold remade food, sandwiches, etc. Having a gas cooker lets me make good food, enjoy a warm meal, and spend time out in the environment I'm traveling with, taking a break from the riding and enjoying the surrounding.

    - Greenchile z-drag self recovery system (https://greenchileadv.com/products/gcag-z-drag-recovery-system)

    Another bulky item I hope never to use, but I carry nevertheless. A z-drag rope system, that when used solo gives you a 3 to 1 pulling ratio. I once was in a situation where I couldn't get the bike out of a muddy ditch, simply because I didn't have the strength to move a 215+ kg bike in that terrain. A self recovery system doesn't do miracles, but in a past situation it allowed me to get the bike away from an even more gnarly spot.

    20180810172653_IMG_2066.JPG


    Things I did not have but wish I did:

    - A beanie, to wear when sleeping in the tent, as most of my body heat would escape from my uncovered head.
    - Waterproof winter gloves. The extra bill would have totally been justified by the comfort they provide in a rainy day. I was lucky with the weather, but for the few rainy days I got, riding in summer gloves was a horrible experience.
    - More earplugs, and an earplugs holder. It was horrible riding without earplugs, when I lost one. It was also hard finding a place to buy them, in a weekend, in rural turkey. Spares would have taken no space, and a small box would have been a clean and safe place to store them, in the jacket pocket, to avoid loosing them in first place.
    - A drop wallet. In some situations, I had to show my wallet, and all its contents, when paying for stuff. A more minimal wallet, only containing very little local currency, would have been a nice to have.

    Riding gear:

    _20191005_170537.JPG

    The helmet is a Nexx XWed2. I love the flexibility of it's various modes, where you can remove the visor or the peak, to convert it into street, or full off-road mode. Removing the peak did considerably reduce buffeting at highway speeds.
    I didn't bother removing the visor, when using it with goggles, as they fit anyways.
    This helmet also has an inner sum visor.
    Ventilation is very good, which was important in the technical days.

    The jacket is a Revit Offtrack. Great jacket. I found the various ventilation ports to be flexible, allowing me different configurations, compromising ventilation and safety as the temperature changed during the trip.

    The armor is a Forcefield harness. I'm pretty sure that chest protector saved my rib during the crash I had in Poland.

    The backpack is from Kriega, and it's great, as it allows me to carry documents and a few object in a waterproof compartment, while also having a large camel back water reservoir, to be able to drink while riding without stopping.
    #36
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