One girl, one XT250, many kilometers from Australia to The Netherlands, Chick on the Chook Chaser

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Chick on the Chook, Feb 18, 2016.

  1. Orgnoi1

    Orgnoi1 Uber-Noob

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2005
    Oddometer:
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    Upstate NY
    LOL Chantal I just got to a computer to read... hahahah so the sassy-pants method worked well for you huh? I am glad you are past and on your way... =)
  2. 10ecjed

    10ecjed Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2011
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    356
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    Frederick, MD
    Keep warm girl. Keep those finger and toes I intact. Great rr. Thanks.
  3. LuigiTheCracker

    LuigiTheCracker Adventurer

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    Apr 5, 2016
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    Buena Vista
    Good stories, I hate immigration

    Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk
  4. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

    Joined:
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    GTA, ON, CDA
    Most excellent story and pictures, thanks! You go Girl...
  5. Fossil Rider

    Fossil Rider 2018 Honda CB1000R

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2016
    Oddometer:
    41
    Location:
    Alberta
    Very impressive, you got heart and passion to do a trip like that, I enjoyed the pictures and stories.
  6. bromax

    bromax Bromax Supporter

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    Jun 9, 2008
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    Location:
    Edmonton Alberta Canada
    still in on this ...thanks for the trip
  7. ricochetrider

    ricochetrider MotoMojo

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2011
    Oddometer:
    3,132
    Location:
    Out There Somewhere
    Hi girlfriend, just found out about this magazine for women riders & wanted to share it with you!
    You should get in touch and share your journey- I am certain it will be of interest to them!
    Be safe, stay warm.
    Cheers.

    http://womenadvriders.com/uncategorized/editors-letter/
  8. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    After this only two updates... Mentally preparing for the finish line.
    Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the last minor struggles of the road :)

    November 28- December 1

    Yan is a top guy, and a great host. I feel at home at their place. I take a day to relax, then a day to service the bike in his fully stocked garage. It is extremely cold, this morning the bike was covered in snow and when we test it after the oil change we find out the headlight isn’t working. We check the bulb, the wiring, but that’s not it. Educated by the last seemingly electric issue I take the relay out. The thing is full of water… We dry it in front of the fire, but even when it’s dry, it doesn’t work. The next day we take the bike to Brian, a friend of Yan, he welds some spots where the rack had cracked, and on Yan’s bike we roll into town to search for a new relay. Luckily this is found easily and, more importantly, when connected to the bike, the headlight is fully functional again. With the bike sorted I decide that tomorrow I will continue the journey. Around 8.30AM I carry my bags to the bike. It is cold, really cold, the seat is covered in frost. Little ice flowers have formed on the petrol tank… But the sun is out, the sky is blue and it looks like it will be a beautiful day. During breakfast however, clouds drift in. We check the temperature, -11 degrees Celcius. I’m starting to have doubts, is it even safe to get on the road like this? As I’m pondering over the option to take the boat from Greece and avoid the blistering cold, little snowflakes start falling. I call my Dad. We agreed to meet in Venice in a few day and travel together for the last week of the trip. I raise my concern and he agrees. These are no conditions to ride a bike in. I’m mainly worried about snow melting in the sun, and then freezing again, creating patches of black ice… A friend just had a crash on black ice and it wasn’t pretty. Looking out the window I see the snow on the roofs and the weather forecast predicts only more of the bad stuff. It simply seems like a mad mission to ride in this. Reluctantly I decide that the boat is a better option. It feels a bit like giving up… But arriving in one piece has priority!

    DSC05445.jpg

    December 2

    Today the temperature is a little milder, only about -5 when I wake up. After a filling breakfast we get ready to ride to the border. Yan insists on escorting me there. It’s a cold but beautiful ride. There is snow on the fields, on the hills and along the road. When we turn onto a smaller road, just after the corner, there is a large patch of compressed snow and ice in the middle of our lane. Yan is on it before he realises it, he puts his feet down and slowly makes his way across the slippery stuff. I’m a little behind and manage to avoid it by moving over into the other lane. Luckily there is no oncoming traffic! We share one last coffee at a petrol station named the Harley Davidson Garage. The entire place is decorated with Harley paraphernalia, and a large picture of Vladimir Putin watches over the customers. Interesting place J With a big hug I say goodbye to Yan and disappear across the border into Greece. From here the road leads down, slowly down to sea level where the temperatures are more bearable. However the ride is not as comfortable as I was hoping for. The wind decides it’s a great day to try to blow me up the hills again. So through a raging head and side wind I finally battle my way to the coast. The Mediterranean! Ow how I missed the view of a blue ocean and little green islands of the coast. When the sun starts to set the entire sky turns the most incredible orange, pink and purple, while on my left the sea reflects these colours. Just stunning. But instead of enjoying this spectacle of nature I prioritise finding a hotel. The map indicates quite a few options, but when I stop by, one by one they are closed. Well, of course, this is a tourist town, and it is the middle of winter, there is not a foreigner in sight, why would the hotels be open? So I decide to stop at a small beach bar and ask the locals. The woman who owns the place, Sula, speaks a little English and is most welcoming. She sits me down with hot tea to taw my fingers and starts calling around. Together with the men playing chess they finally locate a hotel that is open, in the next village. After having a fabulous home cooked Greek dinner with Sula I jump on the bike and find that 5 kilometer away a small apartment is waiting for me.

    DSC05448.jpg

    December 3

    Last night Sula invited me to have coffee with her in the morning. So before I get on the road, I stop by the beach bar. She brews a fabulous coffee and we watch over the beach and the blue sea together. I could stay here for days, the sun is warming and the place is beautiful, but on the other side of Greece the boat is waiting for me. So I jump on the Chook Chaser and hit the road. The views of the deep blue ocean on one side, the olive trees on the other side. It’s not a bad place to ride. Then the road turns inlands and starts winding up. Greece is almost shaped like a peninsula, and to reach the other side you have to go inlands. The road climbs more and more, while I feel the warmth slowly escaping my fingers and toes… Then I spot something I thought was behind me, on the other hill, across the road, white… As the road went up further the snow was everywhere again. It was beautiful to see, but cold and dangerous to ride through. Luckily the sun was out, keeping the temperatures above freezing, so at least the main roads were clear of snow. But when I took a turn off to get fuel I had to carefully navigate between the slippery white stuff. After the highest peak the road went down, the temperatures up. But now big grey clouds appeared and it started to rain. Really!? Is this really necessary? To hide from the rain I stopped at a petrol station. The guys there were impressed with my ride. They invited me in, insisted on getting me coffee and in front of their heater my toes came to life again. Then they told me that the sea men were on strike. None of the ferries were going. Aagggrrr, it seemed that I was running out of luck. The guys did their best to gain more information, and found me a reasonably priced place to stay in the port town. After the rain cleared a little I completed the last stretch of the trip to Igoumenitsa. There arrived I went to the ferry office, indeed the Monday morning ferry was rescheduled to Tuesday afternoon. A two day, three night wait. Great… In the hotel/apartment I cooked some dinner and checked Facebook. One of my overland travelling friends just posted something about a strike in Greece and a 400 km detour… But it is in French and I don’t fully understand it… Would they be here in Igoumenitsa too?

    DSC05450.jpg

    December 4

    When I wake up I have a message from Armony, the French overlander. They left Greece and went to Albania to take the ferry from there. I check the schedule, there is a ferry tonight at 7 to Trieste, which is only 200 km from my original destination Venice. But before I hurry the 350 km to this Albanian port town I want to make sure the online ticket I booked from Greece will be refunded. It takes a few emails, a message from Armony who assures me they got their tickets refunded, and just over two hours to get confirmation. Yes your ticket will be refunded. Now it becomes a race against the clock. There are 350 kilometers to cover, some highway but mostly dual carriage way. It is 12 noon when I leave and the road leads through mountains. I know you have to be at the port at least 2 hours before departure… But Armony told me there is an hour time difference, so you get an extra hour. With that in mind I’m confident I can make it. Now I’m in full race mode, the Chook Chaser is getting up to speeds it hasn’t seen in the last year. At 1.30 PM I’m at the border, show passport, bike papers, all good. But when I stop next to the little customs office to put my gloves on the men come out and start pointing at my luggage. “Open it please” I open the top box, show the rice crackers and laughing cow cheese along with the other food items. I explain that my laptop is there, and hard drive. They nod, reassuringly stroking their beards. Then it dawns on me, they have no interest in checking the luggage, they are simply curious about what I carry for this cross continental trip. I kindly tell about the camping gear, the stove, spare parts, tools, clothes and spare fuel. They would probably have stood there, and listened to me, for another fifteen minutes, but someone with a big pile of papers in hand called them back to their office. “Welcome to Albania” they shouted as I rode off. After changing money I continued the race. The road and scenery were unexpectedly beautiful. Some parts reminded me of the Waghan Valley in Tajikistan, some of the Nubra valley in India. I had no idea Alabania was so beautiful. But there is no time to stop for photos or to take in the scenery, I have a ferry to catch. The roads are windy, and go straight through every village, significantly decreasing the average speed. One time they even planted a full blown city in the middle of what looks like a highway on the map! But eventually, two and a half hours before the boat departs I make it to the port. Now all I need is a ticket. There are several little offices sporting the word “Biljeta”. I pick the one where a young girl is just hanging the Christmas decoration. As I hoped she speaks impeccable English and 5 minutes later I’m the proud owner of a ticket to Trieste. Mission accomplished! I quickly buy some dinner and exchange the left over Albanian money for as much cheap fuel as I can get. Then I roll onto the ferry.

    DSC05452.jpg
    NSFW, KLRalph, 10ecjed and 3 others like this.
  9. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
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    The Netherlands
    Thanks for the contact! Yes this is great stuff, I will get in touch with them :)
  10. VanDT

    VanDT Adventurer

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    Sep 8, 2016
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    atm. Bayreuth, Germany
    =( i was so looking forward to reading about your journey through the balkans.

    But safety first of course. You are almost home, no point in taking unnecessary risks now.
  11. ricochetrider

    ricochetrider MotoMojo

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    WOW! You are sure getting in the nail biter cliff hanger at the last of your ride! It seems to be working out very nicely tho. Fingers crossed for you!
  12. enfielddnepr

    enfielddnepr Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2011
    Oddometer:
    216
    Location:
    Assen, Netherlands
    As for your cold fingers, from an 2L milk container(or something like that), which you cut in half, and zipties, you can make handlebar windprotectors.
    Hope you get home allright.. for your hands...
    Wks1 likes this.
  13. PHS

    PHS Adventurer

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    Jul 12, 2013
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    Apeldoorn, Netherlands
    Awesome! :clap
  14. Orgnoi1

    Orgnoi1 Uber-Noob

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2005
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    Location:
    Upstate NY
    I can see... that its almost time to start going through "write up withdrawals" LOL
  15. Xylx

    Xylx Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
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    212
    Location:
    Idaho
    Epic ride. When you decide to do North America East Coast to Alaska let me know. I'm in for $1k USD sponsorship.
  16. allroadtoine

    allroadtoine Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2007
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    100
    Chantal,

    Wonderfull trip you made, great writing, thnx.

    I'm retired and planning to visit Australia for a longer periode and want to buy a bike up there.
    As I read you stayed there for a year and bought a bike with australian papers/registration, I wonder how did you manage to insure (third party) this bike in Australia (or did you have no insurance at all).

    Maybe you have an address of a insurance company over there.

    Thanks already and have a nice Cristmas and a happy and travelfull new year.

    Greetings,

    Toine
  17. RobBD

    RobBD Been here awhile

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    Sep 13, 2007
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    Location:
    Perth Australia
    Great trip - thanks for taking the time to post the report .
  18. enfielddnepr

    enfielddnepr Been here awhile

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    Assen, Netherlands
    I do hope you 're safe at home..?
  19. 3 bike

    3 bike Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2016
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    bristol, England
    And so do I , I have been wondering what happened next ?
  20. hzoltaan

    hzoltaan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2011
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    Location:
    Krakow
    I just made it to the middle of page 6... Oh, Man... I almost cried at some of the scenery, the story behind! Amazing... Thank you! Once you near around Krakow, do let me know.
    Just came from India and heard many a story about girls travelling alone. I think you've shown them mistaken.
    God bless, wide roads, rubber trees!

    Z