DAY 8 / DESTRUCTION AND MISERABLE RETURNS 27.7.2015 / Wólka Biszewska, Poland – Bukowa Mała, Poland / 229 km, 1953 km total I woke up to another beautiful sunny morning. The excellent mood was further improved, when we realised that we had enough fumes in a gas cartridge to boil water. We sat for a while, enjoying a cup of coffee and a sandwich, before breaking camp early. Our route took us SE, towards the Belarusian border, on familiar agricultural terrain. When designing the route, I’d spotted an old bunker in satellite imagery. It was part of the Molotov Line, a system of Soviet defences constructed between 1940-1941 to protect their western borders. Unfortunately for the Soviets, most the Molotov line was incomplete during Operation Barbarossa, and did little to hinder the invasion of the German forces. The coordinates proved true and we found the bunker on a small hill, camouflaged by trees. It had clearly met a grisly end, as all of the the gun slots were blown out. I hoped no one was inside when it was destroyed, but unfortunately that was unlikely in war. We climbed in to take a look at the destroyed fortification. It had two levels; a bottom level for storing munitions, and a winch to hoist them to the second level, which had housed artillery or an anti-tank gun and machine guns. The mood was somewhat sombre, and peering out of the bunker and seeing a farmer working the field below felt oddly out of place. I wondered whether any of the Germans, that had fought the bunker on their way east, had survived their brutal campaign in the Soviet Union and limped back west past the same bunker in defeat, with the Red Army on their heels. Our southbound trail continued with several sections of tarmac, but closing in on the Belarusian border, we found a lovely dual track over short grass. I attacked it with gusto and enjoyed the undulating terrain and great traction. After a while of riding, I stopped to take a photo of the guys, but they were not in vicinity, nor did they follow me. There had been some ditches on the trail and I was worried whether one of them had taken a tumble. Doubling back, to my relief I saw both guys up and moving on the field, so neither of them had probably not crashed hard. But they had taken off their gear which indicated some kind of issue. The problem was with Perra’s bike, which refused to start. When hitting the starter button, the starter relay and the the speedo would buzz, but nothing else would happen. We took the fairings off to investigate further, but could not find any obvious issues, even with the help of a multimeter. Luckily Perra was well insured and he called his insurance company. They informed Perra that they’s send road service, but we would need to get the bike bike on a road first. I had a rope, which we connected to Johan’s Super Tenere, then Perra’s bike, and we were soon back on tarmac. Everyone was hungry, so I rode back to a nearby village to get some food. The mood improved slightly when I pulled two cold beers for the Swedes from my luggage. However Per was pretty pissed off, and I felt really sorry for him. It must have been a bitter disappointment for him, especially after all the problems he had had with his bike. Despite running further checks, we got no wiser about the source of the problem. It was strange, as the starter relay was functioning and battery voltage was at 13V. Four hours later the roadside assistant agent arrived. He immediately said that it was probably a battery problem, and pulled out a set of jumper cables. I was skeptical, but to my surprise the bike roared to life with the help of the external power. The joy soon disappeared, as the bike died immediately as the cables were disconnected. We tried charging the battery for a while with the same results. The battery was somehow damaged, and the roadside assistant agent told Perra, that he’d put the bike on the truck and take it to a local electrician who had experience with bikes. If it didn’t help, he’d then haul the bike to the nearest KTM, which was in Lublin, 150 km away. It was sad to see the 950 pushed onto the truck, and having to say goodbye to the Swedes so abruptly. The mood was melancholic, after a week on the trails together and then see the team split in such circumstances. Once they left, I didn’t want to rush off, but instead sat down. I was suddenly alone, and would remain so indefinitely. It was a little overwhelming, especially since I would be heading into Ukraine next. I felt low, depleted and undecided about what to do next. But I knew there had never been any guarantees about anything, and the future was mine to shape. So after a deep breath, I packed up and rode back to the southbound trail. After a quick refuelling and dinner stop, I continued to push towards the Ukrainian border. It was boring tarmac, but making progress felt nice. I was back in a good mood, which might have also been due to the massive dinner of ribs, French fries, salad, pie and coffee I had at the truck stop earlier. Progress was good, band as night fell, I started looking for a campsite. It turned out easier said than done though, and I ended up on a gnarly forest trail with deep tractor ruts. To make things worse, it started to rain and I was forced to head back to tarmac. The rain soon soaked me, and I decided to take make camp at the first possible spot I would find. Luckily, after turning to a random gravel road, a spot where I could camp appeared on the edge of a field. My tent was up in record speed, and I crawled into it to take shelter from the rain. Suddenly the world slowed down, as all sense of urgency disappeared. I pushed my wet riding gear to the opposite side of tent and lay on my sleeping pad, listening to the rain. I was only about ten metres from the gravel road, but I was not expecting traffic and felt fairly safe. The mood quickly changed, as a set of headlights washed over my tent. I knew I had been seen, and listened to a change in the revs of the car. It was a relief to hear it pass without slowing, but I wondered whether I should pack up and move. In the end fatigue won and I decided to stay put. I listened carefully to my surroundings, but all I heard was rain.