Ukraine Post Mortem

Ukraine Post Mortem

Well I have been home now for a week.  My shoulder is still killing me but getting better daily.  Hopefully it’ll be sorted in a week or so.  I had Monday off work so spent it cleaning the bike.  Lots of “Muc-Off” and tlc and it’s looking pretty good again now.  It’s coated once again in ACF50 which is fantastic for protecting against the weather and stopping corrosion etc.  Just keep it off the brakes and tyres, don’t ask how I know!

I was really happy with the bike, it did some serious miles, some of them at high speed too and it ran for days on end.  It did have a few problems though, noticeably the ignition micro switch which I will replace in a few weeks.  The steering head bearing are knackered too with a massive notch at dead ahead position.  I’ll replace those myself as I did it on my previous bike and it’s not too much of a hassle.  Satnav is fixed, it was just a loose connection I think, not bad for a cheap Chinese motorbike satnav.  About a quarter of the price of a Garmin Zumo 660 and 80% of the functionality.  Although if money was no object, I would get the Garmin.

My bike clothing is fantastic.  You get what you pay for I think and the Pro Master range from Heine Gericke kept me bone dry and warm.  It is relatively cool with the vents open too and the lining out when it’s hot.  I have BMW boots and gloves.  The boots are brilliant and my feet were bone dry too, they’re also comfortable to walk in.  I only have one pair of gloves, these BMW All in One versions.  They’re nice and I have no complaints.  I think most gloves, unless you use over-gloves or muffs, will let a bit of water in.  My hands were never cold, just perhaps a little damp.  Heated grips were a godsend.

I use a Schuberth C2 flip helmet which I bought because of the integrated sun visor and also that it’s pretty quiet.  I struggled when i first bought my bike with wind noise, after trying a few screens I settled on the Isotta/Wunderlich adjustable one.  It’s brilliant, no wind noise at all and full body protection.  When going offroad you can lower it by about 3 inches too so it won’t get in the way.  I am very impressed.  I could listen to my music on the lowest volume setting and even had a phone conversation at 80mph and the other person didn’t know I was on the bike!  I use an Interfone F4 for this bluetooth’ed up to my mobile for music.  I get about 8 hours battery on the Interfone which is about all I get from my phone anyhow when it’s streaming music.  One thing I will do is to get two or three times as many songs on the phone.  I know all the words to the 200 songs I had on there now and can’t stop humming them.

I mentioned earlier about the new Anakee 3 tyres I used for this trip.  They were brilliant and after the 4500 miles the rear one is looking good considering it was a lot of flat roads.

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I only took my SW Motech top-box and didn’t bother with the panniers as I didn’t need much space.  The box is great, completely waterproof and pretty big.  I also took a Famsa tank bag which is pretty nice as it has a nice zip on/zip off system.  It has a clear sleeve at the top to store things in like ferry tickets, or paper maps.  It did get a little damp so I will sort that out by washing it with the same stuff I wash and protect my clothes with.  For that i use Nikwax Tech wash.  It’s fantastic, it cleans your bike clothing and then you wash it with the 2nd part which waterproofs it.  it’s amazing stuff!  I hope it works on the tank bag.  Saying that though, it may have just been the quantity of rain we had, it really was bad.

I use Nikwax visor cleaner too for my helmet visor.  It’s like rain-x but it’s ok to use on plastics whereas rain-x isn’t.  It’s great and I hardly had to clean my visor at all even with all the rain, it just beaded off.

That’s about it.  Will fix the bike, have it serviced with BMW so it can get the stamp, and then it’s all ready for my next adventure in August!

 

Day 12 – Making it home!

Day 12

Once again the weather was awful when I woke up.

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I decided to push for home today so logged on and bought a Channel Tunnel crossing for 10pm that evening.  I had brought my tablet with me and although it’s the very unpopular BlackBerry Playbook, it was perfect for what I needed and it lasted for days on a charge.  It also had a couple of good books on it so in the evenings when I couldn’t sleep, 5 mins with this and I was out of it, really helped my brain and senses relax after hours on the bike.

I left the hotel at 7 and the ride was miserable.  Torrential rain again for 90% of the way.  In Germany there were lots of bikers out and about so I’d often tag onto the back of one of their groups and make decent progress.  I had fitted new tyres for the trip before I left the UK and they are the brilliant Anakee 3’s.  Not an ounce of trouble in the monsoon conditions.  I’d notice though that when we hit occasional traffic jams in Germany, that all the bikers would just queue up.  I didn’t buy a bike to sit in traffic so would just filter through slowly.  I wonder if it’s against the law to filter?  Anyhow I wasn’t bothered, it was now between 7 and 10 degrees and I was cold.  I hadn’t put my lining back in and just wanted to make progress.

There’s always a downside to doing 100mph on the motorway for hours on end, and that is that the bike will only do 150 miles on a tank vs the 220 if I were to do 70 mph.  I tried working out the maths of how long it took to fuel up vs the extra miles gained.  My brain hurt so I couldn’t be bothered, although after about 8 hours of this I was beginning to ache and was obviously very tense as my shoulder was killing me I think from just being tense in the rain and cold.  I kept having to tell myself to relax and within 2 mins felt fine again, but 15 mins later I’d be all tense.  My shoulder was killing me from being tense, but I just wanted to be home now so didn’t stop for anything more than petrol and chocolate.

I made it to the eurotunnel at just gone 6pm, I could have made it 15 mins earlier but I was nursing the bike the final 60 miles.  I was low on fuel and just couldn’t face filling up again, it’s no fun taking wet gloves off and on and I was aching, so just rode at about 60mph for the last hour.  They gave me the option of the 7:20pm train which I took.  I scoffed a huge pizza and had a few cups of coffee at the shop there while waiting and immediately felt better.

Got on the next train, parked up and relaxed.

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At least the rain had cleaned my screen a little!

On the train I had 35 mins travel time so I faffed with my satnav that had stopped charging and also put the inner linings back into my bike gear.  I was happy and warm now.  I had gained another time zone too so it was only about 7:30pm by the time I came out of the other end.  A quick fill up at the petrol station on the UK side and the final 200 miles home.  The UK side was uneventful apart from having to remember to ride on the other side of the road.  It was raining still most of the way home, and unlike Europe, if I get caught speeding in the UK I get points, so I took it easy all the way home and rolled in just before 11pm.  I was in bed by midnight and slept like a baby!

950 miles done today, no wonder I was a little tired.


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Day 11 – Kiev to Wroclaw

Day 11

After a pretty rubbish night’s sleep I got dragged myself out of bed at about 8 and ready to face the day.  The hotel was weird as the minute I opened the room door a very stern looking lady was stood there and proceeded to go through the room and make sure I hadn’t nicked anything before she would let me go!  Yes darling, I am really after a towel and some 70’s style bedding!

I made it past L’viv in a few hours and towards the border with Poland.  I forgot to say earlier that on my inward trip when I rode through the night, there were hundreds and thousands of these huge beetles everywhere.  It was like driving through a hailstorm and they made a right mess of the bike and my helmet.  Now in daylight you could see millions of them on the roads, squashed.  Bizarre!

Anyhow I made it to the border early afternoon and it was a piece of cake to cross out of Ukraine, it took about 20 mins for them to do whatever it is that they needed to do.  They have to capture all the info from the bike’s V5 and that’s probably the longest bit.  They weren’t interested in looking in the top box or tank bag but did bring the sniffer dog around.  Why is it that although I have nothing to worry about, that I still worry!  The Polish side was equally as easy, a few questions regarding my Afghanistan visa’s in the passport though but all good.

Exiting the border, back on EU soil I was pretty happy.  I knew that from here that I was never too far from help if I needed it.  I felt sorry for the chaps entering Ukraine from Poland, the queue was quite long and at this stage it was pretty hot too.

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Anyhow I hit the road, I had magically just gained an hour’s worth of daylight as I had passed through a time zone, so there was no great rush to ride too fast.  I figured I would make Wroclaw again and stay at the same hotel.  So off I headed.  At this stage I had 3000 miles’ worth of bugs on my bike screen.  Tasty snacks if I needed any food!

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The ride was largely uneventful, however about 2 hours before Wroclaw the heavens opened again!  I rolled into the hotel at about 8pm and was greeted by the sound of a couple of Scotsmen who couldn’t even walk.  There must have been a stag part of something on as there were about 15 chaps, all completely wasted.  I did worry about my motorbike a little as I had parked it on the pavement under some shelter against the hotel and hoped they wouldn’t jump on it!  I had a shower cap I had nicked from one of the hotels and covered my ignition with it to keep the water out, the ignition was behaving fine since Mariupol.

The hotel receptionist was the same chap as before, he just laughed when I came in looking like a wet dog again.  He said that it’s me that brings the rain as it’s been fine since I have been gone.  He was also pretty witty, saying that he apologised for giving me a room on the first floor, the view wouldn’t be that great, however I would be 6 floors away from my pissed up countrymen.

I had done just over 700 miles today and wondered if I could make it home tomorrow in one go, I just wanted to be home now as traveling home is always the rubbish part of any holiday.  I called it a night at about 10 as I wanted a really early start on the Sunday morning.

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Day 10 – Mariupol to Kiev

Day 10

Friday morning dawned, and after a few things I got under-way.  The weather was glorious, the bike was behaving fine as I suspect it had dried out nicely from being in the sun for 4 days, and all was good.  On the way from Kiev 5 days previously I had removed the lining to my jacket and trousers since it was so hot, and all the vents were open.  I even rode with the jacket zip half way down in order to get even more air.

Everything was going well.  I decided to take a slightly different route back as I didn’t want to go on those really remote roads, just in case.  So I found a dual carriageway and headed North West.  It was a normal working day now, so the traffic had picked up a bit.  You get a right mix of cars on the roads, from old Lada’s to new Land Cruisers and X5’s.  I found the best thing to do was to find a new’ish car which was making progress, and just sit 100 yards behind him.  This worked well most of the way up and I made good time, arriving into Kiev around 5pm and finding a McD’s and free wifi on the city outskirts.

The roads up to Kiev are ok, nothing great, bit get near Kiev and they are 8 lane motorways, very nice indeed!

The Hotel Ukraine was too expensive this time around, so I found Hotel Kantoor in the city centre and booked it out.  Then I had the only road rage of the entire trip with some arse in his Daewoo hooting at me because I pushed in front of him, fair cop, it was half my fault but he proceeded to follow me at about 1 foot between us, flashing and hooting.  After a minute of this I had had enough, being on a bike you feel quite vulnerable sometimes,  so just dropped the bike down a gear and wove in and out of the 4 lane traffic into the city, not a hope he would be able to keep up and soon enough he had vanished.  Some of the driving may be a little nuts in Ukraine, but you rarely hear any hooters going, they’re quite laid back I found.

I found my hotel which was a little more, erm, soviet like.  The rooms were old fashioned and the staff militant, apart from the doorman who was about 60 and just kept chatting about motorbikes and the UK.  What a nice bloke, even though we struggled for words we got our point across.  After a quick shower I went and checked the bike over and went out to get some bottled water and snacks for the following day.  The little corner shop I found had everything, so I grabbed 2 bottles of water (6.50 hyvna’s each) and then said “twix” to the lady which was also 6.50.  So I expected about 19 hyrvna.  But no, when she realised I wasn’t a local, the price magically shot up to 29.  I couldn’t be bothered to quiz her, so just paid the money and left.  It does annoy me though getting ripped off.

Fuel stations in Ukraine are fun.  They’re all staffed by a nice man (or woman) who will put fuel in.  50% of the ones I came across will happily fill up for you, but the other half want you to specify, in hyvna, how much you want to put in.  So I would have to guess most times at the litres and then multiply that by the cost per litre.  Thankfully it’s about 10 hyrva per litre so it wasn’t that hard.  it just always took a couple of mins to explain what I wanted.  I really should learn more Russian.

They do have V-Power 100 octane in some places though so I spoiled my bike!  I think it made up for some crap fuel too that had been through it.

All was well with the bike, so I went to bed knowing I was about 4 or 5 hours from the border tomorrow morning, I wasn’t looking forward to it…

Day 6 – 9 – Mariupol and Donetsk

Day 6 – 9

It was nice just to be able to park the bike up at the hotel and relax.  I had lost all the feeling in my bum and was quite stiff from doing so many miles.  The hotel was lovely, and cheap.  They spoke English as well which was a bonus.  I had real, proper food, none of the fast food nonsense.

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The hotel is just one or two roads from the main city centre.  Although the city isn’t really a tourist destination it’s still an ok place to hang out and relax.  There are some nice parks, the sea of course and the city centre to see.  If I was to be honest you could see it all in a day, but this was as far as I was going east as Russia is only about 50km away and I wasn’t even going to try that, especially as I had no visa.

The days were spent walking around, hanging out with some very nice people and eating healthy too!  I lost a couple of kg’s which is good and lived off salads most days.  It was really hot and I got sunburnt a couple of time, I’ll never learn!

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On Tuesday I went to Donetsk, a city about 2 hours away via a minibus taxi thing.  Donetsk hosted some of the Euro 2012 Football games and is a pretty nice city.  It also has a big University so lots of students making for a vibrant city.  I enjoyed it there, they even have a lot of English signs which I like!  There’s one thing not being able to understand another language, but when the characters are not even Latin then it completely blows my mind!

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Wednesday I went for more walks etc and ensured I had many McD’s Ice Creams to keep cool!

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Thursday was great.  There was the Ukraine equivalent of an Autosolo event.  Autosolo is basically a demonstration of driving skill against the clock.  The person with the quickest time and least penalties wins.  In the UK you’d see lots of Caterhams, Westfields etc there.  Here in Ukraine you see Lada’s!  They’re awesome.  Even the two local taxi firms pitched up in the Daewoo’s and raced against each other.  They do rear wheel drive Lada’s too which are simply fantastic.  I want one!

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After getting horribly sunburnt again, that evening was spent down at the beach, had a bbq and just a generally nice time.

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An early night that night, as Friday morning I would start the trip back home.

Day 5 – Kiev to Mariupol

Day 5

So, today the plan was to make it to Mariupol, a port city on the Sea of Azov.  at 7am I was out and on the bike.  Glorious weather again, this would be the story while I was in Ukraine.

As I mounted my bike I noticed I could place both my feet flat on the floor.  That’s nice I thought, however I had not grown 2 inches overnight, I instead had a flat rear tyre.  Damn!  Anyhow after being ripped off by a local taxi driver, I followed him, at 20mph to a few tyre places until we found one that would deal with a motorbike tyre and inner tube.

A 2 inch nail was no fun!

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Anyhow, all sorted and on my way.  I had about 450 miles to cover today on some nasty roads so off I went.  You sort of follow a lake type things a lot of the way and cross over it a few times.

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It’s not too bad for scenery but nothing special.  The little villages you pass though are bizarre.  They look all beat up, knackered and poor, but every one will have a fantastic church, most with a blingtastic ornamental roof.  very pretty indeed.

On a bike you can get along the roads ok as you slalom around potholes, so I was flying along quite nicely.  I had also figured out how to avoid the coppers.  Simply hide behind a bus or car or lorry when approaching them 🙂

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As I started leaving the more populated areas I hit a road M-08or H-08 and it was deserted.  Didn’t see a car for 30 mins at a time.  The road was pretty crap too but the faster you go, the less you feel the potholes that you can’t avoid.  So all was going well.  Also since it was so deserted I figured there would be no police so I made good progress.  However due to my flat tyre incident it was getting late, about 8pm by the time I got to the outskirts of Mariupol.

I hadn’t eaten a proper meal since the previous evening and was surviving on crisps or chocolates from petrol stations so was peckish too.  I stopped on the outskirts of the city to program the hotel address into TomTom.  a minute later about 10 Ukrainian bikers on a mix of bikes all stopped for a chat.  That was nice, except my Russian is limited as was their English.  What a nice bunch of people though and they insisted on ensuring I found my hotel and so escorted me there.  That was pretty damn cool and proof that bikers look after their own.  After many “Spasibo”‘s I made it to the hotel!  Knackered, again.  But the weather was glorious, the bike ignition had behaved all day.

It was now Sunday evening and I decided to hang out here and relax until Friday when I’d head home.

Day 4 Cont – Kiev

Day 4 Cont

So I had found my fantastic hotel, parked up and it was about 1pm now.  I was shattered still but had an afternoon in Kiev so off I went.

My hotel was awesome and had a great view, the weather was glorious and I was happy.  The bike was still acting up but I knew I could turn it off after a few goes so I wasn’t too worried.  it could wait till I got home.  Worst case scenario I could always just disconnect the battery when stopped.

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The place was packed with people and festivities with it being a bank holiday Saturday.  I walked around for hours, had Ice Cream and was having a good time and took plenty of pics.

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I called it a day at about 9pm, 3 hours sleep was catching up with me and tomorrow I had plans to make it further east so needed an early start.

 

 

Day 4 – L’viv to Kiev

Day 4

I woke up at 6am after barely 3 hours sleep.  I was nervous about the bike and just couldn’t get back to sleep.  I walked downstairs, gingerly put the key in the ignition and the bike worked fine.  It took me 2 mins to turn it back off again mind you.  At least the weather was now absolutely glorious, not a cloud to be seen.

I tried again to sleep but couldn’t, so I packed up the bike and set the satnav for Kiev a few hours away.  It was now Saturday and there was no traffic again.  I was pulled over for speeding again (64kph in a 50 zone) and blatently asked for a bribe of 700 hyrvna (About 60 quid)  I figured that since I had nothing to lose, I slapped down 200 on the table, told him to take it or leave it.  5 mins later I was on my way, with a handshake too.  What a tosser the policemen there are.  I hope they crash their Lada’s into a tree and burn.  Bastards.

I arrived in Kiev and found a McD’s on the outskirts.  Booked the “Hotel Ukraine” there via the free wifi and then and headed to the hotel, parked the bike up, got a room facing Independence Square and was happy.  Knackered but happy.

Day 3 Cont – Border …

Day 3 Cont

I left Rzeszow and headed for Kroczowa where the Poland Ukraine border was.  It only took me a couple of hours to get there and it was about 9pm by now.  Exiting Poland I don’t even remember, but I parked up at a queue of about 50 cars ready to enter Ukraine.  It was raining still and I was worried about turning the bike off in case it didn’t start again.  i did not want to break down here!

The car in front of me was a UK reg car so I tried to strike up conversation with the driver, but he was Ukrainian and didn’t speak English.  However he told me just to ride through the cars and go to the front, at least there I would be under some shelter where the actual passport control and customs are.   I didn’t need convincing and after checking with a mean looking border guard that it was ok, I squeezed through the cars and parked up under the roof.

I was now at the front, they had about 10 cars to deal with so I thought it’d be quick.  How wrong I was … long story, but rude, impolite and useless would be too polite to describe the Ukraine border officials.  2 hours later though thankfully and I was on my way.  It was about 11now and I thought I would try make it to L’viv and grab a hotel as it’s only an hour away.  That plan didn’t work, I tried about 5 places and they were all fully booked, so at about midnight I thought I’d just head for Kiev and find a hotel on the way.  L’viv was a nightmare in the rain and dark.  It’s full of cobbled streets and tram tracks, on a motorbike that is a lethal combination in the wet and when I was tired.  I almost came off a couple of times.  I figured I would be safer on the main roads.

Between L’viv and Kiev I was pulled over by a policeman who insisted I was speeding, even though he didn’t have a speed gun with him , but apparently he could just tell.  Wanker.  I had no local currency on me but he relieved me of US$60.  Eventually at about 3am I found a hotel on the main road and it was great!  Massive room, nice shower etc, but I didn’t care, I just wanted to sleep, the bike had been running non-stop since 6pm’ish as I was worried about turning it off.  As I unloaded the bike at the hotel at 3am and turned the key off, the bike kept on running … nice!  Not.  Wiggling the key off/on about 10 times turned it off, but then, even with the key removed the dash would just spring back into life about 10 seconds later.  This is what flattened my battery yesterday as I’d left the heated grips on too.  After plenty of faffing it stayed off and I headed to bed but was quite worried it would just fire up again in the middle of the night …

I fell asleep within seconds!

 

Day 3 – Wroclaw to ….

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Day 3

So I woke up at 6am again to the above.  More rain and thunderstorms.  At least my gear was almost all dry, specifically my gloves.

It didn’t take me long to get ready, repack my bag, check that all electrical gadgets were charged and still working after the rain and get ready to go.  Getting back on to the motorway was a piece of cake after a minor couple of U turns.

Of course, when I passed some tanks, I needed to get a photo so I popped the bike up onto the pavement and snapped this.

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It was now Friday and in Poland (and Ukraine) it was a long weekend as far as I could tell due to something about Easter.  There was virtually no traffic anywhere, but typically there was I, on the pavement on a motorbike and who would drive past but some policemen.  I thought that this would be my first run in with the law but they ignored me which was nice.  So I got on the E40 again and continued heading east.

I decided to go via Auschwitz as it was on the way.  What a truly depressing place.  How people could do that to people is beyond belief.  The less said the better.

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It was still raining for most of the day and pretty cold so I had the heated grips on (I’ll explain why this is important later) , torrential still and at one point on some flatlands I was treated to a fantastic lightning show!  Thankfully I didn’t play a staring role.  Towards the early afternoon I made it to a town called Rzeszow as I recognised the familiar golden arches.  It had stopped raining now but was still pretty miserable.  I sat down, had my Big Mac meal and relaxed for half an hour.  I was contemplating whether or not to try the infamous Ukrainian border tonight.

Anyhow hopped back on the bike and it was dead.  Nada, nothing.  Turn the key and nothing lit up.  Damn!  On my bike though the battery is relatively easy to get to and I had the tools to get to it.  I did this and checked no wires had come loose.  All looked good but I was confused why it had died.  Across the road was a petrol station so I went and bought some jump leads and then walked around the McD’s carpark with no local lingo, trying to ask for a jump start.  Eventually a nice man with pigeon English helped me out however the bike still wouldn’t start after 10 mins of being hooked up.  I was unhappy now, cold as it had started to rain, and just at a loss of what to do.  The closest BMW dealer was a few hundred miles away and it was a long weekend.  I couldn’t speak the language either which didn’t help.

Then enter Anyo to the rescue!  He walked over and introduced himself, he was originally from Hungary (I think) and had married a Polish lady and lived in Poland for 10 years.  His English was pretty damn good and he explained that i was kind of lucky.  he has a similar model bike and there was a great BMW Independent just a few mins away, the only one for hundreds of miles.  Even better, Anyo called the owner up, at 6pm on a bank holiday Friday and he agreed to meet us at his workshop.  Anyo took me there in the car, explained what was wrong to the non English speaking bossman, and we then went to pick up my bike in his van.  Things were looking up!

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A few mins later a mechanic arrived who spoke perfect English.  He had worked in Scotland for a few years and was great to chat to.  Paul happily changed my battery for me for a new one.  The garage “Willinger Motorcycle” are my hero’s.  The price was reasonable too.  They had at least 50 BMW bikes there, a real nice setup.  I couldn’t have broken down in a better place.

After a chat and many thanks I headed back on my way, not knowing why the battery had gone flat and slightly nervous that it would happen again, but off I went.  This time with heated grips off as these sap a lot of power, just in case.

Off I headed to the border…

Day 2 – Dunkirk to Wroclaw

Day 2

I woke up at 7am and immediately looked out of the hotel window, it was wet, but was not raining so that was OK.  I got ready for the day and hopped on the bike at about 8, pointed the satnav east and off I went.

The bike has a 17L tank and will do about 220 miles to a tank at a steady 70-80mph.  This meant I was stopping every 3 hours for fuel, a stretch and inevitably a chocolate bar or McDonalds.  In fact I left France, crossed Belgium, Netherlands and half of Germany before I stopped for fast food.  I was hoping to get free wifi to arrange a hotel, but alas, it was not to be.  The journey was mostly uneventful, just motorway miles.  The unlimited German autobahn always makes me laugh, I’d be sat doing 100mph which in the UK would get you locked up next to a rapist or something, but in Germany you just make nice progress.  You’re also far from the fastest thing on the road with Audi Estates with the family and dog doing well over 130mph I would estimate.

The rain started to get heavier and heavier until it was proper torrential with thunder and lightning.  You know it’s bad when the raindrops hurt your arms and legs through the bike clothing, which at this stage had the lining in still as it had dropped down to about 10 degrees.  I even had the heated grips on.  My bike clothing is very good and I can’t recommend it enough, Heine Gericke Master IV Pro, I was bone dry underneath it with the exception of my hands which were a little damp from the gloves.  My BMW boots were 100% dry too.   It pays to have decent equipment as being cold and wet would have been no fun.

About 8pm I rolled into Wroclaw in Poland.  I had pretty much stuck on the E40 motorway all day and in Poland it’s pretty new and immaculate.  Also it’s a toll road there but ridiculously cheap.  I paid 8 Zloty I think which is about £2.30.  The robbing bastards on the M6 Toll, who charge £5.50 for about 50 miles of tarmac should take note!

I was absolutely sopping and the rain was relentless.  I searched TomTom for a hotel and it came back with a Campanile, I headed for it and walked into the lobby looking quite sorry for myself and leaving a river behind me.  Unfortunately they were full, but they had another Campanile hotel just a few miles away which had spare rooms.  So I headed there.  Got a room and started drying my kit out.  The nice man on reception too gave me a cheaper rate as he obviously felt sorry for me.  A really nice guy.  My room was lovely and it had tea and biscuits along with free wifi, so I was happy!

I hung my bike gear on the heated towel rail which was nice.

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I also managed to park the bike under a bit of cover as it was just torrential rain.  Once again, probably asleep by 11pm and had covered about 750 miles today.  I had lost feeling in my bum!

Day 1 – Off I go

Day 1

So, my very kind boss allowed me to finish up work a couple of hours early on this Wednesday afternoon, so I took the opportunity to head off of the tunnel and get a bit of a head start.  I booked the tunnel for about 17h30 and a hotel in Dunkirk that evening.  That was all the planning which I had done.

I had just over a week off work and thought that since I had never ventured too far on my bike before that I would see how far I could get.  The target was the far side of Ukraine, down near the Russian border.  To be honest I knew this was optimistic and going to be a lot of miles but what the heck.

I managed to make it to the tunnel with about a minute to spare to get my train, rode straight on to the train and then the 45 mins to my hotel on the other side.  Nice and uneventful.  The weather was hot and sunny, but while sat in my luxurious hotel room (not) I managed to decipher the French weather lady and realised that tomorrow would bring showers.  Oh well, not much we can do to change that.  I fell asleep about 10pm with the aim of an early start.

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