Stories

Ukraine … again – Part 1

Last year I went to the far side of Ukraine, Mariupol and Donetsk, where they’re currently blowing each other up with (apparently, yeah right) no intervention from Russia. Anyhow, enough politics, for now.

I’d heard about this place called Truskavets. At the foot of the Carpathian mountains in the west of Ukraine lies this health type town made famous for its mineral water “Naftusia” It’s been famous for centuries. So I decided to pop along and see it. Thankfully it’s only about 100km from the Polish border so off I headed.

Friday afternoon I set off from home, headed to the tunnel and then onto a hotel in Venlo. Saturday morning saw me make it to the Touratech shop in Kassel, Germany to pick up some bits I had ordered. Unfortunately the bits had not all arrived so I left empty handed which was a bit of a shame as I had a small backpack on and it would have been nice to empty some of the stuff from it to the tank bag I had ordered. Nevermind. I pushed on to the 2nd hotel on the Saturday evening in Katowice, Poland. 

It’s a piece of cake getting there nowadays with all the motorways. I was in a rush so had to take them. McDonalds was my staple diet on the road as it’s convenient, I can point at the menu, and most of them have wifi 

The weather was pleasant with fog most mornings. This made riding a bit nippy as I had left my jacket liner at home but it soon burnt up and there was sunshine. The G650X isn’t fun on the motorway, I’d much rather have my old 800 back with the big screen and power. But non the less it plodded along faultlessly.

I bought the G650X earlier in the year, serviced it immediately and have done about 1000 miles on it since. It’s in very good condition having only covered about 6000 miles in total. I’d also tried a few mods to it, some didn’t work, like the big screen which just made buffeting worse, and some did work. The ones that worked were:

Barkbusters: Kept hands warmer, dryer and protected the levers when my bike was found on its side one morning.

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LED Chav lights on Barkbusters: Had 2 people on the trip comment on them and said they made me stand out more. That’s exactly what I am after, to be seen!

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Hotrod Welding external tank and pannier rack: Amazing! 300 miles to a tank (500 km) and meant I was stopping for comfort breaks more often than fuel stops. Quality kit, really pleased with it.

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Other bits and pieces were a nice 12v and USB 5v combo handlebar mounted charger, case saver sprocket cover, bash plate and fancy electronic fuse box. Directions were provided by a Zumo 660 which did the job almost perfectly.

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The Zumo gets confused at the M1/M25 junction and tries to route me via St Albans, and the same at the M25/M20 junction and routes me all over the place. So I ignore it there. Other than that it was spot on.

Sunday morning was the final dash to the border. It was easy enough and I even stopped at the same McD’s where my poor F800GS broke down last year. The motorway ends about 100km short of the border so you’re on a main A type road. Don’t speed, the Polish cops police it! 

The border this time was pleasant, quick and efficient. About 45 mins and I was through, although as always I get a bit of curiosity on my Afghanistan work visas, my passport expires Oct 2015 so I may apply for a new one just after Christmas as it gets a bit tiresome. 

A 2 hour ride to cover the final 100km and I was in Truskavets at my apartment for the next 5 days. The owner’s friend had a garage where I could store my bike, and as you can see from the photo above, the floor was wafer thin, oops.

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