Monday, 5 September 2011

2010 - Vilnius or Bust!


SaddleSore 1600KM
(Thank you Werner for the patch)

A slightly different Lithuania RTE Report!

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“Shi*, Shi*, Shi* & Shi* AGAIN! Aaahhhh!!!”

“I can’t f.... believe this”

Half an hour into a nice relaxed flower sniffing ride to Germany and the thought just poped into my head.


Cursing and swearing I peel off the M62 at junction 25 Wakefield still screaming at myself, so loud the guy in the car at the side of me starts shaking his head! Only to see the sign M62 and get back on the motorway.................. Still heading towards Leeds.

“For F.... sake Raymond what are you on today”

Arriving back home Jeannie was there with passport, “Have you got my E111 card?”

Just about to set off I remember I’ve forgot the disk lock (something I will later regret remembering).

“I will get away today, honest” & with that the adventure really began.

Calling in to see my Dad at is butty shop in Chesterfield was great as I’d not seen him for a good few months. He stocked me up with a few Tuna Mayo Bap’s, Kit Kat’s and a bacon butty to see me on my way. Quick bob in to Temple Normanton Cemetery to have a chat with my Mum & clean her grave up a little and that’s me set.

Arriving at Dover Chunnel it’s another £12 to change Slowpokes ticket times, which I’d bought from him a while ago, to 1700 Thursday returning 0700 Monday morning. Loads of time.

I received a text from Roly saying he was at Gutersloh Services and making good time for Berlin. My reply was short and sweet “I’m still in bl**dy England”

The plan was to meet up with Philip, Steve, Roly & Paul at the Brandenburg Gate Friday at 1200 noon. Initially it was just Philip & I as I had been toying with the idea of doing a SS3000 Baltic Ride. I always like to push the boat out at the end of the year, but having taken some very good advice from Philip & Timo in Finland I sacked the idea.

By the time I got to Gutersloh it was 9 at night and the temperature was starting to fall off. I checked the mobile to find a couple of messages from Roly saying he was at the Ibis just outside the city centre, address & number included. A quick call and I had my room sorted. Just a short blast up the autobahn and bingo, Berlin here I am 0200 am in the morning.

“No brew kit!” Great. So out comes the Jet Boil and in 10 minutes its coffee and Spicy Mince (which I’d brought from home) down the grid. Sorted! Rest of the room was great.

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No Brew Kit? Not Impressed!

Breakfast at 8.00 am followed by coffee with Roly and were ready to pack up and clear on out.

“You sorted Roly?” The nod comes and away I pull. Only to find myself stood at the side of my bike on its side for the second bl**dy time!

“Jesus H Ch***, give us a lift, “

“What’s to do?” Roly says putting the side stand down as I Oyke the Beats off the deck!

“Fe*** Disk Lock!!!!”

Well that was my three done for this trip, thank the Lord.

Brandenburg Gate was just straight down the road, 20 minutes and we were there. Stopping at the front too take a couple of pictures watched keenly by the Police, I didn’t notice the 10 Japanese tourists behind us. (If you look you can just see them walking our way in the picture).

Watch out Roly, In Coming.

What happened next was surreal, every single one came and stood at the side of me, put there arm round me and had a picture taken..................Mad!!!

I got them all to stand together and took one of them which they thought was hilarious.

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Say Cheese!

Roly & I mooched on round to the other side of the gate and parked up, had a wander, I hit the shops, (yes Lyn I am a shopaholic) and found a nice cafe in the corner. We spotted Philip & Steve , shortly after Paul arrived. They rode round to where we were and we headed off for a brew and a chat.

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An hour later we were all set for stage two, 
the ride to Warsaw, Poland.

As we kitted up ready to head out we had one of the German Police officers come over to have a chat with clip board in hand. I’m grinning as I type as the conversation which followed was hilarious at the time. In perfect English he asks Philip.

“Good afternoon Gentlemen, can I ask how long you will be in Germany”

“10 or 15 minutes”

“Oh! Ok?” & duly put his pen back in his pocket and walked away.

Philip & I just fell about the place, Priceless!

The ride out of Berlin was interesting with Philip in full on European Riding Mode, i.e. footpaths, cycle paths, through barriers, round trucks & busses by which ever means possible, but this was nothing to compare with the ride which was to follow through Poland. (I need to point out that NO Laws were broken during this escape from Berlin).

Crossing the border and into Poland was a nice steady ride down the autobahn. Once in Poland and on the first and pretty much the only stretch of motorway, I spotted a couple coming up behind us in my rear view mirror. It was Kev & Lyn.

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Next stop Warsaw, give or take a thousand trucks!

So the whole Lithuania RTE Crew where together and that’s the way we stayed through the world’s longest truck traffic jam. Mile upon mile of standing traffic, I estimated somewhere in the region of 30 miles but it felt like a 100 miles. We rode round the lot. It was horrendous as the road was a single track A road, with double white lines with the odd break for overtaking,which oncoming traffic was doing. It just went on forever till we came to the cause. The road through the village had a hole in it in front of a school. It was being controlled by two road workers with hand paddles letting 3 trucks through at a time. Unreal!

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A Great shot of Tydee (Hope you like it Paul).

Heading through the night we all, apart from Philip, arrived at the Ibis Warsaw, checked in then parked up in the basement. Philip arrived shortly afterwards to join us for Dinner in the restaurant. We all swapped horror stories of the ride through Poland & I taught Kev, Steve & Paul a few new words & phrases, Bl**dy Southerners (meant in the nicest possible Northern way).

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Tomorrow we ride into Lithuania. Philip & Steve headed out early, I found myself all set and ready to go half an hour later so text Roly to let him know I was riding up alone and off I set.

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I Spotted this view tower & Just had to have a look.

I plumbed in Vilnius then zoomed in to check the route. It had done what I expected it to do, the Mapsauce had cut through the corner of Belorussia. I added Augustow as a way point and re set my route. Pete had warned me a while back when I was planning on riding to Minsk that I would need a visa to enter Belorussia. After doing a little homework, posting my passport to the Belorussia embassy with £40 was not an option 2 weeks before leaving and paying double for poling up in London did not enthral me.

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Who needs a GS when you've got a FJR Anything's Possible..........well almost!

The ride north was fantastic, through three National Parks, woodland & forests with every colour you could imagine. I was on and off the bike like a man possessed taking pictures all the way to Lithuania.

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Well worth the "cross country approach"

I still cannot get my head around how beautiful Poland & Lithuania are. So much to see but with such an enormous gulf between the have’s and the have not’s.

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On one side of the road wood dwellings on the other multi million pound industrial units but with no one anywhere in site. Strange?

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Above & Below were taken sat on the bike, one side of the road & then other!

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The old wooden homes where so quaint but so very sad. The grave yard heading into the villages were all being tended by doting relatives with flowers & candles in hand. It brought a tear to my eye seeing the shimmering candles on the return trip still burning on the side of the hills.

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I was surprised to arrive in Vilnius at the Holiday Inn only 10 minutes after everyone else. Their final approach to Lithuania had been via a 20 mile stretch of cobbled road & both Philip & Steve had met up with Kev, Lyn, Paul & Roly en route.

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After a great Cheese Burger and Chips it was a short 15 mile ride to the Centre of Europe Monument where we all parked around the Plinth & took a few pictures. Aided by the lady who came over to move us on, as we should not have been parked there.

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A quick ride back to the hotel and it was out to eat in a local restaurant. Fate was looking after us as it was on the 5th floor of a great shopping centre, so I did what I do and shopped my way up to the 5th floor. Bliss.

Philip mentioned he would be setting out early and so I made plans to ride with him as far as Berlin on my way back to UK. I felt we had a really good ride taking in some great scenery and both enjoyed how different Poland is without the thousands of trucks on the roads. We set off at 3 am local time and made good progress all the way to Berlin where we stopped and had lunch at a very nice American Dinner at the services just south of the city.

I logged an SS1600k on the way back to Calais, covering 1227 miles. The ride from Dover to Rochdale was horrendous due to me feeling the effects of tiredness. I stopped at Thurrock Services & had a Chicken Burger at midnight. 10 minutes kip and set off again only to have to stop every hour to scratch my head. It drove me insane all the way back, first time that has ever happened to me. 20 minutes on the floor at the side of the bike near Newark on the A1 set me up for the final leg home. It was -2 C heading over Saddleworth Mores on the M62. Arriving home at 4 am it was straight into the bath to wash my hair, what bit I have.

All in all I for one felt this was one of the most enjoyable and fun European RTE’s I have attended this year. The ride to the Centre of Europe was eventful and exiting & I can’t wait to get out and about next year. Met up with some great people& even spoke to a few! Thank you all for a really enjoyable RTE.

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Vilnius 2010           

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