dinsdag 19 augustus 2014

SCA2014 Day 1 & 2: GasNijvMond & Pansdorf

Going to bed the night before, I actually had butterflies. I remembered being stone cold in 2013, but this time, I was feeling nervous. I guess now that I had done a multiweek trip before, I had a better grasp of the monster I was up against.

But I'd be alright, I reckoned... as I had a Beast of my own.

I departed at the traditional start line - Gate 13 of the Feijenoord Stadium in Rotterdam. I then filled up, noted the odometer readings...

...and I was on my way. Bring it on.

This would actually be the first trip where I would remain within my home country for the first day. 

This had two reasons: firstly because of all the curveballs the Beast had been throwing me during the prep and I wanted to make sure it was OK doing 300km on 1 day, but it would also be the perfect opportunity to pay De Motorschuur in the small town of Gasselternijveenschemond a second visit.

De Motorschuur was the final destination of my very first motorbike trip, in May 2012. Back then, I wanted to figure out how my bike rode with all the luggage attached to it, so I did a small tour of the Netherlands. 

As I was heading North this time around anyway, I reckoned me and the Beast were due for another stay... and a recreation of the above picture while we were at it.

Once again, I'd be doing the navigation solely with paper maps and a compass. 

For this native leg of the trip though, I had no maps... so I'd written a description of the route down to help me along.

It felt good to finally be on the move though. It's usually the waiting which is the most annoying bit - the riding, that's where the fun is.

Every so now and then I'd be passed by another motorbike on a trip. Sidecases, British plates... it was nice to see I wasn't the only nutter out there.

Hmmyep, my legs are still there.

The rain apparently also wanted to tag along, so time to pull over...

...and get some rainkit on, as well as the winter gloves.

There, that's better.

However, this wouldn't be the last time I'd put the Beast at the side of the road.

Because when I'd just left the parking, I noticed I'd forgotten to put the binders of the tent back where they belonged, leaving them dangling perilously beside the rear wheel.

There we go.

Would that be the last time for an unplanned stop then?

Ha, ofcourse not!

As it turned out, the Beast thought the first day of the trip would be a jolly good time to attract an acute case of Yamaharitis.

Both of the screws attaching the cockpit to the front cowl had shaken loose. The right one had already disappeared, and the left (as you can see) seemed eager to follow suit.

Oh well, time to bring out the toolkit I suppose.

Surprisingly enough though, this wasn't getting me down as much as I thought.

Things like these can happen, and that's why there's a tooltube attached to the Beast.

Meanwhile, the rain had caught up with me again.

Pfff... how far do I have to go?

Ah. Not too bad I suppose. 

De Motorschuur is not too far from Assen, so most of the today's leg was already behind me.

I still had the trickier bit of the day to go though.

The B-roads.

Yes, legs are still there.

The thing with B roads is that navigation oldskool-style is trickier, since as opposed to a motorway the signs can either be absent, misleading or just point you to the nearest town.

And if you don't have a map, you just have to guestimate it a little, using the compass as a guide.
Doing this, it wasn't long until I was on the trail of the city of Stadskanaal, which is quite close to De Motorschuur.

After a few turns, I found myself on all too familiar territory.

It felt good to be back.

The thing with De Motorschuur is is that you are only allowed to stay there if you arrive by motorbike. As a result you won't see campers, caravans or any other four-wheeled cretins at this place... only people who are as insane as yourself.

Owners Gijs & Madeleine are both avid bikers (and travelers) themselves, so evenings are always spent exchanging stories.

What really surprised me though is that after two years, they still remembered who I was. Two years prior, I was a guy who'd just had gotten his license and was on the verge of doing all kinds of awesomeness... and now the same panniers I'd brought along then were plastered with stickers from a myriad of countries.

Oh, how time can fly.

As it was still raining I decided to take things easy, and opt for a bed for this first night.

Ah, a room with a view. And whát a view.

Time for a puzzle!

Let's see if you can find the project sticker here.

Gijs & Madeleine gave me the details of a guy that lived in the North of Norway, and who'd be surely interested in helping me out. A worthwhile addition, as I'd find out later - I wrote down the data, and I was on my way.

Gijs had given me instructions as to how to get to Hamburg, my next stop, as efficiently as possible. I was yet to find out however, that the authorities had other plans.

Unbeknownst to me the authorities were in the mood for a good ol' treasure hunt.

But ofcourse, I was yet to ascertain this information, and was still joyfully packing for another day of riding.

A day that started of with a bus. 

And when I say, bus, I mean being stuck behind one, for miles on end.

Oh joy!

When I'd finally retrieved my blessed freedom though, I was to enter the second devilish play of the day.

Detours, thanks to roadworks. It was here that I learned there are two types of detours.

Most detours are quite straightforward; instead of going straight, you turn right or left somewhere, and you are guided your way around the blocked road.

This was the second, far more evil kind... that starts with turning you around...

...and then sends you back for miles in the exact way that you came.

But that was ofcourse not all.

Before me, there was a German van driving... and I sort of guessed that he wanted to go in the same direction as me, as he had German plates and was following the same signs.

Then, the detour signs pointed us to go left. But the road the sign pointed at (an onramp to a freeway) was closed off.

The freeway in question had apparently been opened up for roadworks as well.

So we headed on underneath the overpass...

..and turned left, onto the other side of the freeway.

My general orientation, along with my compass, told me however that we were now going in exactly the wrong direction.

So at the next exit, I turned myself around, to see if there'd be another detour for cars coming from this direction.

The German van headed on down the freeway. I guess this German didn't feel much for going eastward.

Ack, and then there was me promising I'd not make any lame German war-puns.

In the mean time, I noticed there indeed was a new detour.

I think this is where we were 5 pictures ago.

This new detour led me on a scenic tour, through and around cities.

I was getting more and more fed up though. I just wanted some highway again, and start making some progress.

Because this is how the progress looked on my GPS tracker:

Most depressing it was, yes.

But eventually, mercifully, it was freedom at last.

Germany, here we come!

And thanks to the magical wonders of ride report editing, I can just say:


...and we're in Germany.

Now, Germany has got these traditions with me on big tours like these. In doesn't matter where or when in Germany I am, they always ring true.

No.1: there's a traffic jam I must filter through.


And no.2: there's roadworks., with at least 1 counter flow.


I felt relieved though that I was now finally making some progress into Germany.

And after a stop...

...a counterflow...

...and admiring the local wildlife...

...there seemed to be some light at the end of the tunnel.

And with it, even this classic sidecar! Awesome!

At one point Puttgarden, the stop for the ferry into Denmark, revealed itself on the signs, so that meant....

...it was time to turn off the motorway.

Only to found out that campsites were nonexistant in these parts, and  most of the 'Zimmer' were 'belegt'.

Some further riding around yielded no results, so I stopped at this motel I'd ridden past before.

Time to rest my weary bones, after the past two days had brought me further than anticipated:

I knew the day after was the one day where I'd encounter the only big ferry on the trip. Naturally, there'd probably be smaller ones in Norway, but part of me felt anxious about whether progress wouldn't be halted at Puttgarden.

I had been assured though that as the ferry in question sailed every half hour, there'd be no real trouble. I'd also be entering the first 'new' country on this trip, and with it, it was also immediately time for new stickers on the panniers.

Also, the country of Sweden felt ripe for the taking...

..but until then, back by popular demand, here's the first randomnessvid of the trip using outtakes from all footage shot on the road!