zaterdag 30 augustus 2014

SCA2014 Day 23 to 25: Brieskow & Rotterdam

As I was putting all the gear back on The Beast, I noticed the room number I had.

Quite unsurprisingly, it was the one coming after 13.

It was here and now that the goal of the trip changed. I had tightened the chain a little bit the day before, and now, all I wanted was to bring the Beast and me back home, both in 1 piece.

The B roads of the day before had been really good entertainment, but now I deemed it time for some proper progress.

There was still the matter of half of Poland and Germany though. I made the plan of linking up with the main motorway between Warsaw and Berlin, and head on West from there.

So after checking how the chain was holding up...

...I got to work.

There still were some B-roads to cover though. As it saved me a 180 km detour, I deemed it a small sacrifice to ride in a few trains.

Navigation was done blind at this point, as I just had a map of Northern Poland. Doing some research using online maps, I had fabricated a string of cities for me to follow. Poznan was the first goal of the day...

..the road to which passed by this particular city. Unable to remember or pronounce its name, I changed it into 'Iconoclasm'. In the light of that new moniker the city's sign seemed quite ironical.


...some more left lane lunacy...

...and, to my own surprise, some nice leaning territory...

I linked up to what would become my road West for the next 1000 kilometres

The Polish bit of the road in question has a toll system, which is quite similar to that of the Italian Autostrada. You enter the toll road...

...get a ticket, which you then save for when you leave the toll road again.

Mind you, the weather gods didn't feel much for paying toll... they were just about the cash a cheque, as it were.

It was time for a quick shower, I guess

Paying toll on a motorbike, it's always jolly good fun. When it's sunny, you can pay by card and there's nobody honking behind you, that is. 

Just a note of caution for the frequent travelers by car or - dare I say it - camper van: whenever you see a motorbike lined up to pay toll, don't join its queue. You're going to be there for a while.

When I'd gone to the parking to get all my affairs in order again (I tend to scarper as quickly as I can to not piss people off), I noticed another two-wheeled nomad.

It turned out to be a Swiss rider. He didn't speak English so it seemed, but apparently he was on his own tour, going through Poland and going back home through Germany.

After that, it didn't take long for me to reach the German border.

What got me though was that the speedlimit just before this bend goes from 120 kph to about 70 in half a kilometer, and there was a cop car lined up with the obvious intention to round up anyone who wasn't paying attention.

My entire stay in Poland I hadn't seen any cops, but on that stretch of road, hell yeah. Ofcourse, after my Estonian encounter, I was doing the exact limit.

Wilkommen züruck!

What I usually do on the way back is that I just get off the motorway when I've done enough mileage, and go to the nearest village for a place to stay. Usually, there's a pension, guesthouse or hostel somewhere.

In the border town of Brieskow, I checked into an establishment which was both a pension and an ice-cream café. Hell yeah!

In the evening, I spoke to the owners, neither of which spoke English. Time to brush up on my German then! Almost immediately I found out that one of them was a biker himself. He had a Honda CBF, but admitted that he rarely had time to ride, and when he had time he didn't really want to, and when he wanted to it was raining.

In the evening, I told them about the trip I was now reaching the end of, and about the trips I had already done. After getting praise for both the trips and the state of my German (ausgezeichnet!), it was time for bed.

The next day, time to continue where I had left off. Part of me wondered how long it would take until I'd get the typical German welcome.

Ah, not that long I suppose. Counterflow, check!

This day, the goal was to end up between Hannover and Osnabrück. I was still about 800 km shy from home, so I had to have another stop before the Dutch border.

Ah, a traffic jam to filter through. Check!

But wait, we can do even better than that...

Let's have a traffic jam in a counterflow! Double combo!

At this point in the day, I'd already done some considerable mileage, and seeing the cause of the traffic jam (a road accident), I felt it was about time to find a place to stay.

So time to traverse some country roads...

...and prepare for the final night on the road in the small town of Veltheim.

I reckon that this was the time I felt the most nervous of the entire trip, probably. 

I knew there were still about 400 kilometers separating me from the finish line, but I always maintain that the last miles are the most dangerous, reason being that being close to home you let down your guard, making the risk of any last-minute mishaps even greater.

Furthermore, there was still the ever-present issue of the chain. On slow speeds it rode awfully, making me even more conservative about the riding still ahead.

Still a bit anxious, I went to bed.

Good night, ol' girl. Tomorrow we go home.

The next morning, the guesthouse basked in sunlight. The night before I had opted (traditionally on the final evening of a behemoth tour) for steak dinner, and for this morning I had also chosen to include breakfast.

I wasn't quite prepared for this though. This was all just for me.

It wasn't just going to be a special day for me personally though. The Beast would celebrate its 100K anniversary.

I suppose this was as good a day as any.

It didn't take long for the first Dutch city name to find its way on the signs. 

But ofcourse we first had to traverse a city (with accompanying traffic)...

..and some more roadworks!

Filling up for the last time in Germany... was time for celebration. Well done, you animal you.

Then, it was just a few more miles that separated me from...

...the border of my home country. The sheer relief and excitement I felt as I crossed into the Netherlands again was unheard of. For the first time I experienced the enormity of all the miles behind me, and moreover, I felt like I was actually going to make it.

All the miles that followed were pretty much the easiest I've done the entire tour.

Ofcourse, when I reached my hometown of Rotterdam though...

(switching to 3rd person mode!)

...the weathergods had other plans.

This was probably the worst weather of the entire trip, and it was almost typical it would be at my arrival back.

After more than 8500 kilometres, I had arrived back at Gate #13. 

From 91720 to 100443 through 10 countries in 25 days.... and I was home again.

Tomorrow, time to look back with the epilogue and trip compilation!