I knew up front that this was going to be special. Not only was it a trip to the strange yet wondrous volcanic paradise that is Iceland, it was also the final chapter of Péus, and with it, this trip was also bound to bring some closure to the whole affair at the cradle of it all. Time to bring the little vessel of earth to its final destination, and complete its awesome European voyage.
I felt nervous in a sense that I wasn't all too sure I would make it. It reminded me of when I had just strapped the Beast down on the deck of the ferry that was going to bring me to Greece in 2013 - I was pretty much positive gremlins were going to crawl out of their hidey holes and throw a spanner in the works... like getting the Beast to spontaneously combust, or something.
Maybe that's just what happens (the neurotics, not the gremlins) when you're close to completing a huge endeavour like this; you've gotten that far that disbelief takes over. I don't know.
It even started before going to the start line in Rotterdam. As usual, I wanted to fill up the Beast and get the jerrycan for the panniers filled up as well, so I took the bike to the pump first, only to discover at the pump that I had forgotten my wallet.
Yes, this was going to be 'one of those days'.
I put all the luggage on the bike, and as soon as I wanted to set off I discovered the camera refused to record for longer than 12 seconds. It just wouldn't do it, and kept giving a 'Low Speed Card' error even though it had been perfectly fine the days before.
Yes, this was definitely 'one of those days'.
Coming to the start line though, I quickly figured that even though video recording was out for the moment, the timelapse had no issue. So hurray, here's a picture!
Could this then be the end of today's shenanigans? Ha, ofcourse not... but more on that later.
The first destination of this trip was De Motorschuur in Gasselternijveenschemond - the same place I stayed at on my very first tour in 2012, and the first destination of the 2014 tour. In many respects, this day was quite similar to the first day last year in terms of riding. Not in terms of shenanigans, though... because well, this was 'one of those days'.
The first few days are always a matter of settling into a rhythm, and getting used to riding at distance for longer periods. The very first day however, that's usually when the first gremlins pop up. Like someone's given them food after midnight and turned on the water hose.
The water was there, sure enough. The Netherlands never ceases to disappoint when it comes to heavenly moisture.
It was about 120 km into the trip that the gremlins saw their efforts pay off, and a penny dropped on a rather pressing (and, arguably, a pretty damn embarrassing) issue.
I had not packed my sleeping bag and air mattress.
Yes, DEFINITELY 'one of those days'.
I phoned back home, and amazingly my father was prepared to make the 250 km drive to today's destination to bring the missing items. What a truly awesome father I have.
Continuing my journey, I couldn't believe I had overlooked this... ESPECIALLY since I had taken everything out of my panniers the day before to get a better overlook on any missing stuff.
I mean, it's not like they're a set of car keys or something. They make up the complete top layer of one of the panniers. Pffff.
Thankful that my parents were willing to come to the rescue, I soldiered on, and before long I found myself...
...on all too familiar territory. Always nice to come back to this place.
I was the only guest present, and Gijs and Madeleine welcomed me with open arms. During the night I figured out why the camera had refused to record any video - apparently, if you add any folders to the SD card of a Ghost-S so you can use it as a USB flash drive (which I've done with a Ghost quite often) the camera simply can't cope, and struggles with recording.
As soon as I removed the folders in question, the camera had no issues anymore.
After a night in which I was regularly woken by what I reckoned to be a fox humping the living crap out of a garbage can (but which turned out to be a cat tearing a bin bag to shreds) I took an early delivery. Sleeping gear, whooo!
Gijs had very kindly offered for me to take some his gear along, but seeing the packing size of my sleeping bag and mattress he had to concede they were quite a bit more compact. I didn't know yet though that also this decision was to have some interesting ramifications later... but that's for when this report gets to the Iceland part, and that's not up for another 4 to 5 days. Ha!
Anyway, the second day of the trip was to complete a chronological trip down memory lane. I'd now had the final destination of my first bike tour, and up next was the British tour that followed it.
"Huh? British? But you're heading East, not West?"
Yes, I know. Let me explain.
On my way back from Great Britain I was waiting for the ferry, when a German piped up. His name was Wilfried, and he'd just visited a meeting in England with his son. We stayed in touch, and he said I was welcome to stay at his house should I ever find myself in the area.
The route to Hirtshals also happened to go by his city of residence, so voila: Day 2 of this tour now also had a set destination. I was going to pay the man a visit, and catch up.
But still, I had to get there first. Gijs, awesome as always, tagged along in his beautiful deep blue Honda Goldwing sidecar to show me the shortest way to the highway heading West.
First, we stopped in the nearby city of Stadskanaal to get me a travel diary and batteries for my GPS beacon...
...after which we were on our merry way.
Don't let Madeleine see you doing that, Gijs.
Eventually we'd caught up with the road leading up to the highway, and we said our goodbyes.
See you soon, man. Always a pleasure.
It was then time for me to look for the highway...
...and head towards the border.
Ofcourse, the rain still hadn't thought about letting up for even the slightest of moments.
What a joy!
I just took a long break to sort out the remaining route for the day...
..and wouldn't you know it, the sun actually came out to play.
The eventual destination, Barmstedt, is just North of Hamburg... and besides a detour because of roadworks, it all went pretty smooth.
Ofcourse, me being in Germany, there just HAD to be roadworks coupled with slow moving traffic.
Some things just never change.
Before long though,
I arrived in Barmstedt.
Whenever I meet up with a local, I tend to go to a place easily describable, like a city square. This way, it'll be easy for me as a non-local to say where I am at.
Within a few minutes, Wilfried came to the square to meet me.
He showed me around town, and was kind enough to show me his vast collection of motorcycles (all in various states of repair)...
...which included some beautiful Bol d'Or Hondas.
Speaking of beautiful Hondas... Beast seemed comfortable at its own private parking space, with a nice XJ900 to keep it company and exchange stories of both their awesome ruggid dependability.
In the evening, we had a little barbecue on the balcony, and I contemplated on what would come up next.
I guess even that little bit of rain was a bit too much to handle.
Ofcourse, this doesn't mean you won't have to suffer through the insanity of the randomness videos. So enjoy!