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September 2nd, 2010 | Europe

Wet in Warsaw…

Handing over a sparkling Big Fella... Lukas and Piotr did Auto Fus proud...!!

The rain just wouldn’t quit…!! It fell all day, making my ride south to Osieck a bit of a mission…

I collected the Big Fella from BMW, happy to see that he sported his new set of Michelin Anarkee 2 tyres…

Lukas and Piotr had ensured that the bike was in great nick for the next few months and we left Warsaw well pleased with ourselves…

The bike seemed to be riding higher than before, even with all the gear strapped down onto it, and it took a while to get used to it…

With the rain coming down, it was not going to be possible to give the tyres a “scrubbing” to get rid of the smooth outer surface that brand new tyres have…

For the first few kilometres, it was as if we were skating rather than riding…!! It was a case of “gently on the throttle” as I negotiated the busy streets of southern Warsaw, dodging sheets of standing water, and also trying to avoid being sprayed by oncoming traffic, as trucks cars and buses barreled through the rain…

It was hard to believe that the service had added so much power to the bike… It felt lighter, and therefore much quicker than it had for the past few weeks, and despite the wet conditions, when we pulled away from traffic lights, the front end did it’s very best to leave the ground, the Big Fella leaping away from his standing starts, eager to show-off his new found power and speed…!!

Final goodbye from Lukas, then we were out in the rain, heading for Osieck...

The clutch had been adjusted, and engaged in a slightly different position to where it had before… Ditto the front brakes…!! It was like riding a whole new bike…!!

All of this, together with new tyres and the slippery conditions, made for a nerve-wracking start to the day… Once we were out on the more open roads, I began experimenting to see how much grip the tyres had, leaning through a few corners, trying to feel where the “edge” was… That tiny area between where the tyres either stick, or “let go”… It’s a feeling you get that comes up through the bike and into the seat of your pants… Your nerves tingle, your heart beats faster, as your brain deciphers the signals at warp speed, letting you know when you’re nearing the “point of no return”…

After a few sweeping left and right-handers, I felt a little more settled on the bike, and knew that in drier conditions the grip would be even better…

TYT… “Trust Your Tyres”… These Anarkee’s are by far the best tyres I have used on this bike, and they are the fourth type I have experimented with… The set that had just come off had taken us from Nairobi to Warsaw, a distance of 23 300 km, and could have gone a few thousand more in drier conditions…

With Central Europe under a perpetual cloud, and rain falling in most places on my intended route, I felt it prudent to replace them now, even though it probably meant that I would have to fly another set into Pakistan or India, as I am pretty sure the current  set are not going to get me to Singapore…

The streets were inundated with water, making the going on new tyres a bit tricky...!!

Village emblem...

The main road to Osieck, where I was to meet my good friend Dariusz, had been closed due to road-works and some flooding, and the detour through the village of Josefow was no better…

I rode through a stretch over 300 metres long, with water washing over my boots, hoping that the front wheel would not find its way into a pothole that would have me swimming rather than riding…!!

It took over an hour for me to cover the 45 kms to the Osieck Hotel, and I arrived there too wet to walk into the reception area… I stood dripping outside for a few minutes, trying to shake all the water off my rain gear before getting checked in and settling into my room…

Seeing Dariusz again was surreal… We had wished each other well and waved our goodbyes in Wadi Halfa in Sudan, not sure if we would ever see each other again, and yet here we were, together again in Warsaw, discussing our journeys…

Fellow adventurers, sharing our experiences, cementing a bond that had begun in the desert in Africa, and was now sealed here in Poland…

Dariusz described how he and Ken had made it through Sudan and Ethiopia to Moyale, and then began an ordeal that neither of them will ever forget…

About 80kms from the start of this the “Road to Hell”, Ken fell heavily, breaking his leg in two places…!! Ken had been a few hundred metres behind Dariusz, riding there to avoid the dust, when he hit a huge pothole, lost control and went down…

Luckily they were near the little settlement of Sololo, west of Moyale, a short distance from where the road bears south through the desert and down to Marsabit… A few hours after the accident, they managed to stop a passing truck and get Ken to the small clinic there, where he was attended to by a Kenyan doctor.

When the generator was working, they were able to have x-rays taken, and send an email to get an emergency flight to have Ken flown to Nairobi… This took three days to arrange…!!

It's rocky in some places...!!

Ken’s bike was loaded onto a truck, and Dariusz made the remainder of the ride on his own, taking three days to complete the journey… While he described his ride to me, Dariusz eyes seemed to glaze over at the memory of it…

He had loaded most of his gear onto the truck with Ken’s bike, stripping his own bike down to the basic essentials; tank bag, tent, sleeping bag, spare tyre and tools… He rode standing up on the pegs, sometimes at barely walking speed, being shaken to his core by the corrugations…

My good freind, Dariusz Oskroba, searched through his laptop for photos of Iran, Pakistan and India, to give me an idea of what I could expect....

He made it into Marsabit, which is halfway to Isiolo, well after dark on the second day, and sensibly decided to let the truck carrying Ken’s bike and his gear to go on ahead, while he found a room to sleep in… Dariusz reached Nairobi the following day, to find that Ken could not be operated on in Kenya due to the complication of the fractures and had to be flown to Australia for surgery…

Their dream of riding from Warsaw to Cape Town had been dashed on the road from Moyale…

Beautiful church in the village of Osieck...

While at the Jungle Junction, Dariusz saw a Yamaha Tenere, which had just come down “The Road from Hell”… Its frame was broken in three places…!!

Listening to all this, I knew that I had made the right decision to load the Big Fella onto a truck for this part of my journey… Riding alone with the big heavily laden bike might have seen me in as difficult a predicament as these guys had found themselves, and with another five continents to go, my ride could have been over with only 10% of the planned distance covered…

Both Dariusz and Ken’s bikes are currently under the care of Chris at Jungle Junction, waiting for Ken to recover so that they can continue on their journey around the world…

We spent the rest of our evening at the Osieck Hotel, sampling Polish Vodka and beer, and by midnight I was half a dozen sheets to the wind…

I vaguely remember staggering to my room, struggling out of my clothes and falling face first onto my bed…

I woke in the early hours of the morning with a raging thirst, and after making contact with what seemed like every bit of furniture in the room, finally made it to the bathroom, and found that my liver had beaten me to the basin, and was greedily drinking water already…

I spent the next day trying to recover my wits… I took a long walk down the little country road behind the hotel, then sat writing for a while, before taking the bike out for a short ride to try and get the tyres “scrubbed”… The sun shone briefly in the late afternoon and I found a dry stretch of road where I could put both bike and tyres through their paces…

Dariusz came back later that afternoon, and we sort of took up from where we had left off the previous evening… But this time I made sure that I ate more and drank slower, determined to try and make less of a fool of myself than I had the night before…!! And I almost succeeded…!!

Did I mention that a bit of rain had fallen recently...??

Little wooden house on the (Polish) prairie...

Josef, the Swedish owner of the hotel, and a hunter friend of his joined us, and before long, the Polish vodka was being severely punished…!! I remember lots of singing, and Polish sausage, and beer, and an endless supply of little glasses, and the shouts of “Nasdrovia!!”… The parts between 11.00pm and 1.00am were a bit of a blank…!! Then Nikolai, Dariusz’s son arrived to take him home, which resulted in another round of ABF’s (Absolutely Bloody Final..!!) and there might even have been “one for the ditch”…!!

The "Osieck Mens Choir", singing Polish songs from well lubricated throats...!!

Then, thankfully, from my liver’s point of view, they were gone…!!

My room seemed to have been moved a long way from the reception, and it took a few detours through the garden to find where the management had moved it to…

“If we don’t leave here soon, you’re going to be stuck here for weeks,” said the Big Fella as I staggered past him, using the Top-Box to assist me in making the sharp right-hand turn leading to my doorway…

“I’ll start packing immediately…!!” I promised him…

GBWT 2010

2 comments to Wet in Warsaw…

  • Mark Behr

    What shall we do with a drunken …. 🙂
    Sounds like you have destressed and are ready to move on (or at least your Bike thinks so) 🙂

  • Swazi Charl

    Sounds like the vodka is good – better than the schnapps in Austria maybe! Good to have some fun with good mates.

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