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Trip Log
Day 1 – Oireland to Antwerp.
Rats, Prayers, Sunshine, lost hotels, and motorways.

Well lads, here is an update for you on how the trip is going. I am on the way from Oireland to Lithuania. Riding my new CRF1000L. The bike is great. I just love the engine. The first day or two, I kept accidentally red lining it in first or second gear but now that I am used to it, I change up earlier and all is ok. Loads of torque, totally reliable, no drama ever from it. This bike is manual, I suppose it would be nice to try a DCT but for now, I am totally happy with the manual. I think the thing I like the most of the sound it makes about about 3200 rpm. Just love it. Sort of feels like an old Translap but better at everything.



I had the first service done before I left home, and had the touring screen fitted, initially I thought I did not notice it but sitting here in Germany, I realise that I can ride most of the time with the visor open, so the touring screen must be doing something.

Left home on Wed morning and the goal was to reach Antwerp as I was meeting me bird there. I told her I would try to get there by 22:30. She said she would bring the Sunday night nightdress so I was motivated to get there. I have the channel tunnel booked for 18:20 but would love to get there by 17:00 or 17:20. The distance is 590 KMs.



Had a smile on my face after speaking to the aul’ lad directing the cars in the port. He looked like he was on his last legs. When I pulled up, I could see the Ulysses but I told him I was booked for the fast one. He says “what de ye mean the fast one”. I said again the quick one, the small ship. Then he cops and point to my right and sure enough the Jonathan Swift was there waiting. Just to yank his chain then, I asked him about the Ulysses and asked him is that yoke no good, considering it is slow and all. I thought he was going to give me a dig, and with a bit of a stammer he assured me that it was the best ship in the whole world. I replied, “yes, but isn’t it slow, that yoke over there is much faster”. He looks me straight in the eye and says “it is not all about speed”. He was on his last legs but when you see those two ships, the Ulysses is enormous and majestic and obviously gave him a bit of fire in the belly to defend it. Fair play.

Bike is strapped and ready to go


Leaving Dublin - The two chimneys are considered iconic


Arriving in Holyhead, Wales



The drive down through england is miserable, the only thing worse then two lane motoways is three lane motorways. On the english motorways, the trucks hog the inside lane, the grandmothers hog the middle lane so the only choice you have is to barrel along the outside getting buffeted around or else sit at 80 KMph in the middle lane. I hate it.

I stopped after about 60 mins just for a wee and then stopped again for lunch after another 90 mins, I was disappointed to see I was behind schedule a little already. I barely stopped for 30 mins to eat the brown bread and ham and cheese she gave me when I was leaving.

Packed Lunch


Had to stop for a coffee an hour later as I was falling asleep on the bike; did not sleep so well the previous night because too excited, I think. Just drank the coffee and straight back on the road. When I was stopped a guy on a SX1000R was interested in asking about the CRF. He was dying to talk but I was anxious to get to the hotel in Antwerp so I could not sit and shoot the breeze, which I usually am happy to do. Felt a little guilty about that.

Coffee


Rode on and eventually got to the M25. I have been around that more then one hundred times but it is still shite. Heavy traffic crawling along at 30 KMph. It was getting cold so around junction 13 (A30), I stopped to put back on my jumper. While sitting on the hard shoulder, who pulls up only ‘yer man on the SX. He thought I was broke down. Felt like shite altogether now because I would not stand and chat earlier. Time now was 5 pm and still only on the M25. No chance to make the tunnel by 17:00 anyway.

Kept plodding away on the motorway, not really making fast progress, traffic very heavy but each 30 mins gets me closer. I have a new Garmin 590LM and that is working great, it tells me how far to the destination and also to the next turn I have to make, so it gives you a sense of progress as the day moves along. Thank you Barry in M50 Honda for rushing the installation and fitting it hooked into the switched 12 volts, I like when it turns off with the ignition. One hassle is having to take the unit off when I stop and will be buying the Touratech lockable bracket when I get home.

Had to stop again on the M25 services around junction 7 for another slash. Amazing how resentful I am of the time the toilet breaks take. Thinking that if I had a little tube I could run it down the leg of my trousers and out the back of the bike, then I would not have to keep stopping. I wonder do Touratech do those, must give them a ring and ask. Probably called a Pisspipe or RTWPisser, something like that anyway.

Rode on, and about 18:00 had to stop on the M20 near Maidstone to put on my rain gear. The rain was heavy for about 20 mins. Apart from that one 20 mins, it had been sunny all day long. The weather forecast had been giving scattered showers. I do not believe in an almighty being that controls the universe or the weather, but me Ma had offered to say a prayer so I agreed and suggested perhaps she might ask for good weather while she was at it. I have to admit the ‘aul candle she lit really did the business, twenty mins rain was grand for April. Ye can’t beat the mammy when it comes to a handy prayer.

When riding down the M20, was sad also because my sister and my cousin and fellow biker all live in Maidstone, was the first time to ride past there without stopping in for a visit. I am hoping I will get to call on the way back home.

Eventually I got to the bleedin’ channel tunnel at 18:40. The next train I could take was 19:20, so while happy enough, I was still one hour behind schedule.

This was my first and last time to travel like a rat. Yes, the tunnel is convenient but a ship where you can park and go upstairs and travel like a human being and even drink a coffee is better. On the bike, you are not allowed to go upstairs so you sit it a dirty carriage with a low ceiling and hope to jaysus there isn't a fire. The open seas, with the wind in my hair is the only way for me in future. I will leave the tunnel to the rats.

Not travelling in Style


She had made me the lunch with enough to last for the tunnel also so had the rest of the brown bread and ham and cheese and pondered the rest of the journey to Antwerp. Remember, I had a hotel room and a bird waiting so eager to get there. The train takes 35 mins so it was 9pm by the time I got out of the station.

I rode to Antwerp with no drama, just seems like every truck ever made decided to come out that evening. The choice is sit behind the trucks at 80 – 88 KMph or else barrel along the outside in the dark getting blown around. A bit of both is what I find myself constantly doing. I sit behind the trucks for a rest for 10 – 15 mins then get bored so pull out and get blown around like a bleedin’ Honda 50 at 110 or 120KMph for a while, then after one too many cross winds, I fall back in behind a truck and have a rest and them repeat the whole thing again.

I do not know if it is the bike or maybe I am older but I do not remember the cross wind being so bad on my old BMW K1200LT or other past bikes like R1100RT or VFR750 even. Must ask around about the CRF.

Eventually got to Antwerp and found an underground car park to put the bike. Due to a mix up with the hotel that I booked, I could not f***in find my hotel and was walking around Antwerp carrying two rucksacks for about 40 mins before I eventually found it. She was ready to go out so at 00:30, we went out, had a bit of a food and a couple of beers. A long day but satisfied when I eventually hit the scratcher.


PS I do not want to be boring the shite out of yis so if you want more, let me know. If this is too bleedin' long say so.
 

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This is great! Reminds me of my own touring trips... Always plenty of little annoyances along the way, but still I live for trips like this. There's something about getting back on the bike the morning after a hotel/camping stay and opening the throttle for the first time of the day. Never fails to put a smile on my face!
 

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"Hit the scratcher" - not familiar with that phrase - does it involve the aforementioned nightdress or the contents thereof?!

Seriously though, +1 on the continuations!
 
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