Some things lose their meaning as you travel East, other radically change their meaning. Take this roadsign for example:
In Western Europe it usually means that there is some kind of roadworks ahead, probably taking one lane of the road you are riding. From Romania tu Turkey it means that you are in for some traffic jam and alternate circulation for probably a hundred km. I don’t really know what it could mean in Georgia because I have never seen it. Up to now, the meaning is about the same but when you get to Russia, it starts getting more difficult to decode. So far, I think it means “some time ago, this road has been worked on and there may be a better bit ahead” whereas in Kazakhstan it gets more philosophical. In Kazakhstan, the presence of this sign just means that there is a red triangular sign with a black worker holding a black shovel drawn on it by the side of the road. It gives absolutely no indication about the future characteristics of the road.
Another sign that completely lost its meaning after the Russian border is this one:
Even when it is accompanied by a “15 km” panel.
Other signs that are usually useless in Western Europe should actually be put at the entrance of the country together with the ones announcing the local top speeds. I’m talking about this one:
It starts in Romania but then in Georgia, they’ve just given up using it.
By the time you get to Kazakhstan, it’s a whole different thing…
I have been speeding through Western Europe in order to reach predefined destinations at predefined dates. 150kph in France to get to Metz, 150kph in Germany to reach Dillenburg. It’s not funny, I get tired a lot faster at these speeds. Now it’s finished, today I arrived to Prague from Dillenburg and I had decided that even if it took me the entire day to get here, I would not speed through it. It was a lot more pleasant! I did get tired, after all I rode for the whole day but the road was much nicer: no turbulence in the helmet, a lot less vibration in the handlebars and if it’s not too windy I can ride the helmet visor open and smell the road… The fields, the woods, the other vehicles exhausts. Ok, that last one’s not so exciting but the other too are really worth it.
I set off from Metz quite late on Wednesday (it’s becoming a habit) still with this idea in my head that I should get an off-road helmet only to find out 20 meters later that I had broken the zipper on the right leg of my riding pants. Instant budget reallocation happened there and I no longer need an off-road helmet. All the shops were closed in Thionville because I arrived 10 minutes into the lunch break. The shopkeepers were all there in the shops but refused to open the doors. Bye bye France!
I arrived in Luxembourg too late for lunch with Boris so I wend straight to the bike shop to get new pants and the Portuguese sales guy tipped my decision to the no off-road helmet needed camp. And this is were I sped my way to Köln in order to arrive before off-the-road closed its doors and get the last tools in my kit: tyre levers and chain breaker+rivet tool. I also tried to get a new air filter and brake pads but off-the-road doesn’t take anything but cash at the shop. Bikers beware, place your orders on the web or pay cash. Unfortunately the guy at the shop was too much in a hurry to wait for me to go to an ATM or place a web order. Thus, I decided to come back the next day. Little did I know (or remember) that Köln and Dillenburg are 125km away :(.
Sarah and Hugo were waiting for me so I sped again and there they were. More good friends, this is a great way to start an adventure. They had delayed their otherwise Germanic-scheduled 6 o’clock dinner to eat with me. They are so nice, I bet they were starving. The next morning, after breakfast with Hugo, I set off to Köln. This time more relaxed, I knew I had time and after getting my stuff from the shop I wanted to see the Cathedral. I saw it’s backside, it’s right side and I even saw it from across the river but I never got to see the façade, never managed to get there and I was cooking in my riding gear so I stopped for a brat wurst and I was on my way back to Dillenburg through the small roads. This was a good and a bad idea. Good because I enjoyed the road a lot but bad because I first had to get out of the city through what seemed like 50km of suburbs full of traffic lights and pedestrians and cars and I was still cooking like an egg in the microwave inside my jacket: about to explode!
Some nice roads later, in Dillenburg, I installed the headlight cover and the foam air filter. The bike’s first reaction was to not start. Panic! Alright, it only lasted for a few seconds until I turned the throttle a bit and kept it on until the correct air flow was re-established. But I did panic for a moment, it’s my first mod that gets so close to the engine. Then I was dragged to the neighbors’ living room to see a football match. I couldn’t say no because they said I could bring my laptop and play anti-social (anti-football actually). Yay! I had 90 minutes to put music on my phone, now my phone is full of Argentine music, ready for the road ;-), which takes me to today.
Alice is waiting in Prague for our 2-day trip to Budapest where she will take a bus back to Prague so I woke up a bit earlier than usual and still set off only at 11am. What’s the problem with me and early morning? :-P. Anyway, after breakfast, while I was preparing to leave, Hugo prepared me a lunch box. Thanks Hugo! I ate it at 2pm by the road, it was very nice. Actually, thanks Sarah and Hugo for the wonderful welcome you gave me.
This is the road I did almost completely without leaving the 95kph-105kph range, a very pleasant experience with a bonus. I have finally experienced the fuel autonomy that Yamaha promises in their brochure. Whilst in the city sometimes I have to fill the tank after 280km, today I could ride 420km without hitting reserve. I filled the tank only because I was getting nervous that the gauge could be malfunctioning. It wasn’t, there was still 1 or 2 liters left before the reserve.
Now I’m lying on my hammock at the camping in Prague, hesitating whether to sleep on the hammock or get into the tent. I think I’ll go for the tent, there are mosquitoes here and although they don’t usually like my blood, I don’t want to tempt them. So happy to have brought a hammock :-D.