On Saturday I was on the way home. Scandanavia has been seen and savoured. Now it was time to head home. I thought maybe I would get home by Sunday night if I put in a big effort and get on the road early.
I woke at 4am, raised camp and was on the road for 5am. At the first service station I filled with petrol and was ready to head west. Its amazing how much traffic is on the roads at that time of the morning. I suppose lots of folk are of the same opinion, that you will make great headway early in the morning before the traffic gets heavy. Also I think that it is the first week of July and people are going long distances to holiday destinations.
I made good progress all day. German moterways are intense to drive. The Africa Twin has to be driven harder after 11Okph. I’d get nowhere if I stuck at that speed so I upped the throttle to 130kph and I was driving intensely. The bike is fully loaded and this has an effected the handling with the effects of cross winds. No matter “keep her lit” as we say here. I stopped every hour and a half. Used the facilities, filled with petrol and drank water.
Mr TomTom played a stormer. Calais was my destination. It was 957k from camp. It was a target to see how far I would get.
At around 10am the heat was getting up and I removed leggings and fleece. The fleece was being used as a cusion on the seat. I am getting tender down below. Traffic is building and so is the heat. Bypassing Hamburg, Bremen and heading for Essen. The city traffic is heavy. Past Osnabuck, Munster, Essen and heading west I had a lot of driving done and Holland was in sight.
At around 2pm nearly 700k I stopped for a break. I was bypassing Venlo in Holland. I went to the petrol pumps and started pumping with the blue nozzle. In Germany it is Benzine with blue nozzles. I tried to put it the tank but no go. €0.50 cent came out. Maybe its a pre pay? I look around and had an Oh F*$% Me (OFM) monent. The green nozzle was on the pumps on the other side.
Filled with green 95 petrol, and hoped the stuff I had put in was not going to upset the engine. A little additive can clean it out sometimes!
I need to relax and assess the situation and where on the journey am I. I decided I would head for Hook Of Holland and the the ferry to the UK at 10pm. I put in Hook Of Holland as the destination into Mr TomTom. 170k to the destination. I’ve loads of time to get there. Booked the ferry on my phone and off I head straight in a nightmare.
The road is blocked and there are 4 diversions A,B,C,D in Ductch. Mr TomTom takes me around the same intersection twice and the temperature is rising and I’m sweating in my helmet. A bead of sweat got into one eye so I driving with one eye open and the other stinging and tightly closed.
I decided to get off the bike and I put in a new destination. I enter Antwerp. Hop on the bike and back into the blocked route with A&B&C&D diversions. I am melting, I am lost, I am frazzled. I need to regroup and get back on route. I head ino a town, with trafic lights, intersections the temperature is rising in me and the motorbike. Its a heat wave and Im stuck in traffice on a bike with a dodgey cooling system. I get off the bike at a little self service station and park in the shade. I drink some water. I need to find out where I am and get going. Take out my phone and goole maps tells me where I am. I take out the map and find the place. Then, I had an idea. I tell Mr TomTom to get me to Hook Of Holland avoding motorways. Calculating the new route it would take till 8pm to get to my destination. I get back on the bike and head on the suggested route. I’m driving through lovely Dutch farms and next thing I’m back in Germany. I keep going for about half an hour and pull into a shady place and instruct Mr TomTom to include motorways on the route and the recalculation is I’ll be at the ferry terminal at 6pm. Grand. I hope this works.
Off I go and the route is for the A57 motorway and off we go again. After an hour I stop for a rest and sit under a tree and relax. Take off all the gear boots and sitting in shorts I look for my phone. No phone. I’ve lost the phone. Another OFM moment. This is bad. I dont remember a telephone number of anyone. Nearly have a melt down or panic attack but manage to compose myself.
I cool down for a while drink more water and eat some apple, some mixed dried fruit and nuts. Nothing for it but to keep going. The next hour on the motorbike was very tough. The heat, with the bike gear, the stress of the situation and the traffic. Following instruction through the ring road around Rotterdam with 2 motorways going the same direction a heat wave no service stations and a bike struggling with the heat.
I mange to find a parking place full of trucks and squeeze in the bike. Hop off, undress and head for the shade of a lorry. Regroup and off again. I get to Hook of Holland and its lovely to see everyone out on their bicycles and on the canals in punts having a lovely time in the polders. I’m wrecked. Eventually arrive at 7pm at the ferry terminal and advise them that I have lost my phone with my reservation and ask can I get on the ferry. Its not a problem. I ask the nice girl to send an email to Audrey telling her I have lost my phone and I am out of contact. Tell her I am on the ferry to Harwich.
I catch the ferry and it boards early. My bike won’t tick over. I have to keep reving it to keep it alive. I decide to push it to the check in. I push it through customs. I push is to stationing. The last section onto the boad I drive and am reving and reving to keep it going. Park the bike, tie it down, pack a plastic bag with the last of my clean clothes and head for the my cabin. I was drenched with sweat and dehydrated, I filled my walter bottle and drank it down and got rehydrated. Then had a cool shower freshen up and had a large glass of Tullamore Dew. Went to the restaurant had dinner and back to the cabin and after another large malt crashed out. Woke in the middle of the night and went to the service desk and asked could they find he times of ferries to Ireland on Sunday. Back to bed and in the morning I will have the info.
Ferry is at 2.45 from Pembroke. I can make that if the bike can. Bike starts and starts to idle too. It must of had heat stroke yesterday as well. 7:30 on the road. It’s a long drive accross the UK & Wales. I was astonished at the amount of traffick early on a Sunday morning on the M25 and the M4. I can’t imagine what it would be like this time Monday morning. I dove all the way over to Pembroke and was there at 1pm. 4 petrol stops. The Prince of Wales bridge over the Bristol Channel is impressive. In Wales the hills and valleys are beautiful.
I buy a ticket for the ferry and wait. On boad I ask the reception to send an email to Audrey and tell her I am on the ferry and ETA Rosslare is 6:45. Then I ask is Captain Gerry Burns on roster. He is. I ask her, will they let him know I’m on board?
Captain Gerry Burns of the Isle Of Inishmore looked after me extraordinaryly well. I gave him an enourmous hug. Boy was I happy to see someone I knew after 3 weeks and loosing my wallet and telephone. Gerry is a good friend and we’ve motocycled together before for Down Syndrome Ireland. I dined at the captains table, saw the bridge and had a sleep in a cabin. I am extremely grateful for his kindness. Also he managed to get Audrey on the telephone and that was reassuring for everyone. I know she loves me because she is going to give me a hug and then a kicking for being a fool for losing my wallet and phone. I shouldn’t be let out.
On land headed North of Beabeg on the Boyne. Grand to be home after 8355km
I may have lost my wallet and phone. I didn’t loose my glasses, my keys or my passport. So 60% is a pass. Phone has turned up in Holland and is winging its way to me. A very kind person has found it and will return it to me. I’m optimistic about the wallet too.
What a trip. The 17 year old Afric Twin did very well. The over heating was the only issue and really that is an easy fix at home but when on a tour can be stressful in cities. A 20amp fuse will fix the other issues. Some motorcycle. It deserves all the credit it gets.
An experience to mull over in time. Thanks for your company on the journey,