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  #1  
Old 20 Apr 2009
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Born again biker,Mid life crisis,14 countries,16 days,5420 miles

Hi everybody, Hit 40 ish, had a mid-life crisis (my wife says) bought a big cruiser, went out on Sunday's.
Read Ted Simon first, then watched Ewan and Charlie, Hooked!

Swapped my Dragstar for a XV1000 (Varadero) at christmas, and my mate Mike swapped his Bonneville America for a Tiger.

The idea for this trip started when Mike wanted to visit Medjugorje (Bosnia) a few glasses of wine later we have decided that if we are going that far it may as well be a circular and we might raise some money for charity along the way.

Keep in mind that we havn't ridden for over 20 years until recently.

If you are still with me, Mike can only get 2 weeks off work, I run my own company so I can do as I like (with the wifes permission)

so, England, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Italy, Andorra, Spain, Portugal, France and home.

1. Everybody says we can't do it in 16 days but thats how long we have.

2. Can't get insurance for Andorra or Bosnia but beleive I can buy it at the
border.

Take a look at our web-site at, motorcycle adventure - Welcome


Any advice or help would be gratefully received.

nb, the DSA have given us a defensive riding course for free, even they thought we would crash and burn.

Thanks
Paul
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  #2  
Old 20 Apr 2009
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Yes, it can be done but remember it is supposed to be an adventure tour and not an endurance, I have made the mistake in the past of doing too much in too little time, just ride, stop an chill out and you will enjoy it much more.
Your UK policy should cover you for Andorra,don't know about Bosnia.
Just enjoy
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  #3  
Old 20 Apr 2009
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Hi Dave,

Thanks for answering and thanks for the advice, I feel part of the gang now!

Thanks again,
Paul

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  #4  
Old 20 Apr 2009
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Quote:
nb, the DSA have given us a defensive riding course for free, even they thought we would crash and burn.
just remember thats the same DSA who think spending a few hours riding around circles and practising emergency stops is good enough to ride a 125 at the age of 16.

Like the website by the way!

best of luck
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  #5  
Old 20 Apr 2009
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I see from your website that you are committed to doing the full trip, it appears that you need to average just under 340 miles each and everyday.May I just suggest then that you do in excess of your average daily mileages on the England, Belgium, Dutch, French, German, and possibly French parts of the trip as other parts you may get problems to do the mileages due to 'sun and swim' stops in Spain
Shopping and heavy traffic in Andorra, stopping for photograhs and a few s in other interesting places

I am pretty sure that you will find places that you will wish you had more time to stay in, in that case make a mental or written note of them and next time you may well plan a shorter trip to re-visit them. on one of my trips one particular day I rode my R80gs 650miles mainly avoiding motorways finished up for what was left of the night in Belgium,unable to get anywhere to stay and ended up sleeping under a plastic picnic table beside a skip, thinking to myself 'what a dickhead' .
The best advice given by so many people on this site is, 'take your time' and 'travel light'.And this advice is from some very experienced and respected travellers.
All the best with the trip and keep the forum updated as to how it goes
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  #6  
Old 21 Apr 2009
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You sound thoroughly prepared for what is, in essence, a quick sightseeing jaunt around the paved roads of Western and Central Europe. On the route described on your website, you'll see no landmines and even, if determined, need to speak nothing but English. There'll be working ATM's, plenty of petrol stations, and the ferries will gladly take credit cards. Don't worry and don't obsess.

As far as your mileage, you're definitely over-reaching if you really intend to visit each of those places thoughtfully and respectfully. That's not heroic, and it's not even ennobling in its hubris: it's merely exhausting and, if unlucky with the weather or other conditions at some point during the trip, potentially dangerous. And of course, there are countless other worthy stops along the way, any of which would vastly enrich your experience. You might want to bear in mind that the last loop through Spain and Portugal--or even the part through southern France--can easily be eliminated if you're short on time or energy.

Hope this is heard in the constructive spirit in which it is intended. Keep an open, flexible attitude and you'll have a blast.

Safe journeys!

Mark
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  #7  
Old 21 Apr 2009
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Good for you guys !!!

You will have a blast !! As others have said, don't waste time in the UK and other places.. Ride dawn till dusk then enjoy the sunshine and vistas of the nicer areas

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  #8  
Old 21 Apr 2009
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We got Bosnian issurance on the border - wasn't an option, had to buy it. Don't know if its worth anything as didn't claim on it. Don't remember it as being very expensive.

Presumabely you are going to do the ferry from Dub - Bari, we took it overnight which works well in terms of maximising days but don't think it runs every night so possibly something you need to line up in advance to make sure you aren't stuck floating round for a day or two.

Personally having done all the countries on your route, I would drop the Spain, Andorra, Portugal bit and save that for another time. I'd suggest you would have more of an adventure if you could spend slightly more time in each country. If you really want the country numbers to keep the charity element looking impressive, you go within about 30 miles of the border with Montenegro, you could also consider going into Albania and getting the ferry back to Bari from there, you pass near Vatican City, Monaco, San Marino. Possibly some of it will lead to better riding, particularly in Montenegro and Italy, rather than hauling along motorways to get across to Spain / Portugal.
Only a point of view, good luck.
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  #9  
Old 21 Apr 2009
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OK so we are not crazy, thank goodness.

Hi Everybody,

Thanks for all of the sound advice and for taking an interest in our trip, thanks also for quashing some of my worrys, especially about Bosnia and the ferry from Split to Ancona.

I will keep you all updated on our progress.

Thanks,
Paul.

Mike is already talking about the silk road next year, I am sure my wife won't go for that one but I have bought an interesting book about it anyway.
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  #10  
Old 21 Apr 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by citizensoftheplanet View Post
Hi Everybody,

Thanks for all of the sound advice and for taking an interest in our trip, thanks also for quashing some of my worrys, especially about Bosnia and the ferry from Split to Ancona.

I will keep you all updated on our progress.

Thanks,
Paul.

Mike is already talking about the silk road next year, I am sure my wife won't go for that one but I have bought an interesting book about it anyway.

Hi
If it help's they were looking for 79e at the Bosnia boarded last year for insurance.

last year we took 3 weeks riding throught 12 coutries,doing 5400 miles,
The year before we did 5500 in two week,s taking in 10 countries and the year before that 2500 in 3 week's in One country.

To be honest looking back the best trip we have done was the 2500 mile trip, because it aloud use time for sight see and plenty of day's off to explore and relax.

It's easy to get rapped up with the idea that a touring Holiday needs to cover High miles through Lot's of countries .

Best tip I was ever given...Never under estimate the distance and over estimate yourself.

Stay Safe and have fun

Dazzer
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  #11  
Old 22 Apr 2009
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I would seriously consider splitting it into two trips of ~16 days each. Why force spain, andorra and portugal in there at all costs? Sounds like you expect it to be your last trip ever - just kidding.

It sounds like it will be a fantastic trip, but remember that riding is only half the joy. The bigger half comes from taking in the scenery, immerse yourself in different cultures, food etc and most of all meet and interact with people! It's all too easy to get carried away and get very ambitious re distance, I know because it has happened to me too. At the worst you race from bed to bed and don't really experience the world you pass through, other than from the saddle.

Nowadays I try to never arrive later than ~15:00 at the end of a day, to have time to see things, meet people, do some maintenance, relax, etc.

Anyways, whichever way you do it, at whatever pace, I'm sure you'll have a great time! Have a good one!
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  #12  
Old 22 Apr 2009
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I wish I could add something different, but i'm going to say the same as others

16 days out to bosnia / montenegro etc. is do-able, but the full slog right back around to portugal would be painful / almost impossible.

Anyway, a couple ideas:
- are there parts of the trip you may re-trace on subsequent long-weekends etc. (e.g. the areas closer to UK). These could be options for either a freeway blast or motorail type option (e.g. you could jump an overnight train from dusseldorf down to italy/austria). I don't like riding freeways, but sometimes you have to choose. What you want to see vs where you want to cover ground.

- Getting away on a little 3 day trip is a huge plus if you can do it. It helps so much with figuring out packing etc., what distance you are comfortable with. e.g. I nice little ride to the ardenne's or something like that. Or even within the UK. Particularly as you have a new bike, you don't want to realize by Bosnia that you really needed a different luggage set-up. My first little long-weekend was a disaster, but i learnt a lot

- Pick at least a couple of places you want to spend some hours just wandering about. e.g. try to arrive early so you can potter about for a good afternoon / evening.

- Have a think about how long you want to spend on the bike each day -> this can help drive your route a bit. e.g. my basic numbers I have are (taking into account fuel stops, drink break etc.) on freeways 90km/h and off-freeway about 60km/h, reduce further if going further off beaten path in e.europe etc. On top of that I add any longer stops (e.g. if I add an hour for lunch etc.). So 6 hours (a nice day for me) on b-roads with an hour for lunch gets me no more than 300km.

Good luck, you will have a blast!
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  #13  
Old 25 Apr 2009
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Toby2, Sirakor and Graham_Kawa have already said it. But I'll chime in too. You are trying to squeeze two tours into one. Don't. Do two separate tours: One to Croatia and beyond. Save Iberia for another time. It will still be there. If you lack confidence (not such a bad thing), I'd suggest going to Spain/Portugal first - it's more civilised. You have fewer problems if you break down or crash. Save the Balkans for later - but go a bit further, go to Albania. If you go to Spain second however, then with the extra experience you have from the Balkan tour, why not have a few days in Morocco? Adventurous stuff.

PS It's not a mid-life crisis, it's a mid-life opportunity/adventure. "Mid-life crisis" is a phrase invented by middle-aged women to describe their men refusing to sit on the sofa holding hands watching soaps.
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  #14  
Old 25 Apr 2009
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I just had a look at your website (Paul), and I can see that for the charity ride you naturally want it to sound as impressive as possible, i.e. high milage and many countries. If you want high numbers (although personally I don't think it's enjoyable, and wouldn't advise it - see above), you could leave out Iberia and touch a few more corners in eastern Europe without detouring too much, i.e. any out of Slovakia, Hungary, and depending on how far south you wanted to go, Serbia/Montenegro.

Still a lot, but a for bang for the buck or countries for the mile so to speak
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  #15  
Old 25 Apr 2009
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As Sirakor points out, if it's a high country count you're after, you'll achieve it far more easily in the Balkans. New countries are springing up every week. And if you want people reading your web-site to think you are going somewhere exotic, then Spain and Portugal are worthless. Albania on the other hand is exotic though exotic is not perhaps the right word. You'll get plenty of photo opportunities of poor folk with donkey carts if that appeals. Maybe you could arrange a visit to an orphanage there or something? You'd get much more sponsorship mileage from this than from eating Iberian motorways.

If you saved time and used the Villach:Edirne motorail, you could even get to Istanbul - now there's an exotic destination to headline on your website. It certainly blew me away. But you need to think about why you are doing all this. If you are trying to cram as many countries and as many miles as you can into two weeks then...fine. But you will get little enjoyment out of that. I'd agree with everyone here who has suggested that the best thing you can do is to take your time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by citizensoftheplanet View Post
Mike is already talking about the silk road next year, I am sure my wife won't go for that one but I have bought an interesting book about it anyway.
Does your wife know you're talking to us? Who knows where we might encourage you to go...

Last edited by SpitfireTriple; 25 Apr 2009 at 19:49.
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