May 30, 2012 GMT
Potteries Cultural Ambassador (unpaid) to Dubrovnic
Taking a sneeky long distance peak at Dubrovnic the night before, I was confident of being underwhelmed. It was going to be like Newquay, I thought.
The old town of Dubrovnik...
It was worse. There was no Weatherspoons Pub, amusement arcades or McDonalds. I nearly died of hunger. The place was surrounded by a 15 foot thick wall, the streets so narrow, I could hardly shoehorn me belly through them AND, some people were talking foreign. Disgusting.
A typical Dubrovnik street...
I had got there early to try to beat the majority of tourists. It didn't really matter because, walk down one of the tiny side alleys, no more than 2 metres wide, you would soon be all alone, 500 years in the past, the only thing indicating the century you were in, the cut of someone's knickers on a washing line across the street.
The town walls...
What a wonderful place. I could not think of a better experience. It was busy with tourists but you could forgive them, and yourself, for wanting to look around such a fantastic mediaval place. I even found a 30 foot high tree growing out of a 2 foot wide pot. Now that really is special.
The port in the old town...
You must believe all of this, due to my lack of know how, I am unable to upload photos. As soon as I get back, I will do this.
Don't ask me what is going on here, perhap mice are beheaded???
Coming back from the city, I realised I had caught some kind of bug. It involved total lack of respect for road law, the ability to squeeze through gaps a super model couldn't and a massive lot of narcassim. I had got Scooterisis.
Next thing I knew, I was riding the wrong way down a one way street (it just seemed organic), squeezing my way to the front of traffic queues (I did pause to return the Punto,s mirror back to its rightfut position) and shout obscenities at anyone who would get in my way. 'Pene picolo' was my favourite, it may be Italian, but it sounded organic, yet again. I needed to get off the road.
Tough old life on the beach...
Betty had a mini service, I cleaned a few things up and spent an hour on the beach, in shorts!!! Reading a book and drinking a beer. I spent some time in the reception of the camp site, teaching the wonderfully receptive staff some Potteries dialect and sayings. I think I taught them some invaluable lessons in how to say 'Ow at Duck?' Cultural Ambassador (unpaid), I am.
Tommorrow will be a long day up the Croatian coast road. Big on sights, that will be sure, Duck.
Posted by David Bailey at 07:45 PM
Inside a Thunderstorm
Well, it was sad, in some ways, to see the back of Sarajevo. It had a uniquness to it like no other city I have ever been in.
To lighten the load, it was tipping it down with rain. Through the awsome mountains we travelled, some of the Limestone cliffs and buttresses were amazing and the blue colour of the water was magical.
Sheparding Bosnian style. Heard sheep onto main road, no need to look, cars will stop!
It began to brighten up and soon I arrived in Mostar. I parked close to the old bridge, and was taken for a fairly reasonable 5 mark parking scam, but, it did include security!
The bridge at Mostar...
I guess Mostar held no surprises, apart from the huge thunderstorm that passed overhead. It was a lovely place, and the bridge was fantastic but again, I was feeling like an old mother goose.
It was worth another picture...
Elections are on their way here and I get the feeling that there are so many people living in situ,waiting to see if they will need to be fleeing again, or indeed, be lining up ready for a bullet in the back of the head.
Out of Mostar, I decided to take a trip through the back roads to get to Dubrovnic. In many ways the smaller roads were much faster as there was virtually no traffic, few towns and less speed restrictions.
lack of soil makes a desolate landscape near Stolac...
I entererd Repubica Serbia and it said welcome in five different languages. 20 metres on there were 2 empty houses that looked like swiss cheese from bullet holes
I think they must have employed Saddam Hussain as a tourism consultant!
As I rose into the mountains, the weather became threatening with a capital t.
I stopped next to a cow and asked him what he thought. He looked at me with disinterest and went back to eating grass. I took that as "go for it dude".
Note to self: Do not trust cows, they are highly unreliable, and they fart a lot.
I rode into a monsterous thunderstorm, lightening was striking very close, hail like peas pelted me and the slippey conditions were rather hazardous.
If you are thinking of taking a pee here, don't...
Taking shelter in the occasional abandoned house was not an option as some were booby trapped. Indeed, signs warned not to leave the road because of mines.
After 20 minutes and the storm eased, I stopped to get my passport and documents in order before I crossed into Croatia.
B and H is a unique country, such friendly people, amazing views but the graveyards are far too big for the size of the towns. I hope, with all my heart, that they find a way to move on.
At the tiny checkpoint, the Bosnian Policeman told me I had to ride back through the storm to another crossing 60kms away. I didn't want to do that, so. I gave him bassett hound eyes. He lifted the barrier and off I went!
My first view of the Adriatic...
Croatia appeared a lot dryer and as I decended towards the Adriatic, a lot more Mediteranian.
I was soon on the main road to Dubrovnic surrounded by vehicles of every nation. Culture Shock.
Home sweet home...
I found a campsite near Dubrovnic and settled down for the night. I chatted to some fellow British overlanders who have been on the road for a month. They had been caught by the storms too!
Posted by David Bailey at 08:04 AM
May 28, 2012 GMT
A city of differences
It was wonderful not to have to get up for another long day in the saddle. I therefore stayed in bed a little longer than usual. I had gotten myself a single room so vegging out was quite comfortable.
Looking out over Sarajevo from the Yellow Bastion...
I walked up to the Yellow Bastion, an old fortress that gave fantastic views across the city. I walked through the Kovaci Martyrs Cemetery, a muslim burial ground used in the 1992-95 war. The size of it was awful, but even worse, the names and ages. I was 20 years old when this happened. Unlike the atrocities certain Germans carried out, blame cannot easily be placed neatly at any one groups feet.
The Kovaci Martyrs Cemetery... one of far too many.
Perhaps truth and reconciliation may come over time, but personally, I think there is trouble ahead. I get the feeling people just want to forget, but cling still to sterotypical hatreds. You hear it in peoples conversations. All I know is there is a lot of innocence blood in those graves. It must not be allowed to happen again.
The Latin Bridge, where Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of the Austro Hungarian Empire was shot, sparking the First World War.
Rant over, I took my Bosnic coffee in Pidgeon Square and did a bit of Bazzar hunting for some gifts. I love the stray dogs here.They treat the city centre like it is their living room. Lying down in the middle of the street, always a happy look on their faces. If I was going to be a stray dog, It would be a Sarajevo stray. They certainly didn't look thin. I bet they at the slower fatter pidgeons!
Strays sleep(canine) whilst other strays take coffee...
Very fat stray dog eyes up his next meal...
In the afternoon I walked through the city centre to the museum that cronicles events of 92-95. Some of the images were pretty shocking, I don,t think they will ever leave me.
Homemade guns used to defend the city...
There are lots of beggars here. On the street pleading for money in a low mumble. Now don't get me wrong I take my social responsibilties very seriously, but these are the most imaculately dressed, positively plump beggars I have ever seen. They qualify the occasional smack head you see begging outside the shopping centre at Hanley, as in need for a UN airdrop.
You can see how predujeces grow out here, but to be sure, they were all, infinately, better dressed than me. I know that is not hard!
The infamous Holiday Inn in Sarajevo. Home to embattled journalists of the 92-95 war
The final thing I want to say about this city, despite the ramblings of my over precious mind, is that everyone here treats you like a king. You are made to feel most welcome, everyone wants to talk and have fun. The people are wondeful, more than anything, that is what I will remember about Sarajevo.
A group of 5 Swiss overlanders turned up at the hostel on their bikes. They had cheated and had taken a train most of the way!
So off to bed early after getting my ducks in a line ready for tommorrow. Betty has been idle for long enough!
Posted by David Bailey at 10:29 PM
The (bumpy) road to Sarajevo
A new day brought sunshine which was a relief. I was down for breakfast at my hotel, The Stari Grad at a reasonable time, because I wanted to look around before I left.
The Banja Luka Gate...
On top of the hill was the castle built by the Bosnic kings and later taken over by the Ottomans. All around the tiny cobbled streets were ancient buildings, It was so beautiful.
St Stephen's Church in Jajce...
Through the town park ran a huge river swollen by months of heavy rain. The town park ended abruptly with a 20 metre high waterfall. It was a sight to behold, especially with the power of the water.
The waterfall in Jajce...
I was amazed at the soviet era ruins in the park, It looked like crack head central. This place had tourist appeal by the bucket load but it just needs a little work to be a world class attraction.
I set off carefully as the day before large rocks had fallen on the road with the heavy rain. It was clear running in any case, apart from the ever changing speed limit and speed traps.
Abandoned housese everywhere...
The poor riding conditions were made better by kids waving and wanting me to pull a wheelie for them. I just waved back. A new motorway was being built and some of the ways through were hilarious. The prescribed route would take you through the building site, and this road was of the same significance as the M6 in the UK.
Finally it was into Sarajevo and driving got very 'medieval'. Some scooter riders didn't even bother with helmets, it appeared to be mandatory for pillion riders to go lidless.
I think Bankys has been outdone here...
I found a lovely hostel down a tiny side street close to the old town. At the end of the street is an arresting mural on a wall of a soilder with a rifle and says "I love my city, I defend my city".
The impresive Gazi Hurev-Begs Mosque in the centre of town.
No shouting, smoking, mobile phones, machine guns, dogs, bicycles, tarty clothing, eating or getting fresh.... Am I reading this sign right?
There are bullet holes everwhere! The city is great, a real multicultural mix. The Bazzar of the old town was particularly good. Mosques and churches stood side by side, cafes were everywhere with people sipping increadibly strong black coffee and watching the world going by.
Sarajevo's Pidgeon Square, the hub of the city (for Pidgeons)
I ate out at a little muslim café and got of to a storming start by asking for a beer in really bad bosnian. Not a good start, but I got some good nosh.
Back at the hostel, I started to read Terry Pratchett. It then turned midnight!
Posted by David Bailey at 05:12 PM
May 27, 2012 GMT
I hadn't expected to have enjoyed Hungary so much. People in general seemed very relaxed and friendly despite being the porest country I had so far visited. Or, possiably, it was the other way around.
I would often come across horse and carts which appeared to be the usual form of transport,Trabants were still alive and well, and most cars were at least 15 years old. Skoda, Yugos, FSOs, Ladas and those Zlathy things were the order of the day.
Huge crane like birds made their massive nests on telegraph poles...
On the road again, poor road conditions and poor standards of living rose as we left the touristy Lake Balaton area. I had to stop and stare at a huge crane like bird building an improbably large nest on top of a power line pole. It looked really funny.
Betty bounced her way through the rest of Hungary and we arrived at the border with Croatia. I stopped at a toilet just before leaving Hu and when I got to the exit the border guard told me those toilets were for someone else (I think). 'Sorry dude but I flushed it away' was only going to get me locked up in the Goulag, so I left Hungary with my tail between my legs.
Croatia was delighted to see me and I got my first passport stamp. 80kms of Croatia would see me into Bosnia. This part of Croatia seemed much more affluent than Hungary but I soon noticed some houses were abandoned.
More abandoned houses became apparent, some semi demolished. Some occupied houses had piles of bricks stacked up outside them.
Soon bullet marks were seen on some of the houses and others looked like they had been hit by much bigger ordnance. None of these houses were for sale. The owners were either dead or would never come back.
One of the many bombed/shot or burnt out houses in Lipik.
The whole thing was a bit creepy but as I rode through the oppulent town of Lipik, I was stunned by seeing large buildings shot to bits, next to beautifully ordered houses. It seems these reminders of a shameful past are to be ignored.
I was happy to get out of that part of Croatia. I qued up at Bosanska Gradiska and was soon pointed at by a border guard and told to overtake the entire half hour que. Privileges!!!
As soon as I told the Passport control dude that I had no Insurance, he consficated it and pointed to a booth where I could get it. OK... I left Betty with two cards of Policemen and went over to the booth. The booth was a storage area for fresh air and in the end I was dragged down a side street, by a really scary Serbian Arthur Daly, to a really dodgy looking place. I was exploring my options for doing a runner when I was taken into another horrid little room.
In the end, everything was cool, I got my 'lnsurance' document, but I wouldn,t call it a watertight deal! It was a little bit like Compare the Meerkat but with no free toy! Simples.
Bosnia developed some stunning mountains and gourges. Some quiet breathtaking scenery. Out of town speed limit is only 80kms, roads are awful and there is a policeman with a speed gun every 20km or so, so it was not fun riding.
It was beginning to rain heavily and after an hour of getting wet, I arrived at Jajce. I opted for Luxury and booked in to the finest hotel in town. 20 Euros was nothing compared to warmth, quiet and a few bevvies.
The incredible town of Jajce...
After a fantastic meal, I headed upstairs to read. Suddenly outside, there were cars reving, horns blaring, people screaming and shouting and in the hills, I'm sure I could hear gunfire. Fill the bath, its a revolution! Actually Bosnia and Hercegovina had won at football!
Posted by David Bailey at 05:24 PM
May 26, 2012 GMT
Hungry in Hungary
I was up and out of the hostel fairly early so I could nose around Bratislava. What a curious and unique place. The majority of the place appeared to be soviet era concrete monstrocities. These were quiet visibly crumbling. In the old town, there were some quite stunning buildings. But just around the corner would be a similar age of building that was falling down.
Bratislava statues take it easy...
You can't put this dude off his work...
A few streets from the town centre you go back 500 years...
It was wonderful to wander the cobbled streets, little alleyways and squares in such relaxation. I bought some bread and cheese at TESCO for the journey ahead and set off to Hungary.
Pay is low, some statues take second jobs...
I passed through the border easily and was again on another motorway. I was soon off this and on main roads through the Hungarian countryside. Most of it was like a desert, but instead of sand, monocrop agriculture. It was a bit depressing, especially when you saw how poor people were. I couldn't help but wonder if TESCO had a hand in the depressing landscape?
Nadasdy-Var in Hungary...
Riding became fun again as there were a few turns to raise a smile. The roads were pretty awful too, but Betty lapped it up. Lake Balaton soon came into view and I arrived at the Kesthely campsite without a massive amount of bum pain. The site was very quiet.
I went for dinner at the on site restaurant. I was the only customer, but the menu had caught my eye. For 1300 Forint I could have Gypsy Roast. It was tempting, but I prefer members of the travelling community lighty sauted with mushroom sauce.
I had a fantastic meal and went back to the tent for proper tea and a read. I am really enjoying Hungary.
Posted by David Bailey at 08:54 PM
May 24, 2012 GMT
Big Big journey
So Berlin to Bratislava in one day? could it be done? well I knew a guy with a 'can do' attitude that was going to ride the 730km trip on his single cylinder thumper.
That man was me. I mean, really, is there anyone else as stupid?
So it was goodby the Amstel House Hostel, I had really enjoyed it there and had made some good friends. I think Betty was pleased to be getting moving again and we slid throught the morning rush hour traffice with few problems. It seems the Germans are quite happy to allow motorcycles to filter through standing traffic. I was out of the city and blatting down the Autobahn towards Dresden well before 9 am.
It was noticably cooler out of the city and I could leave Betty at a steady 130kph. The Kilometres just slid away, at that speed one kilometre is gone in 28 seconds! but ohh the concentration... because you may have someone coming up behind you at 200kph!
So around Dresden and, at last, some hills. Finally i left, Germany. My thoughts on the country... Hugely impressed, warm people, some lovely sites, a good sense of humour and broad shoulders in many senses of the phrase.
To into the Czech Republic. The hills were a refreshing site, huge areas of forest and bridges of deep wooded gourges. it looked like a very productive country, lots of industry and field after field of corn, very little livestock though. On the Prague, again at the now limited speed of 130kph and past lorry after lorry, German, Slovak, Czech, Hungarian, Romanian, the lot.....
Prague was going to be a problem as there was no ring road and I didn't have much of a clue on the language front. So it was eyes open adn follow the Euro road numbers. Czech road signs don't give you a lot of time to prepare for the impending turn off, but I finally too the sign for Brno and appeared to end up in an industrial estate, a little arrow pointed through an unsigned gap and on to the main motorway between the two main cities of the country. Proper bizare.
But I was on the right road, and at a reasonable time. Road conditions were slowly getting worse though. The passaage of so many truck had ridged the inside lane, if a trailer to a lorry was empty it was skipping over the ridges. Riding a bike at 130kph over this surface was very unpleasant. I tired to find a decent speed, but it had to be 110kph. The only other option was to stick to the outside lane, a lot of cars did this but it required a lot of 'mirror time' to spot people coming up behind.
I was beginning to make increasingly regular stops to reduce the pain in ones ass. Roadworks were great because I could stand on the pegs all the way through and provide some bum relief. Through Brno and onto the final 130km, the road was even worse but as soon as we got to Slovakia the road became fine. You pay a heafty motorway vignette (not appicable to bikes) if you want to use the motorway. I think some people have been shortchanged!!!!
So into Bratislava, the castle and 'UFO' bridge were easy to see and after a few wrong turns and bizare 'ad hoc' road junctions I ended up at Hostel Blues very close to the old town.
The old town in Bratislava...
This area of Bratislava gives a feeling of slightly decaying old soviet styled apartment blocks and shopping areas, Saying that, it has a happy atmosphere. People are quite stoney, or should I say 'Slavic' faced, but just a few words with them and a deep warmth and sense of humor soon appears.
I asked at reception for a reccomendation for some good local food. Off I went to the Slovak Pub where I had, what I can only describe as a potatoe pancake with goulash inside it. a beer to wash it down and it came to 6.5 Euros.
I really really do feel like a stranger in a strange land now, I don't recognise the trees, the shrubs, the language is so different, nothing is even close to French, German or English and now stuff is really cheap. Some things arn't so bad then!
So I am enjoying a pint of beer for E1.26 and writing this I am sorry, I am going to sitch you now...... Nazdravie... as they say around here!
Posted by David Bailey at 08:28 PM
May 23, 2012 GMT
An uncrowded capital
How do I describe Berlin? well it has the vibrancy of London, but not the crowds, or maybe it does have the crowds but the pavements are so much wider to accomodate them. It is a wonderful place and I am so glad I went for a good walk around.
I stated by getting up early after a really good nights sleep. Christopher from the hostel had reccomended I go on a the free city tour that started at the Brandenburg Gate. So I thought I would head tha way. I got an Underground ticket and got really lost/confused at how the whole system works. Eventually I ended up at Potsdamer Platz and started my tourist jaunt. Past the killing fields that were behind the wall, Hitlers Bunker (the site of) and then I was confronted by the holocaust memorial, The field of Stelae.
The Feild of Stelae
It was a bit early in the day, but it was something I was really wanting to see. It is so simple, a masive area of Stelae, one after another, smooth on hte side and rough on the top. they are small around the sides, no higher than your foot,,each one is different, maybe a little higher, or shorter, but as you walk into the monument the Stelae become higher eventually 20 foot or so, and your are consumed and lost. I found the whole experience overwhelming and am not afraid to say I was filling up, the whole thing made so much sense on so many levels.
Into the fields...
The Brandenburg gate...
So after that, it was on to the Brandenburg gate which was fantatic, I fed some Sparrows from my hand, the Riechstag and memorial to those shot trying to jump the wall. Darth Vader, Lord of Sith was also visiting and had packed his extra heavy duty boots for the city tour.
No good being a Lord of Sith if your feet ache...
I had the birds eating out of my hand...
I walked sown Unter de Linden. It appeared to be missing a lot of the Lindens, saying that they had planted quite a lot of new ones, so I would call it Unter/Ober de Linden at the moment.
I looked around Hackescher Market which was very chic and then up to Alexander Platz which was the East Berlin showpeice Platz. Everything was great apart from a lack of toilets. How do Berliners hold it in so long? There just arn't any public lavies that I cound see and they certainly wern't signposted! I drank coffee in a little cafe on the Platz and watched the world go by.....
Who said Germans didn't have a sense of humour?
On the underground again and I found my way to checkpoint charlie. It was full of bus loads of Americans and was rather like Leicester Square in London. I sat down with a Currywirst (curried sausage) a bottle of Berliner Beer at a little table on the street and ate. This was great.
Some of the last bits of the wall...
I had decided not ot go on the tour as I saw that each tour numbered at least 30 odd people and I'm not one for big crowds. Instead I looked around the musem of horrors, all about the SS. cheery stuff. Legs were falling off at this point so I wanted back. I need supplies for my big day through Germany, Czech and Slovakia tommorrow.
So Berlin, Wish I could stay but the Balkans are calling
Posted by David Bailey at 03:27 PM
May 22, 2012 GMT
Ich Bein... no I won't do it.
Today has been very easy going really... Well Yesterday was a bit hard work to be quite honest for obvious reasons. In fact, World War 3 would of been a breeze in comparison!
Leaving the campsite near Bremen
Betty and I sailed down the Autobonn and into Berlin as easy as anything you can expect. What is quite amazing is the temperature, it must be close to 30 degrees here, When I left Hull two days ago it was 11 degrees. I booked into a hostel and had a quick mooch around.
Tommorrow, I will have a good look around. Betty can have a rest tommorrow. She is getting aquainted with a lampost (I did chain the two together). I cannot fault her performance so far, apart from the thorn in the tyre. Long days in the saddle do tend to give a feeling of vibration white whole body, but a few stamps and shakes soon eases that off.
Posted by David Bailey at 05:45 PM
Steep lurning curve
Today has been a steep learning curve. You should never leave things in your cabin when you leave the ship. If you are going to do this, make sure it is something inconsequential, like socks, not your wallet. If you do do this, then remember to go back before you have covered 20 kms.
I think you can see where this is going. So I retured to the ferry and the people at reception went to have a look. I was thinking my trip is going to be very short, but I was soon reunited with mz wallet and the 600E tht was in it! Absolute plonker I know, should of got up earlier.
So it was on the road and Right! Right! RIGHT! at every junction. thigs began to go better. because I had spent so much time 'otherwise engaged', I was running out of time and had to give the Van Gough museum a miss. Sorry Vincent, maybe another day.
I did ride over the huge dyke that keeps most of Holland dry, what a feat of enginnering that was! Snigger if you must! I eventually left Holland behind, Lovely people, nice roads but oh so flat!
Into Germany and after 10 minutes of going silly on the Autobonn, I settled down to a steady 130kph which was just about comfortable. I was amazed at how many wind turbines there were, even more than Holland. Mid afternoon i noticed Betty was dancing a bit and a quick look at the front wheel confirmend I was looking pressure fast.
We limped off the motorway and parked up. Poor old Betty, this was hardly her fault but there she was no front wheel and sat on my topbox for all the world to see. Henerick stopped to offer help but then I was saved by Spencer. Originally from the UK but settled in the UK for over 30 years, I had found a great translator, with a car and with all the time in the world!
So my luggage, my wheel were loaded into his car and off we set to find someone who could help me. eventually we found a bike shop run by an old fellow and his wife, in what looked like, his front room! Whilst he put a new tube in, I was treated to coffee and an entertaining chat with Spencer. We finally retured to Betty who looked so forlorn sat on her forks, but I think her mood changed when we replaced the front wheel.
Spencer would have nothing for all of his troubles and made sure I got back on the Autobonn OK. It is a humbling experience to be treated so well by complete strangers. Very good for the soul I do think! Spirits lifted I was back on the road again.....
Many a wind turbine in Germany...
So I finally arrived at my campsite at Hargen, just south of Bremen. It was a little way from just about everywhere, so quiet, too quiet really. I chatted to a fellow with his little son who had travelled around the country in an engenious motorcycle combination. There was enough room for the childs bike on it!
I needed an early night, the missing home stage ahs begun to kick in!
Posted by David Bailey at 03:57 PM
May 21, 2012 GMT
8pm: I am sitting in a little hole with a door and a really noisy toilet on the P+O ferry 'Pride of Hull'. I will not complaint because it is cheap!
An interesting journey up, almost ran out of fuel on the M180 and then got lost trying to follow my eye to the Humber Bridge.
This ship is huge. There are 2 cinemas, a disco, a casino, but I have yet to clock a lifeboat. Personally I would prefer a really boring crossing with lots of lifeboats.
Bye bye UK .
10:30pm (now West European time) I have tried to hack every wi-fi network but my only chance appears to be putting on a suit and joining the nobs in the first class lounge. And guess what... All the bloody lifeboats (four)are next to the first class, sorry business class, lounge. I'm having a lot of Titanic feelings here and they arn't big!
I watched Spurn Head disappear into the mist behind us. It was a bit emotional. I must warn you that I may become a bit emotional at times over the next month.
The bog really hasn't shut up. It worries me. A flood up here on the 10th deck could 'Herald of Free Enterprise' this baby over like a tombola with an elephant turd concealed within.
I am also worried that Betty down on deck 7 might get all emotional and fall over onto the very expensive looking BMW GS1200 she is parked next to. That's Adventure biking for you!
11.30 We have now hit big waves. Ohh ey. Hells Angels think I am cool and will offer assistance to me throughout the Netherlands. Am I a very honky brother or what? They were very happy at my short guide of '.UK warm beers, what is good, and what is shite.' Note this travelling Brits!
Posted by David Bailey at 12:38 PM
May 12, 2012 GMT
There does not appear to be too much more to do now. That is, apart from worry. Stupid niggles, worries, thoughts so far in the future that they ruin today. One thought is this whole thing is stupid. I can’t speak any language well, the bike is liable to let me down, some places are a bit flighty. And then, reassuring thoughts of 'should I just go to Blackpool for a month and make up some monumental stories'?
This is an era of foundless worries manufactured and used by politicians, the media and every company with a product to sell. I need to forget about worries!!!
I have been a Type 1 diabetic for over 20 years now. I have hated the thought of any medical condition preventing me from doing what I wanted to. As I have gotten older I have had to accept a Clint Eastwood rebuke. 'Man's gotta know his limitations'.
That is not to say I am booking myself into a wheelchair anytime soon. Diabetes introduces some limitations, but not that many. The secret is to listen to Clint…… PUNK.
Motorcycle travelling with Diabetes is not hard but there are things that need to be taken into account. So here are my thoughts (I put these up as something for others to look at and expand on in the future)
1) Motorcycling can be very strenuous, especially off road, or, very easy going. It will place a different load on your body as to ‘normal life.’ If you can, record you blood sugar on a test out trip to see what the changes are, then this is great and will help to plan. If not, record your blood sugars at every stage through the first 4-5 days of a trip to see how they differ.
2) As a solo traveler you’ve got to wake up each morning without feeling death’s boney hand on your shoulder. Be in control of you evening, make sure you eat well and keep in mind your carbohydrate intake. Better to go over, rather than under if you are not in control of the situation. This is especially important when alcohol is on the scene. Always test your blood sugar before bed and think about what you have eaten. Sugars disappear fast, potatoes, pasta, rice…. Less so.
3) Pack insulin well. Keep away from heat but do not be overly concerned. I travelled across the whole of North America over 3 months with relatively fragile Insulatard, and had no problems by keeping it in the middle of my clothes in my rucksack. These days there are many products that will help to retain the cold. Just remember to pack when it is cold, usually at night. These days Insulin products appear to be much more robust, but don’t push it too far.
4) Motorcycles can produce all sorts of sensations. Usually they are fun (I own a 650 single!!!), but sometimes they can mask sensations that would indicate you are going low. This can be magnified by long days in the saddle, unfamiliar foods, sensations and smells. If it feels you can’t just buy that feeling……. now is the time to pull over and test the blood. It’s no problem, people will understand, everyone wants a safe ride.
5) A little over is better than the possibility of going under. You are far from home, eating all sorts of usual stuff, You won’t have this experience for a while, so enjoy it, but do you best to estimate, and back it up by testing later on if you may feel that you could cause offence.
6) In your pack of insulin products print out a sheet stating ‘I am a diabetic, this is my medicine’ in every language for the countries you will be hoping to visit. Learning it by mouth may mean you say the word ‘drug’ and that may get you in trouble.
7) Always have a mega safe CHO. Two things that are so horrid, you would never touch it in real life. One would be a high sugar pick me up like a full on chocolate bar. Let it melt a few times and get severely out of shape. You will not want to eat this – ever…. Unless you are low and know you need some sugar. It is a good idea to back up the emergency sugar, which will pull you up for maybe an hour, with some more long lasing emergency food. Some emergency complex carbohydrate like granola, cereal bars, crackers, or biscuits will keep you going longer than pure sugar as you find sources of replenishment. Keep them separate and close to hand.
8) Some people really let go at the sight of a needle and it will universally cause problems if it is spotted. Prepare acting scenarios where injecting will look like some other activity around the bike, checking the clocks, getting stuff out of panniers. The creativity of these moments will create unknown Oscars, but enjoy the fun of it!
9) Some people really need to know your condition, such as fellow riders, and they need to know what to do if things turn out bad. Give a basic talk to your travelling companions that will let them know what to expect if you go low, make it funny, engage them, don’t make it sound like it is a major disaster. If you are not functioning you want you travel partners to know exactly what to do and be happy to do it without worry.
10) Diabetes is condition, it is not a life sentence. It is not a disability, it just means that you have to think and take the healthier and more measured option. Otherwise, fly to the moon brothers and sisters!!!!!!
Here is an incredibly high tech map of my trip:
Posted by David Bailey at 11:27 PM
May 04, 2012 GMT
I am wibbling at the thought of getting a GPS to help me get to my desitnations. I do like the thought of easy transition, but I do so love to stare at maps. It is like Mills and Boon to a 45 year old spinster. Places come, about a thrid alive, and you can see things happening. They never happen this way, but the whole thing is a little excercise in the head that keeps you thinking hard! You don't get that with GPS. I will stick to the map and learn to talk, I think!
I am greeted by a number of different thoughts when I tell people about my trip. It is either "go for it....", "what the hell", or "you selfish bxxtard". I don't deny that what I am doing is very selfish, but for once in a while we need a little "me" time. I have worked very hard over the past eight years to get my business into a good state. I feel, right or wrong, i should cut loose for a month.
To look at a few far flung bits of Europe out of the saddle of Betty isn't too evil an aspiration in my mind. We will see. The road opens in two weeks!
Posted by David Bailey at 11:19 PM