Hi, this is a very short blog, the first on a journey to Chernobyl via Holland, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Ukrain and the Czeck republic. We are a group of 12 people, 9 riders, a support driver, an interperator and a camara man. The trip is in aid of the CCP (UK) c/o bikeaid.org.uk we are all on there as is the chance to donate something for the KID's NOT us, that is important.
We aim to cover 3500+ miles in 16 days begining on the 24/08/07 from Harwich and Hull, the group is spread across the country from Cornwall to Blackpool, on machines rangeing from a 650 Transalp to a Blackbird (x2) via GS1150's, it will be FUN I am sure.
Follow us please and see how we fare when we vist various places from prison camps to factories and the orphanage in Gommel to see the children all this is about. Oh yes my name is Martin, talk soon I hope,
I'm of to PANICK now!
say's "Jone's" well Mick actually.
My 2 panniers on my Beemer R1100S are packed and I still have space left. I work on the following principle; having checked that I have all the correct documentation, anything forgoten can be bought.
Note to self, pick up wallet and credit cards.
See you in Rotterdam Martin.
Lorraine here, aka Mike's other half. (missing him already!)
Well Mick left 3 hours ago for Hull and I guess everyone else is en route now.
Good luck everyone, have fun along the way and as the French say "Bon route"
I'll look forward to hearing all your news.
Left home at 18:30and met Dave at the Tesco unleaded as arranged. No worries, We got to he premier Travel Inn to meet Mark, Dave and Tim at 20:00, no show, at 21:00 we get a call from a little chef on the A12. They are having a meal where are we, that was the way it started!
When they arrived at the correct Premier inn we set of for Harwich, down the wrong road, me in the lead, Dave takes over with the sat nav and we get to the docks well in time for the sailing. 4 in one room Dave K on his own, lucky boy!
Boat was very nice, as was the food, god rooms and comfy bed. Fine, well yes but both Dave T and I snore for England, so each kept the other awake as for Tim & Mark ho hum.
We go to bed at 01:00, they wake us at 05:00, cream crakered
As arranged we meet the other's at the services, Mick was there already. Sort out the gear and away as a group for 64miles then pull over for a break and a fill up. Mick decides to run ahead on his own, no worries we follow on behind. It goes pear shaped as you would expect. First we get split up into two groups, then 5 of us turn of to find a petrol stop, Dave and Mark T miss us, then Dave is taken unwell so they (Mike S & Andy) stop to help him out. Meanwhile Allan, John, Dave K Tim and I go in search of the elusive food stop, off motorway of course. We get politely told to move the machines if we are not going to eat at the ice cream shop, so we move on, for 40 mile's to find a mc Donalds, YEH! At last somewhere open, we ate. Refreshed we leave, I get on my stead and rock it off the main stand, it fell over, with me on it. So in my haste and embarrassment and on the advice of one of the lads I turn to leave, they follow me, only to find we have gone around the drive through and are now stuck behind the car's! Dave K and John who did not see us move of turn the right way, see us and cannot help but take photographs, for posterity of course.
350 miles we did today, the theres did around 270 mile,swell we saw more of Germany the way we went, but me the Transalp and knobleys don't do twisties. Oh no!
Tonight we sleep well in an F1, with a dodgy door lock, tomorrow we go to Berlin.
Today, Sunday 26th August.
Good night sleep followed by a fair F1 breakfast. We are all rested and ready by 09:30 (ish). Our aim to get to Berlin via Sted.......something, for a lunch break. So we all depart, fill up with fuel the intention being to have a Photo opportunity as we make our way onwards. We leave the petrol station turn right, 8 bikes 1 truck get through the lights, I stay at the now red light's. Great! Where are they? To make matters worse I miss a turn and have to do a 20 mile loop. Fine, I do all this and find myself at a junction AHEAD of the main group, how do I know this, well the camera crew are at the junction as I pull up behind them. They have gone ahead to do a shoot as we pass, the main group have stopped for a drink / break, fantastic! After I join the group (I waited at the roadside) I find myself in the #2 slot. Going through a small village my sat nav says turn right, two cars have stopped to turn right so I follow them. BIG mistake, everyone else carries on behind the lead bike, me do a U and try to catch up. Fine, 30 mins later I do. As is the way of things by diner we have separated and whilst in the same town we end up in two location's. One in Mc. D's and one in a very nice restaurant in the town center. The group in Mc D's come to the restaurant! Loverly food. From here we make our way the remaining 60 miles or so to Berlin. It was on this journey that we figure that the GPS is only good for the final search for the Hotel! We did have fun though, new roads not on the GPS old roads that end, just stop! Mmmm?
Beware the cameras, they are everywhere and not easily seen, dark green or gray and small, damned small, thankfully forward facing (if that helps?)
Still now we are in Berlin. I have removed the Continental TCK's and fit Mich' Tourance to the Transalp, 6mm of tread gone in 1200 miles. Only started with 10mm.Andy has an issue with the support truck but the consensus is “there is no issue” just the new brake's settling in. Fair enough that eh?
Hotel is fine but the AC is goosed in our room, and its 'ot! We ate in the hotel, trip to Berlin center just did not happen.
Tomorrow BMW work's then Poland.
Chernobyl Challenge Day Three, Berlin to Proznan.
27 Aug 2007
Before we start day three it is worth mentioning that one of us, Tim, very nearly started a “domino” affect when he stalled his bike whilst turning in to the parking area. He and it tippled over just nudging the next bike, a Be Ma, oops, Still thats all he did so thats ok, eh?
Right, today is Monday the 27/08/07. First stop BMW in Berlin. The hotel was to everyones satisfaction so that is good. A late night was had by some but still we all were up and ready by 08:20 as agreed. Ready to role as one, the idea we arrive at the BMW factory as a group, great idea!
It didn't happen that way though, the lead bike decided he was going to filter, ho hum, we got split up within the first 10 miles. Let the fun begin. Group one are gone, we, group two are Dave and Mark 'T', Tim, John and me, again. No worries, we got there after a “slight” detour.
The factory was well worth the visit, if you get the chance do visit, it is typically German and efficient but very well sorted in its attitude and diversity in production. We leave there at about 11:00 (ish)
There is a decision made that we will go as two groups, meeting at the border with Poland Hhmm?
Of we go Dave K, Allan, Mike 'S' and Mike 'C' leading the way, the rest of us including Andy follow on, we are the slow group? Part way along the motorway we have to pull in to a rest stop for me to fill with fuel from the spare tank's, it gives us a toilet stop also. When we get to the border, the slow group go through expecting to find the “fast” riders waiting. It didn't happen, we got a phone call, “hi Andy, we are BEHIND you we got lost in Berlin” or words to that effect. Andy in the meantime has atracted the affections of the Police, you cant park there in the forest and you will not turn round and go back to the border from here, drive 10km (ish) to a truck turn then you can go back, they tell us.
Andy tells Allan we will meet at a roadside cafe on a given road to Poznan in 20 minutes or so. Sorted. It happened!. Well 40 minutes later it happened. The tortoise and hare were mentioned briefly and Tim suggested that they would perhaps like some pie,............ humble pie!
It has to be noted that we also got to see places we did not mean to but still arrived earlier, oh, Dave K thought the roadside cafe' was the Hotel and so emptied his overnight stuff from his bike only to be told we are leaving. He was not a happy bunny, te he. The hotel we are in is very nice, not a roadside Cafe' at all.
The change of wealth as you come over the border is marked, the roads are chronically in need of care, pot holes and ruts make them dodgey, but interesting, and the traffic is fast, and dodgey! It is a single track road and so very busy.
We take a road to the North and then travel East to Proznan, Andy tells us it is a better road and one he will use in the future when he visits Natalia.
On the last part of the journey Dave 'T' takes the lead, John 'G' has gone ahead with the “fast” group. His job, Mark 'T', is to bring us in safely to the hotel. He is doing so well until he tries to follow a tram into it's station, oops, well the blackbird is a bit of a bus isn't it?. Shortly afterwards, at the same station, the traffic light having changed to green, we move forward but the traffic is stopped mid junction. We were stunned to see the tram pull forward and HIT the back of a small car that had been stopped on the line's because of the hold up, no one got out, the lights change and they both drove of, amazing!,
Thats it for now, dinner beckons me.
My recorded millage (GPS) to date is 761 miles, that does not include the distance from the A12 to Harwich.
Thanks for logging on, Martin.
Chernobyl day four. Poznan to Siedlce
28 Aug 2007
To finish yesterday. We experienced our first tiff! James and John went in to Poznan for a beer, like you do, got back got back a bit after we had all gone to bed. Jame's promptly fires up the computer to mail his other half. Mike 'C' who's room he was sharing was unhappy to be disturbed by the dulcet tones of the windows opening tune and pointed this out.......the rest well, they did make up?
We did have hells own job getting James to wake up this morning, its as well he wasn't driving.
Today was hard work, to drive in London, Paris or Rome are no worries now, we are sure these guy's drive with the will of some god we have not heard of, it is insane!
To the start. We, the “slow bunch”, left with the “Fast” boys. We filled with fuel then promptly lost each other, problem was the sat nav got dizzy as well and we had to rely on Andy and Nattalia to get us out. Which they did admirably. So much so that the “slow bunch” got ahead of the “fast boys” again, well most of them Dave 'K' and John broke away and we met them at a service station / garage. The remainders did get there a short while latter, te he (we didn't gloat..............much).
From here it went scary, from fast good roads to a mass of road building, repairs, works and some serious traffic mostly lorries. You know I am sure most of the lorries in Europe are in Poland!
Pot holes and ruts the like of which are not seen at home unless on a dirt track, the country is coming along in leaps and bounds, the money coming in must be in large numbers, judging by the investment in the road system, but for now it is SCARY! Two lanes of traffic, mainly big truck's, would open up and become three or four lanes with lorries and cars playing chicken. The road got no wider the vehicles just got closer..........aaaaaaaaaaaahh! Bonnet mascot we aint!
Andy, the lead vehicle for us “slow bunch” decided to stop and show us a traditional Polish church, nice thing to do, only he didn't tell us until we were 50 yds of the turning, from a hard accelerate to a dead stop in 25yds is dodgy (we were to do this on at least 4 more occasion's, not because of Andy however)
The actual day is hard to relay as a journey beyond the above, sorry, but Dave 'K' did give us the joyful moment of parking and locking his bike, emptying the over night gear, sorting his room etc only to be told he was in the wrong place and had to go move the machine to the HOTEL car park! It was a long day for us all.
Allan has done us proud again the hotel is grand, the town not so good. In Dave 'K's words “a bit like a scene from Oliver Twists London, dark and menacing”. We were hustled by kids on our arrival begging, that is not a happy thing.
Any way it is goodnight from him, sorry it is a bit flat today. Tomorrow Belarus and the border guards, mmmm. Then on to Gomel.
GPS reads 1038 miles covered now (+20 from the A12 to Harwich)
Chernobyl challenge Day Five Siedlce to Pinsk
29 August 2007
This blog will not surface on the day it is written, there is no Wi Fi see! We are in Pinsk, Belarus. The weather has been good to us so far and today is no different, fine sunny but not so warm today. The weather is getting cooler a we move East, just as you would expect really. Today is just like an autumn day, about 17c and sunny.
We left Poland as we had planned, once we had got our bearings in Sedlce, both groups got into a similar mess but managed to get it sorted so away we run. Boring, in many ways it was, but the roads were clearer and a little better to ride on. John 'G' was low on fuel so we pulled over to use the fuel in one of the reserve can's, just as we finished someone noticed that we were on the opposite side and some 50 or so yards from a fuel station mmmm! Not so bad though it turns out they only sold LPG gas. As arranged we met the fast boy's, Dave 'K' was a voluntary associate slow member today, at a road side cafe before the border. They had some old aircraft on display an old MIG and a couple more. Tim did try to get in the MIG and broke the hatch! On to the border, how much we appreciate Nattalia she is an angel to us. How many different places did we need for a stamp, how old is the bike, stamp, what have you got to declare, stamp, insurance 2 Euro, stamp, is the bike in your name, stamp, how much money are you bringing in, stamp! Five in all but not from one place, we walked........ oooh.... yard's. But, did we whinge....................of course, and got a bit worried when Tim was taken to a little office? Nattalia sorted him out though, thankfully.
We were through in 2 ½ hours which is quite a feat we are told for a group of twelve folk.
For those who may wish to come to the East it is worth knowing that as a UK passport holder you can by-pas the red tape and go to the front of the queue legally!
The next stop was Brest Fort wonderfully place but we passed a steam engine museum and they wouldn't stop , not fair that! The fort is worth a visit for sure, Andy left us there to fetch Natalia's son, the whole family came back with him, fantastic. Silly sod thought he had lost his keys, now't new there I have done it before, this time I had Mike's, Tims and my helmets locked to my bike. STRESS, but they were found in my jacket of many pockets only after I had been back to the cafe though. I don't know, one sheep, is all it takes.
We finally arrived in Pinsk, a long and boring drive. The country is flat with trees, lots of trees. When we stopped for a break two local lads were trying to jump start an old MZ with no success, but commendable effort though. We had earlier been detoured over a field to avoid an accident site, the trail bikes were fine but the Be Ma and the blackbirds had fun getting up a grass bank back on to the road.
Pinsk is a sorry town trying very hard to recover, in places it is looking good but generally suffering from a serious lack of money. The hotel is reminiscent of “The shinning” scary!
Freaky really, as I write this Dave switched the TV over and “The shinning” is being shown, in Russian!
Tomorrow we go to Gomel and meet the kids, and we are told, the local biker club want to meet up for a yarn. Lets just see eh.
Chernobyl Challenge, day six, Pinsk to Gomel
Thursday 30th August 2007
No WiFi again so this is a back fill, which is ok. Did I mention falling out of bed in Siedlce? Well I did much to Dave's amusement, no sympathy that boy!
Hello, today we got serious, we all traveled as one from Pinsk to Gomel, all be it at speeds that did not suite everyone. Andy took the lead and we followed like disobedient puppy's. I stayed to his tail for dear life, my little girl will not do much over 90 without me getting worried so to stay close to the lead means it's easier, but, for the guys at he rear it is a far different story and one which today caused some concern. As I said the roads here are very rough and so high speed is not really what you want to do and that caused a rub. Dave 'T' and Mark tended to get “tail end Charlie” and as Dave said he was doing motorway speeds on dirt track's and felt agreevied, rightly so I feel. Anyway this brought about a very useful discussion which benefited all, so that was that. We did ride with some cohesion from then on, and at a more manageable pace.
Lunch was nice, at a roadside cafe, we think we saw a woodland wolf though there is some suspicion it may have been a skinny dog, whatever we saw it. At the next fuel stop we finally managed to coax Nattalia to get on the back of a machine (with Andy's consent of course). She loved it, much to Andy's disgust, she now wants him to get one! Lol we did. Fueling here is different, you say how much you want up front, pay, then fill. My poor little jerry cans got to be very full with the “can you get this in, I don't have room for the last bit”. Both Mike 'S' and I have had misfire issues and Dave 'T' has a backfiring BeMa, not sure how much is fuel related but the 92 is dodgey and the 80? well, no one has had the bottle to try it yet, but the 95 / 98 goes well. Water content unknown
Eventually we get to the first of the two children's home's, this one is for kid between 11 and 16 I think, they call them orphans but it would seem that they mean, in 57 of the 79 cases there, “social orphans” ie their parents are alcoholic's or just abusive, all of the children have mental / health issue's in varying degrees. We arrived to a standing ovation, children lined the drive cheering and clapping. After we parked up and got through the formalities the kids had bike rides posters and other gift's. Tim cracked it though, he had two prospective wives in the making, and the translator!
Grown men humbled by the attentions and enthusiasm of children, throat lumps a plenty, it is already worth the 1500 miles and bum ache!
Many photo's taken and the local news turned up to boot, brilliant.
From here Linda and two of the workers guided us through the labyrinth that is Gomel right to the hotel. Much better than last night, this one has HOT WATER. Turns out that Pinsk had not had hot water for three months. They have a community feed system so one out all out, wow!
Gomel is a reasonable city, what we have seen of it, as Mark pointed all we seem to do is drive to and from hotels, true, but then we could not have made the distances we have any other way. That said tomorrow is a late start so some of the guys are going walk about with Linda and the translator, Lads shopping, whatever next!
For now that is it, tomorrow the youngsters, then the Ukraine border and on to Kiev.
Tara a bit! M
Chernobyl day seven, Gomel to Kiev
Friday August 31st
Friday, easy day ? The idea was we get up for breakfast, do a bit of shopping (those that were in the mood) then at eleven we go visit the kids. Sorted.......well not exactly.....close though.
The breakfast was different, butter, cheese, salami & sweetcorn for the first course. Followed by potato pancakes, they are actually not so bad, with cranberry sauce we think. They brought us a drink of something between carrot with orange and tomato juice! Aaahhh. We had tea and coffee
We were parked in the secure park at the ear of the hotel by the guard, unfortunately we failed to notice the workers van we had penned in, well Allan and Andy had, so while they went of walk about and Andy had a lie in Mike 'C' and I moved the truck and his machine. Still we did learn some Russian swear word's.......I think?
Three of the helpers from the orphanage came to collect us as arranged, Linda used the same hotel. She is a loverly woman, bit of an Earth mother, real nice. Of we went at around half eleven. The journey to the orphanage took about 30 mins but it takes us across a plane, the wind is awesome, hard in from the west, like riding a wind surfer, fun but daunting.
We arrive at the kids home not to a standing ovation but a subdued greeting, until we parked! They went daft, little kids in wheelchairs, on crutches, hobbling or just walking but with twisted limbs and bodies these kids are mainly sufferers of cerebral pulsey (?) One young girl, Lillya or “cheeky monkey”, but one of several with a growth defect was 18 years old, wheelchair bound and no taller than an 8 year old, with the spirit of a lion. Many could speak English all were so exited they did not know which bike to sit on first, usually the one with the engine running, we hit the rev limiter so many times! Dave 'T' did his watch my screen move and “scare the teach” by showing the kids where the horn was just as someone walked past, he and Mark 'T', not to sure who is dad, son or whether they are both just big kids. ALL of us struggled with emotion even the ex squady Mike 'S'. Big softy's all, these kids and there life, as it is, make our troubles worthless and feeble, very, very humbling. Mike 'C had the privilege of taking the Director of the school for a spin, he came back a funny shade of white saying something about the worst passenger and never again. Te He!
Any way we got through that and left, with the traditional Russian squeeze box ringing in our ears and a few moist eye's..............maybe?
Next the boarder with Ukraine, the journey to the boarder was novel. First we go for LPG for Andy 'T's truck, our guide jumps the cue and asks / tells the other customers to be patient, so they wait, amazing. Next we run the wind fields again only this time the wind is with us so it is nit so bad. On to the motorway, you know the one with the stray dogs and cows at the road side. You don't believe, ask Borat? We reach the boarder at around 14:00 and leave at 18:30 and we were quick!
Andy found out he was 10 euros short on his insurance for the car so he had not been covered all the last two days, mmm, and he was ragging us.
Eventually we leave, 12 very tired and ragged people, it was getting dusk and we had a 2 ½ hour drive at least. It was achieved remarkably well, one dodgy bit where the road changed sides from dual to single lane and back over the biggest man hole I have seen to date, or rather did not see, neither did Dave 'K' it turns out. To bottom out on a Tranny is enough but Dave got his fillings tested me thinks..........ouch! No damage done but scary.
All the machines are on good fuel again, the difference is noticeable, Dave 'T' even gets flames from the BeMa when it fa.....back fires
John 'G' rejoined the group today, he waited 4 hours for us to get to the boarder, it is good to have him back with us, he went to Mogaluf (?) to see his aid child and family. The same village Dave 'K's child come in from I think. A brave men, we thought.
Arrival time in Kiev 22:30, on the 24th floor we are with Mc D's across the way. Feed me NOW!
We have been lucky with the weather again, it has stayed dry and getting warmer to boot. Funny this but one or two have commented on this being the turn around point,going south the west in a days time. First however R4 Chernobyl, tomorrow.
It is now 02:18 so I am going to bed ta ra xx
Chernobyl challenge, day eight, Kiev
Saturday 31 August 2007
Today we rest, well that was the concept. Rise at 07:00 breakfast and out by 09:00 (bear in mind I was up until 02:18hrs) in the mini bus to visit the site of the biggest single man made cock up yet......CHERNOBYL!
The rest would have been better had one person, who shall remain name less, went out for a drink and forgot which room he was in. It was not Allan or Mike “Tackleberry” (see police academy) Scaife. Cos they were woken up, as was I, at three o'clock! It was funny though..... later that day on the bus at least. It appears John also found a use for the gravel trap at a set of lights last night, he stayed on but more by good fortune, 'es a nutter that un!
Oh yes we hit Mc D's...........again!
Ok, the day was over cast and started to rain as we went to the power plant, the first rain we have seen to date, not to cold though. We arrived at the first check point got cleared and on we went. Judging from the banter there was a nervous bravado going on. Two of the guys had brought personal dose meters along, Mike 'C' and Andy 'T' but Andy's was a bit dodgy it didn't seem to now which way was up!
First we go to Chernobyl town, or what is left, to have a brief rundown on events and the effects on the area. The “area” was only the Ukraine, never touch the rest of the world...........did it?
It appears there are still people living in the exclusion area, average age is 70 years, old people who refuse to leave.
From here we are taken to the plant, all tucked up now and it's life ended. The last reactor closed in 2000 (R3) R5 and R6 still as they were left under construction, never built, cranes and all. It is odd to stand on the road knowing that if we wander 10 feet in to the grass, or less, we would be very, very poorly. We DID stay on the road. Old Tackleberry said he remembers standing in a German field on exercise being told not to eat any dead animals, never thought one day he would be stood looking at the reason! I think we all had a Kennedy moment, well all who are old enough, to remember it. On the visit we sat down for a team photo, only to get to be told “get up, why you sit there do you not no this is the site of the worlds worst nuclear accident” mmmmm fried egg's eh?
To put you at ease we all got checked out and we are clean.
There is enough stuff on the web about the place and its history so I am not going there ( the bar is open as well).
From the plant we went to Pripyat city, the fair ground is still there as you perhaps know but it was odd, you could almost hear the children laughing and shouting, that was said to me by at least two of the guys as I thought it myself. “Moving” is not enough.
There may be things I have missed, tonight will bring up new story's but for now I am done. A somber, moving and very emotional three days.
Tomorrow we drive again, 265 miles, westward and coming home.
1895miles (ish) of long roads behind us.
Mike Cater has also written a journal, I have to go look at and edit it, or just post it and let you rip it up! Te He. Ta ra fer now xx
Well talk about the Blind leading the Blind!
It would seem that Martin (owner of this blog) was leading the way and happily overtaking on a white line and so all the others followed suit! (Very Naughty!). This would be fine if there had not been a policeman watching them, who'd have thought of that?
Anyway, it seems that Martin and Mick S (my other half) were the two targeted for an on the spot fines. Mick and the others maintain it was Martin's fault as they were just following suit ;-) he was leading the way and should have seen the cop!
Personally, I think it was probably a bit of... er should we call it "extra pocket money" for the policeman and he saw them coming from a mile off!
It seems that Micks name (Michael, that is) in Russian means "Little Bear" so has a new nick name Yogi Bear, thats quite funny as anyone who has met Mick knows he is far from SMALL! LOL. Love n Miss you hun X
I've now had a lovely chat with Mark's wife Al, it seems the boys are having too much fun without their better halfs (us girls) so we must all try to put that right and have a get together when everyone is back safe.
Hope you don't mind me hi-jacking your blog Martin! Keep up the good work.
Lorraine (aka Lotty) x
Chernobyl day nine
02 September 2007,
Ok so I got the date wrong, blog eight was the 1st /09. It happens, truth is we are pretty tired and the day eludes us not just the date!
Wow what a day, we left Kiev on time, well nearly, Tim “blister” (he always turns up when every one else is done!) kept us back a bit but we kind of expect it now . We fill up with fuel, 14ltr's = £7, then away, well sort of. Kiev is a huge place and it took getting on for an hour to get out, what with cobbled streets and signs in Russian, simple really............Natalia! That woman is so precious.
Any way we are of, the first part was easy, duel carriage way steady Sunday traffic nice, then Andy does a U turn on the duel and goes of down a single track road, Ye Ha! Sod the blackbirds and Be Ma's, t is now the Transalps, Africa twins and Campo's ie Me, Tim and Mike 'C'. We drive down dirt roads, on cobble's, stop for herds of cattle, twice, dust and $h1t every where. Fantastic! The fast boys are GONE in a cloud of dust! Seriously though these back roads are deadly, loose grit inch's thick an a cobble base. We had to stop and ask directions, the first woman we asked was afraid because Natalia spoke to her in Russian and she did not trust people from the city but an old farmer said he would show the way if he could have a lift, crafty bagger it was a straight road! Still he got his lift. Further on we asked again and the locals thought we would shoot them if they did not help,
how fear works is beyond me? We passed a cow herd in the lane carrying a live fox, later I asked Natalia if it was for dinner she said “no it will be a hat or something for the winter” that is country life in the raw. She also told us that as a child she to lived in a village and what we had witnessed was her youth, playing in the lanes. Dirty cloths and ill shod, just like the kids in the orphanage's but she knew no better and it was her childhood.
Next we find a roadside cafe, very smart, but the toilet was a brick shed over a hole covered by boards except for the hole you........well you get the picture. It stank awful and there is no flush! The food was fantastic, soup, salad and chips with meat balls all for two pounds each.
Thanks Lotty, I got threatened with death, Mike got his txt about the “Tickleberry” tag. Twas funny that though.
From here the fun starts, we have about 100 miles left to cover now, Allan asked us to stay in sight of each other, no worries there it makes sense. If you loose the guy behind then you stop and wait for him / back up or go back. Only Allan and Mick 'C' go ahead of the support truck, then John has to stop (he lost a mirror) so we all stop except the two above, they have gone. The issue is sorted when I get back to them but, Dave 'K' and John 'G' then power of to find Andy. He has turned around to find us, meantime Dave 'T', who has also missed Andy, goes into pursuit mode but is caught in time to point out that Andy is actually behind him!...... twenty feet behind at this point. Mmmm
Of we go as a group of five now, we have to slow for a herd of cattle again then to my amazement we have to stop to let a flock of 12 Geese cross a dual carriageway. This place is fantastic!
Dogs roam the motorway as do cows but Geese!
At last we re-group and enter Ternpil. The car park attendant nearly cops for all the frustrations of the day, comments like park here...no here.....some of you here......no....over there. If only he knew how close he got to getting twa....hurt!
Odd how we take out frustration on innocents eh?
The hotel is next to a very prity lake, no doubt there will be the odd photo or two. We arrive during a wedding reception and the photographer turns around and begins filming US! As did people on the roadside all the way through from Kiev. This has been a weird day for us all but a great one for me, you just couldn't write it.
Anyway the battery is nearly flat and its bed time, this will be a day late sorry, but hey!
Tomorrow the Ukraine border then Poland, lets just wait and see what comes.
Ta ra fer now M
Chernobyl day Ten
03 September 2007
Turnple (Ukraine) to Przemsyl (Poland)
What a day this has been, you may have read the misguided story from Lottie, more of that latter, for now the truth!
After a nice easy breakfast with cereal and toast and stuff we left the hotel on time, yes Tim was ill so he got up early and was the first to his bike, that shut Dave and Mark 'T' up, until they noticed that I had my box's open. Do they EVER shut up? I took some early morning photo's of the lake and gardens beneath the hotel and realized the “thing” I had seen in the water was one of three people swimming in the lake, it was 07:30, tough nutters these. The journey is becoming more bazaar, we seem to have been a spectacle to every town we've visited, we even had the local “chips” coppers, wave to us as we left Turnple town. (Little white police bike's just like those of the telly in the 70's but smaller!) The ride began at the usual pace with me trying to stay with Andy in his Land cruiser, the rest including “Yogi Tuckleberry Bear” following behind cos them's bigger and faster than me, well at this point they are. The point is Mick 'C' and Mike “Tuckleberry” 'S' are at the back, the very back that is. On our journey we pass the odd 9 or 10 police traps, at this point we should have learned, but we do not get stopped. Andy has now got way ahead of the back end boys Mike / Mick. We slow to let them catch up so when we pass the police we are going much slower than them when they pass the same point........oop's. Come here sonny your nicked!....we are around the corner by now out of the way, waiting although they did not know this. It transpires that they “apparently” crossed the white line in an over take, as if?, cost them 900 whatever's (don't know the Ukraine currency) about £90 between them. Later on we were to stop and talk to a sergeant at a petrol station who tells us twenty was plenty, bit peeving that, still if Mark and Dave had stopped when they had been told to it would have cost more! Needless to say the journey took much longer from then on.
Shortly afterwards we stopped for a cup of tea at a roadside cafe, Apparently the young lady who served us was not a bad looker, all I recall was the nice blouse she wore!Tea was hot though.
We have had more of the same ref the roads, loose gravel on bends, cobble's, dogs and cow's here and there but the one noticeable event was a little dog leading a large cow across a main road, it is so bizarre.
As I said the journey became slower from here, then we got to L'viv, if you like Russian roulette and have no fear or concept of death it is great, we didn't fit either, they are crazy. It helps not when the “guide truck” has no idea where it is going either. Allan got a truck try to park on him, several of us got side shunts (no contact, its ok!) or pushed from the rear, “scary” somehow just is not adequate.
On we go to the border. We arrive at the back of the que, no worries. Now bear in mind that we are an event, and in every town or roadside village someone has pointed a camera at us. A civilian fellow runs to Andy's truck and offers us safe easy access to the front for a price, Andy shows him the letter head to explain, “ok, go in for free” he says, bingo we jump the que. That is 3 hour's saved. While we wait at the check point some woman in a Subaru decides she should be in front of us, wrong, her car now has a Transalp size scratch on the wing! The cheek of it. Next we get to the passport / customs, Nattalia gives it the big eye and bingo again, we are through. In the line for two hours now, not bad, but wait...........that woman does her magic on the Polish guards now and we jump that line, ironically it is Nattalia who has an issue here and we can do nothing to help her.
It gets sorted and away we go, 3 ½ hours in total. Andy took six hours last time and 20 hours before that! What a result.
“Yogi Tuckleberry” takes over the lead in to Przemsyl, about TWELVE minutes ride, we get lost, he says he knew and was looking for a large turning area........yeh, Andy does it in a side street! Still we find the hotel and grand it is to boot they even give us a private garage for the bike's, sorted. We have been very lucky with the weather and Allan has so far come up trumps with the hotel's, just to round of the day we go out for a slap up meal as well, superb. Andy quote “my body is a shed, get me a beer”
Some of the guy's seem to think I leave my indicators running to long, is 15 miles really to far for one indicator?.............. Enough, bed time it is now, ta ra xx
Get well Mrs T, we are thinking of you x
Chernobyl, day eleven, Przemsyl to Krakow.
04 September 2007
I don't like Monday's, they are wet and dank days. Yeh ok so this is Tuesday but it feels like Monday! We have had 160 miles of rain, and when it didn't rain, it tipped it down. We are not so happy bunnies, it is only 18:26 here so the day could still improve eh?
We are in Krakow now, some of the chaps (6) went down a salt mine the other half have come on to the Hotel “Home” it is a bit spooky. It appears to have been an apartment block and in part it still is, we have someone with a dog next door! Familiar noises tell me the lads have just turned up, how pleased they will be when they find the parking is two streets away, underground.
The day started ok, all be it drizzly wet, we set of in smaller groups as the sat nav now works and it draws less attention to us in a small group. It appears to have worked well really, we would “bump” into each other on the journey every so often which at least meant we were on the same road (?). Mike 'C' did not leave until 10:30 but caught us up at 12:30 even though we left an hour and a half before him, the traffic was that bad for us on the main drag what with the road works but he came on the back roads, bright boy that one should go far.
Dave 'K' and the lads are in from the cold and tell me the salt mine while fascinating was to much walking and effort for them, it all got a bit jaded it seems, tired legs and all. They were in there for two and a bit hours and saw only one per cent of the workings, they are 'BIG' caves /mines.
Beyond this it has been a quite day sorry, call back tomorrow after we have been to Auschwitz / Birkenau. That will be a day of story and emotion I have no doubt.
Ta Ta for now, M
Quote of the day “my crotch is a war zone”, I think Dave 'K' means walking in wet leathers for two hours is no joke, poor child, but no one will kiss him better!
Chernobyl day twelve Krakow to Raciborz
05 September 2007
Today is another Monday, but worse!
It tipped it down ALL day and was cold to boot. Fitting if you consider the venue for todays visit was Auschwitz / Birkenau. That is one amazing place, and huge but more of that later.
I said that last night would bring forth a story and it did, sadly not all good. We had a tiff, well three of the guy's did and it has caused a ripple. It is sad that people cannot sort out issues but that is life, as friends myself and a long time buddy fell out over something silly on a trip much shorter than this so it came as no surprise when it happened this time, strong ego's, long day's and tired, cold bodies. It does not help. Sadly he people concerned seem to be willing to go there own way, such a shame for us all. Pride eh!
The main group, of which I was one, went into the town square for a meal, which as it happens was very nice. As is de-rigure we got lost (ish), “Tuckleberry” the intelligence finder, yeh!, when we found the place it was worth it, the old town center is so nice.
This morning, as I say, was still wet and we had our breakfast in the room. Actually it was very nice
and well presented................. for a packed lunch. No it was ok. It got the day of to an early start, except we didn't need an early start. Allan and Mike 'S' went into Krakow to get a gift for Natalia, she leaves us tomorrow sadly. We got her a very nice watch, they did not leave until 11:00 a.m. We set of in small groups as and when we felt like it, I was with Tim and Dave 'K'. It worked fine. On the motorway they have used a bridging compound to seal the cracks, now't new there eh?, but with the rain every time you drive over one the bike moves in a very disturbing manner, I wuz concerned I wuz!
For our first stop we went to the camp of Birkenau, Tim got talking to two English guys about KTM's, 2800 miles to see history and he gets hot about KTM's, ah well. He joined Dave and I as we checked out the long huts used for quarantine sheds for the intake. It transpired that these are not he original one's more replicas built from the remains of the originals. Moving for all that, however unlike Pripyat there is no soul here, no sounds of children, no bird song even.
6000 to 8000 people disposed of a day,70% to 75%. of those that arrived per day were murdered!
From here we went to Auschwitz it's self. We took a guided tour after watching a film, NON of us felt capable of persevering the enormity of it all. A room with seven thousand pairs of shoes, another with several tons of human hair and on it went. You can read the book's watch the film's but to see the truth........................
Still raining when we left, me, Dave and Mark 'T', Tim and Dave 'K' left together, didn't stay that way but we left together. We came into some traffic hold ups, Dave 'K' and Tim took of down the side me and the 'T's stayed put, then Mark 'T' suggest filtering down the outside, ok. He went first and I followed, all the weight on my bike makes the head lamp high, Mark was a bit put out with this so he asked me to take the lead, sorted of I go, checked my mirrors and.......... oop's, where they gone. No worries Tim and Dave 'K' are about........not! Turns out they took a two mile detour but only after Tim had picked his bike up (snerk), them with no GPS, so of I goes of allown. Then I made a wrong move and went through the center of Rybnik, got stuck in traffic and was sent down a 4 km detour what fun we have.
Chaos happens and this day was no exception, Allan and “Tuckleberry get to the hotel first, then me. They had a call to say Mike 'C' and John 'G' were in the local Mc D's (where else), then Dave 'K' and Tim appear. The 'T' pairing shortly after that and finally Andy, Nat and James. The hotel is a bitch to find, well it was for me, but it is a nice place, again. Allan did his home work with this lot.
This evening after a shower and chance to re-heat ourself we went for dinner. It took a while to arrive and the waitress was a bit grumpy, well she struggled to smile at least, but one of the nicest to date on tis trip.
Natalia was presented with her gift and received it with the grace and humility we have come to know her by. I am not sorry if I go on about her she made one huge difference in the team and it is a mutual gratitude we all have for her. Tomorrow, the 6th, she leaves us, we wish her God speed.
We, in the mean time get some sleep, for it is the Czech border we face.
2800 miles and counting we are, lets just prey for some dryer weather.
No quote but a giggle, Dave 'K' washed his smalls tonight, not before time, took them from the sink, wrung them out................and dropped them in the toilet bowl just before I flushed me wee away.
He does get emotional that boy!
Ta Ra, M x
Ps Lotte, Lotty, Lotti we got to many 'Zloty's ok!
Hi everyone, sounds like its been quite a journey in more ways than just the miles covered!
Your on the homeward stretch now, so chin up, hope for sunshine (how much more rain can you have!) think of home, loved ones waiting for your return and the comfort of your own beds! Bliss!
And hey Martin...LOL at the "Ps Lotte, Lotty, Lotti we got to many 'Zloty's ok!" A virtual hug for Mick (Tuckleberry) Scaife!
So the boys are on the final leg of their journey back to the UK. Just spoke with Mick S and some of them have got on the Rotterdamn Ferry, others are enbarking the Ferry for Harwich. James left a couple of days ago to fly home for another assignment.
However........ Martin it would seem is, er well.... thats a good question, where is Martin?
Apparently he left the main group to to meet with some friends in Belgium but missed them, so no-one is quite sure where Martin is going to end up!
I'm sure he will get home eventually!
So almost the end of what seems to have been a pretty epic journey! I'm sure Martin will surface eventually to put the last piece of the story in place.
Chernobyl challenge day Thirteen, Fourteen and Fifteen (ish)
Raciborz - Prague – Kassel
September 6/7/8 – 2007
Wednesday 06 – 09 - 07
We leave Raciborz in the rain, getting a bit familiar this.
Just how many days can it rain. We stopped to get directions from a geezer name of Noah, he stops building what looks like a boat and he tells me it could carry on raining for up to 40 days and nights, some help he was. These locals are ..........?
Prague is a fine city, when we got there, with to many cobbles. It was a bitty day really and very cold and wet, this is getting to be a drag now. I cannot recall much of it, the journey that is, to be truthful. This blog is written, for the most part, on the night the guys are going home from Rotterdam, Holland so by the time you read it it will be reference only. The drive from Raciborz to Prague was wet, very wet. Or to quote John G, “water ain't this wet” By the time it ended we had done three days and near on 730 miles in the rain and all that we had with us was wet and smelly. It was past funny. The only real break was the visit to the church of bones in, let me get this right, Kutna Hora, but as Dave 'K' said the journey and the pain will be gone in three months but the memory of the visit to the church will remain. Clever, that lad, he'll go far?. Why people would chose to display bones as an art form is odd but it is amazing, and all because the grave was to expensive to buy. Google it and get the story.
Prague is, or gave the impression of being, a lovely city. For us it was somewhere to get dry and sleep. Most of us went to bed early that night. I was in bed by 22:30, two hours early! For Allan and Dave it was a different story. Allan and his bike came back by support truck. His generator / rectifier has gone, we think. For Andy however it was a double hit, Natalia left us that morning to return home to her family in Belarus, which she did eventually, he took her to the railway station hoping to come to Prague by a different route. Which he did, but not the one he thought he would take. So he has had a very long and tiring day also.
Hence the lack of blog, he had the confuser in the back of his truck see.
Thursday. 07 – 09 - 07
James left us today, he flew home, he has business somewhere else in the world on Wednesday and needs to do his hair,................apparently!
Good morning Prague, wow blue sky! That won't last. Wrong.... for the most part it did. We again went our separate ways to get to Kassel in Germany. For some it was the motorway most of the way. Other's, well me, John and Tim, chose the GPS route. Mmmm ok. We went over the mountains on Route 4 via Chemnitz, (where?) it is just over the Czech / German border, but way of where the other's went. Did we have a map, well no it was in the truck with the confuser, bugger!
Ok follow the GPS, at this point it had a different name, why, because we were in the rain in the mountain and not to sure where we were. It was damned cold to boot. As John 'G' said, “we ain't lost just seeing things we wouldn't have seen going the other way” a bit of philosophy was just right at that point. When we got out of the mountain and further up the road it did improve a lot. Then we (I) had a GPS moment. We stopped to sort it out, I thought we could do a 'U' turn and pick up from where we left of, simple eh? Come on, first Tim does a 'U' turn in the road and squirts it a bit hard, oops he's of, AGAIN! Thats twice in as many day's. “what happened” well you went through a trough of mud and,............oh, never mind eh. He gets himself sorted, with our help. Mean time I drive over the bridge to go back on the other side of the motorway, did they see me leave?, it seems not. Tim and John went back on the same side and away up to Leipzig. Diversion Number two, of three, at least. We finally get to Kassel by 19:00 ish. 4 hours behind the rest! Not once was it mentioned, no, loads more time's. Still we were ok and alive. We had stopped for 1 hour to have a very nice dinner at a road side service so it wasn't so bad. Rumour has it Dave 'K' broke his personal record, it cannot be confirmed however, he was going to fast!
Mark 'T' has been hit by the “Imodeum” bug it seems. He was unwell this morning but we have all been there to some degree or another on this trip, however he does seem to be worse than anyone has been so far. Worrying.
Saturday. 08 - 09 – 07.
The end for me and the guys.
We rise to a dull overcast day, fine English drizzle (in Germany) the kind that drenches you without you realizing. Over night there had been a group of young German Kids doing some fancy dress thing, we had smurfs and power rangers, NOT Allan, we had Cleopatra and some young lady in a VERY short nighty. 'orible it wuz! Spoiled me breakfast, took me a while to get the jam out of my ear!
Mark 'T' is still ill, result for Allan that, he gets to ride a proper bike, well Marks Blackbird at least. Not so sure Mark was ill though, that fine English drizzle that soaks you slowly etc; as we dressed the machine's, then it tipped it down. Mark is in the truck, Allan doing the drowning rat! Hey!
The rest of the guy's went on away to Rotterdam, via the Mona dams (Dam busters et all, well that is what they told me.......honest!) in the RAIN! Again. I left about 30 minutes later only to pass them on the motorway, fine weather riders the lot of em! 60mph what is that all about, give it some!
Me 'ikkle 650 whooped um, then ran out of gas. Ho Hum, (that should stir them up!)
Me, well I did get to Holland, not Belgium, to find my friend was still in Germany, it happens (be nice if it was someone else though). So I went to Calais where I did meet some old work colleagues. We had a grand night and.........................I got a rear lamp.........I blew mine back in the Ukraine.....result!
Enough now, I am home. It has been an adventure. We have laughed, cried and sworn at life and each other, but it has been an adventure.
I am told the guy's who had the tiff made up, if that is the case I makes me happy, we met as strangers it is only fitting we part as friends after all we have shared. Whether it happens again with the same guys, I doubt it, but when all is said and done it was fun.
Give us time and you will hear every version of this there can be, but for now our aching bodies and tired minds need rest, well mine does, humility, sadness, joy and pain.
We never did sit and talk “meaningful stuff” (Tim W). We drove, ate, drank and laughed at life. Each one of us will have our own take, this has been mine.
Thank you for reading this, but mostly to our wives and partners, thanks for letting us do it, without to much addo!
Mostly for the children,.........may their god be with them all,...... however they persieve him or her.
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