Road Trip Across Seven Countries
So, In my previous post, I promised that I will tell you all about my decision to ride to Lithuania and back, on a motorbike that, at the time, I’ve been riding for less than a month.
After demanding three weeks of holiday from my previous job, I decided to spend it with my father in the countryside of Lithuania. Problem was that I waited too long to buy the flight tickets and three days before my first day of holiday I decided not to pay £250 for a 12-hour return flight to Lithuania. Instead, I had a spontaneous idea that I should motorbike across seven countries. Starting from England and going through France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Poland and arriving in Lithuania. It’s roughly 1500 miles to my destination when avoiding the motorways. What could go wrong?
My decision didn’t have much thought or research behind it, it never does. I just google mapped the route and only told my parents that I was going on the motorbike. My mum, of course, had a heart attack but my father said “Hell yea!”. Then, I whizzed around London for two days looking for and buying the necessities I knew I’d have to have. I did an oil and battery change on my bike and bought some bungee straps to fit my luggage on the back of it. Seeing as I was planning to camp along with my route, I bought a mini stove for days where I could not make a fire. The plan was flawless.
Sunday finally arrived, the day I had to dispatch. Of course, I had to have a morning shift on the bar that day. Why would it be any other way? As a result, I had to book a fairy for 10 pm. Arrival to France was past midnight so I decided to book a hotel room for my first night. I did not want to look for a camping spot in the dark, in a country I’m not familiar with. The following day, my trip truly began. I was woken up by a hotel attendant as I overslept. I had a couple of coffees and set off for Belgium where I had my first night out in the woods. On the second day, I rode through Netherlands and halfway into Germany.
Near Hanover, is where I had my first ever fall. My bike fell from under me when turning on a bit of gravel. Seeing as I got away with small scratches on my knee and palms, I was more worried about the bike as it fell onto its exhaust side. After parking up, inspecting my bike and kissing my own booboos. I set off to find my second camping spot.
The following day I made it all the way to Poland. Crossing the border was super sketchy. I found myself transitioning from seamless roads to gravel and potholes in a blink of an eye. After my fall in Germany, I thought that it would take me 8 days to ride through Poland at 10mph. But, further into the country, roads got a fair bit better and my worries faded. By evening, I found myself in Grudziadz. I was lazy and found some excuses to book a hotel. In the shower, I discovered a tick on my ribs. A little politician-like parasite that buries its head under your skin and bloat itself up with blood until it literally can no longer walk. Disgusting fellas. It can be tricky pulling them out. You must gently, grab it closest to its head and carefully twist its neck until it lets go. Then you burn the devil.
The following night was my arrival to Lithuania. The countryside building where I would stay for two weeks belongs to a hunter. Although, he does not live there. My father looks after this place and uses it as a workshop for his woodwork. Its a beautiful, old-fashioned structure in a middle of a Forrest. It has an ancient wood and stone sauna right next to the lake. There is nothing like getting but naked in the sauna and running out into a nice cool lake for a swim.
The following two weeks I spent there, was working with my dad and hunting with the hunter. I made myself a bushcraft knife and a leather shieth to go with it. Had some good practice skinning and splitting a wild boar and a rabbit.
It was very therapeutic to spend some time away from the city and its distractions, working with my hands and having the time to think and decide what to do next.
On the way back, it was a similar story as the way there. Before I left Lithuania I had to change my back tyre. Trouble was that my bike is quite small and it is hard to find the right tyres for it in Lithuania. I ended up having to purchase a second-hand nylon tyre from a market. I don’t even know why they make nylon tyres as they are a death trap. That tyre was the reason for the greatest fall I ever had.
In Poland, somewhere near Swiebodzin, I rode in fast-moving traffic at around 40mph. It started to rain and in a blink of an eye, I was sliding. I remember opening my eyes while on the ground. I looked around and realise what just happened. My bike was on top of my leg, there was a car in front of me and a car behind me. To my left cars were moving even faster. I could feel the rainwater building up against my shoulder as I slid down the road. This was where I closed my eyes and thought to myself “let’s just slide it out”. I don’t know how long the bike was riding me, but it felt like a few Mississippis.
When it finally came to a stop I realised how lucky I was. I didn’t hit anybody and I got away with some road rash on my hip and my jacket was torn. Inspecting the bike was not so fun. My left handlebar was bent inwards. After a few minutes, I had realised that my phone popped out of the handlebar holster. That thing was a mess, the bike must have been sliding on top of it the entire time I was down.
So here I was, in Poland, on a Sunday evening, with a bent handlebar and no map. The sun was setting and shops were closed. There was nowhere I could camp so I had to move on. I decided to jump on the motorway and by night I made it all the way to Berlin. On the outskirts of the capital was where I camped.
I must have camped on private property as in the morning I was greeted by a nice German fella. We spoke in sign language, but I’m sure that he was telling me that I could not camp here. I explained to him my situation, so he left me be. I took off shortly after and when I arrived at the closest city I bought a new phone and was back on track.
I managed to make it to the fairy with a few hours to spare. A beautiful girl at the passport check let me go onto the earlier boat. I felt blessed.
I do regret not taking any photographs during my travels. I was simply enjoying the ride with my own two eyes. On the way there and back I saw some beautiful scapes and details. I could have built an entire arsenal of images around them. But, at the time, I felt pressed for time, I set myself a timeframe of 3 days riding and I had to get there. On the way back it was a similar situation, I had a fairy to be on. In Lithuania, it felt unfair to my father, to leave early or disappear for hours taking photos. So, I just left my camera aside. This was my first, long-term motorcycle trip so I had to do it by myself. Documenting it was not on my mind as I had to explore my abilities and limits. Now that I know what I can endure and what my bike is capable of. I will most certainly have a few more trips, very soon.