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Author Topic: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days  (Read 3822 times)

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Offline DonA

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #15 on: October 26, 2007, 08:00:16 AM »
James as soon as you made this last post. I printed it out because I had to run out of the house to met some contractors. While waiting for them at the job site I had the pleasure to sit back and enjoy your little adventure.

This is my kind of story. I love these kinds of adventures myself. I've been  on many in my 51 years.

I have a bike too. A Harley Heritage Softtail that is totally customized and chromed from stem to stern.

Hurry up back and post some more please, I hate waiting and I have zero patience.

I am loving this story!

DonAz

Offline James

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2007, 10:04:37 AM »
Nice bike and glad you like the story :) I will gt it done asap but is slow going as my hands heal up from 6 days of 14 hour rides.

Will have it done soon

James

Offline Jinx

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #17 on: October 26, 2007, 01:10:14 PM »
 James,

 This is a great story...you really have a talent for writing, when I was reading it I felt like I was right there with you...like Don, I am waiting with anticipation for the next installment.


Offline Manny

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #18 on: October 26, 2007, 02:49:54 PM »
Quote from: James
A cop comes out on a ‘crossing’ looks more like a splash of paint on the road and waves this white and black baton at me. Oh hell no! I had no cash and spoke no Ukrainian or Russian…so…I waved back all polite and carry on.

Yeah I tried that in Latvia in a 12 year old Mercedes Van, it didn't work, he caught me! Next month it is Estonia in a 500 S Class, let Ivan try to stop me then.  :laugh:

Quote from: James
It was at this stage that I noticed that every woman seemed to be a damn model and dressed in thigh high boots!

It seems to be the new Eastern European fashion, I was telling Don recently, Estonian women are clad in them also, I got Mrs Manny a pair too! Best $400 I ever spent.  ;D

You did well to get the flat mate!

You are right about the signs around Germany/Holland border, they could be much improved, especially on the German side coming back, one saying "Holland" would be most helpful. The Dutch are OK in that they sign you out of the country as Mark said, their signs are not too bad I found. the Krauts are all too busy sitting on the Berlin ring road dreaming of being naked to think about signs.

please tell me where I'm being / have been 'dishonest'? 
Yes, he said that.........

Offline James

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #19 on: October 28, 2007, 01:05:57 AM »

I woke up sore and tight to the sound of the phone going off as the alarm and a call from Lesya to arrange the pick up time to go and see the Ambassador, during the call I run out of credit and find that I cannot call out to my provider to top up the credit! I am no longer able to make calls in the Ukraine and let anyone know how I am doing and that I am safe. My phone works on O2 and people should be aware of this when they go to the Ukraine.

I got dressed and went outside to have a look around at the place as waited for Lesya to pick me up. The street outside is lined with rows of painting for sale and small stall shops selling various items, it was cold I think but I was wind burnt and everything that was not 80mph in 2c was feeling rather warm and the cool air on my face felt great.

Lesya arrived and is the person from the PR team for the Embassy, very hard working, organised and a people person that seems to run as a theme in the Embassy to just go above and beyond to help people out. We head off for a coffee at the Ukraine version of Star Bucks, it is Star Bucks but is written in Russian letters. I like coffee but I am not pretentious about it I just like coffee, it took a few minutes for them to work out that I did not want an espresso, cappuccino, latte I just wanted a coffee, black with sugar and a chicken sandwich. It was very nice and the place was crammed with more models in thigh high boots for some reason.

Lesya will not let me pay for the morning breakfast and then we get to go on the cable bus! Very cool and not been on one since I was a child. We get to the Consulate and I meet his Excellency in the foyer, he was not what I was expecting and was obvious from just a few seconds of chatting to him that he was acutely aware of peoples feelings and how to put them at ease. He adopted a relaxed posture with an easy smile and greeted me asking simple easy questions with some jokes, I was impressed and I am not the easy to impress. The camera crew turn up and the Ambassador guides me in stride to a side room to do the filming, we do the simple hand shake and he signs the card with the stamp then a few questions from the INTER team for him. He went from simply chatting about me and the trip into what would be seen as a well rounded and smooth speech about charity, people, unity, visas, development, progress and future events in Ukraine! Great, I had to follow that in my interview and I just smiled and laughed and said that I was not going to be delivering something like that I had just not planned anything, I got on a bike and I started riding till I could not ride anymore then I carried on, he just laughed and said I would be fine. We go outside and do another meeting for the ‘first’ time a few times and then it is off to the square of Independence for some filming of the bike and interview.

I had to ride around and do some breaking shots, then close ups and then a walking interview as I chatted to the INTER team, the camera man was a biker! And seriously impressed that I had made it all the way here in 3 days, I was determined to get back in 2 I told him.
When all the filming and shaking of hands is done they tell me they will send me a DVD of the of the filming when it has been edited and I make my way for something to eat as it is now 3pm. Lesya meets me again and says that there is reports of snow in west Ukraine and that I should stay at the Embassy another night. I mull that over for a few hours, the flat is amazing and comfy and I could do my postcards later and look around the city. I agree to stay a night much to her joy, she seems to have a motherly concern that I am going to end up a red spot on the Ukrainian roads.

And so the journey back begins! I was still sore but I felt I could make better time with not having to stop as much and check the map as I now know the road signs and during my last good meal at the Irish pub in Kiyv I got the waitress to write down the names of the towns in the Russian alphabet spelling! Armed with this new knowledge I went back to the flat and filled in some post cards for some friends of mine and took another bath for my joints. Took my last sleep in a comfy bed and had arranged to meet Fred the Embassy security manager at 07.30hrs Ukraine time. I had parked my bike at the rear of the Embassy for a secure lock up and what better that having a load of gates and two Police guards for my precious bike!

It was a clear and bright morning but I was not looking forward to the trip back as I knew how painful it was going to be to get back in two days, this was going to mean some serious riding and I had thrown on an extra pair of socks for the cold rally. I got an escort from the city from the Ambassador’s driver, yet another act of kindness from the Embassy team in Kiyv! Heading out of the city I was doing some maths that if I do an extra 10mph over 10 hours that is going to give me 100 miles on a trip, so an extra 10mph was given while I had the good light and I spare no quarter to cars, whipping past them with the power of the bhp that I had at my disposal. I was chewing up the miles this time and my plan was to get Ukraine and Poland behind me as quickly as possible as night riding would be far better in Western Europe on the well laid and illuminated roads.

This was the key to cutting down the journey time and I went for it, trucks, cars and busses got passed like they had stalled and I checked the oil on my baby, she was running on the low side but nothing serious and so I pushed her on. The power ripping up the miles and zooming past the traffic that leaves a car stuck for miles at a time looking for a gap, a biker needs no such gap and the pull of the bike gets you past a slow truck in a matter of seconds! I made light work of the Ukraine roads and was in Li’viv within 5 hours, it would take a car and average of 7 hours I am told and that extra little push was paying dividends over time.

I got to the border of Poland and the Ukraine and again there was a huge line of trucks waiting to cross for about 3 miles, I went past them with my normal power and grace from the Aprilia! Then it happens, as it normally does it comes right out of the blue, a huge arse Russian truck just pulls out on me and I react as quickly as I can. You just know when you are not going to make it when you are a biker and time slows down as you react, I push my hip out hard and swerve my bike….BANG! and I am looking the other way now and losing the traction from the wheels but slowing fast, I feel the body start to slip under me and I know it is dropping. I get pissed off rather than scared and I am on a wet road and put my foot down, taking the weight of the bike and as my leg stretches and the heel of my boot slides on the tarmac. I have been doing kick boxing and sports from a young age and I let my groin take the strain of the bike while holding her up with my arms on a slide angle till I come to a stop. The truck just keeps going and what was I going to do on a bike against a truck!?! So yeah, he gets the finger! I check my bike and the truck has ripped the side panel bag off but not caught the actual bike! Time for duck tape and I sell-o-tape the bag back on in true bodge it fashion and get riding again.

At the check point I have to wait again but this time rather than waiting and walking around looking for a guard I tried the direct approach. I pulled up, gave a few power rev tunes with the twin exhausts and fly to the front of the line and OVER the ‘stop’ line. This gets immediate attention and I opt for the hapless British tourist lost in the big Ukraine. English? I ask and the Guard shakes his head and points at the back of the line, I smile and nod and but go nowhere and hold out my passport to him. Again he shakes his head and points to the back of the line and again I look back then to him with a smile I nod and hold out my passport “English?” I say again with a smile, this is met with a frown and a groan and he now points to a office box where I get my passport stamped, at last I now seem to understand him and rev over to the desk. I toss my documents in and smile “good morning! I am British and would like to get my backside back to the uk as soon as possible please darling” I said this at full Liverpudlian pace and heavy on the accent. You would be hard pressed to understand me if you had been from Yorkshire let alone the Ukraine and I smiled knowing this nodding at my documents. She pauses and looks at the Guard who shrugs and I give him a smile and thumbs up! She shakes her head but stamps the passport and passes it back “Thank you!” two rev blips and I am out of there.

Poland! I still have daylight and plenty of it for the trip as I hammer on down the road to Krakow, I was sort of sad to leave the Ukraine and the country has so much to offer a tourist that I felt cheated that I had so little time to spend there. I will go back again for a ‘tourist’ holiday for sure. I can then take my time and look over the many wonderful places that the country of Ukraine has to offer. That is if they still do not have the visa to deal with. I would hope not as to me a visa says ‘we do not trust you’ and Ukraine is working and working well to becoming a full member of the EU family and I do look forward to that day.

I am now heading up the middle of Poland and it is getting darker by the second, the only thing faster than the light fading is the temperature dropping around me. Biking in the cold is a trade off for endurance, the faster you go the colder you get and the sooner you have to stop and heat back up, the slower you go the warmer it is and longer you can ride but you lose the light and the light was the key factor in the bad roads situation. I had been riding now from 8am Ukraine time to 2am Poland time when I hit Legecia. I am done and with 780miles of Eastern block road over and some 18 hours on the road I had to sleep or fall off the bike! I am cold, cold to my bones not just skin cold. On a bike there is a deep painful cold that you can get that just makes everything ache from the inside out. It feels like your bones have been frozen and the most simple move requires a serious dedication of effort. So I find a motel and book in, screw it I need a bed tonight. A nice place with a locked car park that would stop a car but not a 1000cc enduro monster that just pulls up the grass hill and around the lock gates past a gap no wider than a fat trucker.

TBC











Offline Manny

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #20 on: October 28, 2007, 02:52:58 AM »
Quote from: James
  Lesya meets me again and says that there is reports of snow in west Ukraine and that I should stay at the Embassy another night. I mull that over for a few hours, the flat is amazing and comfy and I could do my postcards later and look around the city. I agree to stay a night much to her joy, she seems to have a motherly concern that I am going to end up a red spot on the Ukrainian roads.

Is it just me or did James maybe miss the point here?  :laugh:

Your methods of dealing with border control made me laugh, I once did the belligerent Brit bit at the Lithuania/Latvia border (Pre-EU), then one of my travelling companions decided he would start arguing about our insurance documents, the end result was lots of shouting and guns pointed at us. We behaved then.  :duh:
please tell me where I'm being / have been 'dishonest'? 
Yes, he said that.........

Offline Chris

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #21 on: October 28, 2007, 02:54:23 AM »
Is it just me or did James maybe miss the point here?  :laugh:


I must admit I was thinking that too :)

Online Markje

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #22 on: October 28, 2007, 03:46:51 AM »
Keep on writing james, apart from the cold (It was warm and I was driving a car) it seems very familiar  :king:

I didn't notice ANY bad roads in poland though, nice and illuminated as I drove from chelm immedialty south to the motorway that was there (toll-road though, but so much nicer !!!)
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Offline DonA

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #23 on: October 28, 2007, 08:15:49 AM »
James I hope you have more to add here. I've  thoroughly enjoyed it so far!

DonAz

Offline James

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #24 on: October 28, 2007, 08:18:15 AM »
Thanks Guys!

Am doing well on the donation target! I will get to doing the rest as soon as I can.

I missed the point?  ;D Lesya is like a mum at the Embassy and I do not go Greek  :evilgrin0002:

NO bad roads in Poland...I agree ...if your in a car...if you are a biker it is another story as the road becomes a whole new world on two wheels and things that car and van drivers do not notice (like BIKERS! and their side panels) a biker has to deal with. Leaves are as slick as oil for a bike, a car will not notice the wind breakers, a car will not notice divets and wells in the road. What is a good road when you have air con, a cd and trackion control is an entire world away from being out in the elements with two wheels that follow divets like a notice on skis gets pulled off the ski lift.

It is almost impossible to explain the diff to a driver from a rider, you can SMELL that there is a truck 200 yards around the corner, you are aware that you have to know at all times what is coming or may come as you do not 'skid' on a bike, you fall off. In a car at 50mph your air bag goes off and you have a cut nose and a headache, do that on a bike and you are in a wheelchair for 6 months, crutches for 8 and thanking god that you still have all your fingers.

A trip like this for a biker at this time of year is seriously hard work folks and I have done some funky stuff in my life and this almost killed me a few times  8)

I hope you all enjoy the read and for the bikers out there, you know what I am talking about when I say cold and vibration burn plus fatigue = death  ;)

Online Markje

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #25 on: October 28, 2007, 08:29:15 AM »
Well James,

Soon I hope to be talking from experience when talking about bikes  :party0031:

Unfortunatly my money is spent differently for a while than on getting my bike-license :)

Mark.
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Offline James

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #26 on: October 28, 2007, 10:16:10 AM »
It's an addiction and a lifestyle  ;D in the UK they are changing the test laws, make sure you are not going to be waiting to take the new devil test  :evilgrin0002: with 60mph swerve and high speed emergency stops!


Offline ECR844

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #27 on: October 28, 2007, 10:20:53 AM »
It's an addiction and a lifestyle  ;D in the UK they are changing the test laws, make sure you are not going to be waiting to take the new devil test  :evilgrin0002: with 60mph swerve and high speed emergency stops!




Just be sure to fill out your organ donor card before getting on your "Donor cycle".

Offline James

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #28 on: October 29, 2007, 12:35:35 AM »
I think a donar card is a great idea regardless of what you do as a hobby, sport or lifestyle, good call..........even if you just sit in the house encased in cotton wool....get them cards filled in.

Thanks for that...also give blood, try for free like the British do  ;)

Offline James

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #29 on: November 13, 2007, 01:36:29 AM »
Am so sorry it took me so long to get this last part of the trip done!   8)

I get in and book the room with no problem but then find that they do not take credit cards! Eh Gads! I have some GBP on me and work out that 100 Polish is about £20, great and the girl at the desk speaks English to a degree. I get my £20 and she then says no, Euro! Euro is not now nor I hope ever will be British pounds! So after much talking and getting so tired my eye begins to weep blood again, I was getting rather worried about it this stage. She takes my passport and informs me that I may pay in the morning. Fine then, I am in no mood to argue and I head for a thaw out bath and then almost crawl into bed for some well needed sleep.


I woke late, about 9am and get washed when I notice that I have a small cut over my tear duct and was the reason that my eye was weeping, this was a great relief to me and then I went in my pockets and I got my small change from coffee and buying bits and bobs. I have 40 Polish and a load of Euro coins and get an idea. Yes, got it as I paid for my room in half Polish and then convert the rest into Euro and can get my passport back with my small change. Also getting rid of my small change is a bonus. I was still left with about 200 Ukrainian but I just roll that up and shove it in my pack.


Back on the road and this time I have full day light and open roads of Europe. I take my time getting my gear ready as I now know that this pays dividends in the later hours of endurance riding and off I roar towards Germany. I made short work of the few hundred miles to the German border and in fact there is no border really to speak of. Yes I am back in Europe and no more check points apart from the French!
I was now feeling rather warm as my body had grown accustomed to the bitter sub zero cold and so a day riding the sunshine for hours on end was actually the fun part. It is firmly in your mind that the night is going to come and you feel a sort of instant shift in the temperature, like pockets of cold that lets you know the real pain is about to begin again.


This helps drive you on in the daylight and take as much advantage as possible, so much so that it was not until I reached the Berlin ring road that I stopped for fuel, no coffee, a quick smoke and leap back on the monster and tear up the road towards the Netherlands as fast as possible. The autobahn is wonderful I this time I took full advantage that I knew where I was going and could go as fast as I dare. No more flashing to move over this time as I drop the hammer and cruise at 130mph. Now it is me doing the flashing to get the cars to pull over as I rip past Hanover and keep the throttle on. I have to stop more for fuel but that is fine as it still cheaper than UK fuel at 55mph!


I am now heading towards Antwerp and the night has set in again, the slow lowering of the sun gives a slight sinking feeling as my fingers first notice the drop in temperature. I was doing well and with 10 hours of riding behind me I was thinking that I could make France all in one night and get the train back in the morning. I just wanted to get home and end this now and that was the prevailing will that made me grit my teeth and hit the damn Antwerp ring road. It was busy, not as busy as Berlin but still enough to slow me down and anything that made me go slower was a real drag.


I pulled over on the Euro way or motorway or whatever they call them over there and just plunked down on grass verge exhausted. I lay back in the dark and the loud sound of trucks growling past and pulled off my helmet to have a smoke and just look at the stars. I needed some peace, I needed some strength and I needed it now. The stars have always been a form of inspiration to me and I am sure to many others that ever just sat and looked at them, not to name them or know anything or as tool to get in some girls knickers because you’re all sensitive and so on but to just look. I lay back on the grass on this busy road at night smoking and looking at the stars and I could feel my issues of cold, pain and frustration simply ebb away as the cosmos grins back at you. You, my friend are a little baldy monkey on a little machine sucking poison on the side of a little ball of dirt and water. Yeah, it does kind of put things into perspective and I grin, sit up, put on my gloves and helmet, get on that bike and head for home.


When the cold is too much to take or the bike needs fuel I pull over, smoke, look up with a grin and then get going again. It was not till I got a sign for Calais that I even notice that I am making some head way. Then all of a sudden I get a sign for Tunnel of Euro, well La Euro something but it has a picture of a choo choo train! Good enough for me I thought and it is amazing how you get a second winded will of conviction when that finish tape is in sight. Pure psychological adrenaline and I pull into Calais tunnel at 1am and need to hit London by 10am to do the trip in 7 days. My ticket is booked for 6am but I am so pumped and up for this now that I book on right away and pay the little extra.


As soon as I get on the train and park my bike up I roll my gloves up and lay on the side to fall asleep. It is warm and the gentle rocking the train floor as she heads for UK is bliss. Seems like seconds when I hear a distant ding noise going off and I come around to find we are pulling into Folkstone! The ding noise was for me! They have cameras on the train and this was my alarm call to get off. I must remember to thank them for that as I get my kit ready and flick the electric start that guts the engine back into life.


I fly out of the train and then I get a bonus, time zones! I am an hour back from CET and so the 30 min train ride took minus 30 minutes, how cool is that! I pull into the petrol station and fill up with the new shocking ouch price but I am home and I do not care. I do not have to ask the girl is she speaks English and the counter is full of pasties and sandwiches not cakes and sausages!! I have a chat with the girl as it is late on the night shift and I am feeling like I made it already but still have 140 miles to go to London. 140 miles would seem like a long ride normally but I had just done 812 miles none stop and it seemed like popping to the shops.


I send a text message to Dymitri that I am back in the UK and did Inter want to do anymore filming or could I just go home? He shows some pity and says I must be so tired, go home. I did not argue and I start up the M20 towards London and I hit London at 02.40am, I even stop off at the M25 service station for a celebration Costa Rica coffee, as sit there and look at the empty car park but for some trucks and think back over the week of what I gone through and the times I had thought that I am just not going to make this one, I look to the motorway of the M1 and think about doing the rest of the trek to Liverpool that same distance. Over 900 miles I have done from when I woke and set off at 10am in Poland and it was now 3am at London add a couple of time zones in that and I just did 900miles in about 18 hours of riding hell. That works out at a constant average of 50mph if I never stopped for fuel or had traffic jams or all the other things that I never took into calculation. I was now aware of just what endurance riding was all about and it is about character and strength of will.


I finish my coffee and get on the bike slowly as the cramp in my legs is getting the better of me after sitting down and as I hit the M1 I come into a thick patch of freezing fog. One thing that will always stick with me from time learning to ride motorbikes was Boyd’s words ‘freezing fog is suicide, put in the garage, take the bus or the car but just leave the bike alone’. Boyd and Karl’s advice had seen a complete novice rider get from Liverpool down to London, London to Hanover, Hanover to Krakow, Krakow to Kiev, Kiev to Lagencia, Lagencia to London in 7days. I was not about to ignore their advice on this and I pulled into Milton Keynes service station and booked a room for the night setting off at first light when the ‘death’ fog had been burnt away.


It was a strange feeling seeing the signs for Liverpool as I head up with the commuters and day trippers. Apart from the bike looking like hell then no one would know or even care what I had done alone and without a clue of what I was getting into. Some novice biker from a council estate in Liverpool rode 1800+ miles in 7 days and shook hands with two Ambassadors of state and raised just on £1000, not bad going, not bad at all and I was rather pleased if I did say so myself.


I pulled into my parents estate (council not grounds!) and the back gates open as ride the bike in and duck my head I am greeted by Dad, Mum, Debbie and my niece Chloe all clapping, it was wonderful to be home. I slept longer than I had in a long time that day and night and the next week the rest of family came around for some drinks, something to eat and to take the piss out of me, it was beautiful to sit and banter with the family again and I have some wonderful memories of the trip.
I wonder how long it would take me to do that by pushbike ? …………………………   :party0031:

James.