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Author Topic: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days  (Read 3823 times)

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Offline James

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UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« on: August 23, 2007, 02:13:24 AM »
Hiya gang,

here is my site

http://www.justgiving.com/UK2UKRAINE

what am I doing?

Am going to get a card from the Ukrainian Embassy in London take that to the British Embassy in Ukraine and then bring it back again.

How far is that?

2986 miles

How long?


Under 7 days from the time it is stamped

How does that work out?

426 miles a day, everyday and at 10 hours of travel that works out as 42.6 mph ave speed.

Sound like a challenge? No? I didn’t think so either! Lets up this a bit shall we.

No hotel stays

No support team or camera crew

Solo ride, so no Charlie to chat to about his Dakar DVD


What else? Oh yeah, I passed my bike test 2 months ago and the bike, a Triumph 955i has done 30k already. She is British and a tough old bird and I have faith in the make.

Why?


A friend of mine was diagnosed with MS Multiple Sclerosis and it meant that I had no way of helping my friend and I always help my friends! So I will do this CHALLENGE and raise what money I can for MS Society, the people that can do something to help with this horrible, painful and frightening condition.

How do I raise the money?

Good question and glad you asked! I am hitting every company that I can and begging for any amount no matter how small to help. I am looking to family and friends to dig in , I am looking for the great generous public to donate anything via the website. Yes sending good wishes and a message is a help
also and very much appreciated.



AND Manchester and Ladagirl is going to be my first sponsor, any and all donations are welcome or just well wishes.  ;D


Offline Ladagirl

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2007, 02:23:42 AM »
We started with £10.   ;D


Offline James

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2007, 02:26:30 AM »
and thank you so very much for your help and support mate  ;D


Offline Patrick

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2007, 03:02:35 PM »
I am in !! Just tell me how to get it to you .

Offline Manny

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2007, 03:21:02 PM »
Go to his page here: http://www.justgiving.com/UK2UKRAINE and click the sponsor me now button.
please tell me where I'm being / have been 'dishonest'? 
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Offline James

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2007, 06:21:00 PM »
UK to Ukraine by motorbike in 7 days.

Now that I am back it feels like a dream of the cold hard bitter night rides and all the things that happened to make this all happen in the first place. It began as so many things do with just a simple idea and a challenge. I was hearing about Ewan and Charlie on TV having done this world bike ride and looked at an episode. Utter piss I thought as I had done some expeditions with the RAF and having a support crew, medical team, back up and friends was more of a jolly than any real challenge of the human spirit to conquer adversity. At this stage I had not passed a bike test and knew very little of them and to most I still do not. Bikes are big, shiny and go fast! What more does one need to know to be able to ride a bike.

Not long after this my friend got some bad news that she was diagnosed with MS. A vibrant and colourful woman that makes anyone she meets smile. She is that special kind of person that people just like to be around and makes your world that little brighter for having known her. I looked into MS and what it means and what steps could be taken to ease the risks. My friend remains positive about the condition as is her nature to do so. Nothing is too much trouble and moaning is not a quality that would ever be used to describe her, even when she has call to whine.

So I did what any crazy lunatic does that loves a good challenge, I combined the two and said that I would do a motorbike ride with no crew or mates from London to Moscow and back again in a week! That is about as much planning as I had put into it and I just love all the little things that go wrong on adventures as that is what makes it an adventure…and there was plenty to go wrong!

I took my bike test and this was not long after a serious car crash that I had coming off the mountain roads in Cumbria and landing on the roof, then having to smash a window to crawl out in the snow and limp 2 miles to a farm house. The Police rescue car crashed getting to me, the ambulance got stuck and in the end a 4x4 Police car made it to me and took me to hospital. Really thought that I was going to die on that one but with the doors caved in and stuck I used my Police baton to break the window. Work gave me a 12 month warning for having a baton off site, thanks for that one guys much appreciated. Anyway, I took my bike test and I was failed, I say I was failed as I did not feel that I failed it. I was failed on the fact that the examiner thought that a woman wanted to use a zebra crossing and I did not stop, she was not at the crossing and was in fact coming along the pavement in the direction of the crossing. I am a Police Officer and I trend to notice these things! So I was failed by the petty little man and his clipboard. I took the test again and the same gimp comes out the examination area, Jesus! Yeah he failed me again, this time based on the fact that at a staggered junction that I had right of way from the other car, she took off at the same time that I did but was speeding and because I can only accelerate to 30mph she has to break, failed! I was livid and then thought that the petty man just had a thing about Policemen. I went to another area of Liverpool for my test and took it with another guy, passed and without so much as a mark on the examination paper. Case proved and yes if I ever see Gimp riding and break that speed limit I will smile while I book him.

That done it was time to go and get sorted for the bike event, I got in touch with the MS Society and they helped me set up a webpage, I then emailed everyone that I knew and sent off emails to companies. How are you doing this and what is the unique angel? Hmm had not thought about that, I was talking to the Russian embassy as I needed a visa and it would take up to 3 weeks! Oh hell no, I was not waiting that long as it would be seriously cold, I can take the pain but ice is just suicide on a bike so I looked at the map. Ukraine! I took a look on Google and guess what! Since 2005 EU folks do not need a visa for a 90 day stop!!! Fantastic, Ukraine it is then and so UK to Ukraine Kiev was born.

I was already speaking to an Embassy and that gave me the idea of getting a letter from one Ambassador to the other! So I wrote off and I got a reply the next working day from the press office of the Embassy. They wanted details and support lists, I was just a Copper with a bike and passport! The people at both Embassies are amazing and dedicated and UK Embassy Kiev sorted out a media TV crew to come and film my take off from London. I rode down to London from Liverpool and stayed at the Youth Hostel in Holland Park, just around the corner from the Embassy of the Ukraine. My bags packed and woollies on I waited for the morning and looked around for a barber. I get a hair cut for £25 and for a Liverpool Cop I almost arrested her right there and then for theft, welcome to London James!

I had packed just warm gear and some advice that I got from Boyd at Almaxx motorbikes in Maghull, great bunch of lads and know what they are talking about. I got a discount on all the stuff and the full body rain suit saved my life in the end. I had some chain lube, rolls of duck tape and a big chain with pad lock, sorted!

I waited in the YHA and lay there looking at the bunk above me with the odd stain looking back at me. The oddest feeling started and I was not sure what was going on at first, it was nerves. For the first time in so many years I was nervous that I could not do this event. That pissed me off, I do not get nervous, I simply do and keep doing till I have completed it or I died trying. I shook the stupid feeling from me and went for a walk and a smoke. I thought of all the things that I have done in my life and this was not going to be anything different. I had lived in the mountains of Indonesia being the only white man there, I had been in the forces and did god knows what, I had sailed the UK in a Hurricane 4.5, I have climbed every peak in the UK, been shot at, stabbed, god knows how many fist fights and I had embraced a community of ‘Travellers’ that are supposed to hate my kind. Sort your self out James was the key thought in my head and I smiled, went back to the bunk and fell asleep.

It was morning and the feeling was replaced with determination to get it done and the fact that I had no support, did not know the roads and my map was a A4 sheet of town names sellotaped to my tank was just fine by me….bring it on!

The embassy had arranged for a TV crew from INTER to be there to meet the Ambassador to the UK and also film my riding off to Kiev. The Embassy of the Ukraine is an impressive place and very secure, I was lead in to the main room with a large chandler  and solid wooden floor. There was a lady there from the BBC to do a tape interview also. One call from the Embassy had done more than 120 emails from me! I had a quick chat with Olexander the Diplomat and a guard came over asking who I was with a frown. The guard was nothing new to me in my world and I would normally be that guard and rather than making me uncomfortable, it made me smile and laugh a little as Olex waved him off.

The Ukrainian Ambassador was very nice and well presented as one would expect, some small chit chat about bikes and the roads in Ukraine and he signs my post card for me with the Embassy stamp. It was another hour or so with the TV crew with interviews and film shots before I could set off and is really more Ewan’s thing than mine to have a camera in your face. I was asked a lot of questions that I did not really have an answer for, I am a basic person and I was doing a bike ride to raise money to help MS and my friend…above and beyond that I left in the lap of the gods and my own determination. So any questions about how long will you ride and where will you stay, the truth is that I had no idea about any of that and I didn’t care. I have very few talents but the main one that I do have is that I never give up and have a real iron will when it comes to hardship and endurance. But nothing prepared me for the pain and wonderment that the trip would hold for me.

I set off at about 11am down the M20 to get the train to Calais with little issue and a smooth ride at 70mph, it was not long before I was on the train and driving on the right hand side of the road. This was the first of many issues for me as I have dyslexia and my left and right is not the best in the world. I would have to stop at a junction and work out physically how to turn on a right bend in the right hand lane. The French, for some reason best known to them do not like road signs and I do not read French anyway! So I end up heading the wrong way for about 40mins towards Paris! I could see no water and this was supposed to be a coastal road big clue there! So I stop and look for the town on the road sign on the map, bugger! And back I go and this time head for Dunquerke and the town of Brugge.

I made good time now and felt better about the trip as I went towards Gent, then Antwerp but the Dutch also have an issue with road signs. The main issue is that they do not like to tell you where that road goes past the next town. So you want to go to Breda but the roads split, one says Flurrggen and the other says Gurggen or something but no sign for Breda. So I stop and find that Flurggen is the next small town on the road to BREDA! In England you get a list, Manchester 40 miles, Stoke 60 miles Birmingham 90miles BUT not with the Dutch. You would get Oldham but NOT that it goes to Manchester!! So I had to stop a few times until I got on the E30 that is 300 miles of road that takes you to Berlin.

The Germans! They drive like their kid is in the front seat choking to death and they have to get to the hospital! I was doing around 80mph and I was a slow one on the road. It dark as they do not have road side lights like the UK and they whiz past you at 130mph in a smoking Audi or BMW. They seem to have no idea how brakes work or indeed how long it would take to stop without hitting the car in front. I got to see two smashes and when a German crashes………He crashes! I had rode past France, Belgium and the Netherlands into Germany and now the cold was kicking in at 11pm. I had been on the road for 12 hours with the odd stop for a coffee to help un numb my hands, heated grips will be on the bike next time for sure! I was getting tired and sore but okay to go on until the pain in my toes from the cold that had worked past 3 layers of socks and a pair of AFO boots was getting so sore I was wincing as I rode. I made it as far as Hanover at 2am and with 14 hours of ride it was time to rest or risk being killed on the German highway with the NASCAR lunatics. I got about 6 hours sleep I think and a hot coffee as I had no euros on me and was using a card to get fuel. I had forgot to get the money from the bank in the UK!

The 6hours sees the dawn coming and warmer weather, nothing could prepare me for how cold it is to ride a motorbike in Germany during October at night. It was not cold, it was bitter and painful beyond words. I could see my breath in my helmet as I rode and feel the cold go to my lungs with every breath that I took. It was time to dig in and get mean and that is what I did, I put the bike in gear and set off like a bat from hell. I got to the Berlin ring road and just like the M25 there is a traffic jam. Yay for bikers and skipping down the gap was great, most even moved to the side to let me past with the odd dickhead trying to block me. I did flip the bird and smiled as I swept around the other side and went ‘off road’ up the grass on the Caponord Endro. I head down to Cottbus and for the Polish border as soon as you cross you get to see the change in roads! It went from a smooth even ride that was even boring at times to a patch work quilt of tarmac that looked like it was laid by blind Irish immigrants!

I thought that Germany was cold…….I was wrong! Poland does not spend money on wind blockers for the highway or even set up tree lines to stop the wind, the cars went from Audi and Merc to rust and MOT failures in a matter of hours. I was happy and could feel my toes, what I did not expect or plan for was chapped lips! Now with the cold wind I could feel my top lip starting to rip, not the most pleasant feeling when riding and being bounced all over the road but bumps and lumps. It was hard going through Poland but the place is beautiful to see and the road does improve when you get on the A4 toll road that Euro development helped with. I stopped a few times for fuel and coffee the further you go across the East of Europe the less people speak English. The good thing is that Europe uses pictures on the roads for service stations and not words like the Welsh do!

It was now late in the evening and the roads had taken the toll on my shoulders and chest muscles. I was in good shape and strong but nothing made me ready for 9 hours of Polish roads and being bounced around like a new born. Another thing that I had not thought of was the amount of old arsed trucks spewing fumes on me, my eyes are now burning and my head is pounding like it will split the helmet. One great thing was that the bike was just lapping up the abuse and I seriously doubt that normal street bikes would stand up to the same test. After 14 hours on the road I was done as I hit the town of Krakow on the far side of Poland and near to the Ukrainian border. I was surprised how long it was taking me to get there and thought it would be a simple case of lapping up the miles. Bikes are NOT like cars and you have to concentrate all the time, no stereo, no heater and no chance of coming out of a skid with hitting the ground.

Krakow had a large service station and a café, I got what looked like a cheese burger and chips but when open was not like any burger I had seen, the coronation dressing was a shock but did take away the taste of the ‘meat’, not sure what it was and was not going to ask as I was tired and hungry. I got about 8 hours sleep and woke in the dark hours of the new dawn with puffed up red eyes, sore feet and a dull ache all over my chest. I was not even half way and really did think ‘I am just not going to make this one alive’ it was now the start of day 3 and the fun at the Polish / Ukrainian Border.

TBC

Offline DonA

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2007, 07:28:59 PM »
Hey James,

I'm looking forward to more. Great style! Keep it coming!

DonAz

Offline Manny

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2007, 12:04:17 AM »
Quote from: James
I head down to Cottbus and for the Polish border as soon as you cross you get to see the change in roads! It went from a smooth even ride that was even boring at times to a patch work quilt of tarmac that looked like it was laid by blind Irish immigrants!

I thought that Germany was cold…….I was wrong! Poland does not spend money on wind blockers for the highway or even set up tree lines to stop the wind, the cars went from Audi and Merc to rust and MOT failures in a matter of hours.

Didnt I tell you?  :laugh:

Well written James. Waiting for the next bit.  :bow:
please tell me where I'm being / have been 'dishonest'? 
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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2007, 12:33:47 AM »
, then Antwerp but the Dutch also have an issue with road signs. The main issue is that they do not like to tell you where that road goes past the next town. So you want to go to Breda but the roads split, one says Flurrggen and the other says Gurggen or something but no sign for Breda. So I stop and find that Flurggen is the next small town on the road to BREDA! In England you get a list, Manchester 40 miles, Stoke 60 miles Birmingham 90miles BUT not with the Dutch. You would get Oldham but NOT that it goes to Manchester!! So I had to stop a few times until I got on the E30 that is 300 miles of road that takes you to Berlin.

Hi James,

Good story, cant wait for the next part. But why oh-why do you expect the Dutch to list a small town as Breda on the signs (Amsterdam was on the signs, so is Utrecht, and Groningen). If you are going to Manchester from London it would be following roadsigns to stoke-on-trent or something! Doubt you have that one on signs :)

Just want to know though, is Gurrgen Groningen? Because this one is the largest town in the north of holland and not close to Breda. I know it is listed on signs halfway through Netherlands.

So you see, topology is important :) :) I also took the E40 you spoke about and also went to cottbus so I know exactly what road you took I put my first night in at hotel silvia @ gliwice, poland :)

[edit to add] I looked at the dutch map, and the split in the road you talk of, probably listed 2 large towns apart of the one you goto : Road 1: Amsterdam/Utrecht/Groningen, road 2: Rotterdam. Not sure which of these cities are on the signs, but one of these should be there.

Mark.
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Offline Chris

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2007, 02:22:14 AM »
Good report James can't wait to read the rest, when were you in Kiev sounds like you were there around the time I was there.

Offline Chris

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2007, 02:24:34 AM »
Quote from: Mark
Good story, cant wait for the next part. But why oh-why do you expect the Dutch to list a small town as Breda on the signs (Amsterdam was on the signs, so is Utrecht, and Groningen). If you are going to Manchester from London it would be following roadsigns to stoke-on-trent or something! Doubt you have that one on signs

Doesn't matter where you go in the UK Mark, all towns and even small villages are listed for the most part. If you are on the Motorways, then London to Manchester would have virtually have every town in between listed and most smaller villages too. :)

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2007, 02:31:56 AM »
Doesn't matter where you go in the UK Mark, all towns and even small villages are listed for the most part. If you are on the Motorways, then London to Manchester would have virtually have every town in between listed and most smaller villages too. :)

So I take a highway out of London and stoke-on-trent is on the signs? Impressive. You must have very big signs then.

In the NL, like james found out, only small villages are listed if you are actually close to them.

If I leave work here, The first roadsign on the motorway is: Berlin 650KM  :party0031:
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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2007, 02:37:22 AM »
Sorry, I missunderstood you a little, :) they list the main towns as you do, but usually a lot of the smaller ones in between too, no you wouldn't necessarily see Stoke on Trent when leaving London, but you would see Birmingham and others and then Stoke, but lets face it who ever wants to go to Stoke anyway ;)

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2007, 02:51:38 AM »
Sorry, I missunderstood you a little, :) they list the main towns as you do, but usually a lot of the smaller ones in between too, no you wouldn't necessarily see Stoke on Trent when leaving London, but you would see Birmingham and others and then Stoke, but lets face it who ever wants to go to Stoke anyway ;)

How would I know :) I've visited birmingham exactly once and thats the only time I was in GB ;D

It works the same as in NL then, you just need to know which towns are large enough to be on signs far away. For netherlands these towns are:

North : Leeuwarden / Groningen
South: Maastricht
East: Amsterdam / Rotterdam / The Hague
West: Berlin!!!!!

If you remember those, you can always find your way around :)
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Offline James

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Re: UK 2 Ukraine and back again by motorbike in 7 days
« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2007, 06:32:12 AM »
I awoke to find my right eye was weeping now and looking like something from a Rocky film, my hands hurt to move as the joints had started to get repetitive stress injuries in the knuckles and my arse looked like I was a Baboon at mating season! I check my gear in Krakow and the horrible sight of SNOW all over the 5am road that has no lights and the biggest oldest trucks in the world running on it, well shit!. Pain does not kill you it just pisses you off but snow, snow was just going to make it impossible! I spoke a guy in a German truck and asked about the weather report and he told me it was supposed to be sunny later and I then sent a text home for a weather update and told there was no snow. I was stood in it up to my boot laces and pushing it off my bike! The roads looked clear from all the trucks and fumes that get belted out so I just get on the bike and think slow miles is better than no miles. It was  :censored: ing scary and seriously cold out there as I head across the last parts of Poland. The EU A4 road runs out and it is back to the patch work quilt job, as a biker you also find that they do not lay the under rock well and have huge sweeping channels where the truck tires have sunk the road. No problem if you are in a car but on a bike it is like riding down a toboggan shoot and pulls you off course.

It was very painful and slow going and now my ears are hurting as the felt on the full mask is rubbing my lobes inside the helmet, I use the pain as a guide and when my hands, knees, toes and arse cannot take anymore I pull over for a coffee and a smoke. I must of drank a litre of coffee and I am talking about this weird Polish stuff that is frothy and has a hard sediment at the bottom, rather a shock for the first time you drink it! It was hot and that was all that was important.

The snow did thaw at about 11am and I had been slow riding then for about 4 hours and not made much progress as I began to come to the border of Ukraine but the snow had become water and slush as a huge truck thunders over a huge pot hole and tidal waves me from helmet to feet in a wave of shitty watery iced slush! It hit me with enough force that I swerve blind from the crap on my visor and skid to an emergency stop. He in the truck just kept on trucking, *snip*! I clear my visor and find that my oil light and neutral light are on, NO!! I check for damage but see no leak and the oil line is still above minimum so I carry on and hope that some water got in the fuse box and caused the lights to trip. They soon fade off again and I thank my lucky stars that it was just a drop of water in the fuse box. That would have been the end of the trip and to only make it half way, well not even that! Would have been a disaster of major proportions!

The border of Poland and Ukraine is met at first with a huge line of trucks at the side of the road that goes on for a few miles, parked up cars and pissed off truckers! I was a biker J I just pulled out and whipped down the road past all the traffic and into the check point. Large burly looking skinhead guards everywhere, cool! My kind of people and I was happy to see them. I was waiting and then waiting some more and looking at the two cars in front and them not moving. I got off my bike and walked to the front, Oye! Hollered to the biggest guard I could find and he spins around and comes over and into my personal zone, I close the gap a half pace and look him in the eye. “why is the line not moving?” I ask rather pissed off and he looked around and shook his head, I hold up my passport and said British, then point at the line of cars and make a shooing motion with my arms and then shrug. This was my game of charades and how to say ‘am not waiting here all  :censored: ing day, get this line moving!” he looks me up and down and I can see him thinking so I look at him and let him think, he makes a twisting motion that means motorbike and I nod, he points to say come around to the front and goes and speaks to the girl at the desk. I come around and hand in my ‘papers’ done and dusted and off to the check point stamp man, I was happy now and the guards more relaxed came over to point at the big shiny bike. Men all over the world will always love big shiny toys that go fast no matter what country you are in! I let them have a look and do some 9000rpm rev ups for them with big smiles and pats on the back. I even pulled a small wheelie for the lads to a cheer and clap and set off into the country of the Ukraine.

It was already half way into my day light hours and I had only just hit Ukraine on day 3, not good! I put the hammer down and became more aggressive in my riding on the seriously bumpy arsed roads to Kiev. Issue, I do not speak Russian or Ukrainian and not only are the signs not in English but they are not even using my alphabet anymore, I can work out that Antwerpen is Antwerp but KNIB with an upside down N was the meaning for Kiev, Kiev is not spelt Kiev in Ukraine it is Kyiv and I could work that out, so I had to stop and ask a trucker at the side or the road who had no idea and was looking for Latvia! Oookay moving on I find a little old woman and ask “ Kiev, Kee ev, Kee iv, K nib” the K, Nib gets the nod and points down a road and I head off working out that KNIB means Kyiv that means Kiev and I follow the signs!

I was flying and the signs for speed are not very clear in Ukraine, there are no road lights and the place looks amazing with farm land stretching as far as the eye can see. I pull in for petrol and then recall that I have no Ukrainian money! They take visa and I get a receipt but am now unable to eat or drink as I have no ‘cash’. This is going to be one seriously long hard ride tonight! I was getting weak, sore and the temperature was dropping by the second as I hurl down through small rural villages. 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. He has a Larda that looks like it should be in a museum and I have 1000cc of Italian grunt under me. I got to the straight and drop the hammer Vroom! I could see him in the side mirror just put his hands on his hips and shrug, yeah mate it was pointless trying to even bother coming after me. Over taking in Ukraine is an art form in a car to not get killed, I had a bike that would pull me up to 100mph in a matter of seconds and whip me around the trucks and cars like they had pulled over. I was history and on my way to the city.

It was now night and bitterly cold with no food from 6am and it is now 7pm, I am dry, cold, hungry and tired with another 160km or 100miles of Ukrainian road to go. To add to this there is a great deal of construction going on for the roads and they are being improved with terrific effort but it does mean that the diversions are about 3 miles of off road pit hole dirt and I thank god I was on the Endro style bike. It made great work of the nasty rocky mud and cut past more trucks and to the junction that leads back to Kiev.

It is so very odd when you go 13 hours without food and water while doing physically strenuous riding, the cold and the pain keep you alert but it also numbs you to that pain at the same time and you become sort of tranquil in essence. I did a great deal of thinking in the last few hours of that road about people and friends and what it all means to be a human. I did not come to any great conclusion but I do feel better and somehow more focused that the basic things are not basic but fundamental and the important things are in fact nothing but window dressing to the basic things you need to be you.

There was no moon tonight and so it was black dark with nothing but the light from my bike to see as far as I could any ‘killer’ type lumps on the road but I carry on, I am getting there tonight no matter what. I have no idea of what the place is like as it is just black and no sign of lights of a major city, just I assume farms upon farms and then the oddest thing happens. You come up what seems like a small hill and then BOOM like something from Encounters of the 3rd Kind, this huge city of lights and neon is there! I lower my torso to the tank and drop the hammer Vroom and I am off to the city.

I got in the city of Kiev at about 8pm from starting at 6am in Poland but now I have to find the Embassy! I pulled over and ask about at a large shopping centre and what happened shocked me to the core. I was a stranger in a Capitol and I asked two blokes where the Embassy was? They did not speak English so I went back to the curb and sat down for a smoke. I then ask a taxi man that spoke pigeon English and got some sort of direction, then it happened! 4 lads come over in sort of USA style hoods and jeans but with a Eastern block style, I thought ‘Oh yeah, here we go then, am tired and sore but I got armour, training and armour knuckled gloves’ yeah I fancy my chances BUT I get a sudden smile and a lad is pushed forward to me. I look him over that says ‘ am a polite guy but you throw a dig and I will take the teeth from your head before your fist gets past your hip’ he stood back and looked at his friends. There was a pause and they nudged him again ‘ please, you are man looking for the England?’ I lifted my brows and felt embarrassed that I had challenged the man down in the first place and let my prejudice of Liverpool gangs get the better of me ‘yes’ I said with a smile. The men that spoke no English had gone off to find someone that did speak English and brought them back! This was a busy capitol and if someone in London was lost and did not speak English how many would go looking for a stranger that spoke say ‘French’ then bring them back to help! I was amazed and humbled by this kind gesture.

I thank them warmly and make my way to the Embassy, I pull up outside and look up at the glorious sight of the Union flag waving softly in the breeze at me, I became warm again. I know it sounds like bullshit but I am a deeply patriotic person that does love this country and what it means to be British in the best tradition and value of the word. Not the political crap or the immigration, the issues and the problems but the dignified, determined and honourable way that should be the core of being British.

Two police guards came from a box and looked me over, whoops! Yeah I was an AFO protection officer and I just pulled up outside an Embassy with a helmet and load of bags on it! Jesus James you should have known better than that but I was tired. I spoke to the guys but they spoke no English so I slowly got my docs saying ‘passport’ then show them my passport and police id, “Colleaga” one says to the other with a respectful nod. Then it is back to pointing at the bike and speedo J I called Lesya from the Embassy and Mike comes around with Tatya as the Duty Officer. What a great guy and it seems that the Embassy are putting me up in a flat! yay! I go around and the place is beautiful to a man that just spent 3 days in the cold and shitty benches and not eaten or drank. They even had a frozen pizza in the fridge and a BATH oh god yes a bath! But then I am informed that England is about to play in the final and did I want to go to the local bar. Shocking! Not only had Mike come down to let me as was part of his duty but he then invites out a stranger that must stink to high heaven to come and go the pub. I was off to the pub and treated to a pint, heaven. It was at this stage that I noticed that every woman seemed to be a damn model and dressed in thigh high boots! Beer was about 30 pence, large screen TV of England in the rugby final and great group of folks from the Embassy and a t bone streak on the way………I thought I must have died on the bike ride and like a ghost this was my version of heaven and I did not know that I was dead. England got beaten by the South Africans and I knew I was alive and well in Kiev!

We end up drinking, eating and talking till about 2am I think as I crossed a few time lines and I head back to the flat and take a LONG hot bath and fall asleep in the water. In the morning at 10am I was to meet the British Ambassador to Ukraine and have more filming done. I took my tired, sore but warm and fed body to bed and curled up with the mobile phone alarm clock.

TBC