Phew, that was some week! Filled with highs and lows and not at all what we were expecting or had planned on. As I sit writing this in our motel in Hirtshals in Denmark, so much seems to have happened in such a short space of time, probably best to start where I left off in the last blog.
With the bikes packed, spares acquired en route to Rochester, we are all set, well at least we think we are. I have to check and recheck just to ensure I have packed everything while Anne waits patiently for me to be “really sure” I have everything. We spend the last evening having dinner with our niece Camilla followed by an early start.
Given we have to cover 1,400 km / 875 miles in three days making as much distance in the early days is important. We have chosen the Eurotunnel as it is quicker than the ferry and the same transport we used back in June 2013 to set off on our first RTW adventure. On a bright not too chilly, for us, day, we quickly ride onto the M20 to be greeted by the overhead message board stating “M20 closed between J9 & J11”. (J=Junctions) Great, a detour at the start. However another roadside sign states that this is between the hours of midnight and six am. Seems like the overhead signs came with an early version of Twitter with less than 140 characters.
We roll into the Eurotunnel terminal ahead of schedule and are offered an earlier train at no extra cost. We meet our fellow motorcycle travellers, all heading to compass points between south east and south. None seem keen to head in our direction and all are travelling much lighter than we are even though we have left the kitchen sink behind.
When we boarded the train six years ago, the carriages and ridge space seemed so narrow, now it is a breeze, our skills must have improved somewhat. The 35 minute crossing is taken up chatting to other riders about destinations and adventures. Out into the French sunlight, and I am taken how high the fences are around the Eurotunnel terminal – I wonder what the current refugee situation refugee is, as once it disappears from the everyday news, it tends to fade from the consciousness, well mine anyway.
Entering Belgium by lunchtime makes it three countries today, will we make four or even five, probably not the latter. As we are travelling on a Saturday the heavy vehicle traffic is lighter and makes the journey more enjoyable. We head towards Antwerp which we recall from the first trip was hard going with long slow traffic tailbacks that really worked the clutch hand. Today it is a breeze.
We are making good progress through Holland with Utrecht as our final destination today when Anne says “Watch for the woman waving madly in the motorhome” As the motorhome pulls along side, I see an animated face at the window, kidnapped? deranged driver? These thoughts pass through my mind, but I recognise that face and it is confirmed as the vehicle passes and I swear that under the cover on the back is a tatty old couch. Warning lights come on and we pull over behind them. The driver gets out and my suspicions are confirmed. Phillip and Judith, our friends and loyal blog followers who we first met in India back in 2009 as we took an organised motorcycle trip through India and Bhutan. What are the odds of meeting like that?
No they were not coming to see what had happened to the latest blog entry or follow us to Iceland, but were heading for a concert in Amsterdam, well that was their story. They were running late so 60 seconds at the side of the road and we went our separate ways. Life and coincidences. What an amazing world we live in. Anne remarks that her brother, who left this earth 20 years ago today, would have enjoyed this synchronicity of meeting in the middle of nowhere – or maybe it was his doing?…
After a well deserved rest outside Utrecht, Sunday will be our longest day with some 600 kilometres. Streak and Storm are performing well and the new tyres have encountered their first rainstorm and passed with flying colours. German drivers are faster and I find that my limit is 75 mph or 120 kph which means keeping an eye out for the cars that come up so quickly if you are not paying attention. I do admire those “Iron Butt” riders that have our three day mileage, 1000 miles, in 24 hours as an entry level event no less! Not for us, we really are the 2 slow speeds.
As we approach the Danish border we see a roadblock and what look like military personnel, vehicles are being stopped and checked even though Denmark is part of the Schengen Area. Not sure of this is just a temporary measure or something more permanent. We find that the drivers in Denmark seem more courteous than some of their counterparts as they will slow in the fast line to allow both of us to overtake slow moving vehicles. We enjoy the green rolling countryside which is dotted with wind turbines making use of the buffeting we are getting as we ride. Hirtshals comes into view, we have arrived for the ferry tomorrow which a week ago seemed a forlorn hope. Dinner overlooking the harbour, time to write this blog and then we are off.Making the most of the blue skies – the weather forecast for the coming weeks is not so good, but we knew that.