Testing, testing

It is getting warmer, motorcycle modification are almost finished, we have got a moment off… So? It is time to get some air! Refresh acquired skills, test motorcycle modifications, check sleeping bags in cold conditions and new side panniers on the road.

This time, we aim at another campsite than last year but still near the training ground. We try to call camp owners before we head there but cannot get in touch. When we arrive at the place, it turns out that we are the only ones willing to pitch a tent. Well, at night the temperature is still below 0°C! This will be a good opportunity to check whether we can survive in such conditions with our warm, goose down sleeping bags. We slept in them already in Iceland, but the temperature was not so low.

We quickly pitch the tent up, leave our stuff to go light and ride to some nearby gravel roads to use the rest of the day. We do not go straight to the training ground, but we look for other interesting routes. And indeed, although we are close to the area where we rode last year, the roads and terrain are different. Probably that is what we are going to encounter when travelling.

The first off-road tracks turn out to be a challenge for me. I approached the subject of the broken wrist without stress and thought that the accident of last autumn did not affect me until we started to ride. I did not expect such tension and panic in my head. I am aware of where it comes from and I understand that fear is reasoned. Although I do not plan to break bones any more, I ride very carefully as if I was taking my first steps. Fortunately, after some time the stress eases off and even the reason of the accident (ruts), I overcome more and more boldly. By the end of the trip, I will definitely get back to shape. No point of worrying too much! In addition, I have a lot of support from Łukasz! Well, maybe except his “encouraging” jokes – not to fall into the deep puddle I am just riding trough, as I can flood a motorcycle engine… 😉

We do not go far and we find an interesting area with great elevation differences, dilapidated by existing motorcyclists. Łukasz cannot wait to practice riding uphill and downhill. Sometimes he jumps in the air. Another time he spins wheels and does not reach the top. Then he has to roll the motorcycle back down because there is no chance to start from the middle of the slope. During one of the attempts to slowly ride up the motorcycle stalls and Łukasz hits the ground. The first test of rear brake lever modification is successful! It has survived, which would not be so obvious with a genuine one. We will have some more tip overs like this, but fortunately, nobody will suffer.

The fun lasts long enough that the sun decides to hide behind the horizon and it is time to get back to the campsite. We would love to sit outside while last sunrays go above our heads, but the low temperature quickly pushes us into the tent. Exactly the same in the morning. The sun shines beautifully, so it would be good to crawl out from the sleeping bags, eat breakfast at the open air and get on the bikes. But somehow, we delay this decision hoping for the temperature to rise. For me, at night, the sleeping bag passed the exam! Only my feet took a little longer to regain the temperature, but I slept the whole night comfortably. On the other hand, Łukasz is considering adding some more down to his sleeping bag. My poor man did not get enough sleep. Warmly dressed, we finally get out of the tent. If we start to move we will warm up! We prepare the hot breakfast and additionally raise the body temperature.

Today we have a whole day for a ride! Like yesterday, we do not head towards the training ground, but we look for new routes. We like them because the view changes more often and different skills are necessary to ride them! The morning begins with a huge amount of deep puddles! Deep enough that we do not go through them but decide to ride on the grass along the track. We can see we are not the first who do that – wheel tracks show it was a lot of people doing the same before we rode here. The grass around it is so heavily worn out and deep ditches and ruts have been formed. But it is not as scary as the puddles covering more than half of the motorcycle.

While on a bike we remembered Tomasz advices from Enduro Flow training. Having some good theory and knowing some manoeuvres we have practised with him, it is easier for us to control motorcycles. Every now and then – on a tarmac or meadow – we slow down and train balance, slow figure eight and try to feel in our motorcycles. Somewhere else we find good size tree branches which we go over a few times. Another time we end up in a slimy, flooded area and we work hard to get out of it. Luckily we manage without towing each other. 😉 Overall we have a lot of fun and workout! The whole day has gone nobody knows when!

In the meantime, when searching for some new routes, we ride through a small village. We turn into a narrow lane hoping it will change into a gravel track. It does not happen, but we discover something no less interesting!! At the end of a road, there is an old, knackered and abandoned bus! Immediately we think of a Supertramp bus from “Into the Wild” film. We would not be ourselves if we did not stick our noses in it! The bodywork colour has faded, but we can still pick up a red and blue shade of it. Characteristic sign – the black silhouette of people on a yellow background – suggests it was a school bus. Carefully we take a look inside. Everything seems to be fragile and timeworn. The wooden floor has rotten and collapsed in a few places. Moss has covered windscreen, creating a natural curtain which does not allow curious sunrays to look inside the bus. The rest of the windows has been smashed into pieces, only on one of them a persistent spider wriggles a private “glass” with its cobweb. On the sides, some old tubes have survived reminding us they used to be seats before. The entire back of a bus is full of wooden boards, old mattresses and metal scrap. Łukasz sits behind the steering wheel, showing he is going to change our transport vehicle. 😉 As we are in England the bus is a double-decker. Stairs to the upper level have survived so stepping gently on them, we climb to the first floor, where it is much cleaner, without any junk. We were expecting to find some used needles and syringes, filth or maybe private stuff of a homeless person who made it home, but we did not find any of those. If we were going to stop in some place for longer we would try to tidy it up and live here for a while! We would not hunt or harvest forest fruits and herbs like Supertramp did, but a place to sleep at night would be obvious. 😉

Another night is slightly warmer, but we decide to leave some clothes on for a night. 😉 To have time to pack, we leave a tent much earlier than the morning before. For the rest of the day, we ride with the whole equipment we took with us.

As it is a “testing almost everything” trip, we take with us our 21’BROTHERS panniers for the first time. And they do a great job! Above all, these are not just a temporary solution of barely holding motorcycle bags, but “real” and solid panniers for our journey. They are capacious (though apparently, never enough space on a long distance journey) and very useful! It is quick and easy to put them on/take them off, what is really important when changing a place of stay on a daily basis! Because they are attached to the sides of a bike (not on the top of the seat), they bring the centre of gravity up just a little bit. I only miss a few small pockets for my sundries, but those I may stick in a tank bag.

The beginning of the season starts very positive. We did not come back home from it yet and we are already planning another trip. It really gets us addicted! 😉

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