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The story so far…

Well my my, hasn’t this been a challenge and a half – and the rally hasn’t started yet!
To bring our new readers up to speed, since November 2006 I’ve been preparing a Russian bike to do this rally on. Importing it, approving it, registering it, taxing, insuring etc, a total nightmare as part of http://www.mongolbyminsk.com . That all came to a rather sorry end in June when the chain snapped on the M25, taking out the gearbox, rear everything, and any hope of the bike ever working again.

With only a month to go before the rally started, I was left back at zero. Not only would the bike be different, the whole angle of the sponsorship campaign would need to be redesigned – right during my finals at University.

D-Day Minus One

Prepared the bike as much as I could. Looked like missing the Friday party in London, so will get some good sleep at home before the Big Day.

Day 1 – Batman leaves Oxford

Next stop, North Carriage Drive, Hyde Park London! Listen out for the news on Fox FM all day Saturday, I’m on every half hour. Also keep reading the Oxford Mail for more pictures of the above.

Day 1 – London to Germany

The first vehicles to leave from Hyde Park, James and I cut through the London traffic and on to the Eurotunnel. By 6 we were in France.


After leaving home at 7am, resting for 3 hours at Hyde Park, and riding for 20 hours in the rain through France, Belgium and The Nederlands, we arrived at our first stop in Germany.

By the time I go there, the Honda’s exhaust gasket had blown. By essentially not having an exhaust on the engine, the noise was quite something.

Day 2 – Germany to Prague

The next day, after 4 hours sleep, I got round to investigating the collosal noise from the engine. The gasket that seals the exhaust pipe to the manifold had blown in one place, meaing it was now impossible to use it to create a seal. As it was a Sunday in rural Germany, some improvisation was needed.

At the start in Hyde Park, we were all given energy drinks. The crucial gasket was made of cut to size drinks can – and it works great.

We drove another 10 hours, via Dresden, making the party in Prague by midnight – no rain but very chilly. After having a few beers, we checked in to a hostel and slept well.

Day 3 – rest in Prague

After [hours] hours ridden, covering [miles] miles in just 2 days and having only slep 4 hours, we needed a proper sleep. [data coming - check tomorrow ;) ]

So today will be spent repairing things, getting supplies and just generally being a tourist :)

Day 4 – Prague to Krakov

A nice ride through the hills, pretty much following the names of major cities until Krakov. From my visit last year, I managed to drive directly to the youth hostel so we’re back in the Photosoc accommodation!

The exhaust gasket is holding up just fine, so far… here, just in Poland:

If anyone knows details of a Honda or motorbike garage in either Lviv or Kiev, PLEASE get in touch. Comments, or by txt or email.

Day 6 – Kiev

Rested for a day. Serviced Bikes. Lovely city. Got drunk.

Spent the day in a proper youth hostel, and met some other ralliers. Whilst at the Honda garage, we saw some awesome bikes and quads… giving myself and James a few ideas for next year…

Location

Day 7 – Kiev to ?

Failed to find Russia! Motorway shut. Camping in a thunderstorm. Finished vodka.

There was a huge diversion off the main motorway, resulting in us being forced into some very rural parts of the Ukraine. Along our travels we met with some hardy swedish bikers who were doing a month-long road-trip around europe on bikes that put our little 125s to utter shame!

After not really finding out how to actually get back on to a correct road to Russia, we called it a night and found a quiet spot to camp. Typically just after we set up, a monster thunderstorm arrived for a few hours to test our tents and patience.

Location

Day 8 – Talalaivka to Sudzha

(22:00) Cobbled roads turned to just potholes. Bikes fine. Cars useless. Crossing took 4 hours after bribe! Got lost. Map crap. Rescued by chopper biker gang. Taken to house for serious vodka. Made biker friends and rode 750 flathead. Saw 2 minsks.

After getting into Russia (after giving a ‘small gift’ to officials) we ploughed on; however once we found the first settlement we could not find any accommodation. Being on bikes is a godsend, because other bikers try to help you out – here a lovely gent called Sasha spotted us being lost and took us to his family’s house, where it later transpired that he was a member of the Kursk Motorcycle Club and brought round his custom 750cc bike for us to enjoy. Pictures are on another camera, so will come later.

Location