challenge1-4-post

The Long Way Home

PART I   PART II   PART III   PART IV
After I lost one of the two cylinders of my Hyosung I tried to take the most out of the second in order to keep the bike going. Unfortunately, after a while, I lost the second one too.

challenge4-map

“What is it?” asked Martin taking off his helmet.

“I don’t know” I remained calm while checking the engine in the emergency lane. It wasn’t raining after all. 

“What do you mean you don’t know? You’re supposed to be the pro here”

“I’m acknowledging my ignorance about the current situation. It’s a sign of intelligence”

“It’s a sign of ignorance” then he walked back to his bike to take a sip of water. The irony in his words made me realized that we still hadn’t recovered from the cold and rainy days spent in the Tatra mountains. 

I was looking for wet spots on electric connections but everything seemed to be dry. I started the engine again, it ran perfectly smooth and I had no idea of what it could be. We left the emergency lane, the twin-cylinder was roaring and pushing me forward as it should but as soon as I hit 110 kph it lost a cylinder again. We decided to stop in the next town for a coffee and brainstorm.

Brainstorm

I was holding my coffee with both hands to warm up my hands “Well, at least it’s not raining”.

“This trip has been nothing but problems, worries, and fear,” said Martin staring at his coffee.

“Martin, come on…”

“No, Romano, it’s the middle of august, it’s freezing cold, we were riding in the pouring rain for two days when your bike died in the middle of nowhere. We lost at least a day on our schedule and now your bike broke down again!”

“Not completely, I just lost one cylinder”

“I don’t understand how can you be so positive. In three days it’s my daughter’s birthday and I don’t think we’ll make it in time”. There was a long pause before he started to talk again “What if it’s not an electrical problem? What if it doesn’t get enough gasoline?”

“We cleaned the carburetors” I was pretty sure about that.

“What about the fuel filter?” 

“Actually you could be right. If it was an electrical problem the bike would spit flames out of the exhaust because of the unburned fuel. So the problem is that it doesn’t get enough gas. Probably it’s full of rust coming from the tank” 

“Then it must be the gas filter, let’s replace it with a new one and see what happen”. Alright, we had our first suspect but first, we had to find one. Every shop in town was closed and our only hope was Prague which was still 100 miles away and the sustainable top speed was 90 kph. So to avoid the dullest ride of our lives we decided to leave the highway.

The Motorcycle paradise

We remained on the country road and that was a great idea because we found a motorcycle paradise. The street became smooth, with wide turns up and down the hill and good tarmac. I was having fun like a kid and the farther we went the more bikers we met. After the last miserable riding days, I felt good on the bike and I started to enjoy the ride. So much that I wanted to keep up with a Ducati Multistrada. But when I started to push a little more I understood better the limit of the Hyosung. Like for the brakes, the lean angle grip is difficult to understand, the frame is not very communicative. Let me give you an example: the difference between the frame of a premium bike and the Hyosung is that you can better feel where is the limit. It’s like going through a room with a venomous spider inside, no problem if the light is on and you can spot the spider. But on the Hyosung, you’re walking into a dark room and that beast can be everywhere. The Ducati was gone before I could realize it.

c1-1

We kept our journey in the only possible way using country roads which were amazing. About 40 miles from Prague, we stopped in Sedlec in one of the creepiest places I’ve ever been, the Church of Bones. This ossuary was built in the 14th century using the bones of more than 40,000 corpses in the period of the Black Death. Back then it was the desire of many Christians to be buried there because since the church is founded on a small amount of earth brought from Golgotha, the Holy Land.

scull-curch

Prague was beautiful but compared to all the cities we went through it was the most expensive. We stayed in a hotel in downtown and after a rich dinner we found a fine cocktail bar to satisfy Martin’s sweet tooth. 

We had the relax we needed to get on our legs again because the next morning we had a mission. Well, to be precise we had two missions: find a gas filter and a present for Martin’s daughter who is also my goddaughter and be there the day after for her birthday. She was about to turn five and she had no idea what a gas filter is and didn’t care if we couldn’t find one, so failing was not an option. 

Desperate for a gasoline filter

With the help of our concierge, we found a store on the other side of the city. As soon as we got in I realized that I should have learned more Czech words this morning or at least one: gasoline filter. I tried with every language but the girl behind the counter kept saying “Yes!” and smiled until I remembered the Czech word for gas. “Benzina!” I screamed. She recognized the word and the game was on. My pantomime of a gas filter was completely useless, so I grabbed a piece paper and drew one. She screamed something like “I got it!”, she opened a drawer and lifted the gas filter triumphantly like a World Cup surrounded by our standing ovation.

As Martin suspected the old filter was full of rust and after a short test ride everything seemed to be right again. So we rode back to downtown to find a roller.

c1-4

The sky was blue and Prague was colored by saffron yellow sunbeams. My flattering t-shirt and warm air on my skin let me feel invincible. 

Stop complaining and start dancing

We found a roller and I offer myself for a test ride which I took seriously in Gasolirium tradition. I tried to explain Martin “The direction changing is quick but at the cost instability in the entry of the corner. The totally lack of electronic makes this two wheels attractive to old-fashioned riders while the complete absence of an engine makes it beginner friendly too. The board is grippy enough…”

“Romano, ” said Martin “I just asked how is it.”

The response of my test ride was positive and we were good to go but there was a little problem. As we came out of the mall with the roller in our hands we immediately saw something different. Loud music on the streets was announcing a big colorful parade led by Batman with a rainbow flag and a bunch of drag queens throwing confetti. After one minute the streets around us were full of people in crazy costumes cheering and dancing for the gay pride. The bikes were 300 meters away but there was no chance to ride through all those people.

“We’re stuck” I had to admit.

c1-5

“What do we do now?” asked Martin

“We dance until it’s over”. It was the only thing to do and so we did. When you’re on a trip stuff happens all the time and even if this ruins your schedule you are forced to take life as it comes. Because these issues, most of the time, are bigger than you. So you’ll learn pretty soon to stop complaining and (in this case) start dancing.

c1-3

The Long Way Home

We left Prague riding on country roads which are perfect to have fun on a motorcycle. We lost many hours in Prague through the parade so when we were approaching the German border it was getting darker and colder again. We stopped for a coffee in a pretty strange place. 

We were sitting in the cockpit of an old Czech airplane. We found it in the parking lot of a small town next to the German border. They fitted a restaurant in the back where we got two coffees before our last ride.

c1-6

We were both looking outside the window of the plane when Martin broke the silence “Remember when I said ‘this trip was nothing but problems and worries’?”

“And fear. Yes, I remember”

I was expecting a reaction of some sort but instead, the cockpit was filled with silence.

“Did you change your mind?” I broke the silence.

Martin took a long sip of his coffee, looked in the cup then outside and finally said “No” he took another sip “but I’m glad we did it”.

It was almost dark outside, it was time to leave. I was riding in the front and all I could see was just the white line of the German highway disappearing into the darkness. Around me, it was pitch black. Riding for hours in those conditions was exhausting but we had to get back to Berlin in time. My hands were frozen, Martin’s weren’t because the BMW had heated grips. “I’m gonna steal the beemer at the next stop,” I thought but then I remained with the Hyosung. I built a relationship with this bike, it made me cross countries through sun and rain (a lot of rain) and mountains. And after all this adventure, it brought me back home. Sure I had to take care of it but this is what make the relationship real and me alive. 

A second thought

If I look back to all my travels, the long exotic ones and the short ones like this, I realize that adventure is not something that takes place in a desert or a forest. Adventure is a way of living the travel, it’s something that you carry with you. You just have to leave your comfort zone and to do it you don’t have to travel 10,000 miles and you don’t need a lot of money. 

Travel on a motorcycle is one of the best ways to live an adventure. Are you ready to start yours?

PART I   PART II   PART III   PART IV

Stay Connected

Don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *