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  • Ride to Touratech.. and beyond


    To Touratech – and sorting the tools

    So I ordered a nice toolkit for my bike from SBV, which arrived last Monday after I got back from my ride. Excitedly unpacked and played with it, only to discover that one tool, a socket extension bar, was broken. It was impossible to retract the locking mechanism so no way to put a socket on it.

    Interestingly the Japanese vendor is Touratech, and they only have a single showroom in the entire country – which coincidentally happens to be in the town where I met Wilson last Saturday and is a jumping-off point to some nice rides.

    Even though the weather was a bit meh I decided to ride there and have a chat to the guys, instead of trying to fix things via email (nihongo o tabemasen..) and sending stuff back and forth for a month.. Since the shop only opened at 10, I left around 9am, which put me in heavy traffic on the motorways leading out of Tokyo. Was totally not expecting that! It ended up taking me over 2 hours to get there instead of the estimated 1.

    The guys at Touratech were very friendly and helpful and can even speak some english – certainly a lot better than my japanese! After some explanation and showing, they quickly replaced the faulty extension. Did not have as much luck trying to figure out the different contents between the Japanese and the European version of the tool kits..

    After browsing the shop a bit I sat down and planned out the rest of the day – figuring I wanted to hear north and up to get out of the lowlands heat. Nagano direction seemed nice, so I planned some nice twisty roads up.

    Towards Nagano

    Hitting 5000km..

    The ride to Nagano was a mixture of awesome and humdrum. At first I took a wrong turn out of the Touratech shop (well, partially because of heavy traffic and a yellow line), and went the long way around the lake to get on the highway. Then just highway for half an hour or so until I peeled off onto the 140, which was pretty meh for quite a while – traffic and suburbs.

    Once I turned off the 140 and onto the 37 things started to improve, and certainly by the time I got onto the 71 it was quite an acceptable ride, especially once I got past some cars. The 46 was a pretty good stretch, and I was getting very close to my bike hitting 5000km as I got back into towns.. oh no!

    But luck was with me – at Akihata I turned off onto the 192, another great little windy road and soon my odometer ticked over to 5000km just as I was leaving the village. I find a picturesque spot with a big stone marker amongst the trees for a commemorative photo.

    The 192 turned out to be mostly a single-track back-country road, slow but rather picturesque and a great change of pace, leading through some dense forrests and eventually back down into a valley. There I hopped onto the E18 highway for a 10 minutes or so to bypass a city, turning off again at Yokokawa, I started up the 18.

    The 18 and 292.. oh my!

    Oh my, what a fantastic little road the 18 is!! I managed to get past one or two cars early on and from there I had a clear run up the mountain! After one corner I had a youngish fox just sitting in the middle of the road. No idea what it was doing there – it’s not as if I was the only vehicle passing by (there were quite a few cars coming the other way), but I guess it didn’t mind playing chicken! This was definitely one of the better roads of the day – over 200 corners in only a few miles!

    The 18 ends up in a town as a major road, but it’s not long to the start of the 146 – nominally a road with some decent stretches, except I caught up to a black crown sedan.. no idea if the cops patrol this far out in unmarked cars, but I played it safe until it eventually, after many miles, turned off. But there wasn’t long left until the road hit suburbs again. I was quite glad to finally turn off onto the 292 at Kusatsu.

    The 292. Epic! That’s the only word – even with the rain and the mist this is an awesome road with potential for great views leading up and around Mt. Shirane, one of the highest volcanoes in Japan and active as recently as 2018 (which I didn’t know until I read up about it). Unfortunately it was very misty and it was starting to get late so I didn’t stop – but this is DEFINITELY somewhere to come back to with more time! At the top, over 2100m, it got nicely chilly with only around 16C..

    Dinner and bed – Seki’s House

    After dropping back down from the peaks I went through Shiga Kogen ski area, and soon found my hostel, “Seki’s House”. The owner wasn’t home, but left me a note as to which room was mine and that they were in a bar. So after freshening up a bit I headed to the bar where it turned out Seki wasn’t having a beer, but was actually working! I had a pizza and salad for dinner with a couple of well-deserved beers, then Seki-san unlocked an onsen for locals for me where I could relax for a bit in the piping hot water.

    Completely knackered, it didn’t take me long to fall asleep – so much for writing up some trip notes!


    Sunday started off with quite heavy rain, so after waking up early I turned around and napped a bit more. I then had a leisurely breakfast which Seki-san cooked – inari-sushi and a Nagano specialty, sanzokuyaki (which, to be honest, was just a slightly different take to kareage, although it was very delicious being freshly made). Eventually it was time to get going.. the rain had let off and there were even some blue spots amongst the clouds!

    Green lanes..?

    I didn’t have much of a plan, just picked out some curvy roads towards Nozawaonsen. Seki-san waved me good-bye and flicked some sparks off a “good luck rock”.

    After filling up with petrol, my first road took me up a quiet road, the 342, which I saw was already going to be potentially a problem further on with the telltale moss in the middle and a fair bit of uncleared debris despite it being marked as a major road on my GPS.. and sure enough, after a couple of miles, it turned into a proper green lane. As in, the tarmac disappeared under a carpet of grass and was soon just grass-on-gravel. No wonder there was a barrier to stop cars!

    But, it didn’t seem too bad.. and there were some car tracks leading into it which didn’t look too old. After some debating and walking a little way along it I decided to give it a shot – the detour was quite significant! And after all, that’s what this bike is made for! So I gingerly set off down the grassy gravelly track and immediately wasn’t very happy. The gravel was not very firm and the bike moved about quite a lot – probably not helped by the full tank of fuel. Initially it was wide enough for two lanes with a guard-rail but soon the track narrowed to a single lane with no guard rail and an appreciable drop. Combined with the squirrelly nature of the front tyre on the gravel underneath, I decided to turn around at the first opportunity, which came not long after at the first of a series of switchbacks.

    I made it back to tarmac without any mishaps, but by this stage I was quite hot and bothered! Ok, the bike can definitely do this, I can’t. Certainly not on my own and without further training.

    I then proceeded to take the long way around the mountains, which was mostly rather dreary suburbs and villages with lots of slow cars in front and little to no chance to pass them. Eventually I reached the other end of the 342 and, curious, went up it to see what this end looks like. Not so long in, it turns into an unpaved single-track forest path. This looks a lot more rideable than the other side, but as I’m already late in my schedule I decide against seeing how far up I can get it. But definitely something to come back to someday!

    The 66, which I had been following, finally left the suburbs behind and became a great road back up into the mountains nearly hitting 2000m elevation again! It meets up with the 292, but unfortunately I was not heading back towards Mt Shirane, so I duplicated a short section of the road from last evening and then peeled off towards Nozowaonsen.

    The 502 to Nozowaonsen

    Peeling off the 292 onto the 471, this was a pretty fun little run, but it pretty much finishes at “Edelweiss Resort”, turning into the 502 which does not allow heavy traffic on it. I missed the turn onto the 502 and did a quick loop over some gravel roads instead of doing a U-Turn; no worries this time as it was compacted gravel roads and very much in use.

    Back on track, the 502 is a great little road. Mostly it’s a forest road, often single-track, with quite poor visibility in the many many corners due to lots of plant growth. I was lucky though as there was pretty much no traffic and it really was very pretty with very vibrant plant growth everywhere. The going was pretty slow but very nice.

    Sections of the 502 open up a little bit, especially on the downhill run past some ski slopes, and offer some great views. But better watch out – there’s bears about! No, literally! A youngish-looking black bear ran across the road in front of my bike, I had to hoik on the brakes quick-smart there! Although I was more worried about a momma-bear coming out of the woods.. so I didn’t hang around long. Times like these I need a camera on the bike!

    Crash! before lunch..

    Eventually reaching the valley of the Chikuma River and a bigger road, I stopped to look for lunch. I found a soba restaurant a few miles away, and, instead of the main road, decided to take another smaller road. This was, as it turned out, not such a good idea.. firstly it was concrete, not tarmac, secondly it was single-track, and thirdly there was no guard-rail and quite a steep drop into the valley. Picturesque, yes, but definitely not a relaxing ride.

    And then, in one corner, there was a wash of mud on the road, which I misjudged and before I knew it, I was sliding down the road. This is only the second time I’ve dropped a bike while actually riding.. at least this time it was totally obvious why. Covered in mud, I quickly picked the bike up – well, at least I get to pracise that! and, apart from being a bit muddy, it looked perfectly fine. The crash bars did their job and the little plastic protecters protected even them from any scratches. In retrospect, I should have taken a few pictures…

    Stopping again not long after, I stripped off my muddy riding pants and put on my jeans – I didn’t want to look totally unfit to enter a restaurant!

    Without further mishaps I made it to the rather out-of-the-way soba restaurant, and more bad luck – they had just sold their last portion! Guess I should’ve stuck to the main road for once.. well, they told me about another soba place one more town over.

    I made it to Tomazawa, the next soba restaurant, before they sold out and had a delicious soba noodle lunch.

    Back to Tokyo – via Nikko

    From where I had ended up it was about 240km or so back to Tokyo.. but that was just one boring long blast all the way down the highway, and would get me back into a set of expressways which I knew would be heavily trafficked by the time I got there.

    So I decided to take a detour via Nikko..

    An hour or so on the highway, and then off I was up the 120. This is a really nice curvey road, often two lanes heading up the mountains with a single lane down, so getting past cars was a breeze. Once at the top the road does narrow a bit but is still quite open compared to the narrow roads I’ve mostly been riding.

    I’d been here quite a few times already, so didn’t feel the need to stop at the waterfalls again, but I did make an impromptu coffee stop at Lake Chuuzenji after seeing a cafe with a parking spot. In fact, it turns out there’s two next to each other, and I ended up going to Adonis as I noticed it had outdoor seating. A nice coffee and slice of cheesecake while taking in the sight of the lake certainly hit the spot!

    After the lake is the ridiculous section of switchbacks on the down-hill run of the 120. But it’s been rebuilt to be one-way only, which does allow a bike some wiggle-room to get past the interminable columns of cars.. I must say, I don’t think I’ve ever come the other way UP the 120… might have to try that one day.

    From there it wasn’t long until the start of the highway back to Tokyo.. nothing much more to say. I sat on cruise control at 120kmh for quite a lot of it until the he traffic got heavier as I got closer to Tokyo. Despite it getting slower there was no traffic jam and all up a smooth, if boring, ride back.



    (Click on a picture to go to the album..)

    Visiting the Touratech shop in Japan
    The rather picturesque spot where my Bumblebee reached the 5000km milestone.
    Seki-san's House - my hostel accommodation in Nagano.
    The weekend route. 843km or so.. and more than half on little windy backroads. Not too shabby :)

  • Sorting the UK

    One of the side-effects of quitting Sony and starting a new job at Woven Planet was that I had to return to the UK to sort out my remaining items there. Mostly it was stuff that I did not want to take to Japan and was placed in storage, as well as my Yamaha WildStar motorcycle.

    Picking up the bike

    One of the first things I did after arriving in the UK and getting my accommodation sorted was to call Alan from Southern Car Storage and arrange a date and time to pick up my motorbike. The day dawned grey and I caught a series of busses and trains down to the south-coast of England where Alan picked me up from the New Milton train station in his car.

    We proceeded to the storage sheds and I was finally reunited with my bike. Alan kindly lent me some spare gear and soon I was pootling off in the sunshine and fantastic environs of the New Forest.

    Unfortunately the sunshine did not last long, and soon I was in a, typically for Britain rather chilly, downpour, yet that barely dampened my spirits as I made my way back towards London. After many a wrong turn and some green-laning (I had forgotten to take my GPS back with me and did not have a mount for a phone on the bike) I eventually made it to Robin’s place for a catch-up and a pub-dinner before heading back to my accommodation.

    Sorting Stuff

    After getting accommodation I booked a storage unit at Shurgard Alperton, right next to the Ace Cafe. A week later I arranged a man-with-a-van and picked up my items from the corporate storage place. Wow! What a pile of crap!

    For the next week or so I spent several hours every day at the storage facility going through boxes, sorting out items, repacking, and enjoying breakfast and/or lunch at the Ace Cafe. Less definitely is more! What a waste of time and money..

    I did manage to sell the motorcycle shed fairly quickly, but most of the rest of the items I had to more or less give away. Some to charity, some via freecycle, and some to my old motorcycle group, the VSOC. From the 2 full industrial storage crates I ended up with barely 5 medium moving boxes of items left to ship to Australia.


    A couple of weeks into my trip I headed to Germany for a few days to visit relatives and back-celebrate my 50th birthday.

    Packing up the bike and trailer I headed down grey old England to Folkestone to board the EuroShuttle across the Channel. Following my usual fuel-up-and-brekky on the other side at the first petrol station, I then rode to Aachen and spent my first night at my mate Jurgen’s place where we enjoyed a dinner of fresh asparagus and potatoes.

    The next day I headed to my cousin Rebekka’s near Bonn, where I would more or less base myself for my time in Germany. It was a rather hectic time, but overall fantastic as I managed to catch up with almost everybody.

    On Saturday we enjoyed a big family BBQ to re-celebrate my 50th birthday where nearly everybody turned up, and apart from a few small showers, the weather turned out to be much better than expected. I then toured around the family spending personal time with various uncles as well as a very enjoyable afternoon with my godmother Christa.

    As is usual for the Werle-clan, there was quite a lot of walking involved..

    Amongst other things, highlights were a lovely walk through Bad Godesberg and a small (ish) hike along the Rhine with Christa, a great afternoon/evening in Cologne with my cousin Stephan and uncle Uli where we saw a U-Boat being shipped up the Rhine to a museum, and a walk around a “Baggersee” with my uncle Siggi.

    Dropping off the bike

    My final act before heading back to Japan was to drop off my motorbike with the shipping company. This involved riding it to their warehouse and leaving it with minimal fuel – I was sweating quite a bit by the end as I didn’t find the warehouse right away, and I was already over 200miles on the clock! When I did finally get it there I reckon there was only about a liter left, if that!

    After riding the bike into the warehouse, I disconnected the battery and mileage converter plug, all ready for shipping to Australia. I was promised some pictures of it getting crated up, then left it in the good hands of John Mason’s depot and caught the bus back to London for my final couple of days.

  • Adventures with gitolite

    It’s always fun when you only use a technology occasionally.

    Adding a couple of new public keys to my gitolite repository, I had trouble accessing my repos. It turns out that gitolite actually does something quite clever when you name the public keys, allowing users to specify either plain usernames, or an email address.

    My naming format was:

    • <name>@<tag>.pub -> <name>
    • eg, micha@foo.pub -> micha

    What I didn’t realise was that if the <tag> contained periods (dots), then instead, the following happens:

    • <name>@<tag_part1>.<tag_part2>.pub -> <name>@<tag_part1>.<tag_part2>
    • eg. micha@foo.bar.pub -> micha@foo.bar

    Much gnashing of teeth and ripping of hair later, I can finally access my repositories from my new machine.

    NB: Repository URL is ssh://git@git.<server>.com/<repo path>.git

  • Server – upgrade to Debian 11 “bullseye”

    After doing a desktop upgrade (From Debian 11 to Debian 12 (still in testing)), and upgrading my NAS, I also discovered my server was on Debian “oldstable” aka “buster”, with support ending in August 2022; ie, already past!

    So after taking a snapshot I upgraded the server to Debian 11 aka “stable” aka “bullseye”.

    The upgrade went quite smoothly, the only issue being that the mariadb-server package didn’t get installed for some reason, which left roundcube in an unconfigured state. Manually installing mariadb-server and resuming the upgrade fixed that.

    A handful of configuration files needed some minor tweaking, then it was off to a reboot.

    The system rebooted just fine, and a quick check of the most important services (email, cloud) seemed to show no problems.

    Shortly afterwards I started getting some email notifications thoughl it seems that Nextcloud now requires php to have memory caching enabled. This required adding “apc.enable_cli” to be added to the php config files and all good.

    Will see if it requires anything else over the next few days.

    EDIT 2022-10-06 : exim4

    Turns out the online-suggested fix broke my configuration using the vdom router.
    All I needed to do is change $domain -> $domain_data to fix the “tained domain” errors, instead of taking the entire suggested fix.

  • Bike Trip 2021 – Day 3

    The day started rainy. Very rainy. Despite Brians warning I had left my clothes out to dry which were soaked again of course. Oh well..

    I wasted time till nearly 10am when the rain eased off, then ran out and bought an umbrella. Of course as soon as I stepped out of the shop the rain stopped, proving once again that you don’t need an umbrella to keep the rain off you, but rather, to stop the rain. I grabbed some breakfast at a french bakery and a much needed cup of coffee, then headed off to the castle.

    The castle was pretty neat, and contains an old gun museum. The guns were collected by somebody local and then donated to Matsumoto city, they are all period-weapons of the castle. The castle was already built with guns in mind, containing both arrow slits as well as gun ports. Unfortunately there was very little else on display, but still, it’s well worth a visit.

    As the weather had improved I decided to go for a ride-out, having already decided to stay another night at the Backpackers. So sans luggage I took off and headed up into the mountains where, of course, the rain started again. The road itself was great, but there was a fair bit of traffic on it which was a bit annoying. The river down in the ravine had several dams across it, bringing it up closer to the road level after each dam.

    Eventually I turned off onto a side-road, which was supposed to go up a pass at over 2000m. But, as so often around here, eventually the road was blocked and not allowed to continue. This time there was a little guard hut to stop people. Apparently to get up to the pass I had to take a bus, but the last bus had already left. No amount of pleading would let them let me through. Bah!

    On the upside there was a short hiking trail to a waterfall, and even in the pouring rain it was well worth the hike. Eventually I came to a triple-waterfall which was very impressive, especially with all the rain.

    I checked with the road-guards about another pass, and they assured me the road was open. So I headed that way, hoping to be able to do a loop back to Matsumoto instead of retracing my route. The road looked a bit ominous though, looking a little bit neglected with some grass growing in cracks and covered in leaves and twigs from the recent storms. Turning a corner, I came across a whole horde of monkeys, which scampered off the road and into the trees, screeching at me for having disturbed them. Seems it’s been a while since a car last came this way…

    My concerns proved right – shortly after the pass, the road was blocked by a chain. Gah!!! By now the rain was coming down in buckets again, so after a brief thought I decided against doing a different, longer loop back and instead plotted a route to the nearest onsen as I was soaked to the skin by now despite wearing my “waterproofs”. An absolute delight to sink into the hot water!!

    From the onsen I headed back the way I’d come, again, lots of traffic so not very enjoyable. Once I cleared out of the mountains, the rain also let up and on the far side of the plain the sun was even striking some mountains! So I replotted to head to the far mountains for a bit of sunny riding, but just as I started getting close the wind picked up and very black ominous-looking clouds closed in. I also happened to be quite close to my hostel, so I called it quits for the day, remembering the cold beer I had left in the fridge.

    Great day despite the rain! Now to find some dinner and then decide where to go tomorrow..

  • Poland Day 6 – Auschwitz and the Tatras

    Up way too early – woke up at 5 or so due to the guy one bed over felling entire forests. Underwater. Dozed until 6 and then got ready. Luckily breakfast was available much earlier than advertised so I got a quick bite before heading off.

    Once on the road the GPS said it was only an hour to Auschwitz instead of the two Google had said last night. Oh well, at least the roads were pretty clear.

    Auschwitz did not have as big an impact on me as Buchenwald had a few years earlier. Either I’ve become desensitised or the exhibitions in Buchenwald were more graphic. Auschwitz was mostly just the buildings and pictures, whereas in Buchenwald a lot of the old Nazi equipment was still on show. Terrible regardless.

    From there I wanted to see the other camp, Birkenau, only a couple of miles away, but some busybody parking attendant wouldn’t let me park in an unused corner of the staff carpark and told me to park in the commercial car park half a mile away or so despite a security guard having earlier told me it would be finev for me to park in that corner.

    So instead I rode around the camp on the bike and then headed to the mountains.

    Unfortunately I discovered that the south of Poland is very different to the north, or indeed most places.  Instead of having villages consisting of a cluster of houses with a couple of streets they just build the houses along the main street. Cue villages which are tends of miles long and hence a mostly unenjoyable ride as it was all at 50kmh.

    I did take a wrong turn at one point and ended up in Slovakia for a few miles.  The road just near the border was awesome as it went up into the mountains and there were no houses. Yayy.

  • Poland Day 5 – Warsaw to Krakow

    Instead of the originally planned route, which was mostly highway, I took the 79 all the way. This meant quite a detour but I had no other plans for the day.

    The road was well paved but at times very frustrating. The first 20km or so out of Warsaw was extremely slow moving traffic. Then there were some very long stretches at only 50kmh. But still better than highway.

    Later in the day I got to some very nice open stretches with little traffic and even some small hills and corners.  Moments like those are worth all the other bits.

    For lunch I stopped at a service station in the middle of nowhere which had a nice looking restaurant next to it. They had strawberry-filed peroggi! So I called them lunch with a cup of coffee.

    Later in the afternoon thunderstorms abounded. I managed to avoid them all, sometimes by minutes as the last rain fell and the roads were soaked. But about 20km from Krakow I slowly but surely entered a downpour which persisted on and off until I parked next to Wawell castle. Combined with some roadworks the bike now looks like I’ve been plowing fields with it. Need to find some bikini girls to wash it now! Lol.

    In Krakow I soon found a Tourist Info, but this time without riding into the main square. Just as well, plenty of cops about. I booked into Momotown Hostel which was easy enough to find. A nice hot shower later and I was ready for dinner. The weather wasn’t..  so I had a good conversation with a chap called Dave until the weather cleared as I hadn’t thought to bring bad weather clothes for walking around.

    I had been told about a herring bar so resolved to try and find it. But the spot were it was so posed to be only had a closed up shop next to a Cabaret and a sex shop. Hmm. 2 young guys hit me up for some money for wine (at least they were honest about it!) while I was standing there a little aimlessly, which I refused. Nevertheless they said they knew of another herring bar just around the corner and walked me there. It turned out to be the smallest bar in Krakow (space for about half a dozen people), and a really neat place to boot.

    I invited Jacob and Piotr (the aforementioned winos) for a couple of vodkas while I ate (the vodka apparently being essential while eating the herring) and had a great chat with them for the next hour or so. Might catch up with them again tomorrow.

    But for now, and somewhat inebriated, I need bed as it’s an early start tomorrow.

  • Poland Day 4 – Warsaw

    Had a quick brekky at the hostel and then rushed off to make the free walking tour of Old Town.

    Our guide was called Bartosz, or Bart for short, and gave us an interesting 2 hours guided commentary around the sights, statues, and people who have populated the area for the last 600 years or so. The highlight for me was seeing Marie Curie’s birth house (I never knew she was originally polish) but I also liked the narrowest house (from the front only, to avoid taxes) and the story about Shit Hill.

    After the tour I had lunch (a very yummy steak tartare and polish sausage in mustard sauce, washed down by a couple of beers) with Bart and a mate of his Blazej, and later on Blazej’s girlfriend joined us too.

    From there I headed to the tallest building in Poland, the “Palace of Culture and Science”. It was presented as a gift to the Polish by the Soviet people, but many consider it to be a sign of Soviet supremacy over their capital city. As such there is some controversy over it. Nevertheless I got a ticket to go up to the 30th floor which has the public viewing gallery. I picked a bad time and had to wait for at least a million school kids to go up on only 2 elevators but finally made it. Nice views from the top but not entirely sure it was with the wait.

    Having reached ground level again I walked to Łazienki Park, another 2 or 3 km away.  By now my feet were complaining bitterly, as the sandals I had with me on the trip were apparently not very suitable for much walking. So unfortunately I did not enjoy the park and palaces as much as I had been looking forward to, but still had a good slow wander around with a few pauses to take in the sights. I even got some pics of a peacock and red squirrels!

    To get back to my hostel I cheated and used a bus.. nice long hot shower and I’m rather contemplating skipping dinner and just going to bed.. Off to Krakow tomorrow!

    Oh, btw, the centre of town is quite civilised with plenty of free wifi around.

  • Poland Day 3 – Malbork to Warsaw

    Had a pretty good sleep but still didn’t get going until 9. I really don’t like mornings!  Packed the bike and took a photo of my hosts before heading off.

    The roads today were all good to excellent with only a short section fair.  All by western standards.  In fact,  a lot of the roads today beat the British ones hands down!

    Poland also seems to be a train spotters paradise.  On the first day I saw an electric locomotive from the 50’s pulling a freight train.  Last night there was a supermodern high speed express train similar to the shinkansen in Japan crossing the bridge in Malbork, and this afternoon there was an ancient diesel engine pulling freight cars alongside the highway. I really wish I could take photo dumps of my brain!

    The first stretch was lovely winding road through mostly rape-seed fields before I turned onto a highway.  I had breakfast at a highway services together with the first fuel stop not long after. I was planning to leave the highway in 60km anyway but when it turned into a massive building site and one lane road with lots of traffic I was convinced.

    I nearly regretted it as the town I turned off at had cobbled streets but the road out of town was great tarmac with beautiful countryside and forests. Unfortunately it was also mostly straight with only a few corners here and there but overall great.

    I ended up detouring through the centre of ??? Instead of bypassing it and it was well worth it although I then got lost for a bit on tiny tracks through the countryside until I found the main road again. The 62 going to Warsaw is straight and we’ll paved but has loads of traffic so I didn’t enjoy it much.

    Just before getting into Warsaw prophet I spotted a hardware site while stopped at a red light.  A quick bit of lane shuffling got me to the driveway and while they had nothing to fix my saddlebags which were all but falling off by now they happened to be next to a bike mechanics who were awesome.  A and b spent an hour helping me adjust the clamps I had bought in Germany a few days earlier,  even welding up an open tang.  No charge.  Really absolutely fantastic guys so if you ever need to get anything motorbike engaged sorted while near Warsaw do look them up!

    From there I headed into Warsaw and soon found the old town but no tourist info. A guy on the street told me about a hostel inside the old town itself and said I should just ride in – nobody would mind with such a special bike.  And indeed most people gave a thumbs up as I parked in the market place.  The hostel was full up abs the adjustment they rented was only available one night so I headed to another hostel which I had gotten from the tourist info place on the marketplace.

    They put me up in a 4-bed dorm and even had secure parking for my bike. After logging the luggage up 4 flights I had the first proper hot shower  in days! Bliss! Then a quick wander into town to get some food (peroggi, sour dough soup, and a beer. Yum!).
    Shouldn’t have had dessert – hit apple cake and a mug of hot fruit compote.  Food coma!

    In town were hundreds of online skaters getting ready for a night skate.  Apparently it happens every 2 weeks or so and is supported by ambulance and police. Fantastic.  I also found rental bikes – first 20 mins free then 1zt (20p) for half an hour, and just use your mobile number to register.  The Boris Bikes in London have a lot to live up to!

    Off to bed now ready for a full day of sight-setting tomorrow.  What luxury not to have to pack up at 9 to get going again!

  • SREU Star Party

    Up early for a 6:30 departure.  Had a pretty good run down to Folkestone, and still made my scheduled train despite stopping to top up the tank.Chatted to a Harley rider on his way to Karlsruhe for his sons wedding anniversary.  Said the Route 43 in France is very nice. 

    Made a brief stop just after Antwerpen in a village for petrol.as I was getting pretty low on fuel and didn’t know how far to the next highway services. 30 miles earlier there was a rather nice highway services but I saw it too late to pull off. Tried to find lunch in the village as well but the only place which looked to be open didn’t sell food, only beer. Oh well, lliquid lunch.From there it was another 200km or so to the Ponykamp, the last bit of which I did on country roads as I was sick of highways by then. After another fuel stop in Balkbrugg I quickly found the Ponykamp and the WSFH welcomed me to the party.

    While setting up camp Robert (rally organiser) brought me a big rissole in a bun – fantastic chap!  First food since the Chunnel. Next tent over were a couple of germans, Micha(!) and Bernd, who I had a good chat to, and ended up spending most of the evening in their company with their mates.

    Dinner was in the big hall, afterwards party in the smaller barn with a live band of high-school students.  Pretty good going for a couple of kids, blasting out a believable repertoire of the classic rock songs.  Rounded out the night with another hour or so at the fire. Had a fanstastic day and met a great bunch of people.