There is always a point in any trip when you start coming down. When thoughts and worries from home break down the door in your mind that you locked them behind all those weeks ago. Today is that day. We’ve only a few days left, the mood changes and the riding becomes more of a mechanical process just to cover miles.
Out the city and out out to the Romanian border.
The queue is moving exceedingly slowly and I find myself chatting to a woman in a car. She’s giving me her life story. Her parents were born in Moldova but they did something that upset the authorities and they were sent to Siberia as punishment. She was born and grew up there but when the USSR dissolved, families were allowed to choose which country they became citizens of and her parents chose to come back to Moldova. She was spitting blood about the Russians and what was happening in Ukraine. She had a daughter that she had banned speaking Russian in the house. She said Moldovans were being brainwashed by Russian TV and bribed by the Russian soldiers stationed there. The reason she was leaving was to collect her husband from an airport in Romania. The Moldovan airspace had restrictions and apparently there were always bomb scares at the airport so it was much easier to fly to/from Romania.
Across the bridge and back into Euroland we go.
Its getting hotter and hotter and hotter. We stop for coffee and I get out my chocolate thermometer, much to the amusement of the local ladies.
Tonight is Sighisoara, birthplace of Vlad the impaler. The only thing being impaled nowadays is ice lollies. Nice place though
I’m feeling properly shit again today. It’s properly hot again and we all get warning texts from the Romanian government that the temperature is going to be over 40 and to stay at home if you can. Well we can’t so off we go.
Get to Oradea and I’m a proper bad way. The temperature has been up at about 43 and I’m fucked. It’s all I can do to walk to reception. I didn’t wear a buff today and the sun has been beating down on my neck all day. I’m feeling spacy and sick and very tired. I’ve just got overheated I reckon. When I turn the cold shower on I hiss and steam as my boiling body quickly directs hot blood to my veins and skin to be chilled. Thankfully recovery is pretty quick and after a couple of hours I’m good enough to go for a wander about.
From Oradea its through the schengen border back into Hungary. These trips really take their toll on the bikes, the riders and the kit. I notice the thumb has almost come adrift from my gloves. I get sad when things like this happen. I love my old kit and I know that I won’t be able to replace it like for like. I hate seeing something I like coming to the end of its life.
We’re in Bratislava tonight. It’s a Sunday and it’s oddly quiet. The place has a strange feel about it that’s difficult to put my finger on. Maybe I’m surfacing too soon. Maybe I’m not ready for real life just yet. I walk into a shopping mall for a Starbucks and I suddenly feel like an alien. I stand there for a good few minutes just thinking, shit, this really is too soon for this. It’s slightly overwhelming and oddly disconcerting. This should be my comfort blanket but it feels the exact opposite.
It’s the last night we’ll all be together and we’re all quite subdued. Nearly 7 weeks we’ve all been in each others pockets and mirrors every day and now its over. One of the riders will head for Italy tomorrow to store his bike and fly home while the rest of us will high tail it back to the UK. All we can do is have a chat about the next ride. There always has to be a next ride.
The one thing I am looking forward to though is not living out my little bag. You can’t imagine how much pleasure I get by just putting on a clean pair of jeans and a T-Shirt when I get home.
Autopilot on. Munich please, ASAP. Certainly sir, just add fuel
oh.. and don’t forget cake.
Munich to Verdun, running fast for home. A bed in a cheap motel, a supermarket dinner and ‘see you soon’ texts to my wife.
And then suddenly here we are. The last day. The final day of foreign scents and smells on the wind, funny money and random rooms. Guessing from menus and learning yet another name for milk. Time for my brain to go through all my memories and decide what goes and what stays. But just before we do that, we get one more welcome from a foreign sun as it rises above the French fields and powers the world though another day.
Get to the train and truth be told, I could quite easily just turn round and do the whole trip again.