Hitchhiking and Te Papa

We were supposed to get on the 10.20-bus, but when we came there 9.30 the bus driver told us we would probably have to get off in the middle due to normal luggage being prioritised before bicycles. The next bus would leave 14.20, but we couldn’t be sure we would be able to go with that one. Up on our bicycles and we went to the nearby camper van parkings to ask around. None was going in the right direction with space enough for us and bicycles. One guy was positive, but he was going north. To actually have a real chance, and not just ask parked cars, we went to the main road just east of Taupo. It took maybe fifteen minutes before we got picked up.

I think his name was Max, and he just happened to have a trailer as he was moving (or his girlfriend. Something with getting a car for his dad as well, I think.) He wasn’t going all the way to Wellington, but would stop in Palmerston North. That was about two thirds of the way, and would help us a lot!

After a nice ride (and I only fell asleep once) we got dropped off outside of the information centre in Palmerston North. There was less than one hour before the bus would arrive, and we booked that one. When the bus arrived it was the same bus driver, but another bus. He told us we must have been fast on the bikes, and if we could fit our bicycles in one of the smaller compartments, we could go with the bus. The front wheels had to be taken off, and my saddle had to be lowered, but we managed, including running in to the office to pay for the tickets. The bus driver didn’t care about the extra 20 NZD for the bicycles, which was nice. At least half of the bus fare saved through hitchhiking!

Without any food, we arrived in Wellington. As we would live with another Warmshovers host we bought ingredients to be able to eat ”real food”, and then started our small trip through the city. The GPS suggested to go through an awesome park. It was surrounded by buildings and roads, but the park itself had everything – cliffs, trees, bushes and walkways making it look like we were out in the middle of nowhere. And it wasn’t even that big! If I would have lived in Wellington, I would hang out here. A lot!

There were stairs, though, which our bicycles didn’t like. In the end we found a way up and out (as the park was in a hill) but we had to push our bikes on a really steep gravel road.

Starting downhill, I knew there was another uphill we would need to go up to get to their house. It was long and steep – but damn, good views!

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Julie and Thomas were our hosts. Thomas had Swedish parents (which we though after seeing the name) and there were a bit of Swedish things here and there (Dalahorse!) They were going on a barbecue for the evening, so we cooked our dinner.

This evening was the celebration of Guy Fawkes as well. None of us had the energy to get back to the city, knowing we would have to bike uphill on the way home again, and so we missed out on the fireworks. There were small fireworks going around us for a couple of hours anyway, and we had our own little celebration; watching V for Vendetta!

Our main event for the next day was the national museum Te Papa. We began with their World War 1 exhibition, which took two hours alone! I was afraid we wouldn’t have time to see what we wanted, but this was apparently the longest of all the exhibitions.

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After a lunch at Pita Pit (one of the places that serves vegan fast food) we continued exploring. One of the, according to me, more interesting exhibitions was about the LGBT-rights, and the anti apartheid protests. Other exhibitions were random art, immigration history, millions of years of transformation of New Zealand, earthquakes and much more. In the end, I felt one day was actually quite enough, as we were looking at less and less interesting parts in the end of the day.

In the evening Julie had made falafel for dinner, which was really awesome. Thomas told us about the times he had been in Sweden, and we talked a lot about Sweden and New Zealand, trip plans and life overall.

What I like about Warmshowers, instead of Couchsurfing, is that I never had anything close to a bad experience through this. People have the same interest as well, being mountain biking, bicycle touring or commuting – but biking it is, in many different ways!

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Long names and Darcy’s hometown

The morning was spent fixing a few bits and pieces on the bikes. My front brake had been pretty bad, so we started with changing the pads to the extra I had brought, cleaned the disc and actually changing the whole cable. The idea was to clean the cable, but we couldn’t get it back again, so a new one it was.

After some adjustment, the front brake is now able to lock up, as it should be! Thanks for the help, the stay, and the nice evening before, David (and Michael)!

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Our next plan was to go to Te Puia, which was a Maori cultural centre, I think. We started biking there a little late, but managed to be there with a few minutes extra, even, in time to see the Maori performance!

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Both me and Astrid felt the one at Waitangi had been better. Could be because this one felt more touristic, and less intimate, or because it was the second one seeing it. Still really good!

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The guy on the guitar played Stairway to Heaven in the middle while one of the women explained something. Interesting.

After that, we went on a guider tour with the Maori guy with a real Maroi name, Paul. It was a nice tour, with more geothermal activity. Paul explained the name of the park, and not just the short part of it, but the whole one!

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Among other things a geyser, a mud pool and a place where they held Kiwis to get better. No photos allowed in there, though!

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Next adventure would be Kerosene Creek, which is a river with hot water. And it was perfect! After sitting too many minutes on my knees in the sensational water, I decided that I would eat my lunch in there. Said and done!

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We had planned to camp at another geothermal point, which David had told us about, Butcher’s Pool. Someone had actually made a pool out of it, letting the water ascend through the ground and filter itself. People were bathing in it with shampoo and soap, so none of us felt intrigued to bath in that one.

As we had read on the reviews, there were many people visiting the place during the night. Why I am not sure, but it may be an assembly point for local people.

It was supposed to rain a lot the day after, and int he morning I asked a camper van if we could hitchhike with them. They were actually two vans going together, so we put the bicycles in one of them and rode in the other one! The were going by Huka Falls on the way, so we got to see that as well, before they let us off in Taupo.

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I messaged the host we would stay with in Taupo, who met us by the i-Sight in just a couple of minutes. We got the directions to the house and biked there. It was really nice to be able to stay inside, let everything dry, clean the kitchen for real and use a real kitchen!

Adam, who I met at my home drop zone in Sweden, was passing by Taupo on his way home, so he went by for a fika. Fun to actually be able to meet him again, and we planned for the possibility to meet up in Ashburton and have a mini boogie! Would be awesome if we managed. I also got to borrow his rig, which would save me a lot of money while jumping in Taupo.

In the evening, when Rose and Trevor came home, we talked with them about road choices, among other things. Thanks to them we got a really detailed plan, and some good tips which was on the way anyway. Really glad we chose to stay with them!

Just biking on

The 28th and 29th not much happened. We biked, and in Whakamata we stayed to shop for dinner and check the air in our tubes. While doing exactly that, a guy when by and said ”Oh, I didn’t expect it to be a queue!”, and we said he could just use the compressor before us, as we were still fiddling with checking our pressures. In a haste, I asked if he knew any good camping ground, and he said we could camp at his place! He drew us a quick map before heading off to his pool game he was a bit late to, and we went to his home. The only direction of what not to do we got was ”Do not touch the plant!”.

His home looked really awesome, and the guy seemed like he could build things, both practically and for artistic style. The awesome kitchen table was made by him, a big, beautiful, wooden one.

The evening went awesome, and I got some homemade glitter nail polish added to my blue one.

The 29th we biked on the Hauraki rail trail, which is made into a kind of bicycle trail. It was not that good, though. You didn’t have to bike with the cars, but instead, it was mostly gravel. I’ve biked many great gravel roads, but those were just too big stones, too soft and too many obstacles, like those kind of bars with space in between so cattle won’t be able to walk that path. Everything shakes when you pass by, and you have to lower your speed. Sometimes they even appear every few hundred metres, making it a nuisance.

We arrived in Te Aroha, and went shopping again. After talking with some nice people we settled to camp in or nearby a park. As there were wifi outside the library we ended up on that side the river.

Headwind and awesome views from the tent

After another loaf of bread (but as breakfast this time) we were heading out! Really happy that we met Ana, and that she invited two totally crazy Swedish strangers into her house!

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Her daughter has built a beautiful magical village, by the way!

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Because of the form of New Zealand, and the mostly constant western winds, we would have pretty good winds on the north island, and probably less good winds on the south island. Thanks to the general direction we had biked so far the winds had been awesome, but this day consisted of mainly headwind.

We spotted a really random park, or whatever it was, consisting of many att projects (or just random stuff people had managed to put there, what do we know). There was a fence and gates around, se we didn’t enter, but had a nice view for lunch!

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When we finally arrived at the drop zone in Parakai, they had already closed down for the day. Instead of living ten minutes away, we decided to rent a small box (or room, but more like a box) with a bunk bed in it, as this was much closer to the DZ, and also we could use the internet, do our laundry and use the kitchen in there. There was some nice people too, which is always awesome!

In the morning I went up quite early to try and get my briefing at the drop zone. Even though I was there quite early, about half past eight, I had to wait about two hours before someone had time enough to help me convert my license and show me the landing areas and rental gear. I got a Safir 170, and went up as soon as possible. What they didn’t tell me was that the landing area was a bit wet, which made me pitch a bit early, just to get to a somewhat dryer patch. My pants and shoes still got dirty from the walking, though.

Astrid had a small sleep in, but when she was fully awake, she went shopping, and also cooked lunch! Really awesome.

Meanwhile, I made a second jump with two guys I met. To make it easy, we did a Skydance (more or less three people holding hands, and starting on one side, one person let it go and flies to the other side of the line). I had added a weight belt of four kilos, but I was still too light. We managed to do some rounds, though, and it was lots of fun!

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Also, my pants and shoes were clean again, after a minute in free fall and a more planned, and dry, landing.

Those two jumps took a lot of time, and after eating and packing, we departed at around five. There was a road that was supposed to be shorter and closer to the coast, but we had no idea about the quality of the road. We took our chances, and after ten-something kilometres into the woods, we found a locked gate, with the text “forest harvesting – public access forbidden” or something like that. As we are Swedish, we lifted our bikes over the gate, rather than turning around and bike uphill again. It was labour day, and that may have helped, because we saw no-one in twenty kilometres. What we did do was to experience an awesome forest, some sometimes good-sometimes bad roads, and a lot of wild life! I saw at least four rabbits and five deers, and of course there were birds both here and there.

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“Bicycles Allowed”-fence, not the “Nothing Allowed”-fence

After getting through two more fences (more like car blocking, but we had to get our bags off), we just had a couple of kilometres to what would be an awesome camping place! Down to beach, where there were supposed to be a camper van area, and we found public toilets and drinking water. There were sand dunes, some beautiful black sand and also a spot that looked like it was made to be ours. Up on a small ”cliff” with a steep wall down to the beach we pitched our tent, with a great view for dinner!

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When we were almost done with ours, we saw some germans down at the beach trying to light a fire, but failing. Of course we would be nice enough to help them, and walked down there with our kitchen fuel. It burnt alright!

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One of them gave us a good tip about Coromandel, where we were headed next. Awesome!

Day two of biking, and some Maori history!

It was easier to bike, probably because it was a lot flatter. After maybe 30 kilometres we met a girl who was going to spend half a year in NZ, biking around and experiencing stuff. She told us about a road that was supposed to pretty nice to bike on, kind off flat and all, along Highway 10, instead of Highway 1, where she came from. There had been lots of traffic, and for about 15 kilometres it was not fun at all. We took her advice, as it would only add 9 kilometres over three days, and took a left turn in Awanui after shopping for dinner and breakfast!

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Thanks to the turn, we had tail wind, which brought us forward pretty fast. As there were no cous-cous in the store in Awanui, we stopped in Mangonui, bought cous-cous and ate most of the preserved fruit we had bought in China. There were a free camping just three kilometres after the store, but that would set us back around 8 kilometres. Because of that we continued until getting too tired, with another hill in front of us. As wild camping so far had been hard due to all the fences and hills, we knocked on a church where no one opened. There were a house on the opposite side of the road where a man named Wayne let us camp in his garden and use his bathroom. Forgot to take pictures, but the view was amazing, especially with the morning mist in the valley!

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The next day, we mostly biked to get to Paihia, close to Waitangi, where the treaty between the British and Maori had been signed in 1840. We thought it would work out to go up there for a visit after the biking, but as the camping was on the way, we checked in and asked about it. At least two or three hours would’ve been needed to actually get something from the visit.

As we wanted to get down to Whangarei, and Jim, by Tuesday evening, we knew we didn’t have time for both. Therefore, we planned to go to the Treaty Grounds the next day for a visit, and then take the bus down to Whangarei.

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Campsite for the night

It was pretty early, and there were a BBQ on site, so we decided to try and make ourselves a really nice dinner. After some wandering in the store we had sweet corn, tomatoes, mushrooms, rootbeat, nachos with avocado spread and salsa, olives, pineapple, hummus, a baguette and some wine!

No before pictures, but something in the middle!

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The next morning we arrived at the Treaty Grounds at 09.20. There would be a guided tour at 10.00, so we first went to the newly opened museum.

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The tour guide spoke about the Maori history, and mainly the treaty, but also discussed about it, to show the problem. The treaty itself had been signed in one Maori version, and one English version, which differed in its meaning.

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He also showed us the big war canoes. This particular one could hold a total of 120 people!

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The history about the reputation of Russell, earlier also called the Hell Hole of the Pacific, which also was one of the events leading to the treaty, was another thing we got to learn about, with the city in the background.

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After the tour it was time for a performance of the traditional Maori dances, beginning with a welcoming ceremony.

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They were really skilled in what they did, and the whole performance was a really awesome experience!

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After a small history movie in one of the oldest houses of NZ, it was time to get our things at the camping and prepare for the bus ride.

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A short journey later, and we arrived in Whangarei again. As we were in a city, we tried to get me a new bell (which was too small for my handlebar) and see if someone could repair my speaker (which is turning the sound itself off every now and then, but maintains connection). None of those were a success, and we biked to Jim’s place. First, we wen’t to his neighbour (same looking car) before getting to the right place! It was an awesome evening, making “real food” for dinner (chick peas and sweet potatoes with curry, coconut milk, sweet corn and onion) and some wine, and a real nice chat with Jim again! This time we also got to finally meet his wife, Karin!

Troubles, but nice people!

I decided to leave the bed at nine and start making delicious pancakes.

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While eating I also wrote the blog post from yesterday, all while the sun was shining outside. Awesome!

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When I finally left around 1130-isch, the bike was a bit hard to start. It was parked with the front downwards on the street, but after five-ten seconds, it started, no problem. I drove away, and it was already raining a bit. On the highway, it started to rain really hard, like yesterday, but only for a minute or two.

Not too soon after that, Varadero started acting strange. It felt like it just skipped to ignite once every now and then, and suddenly the RPM needle started jumping like crazy, before dying. I stopped at a rest stop, where the whole bike died on me.

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I first thought it was the fuel light, even though I had only 220 kilometres since last stop, and the warning light had not turned on. Now, it was on, though. As nothing happened when trying to start it, even though I heard some petrol in there, I asked around about someone with a reserve canister. No one had one, and I asked some ladies to give me a ride to a petrol station, so I could hitch-hike back afterwards. Instead, they took my petrol bag and went away, filling it, even though I had no cash to pay for it!

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They came back, with both petrol and chocolate, and we filled Varadero up with seven litres. A guy asked if I wanted some starting help, so we hooked up the battery to his car. Elsa and Lisette left, and Varadero started! I started getting all my stuff together to go to a petrol station, and even though the bike died during this time, it started again, like nothing. This was my first 30 kilometres this day.

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As I came to the petrol station, I filled it up. I only got 14 litres in though. 14+7=21, which meant I probably had 4 litres left earlier. This was bad, as something else would be the problem. Varadero didn’t start now either, which meant petrol was not the problem. I also saw the fuel light was still on. I tested around a bit, posting on a few forums, and saw that both the fuel light and the key light were on when I couldn’t start it. When the light went out, it would start. A man walking by, asked if I had problems, and told me he lived 80 metres away, and that I could go there for internet, which was really welcome, as I was aiming at McDonalds just to get to the forums without using expensive roaming data.

After being there for a while, eating bread, drinking coke and calling Magnus at home, I decided to try and drive again, to see if it would be better in a day or two, the drier it would get. Up on the highway, the RPM needle started jumping, and at the same time, it started couching a bit again. Soon, it started couching more and more, and I took the next exit. It died on me down there, and I backed up on a bicycle path. I tried to get it to go for a while and decided to stop a car for starter help again, to be able to drive back to Ling’s place, and plan ahead from there. The fifth-or-so car stopped, and we tried to get it working, but nothing happened. We had a connection between the batteries, but nothing happened.

He told me he knew a BMW/KTM/Triumph-mechanic nearby, and that he could take me there, so they could at least get the bike out of the way. While there, of course they said they couldn’t fix anything, but another random guy told me he had room on his trailer. He had two bikes on the way here, leaving them on service I think, and picked up his BMW 1200 GS, newly served. Christophe, as his name was, had a small vacation house nearby, and this was one of the places he knew that would service both BMW and KTM, which suited him perfect.

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We drove back to my bike, put it on the trailer and drove to a Honda mechanic. They had already closed down, though, so we put the bike outside and started the hunt for a new battery, if that would be the problem. After seven shops we had to give up though, as everything was closing. I’ve seen most of Schleswigs shopping centres, at least! Before dropping me off back at the dealer, we went by Lidl to shop for food.

After setting camp I had a lovely dinner with my Varadero. I hope it will go quick tomorrow, otherwise they have a few Africa Twins in store…

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Still, mostly laughing during the day. It is an adventure after all. Felt a bit down during the first resting stop, but this is part of it! At least I hear everyone say ”Shoes!” and ”Moi!” again, which makes everything so much better!

Rainy day, but Små Lätta Moln

For me, 6.30 is early, but counting what I was going to do this day it was a good time to wake up. Breakfast with Eva, and away!

My first stop were Halmstad, where I would meet Mattias for a fika and pick up a battery meter to be able to check up on my battery without hassle. I arrived in fairly good time, around 9.50, and he and his girlfriend treated me pancakes as brunch! Eva, this is probably going to be pancake-themed as my last trip was. 🙂DSC_9760.jpg

On my way to Malmö I stopped by at Nilssons MC to say thank you for the MC-clothes, and then continued to Naturkompaniet. They had sadly not gotten my accessories for my tent, but I bought a dry bag for it, so it wouldn’t look as much as a Hilleberg.

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I filled up my tank and bought a S-mark (as you apparently need that for going international with a vehicle – I had no clue) before going over the bridge. So far, so good, but first thing I meet in Denmark – is 15 minutes of queueing. It really sucked going 5 km/h just watching the minutes pass by.

Suddenly, everything sped up – for about 20 minutes. Another long queue.

After a while, I took a break at a gas station, borrowing their bathroom and eating the pancakes I got as packed lunch! Awesome.

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I continued once again, and met another queue. Great. This time I filtered through, as 10 was better than 2 kilometres per hour… Apparently there had been some sort of accident with a big, 6 axle vehicle, so everyone had to go to the far right of the right lane.

Horsens, Denmark was my goal as I was going to check up on a bash plate for my Varadero. It would be too much of a hassle to put it on, though, as one of the screws to the center stand is a bitch – nothing I want to take loose out here, thinking about how hard it was to get it there. Also saw I lost a nut. Have to replace that one later.

Ole was really nice, though, and if I hadn’t been in a small hurry to get to my place for the night I would have stayed longer. I got a picture of his Varadero, at least – I din’t know there were original side bags! Looked really awesome. Hopefully I’ll meet him on the road one day!DSC_9763.jpg

Back in Malmö, I had gotten an idea when looking at the map. Denmark is really close and I remembered Ling lived close to Haderslev when I was biking by on my way to Morocco. With motorcycle, I could be there for the evening. I asked if she was free for the evening, and the plan were set!

She had moved to Sønderborg, though, but it was still only 140 kilometres from Ole. I went there and met this crazy woman for a second time!

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Parked for the night

She was cooking for me when I was arriving, and it was a delicious sparris, aubergine and stuff-thingy! Omnom.

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She had even prepared the table real nice. And bought me stuff to be able to make pancakes when I woke up!DSC_9769.jpg

 It has been raining and windy all day, and when going over one of the bridges here in Denmark, the side wind were really strong. I had already cut my speed to 85 (the limit were 110), but suddenly I felt how it grew in strenght. I continued dropping speed, and even tilting left, but the motorcycle started to wander to the right. I didn’t want to push it down too fast, as I felt like I would lose grip, and therefore wandered out on the shoulder. When I was down at 60, it felt stable again, and I moved further, keeping trap in my rear if I would have to blink by brake light or anything. Luckily, also the bigger trailers were going pretty slow.

Other than that, the gear has hold up pretty well. My boots are a bit low/the trousers a bit short, because when I sit, riding for hours, I will get a bit of water into my boots. Not so much that i will feel it, but I was wet around my feet when I stopped.

The Givi side bags are holding up fairly well, but let some water though. I will have to monitor that one, so I won’t get any nasty wet surprises.

My tank bag held up really good even without rain cover, though, and even though everything inside were well protected, there were no water at all. Good job, Lidl! Now, I hope there will be more sun!

First day finished!

I tested the multifuel kitchen for the first time today, and made many fireballs. Think I can handle it now.

The motorcycle and luggage was almost ready on the planned time, I was “late” 20 minutes to my parents place. The weight was too much to the left, which could be bad as the side stand is on the left, and it felt like it could tip over. A quick repack helped it. I actually have some space over!

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I met up with my whole family for late lunch as Tim and Maria returned from their half-year honey”moon”! After meeting a whole hour for the last half year, I said goodbye again as it was my turn to go.

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Mainly little traffic and good roads, leaving with the meter standing at 49400 kilometres and the GPS set at Jönköping. It took a bit more than three hours, and I had some rain for 20 minutes. The clothing held up with no problem, so when I arrived at Eva’s place I was still dry!

A nice vegetarian lasagna, some talking and a quick shower was really nice. I’m prepared for tomorrow! Sleeping in the same room as the last time I was here (beginning of the bicycle trip), and it feels really good!

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I also got a new map up: https://trackmytour.com/GFbk6#1118230
It will be with the other maps on this website!

 

Nice faucets and motorbikes

After passing the muddy road from our camping place, we set aim at Irbit.

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Today we were going to visit the factory and museum where the Ural motorbikes are made, but first, a stop at a stolovoya, the old type of lunch place from the Soviet era! It was pretty basic, and really cheap. It also had the best faucet in the bathroom we had seen so far this trip!

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Our contact for the guided tour met up with us at the restaurant, and we started with making a tour in the factory. Sadly, but understandable, many parts were nowadays imported from Taiwan, China and other cheaper countries instead of produced locally. The motorbikes still looked nice though, and if I had too much money I would love one. It seemed pretty cool to have one with sidecar and two wheel rear drive, even if it would not really be practical!

When entering and exiting the building, apart from the usual safety guard, there were a bell on the door which started ringing really loudly whenever anyone opened the door. Even if the exterior looked old, the interior had good standards at least, with modern machines.

Photos were not allowed in there, and I decided not to push my luck too much.

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Next stop was the museum. At first, we managed to get into some sort of workshop I think, but as it had some old parts and looked pretty cool, we looked around, thinking it was part of the museum.DSC_7386

In the museum itself, we had a guide, and then our translator who had been translating for us at the factory. There were 30-something motorbikes in there, and at some points, the motorbikes they had imported from another country to copy. There were also some guinness world records, they ad for example driven one motorbike for a couple of days without stopping, one in reverse and one on two wheels (all with sidecars).

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We also got to sit on some of the motorbikes, one being a Honda Goldwing, and one being a motorbike Putin had been sitting on once upon a time.

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After this interesting visitings we were headed for a big mine, close to a city named Asbest. Apart from the name, which we thought were pretty funny, it was a really large one. From where we stood we could not even see the whole thing, and I don’t think the picture will do it justice. Down there you can see some lorrys and some other machines, with the train being pretty close to us. It was huge!

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First, one Russian appeared, and started talking with us. He seemed nice, and he could speak a little bit of english, asking what we were doing here and where we were headed. Then, two other Russians appeared, looking a little bit more drunk. Especially the guy, who were driving, seemed pretty intoxicated, and wanted us to drink with him. He seemed to think Jakob was a hero for doing his plank. He was a little bit scary, I have to admit.

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Nice Russian to the left, drunk Russians to the right

As it was getting late, we searched for a sleeping place. After passing through some small villages we found a great spot on the other side of a river. There were two people, a father and his son, coming there by car to fish, but other than that we were alone the whole evening. Most of us got woken up when they left, though, with that screeching car pushing itself through the mud!

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Preliminary end plan

This was what I posted on October 11th during the turning point, and may mainly been seen as “historical curiosa”!

“My other blog posts will appear in the future.

I jump Portugal, and aim for Morocco directly, as that is a country I really want to bike through (Portugal did not feel as special). On my way there I even got checkpoints if I don’t feel to do Morocco; Madrid in a couple of days, then Malaga is pretty close to the border, and after that the airport in Morocco is not that far.

Making this change made everything feel better, even though the roads today sucked harder than ever before (mud that stops the wheels from turning), so I am pretty sure it is the right thing to do. We’ll see, my plans is never precise!”