3 August 2011

It’s easy to think now that if this is the worst I have to deal with on this trip then everything has gone well.

The breakfast at the hotel should have been a sign – but I did not heed it (cold mushroom half-an-egg omlette and soggy lettuce garnish).

A quick morning stroll around Dolny Kubin provided little inspiration for the day ahead. The hotel looked worse on the outside than it had from the inside.  Maybe I should have stayed and gone to tonight’s circus performance.

But please don’t get the wrong impression about Slovakia – maybe I just stumbled across one of its less spectacular towns. Most of everything else I saw and experienced was great – I just have no photos of the better parts (but plenty of HD video).

So less than 160 miles today north to Krakow via Auschwitz. If all goes well I’ll be at Auschwitz just after lunch – visit the museum and be in Krakow late afternoon and catch up again with Kalahari George and his buddy.

The route is programmed to keep me off the motorways as much as possible and off I go.

First couple of hours were fine and very enjoyable. Seemed like I’d hardly been riding any time and I crossed the border into Poland (another new country for me).

I’m ahead of the GPS ( ie should arrive in Auschwitz before the GPS suggested when I set off) and thinking about how I will spend the evening in Krakow.

It seems like there is plenty of logging in this part of Poland. I’m occasionally slowed down by trucks laden with freshly cut trees and there is much evidence of logging as I travel through the forest. There is a left turn coming up – as I prepare to make the turn I see a sign that looks like it says the road is closed. OK – I’ll keep going straight and hopefully hook up further along. Ten minutes later the road is getting narrower and the surface poorer. But I’m headed in the right direction – so I keep going.

Around another bend and the gravel on the road turns into a gravel road. A no go zone for the Family Truckster. So I gingerly turn it around (not easy on a narrow road with a heavy bike) and head back.

Maybe that original road was not closed? Let’s give that a go. Sadly I was wrong. My initial interpretation of Polish road signs was on the money. There is no way through here either so another 5 point turn beckons – made even harder by fact that half the road is covered with the dirt excavated from the section under repair.

So I back track even further – knowing I have to head north east to get to Auschwitz. Back on an A road now and there’s a sign for Oswiecim – I think that is the Polish name for Auschwitz – so let’s follow these signs. Good call. The GPS picks up the route again and I’m on my way.

But getting low on petrol now. The low fuel light is on and I have about 30 miles of petrol left. GPS is telling me to turn left. I look right and see a sign for a petrol station 500 metres to the tight right. I change the indicator and wait for the traffic to clear from both directions. I turn the handlebars a hard right and ease the bike forward ever so slightly preparing to take this very tight right turn.

And then the moment we all fear. Heavy bike, tight turn and slow speeds.

The bike starts to overbalance. Not now – not here!

I put my right foot down – more in hope than anything else – but prepared to jump off if I need to. No need to have it fall on me – I’d never get out from under it on my own.

But my leg holds it up. Unbelievable! I thought I’d dropped it.

Short haul to the petrol station now – time to have a break and get my breath back. That was so close – never been that close to dropping the Family Truckster before.

I refuel and park up the bike so I can get a coffee.

Twenty minutes later and time to head to Auschwitz – not far from here – maybe another 30 minutes.

I walk out to my bike. What is that on my tyre?

Worn rear tyre on K1600GT

Looks like this needs replacing now!

Worn through to the steel belts.

I knew I would need to replace them soon but was planning to do this in Romania. Probably the extra weight has sped up the squaring off process. Plenty of tread left on the edges. Need to ride more bends and less straight lines!

Better get these replaced. But where?

Update: This was my first of a few mechanical interludes I was to experience on my Turkey motorcycle tour, each of which required me to lay over for at least a day or two until the necessary spares arrived.  Living in London it is easy to fall into the trap that the spares you need will be held in stock by most BMW dealers which is unfortunately not the case in Eastern Europe and Turkey.  Flexibility in my touring schedule and seeking overnight accommodation on a daily basis ended up being a bonus when unexpected maintenance and repairs were required.