During the last week and a half of riding I have so much time to reflect back on my long ride of already nearly 17 000 km.
Did the ride live up to my expectations? YES YES YES!
I am so privileged to have experienced all the beauty of faraway countries and of people who crossed my way.
But on the last run I also visited “old” friends of mine.
My first stop in Germany was in Pulheim where Dieter and Dorothee Moritz live. Like with my previous visits the SA flag was hoisted and hung until I left.
I was spoilt rotten by Dieter and Dorothee with fresh fruit, 5 star meals, South African wines, Polish vodka and German Obstler. On Sunday we took a long walk in Cologne at the Rhine and the weather played with. Every night we went to bed well after midnight.
Both their children, Pauline and Martin, were there as well and I enjoyed the lively conversations with them.
On my bed I found an envelope, a donation of Euro 150 to Operation Smile. Thank you so much Dieter, Dorothee, Pauline and Martin!
After leaving Pulheim I rode to a Kawasaki dealer in Bergheim that I had found on the internet. I was more than a thousand kilometers over the due distance to change the oil of the KLR. The last oil change was just two weeks ago in Russia …
I stopped just after 8 there. Their trading hours were from 09:00. Axel Klaer was already there and immediately offered me coffee. Although they were not open he took the KLR into the workshop and after twenty minutes I had the KLR back: Oil changed, filter cleaned. I wanted to pay and he refused to accept any payment. He added two cans of expensive chain lubrication and still refused any payment.
Axel, thank you! You are a great representative for the Kawasaki brand! (If we only had such Kawasaki dealers in South Africa …)
Second time in as many days that strangers went out of their way to help.
With clean oil I took the road south, first to Luxembourg and then to Belgium, keeping to the small roads and riding through beautiful villages. Late afternoon I was in Hammer where the legendary Bernd and Patricia Tesch live. Bernd is the doyen of long-distance biking and has many firsts on his CV, of which one was the first ride between the Atlantic Ocean (France) to the Pacific Ocean (Vladivostok) way back in 1992, just after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Bernd and Patricia invited a few friends for a braai and we sat around the famous Tesch-fire until 02:00 AM.
THis morning when it was time to say goodbye Bernd first deemed it suitable to tell me what a beginner I was for riding so far without a decent seat padding. Have a look at the photographs and then you will understand. You guys won’t understand our mutual joking with each other. I admire this man for what he is.
I am treasuring the remaining days. Life was good to me, and I got so much from so many people, friends and strangers.