More than two months ago, with the KLR on 91 207.6 km I started my long ride from Berlin. This morning, 18 018.5 km later I switched off the KLR at the Tegel Airport in Berlin. My ride was finally over. I rode through 16 countries on this ride. In total the KLR was in 32 countries on three continents.
I experienced nearly everything: Sunshine and rain, heat and very cold weather. I met wonderful people who again confirmed my view that there are more good people than bad people on planet earth. I was blessed and strengthened by all those wonderful people.
There were many people who made my ride possible. To them my eternal gratitude.
First of all my colleagues Alta and Suzanne. Without them my ride would have stayed a dream. Thank you ladies! I am proud of our FSA team.
My house was standing empty for many months. Good friends Willie and Cathy and loyal workers Stefaans and Liesbet kept it safe and ready for my return. Thank you so much!
Ray and Donovan Muller of Cytech who serviced the KLR, as with the previous rides. Their professionalism was always my guarantee that the KLR was tip-top for another long ride.
Tanja and Henda who shared their luggage allowance with me to get all my heavy bags to Germany. What a pity that you won’t be there with the flight back on Saturday!
Anne Rebstock in Germany helped me getting the transport of the KLR and insurance for the bike sorted out. Vielen Dank liebe Anne! Was hätte ich nur ohne Deine Hilfe gemacht?
A lady whose help and assistance for my time in Russia was crucial and so helpful, is Dace Skrauča from Riga, Latvia. Dace, you and the two cat ladies will always have a special place in my heart. It is wonderful how you went out of your way to help a complete stranger getting safely into and through Russia.
Neil Buckley was my back-up man with my travel insurance should anything go wrong during the trip. Thanks Neil for your big support of my ride!
All the people who donated money to Operation Smile, thank you!! The end of the fundraising campaign is with our dinner on the 1st September. Until then any donations are welcome! Every child that will be operated with funds generated during and after my ride will be a living testimonial that people still care. To donate click here.
In Germany I mainly stayed with dear friends. Anne and Achim, Dieter and Dorothee, Bernd and Patti, Anja, Gunther and Rosi, Ernst and Renate, thank you so much for your hospitality and all the good food!
There were so many people I met in the countries, through which I rode, who hosted me, fed me, were interested in my ride and from where I came. It would be totally impossible to mention all the names here. To all of you: THANK YOU! Although I am grateful for the privilege of meeting you I am also filled with sadness that many of you I will see never again. God bless you all.
To the ride itself.
Did the ride live up to all my expectations. Yes, a thousand times YES!
Will I ever forget the beauty of Switzerland, Poland and the people of Wroclaw in the grip of football fever, late night walks, visits to pubs with glasses of vodka and strange food, the beauty of Riga and the sadness of the museum I visited there, getting lost in Russia on a forest road while the rain turned the road into mud, how lost I felt when I got to Luga in heavy rain at dark and the ladies of the hairdresser saloon organised me a place to stay, Galina and Serg, Victoria and Igor, the mosquitoes, the loneliness I felt when I crossed the Urals into Asia, the warmth and hospitality of Ekaterinburg, Ethiopian coffee in Ekat, the cold reception in Tyumen in Siberia, Novosibirsk and a wonderful friendship forged there, meals with the freshest ingredients directly from garden, Vladimir, his parents and the Gulag camp close-by, Finland, the lakes and forests stretching forever into the distance, Tuija and Sarmo and pancakes on the lake, Nordkapp, a howling cold wind and rain later that turned the ride into a cold hell, the many friendly bikers I met underway, the emptiness when our ways parted again, the disappointment of Norway with low clouds, rain and no blue skies and sparkling blue fjords, the joy of getting back to known terrain, seeing old friends again, visiting Zutphen in Holland, tea and ice-cream on the bank of the IJssel late evening, problems with dirty fuel and nursing the KLR back to Berlin until I handed it over to the airline this morning.
There were also some sad moments when my thoughts went back to Ronel’s son who died on his KLR, Dick’s son in a car accident and my own father who passed away earlier this year. There were times when I intensely missed him. As Groenie wrote in a comment, often one had too much time to think on a bike.
It will take months and months to process all the memories and experiences, and even then there will be many memories that will remain “kopfoto’s”.
What can I say about the KLR? What a reliable bike especially when one is on the other side of the globe from home! It just went on and on and on …
What would I do differently on a next trip? Perhaps first time ever I would take a friend with, and never do a circle route again.
Next rides? I would love to do a ride across Africa again. It happened now and then that somewhere I heard music that reminded me so much of Africa, and then the longing to Africa was like a physical pain in my heart.
And more than ever before I believe in a living and loving God.
Riana, the organizer of the fundraising dinner, returned from Europe this week. The moment when I get the arrangements from her I will post it on the blog. Please keep the 1st September open for a relaxed, fun-filled evening with good food!
And now I have to start making a plan how I am going to get two huge heavy bags and the top box of the KLR back to South Africa 🙂
I selected only two pictures, which sum up my ride:
“He that hopes to look back hereafter with satisfaction upon past years must learn to know the present value of single minutes, and endeavour to let no particle of time fall useless to the ground.” – Samuel Johnson