Hero image for the Build of GLR 1 adventure motorcycle route

THE BUILD GLR 1 OF

distance time of year on the bike on the road 3477km October 83,5 hours 12 days

Combine dirt roads with some nice landscapes add a motorcycle and you've got yourself a nice adventure. Put endless rain into the equation and it becomes an adventurous struggle of falling down, hurting yourself, running to catch a dying drone and fighting against hurricane like windspeeds. This is about my struggle of building the GLR 1.

Main Big image off-road section of the GLR 1 adventure motorcycle route ×
Main Big image off-road section of the GLR 1 adventure motorcycle route ×
Main Big image off-road section of the GLR 1 adventure motorcycle route ×

day 1

9 hours 14min 664km

Every adventure starts with the same rituals. Check the bike, pack the bike, go to bed early and leave as early in the morning as possible. This time was a little out of the ordinary. I would leave relatively late because of the temperature in the morning. I'm not planning to freeze off the bike, so leaving around 9 am sounds a bit more comfortable than the usual 5 am.
The ride to the start of what has become GLR 1, would take me around 15 hours. For the night, I would stop halfway at a campsite. Doing so enables me to start the second day fresh and early. After all, it's an adventure and I expect nothing to go as planned.

day 2

6 hours 47min 310km

The sound of raindrops hitting the tent prelude a new day. Today is the first day I'm forced to eat my breakfast inside. I hope this is just bad luck on the first night and not a forecast for the upcoming adventure.

Nevertheless, my mood drops after packing the tent wet. It keeps raining the whole day, but the slightest glimpse of the sun turns a smile on my face. I motivate myself that I'm back on my bike again and that I'm probably going to experience a lot of amazing things in the upcoming weeks.

After a whole day of riding, I arrive at my destination. It turns out that most campsites close after September, leaving me stranded at the gate.

After asking around, I meet the owner at the local tennis court. It's okay to pitch up my tent, but I don't need to expect any breakfast service. I except his offer!

third day day

8 hours 17min 140km

The second morning of endless rain and again I'm forced the pack the tent wet. It feels like one of the greatest sins to pack my tent this wet, but I have no other option.

I left this region three weeks ago, feeling overwhelmed by the 30-degree heat. Not the rain and cold transform the region unrecognizably.

I arrive at the trailhead of GLR 1. It's nice to ride offroad again, and the feeling of adventure starts to lighten my mood. It stops raining and I call it a day a little early to dry out all the wet gear inside the tent. I end up at a campsite with a hot shower.

The shower building is no more than a simple shack. I welcome the warmth of the water, nonetheless. Regretting my decision the moment when the water stops flowing. The comfortable outside temperature hits me, and I'm glad to fiddle myself into the sleeping bag afterward.

It's only half past 8 in the evening, but it's already pitch black. Daylight becomes scarce when you're late in the season.

Wet tent after packing the tent wet on my motorcycle
alternative

day 4 4 th th

4 hours 42min 146km

Waking up next to the clothesline, I could smell the moist air inside the tent. I'd to know better by expecting that any of my wet clothes were dry in the morning. The nights are cold and moist, how did I expect that it would dry overnight? The most important thing for me is having dry socks. Everything else can dry on your body, but sock won't.

I boil some water to pour it inside a stainless steel bottle. Nothing fancy, just a plain bottle. After putting the socks over the bottle, the moist came steaming out in seconds! It’s working, nice!

It finally stopped raining and I get somewhat emotional when the sunlight warms my face. Finally a day without rain. I'm able to pack my tent dry, so the day starts out well. It turned out to be a wonderful day. Not too many roadsigns who demanded me to seek an alternative route, just a simple good day.

I set up camp with sunset view. The weather forecast warns me about wind gusts for the upcoming night, so I secure the pegs once more before I go to bed.

day #5 #5

4 hours 52min 113km

Windy it turn-out to be. The tent shook violently in the morning. At first light, I get up to inspect the pegs. Four are torn out of the hard soil. The forecast tells rain again and I want to pack my tent dry, so breakfast comes later.

I was to be right. Just after I packed the last pieces and finished my breakfast, it started to rain again.

It starts to be a bit ironic. Just three weeks ago I was so hot that I wished for a little bit of rain. Now I need to plan my whole day around never-ending downpour of raindrops. Nevertheless, it's called an adventure.

The soil has turned from rocky limestone trails into muddy forest roads. Just after 10 minutes of leaving, I find myself holding the bike with all my strength, preventing it falling into a ditch. The roads have turned into a 30 cm deep mudslide because of the sustained rainfall of last week. Some parts are doable, others are quite treacherous. I lost the front in a muddy section and skidded sidewards for another 4 meters. This time I was lucky, no injuries and the bike didn't fall into the ditch.

The route leads me from the muddy forest roads onto a dried riverbed. Can you imagine, so much rain, but the river is not flowing. Down the more technical section of the riverbed, a stone shoots up and hits the brake caliper. Immediately I've lost my front-brake pressure.

Ah, man common I thought to myself. After inspection, it turns out to be that the rock has hit the banjo-bolt.

By torquing it, I regain brake pressure, but the sense that something's wrong stays. I keep switching between telling myself that there's nothing wrong, and the inner voice that screams that there is.

It turns out to be a whole day of rain, and around midday, I find some shelter for lunch. On the brighter side of the day, no prohibition signs! The road turns out to be as planned and I'm sensing progress.

View of an offroad section of the GLR 1

The landscape remembers me more of Scotland than France. Rolling grassy hills, rain, fog, and the wind.

After riding again for about two hours, I cross rut my bike and in the reflex to save me from falling over, I put my right foot down. Bad choice it turns out to be. My boot gets snatched by the pannier and gets pulled underneath it.

Falling off was now imminent. I find myself stuck between the ruts' sharp edge and the motorcycle. My foot is stuck and twisted sideways underneath.

By kicking the bike away with my remaining foot, I'm able to free myself out of this painful position. I feel nauseous and need to spend some time recovering myself. While I'm sitting there, in pain, muddy and wet again, I notice that someone has seen it all happen. While I was busy trying to free myself from the bike laying on top of me, word had spoken around and now about fifteen cows are coming over to check on me.

Supported by the herd of cows I get going again. I know by now that my knee needs some rest, so a campsite is much appreciated. A local campsite turns out to be still open, so that's the little luck I needed for today.

day 6 6

1 hour 13min N/A

It was a rough night and my knee still hurts, but way less than yesterday. After an easy morning, I get restless again and go out for a little ride to the supermarket. Normally I use the GPS but this time I used Google maps, so my groceries trip won't show up on the log data afterward.

While on my way back to the campsite, I noticed that I maybe took a wrong turn. I don't recognize the surroundings anymore, and I notice that I don't even remember what village I pitched up my tent. After riding around, I find my way back to the campsite and I feel somewhat ashamed by the whole happening. The upside is that I'll be able to get going again tomorrow.

seventh day day

7 hours 16min 156km

Today turns out to be a fun day. The route consists out of some fast dirt roads and I'm able to make some progress again. Not too many difficulties fortunately today. The rain and wind have become usual to me, so nothing new about that.

In the evening I pass by a campsite that appears to be still open. After again asking around, I find the owner. He turns out to be a rider himself, so this one is on the house. Nice!

By nightfall, I hear a lynx barking in the valley. This time there is an answer. Probably her young cub. It amazes me how many times I've heard a lynx already this year!

day 8 8

8 hours 35min 182km

I leave the campsite early in the morning. The weather forecast doesn't give any hope for the upcoming week. Hurricane Leslie will come to shore in Portugal and I will probably notice its effects even here tomorrow.

I think it’s the forecast or the weather in general that makes me feel irritated about the small things. Spilling petrol at the gas station or forgetting small things during the groceries. I don’t know, this isn’t my day.

To make the day more interesting, I arrive at a nice cliff where I need to get a drone shot. Somewhat risky to do send up the drone in this winds, but I decided to just do it. The wrong choice again!

After taking some shots, all alarms turn on with a notification that the drone won't be able to return back to its landing position.

In a slow-motion effect, I see the drone descending behind the horizon, right into the valley. Luckily I'm able to sail on a wind-gust to the side of the ridge. As fast as I can, I sprint about 300 meters to catch the drone out of the air.

ktm 690 enduro r riding alongside a cliff

Out of breath and somewhat proud of my rescue mission, I notice that I just sprinted with my trousers pockets open. Of course, I've lost my wallet, also again. Annoyed by myself, I spend half an hour searching for it between the tall grass. Luckily I found it after all.

The sun has already set and it's time to find myself a spot for the night. At "Lac du Salagou" I ride around for more than an hour, searching for a campsite that's still open. But none are. Frustrated by the fact, I hide behind a beach hut. The wind is pounding against the

tent and I'm trying to do my best to prepare some food. To top it off, I decide to end this day by dropping my bowl of food upside down into the dirt. I'm off to bed.

Me after a rough day on my motorycle adventure dropping my food while motorcycle camping

th 9 day

7 hours 59min 223km

What a night! I've only slept for maybe two hours. Wind gusts were pounding the tent from all directions. Even the spot I've chosen to pitch the tent was horrible. Cars coming from across the lake were shining their headlights right onto the tent, waking me up by the thoughts that somebody was coming with a flashlight.

I start to pack the tent with first light. Trying to keep the tent as low as possible, preventing it from flying away. The wind and rain are endless and I start to question myself if it is all worth it. I only have 122km left to finish the GLR 1 and I'm pretty confident I'm able to finish it today. Because of my early departure, I'm able to finish the route around 3 pm. By that time I'm soaking wet. Apparently, my jacket has started to leak because of the never-ending rainfall.

Time to get to the start of the next route, and of all the places the new route could start, I chose "Lac du Salagou" as starting point back when I prepared the routes. I know by now that I need to spend the night at an Airbnb, just not another night like last night.

It felt wonderful arriving at the Airbnb, a warm shower and a prepared bed. This is going to be a wonderful night after all!

tenth day

Rest day 0km

During the night, Leslie came to shore in Portugal and caused severe weather storms in the neighboring villages where I am now. My hosts tell me that due to floods 12 people had died last night. I'm glad that I stayed at an Airbnb and not in my tent.

The horrible weather continuous during the day and I'm convinced that I will stay inside the rest of the day. I'm also in doubt if it's worth the hardship to continue or just pick up the new route next year.

I decided to try my luck in the Pyrenees. There's nothing left for me this year. Local roads are badly damaged or even none existent due to the floods. It stomach feeling tells me that it's too dangerous to progress in this area.

day 11 11

7 hour 38min 284km

In the morning I get awakened by the sound of rain against the window. I’m stocked to get to Spain and hopefully better weather. After breakfast and some tips from my host, I get going again.

It keeps raining the whole morning, but I don't care about it at this moment. I pass by villages completely submerged in a meter of mud, people trying to get the remaining water out of their houses.

At some villages just before Carcassonne, I find myself in a disaster area. Military personnel is controlling roadblocks, helicopters flying over and people are just trying to get out of the area. I'm just looking for the nearest highway to leave the area, but because of that, I trapped myself in this whole situation around me.

Just to make the situation worse, the motorcycle starts to rattle real bad and I need to stop. When I stop and check where the noise is coming from, it tends out to be the chain just hanging barely around the sprockets.

I don't know how this could happen, but I need to fix it immediately. So here I am, again in the pouring rain, unpacking my stuff to get to the wrenches.

Drying out Klim Dakar Pro gloves after riding in the rain

It's not working out the way I hoped it would be. The adjusting screws are sticking too far out, and I'm afraid that they would collapse. I need to turn around the axle to give me some more leverage. But turning the axle around without a stand is harder than I expected. After half an hour I think it's all set and done and I pack everything again.

Why did I not put the gear in neutral? After moving the bike around, the chain is to tight and I'm losing it at this time. I need to unpack everything again and loosen up the chain. I’m really done with it now. I just want to go to Spain.

After riding for about four hours again, the sun starts to show itself behind the clouds. The Pyrenees are visible by now and the sun is shining. It's colder due to the elevation, but I don't care at this moment, it's dry!

After finding a campsite for the night, it's time to dry everything out. All my clothes are wet, even down to the underwear. But I don't care, I'm in the Pyrenees by now.

the final day

17 hour 35min 1270km

The night turned out to be colder than I expected and my tent is covered by a layer of frost. I start to think during breakfast that this isn't worth the hardship anymore. I start to plan to go back home to the Netherlands again.

I leave around 11 am after packing everything. It turned out to be a 17,5-hour ride back home. The funny thing is, it got warmer and even warmer the more I've got north. I think I have made the right decision. It was not worth pushing it anymore.

Although I'm glad that to be home after GLR 1, it turned out to be one of my favorite GLRs. Check it out now for yourself, and keep an eye on the weather forecast!