I wake up early in the morning to have breakfast and say goodbye to my girlfriend. The earlier the better. Everybody is still asleep when I leave home, so it’s relatively quiet on the road. Everything goes as smooth as it should be. Saying goodbye is never pleasant, but I’m also glad I'm on a motorcycle adventure trip again.
The second I hit the highway, my bike starts to make a strange noise. It’s a metal on metal sound and I take the first exit to check what’s going on. I can’t find any obvious marks and the sound only occurs on the highway or when I accelerate hard. I won't take any chances and I head back home to check out what's going on in daylight. I can’t see anything this early.
As surprised as my girlfriend is to see me, as disappointed I am that I'm not on my way. I go to sleep for a few more hours until midday. I check the bike, but I can’t find anything. I tighten every nut and bold again and lube all the possible parts that could cause the noise. I check the chain tension with all the gear packed on the bike. Nothing can go wrong now! Afterward, I don’t know why I didn’t check for noises on the highway, but that’s in hindsight.
The next morning I do everything over. I have breakfast, give my girl a goodbye kiss and on my way I am. Just to turn around five kilometers further than I came yesterday. The noise is back again, and now it’s time to let it check by my local KTM dealership.
So again, she’s confused to see me and I'm frustrated back home again. I drop the bike off at the local KTM dealer and they confirm they also hear the noise when the engine is under load.
Later in the afternoon, I get a call to pick up the bike. After inspection, they think it’s the decompression spring what's a little worn out. I don’t need to worry about the noise, it’s apparently a common issue for my year and model. They assure me that's perfectly alright to ride with it, without any damage to the engine. Tomorrow I’ll be able to finally leave after all.
Actually, it’s the morning of the third day of my adventure. To keep it simple: Today my adventure is really going to start, so I call it the prologue.
I start the day with the same ritual. Breakfast as early as comfortable, give a goodbye kiss and off I go. It doesn't take me long to cross the border with Belgium and soon after that I ride into France.
I've booked an Airbnb just south of Lyon. It’s still an 800km day, but the comfort of knowing that I won’t have to pitch up the tent helps to push on through.
The weather turns at the last hundred kilometers. Thunderclouds are rumbling dangerously in the air. I have that funny feeling of knowing it’s for the best to seek shelter and wait out the storm. But on the other side, I know I’ve only one hour left to my destination. I chose to keep on riding and I hope that the storm will pass without any lightning.
With only 10km left, the air turns green. Hail starts to fall down and I seek shelter under a porch. The thunderstorm is right over me, lightning is flashing too close for comfort. I regret my decision earlier to push on through. As fast as the storm started, with the same speed, it's over.
After arriving at the Airbnb, I prepare some dinner. I relax for some more hours before I go to bed. Yes, this is way better than last time where I rode for fourteen hours to find myself pitching the tent in someone's garden.
It was a quiet night luckily! I get up around six in the morning. After breakfast, I start to pack my gear before the sun gets too hot. I come to discover where the pick-up driver lives. Just a little further in the distance, I see smoke plumes rising from a chimney.
When I’m almost done with packing, I hear the rattling noise of the pick-up again. The guy waves again when he passes me. Nice to see that I’ve made friends with my neighbor.
I pack my last bits and off I go. It’s starting to get warm again and I’m looking forward to my evening swim! Today I’m going to reach the beach definitely, I've only 50 km left today.
About an hour an a half later the terrain starts to change. The hills have made way for the plains and the surface has changed from sharp limestone into sandy roads. It’s a fun but challenging mix-up.
I can see the beach clearly now, but I cannot help to feel a bit disappointed. Because the Camargue region is mainly one big lagoon, the water sits still most of the time. The smell of brackish water discourages me from taking a quick dip.
The temperature has risen over 30 degrees by now and I seek some shelter under a roof meant for horses I think. By then I notice some odd looking birds in the distance. Yes, it’s a flock of flamingoes! I knew there was the possibility to see them in the area, but I didn’t know that it was that easy to spot them. I spend some more time just gazing at the birds before I get going again.
It was an interesting night. Luckily the surface had changed from sand to limestone again. By now I could hear the wild boars walking onto the sharp rocks. I was awakened by the snoring of a boar near my tent. A Loud scream scared it away. Hopefully, nobody heard me!
Although I couldn’t hear them anymore, I slept with the side of the tent open the rest of the night. Just in case they would return.
At first light, I get up again. By now I see shotgun shells lying all over the area where I camped. I think I wouldn’t have slept that easily when I had seen them last night.
I pack my gear again and I hear the farmer starts to work at the olive groves. It’s time to head off and continue the GLR 3.
Today I will ride into the lower mountains again. I’m looking forward to some gain in elevation. For me personally, it’s way more fun riding than the boring lowlands.
Lot’s of road barriers block my way and I’m forced to traverse some distance to continue my planned route. Although it’s a more challenging surrounding, I love the feeling of remoteness. I can smell the trees again! The trees don't smell that much at lower-elevation because of the dry air. Now I can smell the moist again and it’s a lovely smell!
Progress is slow today and if the road barriers wouldn’t stop me, the terrain would. Have you ever reached that point where you have to make a decision to continue or to turn around? I don’t know why, but I always want to see what’s behind the corner, so I always continue. Regretting that decision most of the time afterward. That’s an area where is still acquire some approvement, knowing when to turn around.
Let’s continue the story! I’m standing above a deeply rutted slope, leading down into the valley. Some are about two meters deep. But if I stay to the left, I think I could make it. After scouting the track by foot, I go down with the bike.
This is the point of no return! I cannot turn around on the slope here, so I need to continue. The first part goes great without any hiccups. Now I need to get down into the rut and up onto the bank again. With some decent speed, I try to go down and up again. Down goes great, up not so.
The skidplate bottoms out on the steepest part. I jump off the bike and I try to bump it with some gas up the bank again. Despite my effort, the bike stays stuck. By now I can’t go back nor I can’t go forward, shit!
The sun is right above my head when I’m unpacking the bags. I need to give Mosko Moto the thumb up for their design! Within five minutes everything is unpacked. Nonetheless, the bags still weight around 15kg each. I carry them downhill where I can pack them again when I get the bike unstuck.
By now I’m sweating heavily and the only thing I’ve done is carrying the bags down. Now it’s time to get the bike out of there. I push a big log underneath the tire to prevent that the tire digs itself deeper into the wall. I back up abit and with a blip of the throttle, the bike jumps out of the rut. Victory!
As easily as the bags came off, they get mounted again. I’m nervous what the trail brings me around the corner. It narrows down to just a little wider than single trail and than transforms into a steep incline again. With greater speed than normal I attack the hill and I conquer it. Again victory, but at the time I hit the paved road, I’m defeated.
I feel sick and nauseated. I stop at the first possibility to strip me from all my clothes. I’m overheated, I can see my face in the mirror. Pale but also fully red colored. I lay down next to the road in the hope to cool down again. After half an hour I start to feel better again, but my energy is totally drained.
I start to think about booking an Airbnb for the night with a nice cold shower. Unfortunately, the area doesn’t provide that much Airbnb hosts and the only available tells me she’s on vacation right now.