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.
I get awakened by the sound raindrops and thunder in the morning. Although it stopped raining before I wast out of bed, everything outside is still damp. It’s chilly and I decide to boil some nice warm eggs for breakfast. The eggs crack while boiling. This wouldn’t be the end of the world, but I also decided to drop them into the dirt. Almost half of the egg is ruined. Let’s say these little frustrations are part of an adventure.
When you're traveling alone you can set your own pace, make your own decisions, but you also set your own mood. There’s nobody around to change your dampened mood when you’re alone. It takes some experience to recognize your own state of mind and being able to lift it when you’re down. I try to do it by simple things like a nice warm coffee or some candy so now and then. I also have I piece of tape on the inside of the windshield to “remember” me how awesome a motorcycle adventure is.
That said, I continue my planned route. Light rainfall and the chilly temperature dampens my mood. At the first off-road section of the day, I get thrown over the handlebars, hurting my fingers and knee. It's too steep and I need to turn around. There’s another road perpendicular to the one I planned to follow, so I decide to try the other one.
The other turns out to be just as steep and this time a rut grabs the front wheel and I get thrown to the side. I’m not hurt, but irritations are rising. I’m able to continue the road, but it's getting quite technical due to the off camber. The road leads to a dead end and I’m now forced to track back the whole section again.
Getting forced to turn around always feels like a kind of defeat. It takes me 20 minutes to get back where I’m able to circumnavigate the dead-end section. The rain has stopped and I become to realize what beautiful scenery this actually is. It’s called “Verdon Gorge” and translates into Verdon Canyons.
In the morning I decide to leave as soon as possible. I’ve slept with the window open so I saw the bike outside. The neighborhood makes me feel like I always need to be on the lookout, so it’s definitely time to leave. I pack the bike and I’m off before nine.
It takes me about an hour to head back to the route where I left it yesterday. The day starts easy. Some on-road sections, varied with fairly easy off-road bits.
Around midday, I come across roadsigns who forbid me to ride any further. Apparently, a flood has caused some road damage here in the area. I’ve heard it on the news a few weeks before.
As stubborn as I am, I keep exploring the area. I ride down a hill of which I know it’s going to be hard to come up again. The funny thing is, when you notice you’ve gone too far, it’s already too late. I get stopped by a two-meter deep rut across the road. No problem, I will take the other way.
I’ve learned from my mistake a few minutes ago and I explore the other route just a few meters by foot. Oh, I’m glad I did it because just around the corner it’s even worse.