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.
The morning comes early and I feel tired. The smell of lavender, spread by the head of the sun fills the tent. After breakfast, I pack everything again to continue the search to connect the GLR 5.
After half an hour of riding, I come to the conclusion that it’s a one-way trail. A road barrier doesn’t stop me, but I can’t include the track into the final route. I end up at an old industrial looking area in the middle of the forest. The concrete slab is the only thing still remaining. All the other is overgrown or completely vanished. If it was an industrial complex or an old military side I don’t know. What I do know is that’s long gone.
I need to circumnavigate my planned route because of the one way trail earlier. A mountain pass leads me further away than I planned to. After a good look on the map, I come to the conclusion that I need to track back the whole section I’ve done this morning. Even a piece I've done yesterday. Frustrated by the fact, it takes me well over an hour and a half to get on the right section again.
At midday, I pass a river crossing. I can’t resist the tempting water. After lunch, I go in for a little swim and I wash my clothes on the shore. I justify a quick nap in the shade by drying out the clothes in the sun. Small things like this make the hardship of adventure worth it.
I continue my route eventually after four. It's time to search for a camp spot again. I find one in the shade, tucked away behind some bushes. I call it a day after dinner and I’m off to bed early.
After laying awake for several hours last night, I finally fell asleep. I slept lovely and I’ve got up around half past seven. Quite late for my doing, but I apparently needed the sleep.
Again the neighbor approaches me with a nice cup of coffee while preparing breakfast. I get the feeling he's trading the coffee for some more stories. So I thank him for the coffee and suggest to come over for some more after packing.
As promised I go to their caravan after packing and we have a nice conversation for about an hour. The interaction with people I meet along the road is one of the things what makes adventure riding fun to me.
People are attracted by motorcycles, especially if they look a bit more adventurous than the normal weekend cruiser. I think I’m also more approachable if I’m on my own. I’m way less approached when I’m together with someone else.
After thanking for the coffee and nice conversation, I continue my journey. First I need to head back where I left the trail two days ago. About an hour ride again.
The hour makes the difference again between feeling the moist air at the higher elevation and the dry air of the lower area.
I continue my ride onto the dry limestone rocks. Today is going to be a challenging day if these rocks stay as large as tennis balls.
They turned out to be. My forearms start to cramp up after a day of getting thrown around by every misplaced rock. I’ve done enough kilometers today, and I find a decent camp spot for the night.
I pitch my tent and while preparing dinner I hear someone running towards me. My heartbeat raises while I try to listen to the sound. It turns out to be a group of trail runners. I simply nod and wave at them. Little attention is given at me and they continue their run.
I go to bed early because I only have 40 km left. If I leave early tomorrow, I can finish this adventure before midday. After finishing I head up north as far as I can, preferably north of Lyon.
As planned, I get up just before sunrise to pack all my stuff together. About an hour later everything is packed and now it’s time to prepare some decent breakfast.
I’m on the road already at eight. I want to finish the GLR 5 as fast as I can. When I'm finished I can head home!
With some minor setbacks like closed gates and prohibitions signs, I’m able to finish the last 40 km at 11 O’clock. Time to go home again.
The sun is shining and I’m happy to go home again. Kilometers pass by a lot faster if you’re on the paved road. I’m well north of Lyon at the falling of the evening. By now I’m searching for a campsite.
One found at a farmers place, I pitch my tent one last time for the trip. I pack all the gear I don’t need tomorrow morning. The more I've already packed, the less I need to do tomorrow morning.