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 up early in the morning after a good night of sleep. My host owns two big Doberman dogs. While packing I have got the feeling of missing something. The dogs have found the food bag and snatched it while I went inside to get the remaining stuff out of my room. At the end of the garden, I see the ziplock bags laying on the grass. Most of the unpackaged food was eaten, unfortunately, but I’ve got my revenge! I brought a pepper pepperoni and they apparently couldn’t resist it. So now they were sniffing around with pepper in their nose. That will teach them.
I'm on my way again to ride the remaining distance to the head of the trail. The engine still makes that terrifying metal on metal noise, but I’ve learned to ignore it somehow. The kilometers pass by and I’m back in the mountains again! This is the feeling of adventure!
The GLR 7 is the first route I start to explore and immediately at the first off-road section I need to turn around because of a prohibition sign. Not the start I hoped for. I have the feeling it's going to be a reoccurring theme this adventure. After some detours I find myself riding on off-road mountain passes again. The sun is shining, it’s a comfortable twenty degrees and the road surface is not too challenging.
Morning dew has mate the grass moist, and I can see animal tracks in the field. During breakfast, I spot the source of last night sounds. Squirrels are chasing each other around the tree. Scratching with their sharp nails on the bark. I laugh at myself. Your imagination can run wild when you can't place sounds at night.
I don’t want to pack the tent wet, so I wait a little longer than normal before I get going again. First, I need to track back the 20 km of the awesome trail from yesterday. After it, I need to find a way around. I’m not worried about the fact to track back the trail, I’m more worried about the distance I need to cover to get to a fuel station.
The KTM has an effective range of about 200 to 230 km. I've ridden well over 200 and I need to get fuel fast. After riding for half an hour on the amazing trail, I head to the local supermarket for some supplies and fuel. It’s already midday and I haven’t made any progress yet today.
After lunch, I’m determined to push out some kilometers. I navigate around lake “de Serre-Poncon”. By every turn I take, I get rewarded by the mesmerizing views of the deep blue water. Off-road trails lead around the lake and I’m enjoying them deeply. But something tells me there’s something wrong. I have no response from the back-brake and the smell of fries has chased me now for quite some time. After not being able to stop anymore with the back-brake, I get off the bike to inspect the cause.