When I first found out about the Berlin Blitz I thought to myself,
here’s a good opportunity to bag myself some more IBA awards.
But which one to go for??
So out with the Garmin MapSource and the most direct, fastest route
from Derby to Berlin and back was 1636 miles - so that was good for a
SS1000, but I’d already done a SS1000 and I wanted something different.
I then had a look at all the IBA rides that are available and decided
that it would be nice to get some kilometre rides, so I then started
looking at a route to get me a Saddle Sore 1600km and a Bun Burner
2500km. Both these rides had to take place solely in Europe, which then
meant that the mileage from Derby to Folkestone and back couldn’t be
counted towards a kilometre based ride…….hmmmm.
I then thought about a Saddle Sore 2000 mile ride. - But could I do in effect two SS1000’s, back to back?
I then decided that my route to Berlin should be planned so that it would incorporate a SS1600km, a BB2500km and a SS2000mile.
The theory behind this decision was that if all went well, I’d get
the extreme SS2000, but if I missed out on that, then there would be a
good chance I’d bag either the BB2500km or a SS1600km.
The route I came up was Derby to Folkestone, Calais, Antwerp,
Eindhoven, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Munich, Dresden, Berlin,
Hanover and back to Calais and under the English Channel back to Derby.
I’d also need start witness’s in Derby and Calais and end witness’s ion
Berlin, Calais and Derby.
The Derby and Berlin witness’s wouldn’t be a problem, but Calais might be a problem, as I can’t speak French.
The other problem I had was working out how to plan my start time so
that I’d arrive in Berlin for 6pm local time, but found that Microsoft’s
AutoRoute could work that out for me, all I had to do was factor in all
my petrol stops and allowing time for the Euro Tunnel crossing. I
eventually settle for a departure time of 7pm on Friday 31st July.
Now all I had to do was get a new clutch fitted to the Hayabusa plus
chain and sprockets. The last chain I had had fitted for the RBLR1000
ride, but it now had a tight spot and needed replacing after only 1700
Now all I had to do was decide on accommodation in Berlin and decided
that I’d camp at the Tent Station, which just happened to be a mile
down the road from the hotel that everyone else was staying at.
When I’m doing time critical rides, I don’t like to have my side
panniers on the bike as it hinders filtering in traffic, so I had to
pack my tent, air mattress, sleeping bag, change of clothes, waterproof
oversuit, spare gloves, energy bars wash bag and tool kit all into the
top box and a tank bag that is mounted on the auxiliary fuel tank. I
also need to leave enough space in the tank bag to store the thermal
liners of my Hein Gerike Toureg touring jacket and trousers and jumper.
Fortunately I’d brought from Decathlon a selection of vacuum bags which
are brilliant at reducing the volume of clothes and sleeping bags and
hence I was able to get all my gear into the top box and tank bag.
I got my wife to sign my start witness form at 6:47pm on Friday 31st
July and then headed to my local Somerfield petrol station and filled
up the Hayabusa and got my official start time of 7:01pm - the trip had
now started !
At 32 miles into the trip, on the M1 heading south, I was in 6th
gear and rolled on the throttle to do an overtake and all that happened
was the revs climbed from 5000rpm to 10000rpm but with no corresponding
increase in velocity - the brand new clutch was slipping - damn! I now
had to make a decision, to carry on or abort the ride? I made up my mind
that I’d press on down to Folkestone and re-evaluate when /if I got to
the Euro Tunnel.
Fortunately the clutch seemed to settle down and bed in and I had no
further problems with the clutch or anything else with the bike for the
rest of the trip.
With the 17 litre auxiliary fuel tank on the Hayabusa, I was able to
make the 200 mile trip down to Folkestone non stop - the only time I put
a foot down was at the Dartford Tunnel toll booth. I arrived at the
Euro Tunnel at just after 10pm, which was about 1 ½ hours before
AutoRoute had said I’d arrived! Fortunately I’d brought a Flexi+ ticket
and just got on the next train heading to Calais at 10:50pm. Whilst
waiting for the train I took the opportunity to stretch my legs and
spotted a gold plated Ferrari - some people have more money and sense !
After a quick call to the wife to let her know I’d arrived at the
Euro Tunnel and a toilet break it was time to get back on the bike and
board the train. On the train I met a fellow biker on a HD V-Rod who had
travelled down from Birmingham and was heading to Sardinia and he
kindly agreed to be my start witness for my SS1600km and SS2500km ride.
With 30 minutes to spare, I hit the Iron Butt Motel and was able to get some sleep before we arrived in France.
At the petrol station within the Euro Tunnel complex, I re-filled my
‘busa and got my official start time for the kilometre based rides and
then I was heading north up to Belgium and The Netherlands before
heading east to Germany..
At around 3am I was getting a bit tired. This was the “witching” hour
and from my previous experience on the RBLR1000 I knew it was my low
point. Time to take it easy, so I pulled over near Venlo for fuel and
watched the sun rise whilst having a couple of snack bars. It’s amazing
how quickly you feel better after a bit of food and a rest of 15
Now with the sun rising on my left, as I headed south towards
Frankfurt I was able to pick up the pace with the improved visibility -
thank god for the autobahns, more liberal speed limits, and the good
lane discipline the Germans have when driving. They never seem to hog
the outside lane and always pull over to let you pass - why it’s not
like this in the UK I don’t know!
After Frankfurt I had to do a short stop to get one of my “corner”
receipts before heading east towards Stuttgart. Somehow I managed to
take a wrong exit and ended up in the middle of Stuttgart and wasted 30
minutes trying to get back onto the autobahn and to continue onwards
By now the traffic was beginning to build up and at about 70 miles
before Munich the autobahn became gridlocked. I now had to filter for
the best part of 30 miles - thankful that I hadn’t got my side panniers
Once again, the German drivers seemed only to happy to move aside
when they some me filtering, with my extra spot lights blazing away and
thumb ready on the air horn button and my right hand and foot covering
the brakes. However, not once did I have to use the horn or brakes in
anger and I made sure to give a quick wave of acknowledgement when
drivers pulled over - thank you drivers!
Having skirted around Munich and collected my “corner” receipt before
heading north towards Dresden and then Berlin, I realised that I had
lost too much time whilst “exploring” Stuttgart and caught up in the
traffic to make the deadline of 6pm at Brandenburg Gate. My GPS was
telling me my ETA would be 8pm - bugger! Knowing the other IBAers would
probably hang around for no more than an hour before going off to find
food and beer I had to think how I could lose an hour off my trip,
without losing any distance.
Up until this time I’d been quite happy cruising on the de-restricted
autobahns at around 100mph - so now was the time to up the pace - the
‘busa was more than capable of higher speeds and I was feeling good, so
time to up the pace.
Just after Munich, heading north, I had a good run for nearly two
hours, now cruising at an indicated 150mph, where it was legal and safe
to do so. I had a lovely ride following a Mercedes AMG55 that must
having been near to it’s restricted top speed of 155mph. It was here
that I found I had a problem with the cruise control, as it wouldn’t
hold the bike’s speed at anything over 140mph. The cruise control unit I
had fitted was imported from the USA, so guess the unit was never
designed to count the wheel pulses at over 140mph as the speed limits
are much lower over there!
By the time I’d got to Dresden, my GPS was telling me that my ETA at Berlin was 7pm - mission nearly accomplished !
Once into Berlin, I missed a turn-off and my GPS now gave me a scenic
route of Berlin’s slums. I’ve never seen so much graffiti on buildings.
Just as I reached the Brandenburg Gate I was flagged down my two
German bikers, one on a Ducati with a bent rear number plate holder and
the other was on Honda VTR, I think.? Amway, they had seen my IBA
licence plate and said I’d missed the photo shoot and were about to go
to the hotel. The only problem was they didn’t know the route, so they
flagged down a taxi and told the driver to go to the hotel whilst we all
followed on our bikes.
Needless to say, after three sets of traffic lights I’d lost them, so I programmed by GPS with the address of the hotel.
At 7:40pm, I was in the hotel bar and Roger very kindly brought me an
orange juice and gave me the receipt as my clocking off time. Roger
also signed my end witness form which could be used for my SS1600km if I
didn’t succeed in doing the BB2500km or SS2000.
The thought or now going of to the Tent Station, setting up camp and
then finding food and then packing up all again wasn’t very appealing,
so I bite the bullet and stomped up for a room at the hotel. I then
ordered some food and went up to my room for a quick shower and to
change out of my bike gear and into something more comfortable.
By the time I’d got back down to the bar, my food had arrived. This I
munched down and then joined the other guys and girls for a few more
non alcoholic drinks before retiring to bed at 9pm.
After a quick phone call to home I turned off the lights and
immediately later the alarm was going off at 1am in the morning. Time to
get back on the ‘busa and head for home.
Once again I had trouble with my GPS at it wouldn’t tell me whether
or not to turn left or right out of the hotel - so I took the wrong one
and once again I was taken on a scenic route of Berlin before making it
to the autobahn and heading west towards Hanover.
After filling up at Hanover I had to slip into my waterproof suit as
the heavens had opened and was attempting to drown me. With forked
lighting striking the ground in the distance I was in two minds as to
whether or not to pull over and just settle for a SS1600km, but the
skies started to brighten and I decided to press on. Besides, I’ve never
heard of a biker being struck by lightening !
Another stop at Venlo for fuel and I was now on the homeward stretch to the Euro Tunnel at Calais.
There I was following the signs for the Euro Tunnel, with lots of UK
cars going in the same direction and then all of a sudden, there was no
UK cars on the road and no more signs for the Euro Tunnel. Yep - I’d
somehow missed the turning. I pulled off at the next exit and the GPS
now said to take an un-paved road by the side of the motorway. I’d have
attempted to take the unpaved road on if I was on a BMW GS, but not on a
Hayabusa, so I got back on to the motorway, heading the wrong direction
until I found an exit where I could rejoin the motorway going in the
right direction - a detour of 35 miles !
Once at the Euro Tunnel terminal I got my end receipt and then got on
the next train back to England. Once again on the train I meet up[ with
some Italian bikers on GS’s who were heading to Scotland for a weeks
touring. We had a nice chat and one of the guys agreed to be my end
witness for my BB2500km ride.
Now all I had to do was get home before 7:01pm and I’d have the SS2000 in the bag!
The ride back up the M20, M25, M1 to Derby was uneventful, which is
the way I like it and got to the Somerfield petrol station and clocked
off my SS2000 ride at 4:04pm, nearly 3 hours inside the 48 hour time
limit - mission accomplished.
During my 2000+ mile ride, I’d learnt the following:-
Fitting a HID low beam light is worth it’s weight in gold while riding in the dark.
Heated grips are a godsend
Airhawk seats still give me a sore butt
German drivers are the best in the world
English drivers are the worst
Frank Thomas waterproof glovers are crap - the lining sticks to damp
hands and are nearly impossible to put on - they are now in the wheelie
GPS’s are stupid - take a paper map next time !
So would I do it again - most certainly, and I think an SS3000 or
European End to End is now on the cards - or maybe a RTE to Moscow
Now just need to get my paperwork submitted for the SS2000
IBA # 40051
Tuesday, 4 August 2009
I loaded up the Fazer, put the route in my Zumo 550 and packed trousers, teashirt, spare socks, underwear, toothbrush razor, tools, compressor and paperwork in my top box on Thursday night. No room for spare shoes but I would not need any. I rode in to work in
on Friday as I wanted to get out of Bristol and round the M25 before the traffic built up. The ride started when I left work at
on Friday to go to the Chunnel in Folkstone. The traffic was heavy but I
still managed to get on the 1715 train through the Channel Tunnel. On
the train I got chatting to Glenn on a lovely looking golden Harley who
agreed to sign my start witness form. Bristol
Leaving the train I called into the garage at the terminal to get my start receipt at 1908 giving me 23 hours to get to
for the 1800 photo opportunity at the Brandenburg Gate. I first headed north then east through Berlin , Belgium and into Holland . Germany
on the autobahn I was able to pick up the pace with the clearer roads
and drivers more appreciative drivers who move out of the way. Crossing
the river in Germany at
night I had a brilliant view of the Cathedral all lit up on a bend in
the river. It was a bit chilly and I was glad I had put the lining back
in my Hein Gericke jacket. Under it I was wearing just EDZ thermal two
piece. I saw a thermometer that read 13 degrees C. Cologne
As daylight approached I was in
and starting to feel a bit washed out so decided to stop in a picnic
area where I booked into the “Iron Butt Hotel” for a 10 minute power nap
on a picnic bench. Austria
I was awoken by what seemed hordes of Eastern Europeans with families presumably heading home but felt completely refreshed. Stopping at the next service station for fuel and a coffee I noticed they had vignettes for sell to allow access to the Austrian autoroutes so bought the minimum of 10 days. I would only be there a few hours!
I knew this route having been this way before so it didn’t feel like I was riding off the end of the world into the unknown. The scenery was typical rolling landscape with occasional hills covered in pine trees. The sun was coming up as I approached
, Bratislava on a new road (EU money I suspect)and a Tesco supermarket. Slovak Republic
Looking at my list on the tank I should have been here at 0815 and I was just ½ hour late which usually happens as the pace slows at night. I also knew I had a couple of spare hours built in. In the early sunshine it soon warmed up and I was comfortable though a little warm when I stopped. I always carry food and drink and was having a bit of each every time I refuelled.
Heading north I went past
in the Brno . Czech Republic
There were road works there and I needed to filter for several miles but was half hour ahead of my schedule when I got to
around lunch time. Prague
My route took me to the end of a motorway through some back streets onto another motorway in the middle of
but even though it was Saturday lunch time it wasn’t too busy. Crossing
the river I had a lovely view of the Castle on the hill. Prague
North of Prague I headed to
and as I crossed the German border the terrain became distinctively more hilly and scenic. I arrived at a garage near Dresden
at 1500 where I was to meet three German friends at 1600. I got
chatting to a BMW rider who was there on a ride out for the day locally.
I also took the opportunity to eat a roll with meat and cheese and a
coffee. With time to spare I again booked into the Iron Butt Hotel for a
nap. Matthias, Bernt and Toby arrived at 1545 to ride into Cottbus
with me. As I had the Zumo I was sent to lead the way in which seemed
to follow several tunnels without too much traffic. On the way I decided
to go straight to the Hotel in InvalideStrasse as we would be early if
we went to the Berlin
gate. Outside the hotel I met Roger who signed my end form for the
SS2000K and I bought a beer in the bar for my end timed receipt at 1722. So far I had covered 1500 miles in the last 28 ½ hours. Brandenburg
Bernt and Matthias outside the hotel.
John couldn’t resist admiring a non triumph
A quick shower then it was of on the inaugural Iron Butt
hike. Roger, John and Sonia, Dan and Vicky walked to the UK
gate. Matthias, Bernt , Toby rode over with Raimond and Vicky so they
could take pics for us. At the Brandenberg gate we found Mark and Emma
who sold me my Berlin Blitz badge (the only place and time it was available). Brandenburg
Matthias and Bernt at the
Gate. Fort many years they had lived trapped in the East. Then English Rob arrived to be in the pic before riding back to Brandenburg Nottingham!
I thought I was nuts. Goodbyes were said to some and the rest of us
headed back to the hotel via a souvenir shop to get the obligatory
stickers for the screen.
Back at the hotel beers and currywurst were ordered as we settled in for the evening. Little Toe arrived and managed to get a room for a short kip before heading back.
I later had to eat a second meal for additional sustenance. There was no consensus on who was going back and when so goodbyes were said then it was off to a good nights sleep at 2330. My 1st since Thursday night!!
Arising at 0700 it didn’t take long to pack, a big advantage of not taking too much. I had decided to get breakfast on the way. John, Sonia, Dan and Vicky were leaving at the same time so goodbyes were said again and it was off to the
gate for a picture of the bike. Brandenburg
I noticed that if I ignored the Zumo I could go directly west on a wide avenue and meet the route.
There wasn’t much traffic early Sunday morning. It was fine until I took the wrong direction on the Autobahn. As I left
I stopped at the 1st service for fuel and who should be there but Dan downing
a baguette. He left as I went in and I decide breakfast just had to be
sausage and bread with mustard washed down with a coffee. Berlin
Heading west the 1st part of the trip consisted of mile after mile of straight autobahn. I had always figured it was the stretch build to get to
West Berlin via the shortest route across . East Germany
The trip was largely uneventful until around lunch time. I stopped for another snack and filled up at an Aral fuel station. Their pumps are confusing as it is all blue so I took a time to make sure I got 95 blefrei. 10 minutes later and in the outside lane of the autobahn the fazer motor suddenly died. Coasting to a halt at a junction my mind was racing, had I put the wrong fuel in. Stopping I had nothing to loose so hit the starter button and it started 1st time with a bit of a backfire. Taking off I cruised slower in the nearside lane and tried to decide what had happened. It couldn’t have been fuel as it backfired due to unburnt fuel in the exhaust when I restarted. It must be electrical. Side stand switch, neutral switch, kill switch or a chaffed cable shorting something. It couldn’t be anything too drastic as the motor was running fine. I took it up the 7000 revs as that is where the exup valve works and it was fine. Gaining confidence I sped up and half hour later it happened again. I coasted into a picnic area. Again it started fine so I tried out the kill switch, side stand and neutral switches to see that they worked ok. They did. I removed my phone charger under the seat as it had a bare end though I couldn’t see how that could stop the motor.
So with only 500 miles to get home there was nothing to do but bash on. I decided I would increase the speed in 10 mph increments every 15 minutes so if it happened again I could stay below that speed. I eventually got up to the flow of the traffic and maintained it through the rest of
, Germany and into Holland . Belgium
There was a bit of a shower near
. It seemed to have cured itself. Hanover
I stopped in
for my last continental fuel stop and bought a ham and cheese roll and a continental strawberry tart to eat on the train. Belgium
I arrived at the terminal around 1700 and ended up chatting to the book in clerk about his Ducati Monster as the queue built up being.
On the train I chatted to a biker from
on a GSXR750 who had just ridden up from Greece . Monaco
It’s the 1st time I have used the tunnel and I have to say I was impressed. Out of the terminal and back onto the M20 within minutes. I was conscious of our lower spped limits so took it easier. It does make me wonder though why 81mph (130kph) is a safe speed on the continent but dangerous and illegal in the
. I was away from the chinnel around 1800 for an uneventful ride to UK there was a storm after Chippenham but that was all. I got home at 2110. Bristol
for 55hrs Bristol
40 hours on the bike
7 ½ hours sleep and some power naps
Paperwork for a SS2000K to be verified and around 1000 other miles ridden making a total of 2330 miles through eight countries.
President Iron Butt UK