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