I spent 70 days on the road and during that time I met a lot of wonderful people to whom I am very grateful. They helped me, took care of me, entertained me, kept my company, gave me advice, food, drink, a place to sleep and generally made this trip the experience of a lifetime.
I would therefore like to thank them all, one by one, here.
ON THE ROAD:
Mattia and Danilo for their hospitality, a wonderful risotto and directions on the best road to Slovenia.
Metka and Franci for their hospitality, for the tour of Ljubljana and for showing me the beer shop, for a memorable dinner in great company with your friends, for all the bike travel stories and especially for the CrampBuster, which proved to be invaluable on the long stretches of road in Russia.
The staff at the car wash out of Ljubljana, for banging my pannier back to shape.
The staff at BikerCamp in Budapest, for having such a nice place for bikers to stay and for lending me the tools to fix my panniers.
Dalina, at Terra Mythica in Ighiu. I was very happy to see you again, and you all made me feel at home. Thanks also for a wonderful dinner out, and I hope you enjoyed the ride up to the lake. Thanks also to your family and all the rest of the staff. Tell your father I’m sorry I could not stay one more night to share some Palinca J
To the guy in charge of the car park at the top of the Transfagarasan road, who did not charge me once I told him about my trip.
To Igor and his mother their hospitality, for finding a secure car park for my bike in Lviv and refusing to let me pay for it and for a nice conversation on his balcony.
To Luda and Sofia for their hospitality, for a wonderful traditional Ukrainian dinner, and especially to Luda for meeting me on the outskirts of Kiev, taking me around the city, translating for me, washing my clothes and making me feel at home.
To Denys for his hospitality, his tasty organically-grown vegetables and the tour in the forest by his house, I’m glad to have helped with your Spanish, which by the way, is unbelievably good (remember, “abejas”)
To the Luhansk MC for escorting me to the city center (is there a better way to enter a city?) and calling my host and arranging for her to meet me.
To Anna for her hospitality, for letting me stay a day longer in her apartment and showing me her city, the train factory, the military pilot school and the planes there, for a lovely dinner out and generally for turning what was going to be just an overnight stay in a city I did not know anything about into a great weekend.
To Andrey and his girlfriend for their hospitality and for an amazing night tour of Volgograd.
To Lex for some inspiration and great stories on adventure travel, for his company in Volgograd and Astrakhan, before and after the rim incident, and for coming with me on a Saturday night expedition in Astrakhan to try and find some local bikers to help fix my bike. I’m glad you completed your trip and are back home, good luck on your next adventure.
To Martin for being such a nice riding companion, for the great time we had crossing into Kazakhstan and camping on our first night in the country. I hope the Stans were an amazing adventure (yes, I’m a bit jealous), I’ll want all the info I can get off you on that route, I’d love to attempt it sometime in the future.
To Kate and the guys at BikerCity34 who serviced my bike in Volgograd and invited me to stay for lunch in the workshop.
To Vitali from the Volgograd Ferrum MC, for recommending the workshop. I am really sorry I did not have the time to meet you in person and share a beer, your advice was really helpful.
To Valentin and Marina in Astrakhan. I cannot say how grateful I am to you for letting me stay in your apartment until my bike was fixed and I could go on with my trip. Marina, thanks for all the meals you cooked for me, Valentin, your help translating both on the phone and with Arkan was invaluable. I will always be in debt with you.
To all the Ukrainian and Russian truckers who stopped to help my by the side of the road in Kazakhstan, for letting me hook my bike to their trucks and inflate my tire.
To Dasha for making my long wait in Astrakhan much more enjoyable, for the beers, the swimming in the Volga, the henna tattoo, the night out with your friends, introducing me to some nice Russian music and for translating when we found Arkan.
To Arkan for helping me fix the bike. Without your help I would not have been able to continue my trip, let alone take my bike back home with me. I am eternally grateful, and I must say, meeting you was quite an experience!
To Ivan for his hospitality and for taking me on an exhilarating climb up a 120-metre high chimney in an abandoned power plant in Volgograd. That was quite an experience! I had a great time with you and Sasha.
To Ilia for leading me through horrendous traffic between Volgograd and Voronezh, one of the hardest bits of the trip, and for hosting me in his apartment in Moscow and showing me the city. I am really grateful for your hospitality and your taking time off work to take me around, and I hope to meet you again sometime in the future, maybe in the Altai mountains!
To Sami for a nice in Finland along the border with Russia and for a tour of the Winter Battle memorial and some interesting history lessons (and for making me want a KTM so badly!)
To the cyclist I met in the campsite near Ivalo for his advice on places to visit off the beaten track before heading to the Nordkapp, definitely worth the two-day detour (and broken indicator).
To Alf Tonny for his hospitality, midnight barbecue with his friend Bjorn and introducing me to some great music.
To Lenna for her hospitality, for taking me to a nice music festival on the beach, for showing me a place where I could service the bike myself, and for some great late-night conversations about the things that matter in life.
To the staff in the bike shop outside Stockholm for taking my bike late in the afternoon without making an appointment and staying after business hours to change the tire and the chain kit.
To Andrew, the Canadian guy in my room in the hostel in Stockholm, for the great time we spent in the city and the beers we had on Saturday night.
To Andrés, the Colombian who worked in the hostel, for the barbecue he organized at the weekend and for washing my clothes at the hostel for half the price the laundry charged.
To Nadia, our host in Sarajevo, for taking care of us as if she was our grandmother, for packing us lunch for our journey to Belgrade, and for sharing her family story during the war with us in spite of the language barrier.
To the woman who found us cold and looking for an affordable place to sleep in Sta. Maria after coming down from the Stelvio and offered a room in her beautiful home.
Stehpen Stallebrass and Walter Colebatch for their advice and inspiration.
The staff at Suzuki official dealer Hamamatsu Motor for their technical advice and support.
Ignasi Calvo for his advice on Mongolia and Kazakhstan.
To all the people in V-strom Club España, Stromtroopers, Adventure Rider and Horizons Unlimited for their technical advice and know-how. Those forums are an endless source of knowledge.
To Montse, at work, for letting me go for two months and making this whole thing possible.
To Paulina and her family, for putting me in touch with their relatives in Lviv and Kiev.
Diana, for putting into words the idea for a trip like this, which had been sitting in my mind for too long and encouraging me to do it.
To my flatmate and all my friends for patiently listening to me go on and on about the trip, the route, the bike, the preparation…
To my parents and my sister, for their encouragement and support, and especially to my dad for his help and advice on all things mechanical while we were preparing the bike.
To Nat, who came into my life once this project was already started, for her love, support and understanding, for joining me on the road for the last three weeks and enduring extreme hot and cold, long riding days, rain, hunger and sleep with no riding experience.