I am on the road to see what is happening with this immigration crisis that is affecting Europe at this time. I will be travelling to Macedonia with two great friends of mine.
Andrew has a cafe and Italian deli in Victoria BC and fell in love with moto travel on a previous trip with myself last year. Colm is a doctor, brother of a great family friend and it happens to be an amazing photographer and writer.I have asked Colm if I could just copy and paste his blog about the trip since his writing is much better then mine. Luckily he agreed so we will try to share the trip the best way possible. It looks like it will be a great adventure as usual. Now let’s start with the first couple of posts on Colm’s blog.
Churchill River in Labrador
The script and the cast
Choosing a route can be done on the fly or planned meticulously in advance; it can be adhered to rigidly or serve only as the vaguest guide. Our route philosophy is a nice hybrid of approaches. We had spent weeks perusing YouTube videos, and reading travel blogs and ride reports, and of course picking Roberto’s brain since he lives in Italy and has ridden in many of these places. We basically picked great riding roads, mountain passes and areas of stunning scenery or historical significance, and tried to make a route that combined these various parameters into something with great flow. Of course it will probably be sometime in the first day that the plan falls by the wayside, but that’s when th true adventure starts.
Roberto is an Italian guy, spending half the year in Tuscany and the other half in Victoria, BC. He is a hair younger than me, and a veteran world traveler. He has run his wheels across many of the great motorcycle routes of the world. I’m lucky to learn from his experience. Andrew has a cafe and Italian deli in Victoria and fell in love with moto travel on a previous trip with Roberto, and built on his many years riding Ducatis with off road skills training and isn’t afraid to ride fast. So while I am the oldest in human years I’m also the youngest in moto years. It is what it is…
This morning we touch up the bikes, consolidate our gear, and pull the maps. Tentatively we head south on the weekend, before taking the overnight ferry to Greece. Then we follow a snakelike path through Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and towards Bosnia-Hercegovina and Croatia. We will link amazing roads through the Accursed Mountains of Albania and the sun drenched beaches and coastline of the Adriatic coast, passing somber reminders of the various chapters of the Balkan wars and peering into the history of the Greeks and the Ottomans through the traces, ruined and inhabited, of their past conquests. Or not – this is the privilege of travelling without a rigid plan.
Bring it on!
Antipasto – a Tuscan appetizer
Today was to be spent organizing, buying last minute supplies and packing and sharing the load, with the possibility of a tour through the back roads of Tuscany in order to get the know the bikes (and the rules of the road in Italy…)
This warmup was to be one of the best riding days I’ve had in a while. The first taste of lane splitting and filtering to the head of the line at stops and lights was pretty sweet. Follow Roberto’s lead and pretty soon we could see passing zones in the middle of roundabouts and in the very short straights linking the twists and curves of the mountain roads. These would have been invisible to me yesterday. Most amazing was how the Italian drivers weren’t bothered in the least by three motorcycles weaving around them – it really is the drivers of the cars that determine how well the whole lane splitting thing works – and it would never work in Canada..
It is hard to believe one can ride for an hour, fast and with pegs and boots dragging, and never come across a section of straight road. Tuscany is a bikers paradise – both motor and human powered for that matter. We linked sublime sections of pavement going up and over ranges offering the classic views of Tuscany with gorgeous dirt tracks that dipped into forested river valleys and hugged the contour lines of open hillsides. But that explains why 150 km took nearly 6 hours (the stops for the odd photo and cappuccino or beer may also have something to do with it).