Ljubljana, Slovenia - June 5, 2012
Still at camp in Ljubljana. What a horrid night. In case I haven't mentioned, it has been raining on and off since I got to Slovenia. It is such a normal state now that I don't even mention it. Just assume that if I don't mention the weather... it's raining. Anyway, it started raining yesterday about 2 PM and built in intensity throughout the day. I went to bed around 10 and was listening to my survival book - ironically, it's at the part where Antoine de Saint-Exupery crash lands in the Libyan desert and he and his mechanic are dying of thirst. Outside it was pouring buckets. I had switched into my long undies to sleep in and after a few minutes heard what sounded like two freight cars bumping into each other right outside my tent. Laid there for a second then "Merde"... realized that the bike had probably gone over. It had been up on its centerstand. Well it wasn't anymore. Jumped up, put on my boots and ran out in my undies to try to get it back on two wheels. But the right cylinder and mirror were down in the muck and it wasn't movable. So, went back into the tent and put on some pants and my jacket to try to stay a little dry, and grabbed my flashlight as well. With the light I could see that part of the problem was that the stand hadn't collapsed, it had just sunk in the deepening ooze and as its hook-shaped, was quite stuck in the mud. It was keeping the bike from coming up. So I dug out the stand and retracted it, then pulled the sidestand out so that it was sticking up into the air. I didn't want to lift the bike by its right side only to have it go over on its left.
So there are three ways that I know to lift a bike. Get under it a bit and push it up; back into it and lift it up behind you; or try to lift with two hands under a handlebar grip. The first way was out because my back still hurts and there was no place to grip it was all so wet. As for the second, I couldn't get any grip with my feet in the mud and they just kept slipping out from under me. But luckily, I was able to wrestle it up by getting a good grab on the right handlebar and lifting. Once up, I was able to move slowly around the front to the left side and slide a small rock under the sidestand so that it didn't sink too far. That rock was a fluke. It was the only one around I had seen when I set up the tent and had kicked it over towards the bike. Good thing or I never would have reached it and the bike would have gone down again for sure. I couldn't move the bike as the wheels are sunk in pretty good.
Rainy Camp, Ljubljana
Anyway, got back in the tent, took off my muddy pants and boots and just slept in the wet underwear as a means to dry it. Stretched out and realized that whatever progress my back had made was lost. Oh well. Looks like the mirror might have some issues but Diane is bringing me two new ones next week and so I can limp by until then.
I was "darned" lucky that the bike fell the direction it did. If it had fallen the other way, it would have come right trough the tent and on top of where I was lying. That would have hurt, But then maybe I would have cushioned the fall and saved the mirror. Or gotten it in a sensitive spot. Never heard of that way to raise a bike. Lie under it with it crushing your chest and bench press it.
But it stopped raining about 7 this morning and the sun came out. (That's worth mentioning) Went into Ljubljana to the Railway Museum. Very, very nice. Best railway museum I've seen. It's in an old roundhouse with a working turntable outside. Lots of steam engines, with switch and signal machinery, little track jitneys, uniforms, models, artwork, and reconstructed offices and railcar interiors in another building. Even the ticket they give you is a reproduction of an old railway ticket. Just very well done.
One of Thomas's Friends?
How About This for Trans-Siberia
Fantastic Train Museum
Came back in what looks like a case of good timing as it looks like it is building for another downpour.
So I have been rethinking my plans for this summer and have been talking to Diane about what is happening at home as well. My only real reason for coming back to London was so that we could spend the last couple weeks of September travelling around Ireland. But that would just make for an incredible amount of riding and probably the last thing I will be wanting to do at that point is ride around Ireland. Also, it would be a bit of a rush for her vacation-time wise. So I figured as I left Kamloops, that in all likelihood, I would have to exit Asia to the east.
Now this may just be the brain fever talking, but it is more and more apparent to me that either a trip needs to be a tour of Europe OR a ride across Russia and Mongolia... not both. It's too long a trek and I'm too old. Way too old it seems. As an alternative, I could travel as far as Moscow, then back to London, to return next year and just head east. But more expense and time. Also... while I'm sure they can do fine without me, it seems that life at home will go a little smoother if I am home by late-July instead of mid- to late September. So this is now my working plan:
Arrive in Estonia early July as planned and travel to St. Petersburg, Moscow or wherever in western Russia. Do the border thing, the visa thing and practice my Russian (as it is). I could return to Estonia and find secure storage for the bike over the winter, then fly home by late July. I would return then around July 1st of next year, get the bike out of storage and just drive east, No touring. Straight to Vladivostok via Mongolia. Lots of advantages. Best is that I would be starting fresh for what should be a two month trip max. Excellent. I only wish I had thought of it sooner!
I'm sure I can find storage. I remember Tiiu saying that her brother in Tallinn was looking into renting a storage unit for some of his household stuff and so I imagine that there are U-Store facilities in Tallinn much like there are at home. I'm sure I can store the bike for the winter. Also, I can temporarily import into the EU (from Russia in this case) for up to a year. Perfect. Then I will save two trans-Atantic shipments and not have to go back to London either this trip or next. :)
The only downside is that I won't have a bike to ride the rest of the summer and won't have mine to work on over the winter. I might just have to talk my friend Stephen into selling me his 1958 R26 BMW. He never rides its anyway! !^%$@$ . But except for a few things I can fix here, mine can continue without a lot of work... so I trust it to go east. Then over the winter, I can make arrangements for shipping over the Pacific. I like this plan a lot and it seems to be a big hit at home as well. Even cutting this one short, I will have been gone 3 1/2 months and that seems long enough. It does to me at least.
OK... if it doesn't rain today or tonight, I should be dry enough tomorrow to move on. Otherwise, I will just have to wait out the rain here. I could use the sleep anyway. No one is near me in the camp and so I can cough freely... not like Cinque Terre where I was always getting dirty looks in the morning and one couple even picked up and moved to a site farther away from me. Hack hack...