Vacation Marathon


Dirk Schäfer wants to go on two consecutive vacations. There‘s only one problem: his travel companions chose completely different goals. There‘s nothing else to do than sitting still and preparing the Ironbutt diploma.

Das TOURATECH 1000 km Bike

Dirk Schäfer wants to go on two consecutive vacations. There‘s only one problem: his travel companions chose completely different goals. There‘s nothing else to do than sitting still and preparing the Ironbutt diploma.

Ever had something else?

Two weeks vacations and two destinations. One after the other! I admit, my only problem is a luxury problem: I will make both vacations (so, one week each) with friends of mine. No, the friends are not the problem. The problem is that they are different friends and that I‘ll meet them at different places. The first two, Thierry and Raoul, are awaiting me in the Dolomites. Together, we want to ride the Italian boot down to the heel, then get to Croatia and finally drink a farewell beer in Split.

Meeting point number 2 with my friends from the Ruhr is in Greece: Igoumenitsa. The new traveling team wants to reach Mount Olympus and the Aegean Sea. Between my beer in Split and the coffee in Igoumenitsa, there are Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, 800 kilometers and maximal one day travel time. It will be short. Stress? I don‘t think so. I like long travel legs. And I ride a real marathon bike: the TT1000, a F800GS Adventure with additional tank. 44 liter petrol on board should suffice for 1,000 kilometers without having to refill it.

The first test is harmless: I ride the first leg between the Ruhr area and Pieve di Cadore in the Dolomites on the freeway. I don‘t completely exhaust the tank: the cost difference between the Austrian and the Italian gas pumps is such that I refill it after only 742 kilometers. 41 cent difference multiplied by 36 liters makes nearly 15 euro. I don‘t believe that „stinginess is cool“, but the 15 euro will be better used when I‘ll meet again with Thierry and Raoul. The first two rounds are on me!

The Three Peaks are snow-covered.

At the legendary Giau Pass, visibility is as good as in a sauna and the temperatures no higher than defrosting ice water. There is no reason to stay longer than necessary. In the post card landscape of Umbria, it‘s already completely different. The route is fantastic, the climate so good you could need a sunshade. Now is the first time I notice how often Raoul has to refill the tank of his theoretically thrifty 800 series. I don‘t believe I‘ll need any fresh petrol until Rome. While Raoul is refilling his tank, Thierry and I tap two espressos and a cappuccino for us three.

Abruzzo is wonderful! The hills seem to be covered with old billiards clothes and the villages dressed up for an ad for pasta sauce. The bikes hum casually on the hilltops. We smell through the helmets the perfume of broom. Italia, your summer is dreamlike! But the traffic in Rome is nightmarelike. It seems us like we‘re waiting an eternity in the eternal traffic jams of the Eternal City. But well, thanks to the traffic jam, we have enough time for sightseeing. Many people seem to have no time, first of all, the scooter drivers. We would stay cool. If it wouldn‘t be that hot!

It was a short night.

At the level of Capri, we heave to the east and through the Apennines to the turquoise Adriatic Sea and take the ferry from the harbor of Bari to Dubrovnik. The next morning is a present for us: on the left the mild waves of the Adriatic Sea, on the right the deeply fissured the coast mountains and before us the softest curves I ever rode. Nearly a pity for enduros. Nearly. Bright warm shadows cover Split. In the old town, bands are playing, street restaurants are fishing for clients. We are hungry. And we need a farewell beer.

It was a short night: the street lights of Croatia‘s second biggest city have just been switched off when I depart for my mammoth leg. Fill up quickly the fuel tank and let‘s go on 800 kilometers country road to the Greece. In my baggage: two sandwiches, cookies and two bottles water. I would like to be in Greece before sundown. Because even if I like Albania a lot, in the darkness, you only ride by ear.

I have already passed four frontiers when restlessness seizes me. How long is the Albanian customs in Konispol open? As if my subconscious had read the opening times of the customs, the officers are already packing their briefcases. I want to know if they still can check me through. „No problem“, I hear from behind the briefcase, and the exit stamp has already left its green mark on my pass. Half an hour later, I doze off on the beach in Strovili. I had just enough energy left to get my sleeping bag out of my things. But no more to get the tent. What would it be useful at 23°C?

Not a big deal.

Welcome coffee in the harbor of Igoumenitsa: everything fitted perfectly. The timing with my friends, the coffee. Only the dear weather god doesn‘t really take part. On the tracks of the Pindus mountain, he spills more water than I ever saw since years. Tracks are becoming creeks, creeks are becoming rivers. There, my voluminous machine is not the only one becoming nervous. The single-cylinders of my dear friends too want to be pushed through the riverbeds and heaved over the rocks. Is it really the only one way to the Olympus?

On the next day, our boots are still wet because of the rain. In our rear mirrors, the silvery Olympus is shining on the perfect sky. In the horizon, the Aegean Sea shines with its islets. Somewhere there, we will lie down to get dry and we will muse over the journey home. Not a big deal. If I include the ferry from Igoumenitsa to Ancona, I‘ll just need to refill my tank two times.

Category: Adventure | Travel