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Eastern Europe Rally report
« Gepost op: 05-07-2012, 19:07 »

At friday one by one the contenders arrive. Weather is fine and the view at the Tatra mountains from our hotel, in a small village near Zakopane in southern Poland, is astonishing.

Tatra mountains

The bikes are lined up and except a BMW HP2 Enduro, my Tenere is the only heavy bike and the only All-road bike. All the others are enduro bikes.

who's the fool with that Tenere?

Half of the group are quads; 2 Yamaha Raptors and a lot of Can-Am's 4WD Outlanders and Renegades.

Ahead of us are 8 riding days that will lead us through Slowakia, Hungary, Romania and back to Poland. Most of the stages are about 300km's of which 200km are off-road. 5th day is a day of rest: only 110km.

Most of the stages has a timed 'special'. Speed is not the winning factor, but navigation skills is.

Day 1
Nice ride through Slowakia on sandy or gravel roads through fields, forest and over hills. My mate on his F390 Husaberg leads the way using a Tripy (digital GPS roadbook).
Just before we reach Checkpoint2 at a local MX-track we struggle to find the right path... only to discover there is no path and have to cross straight through a field.
But before we do, we took a direction that lead is into some thick bushes with no other option than to pull out the bikes backwards.
I dropped the Tenere in a hole while attemptinh a U-turn uphill. By the time all front wheels point in the right direction we're soaked in sweat.

I decide to keep it cool ... under the shed

I decide not to take a blast at the MX-track: it's noon and there's still a long way to go. No need to wear myself out with the risk of dropping the bike again.


somewhere along the track

Wise decision because the last few km's off-road late in the afternoon is a tight an twisty descent on a rutted track.
At that point, when you're alread tired, it becomes quite a struggle to control a heavy bike. The Tenere is at its best at speed, but to do so you need some space ahead.
On a tight track you'll need excellent riding skills or a lot of physical strength and endurance: me not having either of them...

taking a break just after the descent

I did get down the hill but had to take brake for the coming stretch of off-road... which turned out to be only one km....

Day 2
It's rather cold and wet ; a light drizzle spoils part of the fun. I'm wearing my usual all-road outfit, the same I use for every day commuting, so still comfortable in combination with a twist of the heated-grips knob...

The first stretch of liason is forbidden for the heavy bikes due to muddy and slippery conditions so we take the paved road to CP1.
From there it's a nice ride on mostly sandy roads with a patch of mud due to the drizzle... until the second part of the special where we have to plough our way through mud covered country roads through large croplands. The trick is to keep the Tenere at speed, aim for the horizon and direct with your knees against the tank.
My mate on his Husaberg rides a different pace and signals me to take the point... the roaring of the LeoVinces coming up from behind is getting to his nerves...
The mousse tires are battered but provide lots of grip because of that... but even then I drop the bike when taking a peak at the roadbook and release throttle only for a moment. The front end being heavy the bike will 'dive' at such a moment: the front wheel will dig in, bar will slap around and you need to shift weight and/or apply throttle quickly to save it.

a true mud puppy.. .

only a taste of what was ahead of us...

Almost missed CP2 'cos I was blasting along with about 100km/hr and didn't dare to slow down...

finally reached CP2

A bit surrealistic: the guy at CP2 was standing in the middle of a mud plain... wearing cracking white MX-boots and next to a pristine looking Beta dirtbike!!
Must have been dropped by helicopter!! His explanation: "If you ride fast enough the mud will not have a chance to stick...."  Yeah... right!

On we go into Romania. There's a warning in the roadbook: "SLOW! BRIDGE IN BAD CONDITION" and I was soon to find out... missed that warning simply because I didn't keep track of the roadbook: I just followed my pathfinder mate with is Tripy. I watched him crossing that bridge and saw how his rear wheel slipped sideways and how he struggled to make it to the other side. My thought was to just blast at speed across... not a good idea... ofcourse both wheels lost traction on the mud covered metal bridge surface... bike fell on its left side... sidestand locked behind a crossbarr and snapped just like that at the bolts.
Did bent the gear lever to.

No further harm done but the sidestand switch was torn off and had to be reconnected and/or bypassed before we could continue. Took me some time to figure out where it should be connected: took off the complete tank looking for that connector only to discover it is located next to the rear brake oil pod...

now where's that switch hooked up...

blood on the fender... and broke my nail too...

Where it happened:,22.185166666666667&t=h&z=15

Got it fixed but lost more then an hour and we decided to call it a day. Still had to cover 180km to the hotel. It's 10degrees and wet.
My mate is starving from cold and we need to take a break where he starts jumping around to get some heat in his bone cold body. I just turned up the heated grips a bit more ;)

my mates Husaberg: really nice piece of equipment
Day 3
Briefing the evening before learned that it would be a challenging stage on the 'Mysterious Mountain': difficult navigation and muddy slopes if there were
rain and clouds... and there were. I tried to convince myself that this would be fun... but the thought of me struggling with 200kilo steel trying
to get that up a slippery slope... dropping it and worse... having to pick it up several times... I decided to skip this one and take the scenic route to
the next hotel. Along the way looking for rear brake pads: yesterday's mud ate most of them away.

looking for brake pads in the nearest large city

no brake pads, but nice flowers ... yes

taking the scenic route

Sure I arrived early at the hotel and when riders and stories started to trickle in I didn't regret my decision earlier that day. It sure has been quite
a struggle.

even the 4WD quads had quite an efford to conquer that slope...

the yellow brigade comes roaring by...

The other heavy bike, BMW HP2, smoked and burned its clutch plates while being stuck somewhere in the mud.
No chance to get it fixed within days: end of rally for this guy:

A few other crews had to work late to restore all the damage done:

Dakarian sceneries

I'd found and replaced the rear pads long before that and hit the sack after having a few beers.

Day 4
Ah! Sunny day... mood swing! Let's go! But... on our way to CP1 and riding through a small village one of the guys pulled one wheely too many: flipped the bike
which landed on his foot... AUCH!!! He didn't dare to take of his boot so decided to ride on and see how far he would make it on asperine and ibuprofen

The special is a long stretch of winding forest road through a narrow valley...
wonderful riding and got in to a nice rithm with growing confidence to a point I actually deliberately jumped the bike over
one of these drainage pipes across the road :o YEAHAAA!! First controlled jump ever!

Arrived at CP2 and thanked the organisation for this stage: made it all worthwile!... not knowing what was yet to come...

Second half of the day we went through fields, even more forest and up and down a mountain on rocky grounds. At some point the roadbook pointed us up on a steep
and rocky path... I didn't make it; hit one big bolder and then another one, lost control, let go of the bike to see it end up next to the path:

now what?

aren't we having fun? Sure we do...

RH footpeg is dangling: half of the footrest support is snapped off.

Where it happened:,25.3395&t=h&z=16

While we're having a look at the situation, a guy comes walking down the slope. He's an experienced motocrosser and we ask him were is bike is: it's a bit
up the slope... he didn't make it in one go... :o  Still he states it's not difficult... if you choose the right track... sure...

I'm in doubt and already decided to not go further up the mountain untill someone makes notice of the 4WD quad brigade behind... these guys will blast their vehicles
up that path with ease... and there's no room for me to swerve around them if I meet them head on while going down...

... well that's just the mental push I needed. So after putting the Ten back on track and one more tip over we arrive on top:

do I look relieved? I think I do! Still... more to come

Now we only need to get down... Not easy at all... very rocky track, hardly a road, I'm getting tired, my arms feel like wood and all of my confidence of that morning is gone.
Mousse tires are shot and I can feel rocks battering the rims while attempting to keep the Ten at speed / stability. It is a struggle and I'm glad to reach paved road.

Tomorrow is rest day and we'll have a look at the damage.

Three riders are injured today: one broken collarbone, the other 5 broken ribs and broken metatarsal in a foot. End of rally for them...

what happens if you do try a "don't try this at home"

Day 5
There's a hill climb on a local ski slope for the ones that didn't have enough yet... me not included.
The bike needs some TLC: first clean the bike before we start working on it:

getting rid of kilos mud

Then on to the local black smith:

sure looks like a black smith

"we need precision tools for this job..." ... they mostly work on lorries!

Then back to technical assistence. Did buy someones tubes for the price of one beer per tube! Had one good rear tube to fill the rear tire.
Front one turned out to be leaking... so took a fresh, but more firm, mousse to see if that would hold for the rest of the week.

smooth ride

After that the bike was ready to go... but what about me?

Only a handful riders made it to the top of the hill climb. One of the quad-guys made the ultimate attempt but had to leave his quad as a total-loss on
that ski slope.

coming up (not me)...

...and further up on his way to CP1... then on through the forest over rocks to the top...not sure if he made it...
Day 6

Another damp and cold day. First part is 50km road through a forestry on a 'road' that had more holes then surface and degraded from very poor tarmac,
gravel to mud the further it brought us into the mids of the forest... and then slowly improved while bringing us back to civilization. While ploughing
through a mud pool I discovered a log sticking out the mud... and looked at it just half a second too long... and hit it with the front wheel... pushed me
out of balance and I took a plunge... mud bath!!

One and a half hour standing on the bike riding/diving from one water filled hole to the next... and again I wondered... 'is this supposed to be fun?'. I was bathing in sweat
by the time we finally reached the end.

Beautiful surroundings that didn't get my attention ... had to keep focus on the road / next hole.

tightening things that came loose. Took a plunge in the stream in the background to wash off most of the mud from my gear

A lovely road, paved with brand new tarmac took us up to a mountain top, only to discover that the descending road on the other side was gravel and mud.
I took the point to be able to choose my own lines and pace and with a new firm front mousse I was able to run the Tenere smoothly down the hill.
Again a beautiful narrow valley were the road and the mountain stream seemed to swap places once in a while.

Given the conditions we decided to skip the special: a late afternoon navigation test with some difficult climbs and descents.

The hotel lobby clearly showed the nationality of its guests

Day 7
The briefing promised lovely stretches of sandy country roads through Hungarian hills... and yes we did have a perfect ride... first half of the day..

but after almost a week riding I could start to feel my arms and things were not as smooth as earlier that week.
I managed to drop the bike five times that day! Like said before: I don't mind dropping it but hate to pick it up...
No real damage was done to either the bike (except a broken handguard) or me...

having a break in the 'creapy woods' after another touchdown

'left or right? Rocks or mud?'

too tired to guide the bike through the rutted tracks... picture after yet another touchdown

One last climb and descent and we're done for another day.

looks like I'm crying... but just chewing my candy bar... Sure I'm having fun!

Day 8

Last day. The evening before I tried to loosen the screws of my visor on my helmet... needed both hands!! No strength left in my lower arms.
Knowing we need to pack and start driving home on the motorway in the late afternoon, and also want to give my mate a day riding without me
to watch over, I decide to take the scenic paved route to the finish line.

Again a wise decision: while I'm taking a plunge in small stream... mate struggles with yet another mudpool...

... but as a reward has some great panoramic views...

... still enough for me to enjoy, like a view at the Tatra mountains

At a sun flooded terrace we're having a buffet and awards ceremony.
I've got an immense respect for the guys that actually rode every km of the track... but there were only a handfull that actually did!

As such: the Eastern Europe Rally is not for sissies!!

Would I give it another go? Hmmm... maybe... but only with a much lighter bike!

uit het stof zijt gij gekomen, en tot het stof zult gij wederkeren!

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Re: Eastern Europe Rally report
« Reactie #1 Gepost op: 06-07-2012, 15:23 »
Great story which mirrors a lot of my experiences from the first time I attended the OER (after having ridden only a few days offroad in NLD before).

It does get easier over time! (especially on a lighter bike  ;D )

Thanks for the time and effort you put into writing this report!!
There are two kinds of people in this world, those that can stay on topic, and I like frosties!

Cloggie bloggie op

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Re: Eastern Europe Rally report
« Reactie #2 Gepost op: 06-07-2012, 20:27 »
Well... uh... I actually rode it some time ago and published it on ... but that's a members only site and I needed a public webspace to make it available to some people abroad....
...anyway... thanks for reading ;)
uit het stof zijt gij gekomen, en tot het stof zult gij wederkeren!

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Re: Eastern Europe Rally report
« Reactie #3 Gepost op: 15-07-2012, 23:57 »
nice report on the rally HJ
gr Hilbert

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Re: Eastern Europe Rally report
« Reactie #4 Gepost op: 16-07-2012, 08:38 »
Leuk verslag en mooie foto's! Bedankt! Doet me weer herinneren aan mooie tijden al die jaren dat ik ook met de OER bezig was.

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Re: Eastern Europe Rally report
« Reactie #5 Gepost op: 16-07-2012, 09:37 »
Prachtige beelden, echt genieten zo'n verslag. 'are we having fun yet? sure!' in elk geval met het lezen, thnx!

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Re: Eastern Europe Rally report
« Reactie #6 Gepost op: 17-07-2012, 15:28 »
Prachtig verslag!
Ik wil hem ook graag weer eens rijden, jammer dat ie dit jaar gelijk met Hemelvaart viel anders was ik er bij geweest!

Met de WR450 of weer met de KTM990 zoals in 2008??? Hmmm, die modder vind ik echt niet leuk op de 990..... Maar die lange afstanden weer niet op de 450..... keuzes....

Eerst maar eens kijken welke data er komen voor 2013!
KTM 990 Adventure S 2006 / Yamaha WR450F 2006 / Beta 125 REV-3

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Re: Eastern Europe Rally report
« Reactie #7 Gepost op: 18-07-2012, 13:47 »
HJ, thanks for the great write-up that I can now also share with my foreign friends :-)
Nice pictures! I would do this rally again any time, would be great to ride with you again!
If you get so far with the Ten - it would be hard to pick your tail on an enduro :-)
Grz. Jeroen