From Germany to Croatia

Thursday 16th May – Near Ulm, Germany – 350kms

We had a great included breakfast in our hotel and made the most of it with different hams, cheeses, breads, eggs, cereals etc. No need for a McDonalds lunch on the way! We were full!

We left by 10am, but we had a long day with lots of roadworks, heavy slow traffic, and once again, millions of trucks. It was very tiring. We took regular stops every hour or so to stretch our legs and have a rest.

At least we avoided the storms and rain that was predicted.

Our stop for the night was very popular with bikers. It was at the end of an industrial estate, overlooking fields and built like an American motel so you could park your bike by your room.

A Lidl nearby provided us with some salad, can of tuna salad and bread for dinner.

Friday 17th May – Niedernsill, Austria – 350kms

Despite yet more rain and storms predicted we only had a bit of rain here and there. It was still cold and windy though. We stopped as usual at a McDonalds for a rest and some bit of food. After that we continued on the motorway all the way to our destination.

Our stop for the night was a nice Austrian chalet in a ski resort. Some guests were still coming for skiing while the region is also popular for hiking etc… there was still a lot of snow in the mountains.

Austria is a stunning country with with beautiful mountains covered in snow and big green valleys dotted with charming alpine villages.

Our room had a nice balcony overlooking the mountains and we had a light dinner there with some salad and tuna.

In the evening we bought our Vignette (road toll) for both Austria and Slovenia as we would be getting in paying motorways. Conveniently, no need for sticky vignettes, all can be done online.

Saturday 18th May – Opatija, Croatia – 400kms

After a big (included) breakfast we packed up and left. We took the scenic route before rejoining the motorway. We rode through villages and beautiful valleys. The road was not too twisty.

At some point I had a fly or small wasp inside the helmet. I opened the visor with my left hand to let the bug out, but closing it again, it was still inside. As I had my left hand up to lift the lid again, I entered into a bend. I was in 5th gear, probably riding at 70 or 80 kph (50mph). I engaged into the bend too wide as my left hand was fiddling with the visor. I had no time to react. My bike hit a small white roadside pole at full speed and went up into a giant cartwheel. I flew above and landed into the ground. My saving grace was that, first that I crashed into a flat grassy plot, and also, thanks to the constant rain, the ground was soft and it amortised my landing.

After a second lying in the grass I sat, checking nothing was broken. I was bruised, my neck and ankle and side were painful but nothing major. I started getting up. A couple, in a car, stopped and were relieved that I was ok. A biker also stopped. They lifted by bike (almost had to dig it out of the soft ground) and pushed it into a gravel section where it could stay upright.

Eventually, Alistair, who had been riding ahead of me and not seen anything, came back.

After inspection, the bike had a bent handlebar and lever, broken horn, and the tail holding my number plate was also bent. I guess when the bike went flying into a cartwheel, it landed into its tail and then left side.

After a While, the couple in the car and the biker left, I profusely thanked them. I think they had been initially rather worried about me.

The bike was in good condition to ride. It was not bent, forks were straight, all else was in good order. It started immediately.

I wanted to get to Croatia, as I had booked a nice little flat by the sea, for few days rest. And we needed to rest. Fatigue must have had something to do with the crash. It was the 6th day on the move, with bad weather conditions and a lot of wind, in busy motorways: physically exhausting.

Still, we got back on the road and took it easy. We did the 300kms left to get to Opatija, taking it easy with many stops for short rest.

The flat was next to a big villa, up a long very steep driveway. Alistair told me to stop and get off my bike so he could ride it up and park . I was so exhausted, and still probably in shock, that I forgot to put the side stand before getting off the bike. It ended up, once again, on its side.

It was a very long day. I have been extremely lucky, a crash like that could easily have been lethal. The ground could have been hard, the bike could have landed on me, at that speed….

Anyway, I am happy all is (mostly) well in the end. I have huge bruises on my left thigh and hips and my ankle is swollen and painful but I can walk.

I don’t think I will get into any swimsuit any time soon, as I look like I have been brutally beaten up by some thug!

Lesson learnt: fatigue is dangerous and ignore a fly inside your helmet! From now on we will go easy and take few days off the bikes, here and there.