INTRODUCTION

In the summer of 2015 I decided to ride in my home turf, Europe. It offers fantastic possibilities for the adventure enduro rider, but for some reason most riders stick to the bigger roads of Central and Western Europe. My focus was on the dirt trails of Eastern Europe.

 

ASHES OF EMPIRES

Europe has always been turbulent and a frequent theatre of war and clashing ideologies. Eastern Europe has perhaps suffered the most, and still holds many bitter memories.

The Crimson Trail is a dirt track through the ashes of empires. A journey through our not so distant past, when Europe was still divided. If ever there was a time for this ride, it is now, as the superpowers flex their muscles and the embers of war have been relit.

 

THE CRIMSON TRAIL

The priorities of designing the route were remote and spectacular dirt tracks mixed with abandoned sites of the near history of Eastern Europe. Abandoned nuclear missile silos, military bases, villages and decayed Communist monuments contrast the beauty of The Carpathian and Balkan Mountains, The Dinaric Alps and the vastness of the North European Plain.

This was the planned rough route, and conditions eventually dictated which trail to take. Rigid plans do not exist on rides like these. Only flexibility, creativity and a stern will to keep moving forward.

Europe-map-copy

 

THE RIDE JOURNALS

As on Eastern Dirt 14, I kept a journal and photographed the journey. You’ll find the journals from the Crimson Trail under the links below. They’re in chronological order, and being currently written. I will add them one by one, as soon as they’re finished.

Week One

Week One

Helsinki, Finland to Wólka Biszewska, Poland. Riding with two Swedes, exploring derelict nuclear missile bases, and dealing with various bike problems.

Week Two

Week Two

Wólka Biszewska, Poland to Potiond, Romania. The Swedes go their merry way, as I proceed to Ukraine, and the Sibirsky Extreme Trail.

33 comments

  • Tero July 20, 2015   Reply →

    Sounds like a super ride. Enjoy and keep the rubber side down!

    And, the header pic, where’s it from? Looks amazing.

    • The Rolling Hobo July 20, 2015   Reply →
      The Rolling Hobo

      Thanks Tero! The image is from Mongolia last year. So not exactly Europe =D

  • Jo July 20, 2015   Reply →

    Excelent ideea, indeed there are a lot of secluded and beautiful places in Europe. Safe journey. Jo!

    • The Rolling Hobo July 20, 2015   Reply →
      The Rolling Hobo

      Thanks Jo!

  • Kai July 20, 2015   Reply →

    onward & upward!

    • The Rolling Hobo July 20, 2015   Reply →
      The Rolling Hobo

      Always 😉

  • Robert Parker July 21, 2015   Reply →

    Interesting. I am looking forward to dirt tracks through Europe. From someone living in the western US and having
    traveled (within Europe) through southern England and western Ireland, my concept of Europe is one of big cities
    and lots of people. I am an admitted hermit and prefer the vast open spaces with few people.

  • Atakama July 22, 2015   Reply →

    All the best my friend
    Have an awesome ride!! We will be following your every move 😉

  • Arja July 22, 2015   Reply →

    Reittisi vaikuttaa huomattavasti sivistyneemmältä verrattuna 2014. Varmaan täälläkin haasteita, joita Sinä ilman muuta haluat matkallesi.

  • Camryn HOlt August 9, 2015   Reply →

    Can wait to see and hear all about your journey. Stay safe!

  • hendrik vlasma August 14, 2015   Reply →

    great ride love do you have this on GPS somewhere .

    • The Rolling Hobo August 15, 2015   Reply →
      The Rolling Hobo

      Patience my friend 🙂 A full .gpx package with trail notes will be in the works and shared when I get back home 😉

      • wayne barrett March 28, 2016   Reply →

        Have you the gps of this trip yet please

      • Timmy April 4, 2016   Reply →

        Awesome trip! Did a week trip from Stockholm to Riga and all the way to Gdansk. Baltikum is such a nice place for adventure riding.
        I’m also very interested in the .gpx files, to grab some nice trails and do a trip again maybe next year. 🙂

  • FCBom September 25, 2015   Reply →

    Hope everything’s going well with your journey.
    I’ve just found your site, and really looking forward to reading/seeing some good stories.

    Best of luck!!
    Greetings from Portugal

    By the way, where did you make the map with the route? I’m looking for something like that to put on some photo book I’m doing about my last year trip to Scotland. Is it on any website?

    Cheers!

    • The Rolling Hobo October 7, 2015   Reply →
      The Rolling Hobo

      Thanks and sorry for not replying sooner! The map was made with GoogleMaps. Check out SnazzyMaps for more options. Take care!

  • Miguel Pedro January 19, 2016   Reply →

    I Hobo, your adventures are outstanding!
    Cheers!!!!!

  • A NewMans track May 12, 2016   Reply →

    Frothing the trip report mate awesome job, I’ve been sifting through your website, did you end up posting the spares taken on the Crimson trail. I’m looking at doing at 20,000km trip on my 690 ’15 from Australia to Nepal, and just doing some research on the necessities, trying to be as light as possible

  • Alan James May 1, 2017   Reply →

    Hope everything is OK , sweating on more content being added to the trip journal here but seems like forever since anything was .

    • The Rolling Hobo May 3, 2017   Reply →
      The Rolling Hobo

      Hi Alan, you’re absolutely right. It seems that my professional life is keeping me from Hoboing as much as I’d like. Plus we have an expedition to complete the final leg of the Crimson Trail this summer, which keeps me pretty busy. I’ll take your comment as motivation to write up the next day. Thanks!

  • Alan James May 5, 2017   Reply →

    I am sated (for now 😉 ) .

  • John March 2, 2018   Reply →

    You have a wonderful writing style – so easy to read, I can easily imagine myself riding with you on my 690 and experiencing the things you describe.
    Looking forward to the next installment, when you have time.

    • The Rolling Hobo March 2, 2018   Reply →
      The Rolling Hobo

      Many thanks John! I’ll do my best to cut down the three year backlog of my ride journals =D

      • Bryan B March 24, 2018   Reply →

        That sounds awesome. Can’t wait to read stories of your travels on the 500.

  • Andre March 2, 2018   Reply →

    Hey man, just wanna say thank you for sharing. It’s both entertaining and inspiring. Keep up!

    • The Rolling Hobo March 3, 2018   Reply →
      The Rolling Hobo

      Andre, thanks for your kind comment! It’s always motivating to to hear people are getting something out of this 🙂

  • Simon March 7, 2018   Reply →

    Excellent read mate! And fantastic photos! Im a photographer too and i find your photos very inspiring you are very talented. Im curious to what prime lenses you take along with you and how you pack them? I only shoot prime lenses and most of the time on my rides i only take a 85mm and D700 in a small pelican case on the back of my bike. I used to carry them on my back in a proper backpack but too heavy and awkard.

    -Simon (Australia)

    • The Rolling Hobo April 1, 2018   Reply →
      The Rolling Hobo

      Hiya Simon, and many thanks for your kind words!

      On this ride I was carrying two Nikkor primes; a 24 mm f/1.4 wide angle and a 50 mm f/1.8. They were fixed on two full frame Nikon DSLR’s, and I also carried a Nikon 1AW1 waterproof mirrorless on my person for all weather shooting. The DSLR’s were in my tank bag. It’s a secure spot on the 690, ad the tank is in the back and the seat comes all the way up to the steering head, so it’s nice and soft for the cameras. So far, after about 40.000 km, I’ve had no problems with that setup.

      Mind you that I currently ride a 500 EXC, and no longer use DSLR’s due to their weight and because I don’t have a tank bag any longer. I currently prefer Sony mirrorless for their compact size and weight. At minimum I will carry the pancake 20 mm, which is just over 30 mm in 35 mm format. It’s a nice compromise between wide angle and standard and has a cool “old school” perspective. It’s still wide enough to get the scenery into landscape shots, but will also work in portraits, if you don’t get too close. I carry the camera in a pouch on the straps of my backpack for quick access.

  • Olek March 10, 2018   Reply →

    Hey!
    Big thanks for sharing yours adventures and emotions and experience with us! Big pleasure to read that)

    In the all of European laws and parks- how are you finding such nice trails that are eligible for motor vehicle to ride? Maybe some online service or just your “hobo-sense”? 🙂

    Unfortunately in Poland it is prohibited to ride in forest (even on trail) and forests are pretty much everywhere 🙂

    Big thanks! Have a nice rides!
    BR,
    Olek

    • The Rolling Hobo April 1, 2018   Reply →
      The Rolling Hobo

      Hi Olek,

      The legislation is different from state to state, as is the fervour with which it is enforced by the state and its citizens. I try to stick to the more relaxed areas of Europe and do my best to stay off the bad side of the law. So a combination of checking the local legislation beforehand, asking local riders and applying common sense 😉

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