Our journey from La Gruber continued west, with Felix from Deva joining us on his Transalp. We were on the same track as Jon and I had been on the previous fall. The scenery was completely different in warm sunshine and the absence of snow. It was a great day, and after a late lunch we said our goodbyes to Felix and headed towards Sebes to hook up with Jon and his 701, who would join us for a section.

Our first day in the southern Carpathians was wet, but the weather improved significantly in the following days. Romania truly is fantastic and the mountains seemed to go on forever. We parted ways with Jon after a magnificent final camp in the mountains. He headed back east as we pushed to Serbia and a service break in Belgrade. We were hosted by Nikola, the owner of Perun Moto and worked in his cool workshop where the 690 and 701 racks are made.

Nikola and his crew gave us some new tracks and tips on where to head and after two nights in Belgrade we were off again. The valleys had become uncomfortably hot and I was happy to get back up to the mountains.

Further up the trail, Perra’s clutch stopped functioning, and the master cylinder reservoir was empty. We agreed that he’d ride tarmac to the closest gas station for some hydraulic fluid. It was over 60km away. I would ride a shorter off-road track and meet him at the gas station. The timeframe should have been more or less the same.

I had a great time on the trail, but unfortunately crashed. It was quite unexpected, as the front washed out from under the bike at relatively high speed. I landed boot and patella first and then on to my side. I hit my head pretty hard on some rocks embedded in the track, and was feeling dizzy when the slide down the track ended.

All in all it seemed I was pretty okay, but my knee and lower leg hurt. My helmet had an impact mark on the right temple and the louvers in the back were gone for the most part. I was glad I had been wearing my Klim F4 instead if the Airoh Aviator I used to roll in. The condition of the knee and fibula were the main concerns.

The bike had taken a hit but nothing fatal; the top GPS had sheared off, the hand guard had moved and hit the front brake master cylinder banjo and the forks were crooked. Most importantly the tank had not been breached, despite an obvious impact. So everything could be easily fixed.

I limped to our rendezvous point 30 km away. After finding Perra and accommodation, I headed to a hospital and after an ultrasound and x-rays was cleared with a hyper extended knee and some ligament damage. We decided to take the next day off and see how things developed.

Two nights later the knee was still sore but I wanted to move. We rode tarmac to Bulgaria and fast tracked to the Buzludhza monument in the mountains. It was as epic as ever, but the way inside had unfortunately been welded shut.

We stayed at a small hostel close to the monument. The next morning I was feeling pretty good, and even though walking was painful, I could ride without issues. I wanted to get back on the trail, but Perra’s clutch fluid had disappeared again and he was hesitant to ride trail. We decided to split the team; Perra would head to our service point in Thessaloniki while I ventured off-road.

I had a blast in the mountains, but the technicality of the trails and the day time temperatures were hard on the engine. My radiator temperature was over 100 degrees C on most climbs and the heat was getting close to unbearable. Two days later we were reunited in Thessaloniki for a long service break. The ride continues on Thursday, July 20th.