DINNER FOR ONE; A SHORT NOTE FROM THE ROAD ON HOW I MANAGED TO MELT THE MOTO GELATO.
The day started well enough; sunshine, birdsong. A bit different from the previous afternoon’s wet journey through Ukraine and a third of Poland.
Thank goodness, said I, for my brand new Urbano Tucano Nano rain set. I was bone dry, but the Moto Guzzi was a little bit uppity.
The oil light flickered on & off and on and Molto Gelato (aka fettled Moto Guzzi V7 café racer) started to stall. A known fault, I’d read; something to do with the sensors.
This morning then, bright sunshine with the destination to be a friend in a small village north of Prague. I left the hotel – somewhere in the middle of Poland, still not sure where it was, with the GPS clearly stating 450 kms in eight hours. Whoa…. how could that be true?
The N-Drive GPS has not renewed itself recently; it does not know about all the new motorways in Poland. Google maps didn’t seem to know any better either. What neither system knew was that I cannot ride after sunset so I must be quick wherever I am going
I bought, because I am mechanical genius, a new set of LED lights especially for this trip. VERY BRIGHT said the advertisement. It didn’t tell me they were so low powered that there was no light for the roads at night. So, I cannot ride after sunset. The very helpful dealer in England sent me a replacement to Ukraine, but after ten days I had to leave – the new light ensnared in the endless maw of Ukraine’s custom officials.
To this morning, well, more correctly this afternoon. Poland, although very beautiful, is seemingly an endless mass of villages stretched along the side of every highway. With NDrive unable to find a motorway the speed restriction through all the joined up villages was very limited. Progress had to be made at every opportunity.
I discovered a motorway by myself – no electronic aids needed – which was flowing southwest. With three hours left to sunset I sought to make up some time.
Which I did, until the oil light flashed more meaningfully. I knew it couldn’t be oil… the first main service and oil change was only one hundred and fifty kilometres past due.
And then the oil light went on and stopped on and the revs started to drop.
Noise was heard even though I had tailor made earplugs jammed in my ears. Banging and clattering noises; nothing good at all.
I left the motorway at the next turn off. The bike stalled and I just managed to glide to a stop between a café and a petrol station.
I enlisted a young man to help me get Gelato on to its stand. As luck would have it he managed the truck transport company outside of which the bike had stopped. I explained about oil and clattering. He went to finds a funnel, oil for the use of and I to the petrol station to purchase said oil. We met back at the bike, checked the oil level and found it to be half full.
So we filled the engine with the oil, left it to cool, and then tried starting it up. Less clatter, but not convincingly stable. One of new friend’s drivers, a man with years of experience of clattering diesels and a son living and driving trucks in England, baldly stated – “bike, engine, kaput” And that seemed to be the consensus of the small crowd now gathered to look and listen.
Hmmm. I thought; this could be tricky.
I called Eurohelp – a service provided free to users of Barclays Bank – on my new friend’s phone; I forgot to mention my own was cut off because I had not paid the bill. It is very hard to call EE helpline and pay it when your phone is cut off. As an aside, I should tell you, I managed to do it via Skype because the hotel in which I am staying has decent internet thus making all things possible.
We return to Molto Gelato, me, the young man and his phone on which I am speaking to Eurohelp in England who are informing me that because my road tax isn’t paid up to date the bike is unroadworthy and no help would be forthcoming.
To paraphrase: WTF, and “What fresh hell is this?” Getting angry with clerical staff is futile, especially when the fault is my own. Age withers the memory. I am ageing, the memory is close to non-existent.
Google is consulted on the machine in his office and offered six Moto Guzzi dealerships, but none within three hundred kilometres. The best effort would be collection from here, near Wroclaw, hauled to Warsaw and off I go on the plane to await the dealers response.
My new friend has, by now, a name; pronounced Voytek, or so I believe.
He suggested that I stay in a hotel, to which his colleague would drive me, collect me in the morning to reconvene to see what can be done. Voytek hands me a spare phone saying use this to contact your family and I’m whisked off to the hotel.
The hotel, Budget Ibis, is clean, cheap, but doesn’t serve food in the evening.
So the white wafer biscuits you see in the picture are actually the only sustenance available this night. They are delicious but sad.
Sad because they were given to me by my Ukrainian business partner’s mother as a gift for my three and three-quarter year old grandson who waits for them impatiently in England.
I will have to buy some equally delicious Polish biscuits for there will be no white chocolate sticks left by morning.
I have not been idle though.
I chatted with some Facebook friends and contacted a highly recommended local company who specialise in Brats and café racers, if not, so far, in Molto Gelatos.
A man with a van is arriving tomorrow, to lift and shift the bike and me to his workshop where surgical spanners will be applied to assess the damage.
And now to bed as the biscuits are gone; more notes on the morrow as the story unfolds.
And thank you God, for keeping me safe.
The full story comprises
Dinner for One,
Of Ignominy and Shame,
The Italian job,
A Tale of Two Engines,
The Discreet Charm of Bruno Boivin and
The Tango Club of Chatelaine.
You may also like to read the reviews of Notes From The Road Vol IV. And maybe buy the book so I can pay for the bike fixed…