Day 16 – Hirtshals to Esbjerg

The next morning we woke up and headed down to get breakfast in the main restaurant. I felt tired but hoped the food and coffee would get the body working. The breakfast was the usual self service cooked affair with orange juice, tea or coffee and various cereals and fruit on offer. I plated up some cooked food, grabbed a strong coffee and ate as we chatted about the trip and the final day we would all be together. Gregg would be leaving us later the in the afternoon to head back to Vladimir’s where his luggage was stored and he would be there another day or so before flying back to the USA.

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You could see from everyone’s faces that the trip had taken it’s toll, everyone was tired and I for one was feeling pretty emotional thinking about the fantastic experience and the great company I had been with over the last 15 days. Part of me wanted to get home, have a real shower and sit in front of the TV with my other half, another part of me longed for the journey to continue.

We packed up the cabin and geared up before heading down and once again loading the bikes up and undoing the tie downs. Thankfully the bikes were all upright. The day would be split into 3 really with he initial ride taking us to the campsite where Hans and the group would stay. The second part would take us to a stop over for lunch where Gregg would leave us followed by the final stretch where we would arrive in Esbjerg and embark on the 18 hours trip back to Harwich. We rode off the ferry and headed off south through Denmark, once again back in the country we started out from some 14 days earlier. The landscape was very different from the one we left behind, flatter with lots of farms (some very smelly!). The roads were good though, excellent tarmac and condition. It was a slow ride, lots of villages and speed restrictions on the way but we weren’t in a hurry. We stopped for a quick fuel up and toilet break before carrying on.

Eventually we pulled up at the campsite where we would split from Hans and his group. We thanked him for his hospitality and his company, said our goodbyes and continued south on our journey.

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The weather forecast had indicated possible showers during the day and unusually they were right. The skies darkened and as we rode the patter of rain drops started to hit my helmet and the bike. We continued on but the rain wasn’t a shower, it became heaver, the sky turned black and in the distance I could see lightning. Within minutes the rain was coming down at a torrential rate, lightning was flashing and hail started pummelling us. The visibility became so bad so quickly that cars and bikes were pulling over on the motorway! Somehow we continued through this until the next services where we pulled off to get out of the weather, soaked, cold and a bit fed up. We fuelled the bikes then grabbed a meal in McDonalds and tried to dry out a little although the rain was still falling so there was little point. I took a toilet break after eating which in itself was an epic feat of contortionism! I had a one piece rain-suit on over two piece textile bike gear, over a fleece, over a t-shirt, over thermals. It took about 5 minutes to reach a state of undress that actually allowed me to take a pee! The reverse re-clothing exercise was even worse as I tried to get soaking wet gear on over semi-wet clothing with cold clammy hands.

When we finished eating and chatting we geared up, the mood had become bit more solemn as this is where Gregg would leave us. I felt pretty emotional to be honest, you can’t help but bond with people when you do this kind of adventure. Although I knew of Gregg through the IT community I hadn’t ever met him before and I can honestly say he’s a great guy who I hope will be a friend for the rest of my life. We all just clicked, the humour and banter was as natural as it could be.

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(Photo of Gregg saying goodbye! credit to Paul!)

We walked out into the rain, said goodbye and watched Gregg ride off into murky distance before we ourselves climbed back on the steel horses and headed in the opposite direction. We rode for the next couple of hours with the traffic steadily getting worse as we approached the bigger towns and cities. It seemed odd not seeing Gregg either in front or riding right up my arse! I hoped he would ride safe and find his way to Vladimir’s house without any issues. As we reached Esbjerg and rode into the port we could see the ferry docked and waiting.

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We couldn’t get on right away so we joined the waiting queue before passport control. We waited for an hour or so but thankfully the rain had stopped and we spent most of that time admiring an old guys vintage motorcycle.

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As we rode onto the ferry I took a brief look around, proud of what we had achieved, the distance we travelled since we arrived in that very same port on that very same ship 16 days earlier, the places we had seen and the new friends I had made. I felt sad to be leaving it behind but I was also looking forward to seeing Caroline who was patiently waiting at home. We strapped the bikes down, lugged our gear up to the cabin and got changed before heading for a bite to eat. I We once again decided to eat in the lower deck snack bar rather than fork out a tiny fortune in the restaurant. It was funny to think that a few months from then the ferry service would stop forever and if we wanted to ride to Norway again we would need to take a ferry to the Netherlands or Eurotunnel to France.

After a bit if chat, reflection and relaxation it was time we headed off to bed. The next time we awoke we would almost be at England’s shores.

 

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