Apr 06

Diary of a madman

by in Pakistan

April 1st

A guy from the newspaper led me out of Lahore to the freeway on his bike. Wheel not running dead true since hitting the pothole the other day. Limiting speed to just 42kph. Good run. Apprehensive about spokes that were fixed, but seem ok. Covered 142kms with light traffic. Lots of plowed fields. Am at Ahmedpur east, south of Bwah. Spending the night at a dhaba.

April 2nd

Started out at 6am. Dry, hot desert. Sand piled alongside roadway. 2pm resting up for a couple of hours. Very hot. Have done 160km today, but will do another hour later when it’s cooler. Lots of trucks heading south to Karachi.

Where I stopped a shop keeper suggesting resting in the mosque, then when I settled down he came and said it was too dangerous and bike might get stolen. So I went and sat with the bike. Man concerned but too stuffed to move. Next thing he brings me out a bed to rest on!

Local map I bought proving useless. Lynne having to relay key points to me via mail. Power so low today decide to dismantle engine as unlikely to make it far tomorrow.

April 3rd

Back on course, have replaced rings in one cylinder. Only needed to replace one of the original spokes today. On the road by 8am. Took 3 hours to cover 61 kms. Broke one front wheel bearing. Worst road of the journey so far. Feel like quitting. Having to rest often. By 1pm I’m told the road improves from here, but given I don’t speak the Urdu they might as well be telling me Iran’s just over the next hill! Only 60kms to go to Sukkur but seems like it’s 600.

Am adjusting the wheel bearings. Luckily after such a hard run all the spokes are ok. Thank god for small mercies. Two and half hours later I’m so hot I thought I had a major health problem, but only the heat and bumps getting to me on the Rohri bypass. Will rest for a couple of hours. This is the longest day of my life.

Was about to settle down for the night at a dhaba when some students stopped by & said they’d seen me on TV. They took me across the road to the Uni hostel where they fed & watered me! Sometimes it helps to be famous! Thanks guys so much for the hospitality.

April 4th

More of the same, hot, road bad in parts and shocking in others. Having to stop frequently to rest. Spent the night in a police station as the police thought it too dangerous to sleep at a dhaba. Not what I planned but I’ve slept in worse hotels.

April 5th

Really frustrating trying to make contact with home. No service areas most of the time & only getting a connection once in a while. Lots of police checks along the way. Only 68 kms to Quetta but too tired to go on any further, given the miles I’ve done today. Gave the police the slip & snuck into a dhaba for the night. Locals hid Effie inside where I replaced 5 broken spokes before hitting the sack.

April 6th

Missed the good road and ended up in the hills which was tough going, but what gorgeous scenery! Then the circus began. Only 2 kms to get to Quetta and I had a police escort for a km, then an army escort, then back to a police escort. Bloody hell, they even made me cross the road to the police check there, with the risk of getting run over. I hope doing 3 push starts in a row isn’t a sign of things to come.

Finally arrived at the Hotel Bloom Star. Breakfast has just been served and I’m looking forward to a long hot shower and getting my clothes washed. A few days rest and I’ll be heading south to the border. Have just learned about the troubles in Gilgit 3 days ago where 16 people died & 50 were injured.

A grenade thrown into a crowd appears to have started the violence. Armed men herded passengers off buses & shot them, the vehicles set on fire. Hard to get my head around this given I was there two weeks ago waiting for landslides to be cleared. My sympathy goes to the innocent people of Gilgit who were nothing but kind and generous to me. The sad irony is that also this week in California a gunman shot several people at a school. The only difference is how it will all be reported in the media.

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24 Responses to “Diary of a madman”

  1. From Paul Louis Venne:

    Bloke, I have a small condo outside Bangkok but may travel to India, Myanmar etc looking for a cheaper way of life. Take care, Paul

    Posted on April 15, 2012 at 2:14 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Paul
      I hear Burma is looking good right now. Good time to visit before it gets over run with tourists.
      I’m certainly looking forward to taking it easier now the hard slog is behind me.

      Caio, Ron

      Posted on April 16, 2012 at 1:04 pm #
  2. From Thomas Patt:

    Congrats for reaching Iran. Another country another adventure. Good luck.

    Posted on April 13, 2012 at 8:19 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Thanks Thomas. Feels great to be on such good roads. Looking forward to taking my time through Iran and hope to get an extension when i reach Tehran so lynne & I can spend some time together here before Turkey.

      Cheers, Ron

      Posted on April 16, 2012 at 1:00 pm #
  3. From Andre de Koning:

    Hi Ron,

    We like the title: Kierkegaard could not have chosen a better one! Or to speak with Freddy Mercury: “It’s finally happened…I am going slightly mad..” You’d better hurry up through Iran because Israel is going to bomb sooner rather than later (within months). Just a pre-emptive strike, so Iran can go first with their pre-emptive strike because they are being threatened for real: “it’s finally happened, we’ve all gone mad”.
    AFter our stay in Crete during March, we had two weeks in Agropoli, southern Italy with some days even hitting 20 C, so it is getting warmer at times, but I bet you would not mind a few days of 20 C instead of the sweltering skies. We had a lovely day in Capri where temeratures soared to 22C). When do you think you’ll get to Iran (this year if the road gets better)?
    Tomorrow we’re off to Nice for a week and end of April in Holland; then back for 2 months in France (Loire area and south in the Dordogne).
    It looks more and more like we’ll be back in Oz next early year, so we’re likely to meet again sometimes in the near future.

    best wishes,

    Andre and Barbara

    Posted on April 13, 2012 at 12:33 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Andre

      The good thing about this kind of travel is I never get to hear what’s in the news so can each day as it comes.
      Maybe we’ll get to meet up with you & Barbara before you leave Europe – the world really is a smaller place than we think. Enjoy your travels, sounds like fun.
      Caio, Ron

      Posted on April 16, 2012 at 12:57 pm #
  4. From faisal amin:

    Hi Ron,

    You got me addicted visiting your blog web site every day, to see for any updates and comments from your side, which are always energizing !!

    Old man…you are making the young ones more younger 🙂

    Posted on April 12, 2012 at 8:18 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Faisal

      I haven’t had many opportunities lately to write, given the long distances between places but I think that will change soon. Good to hear you’re enjoying reading the blog.

      Cheers, Ron

      Posted on April 16, 2012 at 12:52 pm #
  5. From Di:

    Hi Ron, am exhausted just reading of your tales of tribulations so I am not surprised you have days that never seem to end. Being a big TV celeb does pay off as you have found a few times now, keep the grin and that spirit and you will make it through. Iran and Lynne await.

    Posted on April 9, 2012 at 1:30 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Di
      The hardest part is over, from here it just gets easier. Watch this space.

      Cheers, Ron

      Posted on April 16, 2012 at 12:49 pm #
  6. From Ian Robinson:

    Ron, Truely impressive. I’m sure any “old” bikies reading yr story will be riding with you. Take it easy . I’m sure you would know when you are feeling beat , tomorrow is often a better day.

    You will soon be on the down hill run. Enjoy every experience.

    I admire your achievements

    Take care.. Ian R

    Posted on April 8, 2012 at 7:02 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Ian
      Tomorrow is another day – you’re right and I’m looking forward to it. Good to be heading south again. Thanks for coming along.

      The Old Bloke

      Posted on April 8, 2012 at 12:05 pm #
  7. From Tony Herd:

    Dear Ronnie,

    Looking at where you are now and where you have come from, it seems you are now about halfway into your journey, at least from counting the no. of cities/towns listed on your Route.

    Now that would have to be some welcome news! Hopefully once you get through Iran, the roads will improve somewhat and it just may be a bit easier for both you and Effie.

    I know at times it must feel, and get, just way too difficult and you are just so knackered, over it, and ready to pack it all in and that is entirely understandable. Especially having to keep a watchful eye at all times on Effy’s health and “fettlin’ her delicate bits” each and every night. No easy task, day in, day out, week in week out, to be sure. You have been on the road now for just over two months.

    And yet, suddenly, out of the blue, those “fairies” (no, not the gay type!) seem to come along when you need them, selflessly giving you the help and support you desperately need and magically things start to improve.

    Ronnie, you have been that magical “fairy” on all things mechanical to so many, many others during your life, so now its your turn to be repaid in kind. I know you will be just fine.

    Take as much rest as you need, even give yourself some extended and unplanned down time for a few days where you find a comfortable and welcoming place to land.

    Only through plenty of rest, relaxation, a change of scenery and pace, and taking regenerating time out for yourself will you be able to regroup both mentally and physically and renew your commitment to this epic journey you have dreamed about for so long. Doing so is the only way to change your perspective for the better when you get to feeling so very low.

    God Speed and try not to let the madding hordes get you down too much.

    Keep following your special dream my friend. You continue to inspire us every single day.


    Posted on April 7, 2012 at 7:43 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Tone

      Thanks for your post and for reminding me I’m just about halfway. Hard to believe I’ve come so far. I reckon it will get easier once I get to Tehran. I met a guy today (Japanese) who put his little bike on the bus – wouldn’t mind doing that myself sometimes, but not sure we could get Effie on the roof! I’ve had three days in Quetta and itching to get on the road again, so the police will be by in the morning to escort me out of town. Should be an interesting trip to the border. Thanks for all your good wishes and being a friend.

      The Old Bloke

      Posted on April 8, 2012 at 12:03 pm #
  8. From FN oldtimers:

    Hi Ron,
    your update reads like a horror story, I think you could better write a book when you are back at home.
    Beware for yourself and Effie we read “still finger crossing” your stories daily. FN oldtimers

    Posted on April 7, 2012 at 8:38 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Jacques

      What’s funny is that during a really tough ride all I want to do is stop, get showered and rest. One or two days off the road and next thing you know I want to get back on the bike and do it all over again! How crazy is that? On the way to Quetta I thought Effie was making a funny noise so when i arrived I stripped her down, expecting to find something major but she was fine. I think the noise was just in my head! Keep those fingers crossed, the next few days could be tough, but I’m feeling good about making it to the border.
      Caio, Ron

      Posted on April 8, 2012 at 9:33 am #
  9. From wally jay:

    No Matter How Tough Things Seem To Be You Always Meet Some Nice Peaple And I Am sure It Will Be All Worth-While at The End Of Your Journey.

    Posted on April 7, 2012 at 7:57 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Wally

      Yes, it’s the people I meet that make the journey worthwhile and soon it’ll be easier on the bike and me. Looking forward to that!

      Cheers, Ron

      Posted on April 8, 2012 at 9:25 am #
  10. From Paul Louis Venne:

    Bloke, Working on that old motor must be nice. Got all parts and spares. Not grimy and no frozen bits any more and it’s a runner anyway to begin with. I’ve had old broken incomplete and frozen stuff all my life and never yet gotten a bike project to run much. Now that I’m close with my 2 speed my mother died and I am selling my collection to return to Asia. Hope the cash turns out to be fun. Thanks and good luck, Paul Venne 1917 Henderson, 1914 Excelsior 2 speed and others.

    Posted on April 6, 2012 at 3:42 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Paul Louis
      I have a few basic spares but have had to get some parts machined – not easy between major towns. I travelled for two days to Quetta with no brakes, so that was my first job. Stripped the bike down and all seemed well after the usual oil & grease. Shame you haven’t managed to get any of your project bikes going yet. It can be a hard slog. Good luck with the move back to Asia – whereabouts exactly?

      Cheers, The old bloke

      Posted on April 8, 2012 at 9:22 am #
  11. From Thomas Patt:

    Hi Ron,
    Good to read tt you have reached a save place at Quetta. Looking onto the map, I thought just another 2 days to the border, but googlemaps says still 730km to go. And the other side might be not better. I gonna send you some of our cold. Forecast is saying under minus tomorrow and some snow….:-(
    Have a good rest, fill up your batteries, and then off you go. Just let me know, if you hv all the telephone nbrs fm Tehran. Owise I mail them again.
    Good luck.

    Posted on April 6, 2012 at 10:27 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Thomas

      Yes, still a long way to the border. I’m estimating about 6-8 days depending on the police escorts. Could do with some cooler weather but not that cold thanks! I’m all rested and ready to go again so plan to head off early before it gets too hot. Yes, I have Massoud’s details so will call him when I get close to Tehran. Thanks for that. Will keep you posted in the coming weeks.

      Caio, Ron

      Posted on April 8, 2012 at 9:03 am #
  12. From faisal amin:

    Nice narration…yes it is tough going specially the weather…have a safe journey and stay away from trouble

    Posted on April 6, 2012 at 6:52 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Faisal
      Hope trouble stays away from me. I’ve been lucky so far I reckon. The next week might be interesting but looking forward to it never the less.

      Cheers, Ron

      Posted on April 8, 2012 at 8:54 am #

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