Aug 09

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

by in Hungary, Romania

At the Bors border crossing from Romania the customs guys gave me cup of coffee and some water, which was really nice of them. Just a stamp in my passport and I was on my way west. I took a few detours north, west, north, then west again as I had a couple of places to check out. One of these in the centre of the Great Plain was the Barna windmill at Karcag. I spent a couple of hours here with the caretaker showing me the workings of this magnificent piece of engineering.

Only 100 km to Budapest and I had a real bad day when the engine began making alarming noises. After a sleepless night trying to fathom what to try next I was up at first light pulling the magneto apart. It turns out the problem was carbon in the magneto which had got stuck & was burning away. This resulted in the spring not being pushed down as it should. There’s times when things feel pretty crappy, especially after a hard day. Being able to share the problem with Lynne during our evening chat on skype is enough to gain a bit of perspective and usually next morning the answer comes to me. It’s not just Effie who is sometimes runs out of steam!

I try to avoid freeways for all the usual reasons but sometimes I just end up there and in Hungary it was the first time I was stopped by the police and told I wasn’t traveling fast enough (60kmph) and I’d have to take the next exit. I’d actually shot myself in the foot as for reasons I won’t allude to here (given it might incriminate me), as I carried a piece of paper that said the bike was only capable of doing 40kmph. This is the speed I’m most comfortable doing, but from here-on I’ll need to take extra care to ensure I either bypass the freeways or go somewhat faster, which isn’t practical over any distance.

Still, the police were nice enough about it and I didn’t argue. Budapest, with Buda on one side of the Danube and Pest on the other is well laid out with orderly traffic. It’s nice not to endure the insanity on the roads in many of the countries further east. But it’s still always with some trepidation that I approach major cities as I know how hard it will be to stop at lights, find street signs while watching the traffic and at the same time try to keep Effie’s engine running.

Andras, a Hungarian I’d met some weeks ago in Sofia contacted a few people who might be interested in seeing the bike. As a result, the Transportation Museum arranged for a press conference to be held and it was a great surprise as I rode up through City Park to the entrance to be greeted by a crowd of motorcyclists, museum staff, journalists and other media.

With Andras translating, I gave a short talk about my journey & then bike, then was presented with a splendid commemoration medallion and certificate by Janos the organizer and museologist. This was followed by press interviews and questions. Later I was given a personal tour of this wonderful museum featuring an impressive collection of historic motorcycles, cars, trains and other forms of transportation. Special thanks to Andras and Janos and to all those who took the time to come along and welcome me to their city. Here is an article & short excerpt from one of the many interviews:

It’s encouraging to know so many people are cheering me on. It hasn’t been all beer and skittles, just as life isn’t and there’s some experiences that don’t make it to these pages. But one thing remains constant and that’s the fact that regardless of where I am, most people I meet are fantastic. Rich or poor, they are welcoming and genuinely keen to help make my journey just that little bit easier. However they express their support, it’s this that enriches the experience.

Perhaps it’s the architecture, the wide avenues, the sense of history, but there’s something about European cities that’s fascinating to those of us from the other side of the world. Andras gave Lynne & I a tour of his beautiful city & we learned much of the country’s history. It’s one place I feel deserves more time and a return visit is definitely warranted.

By the week’s end I was on the road again, Lynne getting ready to go in one direction and me in another. I have to say I’m enjoying the shorter distances between countries and no doubt Effie is too.

At the Slovakian border there wasn’t even anyone there to wave me through,  such a strange feeling! A change of scenery with rolling hills made for a pleasant ride. The new spark plugs I had put in only a short time ago weren’t up to the job and Effie began running rough again. A reminder that when this journey comes to an end in a few weeks time I’ll need to look at stripping her down to do some serious work, especially as I’m considering riding her home.

Both of us are looking a little worse for wear, but given the distance we’ve covered I reckon we’ve done okay. Now, how do I ask for spare parts in Slovakian again?

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14 Responses to “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”

  1. From libor marcik:

    Hi Ron, Jamie tomorrow phone to call you.
    Hi Libor

    Posted on August 15, 2012 at 7:51 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Libor

      I’ve got new Czech phone number – 776 784 241

      Caio, Ron

      Posted on August 16, 2012 at 3:45 am #
  2. From John Galvin:

    Hi Ron, sorry I havent followed your blog (with email encougagement) as often as previously. We’ve had a family crisis here in Germany which has knocked me out of circulation for a while. As a result I wont be able to meet up with you here in Germany as I had hoped. I am really disapointed, as I have such vivid memories of when I met you and Effie in Castlemaine, but such is life.
    Its a pitty that your achievement will not be recognised by the Guinnes book of records, But it will be recognised by all motorcyclists throughout the world and will go down in motorcycling history as a unique achievement. Your regular blog will encourage many to take up challenges and see them through to the end. You are our HERO Ron….just keep those wheels turning.
    Keep riding and blogging when you can.
    All the best
    John Galvin

    Posted on August 13, 2012 at 5:45 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi John

      Sorry to hear that a family crisis has meant we are not going to be able to meet up in Germany as planned. Unfortunately these things happen and I wish you all the best in getting it sorted. I still plan to do the Bertha Benz Memorial route. I’ve been admiring Bertha ever since you gave me the information about her. She sounds like she was quite a strong minded woman.

      Thanks for your continued support John. I’m sure we’ll get to meet up again, either in the UK or when I return to Europe next Spring. Do keep in touch and all the best to you mate.



      Posted on August 15, 2012 at 4:19 pm #
  3. From Fi Fi:

    Great looking Hungarian article…I struggled with the content however! Only the photos worked for me. Nice to see so many comments. Your observations of the people and the locations are so interesting. Well done Ronnie & Effie!

    Posted on August 13, 2012 at 9:07 am #
  4. From Adrie:

    The email is working again.

    Posted on August 11, 2012 at 6:44 am #
  5. From Adrie:

    Hi Ron,
    your mail adres is not working at the moment.

    If the plugs are peluting becouse they are to cold then brake some ceramic away on the inside and so making them hotter.
    This may sound cruel but it’s working on my pre 1910 machines.

    Posted on August 10, 2012 at 11:33 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Adrie

      If you can’t reach me via my email address I’ll resend my email from yesterday and see if you get that from Lynne’s address.
      The ceramic on the plugs has fallen away so breaking it off won’t make any difference unfortunately. I did manage to get a new set today and will keep looking for the better quality Bosch ones as I go. Thanks so much for all your help.

      Caio Ron

      Let me know via the blog if you don’t receive my email re. Bucek camping.

      Posted on August 10, 2012 at 4:40 pm #
  6. From Jakub Jezik:

    Hello Ron, sad to hear about technical trouble with spark plugs. I’m from Creach Republic, living cca 100km north-east from Brno, so I was thinking of meeting you in Brno. But if you need some spare parts now, maybe I can help you search some motorcycle parts shop in Bratislava if you specify the type of spark plugs you need. Or if you can make it in the Czech republic with the old ones, I can try to get you some and give it to you directly if we meet. Please use my email address to contact me if you want. Good luck.

    Posted on August 10, 2012 at 10:43 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Jakub

      I managed to get some spark plugs today that are doing the job. What I’m looking for though are Bosch WR8DP spark plugs. A guy who stopped to help looked on the internet & the Bosch ones are not available in Slovakia, but I might have better luck in Czech Republic. I wrote to Bosch in Germany a week ago but had no response. Hopefully these ones will hang in and get me to Vienna where I’ll try again or in Prague.

      I’ll keep in touch via your email when I’ll be passing through Brno. Thanks for that. I’ll be in Vienna tomorrow and be in that region for a week then head north, so I’m guessing around 21st for Brno.

      Caio, Ron

      Posted on August 10, 2012 at 4:24 pm #
      • From Jakub Jezik:

        Hello Ron,
        I did some search on czech e-shops. I’ve found at least two of them having Bosch WR8DP spark plugs you need, so it should be no problem getting them for you if you want. Let me know if you have bad luck getting them during your stay in Vienna.
        Good luck and enjoy your ride tomorrow.

        Posted on August 10, 2012 at 6:22 pm #
        • From The Old Bloke:

          Hi Jakub

          Thanks for that. I will check out the shops on Monday and get back to you if I have no luck. The current ones are going ok at the moment so hopefully they’ll last til I can get hold of some Bosch ones.



          Posted on August 12, 2012 at 5:48 am #
  7. From libor marcik:

    Hi Ron. You’ll be in Vienna for about a week?
    in the Czech Republic, you will also be a week? Posi me then message. Looking forward to you and friend Jamie (from Brisbane).
    I wish you peace on the road and a lot of sun

    Posted on August 10, 2012 at 6:37 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Libor

      Leaving Vienna on 15th and will be heading to Brno then on to Poland as I have a bit of time to kill. I’ll be riding back after that to Prague so will meet up with you then. The weather is looking good after having only my second day of rain in six months when I crossed into Austria. Good roads ahead!



      Posted on August 13, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

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