Beyond the horizon is the east - 15,500 km across 14 national borders to Moscow and back
Jörg Finze, born in 1967 and East Frisian in exile in Oberallgäu, planned a motorbike tour to Iran in 2018. The political situation made him change his mind and he moved his destination to Moscow - which was to expand into a European tour.
„"And there is a magic inherent in every beginning..."“
- Hermann Hesse
This magic spread within me when, in the winter of the turn of the year 2017, I decided to go on a journey by motorbike that would put everything I had ever experienced in my life in the shade. In the shade, both in terms of duration and distance. The destination was quickly decided: Iran it would be!
Now that the politicians of this world - completely inexplicable to me - showed little consideration for my travel plans, Iran was discarded just as quickly as it had come into focus, due to ever smouldering conflicts.
However, this was not to lead to a failure of the basic idea, and so my finger continued to stick to the map in the East and wandered through Ukraine to the Black Sea and on to Moscow.
Applying for a visa for the Russian Federation was all that the preparation phase had to offer, true to the motto "Less is sometimes more", because touring with a tent is the epitomy of adventurous spontaneity.
Nevertheless! Technically, I didn't want to take any risks and so two weeks before the GS left, a suspension completely designed for the needs of the tour was adjusted at Wilbers in Nordhorn. A decision whose positive consequences I could not understand at that time.
So time flew by and when I pressed the starter button of the GS in front of my house in Ulmerthal (Allgäu) on 16.07.2018, I thought for a moment whether 2 months and many foreign countries would not be too big for me!
No matter! The sun did what it does best - shine - and so it went via Vienna through Hungary and Dracula's home in Transylvania/Romania to the border to the Ukraine, where I was not only confronted with a foreign language and its Cyrillic characters, the streets also started to serve a certain Eastern European cliché. Potholes, so deep that half a motorbike could have disappeared in them, were filled with water in a devious way, which often forced me to take an uncoordinated roll at walking speed.
Since not only I, but also trucks and cars had to struggle with it, it was not unusual for vehicles to swing towards me on my own lane, almost like a dance, and I naturally made use of the space on the opposite lane.
You have to imagine that! Everywhere the summer of the century, which is showered with superlatives, but the potholes of the Ukraine carry water!
I could only guess what my new Wilbers suspension, which was exactly adapted to these conditions, had to put up with, as I had to tighten all screws of the luggage and suitcase rack every evening.
My way led me from the Black Sea across the Ukraine to Kiev and Chernobyl. My travel plans to enter Russia via the Caspian Sea were to come to an abrupt end, because not only the website of the German Foreign Office but also - and this was the decisive factor - local people warned me not to cross the crisis area of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Yes...the locals! They will have a place of honour in my travel memories, because nowhere was I received more hospitably in all respects than in Ukraine and Russia.
I would like to mention Pyotr on behalf of all of them. I had found a place to stay for the night near the Ukrainian city Холмськe on a wonderfully idyllic lake, which was hard to beat in beauty and would have been a credit to any travel guide for wild campers.
While I was setting up my tent, I saw a wine-red Lada Niva rumbling from afar, which, the closer it got, the slower it approached me, checking the scene.
I was getting more and more queasy, because it was almost clear to me that a clear order would soon follow to pack everything up again and sneak up on me.
Far from it! An extremely friendly grandfather-type face got out of the vehicle with a groan, went around the bike wordlessly with a cigarette butt in the corner of his mouth, then came towards me shaking his head and suddenly reached out his hand to me.
An animated conversation with hands and feet began. Even today, at a great distance from the scene, I can say that I understood only a fraction of what he wanted to tell me.
That much I have understood: His name was Pjotr, he was the local fisherman on the lake and could not understand how someone could voluntarily take on these strains on a motorbike.
A few lengths of cigarettes together, he said goodbye with a hug, only to come back after an hour and bring me a home-made canned fish for dinner, if I didn't want to spend the night with him.
The distinct taste of fish and bones preserved his statement about what a culinary highlight he had just left me.
But it was super delicious!
Even the dreaded customs officers and policemen at the border I do not exclude here when it comes to friendliness, because even today I still feel the cold sweat when a two-sided customs declaration for the motorbike, written completely in Cyrillic, was held under my nose, which I only got filled out with the help of the border officials and I am still not sure whether I have bequeathed my motorbike to the Russian Federation out of ignorance of the language in words and pictures.
I reached St. Petersburg on 11.07.2018 at 13:37 o'clock completely with all screws on my motorbike through Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia via the beautiful Russian metropolis St. Petersburg, which was my gateway to Russia.
And via the stage in St. Petersburg I finally reached the anti-tank monument on the city border of Moscow, a Russian national monument where the attack of the German Wehrmacht - thank God - came to a standstill at the gates of the city during the 2nd World War...and my destination: The Red Square in Moscow.
Dust, rain and everlasting pothole tracks on sandy paths became my constant companions for the next weeks and even today it is a miracle for me that everything endured, when you think of the hard work the suspension had to do!
In the end, a sweaty Simmerring on the main drive and a crack in the tyre were all I had to complain about in terms of damage and - thanks to the universe - only on the return journey, just before Germany.
So I sit here and relive my journey once again while I write everything down. My thoughts wander secretly, silently and quietly further and further eastwards into Mongolia, which will be my next destination in 2019.
... "And there is a magic inherent in every beginning,
that protects us and helps us to live."
Jörg has put together more detailed texts and pictures on his website. If you want to be always up-to-date, you should visit his Facebook page!