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Beyond the Road Como – Siberia Trip

Motorbike Trip from Como to Siberia


From Francesca and Tommaso’s diary

Munich, Prague and Wroclaw

30 June 2014

A downpour of rain has baptised the beginning of our adventure. 3 days from departure, it still hasn’t stopped raining. We cover many kms of roads which are still beautiful, on two wheels and in the rain. We are wearing more layers than an onion, and in the evening we have to hang and blow dry most of what we have on us. But we love the rain, madly. It makes us feel closer. And it has a nice intense smell, intoxicating even. It drips on the helmet’s visor blurring colours and it falls heavily on us, making us want to sing. Because, it’s well known, you sing a lot better under the rain. Only 3 days, and already we have crossed 5 States. Our first stop has been Munich, where Ivan, one of Tommaso’s best friends, hosted us making us feel at home and showing us around up to HB, the most famous brewery of the city. Imagine hundreds of people, sitting around huge wooden tables, drinking mugs of beer between toasts, songs, madness and joy. Being a tee-totaller I toasted with apple juice.

In the evening while returning to sleep we found ourselves walking through a park with dozens of rabbits, and only my tiredness convinced me to abandon the idea of unrolling my sleeping bag right then and there. The following day we reached Prague, where the rain wove threads of light between fairy-tale streets. In front of the clock tower a boy was making huge soap bubbles, which tens of kids then tried to capture. After the Czech Republic we entered Poland, passing through woods where – I have no doubt – gnomes with raspberry-red hats live. The pine forests alternate with bright green fields, with rare and shy little trees. We are in Wroclaw now, in front of the big train station. Our bike is happily resting in front of the hotel, and the girl at reception occasionally checks on it, for Tommaso’s peace of mind. I know nobody will dare touch it, because while passing through the woods I asked the gnomes to protect our Queen.


20 July 2014

The adventure biker never stops being and adventure biker. Not even if his journey on 2 wheels is interrupted by an accident and he finds himself in a hospital bed without his bike.
 You can spot an adventure biker in a hospital because:
…He looks at the nurse and says: “Fill me up on painkillers”;
… he spends half his day listening the the roar of the engines you can hear from the window and whenever a bike passes his hands move as if to give gas;
… he cannot stay without his bike, and from the hospital bed he calls all the ads that inspire him saying: “Yes, yes, I’d like to come and see the bike, I’m really interested, but, you know, maybe not today, I have a few problems moving right now”;
… when nobody’s looking, he plays with a model motorbike someone brought as a gift and also goes “Vrrrrrrrrroooooooommmmmm”;
… does not surrender to the immobility, and tries convincing the nurses he can go to the bathroom alone, crawling on the floor and pushing with his grazed elbows;
…. studies the bed-bathroom route, evaluates gradients and energy consumption, decides on the sofa/coffee table itinerary and knows that he must give his GPS coordinates once on the sofa;
…gives false and biased information on his discharge, so much so that the nurses come and tell him: “I’ve heard you are leaving today”, pity they heard it from the same biker;
…he has tears in his eyes when he sees his bike reduced to a crushed coca-cola can, but he elaborates plans to make it come back to life even at a distance.


05 July 2014

The rain beats insistently on the windows, as if it wanted to catch the attention of those who have found refuge. I look at the drops of water chasing each other on the window, while Germano looks at the lagoon, in love with a swan that floats on the grey ripples. What are we doing in the middle of a lagoon? And who’s Germano? In Wroclaw, after the night when our Africa slept in the street and I whispered to the gnomes to guard the Queen, on the dashboard in the morning we found a small plush owl, which we named Germano. We have no idea how it got there, maybe the gift of a passing well-wisher, maybe it was sent from some invisible world. Germano now travels with us and is part of our story. After loading our bike and having found a comfortable place for our new passenger, we leave for Warsaw. A brave ray of light shines on the road, but immediately the clouds bully their way over the sun and lay a thick cover over us. It doesn’t matter, because the grey light of the sky is pierced by the bright colour of the flowers. The soul of Poland is gentle kindness, and it manifests itself through its flowers.

Flowers everywhere: on the cities’ lampposts, to give light a scent; on the many crosses of Christ on the sides of roads, to make the death of the Lord sweet; on the tables of the restaurants in the squares, where the red of the geraniums mingles with the notes of the itinerant musicians; and finally my favourite, the flowers sold in small rainbow bunches by little old women on street corners. Old baby-women, lost in clothes too big for them. We reach Warsaw after many kms and more rain, and we remain enchanted by another fairy-tale city, which legend says came to life from the love between a Pole and a mermaid. People walk along the cobblestone streets, a coachman passes next to the statue of the woman fish and the black horse’s whinnying loses itself in the light of the first stars. We remain seated on a bench to breathe in the evening, until it gets late and we get back to our hotel. Germano sleeps nestled in my helmet, Africa rests in a garage and we can say good night to Poland. The following day we get up nice and rested and ready for a new country in our journey, Lithuania. The motorbike waggles its tail under the first blue sky since the beginning of our journey, and it runs glistening and leaving behind it the last remains of the clouds. The road is an asphalt river that flows through unspoilt forests, which we cross rapidly.

Vilnius and Rezekne

he thrill of finally travelling under a generous sun and being able to admire the infinite shades of green distracts us, and after a few kms we realise we’ve reached the border with Belarus. A country to see, for sure, if only we’d seen it. We pull in front of the border officials and Tommaso asks: Belarus, right? The answer is: of course. So Tommaso, a bit bleakly says: ah, we’ve made a mistake. We were looking for Lithuania. The incredulous officials thought we were joking. Then when Tommaso proudly showed them our itinerary, they asked us if we were really thinking of reaching Mongolia. They were still laughing as we started retracing our steps. After not many hours we reached Vilnius, where we mixed with the crowd to listen to a concert of traditional music in the main square. The following morning we leave relaxed, knowing that a short haul awaits us to get to Rezekne, in Latvia, a small town on the border with Russia. We want to sleep there, so as to be already close to the Russian customs the following day. We travel through infinite pine forests, under an indecisive sky, where light cranes draw perfect circles. The cold air helps us to combat fatigue and to remain alert. We reach Rezekne and look for the hotel. The satnav wants to lead us 30 kms from the city, in open countryside, and we are a bit perplexed.

We park in front of a supermarket and ask a boy for directions. Unfortunately our hotel is really at 30 kms from the city. We get back on our bike, and dive into the bucolic countryside. For 30kms, we see only fields. We start thinking we may have not understood correctly, but the boy had told us it was way ahead. If we have chosen a hotel in the middle of nowhere, we think, there must be something to discover. Another 10kms and we recognise the facade of the structure in the photo of the reservation. We are in the middle of a lagoon. We get off our bike and a smiling old man greets us with some keys. He takes us in a house, which we discover to be a centre for the preservation of the natural park used also used as tourist residence. They have only 2 rooms, and we are not alone, apart from the custodian and a fisherman slumbering on a little wooden pier. The house is almost entirely made of big windows and from every side you can see the lagoon with its cane thickets and reflections. It’s the nicest place we’ve seen up to now.

Returning home

28 July 2014

The adventure biker rejoices, because finally he is leaving the hospital. He exits the ward on a wheelchair, telling the nurses to give full throttle, and breathes the wet air of the parking lot as if he were on the top of Mont Blanc. He feels free, brave. He looks for his bike, then remembers his Africa is still in a friend’s garage in Russia, too far away, reduced to a flattened tin in the Urals. For the first time after years, the adventure biker has no bike. This time, he really hurt himself. It wasn’t his fault, he had taken all the right precautions, driving at moderate speed, careful, without taking risks. Maybe he had an appointment with destiny, because he avoided the first car that came towards him, but not the second, which destroyed his Africa, his ribcage, and his dream. The moment when he felt most free, on his bike, with the wind on his face, a friend of every person, tree, road, deeply in love with the life that was blessing him with days as intense as lives, he fell. But the adventure biker knows that the inimitable life is, deep down, in us all. He knows that bones heal, the bike can be repaired, the friend made along the way remains, other trips will be dreamed of, planned and lived, km after km, without fear. It’s just a break. And while the adventure biker thinks about all these things, his nephew gets close to him on his toy motorcycle and shyly says: “If you want you can use my bike until yours is ready”.

The protagonists

Francesca and Tommaso

The protagonists

Francesca and Tommaso


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