ET2016 Returning to ride an event for the second or third time is completely different to riding it the first time. 24 hours before any other riders arrived, I was sitting in the sun at the Relexa in Stuttgart ready to ride the second European Tour, I reflected on how the preparation had changed. True, I was still on a hire bike but at least this was an RT, all my harnessing was simply plugged into the powerlet plug on the dash and all my riding gear was upstairs in one suitcase. The routing time and distance plan I had spent weeks developing on and off was sitting in excel and that was that, I was ready. Bikes started trickling in the following morning and while the field was relatively small at 37 starters, this was the top of the field. Guys like Robert Kruber, generally expected to win, John Young well known for riding a 1960 something Triumph triple in an IBR also expected to finish for the win, Gerhard Memmen Kruger, Giel Kirkoff and a couple of the Danish guys all expected to fight it out. There were another couple of English riders, very competent, expected to give them a run for their money. With this competition as the back drop, I planned a top 10 finish. Riders meeting done, photo of the original deer in the headlights as photo no. 1 [/URL ] in the room with the rally book and co ords, I routed the 36 hours of leg 1 and then loosely routed leg 2 as we had been given both legs in their entirety straight up. Day 1. The plan was to run leg 1 straight through with power naps as needed and then sleep properly at the mid rally rest point, a 12hr compulsory break. This plan hinged on one 6000 point bonus being captured late in the first day before sunset. I missed it, by an hour, damn it can be difficult judging time and distance in a foriegn environment. The bike was out of fuel and as the ATMS were not accepting my credit cards and the cash in my pocket being kept for a true emergency, getting receipts to prove the time stopped was eventful. Fuel farms are unmanned of a night, the pumps operate on company credit cards or cash. I stuck 40 euro in the pump, filled the tank, took the receipt for the start of the rest bonus and scored a hotel expecting it to have an ATM. A good feed, a good sleep and back at the bike before sunrise looking at a pool of oil under the final drive. I sighed, we all know where this goes. Plan A went out the window, Sorry sir, we have no ATM that issues reciepts, use the bank down the street. Off to Plan B, sorry this machine does not recognise your international travellers credit card. None of the four.. Hhhmm, Plan C, back to the servo, dropped 5 euro into the bowser slot and dribbled 2 euro into the tank. Hahaa, got a receipt, checked the time, damn it stopped 2 minutes early so I lose a full hour of points.. there wasn’t enough space in the tank for another drop, Plan D was to drop 1 euro of fuel in the bin or on the forecourt but was discarded, I could see me riding away and the servo looking like a scene out of Rambo, sans truck. Day Two. Back up the mountain, sitting at the bottom of the ski slope in the quiet, watching the sunrise and enjoying the peace. Snap the photo of the ski jump. [/URL ] Gone. So it went all day, the clock ticking down on the penalty window, bike heading loosely NE and bonuses snapped up all day in some of the best mountain roads I have ever ridden. [/URL ] This was a shocker to photograph [/URL ] But the points were allowed as the gps shot showed the coords.. The diff continued to leak oil all day, the level was checked at each stop and both prayers and curses were handed out in equal proportion to avert failure and with an hour or so to spare, arrived at the Check point hotel in Brno, Czech Republic. Feed, shower, route plan, sleep. Day 3. Today was chasing a loop out to the east. Places like Trencin, Zakopane, Krakow, all sites of winter Olympic sports, all the while the plan was to have me heading for the tip of Denmark. With the loop bonuses all captured, the bike was pointed now to the NNW and with the tip of Denmark firmly in my sights, a plan to ride up to the northern portion of Germany, with a side of bonuses thrown in once inside Denmark, was laid out on the tankbag. Then at 17:00, cruising along at a happy 140, the diff failed outside Dresden. Two wheel steering on a bike is not good but with an empty road we stopped safely enough at a road side phone box and generated Plan E. I phoned Stefan, he wanted to bring another bike out, but to swap machines was a DNF, so he and mate (also called Stefan) fuelled up the van and started on the 700km to where I was sitting. It was cold, a stiff breeze blowing through and with the extra gusts of the heavy transports increasing the wind factor, I kept all my gear on and huddled in a shallow ditch for the 7 hours it took for them to arrive. 02:00 and a toot on the horn woke me up from the fitful sleep. We all loaded the bike in the van and 15 minutes later the van was heading for Heidelburg and a new diff. The heat of the cabin was appreciated and at about the hallway mark I curled up in the back with the bike and slept the sleep of the dead, my back on a cardboard sheet and a bag of rags for a pillow. Day 4. 09:00 and back in the workshop a diff was robbed out of a spare RT and after dropping an oil change into it and a general fluid check, the whole bike was complete and ready to go. By 11:00 a revised tip of Denmark route was decided, the initial side of bonuses planned remained in the new route and so with a mixture of prayers and curses to the gods of BMW, the wheels were turning again. The strangest things happen on rides. The highway had been at speed, except for the roadworks, but almost without warning, it came to a dead stop. The traffic made space, I dribbled along between the kilometres of stopped traffic, the further it went the more concerned I got as people had deck chairs and tables out, they had obviously been stopped quite a while. After about 20 or 30 km of this, I came across three orange cones sitting, one in each lane, with a policeman keeping guard and an empty highway beyond. Three lanes of traffic were being pushed off into a single lane country road. Another 20km, dribbling through the lane of vehicles and turning left onto the freeway, was amazed to see the highway full and back at speed. I dunno why it was closed, but it had obviously been reopened while our traffic snake was gone bush. Onwards, northwards. Into Denmark, the first border crossing checkpoint seen in any of my Europe travels, a cursory glance at me and bike and waved through. The bonus at the tip of Denmark was a daylight only so arriving in the early hours had me looking for a sleeping spot. No hotels, no motels, spying a bar with outside tables one of them became my bed and so it lasted for an hour. The cold and drizzle had me hunting shelter, an information centre close by had an unlocked door and so I slid in there, out of the wind, cold and drizzle and slept soundly using a pile of tourist information pages as a pillow till just before sunrise. Day 5. Setting up on the beach front, with rally flag and a row of concrete blocks that made the bonus in the view finder, I snapped a couple of shots until the picture would suffice to capture the points and then headed south along the coast road and wondering what the hell that flashing Neopolean hat symbol on the GPS meant. It turns out the hat symbol means the road has a hole in it that is deeper than a standing man. They fill the hole with a series of ferries that go back and forth between Thyboren and Agger across the Thyboron Kanal, with the vastness of the North Sea to my right, or west, or starboard side. Plain dumb luck meant the wait was only 20 minutes, the ferry ride was also 20 minutes, then back to terra firma and good roads and loosely following the coast road to Vejers and then turning east to follow the white lines on the road and the magenta line in the gps south. Snapping bonuses, arriving in a series of villages on the edge of both the North Sea and dusk, snapping the bonuses and once again hunting ATMs and hotels. I checked everything I could find from 5 stars to 0 stars. Improvisation became the byword and so a receipt for 6 nuggets from McDonalds kick started the rest bonus and after disposing of a couple of Nigerian scammers, slept in a booth after working out a new route. The inside closed at 23:00, the drive thru stayed open another two hours, so once again both me and the bike shared a parking lot space until it was 01:02 and the drive thru spat out a receipt for one bottle of water for a total of 5 hours rest. Day 6. The last day, lost points forgotten from the diff failure, the time in Maccas spent working out how to capture as many as others possible, knowing the top ten was not possible but still in the game, working my way through Belgium and Germany working the rally book, the camera shutter and bike as efficiently as possible, as well as capturing the remaining hours of the rest bonus and arriving to a full car park at the Relexa we had departed from 6 days earlier closed out this most eventful ride. Finale. The following day was scoring, the banquet followed in the evening. History will show a 14th place finish and 124287 points. 10th place scored 134077. [/URL ] The 17 hours I lost, at an average of 941 points an hour had a loss of about 15977 points. What could have been, I thought. Ah well, it was a great ride, well organised and to those that finished in the top ten, well bloody done.