Tough Miles: Next Stop, Russia

/ May 10, 2012
IMG_2278

Tough Miles is the round-the-world trip undertaken by Jon Brookbanks and Peter Foulkes. Their aim is to travel around the world on two DR-Z400s and raise money for Cancer Research. They are not professionals with a support vehicle, and nor is it a trip funded by an organisation with a film crew following them round. They’re just two young lads, with two bikes, riding for a good cause. 

A little over two weeks since their departure, the guys have made it all the way to the Ukraine.

After a ferry crossing from Dover to Calais and a night in Arras, France, they made it to Stuttgart, Germany after just two days riding. Just one day later and they were in Prague in the Czech Republic.

“The prices of things, such as beer, are significantly lower here than in France or Germany,” Jon says. “So we spent some time having a look around town and doing some admin online before hitting the road again.

“Here we also spent our first night in a campsite after two nights in a B&B. Camping’s kind of fun, but I know the novelty will definitely wear off.”

Peter also explains how they’ve acquired more stuff to strap to the bikes, “Despite agreeing we had over-packed and brought far too many electronics, we still decided to go all out and buy a new laptop to complete the set.

“And without an ounce of space left in our luggage, amazingly Jon was adamant on also buying an SLR big lens camera. All the gear and no idea that boy! I have never travelled tech’d up to the max like this before.”

After some time in Prague, Jon and Peter pushed on to a campsite in Slovakia. Despite it not yet being open to holiday makers and not having any running water, it had it’s advantages. They didn’t pay to be there and the hotel next door was hosting a Miss Slovakia beauty contest!

It was also in Slovakia where they encountered their first technical malfunction, when one of the headsets packed up, causing a delay to proceedings.

Jon explains, “Due to the weekend and a public holiday on Tuesday, the temporary delay for the new headset to be delivered was far longer than we had hoped.

“We’re just itching to get back on the road and into Romania, where Eastern Europe really comes alive.”

The headset finally arrived and on Friday they set off again, this time with Romania as the target. It was a long day riding, but the route they took offered some spectacular views, and also put the riders and bikes to the test on some less than A-road quality roads, as they hit some mountain roads, passing through areas of thick fog and even snow.

Passing through Budapest and Hungary, they reached a lively student town called Cluj-Napoca in Romania.

One night there and they hit the road again, continuing on to Brasov, where they ran into a local who found them on the internet.

“This was awesome,” Jon says. “He took us to the infamous Transfagarasan road, but most of it was still shut due to snow blocking the road, and even to do the section we did manage we had to ride around a concrete road block.”

On Wednesday (May 9) Jon and Peter hit the Ukraine and continued to the capital, Kiev, even if they did get lost en route. The plan is to hit Russia before the weekend.

“We are now not far from Moscow, so we are starting to plan to change to knobbly tyres soon,” Jon explains. “The bikes are still running great, despite giving them some punishment on rough terrain and in terrential rain.

“We plan to head north into Russia tomorrow.”

You can find out all about Jon and Peter’s Tough Miles trip at www.toughmiles.com and donate to their cause at www.justgiving.com/toughmiles.