This was in October before I got the Honda XL1000 and was on a Aprillia Caponord ETV 1000. If anyone knows how the XL1000 has performed on same sort of thing I would be most interested as am planning some longer ride, that are working towards my circumnavigation rally. Hope you enjoy the read and there is some swearing in it, sorry! Also am sorry but am not sure how to put the pictures on and will try and find out. Riding from London to Kiev and then back again in under 7 days Now that I am back it feels like a dream of the cold hard bitter night rides and all the things that happened to make this all happen in the first place. It began as so many things do with just a simple idea and a challenge. I was hearing about Ewan and Charlie on TV having done this world bike ride and looked at an episode. Utter piss I thought as I had done some expeditions with the RAF and having a support crew, medical team, back up and friends was more of a jolly than any real challenge of the human spirit to conquer adversity. At this stage I had not passed a bike test and knew very little of them and to most I still do not. Bikes are big, shiny and go fast! What more does one need to know to be able to ride a bike. Not long after this my friend got some bad news that she was diagnosed with MS. A vibrant and colourful woman that makes anyone she meets smile. She is that special kind of person that people just like to be around and makes your world that little brighter for having known her. I looked into MS and what it means and what steps could be taken to ease the risks. My friend remains positive about the condition as is her nature to do so. Nothing is too much trouble and moaning is not a quality that would ever be used to describe her, even when she has call to whine. So I did what any crazy lunatic does that loves a good challenge, I combined the two and said that I would do a motorbike ride with no crew or mates from London to Moscow and back again in a week! That is about as much planning as I had put into it and I just love all the little things that go wrong on adventures as that is what makes it an adventureâ€¦and there was plenty to go wrong! I took my bike test and this was not long after a serious car crash that I had coming off the mountain roads in Cumbria and landing on the roof, then having to smash a window to crawl out in the snow and limp 2 miles to a farm house. The Police rescue car crashed getting to me, the ambulance got stuck and in the end a 4x4 Police car made it to me and took me to hospital. Really thought that I was going to die on that one but with the doors caved in and stuck I used my Police baton to break the window. Work gave me a 12 month warning for having a baton off site, thanks for that one guys much appreciated. Anyway, I took my bike test and I was failed, I say I was failed as I did not feel that I failed it. I was failed on the fact that the examiner thought that a woman wanted to use a zebra crossing and I did not stop, she was not at the crossing and was in fact coming along the pavement in the direction of the crossing. I am a Police Officer and I trend to notice these things! So I was failed by the petty little man and his clipboard. I took the test again and the same gimp comes out the examination area, Jesus! Yeah he failed me again, this time based on the fact that at a staggered junction that I had right of way from the other car, she took off at the same time that I did but was speeding and because I can only accelerate to 30mph she has to break, failed! I was livid and then thought that the petty man just had a thing about Policemen. I went to another area of Liverpool for my test and took it with another guy, passed and without so much as a mark on the examination paper. Case proved and yes if I ever see Gimp riding and break that speed limit I will smile while I book him. That done it was time to go and get sorted for the bike event, I got in touch with the MS Society and they helped me set up a webpage, I then emailed everyone that I knew and sent off emails to companies. How are you doing this and what is the unique angel? Hmm had not thought about that, I was talking to the Russian embassy as I needed a visa and it would take up to 3 weeks! Oh hell no, I was not waiting that long as it would be seriously cold, I can take the pain but ice is just suicide on a bike so I looked at the map. Ukraine! I took a look on Google and guess what! Since 2005 EU folks do not need a visa for a 90 day stop!!! Fantastic, Ukraine it is then and so UK to Ukraine Kiev was born. I was already speaking to an Embassy and that gave me the idea of getting a letter from one Ambassador to the other! So I wrote off and I got a reply the next working day from the press office of the Embassy. They wanted details and support lists, I was just a Copper with a bike and passport! The people at both Embassies are amazing and dedicated and UK Embassy Kiev sorted out a media TV crew to come and film my take off from London. I rode down to London from Liverpool and stayed at the Youth Hostel in Holland Park, just around the corner from the Embassy of the Ukraine. My bags packed and woollies on I waited for the morning and looked around for a barber. I get a hair cut for Â£25 and for a Liverpool Cop I almost arrested her right there and then for theft, welcome to London James! I had packed just warm gear and some advice that I got from Boyd at Almaxx motorbikes in Maghull, great bunch of lads and know what they are talking about. I got a discount on all the stuff and the full body rain suit saved my life in the end. I had some chain lube, rolls of duck tape and a big chain with pad lock, sorted! I waited in the YHA and lay there looking at the bunk above me with the odd stain looking back at me. The oddest feeling started and I was not sure what was going on at first, it was nerves. For the first time in so many years I was nervous that I could not do this event. That pissed me off, I do not get nervous, I simply do and keep doing till I have completed it or I died trying. I shook the stupid feeling from me and went for a walk and a smoke. I thought of all the things that I have done in my life and this was not going to be anything different. I had lived in the mountains of Indonesia being the only white man there, I had been in the forces and did god knows what, I had sailed the UK in a Hurricane 4.5, I have climbed every peak in the UK, been shot at, stabbed, god knows how many fist fights and I had embraced a community of 'Travellers' that are supposed to hate my kind. Sort your self out James was the key thought in my head and I smiled, went back to the bunk and fell asleep. It was morning and the feeling was replaced with determination to get it done and the fact that I had no support, did not know the roads and my map was a A4 sheet of town names sellotaped to my tank was just fine by meâ€¦.bring it on! The embassy had arranged for a TV crew from INTER to be there to meet the Ambassador to the UK and also film my riding off to Kiev. The Embassy of the Ukraine is an impressive place and very secure, I was lead in to the main room with a large chandler and solid wooden floor. There was a lady there from the BBC to do a tape interview also. One call from the Embassy had done more than 120 emails from me! I had a quick chat with Olexander the Diplomat and a guard came over asking who I was with a frown. The guard was nothing new to me in my world and I would normally be that guard and rather than making me uncomfortable, it made me smile and laugh a little as Olex waved him off. The Ukrainian Ambassador was very nice and well presented as one would expect, some small chit chat about bikes and the roads in Ukraine and he signs my post card for me with the Embassy stamp. It was another hour or so with the TV crew with interviews and film shots before I could set off and is really more Ewan's thing than mine to have a camera in your face. I was asked a lot of questions that I did not really have an answer for, I am a basic person and I was doing a bike ride to raise money to help MS and my friendâ€¦above and beyond that I left in the lap of the gods and my own determination. So any questions about how long will you ride and where will you stay, the truth is that I had no idea about any of that and I didn't care. I have very few talents but the main one that I do have is that I never give up and have a real iron will when it comes to hardship and endurance. But nothing prepared me for the pain and wonderment that the trip would hold for me. I set off at about 11am down the M20 to get the train to Calais with little issue and a smooth ride at 70mph, it was not long before I was on the train and driving on the right hand side of the road. This was the first of many issues for me as I have dyslexia and my left and right is not the best in the world. I would have to stop at a junction and work out physically how to turn on a right bend in the right hand lane. The French, for some reason best known to them do not like road signs and I do not read French anyway! So I end up heading the wrong way for about 40mins towards Paris! I could see no water and this was supposed to be a coastal road big clue there! So I stop and look for the town on the road sign on the map, bugger! And back I go and this time head for Dunquerke and the town of Brugge. I made good time now and felt better about the trip as I went towards Gent, then Antwerp but the Dutch also have an issue with road signs. The main issue is that they do not like to tell you where that road goes past the next town. So you want to go to Breda but the roads split, one says Flurrggen and the other says Gurggen or something but no sign for Breda. So I stop and find that Flurggen is the next small town on the road to BREDA! In England you get a list, Manchester 40 miles, Stoke 60 miles Birmingham 90miles BUT not with the Dutch. You would get Oldham but NOT that it goes to Manchester!! So I had to stop a few times until I got on the E30 that is 300 miles of road that takes you to Berlin. The Germans! They drive like their kid is in the front seat choking to death and they have to get to the hospital! I was doing around 80mph and I was a slow one on the road. It dark as they do not have road side lights like the UK and they whiz past you at 130mph in a smoking Audi or BMW. They seem to have no idea how brakes work or indeed how long it would take to stop without hitting the car in front. I got to see two smashes and when a German crashesâ€¦â€¦â€¦He crashes! I had rode past France, Belgium and the Netherlands into Germany and now the cold was kicking in at 11pm. I had been on the road for 12 hours with the odd stop for a coffee to help un numb my hands, heated grips will be on the bike next time for sure! I was getting tired and sore but okay to go on until the pain in my toes from the cold that had worked past 3 layers of socks and a pair of AFO boots was getting so sore I was wincing as I rode. I made it as far as Hanover at 2am and with 14 hours of ride it was time to rest or risk being killed on the German highway with the NASCAR lunatics. I got about 6 hours sleep I think and a hot coffee as I had no euros on me and was using a card to get fuel. I had forgot to get the money from the bank in the UK!