| Surinder Pal Singh | Singapore | 11 Oct 2015 | Asia Samachar |
It’s always been my dream to ride across the whole of Europe on my own bike.
The high cost in riding my bike from Singapore to Europe made me ship my bike to Istanbul instead. Mainly because countries like India, Pakistan and Iran require a carnet. Carnet is like a bike passport. It involves paying a S$20,000 deposit to the automobile association in Singapore which you get back only when your bike comes back to Singapore. Without that you can’t ride through those countries. And you have to pass through those to get to Turkey which is the beginning of Europe. So I shipped my bike to Istanbul which took about 5 to 6 weeks.
As for Chernjeet, I got in touch with my fixers in Ireland. There was a bike in Bulgaria which he ended up buying. We were supposed to travel together from Istanbul to Sevlievo in Bulgaria to pick the bike up but his luggage was too heavy, so he ended up flying to Bulgaria. We met up in Bulgaria and started off from there.
Our trip took us from Turkey to Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece and then a ferry across to Italy and then Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Holland.
All in all we did 23 countries and 12,000 km. Our trip took us from the scorching heat of the Balkans with temperatures soaring to 40 degrees to the bitter cold in Norway with temperatures falling to 4 degrees.
THE EUROPE TRIP:
7 August to 11 September 2015
37 days of riding
Hundreds of friends made
A decade worth of lessons learned
40 degrees Celsius high to 3 degrees Celsius lows
14 speed camera “kodak” moments
13 currency exchanges
3 major Ferry crossing
One near miss
Turkey – Bulgaria- Romania- Serbia- Bosnia- Croatia- Montenegro- Albania- Greece- Italy- Switzerland- Austria- Czech Republic- Poland- Lithuania- Latvia- Estonia – Finland – Sweden – Norway- Denmark- Germany- Holland.
I did a small Europe tour in 2014 on a bike that I had bought in Ireland but I felt incomplete. I learned from mistakes that I had done in the previous trip mainly being dashing through countries and not seeing much and failure to plan the routes properly.
Also in May 2014, the major mountain passes were still closed due to snow. And the mountain passes only open in june when the temperature goes up.
I had a burning desire to fulfil my goal of circumnavigating across the whole of Europe on my bike. I decided to give it another go. The decision was not an easy one more so because my wife had just given birth in May 2015. With encouragement from my wife to chase my dreams I put my plans into motion and shipped the bike out.
The expedition ended in Norway but I had to ride into Netherlands as I had a good contact for shipping. Moreover my return ticket was booked back from Amsterdam as it was much cheaper. Scandinavian countries can be really expensive.
I achieved my dream of riding across Europe and covering every major and popular mountain pass from Transfagarasan and Transalpina in Romania to the Stelvio pass in Italy and Trollstigen in Norway. It was also a get away from the stressful life that we lead back home, caught up in the worldly affairs.
It taught me stuff about myself that I never knew. Perseverance and faith. When we have faith everything is possible. A dream is just a dream until you get out from your bed and say: “Yes, I’m going to do this and this”, and commit to it. A lot of us just keep dreaming for the rest of our lives and make excuses for not being able to chase our dreams.
I hope to apply this to other aspects in my life.
My expedition partner was partially handicapped in his left arm. I did not know that when we first began our trip. I was often impatient with him, always pushing him to be faster before we started the days ride as we got into our gears. It was only much later in the trip that I realized that he could not lift his left arm above his waist hence he was slow in getting his riding jacket and gear on. He even had difficulty swinging on his jacket and getting his left arm in. I admire his strength and self believe.i never heard him once complain about his physical disability.
I learnt so much from him. Our trip was not rosy. We had to live together for seven weeks and we had our differences. No human being is alike. We had our quarrels and disagreements but one important lesson that we took away from this was that never sleep with anger and resentment in your heart. Tomorrow is a brand new day. Often in our daily lives we resent someone for years and years.
This trip thought me otherwise. After a long days ride, we would often get off our bikes and I’ll announce country number 9 or 18 or whatever the number was and we would give each a big hug. Those are the memories that will stay with me. I could not have asked for a better riding partner. I came out a better person from this trip.
Punjabi Bikerz super ride to Amritsar (Asia Samachar, 5 Dec 2014)