Day 16 – 15th July 2020 – Plitvice to Gornji Karin, Croatia
Out to the bike this morning and am soon all packed up ready to go…. I put the bike into first gear, it cuts out… the air is blue… I cannot believe it, my heart sinks at the prospect of another fucking saga with the RAC. I decide to call the ‘dealer’… I think I am put through to Mr M who doesn’t sound best pleased that I have called. He asks where I am.. I tell him… ‘Oh that’s too far away.’ I say, ‘but you were supposed to fix the bike yesterday.’ His reaction is to say ‘the bike isn’t standard, there are too many add ons and the fault is probably somewhere in the wiring, but it will be very difficult to trace.’ I say does that mean you can’t, (thinking won’t), fix it?’ He says ‘oh yes, but we cannot get you; if you get here we can fix it, but you might be better to take it somewhere nearer, maybe a car garage and ask a car electrician to look at it.’ I get the message, they don’t want it back really.
My next call is to France, again, but this time I am put straight through, no waiting, no annoying muzak… must be a slow day. I explain the situation and they say they will organise a recovery to Draganic… great.
I then decide I will disconnect all the ‘add ons’ so that when the bike still cuts out they can eliminate them as the source of the problem. I need to take everything off the bike again, but first coffee!
That’s better… so off with all the luggage and the harness. I have to take the petrol tank off to get to the wiring so that is what I do.. lo and behold I immediately see a broken earth wire, this is for the turn signal cancelling module.. one of the ‘add ons’.. well as it happens I have the tools etc. to repair it so I set about doing just that. Once it’s done I try the bike… it’s fine, problem solved, well hopefully, I mean the bike has already appeared to be fixed once.
While I am doing this I get a text to say a recovery vehicle will be with me in 45 minutes.. it’s a different company by the way.
So now I’ve got the bike going I need to decide what to do about the recovery truck that is going to be here in 20 minutes or so. I decide not to cancel it, my reasoning is that if it breaks down again and I have said I’ve fixed it they might say that invalidates the insurance or some other get out of jail free card. I decide that when the recovery arrives the bike will miraculously start and not cut out, (fingers crossed), and I’ll be amazed then say that I prefer to take a chance on it breaking down again rather than have it recovered now. So, that is what I do. The recovery chap does say maybe he should take it to the garage so they can look it over, just in case they find a problem, but I persuade him that I don’t think they can find a problem if the problem isn’t there. He then takes some photos of the bike while I finish getting ready. I do ask him to wait until I have started off, just in case. I am about to leave when I notice he is filming it.. covering himself I expect.
So with fingers and toes crossed I start her up, put her into gear and she is fine… yay. I pull away waving delightedly at the recovery guy, who probably thinks I’m bonkers and he may very well be right.
I ride the 2kms to Plitvice Lakes Entrance 2 and pull up into the car park, bike parking is free. I park her on a bit of a slope but it is pointing downwards and there is a low wall I can use to help get her upright, so am quite pleased with that. At the entrance is a small restaurant so of course I go in for a coffee and also grab a sandwich as it is getting on for lunchtime anyway.
Whilst I am having my sandwich I start to ponder on what to do today. I am still not convinced Minnie is fixed, I can’t work out in my own mind how that broken earth wire could affect the side stand safety switch, doesn’t seem to make sense. If I don’t have any further problems and it is actually fixed then I will discuss it with my mate Mark and get his expert opinion when I get home. However, for today I feel that I cannot enjoy the Plitvice Lakes while all the time thinking that when I get back Minnie won’t drive and I’ll be stuck here in the middle of nowhere waiting for recovery… again… and then the park will have to shut. Nope, it’s no good am going to have to forget visiting the lakes this time. I think the best thing would be to get going to visit Cheryl in Gornji Karin, near Zadar then if I do have any further problems she will be there to help me out.
I get back to the bike and some *&%$ has parked his car right in over my front wheel, there is no way for me to get out without pulling the bike backwards a couple of meters to give me clearance.. what a bloody £$%^&*. I look around for someone to help me, gosh this is such a pain not knowing any Croatian… grrrrr. I see a couple of guys in yellow hi-viz vests so I go over and ask if anyone speaks English, one guy points and says ‘information’. He is indicating the tourist information point so I make my way over there.
Inside there are two women behind the counter, I am the only customer, so I go up to both and say ‘Do you speak English?’ One woman looks away, but the other says ‘Yes, how can I help?’ I explain about the bike and ask if one of the chaps could help me move it back a few metres.. she looks at me like I’m from another planet. I say, ‘I just need a hand to move it, it is too heavy for me’. She points to the car park pay booth across the way, next to the blokes in the hi-viz… ‘Ask there’ she says ‘The woman she speaks English’. ‘Ok and thank you’.
I walk back over to the booths, there are two windows, but only one is occupied so I go there, I say ‘Hello, do you speak English please?’ The woman just glares at me, I mean seriously glares. I say ‘Yes.. No… sorry, do you speak English please?’ She nods vaguely. I launch into the explanation and query re some help, she glares at me even more, shakes her head and says…. ‘information… you ask’.
Back over to information and I’m seriously never coming back to Croatia. I go in, the woman I spoke to previously is busy so I have to approach the other one who turned away earlier… I am secretly pleased to be annoying her. I do the whole rigmarole again, she just looks at me… I say, ‘please can someone help me’.. she sort of shakes her head and then just gets up and walks away…. I mean really?? A few seconds later she returns with another, older woman in tow. The older woman asks what is the problem, I explain again… she looks puzzled and says ‘Come, show me’ and marches off out of the door, I follow behind. She shouts across and a very tall man comes over and joins us. We get to the bike and I try explaining again whilst gesturing and pointing at my bike and the car. The man says something and the OW translates that he says I can get out of there easily… ‘What!!’ Then I realise, he assumes I am in the car.. honestly… I say ‘NO I’m on the bike… here this is mine’ whilst patting the handlebars, ‘I need a push that way’ pointing up the slope. They finally get it, I get myself on to the left side of the bike ready to pull and steer while I assume he will pull from the back, but no he tells me he will do it. Ok, I don’t have a problem with that and let him have at it. He moves the bike in no time. I am so grateful. They just turn round and walk off, no smiles, no goodbyes… nothing. I tell you most of the people I have met have been humourless and dour, maybe its a cultural thing or a national trait or I have just been really unlucky, who knows.
This is the position of the bike after he moved it, before that the front wheel was beside the front wheel of the car, totally blocked in.
I get back on the bike and again everything crossed when I put her in gear.. no problem.. whew!
I get on the road to Zadar and am really enjoying the ride. After all this drama it is such a joy just to be riding again.
After about 20 miles I see a sign for waterfall, so think why not, I’ve got plenty of time. I hang a left and realise I am actually very near to the border with Bosnia and am now heading towards it… mmm wonder if I will ‘accidentally’ cross over?? The road is very twisty and going up into the mountains, the scenery is very beautiful
unlike the road surface…
Deep ruts, potholes and gravel… joy.
Suddenly there are two policemen in the road, one is holding a red paddle that he waves at me to stop.. oh no, what now.. is this the Bosnian border I wonder. I pull up and say hello.. he smiles, (I faint), and looks around the bike paying particular attention to the number plate.. he then waves me on and says ‘where you go’ ‘Oh, I’m looking for the waterfall’ he looks puzzled, so I say ‘Aqua’ and gesture like a waterfall while making a loud shushing noise… ‘Yes. yes’ he says while gesturing forwards, so I carry on up the road.
After what must be 20 miles I think this was a big mistake and just at that point I notice I am already in the red petrol wise… Ok better find a petrol station soon then. There are very few settlements and what I have seen have all have been one horse villages.. no petrol stations so far. I think I had better google as things are becoming desperate. According to google the nearest petrol station that is open, in Croatia, is almost an hour away…. OMG I’m not going to make it. There are several petrol stations over the border in Bosnia, but I cannot go there because of Covid, they just won’t let me in.
I then come across a garage in Donji Lapac, but it is closed. I pull up to check google again when a car comes along so I wave it down. The man pulls up and gets out. I pat my tank and say Gasoline….??? He shakes his head and says something… I don’t understand him.. then he writes in block letters on the palm of his hand, it looks like Burm and he points up the road. Oh, ok that might be good so I thank him and carry on up the road.
After about 15-20 minutes I still haven’t seen anything or anyone… I am beginning to panic… I then enter the town of Kruge, this is quite large, but I don’t see any petrol stations.
Just then I see a young lad on the side of the road with a bicycle, I stop and try to ask him about petrol… he looks blank.. then I notice behind him there is a house and a group of people sitting outside at a long table, the boy turns to them and says something.. probably that he doesn’t understand me. A woman and a young man then come to the fence and I say hello and gesture at my petrol tank saying… ‘petrol, gasoline, here??’ They both look blank, the young man says ‘benzine’ ‘yes, yes, is there any here’ he shakes his head, the woman says Bosnia. ‘No, Bosnia.. Corona virus’ she appears to understand and just shakes her head. I hear the woman say something to the young man and it sounds German so I say ‘keine benzine’ while patting my tank frantically.. well these were the magic words, they both spring into action and start dialling their phones.
The young man calls to one of the older men and then calls another number on his phone. He then comes out of the garden and over towards me, I say, ‘I don’t have benzine’ he says ‘ yes we understand, we no benzine but we ask for you’. I then realise that they are trying to get me some petrol from somewhere… wow… I am truly shocked and amazed, how fantastic. The young man says, ‘we find, I get, how much you want? 1 litre, 2 litre?’ ‘2 litres would be marvellous, yes yes please 2 litres’ ‘Ok’ and off he goes. While I’m waiting it occurs to me that the man I met earlier was spelling Bosnia in his palm!
About 5 minutes later the young man comes back with a 2 litre lemonade bottle full of a pale yellow liquid He says ‘I get, but don’t know is for this, it for small machine’ ‘Oh, I see, well ok I will try it’ I’m thinking as long as it isn’t diesel or paraffin it should be ok.. I give it a sniff, it smells like petrol.. oh what the hell, it’s not like I have a choice so I whop it in. I ask the man how much, he doesn’t know so asks the older man and then says he thinks it’s €1 a litre.. ok so how much Kuna? Again he consults the older man over the fence and says €1 is 7.50HK so I say ok that’s 15HK and give him 20… ‘Is that ok?’ He nods… I thank him and his family very, very much, what fantastic people. I start the bike, it’s running fine so off I go back in the direction of Zadar.
When I put the fuel in my fuel gauge registered at half a tank, so I am well pleased, but when I next look down the gauge has dropped back into the red again, mmm ok should still have enough to reach the petrol station google says is open. Then I see the needle drop to absolute zero and then bounce back up again… oh, oh, that’s not right.. Oh shit, she is going to conk out any second and I am going to be stranded literally up the side of a mountain with no-one for miles around. The fuel gauge fluctuates wildly then sticks at absolute zero and doesn’t move.. Minnie is running fine… no spluttering or pinking or back firing, nothing… she is running perfectly. I decide to just keep going and I’ll have to deal with whatever happens when it happens.
Well, I don’t know what ‘small machines’ this fuel is for but Minnie loves it… she is riding really well, but thinking about it the octane level must be so low it just isn’t registering on the fuel gauge. I will give Minnie her due, my Harleys wouldn’t run on this at all… oh no sirree bob, they would be throwing a real hissy fit about now, chucking themselves on the floor and refusing to move.
I am really kicking myself.. hard.. not only did I let the petrol run so low without topping up, which is bad enough, but I also have a 5 litre spare tank attached to the bike and have never filled it up!! Plonker!
I finally arrive at the petrol station and fill up both the tank and the spare with high grade petrol. The petrol gauge reads full so it is back to normal, what a relief, but also what an adventure.
Back on the road to Gornji Karin near Zadar.. A few snaps on the way
I am now crossing over the Velebit mountain range, it is spectacular
I come down the other side into a valley completely surrounded by the mountains… just so beautiful, I don’t think the photos do it justice.
I also come across evidence of the Balkan conflict in many places… this building still has bullet holes for example
Another thing I have noticed is hill forts, they seem to be everywhere
These two stand guard over this picturesque village that I passed through on my way down.
I then come across yet another breathtaking vista, I just have to take a photo
Not the best photo I think, but I was balancing the bike on tiptoe as I couldn’t get off so this is the best I could do.
All my phones now have dead batteries, I think Mr M at the dealership left the relay unplugged so not only don’t my auxilliary lights work but also my USB charging ports so I am flying old school i.e. following the road signs. Before the satnav phone died it was saying another 30kms to Gornji Karin, but after only about 5km I suddenly see a sign to it on the right so do a quick turn and I’m there… how odd, but a silver lining because had the satnav been working I would still be looking for Karin 25kms up the road!
I text Cheryl to let her know I think I have arrived and she comes out in her car to meet me and guide me to her home. It is in the back streets of the village and quite a feat to find on ones own.
As I said before, I have never met Cheryl until now, she is a friend of a friend or more of an acquaintance, Julia, who I met during WRWR last year. They have both been absolutely fantastic during my trials and tribulations this week so I am more than delighted to meet her at last.
I park up and unpack the bike, with Cheryls help and am soon enjoying a relaxing cup of coffee with her. It is just bliss to be able to sit down and relax, this has truly been the week from hell. We agree to go off for a pizza… I know, but I like pizza… it is very good, however the mozzies are out in force and I am being bitten quite a lot so will have to whip out the After Bite dib dobber when I get back.
And there we have it… the bike is running fine.. so far. It would seem that had Mr M removed the tank to check the wiring he would have seen the broken earth wire and fixed it, but, to be fair, I could say the same for myself when I was being burnt to death at the port in Split on Saturday morning. If this is the only problem then I have just wasted 4 days, but then I might not have had some of the great experiences such as the family with the sewing machine petrol or crossing the mountains today.. Ok, let’s not even go there about the hire car!!
Only a snippet of the journey today as my phone battery died.