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It was on one rainy Friday afternoon in September when I’ve read on the internets that there’s a classic bike racing event going on in Branna (CZ) that very weekend, in the mountains something like 360km away from me. What a great opportunity to not sit at home, have a nice trip and make some killing photos. By the time I made up my mind it was late evening and I realized that I don’t have any proper boots nor trousers for this kinda trip in this kinda early autumn conditions. I totally skipped the fact that I had a broken clutch leaver held on by a piece of rubber string and that the rear suspension was shot with a tendency to go flat and get stuck in that position, giving me a much unwanted experience of riding a hard tail. I made it to the motorcycle gear shop just before closing time and after many tries found some trousers that would actually fit my long skinny legs. Of course the next day I realized that they were still too wide and too short for me at the same time. This shit happens to me almost every time I buy new pants. For the boots I decided to go with a tall military mountain model cause they offered good protection against cold and water and I could still walk in them, pretty much anywhere. Plus they where under 100 EUR. I got them the same morning I was leaving.
Buy the time I was ready to go it was noon. I hate to leave late. I went to a gas station to fuel up and had this idea to check the oil. I remembered I haven’t done this properly at all since I bought it. Surely enough the probing bayonet was dry as hell. I bought 1l of oil and started pouring it in. 1/4… nothing. 1/2… nothing… 3/4… nothing! After all I put 2l of oil in it to be at the right level. And the bike’s oil capacity is 2,5l in total. I did 500km with 20% of oil in it already and the previous owner did probably 10x more. Some engine they built.
The trip passed uneventfully. I made it to Branna just in time Saturday’s practice and qualification runs were over. I was happy that the plan worked. Than it downed on me that there was no plan. For example I forgot to plan to exchange the moneyz at the border, to buy some provisions and beers, or to find a place to sleep. I concentrated on getting there so much I didn’t think about all that nonsense at all. I did a quick mental check. I was in this remote mountain village, tired and hungry, with no food nor beverages, I had 100 Polish Zlotys on me, there was no exchange office in 50km radius, no prescription cheap pills mental health shop that accepted VISAs, nor any shop that was open in the evening, actually THE shop was usually closed on weekends, but because of the race it was open from 7 till 8 a.m.! It was getting dark, I had a tent and a bottle of water and there was no camping site in sight or even a place to pitch a tent, since the place was overloaded with bikers already.
I looked to the right and I saw some bikes with Polish plates. I asked them if they know a camping site. They said they’re staying with a big group behind this hotel, but some fuckers built a swimming pool last year and there was not a lot of space, and I should follow them. All I understood was to follow them. We made it to the spot which happened to be a small grass parking on a slope behind this hotel in the middle of the village. With 15 bikes and a party going on already. It was a bunch op people from Silesia, a southeastern part of Poland. Coming from a little more north I spoke with a different accent and never actually mixed with them before. They turned out to be good folks. They all knew each other and had no idea how I ended up there, but with no hesitation they found a place for me to squeeze my tent in, 2 minutes later somebody offered me vodka, someone else changed my Zlotys into Czech Koronas from his wallet, the night was young and there was a good vibe in the air. Sooner than you can say hocus pocus where all marching up to the karaoke bar on the other side of the valley. I didn’t know I could speak Czech, nor sing for that matter. Alcohol does wonders. Some say it kills your brain cells, but others say it only kills the weakest ones, so the survivors are the best of the best. I remember dancing and singing (more like screaming), going back to our spot, finding my way to the tent, putting on all my clothes and tying my sleeping bag as tight as possible. I could feel cold even as I was drunk, so it must have been really cold.
Next morning was a horror. Not only was my head the size of a small moon, but I was awaken at 7 a.m. to the sound of a vintage open pipe two strokers racing thru the village. It was horrifying, I didn’t know which way was up. The noise was indescribable. Fear and loathing dawned on me. I managed to crawl to a bar and get some caffe, I even tried to eat some breakfast but very soon my stomach gave me signs that it was still half full of beer. My brain just sat there and watched and didn’t pick up any calls. The roar of the bikes was banging between the houses and slopes of the valley getting amplified on the way. The effect was that it felt like standing next to the passing bikes even as they were on the other side of the track. I was wandering around like a lost child. By the the time I was able to think again it was noon. All of my new best friends have already left the scene. I could describe my position no better than in the words of Hunter S. Thompson himself: “Panic. It crept up my spine like the first rising vibes of an acid frenzy. All these horrible realities began to dawn on me: Here I was all alone in Las Vegas with this goddamn incredibly expensive car, completely twisted on drugs, no attorney, no cash, no story for the magazine. I didn’t even know who won the race. How would Horatio Alger handle this situation?”.
“The decision to flee came suddenly. Or maybe not. Maybe I’d planned it all along – subconsciously waiting for the right moment.” I spent my last Koronas on Czech beer and a salty potato pancake, rolled up the tent, found a break between the races, loaded up the bike and run away. I took a longer route thru the mountains, snapped this pic on the way and made about 150km before calling it a day at my cousin’s place in Wroclaw.