After four months escaping the European winter and resting my butt, it was time to get it back on the bike. Armed with a gigantic suitcase full of parts, I made my way from Portland to New York to Moscow to Sofia. Two days after my brother dropped me off at the airport, I stood exactly where I was four months previously. Also, it was the one year anniversary of the crash in India when I broke my leg. It felt like I’d only been gone a week or two as we pulled the dirty beat up bike out of the garage. All those problems and little broken pieces that I’d put out of my mind were back. I was stoked to get at it since now I had the parts and pieces to bring it back to life. Over the last few countries it felt like I was limping my way to Europe. The Motocamp where I left it, in the tiny village of Idilevo, is awesome. It had been such a hectic time in November stuffing the bike under a porch and catching a ride to Sofia for a flight to Dubai. The owners were gone and I just had to trust it would be taken care of. Ivo got my battery off and kept it on charge in the house, put the bike into the garage, took off the luggage, and put my helmet and jacket inside in the warmth. They had 6 months of Green Card insurance for Europe and two new tires waiting for me. I arrived back for the final week of March and a beautiful burst of early spring weather.
The nights were still freezing, but the days brought warm spring sunshine that brought everything to life. The fields were greening up and all the fruit trees blossoming. It’s a super cute little village filled with old houses built with stone, timber, soil, and straw.
Many are crumbling back into nature as the elderly population is slowly dying off. The young people have left for the big cities or out into Europe in search of work and a different life. Many of these little villages are disappearing, but Idilevo is hanging on. An ex-pat community has started up, mostly by people who came through the Motocamp and ended up buying a place. It’s probably impossible to find a house and land for any cheaper than in Bulgaria. For around 5,000 Euros you can get an old house, barn, and chunk of property that needs fixing up. It took four days of tearing the bike to the ground and back up again to finish, which was interrupted by a killer day-long hangover caused by going to an english ladies 80th birthday party.
I had a ton of help from Richard in the village as well. There’s always some random little thing or type of tool that you don’t have, so was a lifesaver having his help. This is everything I did: Adjusted the valves (one intake had almost no clearance), patched the airbox and build metal shield onto it, put on heated-grips, new hand-guards, new muffler and gaskets, fuel line, front and rear brake pads, fixed the broken pannier rack bolts, put in a new timing chain balancer and spring (doo-hickey), new tires on, a drill through sub-frame bolt, and an oil change. Wow I didn’t think my bike would ever feel so good again. It sounds new. Only one thing left to do before hitting the road. I rode into Veliko Tarnovo to see the man I had met on my first day in Bulgaria when I arrived last November. He was such a kind person and I got the chance to see him again.
A little warmer than the first time.
He took me out to a great lunch (stomach soup is actually really good) and took me back to his business to show me around. When I asked where a car wash was he pulled out a power washer. When I asked where a motorcycle shop was that I could find some chain lube he had one of his workers go out and get me a can, and wouldn’t take money for it. One of those people that restore your faith a bit in humans.