Iron Butts Pursuit, 13 March 2010, Hungary and hungrier

DJJ and GH with Transalp 
By Danny John-Jules

I woke up looking like Ricky Hatton’s uglier brother after a whooping from Floyd Mayweather. Eyes swollen and body racked with pain caused by a room being warmed by an electric heater that I had fallen asleep with. My sinuses were shot. I looked out of the window and  nearly cried. When I opened it, I did. It was about below eight. Scott, Peary, Ranulph Fiennes or the nutty Brian Blessed wouldn’t have been seen dead out in this. But we were going to ride 550 miles in it and before I could say “Mummy”, there was Graham, punctual as ever knocking on my door ever so politely. “Downstairs in half an hour?” “OK”, I said, in my mind cussing his very existence. We get downstairs and before I can say, “Sunny side up”, we’re out the door. Whatever possesses a man to go out in Arctic conditions without as much as a cup of tea? I think he has a massive bet going on with the travel agent who organised this trip, yes, the very same one who said it couldn’t be done.

Anyway, I sulk over the motorway bridge, and the bikes are at the top of what is now an icy ski jump ramp. We loaded up and gingerly inch down this hill (bobsleigh run), to the motorway. I think the only way we got down was through divine intervention and, once in motion, the wind was like Phil Taylor throwing darts in your face through the helmet visor from three paces. On we trekked, freezing water intermittently rearing its ugly head on the road trying to catch us out.

Once through Sophia where our journey should have begun, we passed through the eastern side of the Alps, where it was so bitter it felt like the inside of our kits felt like they were littered with razor blades. Man it was cutting! My hands and feet no longer existed and I can tell you, on an empty stomach I was ready to kill. All the way down all I could see were things that made me want to quit from fear, ‘slippery road’ signs, a burned-out juggernaut, abandoned cars and snow everywhere. At last we arrived at the Serbian border which we sailed through. I warmed my frozen hands next to the engine and they froze back the moment we rode off. Graham had a Eureka moment and reluctantly stopped for breakfast at a petrol station. We were welcomed a lot better than the Belgian eatery the night before. We ordered coffee, of which I had three and these cheesy, sausage rolly things that looked like the beanstalk ogre’s fingers from the hand that he picks his nose with. Needless to say I didn’t finish mine but G’ ‘The Burger King’ took the glaze off the plate. We hit the road again feeling a bit better.

The weather got warmer and the roads safer and faster. We made good time, that was, until we got to a toll booth before the Hungarian border. Big G’ had no cash money, well none that anyone would accept anyway. Whatever you do in this world do not travel with Bulgarian money because nobody will take it. The toll guy’s visa machine wasn’t working and we were stuck. I never spoke and just lay my head forward on the tank and warmed my hands. I couldn’t even be bothered to ogle the blond who went through driving a rather large BMW. Still no joy with the machine. One of the guys told us to turn around and just squeeze through the gap between the barrier and the wall. Graham pondered. The guy reassured him. “All the Serb guys on bikes do it”. I smelt trouble. We turned around and went steaming towards the toll. A car was at the raised barrier and Graham roared through it which triggered it to come down missing my head by inches. I was mad. We got about a mile down the road overtaking cars over the double unbroken central lines only seeing the Serb cop standing by his car when it was too late. I had visions of this guy kicking the crap out of us in a cell for ‘international crimes’ G’ made us stop at a petrol station and it must have been owned by a cockney because it was called ‘Elp’ (Euro Lux Petrol), which is exactly what we would have needed if that cop caught up with us. We filled up and went in to pay. Walking out I noticed a bag of sweets called ‘Negro’. This was getting silly. I bought three packs to embarrass my white friends when I give them as Xmas presents and we went to eat.

We zoomed down to the Hungarian border and passed through painlessly and in what seemed like a relatively short time (two hours) we arrived at the Intercontinental Hotel, where not only did G’ get his Bulgarian money changed, but we were looked after like real guests as we took advantage of the steam room where we let the carbon monoxide, soot and the smell of fear ooze out of our blocked pores.


Garmin is supporting Red Dwarf star Danny John-Jules and team mate Graham Hoskins in their quest to ride nearly 7000 miles by motorbike for Sport Relief. Their ‘Iron Butts’ Challenge will see them circumnavigate the Mediterranean Sea, covering three continents and 14 countries in 15 days guided by a Garmin zumo 660 sat nav.