Iron Butts Pursuit – 14 March 2010, heading for a photo finish

DJJ and GH with Transalp 
By Graham Hoskins

We’re finally beginning to feel like the end is really approaching and I find myself thinking and reflecting on what’s been rather than what lays ahead. As we sat in one of the last little roadside shacks drinking sweet black tea on the owners’ threadbare little sofa, I had said to Danny that we’d miss these crazy little places and the complete lack of spoken English.  Every one was different and an individual experience.  As we’d driven up into Europe and through Hungary and Austria, each stop was at a faceless service station, manned by robotic staff with less personality that Marvin the Paranoid Android. These service stations are like MacDonald’s without the personality and we really did miss our tea shacks.  In an odd way, I was even missing the crummy roads, potholes and loose gravel.  They were challenging but brought variety and interest.  When you’re on your 12th consecutive day of travelling for 15 hours, smooth roads might mean fast progress but the boredom is not your friend at 80mph. It’s too easy to become complacent and your mind drifts, losing concentration.  I even found myself working out statistics today to keep my mind focused: 16 days for 17 countries which included 23 hours of border crossings, 31 hours of ferry crossings, 15 hours of blogging, about 75 fuel stops and 1600 litres of fuel – hell! I must have been bored as I’m turning into Duane Dibley with brains! 

Our continuing approach of talking to everyone who’ll listen continues to pay dividends.  At one of the bland faceless service stations, we were still an object of some fascination, even to the sophisticated Europeans – one driver who’d just filled up with petrol almost walked into the edge of the car as he craned his neck for a better look.  As he drove off, he wound down his passenger window and took a picture with his phone. We twigged him and waved and he got all shy and put his foot down. All he had to do was say hi and we’d have had our picture taken with him. Still the Japanese tourists more than made up for it. You can always guarantee that Japanese tourists love a photo, no matter how inane or boring everyone else might think it was. So after I’d watched Japanese tourist #1 very carefully taking a picture of the grassy bank between us and the motorway, Danny started chatting  to #2 and within minutes we had sisters, mum, dad and I think several aunties and grandma all having their picture taken with us and the bikes. Priceless!

In terms of our riding, this last handful of days is really a means to an end.  We’re spending long hours hunched over the tank bags, gripping the handlebars tightly as we try to minimise the areas of our bodies exposed to the icy blast of sub-zero temperatures on the road. In my case, being a little bigger than the average bear, this hunching doesn’t really have much effect other than to make me look like a deformed giant Quasimodo. If it were summer time, we wouldn’t be worrying about ice on the rods, the horrendous cross winds or the driving sleet and we would be able to enjoy these last few days of riding a bit more.


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. The ‘Iron Butts’ Challenge will see them circumnavigate the Mediterranean Sea and cover 3 continents and 14 countries in 15 days guided by a Garmin zūmo 660.