Iron Butts Pursuit – 9 March 2010, the trappings of fame

DJJ and GH with Transalp 
By Graham Hoskins

Our morning was another early job but this time after less than four hours’ sleep. We pushed our pasty faces into the lids and rapidly exited Aqaba straight up into the 1200m high desert plateau. Jordan is like a breath of the proverbial after the dirt and dinge of Egypt. The roads are better and everything just has a cleaner feel to it. The comment from our Italian ‘uber overlander’ that the Middle East ‘is no more problem’ was so true. 

Or so we thought…. my enthusiasm with the better roads and the total lack of respect for any road rules that we had started to pick up in Egypt was giving me a little Mad Max syndrome. I should have learned my lesson after I passed one policemen loaded up with speed trap gun and got away with it. The second time was not so lucky. I was duly taken the unmarked police car and told in no uncertain terms: “Speed, you, violation, speed 110km, you 128km!” Whoops! I was desperately hoping that I would walk away with the bike and not find myself in the clank with a dozen dodgy crims, but just got a swift £15 fine. Of course, any official process must have a ream of paperwork to go with it and this was no exception. Whilst waiting, I turned on my most winning: “Please don’t take away my motorbike sir”, smile. I got about as warm a response as Max Mosely at McLaren headquarters. Not to be beaten at the first try, as I walked away, I asked using the now-familiar hand signals, if I could see the radar speed trap. Danny and I ended up both speed-trapping the approaching lorries and as if that wasn’t a big enough turnaround, one of the plain-clothed coppers then asked Danny “You, work, movies?” He’d recognised him even with his crash helmet and balaclava on. So in the space of ten minutes we went from speeding fine to pictures with the coppers – they didn’t let me off the fine though!


Our border crossing into Syria (after Libya and Egypt) would be like comparing Harrods with Happy Shopper. Better organised, better looking, more light, less rat droppings in the offices and very importantly, far less pong. Surely it shouldn’t be beyond the wit of man to put all your different offices in a logical row – maybe even with numbers and clear signs. Instead, the Libyan and particularly the Egyptian border authorities have turned make busy, jobsworth, paperwork and red tape into a priceless art form. “Self-important”, “unfriendly” and “on-the-take” describes many of the officials we came across. If it wasn’t for the Tourist Police, who genuinely wanted to help and do the best by us, I don’t how any new visitor with a motor would know where to start.

So back, to the Syrian border. The marked improvements made the whole experience far less stressful and thankfully about three hours shorter. However, our happiness was short-lived as we approached the yellow-smog-enshrouded melee that is Amman. We had just about got used to city driving techniques common to this neck of the woods, but combine it with thick, choking smog and we were well on the road to killer headaches. Danny was about to get off and give up for an hour but we pushed on through.

Today also rewarded us with more of the spectacular scenery from sandy mountains to more rolling desert. And, I’m getting a biker’s tan – from the upper lip to just below the eyes, nicely topped-off with a cherry-tipped nose.


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.