Iron Butts pursuit – 1 March 2010, frosty reception all round

DJJ and GH with Transalp 
By Danny John-Jules
and Graham Hoskins

After covering 540 miles, today is our first with a true deadline. Got to be in Genoa for 3pm to catch the ferry to Tunis. The first leg was really fun, then the Alps appeared in the distance… we could see snow… and lots of it. Once up in the Alps we saw people descending with skis! This could only mean one thing. There was more snow than we had originally thought – snow and bikes don’t mix. 

We had visions of attempting mountain roads which were shut and finding ourselves with no easy route into Italy. However, we had more immediate concerns, as the Transalps have a pretty limited fuel range (only about 120 miles) with the full loads we were carrying and we had got lazy on the French autoroutes, where there was fuel every 40km. We were following the A roads up to 1250m for the Mont Blanc tunnel with the fuel gauge going crazy as we were on vapour only, but we took comfort from the zūmo, which said there was a fuel station just the other side of the tunnel. 

Despite snow all around us, the roads were completely clear and we made good progress into Italy, only to be met by an almost impenetrable wall of freezing fog. We slogged on and hit the outskirts of Genoa about 2.30pm, following the signs for the ferry port. Genoa ferry port; now there is a navigation challenge. A total spaghetti junction of roads with few clear signs, an Italian customs officer trying to explain in exasperated French where to go and security guys who just shrug their shoulders when you asked for the Tunis ferry.  It’s all part of the great adventure travelling tapestry and as we told ourselves, this was the easy bit. The Red Sea ferry and North African border crossings would be far more challenging…

Rached (our new Tunisian best friend) chatted to us whilst we were waiting at the port and we met again on board over some grub. An hour later he had told us our sat nav route was more boring than the preferred route chosen by the Germans and the Swiss when travelling from France to Italy and he invited us to change our plans and follow him down to stay at his family home on an island off the south coast of Tunisia. It almost sounded too good to be true and when he asked if could buy a bed in one our cabins it suddenly seemed like it was! It meant a longer ride that night but a shorter ride to Libya.


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, covering 3 continents and 14 countries in 15 days with a Garmin zūmo 660.