Monday, 25 June 2012

Back to square one.

You're all probably expecting a nice post on how everything was tough but ended well in the end and how beautiful it feels to be in Ireland "hands on", posing the first stone of my new life.
Well, it's not what you are about to read...
The past 2 days have to be listed in the short list of the worst days of my life.
I left on Friday night. All seemed to go well but after 60 or 70 miles the van started to gasp and bounce. WTF. The problem came and went.
I decided to go on, after all I had a ferry to get on and "He who dares, wins".
Around Imola, I realize one of the tires is loosing pressure. Not a big issue but it adds up. I stop a couple of times to check it. When I start again after the second stop, just when I was about to shift in the 5th gear, the van dies. And I mean it DIED.
There I am, at 10 pm, in the darkness, in the middle of the motorway, 30 degrees Celsius, sweating like a fountain, the van fully loaded with my motorbike and even my dog... and the van refuses to start again.
It is soon clear that it won't start ever again.
It is the first time in my life I am let down by my vehicle.
It is deeply unpleasant.
Sweet Chiara gives me the Italian AAA number. I can't really give them my position, it's dark, I don't have a gps, I can't read the road km signs. They put me on hold. In the meantime the police arrives. I'm still on hold, I gesture to them but they keep shouting "PREGO" from their loudspeakers. I explain, half naked and covered in sweat, that my van died. They look at me with a mix of sufficiency and pity, and give me my exact position: Km 0+600, A14, north.
The recovery guy comes shortly after. He is super nice but wants to charge me 260 instead of the 130 they told me on the phone. He says the van is more than 25 tonnes.
He drops me out of the motorway, in front of a garage that will be open the next morning, a Saturday.
After much debating and phoning to some people that might have an answer to the weight conundrum, he agrees that my van is in fact below 25 tonnes and charges me "ONLY" 130 euro.
I sleep, I try to sleep. Peps is very hot and keeps panting, at least there are no mosquitoes. But there's plenty of prostitutes hanging around.
In the morning the mechanic comes, he manages to start the van again with some magic spray but says that I should wait for the guy for the electrical diagnosis. I wait and wait.
In the meantime Chiara is coming to pick me up. To me, it is pretty clear that the problem won't be fixed on a Saturday, we are in Italy after all.
He comes, in double, they are two huge twins, I can't pick who is who. They tell me to follow them, I do but have to leave poor Peps behind in his crate at mechanic's number one.
After much diagnosing... he suggests I change the fuel pressure thingy. He has a second hand one from an engine sitting there. He also fixes my tire. At this point we take a long test drive, very long, the van is cool as a cucumber. Another 120 euro. Excellent -I think to myself - now I only need to get money because half of my budget has vanished in the past 12 hours.
My brother does what I request and I am fit to race again.
I tell Chiara to turn around. Her help is not needed any more and I WILL FUCKING MAKE IT TO IRELAND!
I remember to get Peps.
What a fool. After a short while the van issue comes up again. WTF again.
Luckily I am not on the motorway yet, because there you can only be rescued by the expensive AA guys who will drop you again to the next mechanic. I can see from where I am that the motorway in the "home" direction is completely and utterly congested, all cars are still.
What to do? After much driving around in circles with the van gasping and threatening to die again any moment, I decide to try and make it home through secondary roads, driving VERY SLOWLY.
6 hours later I complete a 300 km return trip to home, at an average temperature of 34 degrees. The son of a bitch runs as smooth as a baby's bottom for the last 150 km. For all that time Chiara keeps waiting in Senigallia because after all I might break down again. Luckily she is at friend's and has a nice day out.
So here I am, back at square one, as I was just hinting from the title. Peps is still recovering. Ferry to be rescheduled. Van to be totally unloaded and thoroughly checked.
But don't you worry, difficulties like these make me even more determined.
Updates to come.


  1. Three strikes and you're out. Play ball!!!!

  2. Seb and family30 June 2012 at 19:16

    Bad trip! Even worse than when my old Peugeot died in nowhere land, 15 klix from to the Isle of Skye, with all my gear for a year of studies in Aberdeen in it (including a windsurf, books, stereo, etc...),back in 2003.

    Cars are such a f***ing nuisance. We bought a cheapy VW passat here (as cheap as Norwegian cars can ever be) and it just hasn't stopped having problems. I am not sure if it is because cars are intrinsically hard to fix or if German cars are crap or if most mechanics are useless...

    Anyway, hope your mechanic finds the root cause and you can safely get on with your trip.


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