Challenge 1

Endless asphalt from Munich to Russia

"Fast Forward" – that's the title of the first challenge of the F 800 GS Adventure. In order to get to the Russian border on time we have to cover over 2,000 kilometres in four days - on everything from brand-new motorways to Ukrainian country roads. The long-distance comfort of the F 800 GS Adventure is superb! The seating position allows relaxed riding even over daily stages of over 800 kilometres, and the big windshield provides excellent wind protection - even in awful weather.
It's amazing how stress-free the trip has been up to the Russian border. Without a single pain in our shoulders, arms, neck and rear, we enjoy a beer at the hotel bar - what more do you need after a great day on a great bike?
The East - it's always such a pleasure to head out in this direction. The traffic flows more quickly - though not more hassle-free - and the people are reserved but friendly. We are turned away at the first motel after over 700 kilometres, in spite of thunderstorms and pouring rain. But a few kilometres on we get great rooms, an excellent meal and an invitation to a birthday party.
So far the weather has not really been kind to us. In Austria, the Czech Republic and Poland we literally hit every single storm along the way, and we weren't always spared the rain in the Ukraine, either. But it's still fun to be out on the road!

Challenge 2

THE TOUGH ROUTE INTO THE KAZAKH STEPPE

It's become an addiction - we're hooked on the F 800 GS Adventure. We can hardly wait to press the start button again and set off with a twist of the right hand. It's simply great fun to be travelling on this motorcycle!
As always when you're heading for Russia, the tension mounts when you get to the border. But to our surprise we all get a stamp right away, and with a handshake we are passed on to the Russian officials. It's all over within less than 40 minutes and we're finally in Russia. Wow!
As we head for Ufa the motorcycles undergo a tough test: the F 800 GS Adventure has to demonstrate how good its suspension really is, and we have to gather all our concentration and staying power. The traffic is terrible and the road is in poor condition: deep potholes, undulating ruts - and Russians driving like madmen. The motorcycles do their job perfectly and stay on track, which enables us to focus on the traffic - and that's definitely a good thing.
In the Urals we cross the geographical border between Europe and Asia and have huge fun taking bends. Kazakhstan awaits us with a completely desolate main road which is eventually transformed into a superb track. We navigate eastwards by compass past endless fields and marshes. Here the F 800 GS Adventure feels really comfortable - thanks to perfect ergonomics.

Challenge 3

Steep pass roads and tight bends in the Altai Mountains

When we leave Barnaul we are just 150 kilometres from the mountains. In front of us lies a straight road running through meadows, fields and woods. Suddenly a green hilly landscape rises up before us out of the haze - and we encounter our first bends in thousands of kilometres. We are instantly taken by the sheer fun of riding and begin to race around the corners. In spite of its load and studded tyres, the F 800 GS Adventure has excellent road holding and agile handling.
The bends take us further and further into the mountains and the landscape becomes wilder and more rugged. Then the first snow-covered peaks begin to appear between the woody hills and the asphalt comes to an end. A wooden suspension bridge takes us to our resting place for the first day in the Altai Mountains.
Suddenly dark clouds gather above us. A storm transforms the solid clay trail into a mud bath. Before I know it, my companion has come into deep contact with the Altai mud. Apart from a slight bump to the ego and quite a lot of mud on his clothing, no harm is done. We look for an alternative route which has not yet been hit by the storm.
The Altai is a magical place with some of the most amazing motorcycle routes in the world. The perfect terrain for an enduro bike such as the F 800 GS Adventure.

Challenge 4

Sand, stone and gravel tracks in Mongolia

The land of Genghis Khan: Mongolia: you either love it or hate it, you are in awe of the landscape or completely bored by it, you either die of thirst in the steppe or drown in deep rivers.
The Mongolian Altai Mountains stand before us in all their glory, with sandy paths leading in. Snow-covered mountain towns are enthroned above the steppe, while camels, horses and sheep graze in the rich pastures below. We enjoy a speedy ride on the tracks, feel the Mongolian wind in our faces and place our full trust in the abilities of our F 800 GS Adventures. The suspension works hard and reliably, we have traction and make great progress feeling very relaxed.
We advance deep into the steppe. The state of the trails steadily worsens and we are shaken through to the bones. The elastic engine of the F 800 GS Adventure is a great help here. This enables us to relax and focus on riding, and there is still plenty of power for that saving burst of acceleration.
The monotony of the steppe and the state of the trails start sap our energy and irritate us. We fight our way across the endless corrugated surfaces and are amazed to see how the motorcycles take it all in their stride. The washboard surfaces are really getting to us, but the F 800 GS Adventure runs for miles on end without a hiccup.

Challenge 5

EYE TO EYE WITH THE BAIKAL-AMUR MAINLINE

My wife Corinna has now taken over the F 800 GS Adventure from my previous ravel companion Joop. We continue to head for Russia and Corinna gets her first taste of the GS's off-road capabilities between Ulan Bator and Ulan-Ude. We then go on to Lake Baikal where we recharge our batteries on Olchon Island.
And then it's there - the famous Baikal-Amur Mainline. It starts to rain so the dust on the gravel tracks is not as bad as it could be and we can let the enduros run free. But the route gets increasingly challenging: changing surfaces and conditions demand our full concentration. Then there are potholes, river crossings and bridges in all states. And of course billions of bloodthirsty mosquitos. We face up to the challenges with a broad grin on our faces and enjoy the easy handling of the F 800 GS Adventure on the BAM.
And we are suddenly confronted with the decision of the day: bridge or water? After brief consideration we steer the GS over the river bed. After an hour of highly concentrated work we are given a warm reception by a friendly couple, so we can dry out our clothing and ourselves. We enjoy genuine Russian hospitality over a hearty meal and we even get to relax in the Banja (sauna) - what a challenge!

Challenge 6

Adventurous bridges on the Road of Bones

Corinna is taking a day off so I set out for the famous Vidim Bridge on my own. The route is totally deserted and it gets increasingly difficult: completely dilapidated bridges, deep water holes, mud and sand. Although my F 800 GS Adventure is unstoppable, I decide to head back.
On one ramshackle bridge something happens that even the best enduro in the world can't protect you from: as I am balancing my way along the rotten, single-track planks I slip and take a fall of about eight metres on the GS.
When I open my eyes after the impact I am relieved in spite of the shock: I can still move my arms and legs, only my hands and head are in pain. I drag myself up the slope and send a call for help to Corinna by satellite phone.
I then wait in the baking heat with millions of mosquitos and hope Corinna will be able to get to me within a few hours. After what seems like an absolute eternity I suddenly hear the sound of an engine! A supply truck appears on this otherwise deserted route. People help each other here, and the two drivers rescue me and the GS from the depths with their crane jib. By that time I'm not too disappointed at having to cross the Vidim Bridge on six wheels - it's no less spectacular than on a motorbike.
I am given first aid at a nearby clinic and then sent back to Corinna by train. The next day I am given an x-ray (there is only one x-ray machine in the region) and then sent back to hospital, where they sew me up. The diagnosis: just a few scratches and two broken wrists - and there is some damage to the knee ligaments. It could have been worse!
Corinna organises the return transport of man and machine to Munich. Here in the far east of Siberia even the ADAC is stretched to its limits. After 50 hours on the Trans Siberian Railway we finally reach Moscow airport and from there head back to the Bavarian capital. The doctors are ready and waiting to given me another thorough check. The verdict is the same: no serious injuries and even my wrists ought to be fully healed in a few weeks' time.
"Hard Way East" has come to an unexpected end - always a possibility on such an extreme trip as this. In spite of the accident, Corinna and I are fine and we still have wonderful memories in our hearts of the helpful, hospitable Russians.
And the F 800 GS Adventure? It has demonstrated that it really is UNSTOPPABLE. It does bear traces of the fall - a few scratches on the side trim - but it was up and running right away after the event. Even though riders can reach their limits, the GS is ADVENTURE UNLIMITED.