Just ask the man himself. I never would have thought in my wildest dreams that we would ever get Rutger Hauer. But I kind of put it out there as the ultimate dream. The kind of actor wand the type of performance we were looking for. As it turned out, Hauer was a coup. Not just because he drove a truckload of charisma everywhere he went, but because he also turned out to be an incredibly collaborative and creative co-worker. He just jumped into the team. He was more than an actor on the movie, I feel like he was one of the filmmakers.
He gave us so much advice and kind us took us under his wing. He helped us pull a lot of things off in the film.
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With the feature version of Hobo With A Shotgun being his first shot at a full-length movie, Eisener was understandably nervous. We rewrote it right there when we were on set and it turned out being one of my favourite scenes in the film. If you make a movie about a hobo with a shotgun, you better expect some blood. If you make a Grindhouse movie about a hobo with a shotgun, well, all bets are off. Every time I showed up on set he would be there covered in blood with 16 to 20 buckets of blood waiting on standby.
And I like it there; I live there. After all we were into our fourth consecutive day of riding and no one was ride fit yet.
But we all hit the road in good spirits, despite not managing to find any camping gas in Koknese either. As we got outside, the first drops of rain on the trip landed, and the guys decided to suit up into rain gear. To the great amusement of the rest of the team, Per donned a red and yellow waterproof onesie with racing checkers on it.
After three hours of sporadic rain, the weather changed right on the border between Latvia and Lithuania. The border was essentially a glorified ditch with a bridge over it and sign marking the change in states on a field. Just as Estonia is different from Latvia, so is Lithuania. Judging by the roads, Lithuania seemed wealthier, but the villages had a distinctively Soviet feel.
They reminded me a lot of Russia.
The Holy Grail of Drum Breaks
Buying provisions for the night, I noted that even stores were a spitting image of their Russian counterparts; dimly lit rooms with a U shaped counter and a grumpy old lady behind it, standing guard over the beer and vodka. The Swedes found it rather exotic, especially since there was a crew of locals drinking outside the store. Our camp for the night was tucked behind a derelict barn, on a field basking in the evening sun.
It was a nice spot, hidden from prying eyes and a light breeze kept the insects at bay while drying our gear. The sky was mostly clear and after setting up camp, we just relaxed in the warm evening sun, chatting away while the Swedes finished the rest of their wine box and vodka. It was a great finish to a fantastic day, despite the odd tension and a couple hours of rain.
Crawling out of the tent with the first sunshine on your face, and taking in the fresh air of a new glorious day on the trails.
I was anxious to get moving and was happy the Swedes were in good form, so we broke camp and rode out fairly early. The trails were pretty good, and we made good progress in great weather. Our journey south continued on trails without incident, until we hit a short wet section churned out by forestry machinery. It was nothing exceptional, and easy riding on the , but the Swedes were having a hard time on it for some reason. I was expecting Johan to be suffering with his slick tyres, but to my surprise it was Perra who was pissed off about the section for some reason.
As he was getting increasingly cranky, I wondered what the problem was, and opted to try the lunch diversion again.
Unfortunately, it soon took a turn for the worse, as Perra was suddenly getting worried about his front sprocket. To me it looked worn, but nowhere near overly so, and I figured he was making an issue out of nothing. It seemed to have spiralled out of control, and adding insult to injury was the fact that we were wasting perfect weather.
The morning had been very nice riding, but our detour had cut off a section of there Crimson Trail I would have liked to ride. Especially since there was a surface launch site on the trail. However, I was doubtful that the Swedes would agree to roll back to the track from Kaunas to hit the trails. I was getting the feeling they might be finding my style of travel rather spartan and void of creature comforts.
So I asked whether they would like to take half a day off in Kaunas. I figured a shower, a hot meal and a night out might improve the mood. They bit on the plan and and we checked into the very nice Hotel Kaunas, which also had safe parking for the bikes.
See a Problem?
I wanted a single room for myself and a twin for the Swedes. Unfortunately the hotel was fairly full and all they could offer was a triple room. As usual, the room soon looked more like a man cave than a hotel room, with nasty smelly gear strewn around. I was working on sorting and backing up my photos while the Swedes took showers and left out to town.
It was a Friday night so I expected it to get messy. While having the room to myself, I managed to get hold of my much better half on Skype. She was mountain biking in Scotland with our friends, and having a great time. Apparently the trails in Torridon and Skye were fairly technical here and there, which made the riding challenging. The Swedes staggered back to the hotel at around midnight. They were pretty loaded, and it was nice to see both of them in a good mood.
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They broke out a bluetooth speaker for some tunes and proceeded to empty the minibar. Unfortunately it was particularly well stocked and they were on a mission to drink all of it. It was amusing to watch the spirits, champagne, wine and beer receiving a slurred individual review as they were consumed. However, it was starting to seem probable that some of the consumed goods might re-emergence, so I suggested we should call it a night, or at least turn off the music.
I put on my earplugs and finally fell asleep at around four in the morning, with a huge grin on my face. Sleep deprivation was usually the biggest contributor to feeling hungover. Or so I gathered, waking up at feeling hungover, after four hours of sleep and not drinking during the previous night. I wondered if a contributing factor could have been sharing the breathing air of two royally smashed mammals. Either way, I knew the Swedes were in for a very bad day, and I opened a window before heading down to breakfast.
They hobbled out to breakfast in the same manner they had made their entrance the previous night, but without the happy grins. After breakfast, to my amazement, Perra pulled a breathalyser from his luggage, and the Swedes took turns in checking out the damage. First of all, if you need to carry one, you have to admit you have a bit of a drinking problem.
Secondly, if you have a blood alcohol of 0. Either way, they confirmed my presumption of not being fit to ride in a while. Especially after cutting the trail during the previous days, I had no patience for waiting around for the Swedes to clear their heads. They happily agreed, and I hastily collected my gear, and went to pack up the bike. They would need to take an early start though to catch up, so if they decided to have another night out, I would not see them for the remainder of the ride. They were good company, and I certainly hoped to ride with them a couple more days.
But even if they caught up, our paths would undoubtedly part on the Ukrainian border, as their heavy bikes had no business on the trails I was headed for.