"...Leh to Manali is 500km, it took us 3 days to do this - the road is THAT bad, the bike battled everything from flash flooded rivers to desert roads to very hairy and narrow mountain roads with not much room to move when passing suicide mission trucks and coaches. Its a long way down with no barriers to protect you. They call it a road, but its really just big rocks and stones punctuated with the occasional bit of tarmac..."
Brian Coles and Anne-Sofie Hennings, UK, in the Himalayas
"...The sand is tough, tough, tough when you and your machine weigh over 400kg... did I mention that? Most of the drops are harmless and don't hurt - I don't think we got the bikes over 45km/h today - 3rd gear? maybe once or twice. Off course just when I do get a flat run, the ground leaves me - literally a cleft about 50cm across and the same down, concentration lapse and I hit it - hard. I'm thrown over and clear, but I land on my fist against my chest and I know I've hurt myself (a few days later in Novosibirsk I have it x-rayed - fractured ribs). I'm sore but more concerned about the bike... Literally not a mark, I was worried about damaging the forks, but she's fine.Also my boots have saved my legs twice today as they got caught under the panniers when I fall, panniers are suffering, bit lopsided but replaceable - legs aren't!"
Kevin Maher, Ireland, in Mongolia
"...Hame and I managed to roll gently off Bertha as we hit a bit of soft sand leaving the campsite and as we rode up to the ferry... Hame turned to me and said, "Erm, do you think this is such a good idea?" I'm usually the cautious one but with a bit of bravado I didn't really feel I said "Nah, no worries mate, she'll be right" (or something like that). And so off we went, and yes, the sand was soft. Hame managed to get half a tonne of big red machine onto the ferry while I watched. It's hard enough to walk on sand, let alone ride a heavy bike so we spent the ten minute ferry ride wondering what we were letting ourselves in for - Fraser Island is the biggest sand island in the world!"
Hamish Oag and Emma Myatt, UK, in Australia
"...The next day after filling up with petrol and water plus reserves of both we attempted the Tan Tan to Assa piste across the desert, we got 35km outside Tan Tan on the road to M'sied and a horrendous sandstorm was blowing. We were down to 40kph on the road in 3rd gear. It got so bad that I could only see 2 metres in front and there was an extremely powerful headwind. We battled on for another 15km's hoping to get through this before turning back but there was no way we could ride off road in this. There was zero visibility, so we decided to head back up the road to Guelmim ready for the next day’s piste - Ait Herbil to Tafraoute in the Anti Atlas. Ourselves and all our gear is covered in fine dust... even inside my dry bag and that is designed for canoeing!"
Andrew Newton, UK, in Moroccan Sahara
"... By the time I reached the Chinese border, there were very few people to be seen outside in the freezing temperatures. The temperature drops to minus nineteen degrees in this part of the country. I was sliding around like someone learning how to ice skate on the road - which was now packed with ice. I was moving at a ‘furious’ speed of 15 km/ph. I had to take it very slowly because not only was the wind chill too harsh to be going fast, but the back wheel was not keeping traction and if I placed my feet on the ground for balancing they would just slide along with the icy road. I had ridden nearly 8 hours in this freezing cold to get to the Chinese border. I had to stay the night there after riding through the dark on dangerous icy roads. I suffered minor frostbite on my fingers. As a result, I could hardly move my hands to pull the brake and clutch. At one point I looked at my thermometer and it read -25 degrees..."
Chris Smith, Australia, on the Karakoram Highway in Pakistan
"I saw it coming, a shear rock-face with a track climbing up it... at a 45-degree angle. That in itself was a pretty adventure, all sand and dust, but while turning onto it and opening the throttle in first gear I saw what I was really up for.... The trail was exactly one (small) car wide. The surface was bull-dust and big rocks scattered around everywhere.... and the side was, well at first only a few meters deep... but the further I drove upwards, the deeper it became (kind of logical) and halfway I did not dare to look to the side again since it was now at least a hundred meters deep. Hanging backwards on the handlebar, standing on the pegs I just 'went for it.' Avoiding the rocks was no option. Any course-correction would take me close to the edge, and I did not want to be close to the edge (I was close enough on the other side). Big rocks and small slides forced me more and more to the middle of the track... but I concentrated on the top, which was coming closer now and I prayed there would not be any down-traffic..."
Maarten Munnik, Netherlands, in Utah, USA
"Traveling the countryside, I love to spread my disease. While surrounded outside marketplaces, I select the shyest child, beckoning him near. Coaxing him closer to press his index finger on the starter button ignites his spirit as quickly as the Blue Beast fires alive. A few blips of the throttle and he is infected—a thrilled, little brown face with wide eyes ablaze now burns with motorcycle fever..."
Glen Heggstad, USA, in India
"Dragons surrounded the camp, sleeping under buildings and trees. Rangers find them in the kitchen, toilet and offices if doors are left open. We were shown our room, led by a ranger carrying a long stick, forked at one end, which you are supposed to use to pin over the neck of any attacking dragon. They are so fast and so strong I doubted my ability to be able to defend myself but soon adopted the stick carrying approach for my own peace of mind. We made sure we drank less than usual in the afternoon so we didn't have to get up in the night, and kept our room door closed, as they can climb stairs..."
Richard Parkinson and Lisa Godfery, NZ, in Indonesia
"As we entered the 180 degree corner the motor chugged slowly, straining to pull us up the steep grade. Just then a huge bus swept into the corner at impossibly high speed. The driver’s eyes widened as he saw us dead center in the road.
My brain seized. Because of the reversed foot controls on this ancient British design, I had managed to shift up into a higher gear, bring us to a near halt and drag down the engine to the edge of stalling. As the engine wheezed and made one last revolution, I realized my error and looked up.
The driver and I locked eyes. We both knew the physics.
He had five tons of fully loaded bus headed our way, complete with bags, packages and people clinging to the top. It was a tiny one lane road in the mountains. There were no shoulders. He could drive it off the cliff and kill every one of his passengers to save us, but that didn’t make much sense considering the number of people he had aboard. The math wasn’t in our favor. His eyes said, ‘Sorry, but I have no choice.’
It was going to be up to me..."
Douglas and Stephanie Hackney, USA, in Bhutan and India
"I spent two weeks riding along the Chinese border on dirt tracks through many villages that had no electricity or running water. Chickens were constantly bouncing off the side of my bike and on one occasion, I even hit a large pig! Some areas were so rugged that I often underestimated the time needed to make it to my destination, and found myself bouncing over rocky roads at night with very limited vision, run off the road by trucks that used up the entire road and kicked up a thick cloud of dust in the process. Most of the guest houses looked like horse stalls with an outhouse 25 meters away and no shower even if you were brave enough. This was usually the only option, but at one dollar a night, who would complain?"
Daniel Todd, USA/Puerto Rico, RTW, in Thailand and Laos
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