"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
"I asked him, 'Well, what's up here in the north? ' He said, 'Thick jungle, red mud, hill tribes, remote villages where no one speaks French or English, the Ho Chi Minh Trail, Laos, China, mountains, and Cat Ba Island. It might be a bit risky, being out there alone and not knowing the bike, language or customs.' He hooked me with one word, risky. I slammed down the map, said 'Gimme one of those Minsks and point me west, out of town. I'm up to the challenge, I just want to know if the Minsk is?' Digby smiled at me like I was a newbie to the motorcycle adventure game, then said, 'Trust me mate, it'll do you right...'"
Greg Frazier, USA, in Vietnam
"As the wind spun my bike around, the front wheel drove slap bang into Rachel's back wheel. I crashed. She looked around to see what had happened. She crashed. We crawled across the gravel, yelling enquiries as to each other's well being, the sound of the wind rendering our voices almost inaudible. With the bikes uprighted again, we attempted to decant the contents of my fuel can into our tanks, but to no avail. The wind sprayed the petrol into our faces, on to our clothes and all over the bikes. And then once again, straight off the Pacific Ocean, a howling beast of a gust slammed Rachel's bike to the dirt. Exhausted and aching, we lifted her bike from the ground for the second time and sure enough, another vicious blast howled across the plain, this time sending Rachel herself flying to the ground. 'We've got six hundred bleeding miles of this!' we shouted at each other above the roaring in our ears, laughing with adrenalin-fuelled hysteria."
Lois Pryce, UK, in Tierra del Fuego
"Police in Argentinian Chaco, a massive flat dry expanse covering much of northern Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia, presented the most blatant attempts at corruption that I have witnessed on my journey. The first tried to issue a 'multa' (fine) because I had no fire extinguisher. The second, not an hour later, demanded money because I had no white sheet. The sheet is used to cover you up after a fatal accident and is compulsory for motorcyclists! The third Argentine policeman gave up all pretense of a fine and resorted to outright begging after he saw that I was no easy target. I should have given him something for his straightforwardness."
Simon Milward, UK, around the world, in Argentina
"...Now the road got really interesting, the hard earth sank deeper and deeper under the sand and we were ploughing our way through soft deep stuff in the ruts left by the trucks. ...For the fourth, or was it the fifth time, I ended up in the sand, my bike complaining loudly beside me. 'The truckies didn't tell us there was sand' I muttered for the hundredth time. 'We didn't ask' came the reply as Arno helped me get the bike upright."
Sian Mackenzie, UK, and Arno Backes, Germany, in Bolivia
"...My last 300 kilometers across the desert before I reach the Pakistan/Iran border. The morning starts out good but soon the wind picks up. It's blowing so hard that my jaw hurts from the pressure of my helmet. Sand stings my neck and wrist where my skin is exposed. After another stop for roadside fuel my bike again starts to act up. This time it is really bad. I stop and check the oil - the level is still good. When I start out again I only get a few meters and it dies! Here I am in the middle of the desert, temperatures close to 50°, 100 kilometers from the border and my last fuel stop, and my bike dies! Now what to do??"
Doris Maron, Canada, RTW in Pakistan
"...It seems every time I leave, I return further away. The horizon is cluttered with mountains I have climbed that no one knows the names of. Everyone always wants to know why it is I do what I do and I respond with, why don't you? I am compelled to keep moving on, each time further away. With every new land I experience, an avalanche of fresh ideas comes tumbling down around me. I can hardly think of a place that didn't grab me and demand more of my time. I can't begin to predict where this all leads, I know the dangers and pitfalls, probably better than most, yet still these distant lands and exotic cultures lure me with a smoky magic I cannot define."
Glen Heggstad, USA
"... Pierre and I want to cross 600 miles of the Sahara on our bikes. Pierre and I have ridden a total of 3 hours in sand. The idea is ludicrous, but today we go out with Lorenz to learn a thing or two. Lorenz is an amazing desert rider and Pierre and I have a newfound belief in angels. He keeps telling us 'Stand Up!! GoFast!!!' Which of course for neophytes is the last thing your good senses tell you that you should do. But eventually we give in and start getting into riding in the sand. Lorenz is a 5th gear rider and it's obvious riding 100 mph in the sand is the ideal of fun to him. I am at my all time high speed of around 40 mph when I hit deep sand, my wheel twists and I fly over my handle-bars and smash my brains 10 feet from my bike..."
Merritt Grooms, USA and Pierre Saslawsky, France, in Algeria
"... And into the Friday night Bangkok rush-hour. We felt like a fat bloke going pot-holing (caving). As we entered Bangkok the roads got narrower, the traffic heavier and the traffic lights more numerous. Three lanes became two and the gaps we were squeezing the (fully laden) bike through got narrower. Then we'd get stuck - too wide to weedle through the gaps, stuck down a cave until we could lose some weight. Then eventually the lights would change and the cars that surrounded us would unjam and we'd roar and weedle through to the next choke point, where we'd get stuck again. The local bikes by contrast were small, light and narrow, many with their handlebars turned in and few with mirrors. We were a fat badger down a termite nest, awaiting extinction..."
Simon McCarthy and Georgie Simmonds, UK, in Thailand