The Achievable Dream 5-part series - the definitive guide on DVD for planning your motorcycle adventure. Get Ready! covers planning, paperwork, medical and many other topics! "Inspirational and Awesome!" See the trailer here!
Gear Up! is a 2-DVD set, 6 hours! Which bike is right for me? How do I prepare the bike? What stuff do I need - riding gear, clothing, camping gear, first aid kit, tires, maps and GPS? What don't I need? How do I pack it all in? Lots of opinions from over 150 travellers! "This DVD will save you a fortune!"See the trailer here!
So you've done it - got inspired, planned your trip, packed your stuff and you're on the road! This section is about staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure. And crossing borders, war zones or oceans!
On the Road! is 5.5 hours of the tips and advice you need to cross borders, break down language barriers, overcome culture shock, ship the bike and deal with breakdowns and emergencies."Just makes me want to pack up and go!" See the trailer here!
Tire Changing!Grant demystifies the black art of Tire Changing and Repair to help you STAY on the road! "Very informative and practical." See the trailer here!
Ladies on the Loose! For the first time ever, a motorcycle travel DVD made for women, by women! These intrepid women share their tips to help you plan your own motorcycle adventure. They also answer the women-only questions, and entertain you with amazing tales from the road! Presented by Lois Pryce, veteran solo traveller through South America and Africa and author of 'Lois on the Loose', and 'Red Tape and White Knuckles.'
"It has me all fired up to go out on my own adventure!" See the trailer here!
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Horizons Unlimited presents!
Achievable Dream The definitive guide to planning your motorcycle adventure! This insanely ambitious 2-year project has produced an informative and entertaining 5-part, 18 hour DVD series. "The ultimate round the world rider's how-to DVD!" MCN UK.
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Ride TalesAn easy way to post your ride reports, whether it's a weekend ride or around the world.
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When you travel solo you inevitably meet others along the way but I didn't expect to have two companions right from the start. Ziegfreida - from this point known as Ziggy - is my BMW R1200 GS Adventure, so named to remember the registration number beginning ZF.
I bought the 2006 model Ziggy in July and left her for three months in the hands of BMW whiz Tor (and Donna) at Yandina on the Sunshine Coast. Tor worked his magic on Ziggy and had the machine purring, fitted with new panniers, a rebuilt front wheel that had a 1cm wobble, a rebuilt headlight housing that had been modified and broken and a range of other things from my list of demands. Completed, I collected Ziggy with a set of knobby tyres to complete a BMW GS off-road course on the Sunshine Coast. More about that later.
So who is my second companion? Well with the frenzy around the release of iPhone 5, I bought a new iPhone 4S. Why? With limited time and high demand on the 5 I was unable to get one in the time I had before I left on the trip. The 4s was readily available and had almost the same features, so it became my first smart phone, finally graduating from an old Nokia 'dumb' phone.
For the uninitiated (that included me until a few days ago) the 's' in 4s stands for Siri, the sweet sounding electronic assistant on the iPhone. My first experience with Siri was to hear a conversation between my niece Mel and her iPhone. I thought Mel was confiding in an old school friend until I realised she had a well formed relationship with Siri and had reached the point of asking Siri whether she was seeing anyone and what she was doing when not speaking to Mel. Siri had a well planned out answer, replying "You are the only one for me, Mel".
Whilst my relationship with Siri has yet to reach such personal levels, she will play my favourite Led Zeppelin track on demand and make notes for me about the subject of my latest photograph. Likewise my relationship with Ziggy is still in early days but after our first day touring together I think we will be a trio to reckon with!
I digress. This is a travel log. So my first day of this 24 day journey has started with 300kms from north of Brisbane along the D'aguilar Highway to Esk, around the Somerset Dam, through Toowoomba and Warwick, to spend my first night in Stanthorpe near the NSW border. Not exactly an epic journey for day one but served as a good introduction to the trip and shake out any packing or bike bugs. The packing worked well with no adjustments required and the bike ran like a dream, as expected. It did get very warm during the day - around 33 degrees - so I strapped my bike jacket to the back and just rode in my mesh armour jacket - thinking I wouldn't need to do that until I reached Western Australia - but it worked a treat and the rest of the ride was very comfortable.
Just to update the history of this trip, I have been working remotely overseas for the last 18mths and in my last break I bought Ziggy. Having only intermittent Internet access, when I could I would read all of the threads about motorcycle travel and get inspired by photos and stories so it only seemed fitting I should return the favour. I have also been inspired by the Horizons Unlimited DVDs and between these two resources have researched tons of gear and have settled on the list attached.
It is difficult from a remote place to set up a bike and get the gear to carry because it was only in the last ten days I have been able to put it all together and see if everything fitted, was balanced and did not weigh too much. As per normal when one is new at this type of thing, I think I have too much gear and too much weight. But I will start at this point and cull anything I don't use in this trip, in preparation for future trips. So I had ten days to unpack all the gear I had bought and had sent to Brisbane, pick up the bike, do a two day off-road course with BMW, test ride a new 1200GS and F800GS, organise my ten boxes that represent my life off the bike and catch up with family.
The course was run at Green Park near Maleny on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland by Stay Upright with BMW staff, specifically for the BMW GS dual purpose bikes. The instruction consisted of basic skills on dirt and rough paddocks interspersed with cows. Techniques included front and rear braking, getting used to rear wheel slip, brake and clutch control, proper positioning and weight distribution for off-road riding, figure eights on the flats and slopes, hill climbs and descents, and a creek crossing. This was interspersed with increasingly challenging rides throughout the park that ultimately included steep gullies - entering and exiting, manoeuvring on grassy slopes at slow speed. For the dirt bike riders amongst you it may all seem a bit elementary but for me and the other fifteen participants it was a great couple of days that challenged all of us and showed just how capable these large bikes can be off-road. Thanks Wayne and Steve.
All these packed up things look very interesting.
Maybe you can let us all know,whats inside. Worthwhile taking it along,what is great and what's a nuisance aso.
Thanks for the question MR. In the black 89L Ortlieb bag is my tent, poles and footprint, hammock, Sleeping bag, air mattress, bike cover and tripod.
I used everything in the bag. I was travelling from temperate south to the tropics so was testing tent/hammock to see what worked best where.
Hammock is no good with no trees and is cold on a cool night with a wind. However it is comfort plus in warmer weather - love it! It also comes with 360 degree netting and a huge parachute material tarp. Whole set up weighs 1.6kgs.
The tent is a three-person with mesh inner and large vestibule. Bit of a luxury for a solo traveller but is light (2.9kg) and roomy. When the sun comes up in the tropics it becomes an oven quickly. Outer shell can be detached from inner mesh.
Helinox chair is light, quick to assemble, compact and comfortable. I'm 183cm (6' ) and 90kg
Overall hammock and tent setup is overkill so working on a configuration that I can travel the world with.
I left Stanthorpe by about 9am but not after a bit of drama. I had the Ziggy parked outside the cabin I was staying in, loaded her all up and had her idling while still on the centre stand. I rolled her forward off the stand and she started to overbalance away from me and fell on the right side and wedged against a wooden bench. Try as I might I couldn't lift the 300kg bike and had to eat humble pie as a couple of maintenance guys came to assist. Ziggy now has some green paint on the tank surround but at the time I didn't think to take a photo.
Travelled to Tamworth and caught up with my brother and his daughter and stayed the night there. It was good to catch up and we talked about family, kids, houses, money - the usual family subjects. Got all packed up in the morning and left by about 9.30.
Day three was another beautiful day weather wise. All this time I had been riding just in my mesh armour as it was over 30C and too hot for the full jacket. I have removed the armour from the BMW jacket and it is much lighter, and I wear it over the mesh armour. It seemed the best way to have protection but deal with changes between hot and cold. I also left the waterproof liner in Brisbane and have a wet weather over-jacket. I'd read that the jackets (Rallye 3) are not waterproof and if wet take ages to dry. Once again trying to get the combination that will work for different conditions while carrying minimum weight and bulk.
I finished the day's riding just outside of Forbes, NSW and turned off into a dirt road to the Goobang National Park. It was about 22kms of good gravel road including 6km of more of a track, leading to the free campsite. I set up all the camping gear for the first time. The hammock I had used before on Christmas Island but the tent I had never erected so it took a bit of time to sort it out. Once all up though it was really quite simple and I will get faster at it each time.
Unfortunately I had very little water with me and the creek next to the campsite was dry except for a few small puddles, and there was no water supply at the site. I had to be careful to save enough in case I dropped the big bike on the dirt road and had to wait for assistance. Fortunately that was not needed and I had a lovely night in the bush with some kangaroo visitors and plenty of bird calls to punctuate the night air.
It did get quite cool during the night and I discovered that the hammock is not so good when a cold wind rises and my sleeping bag didn't keep me warm although rated for 5C. As a result I retired to the tent at about 3am and it was cosy and windproof. Getting the use of the gear during the first time! That's a good sign that I've made the right gear selection choices.
Day 4 was a long day, riding for around 600kms to Shepparton in Victoria. There were some long desolate and hot stretches along the way through West Wyalong and down to the Victorian border at Tocumwal. I met up with another rider on a 650 v-strom Suzuki who was packed to the hilt. He explained that he was from Melbourne and had ridden to Townsville to see a friend for a day and was on his way back home. His gear was packed very high and he had Andy Strapz soft panniers, the whole setup weighing 280kgs! I was amazed because Ziggy weighs around 300kgs and is a much bigger 1200cc bike. When I was packing it was important to me to keep it simple with panniers and one bag, which I have been successful in doing. The thing I wanted to avoid was having a high load behind me and raising the centre of gravity. Doug seemed quite content with his setup and bike so I guess it was working for him.
Finally on arrival to Shepparton I was feeling pretty exhausted and booked into a motel and had a long shower. I unloaded Ziggy and took her to a carwash to get her all spruced up for the visit to the big smoke in Melbourne.
Just to touch on more of my gear and packing, I carry two packing cubes - one with my clothes (lightweight trousers x 1, lightweight shorts x 1, sports shorts x 1, board shorts x 1, Short sleeve and long sleeve lightweight shirts, two t-shirts, 3 pair of socks, 3 undies and a slim thermal jumper/sweater); the other with wet weather pants, jacket and over-boots, also an evaporative cooling vest.
These pack into the left hand pannier above the toolkit/puncture repair kit, compressor and first aid kit
Day 5 I woke refreshed after sleeping well in the comfy motel bed. At $105 for the night that would be my total budget for two days in Central and South America. Australia is expensive! Then again camping is easy and safe, and with ample national parks it's simple to camp for a few days then motel it to have a bit of luxury and spread the cost.
I rode the two hours to Melbourne where I stayed with friends for the weekend. This is me arriving
By chance the Melbourne Motorcycle Expo was on at the Exhibition Centre. We went for a few hours on the Sunday and I replaced my boots with some Forma boots from the Andy Strapz stand. My old boots I bought a couple of years ago and they were the cheapest I could find to get me riding, and they were on-road only boots. They were ok but I had been looking at the Forma boots for a while.
I bought some motocross boots earlier in the year when I was riding a Yamaha WR450 through jungle tracks on a remote island in the Indian Ocean - my previous home for almost 18mths.
For that purpose they were excellent, but for dual purpose touring, i found them very difficult to walk in off the bike. The Forma's are a hiking boot at the bottom with supportive motocross-style clips up the leg, and I have found them very comfortable on and off the bike. I love to visit National Parks and do some hiking to remote places, so the boots are in their trial period. So far so good.
Of course I looked at bikes at the expo. I love Ziggy but I'm always keen to see what other brands are bringing out. KTM have a new 1090 (or similar) with much of the covers and fairings removed, making the engine more visible and accessible than the 990 Adventurer. Moto Guzzi had their new Stelvio 1200, Yamaha and Suzuki had their Tenere and V-strom, and Ducati the Multi-strada.
Gotta love the new HP4
But riding a BMW I spent some time on their stand and was fortunate to meet Simon Thomas from 2ridetheworld.com, who was there with his wife Lisa talking about their 10 year journey travelling around the world on a couple of BMWs. I managed to snatch about 10 minutes of Simon's time to talk about bike choice, things that work and don't work on a long trip, and travelling the world in general. I found Simon a very relaxed and engaging guy and on bike choice he offered this advice,
"Do you get on your bike every morning and just love to ride it? Then this is the right bike for you to take around the world."
He went on to say that he had met people in his travels who had sold their old 'trusty' wheels that they loved, to buy a bike they thought would be 'right' to travel long distance on. Many returned home because they hated riding this 'right' bike everyday.
At this stage it would be good to have photos of some of these bikes and of course me talking with Simon and Lisa, but I haven't!
Note to Self: Take more photos at opportune moments!
I also talked tyres with a guy on the Compass Expeditions stand who just led a tour on an 1150GS from London to Magadan along the Road of Bones. He used Heidenau K60s and did 17,000kms over all terrains. I might look at those when changing tyres later in this trip.
After a few hours immersed in everything motorcycle, I went back to my friend's place to prepare for my next day of riding.
This is me leaving (arriving and leaving photos compliments of Ramona Lever Photography)
It's always great to spend time with my dear friend Ramona and her beautiful family. They have adopted me as one of their own. If you are in Melbourne and looking for beautiful photos for women and couples, look up Ramona at Ramona Lever Photography.
After the expo I packed the bike, said my farewells to my lovely friends and headed off for South Australia - via Mount Gam in the South East. I learnt some very good lessons today!
Note to self: Always carry cash when travelling.
I had a couple of opportunities to get money from an ATM in Melbourne but passed them up. I also had an opportunity to fill my bike with petrol but figured there's always more up the road. Not this day!!
I rode west past the Cat's (AFL) heartland, Geelong, and along the Hamilton Highway towards Hamilton. In my wallet I had no cash, about $3 in coins and of course my credit cards. After some time I notice the fuel getting low so I pulled into a petrol station in a small town but it was closed. At this stage I realised the reality of driving through a regional area on a Sunday afternoon, where you could expect most things to be shut. It was around 4.30pm and I decided to push on and try my luck. My computer told me I had about 60kms left in the tank and it was still almost 100kms to Hamilton, a larger town where they would have 24 hour fuel.
I pushed on to the next town about 30kms away and they had an open petrol station, but it was here I discovered that a Telstra sub-station had had a fire last Thursday and that EFTPOS was down throughout a large part of the mid-west of Victoria…right where I now found myself. Having no cash and a now useless credit card, I decided to take my chances at the next town and if everything was still down I would just find some accommodation and stay the night.
At the next little town, the pub was open and the publican informed me that they had no petrol bowser in the town and no accommodation, and that I had no choice but to continue on to the next town. My computer was telling me at this stage I had 20kms left in the tank and the kind publican told me that the next town was 20 miles (30kms) away and with a chuckle said, "good luck mate".
I had little choice so continued through some beautiful rolling hills of sheep and cattle country at a gentle 80km/h to conserve fuel. It became a battle between my GPS and my fuel readout. They both came together at 10kms to go and counted down as I approached the little town. Apparently there was a petrol bowser there that had 24 hour access through pre-paid credit card and 'hopefully' is was not affected by the Telstra breakdown.
As my GPS read 2kms to go my computer read 3kms, so I was winning, but I had still not reached the centre of town by the time the GPS said zero. I pulled up next to the bowser with one kilometre of remaining fuel on the computer! I put my card into the machine and waited for a minute until it told me that it could not connect with the bank.
EFTPOS was down!!!
This was a slightly larger town and across the road was an open pub. The kind publican had a fuel card that operated without EFTPOS. Although I had no cash I was able to give credit card details and ID so purchased $20 of fuel that got me to Hamilton. I pulled into a van park, purchased a room with my card and all I needed was a good feed. Fortunately there was a fish and chip shop across the road so I ordered chips, a veggie burger and a couple of drinks. They cooked it all up, handed me the food, then told me, "Sorry cash only. We don't accept cards."
I left the van park in Hamilton and headed across the border to South Australia and visit an old friend in Penola. Timmy and I go back over ten years when we studied together at university.
In early 2007 I visited Timmy and a group of us went trail riding, with me on a Suzuki DR250. We had a great time and I managed to snap off the clutch lever which we replaced with a pushbike lever that was a lot shorter than the original, making the clutch hard work. It wasn't always the easiest ride!
This was my first ride for 26 years and sparked the interest and passion for bikes I had as a teenager. Now I'm planning a round the world trip. Thanks Timmy!
I left Penola and rode to suburban Adelaide and spent the next five days with my son, daughter in law and two grandsons aged 2 and 4. Only a month earlier their great grandmother (my mum - aged 74) had visited them, driving her camper van essentially along the same route I rode to get here. Apparently travel is hereditary.
GMA on the plate stands for Grandma
Ann Geddes eat your heart out!!
Note to self: remember to take kids out of boxes before riding off...
Fantastic! I hope to be following in your footsteps sooner rather than later.
Great luggage setup by the way
The ability to cook a decent feed while camping could save alot of money.
Can I ask whats in your kitchen Paul?
I have to admit to being tardy finishing this ride post!
I took my old Trangia which used to be the lightweight cookset of the 1980's but at 2kgs I found it a bit too heavy, so I'm in the process of lightening up the kitchen! I carried a collapsible plate and cup, collapsible 10L bucket, titanium cutlery, tongs, wooden spoon; two pots and frypan come with the Trangia, a 600mL fuel bottle, all in a waterproof bag.
I carried a couple of days food at a time in a 'fridge bag' (cheap from supermarkets) strapped behind the Ortlieb bag.
Once I finish writing up this trip I'll discuss my gear further.
After six days with my son and his gorgeous young boys (4 and 2 years old) I headed off. I'm never going to be the typical grandfather (Pa). I try to get to Adelaide two to three times a year and have done so for the last four years since the first was born. It's great watching the kids grow up and they are both old enough now to know who I am and can follow my travels. I love spending time with them, but after living in Adelaide for 20 years I left in 2007. It's just not the place for me.
I left early morning to the waves of the kids. It is always hard to leave them but I now have 11 days to travel 5000+ kilometres to northern Western Australia via the Nullarbor Plain and Perth. I travelled up to Port Augusta and turned left and travelled along the Eyre Highway to Ceduna. It was a big day on the bike (750kms) but I was keen to get some serious mileage behind me. I have to average 500kms a day to get to Derby WA on time for work, so if I can do a few bigger days it will give me the chance to have a day off and see some of the 'must sees' in Western Australia. It will be my first trip to that state.
I stopped in a caravan park on the Ceduna foreshore and set up the tent before laying a tired body to rest. It's great to be able to use the camping gear I've been researching and buying online, and so far it is all performing well.
Unfortunately my photo taking was again lacking!
Ceduna is the take-off point for the Nullarbor or a welcome resting spot after coming across the other way from Perth.
I headed off early the next morning and filled up with fuel, knowing that it would be several hundred kilometres before the prices would be somewhere near reasonable again. I use premium (95 or 98 Octane) for Ziggy and it has been in the vicinity of $1.60 a litre, but when available on the Nullarbor it is likely to be well over $2 a litre.
I pushed out a 650km day which took me across the nullarbor and over the Western Australia border. There is a time difference when you cross the border so after about seven hours of travelling it was still only around midday Perth time, so I pushed on for a bit longer but found I was needing breaks more often.
About 150kms into Western Australia I found a free rest/camping area so decided to pull up early and set up camp for the night. It is very dry and the dirt is dusty and sticks to everything. My riding pants are already looking the part after the dirt camping area in Ceduna - despite being in a van park - and now this fine dust is covering everything. All part of the journey, camping in Australia.
I cooked my first meal of the trip in the trusty old Trangia that I've had for about 15 years and got to use some of the other camping gear I've brought. Besides tools, anything I don't use in this four week trip I'll cull out and not take with me around the world.
I feel like I'm travelling with too much gear, too much weight - about 35kgs all up (I since have done an accurate weigh and it is closer to 55kgs!!)
- but some of it, particularly some electrical gear, is for when I live and work in Derby so had to bring it with me. It hasn't added much (so I thought) and I guess I'm trying to cover all climates with the gear I have. Having a spacious tent is a nice luxury and in fact that is what I consider my luxury item - as discussed in the Horizons Unlimited DVDs.
I've learnt a lot from those DVDs and I guess if you are carrying camping and cooking gear, it is always going to be heavier and greater volume than without. Certainly travelling in Australia I would always carry camping gear. An unpowered dirt-based site cost me $25 for the night in Ceduna and motels or cabins all cost upwards of $100 a night. This can be an expensive country to travel in.
It appears though that in Western Australia there is a large number of free camping areas such as the one I am writing this from, and is well used by the 'Grey Nomad' set in their camper vans and caravans. There are also lots of rental vans with travellers from Europe and Asia most places you stop.
I've covered over 4000kms on Ziggy since I left Brisbane and she is purring along beautifully. The bike could not be more comfortable. I love the upright seating position and being a heavy bike with ample power makes the travelling easy. There have been some strong cross winds, and many trucks, and Ziggy just holds her line, has a bit of a wobble here and there from a side gust, but basically is well suited to this type of riding.
So now the sun has gone down on what has been a relatively cool couple of days across the Nullarbor with temps in the low 20s (Celsius) as opposed to the often high 30s or more for this time of year.
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