So in late July this year, while I was down riding in the Pyrenees, I realized I was more or less just blowing expensive hydrocarbons out the tailpipe. I had to make plans for being somewhere warm for winter. Plus I had visa issues. Finally, I was worn out after more than 3 years, living on the road, and was anticipating leaving the bike in Europe when cold weather arrived in the northern hemisphere.
In February I arrived in Jordan, coming up from Cape Town (arriving there in early June, 2008). Nine months of Africa wore me out. After another 5 months riding around Europe, I was mentally dead. My butt was hurting pretty good too (my saddle, to me, is definitely dead!).
Europe was hard. The only way I could afford to spend time in the Euro zone was to camp. Which I did. A lot. Living on the ground, eating too often with a cooking stove instead of enjoying the 'cuisine' of Europe. And changing countries, which meant changing languages, deciphering the menus, staring at labels in grocery stores trying to decipher contents, just plain did me in. And more significantly, I realized that after 3-1/2 years on the road in basically the southern hemisphere, my gear wasn't up to the cold and wet of the northern half.
Europe, for me, was also too expensive (dollars for Euros as well as the price of 'stuff' - never mind the price of gas). I needed new gear, and European prices were killing me.
My bike, although a reliable set of wheels, was tired. Fortunately, it withstood the abuse heaped upon it by its driver. A few days earlier, outside Aarau, Switzerland, I rolled the odometer over - got the picture of the five 9's (that's miles) before rolling over to zero. Now, I have a low mileage F650GSD. It looks like shit, but so do I. Both of us need some work.
I have to say, the bike has served me well. I've had only a single valve adjustment (Javiar, Dakar Motos, Buenos Aires). I had the timing chain tensioner replaced in Nairobi (Jungle Junction),. Basically, its been just changing fluids, filters, water pump rebuilds every 30,000 miles (Guatemala, South Africa), and an occasional rear shock rebuild. The clutch is original, as is the tranny, but she's weeping around several seals.
OK, I went through a bunch of fork seals, most of the electrics don't work, the instrument display and headlamp is zip-tied in place...!
Still though, I don't carry motor oil; I seldom have to top off between oil changes.
Now though, I'm pretty sure the timing chain needs replacing. It has a rattling sound on startup, that goes away only when the oil gets thin. The timing chain tensioner is at the limits of its adjustment, me thinks. And, despite the ridicule I get from Peter (of Peter and Kay fame), I should replace the clutch, me thinks. I won't be crossing Asia until I get things sorted out.
Anyone else gone through this condition - mental fatigue from traveling? What did you do?
What to do?
So, I ran away from my troubles, sort of, leaving the wheels in Germany, awaiting a decision on its fate: 1) Heal it (how much would you spend?); 2) Shoot it; 3) Forget it.
In early August, I decided to pause the travels - sooner, rather than later. Due to excellent connections, a week later (August 14), I was on a plane out of Frankfurt back to the US, bike safely stored with a friend in Worms.
I'm in Michigan now, staying with a brother. However, in 2 days (Saturday, September 19), I'm doing something called the Northern Forest Canoe Trail Northern Forest Canoe Trail - Home
740 miles of long-time Indian/trapper/early settler canoe routes on the east coast of the US. We've got the 13-map set!
My brother is a paddler (he's got all the gear for the two of us). A couple nice one-man canoes that connect together into a more stable catamaran type configuration for 'big water' conditions. We have to cross Lake Champlain, but the route uses a number of large inland lakes. The canoes have a foot-operated rudder, we've got 'canoe wheels' for hauling them over the numerous portages. My brother's hoping to complete the distance in 5 to 6 weeks with favorable water levels (a crap shoot really). If so, then he'll be paddling my canoe too!
Before leaving Europe, I basically threw out all my clothes. A few items, a fleece vest and a windstopper fleece jacket, had been with me from the start, but as you can imagine, had a peculiar odor to them. I felt sparing family from the smell of Africa was the least I could do. So after getting to Michigan and renewing my drivers license, I spent a few weeks acquiring new clothes...what better way to test my new cold and wet-weather riding gear than on a canoe journey in the fall in North America.
Some pretty country there; the Adirondacks (it passes through Saranace Lake/Lake Placid NY, host of 2 winter Olympics), crosses the north of Vermont, New Hampshire (passing a bit through Quebec) before cutting north through Maine where it hits the Canadian border again in the far north.
So, is this a vacation from the vacation, or what? Is this still being on the road, or did squatting with my brother for the past 5 weeks, break the streak? (but then again, I'm his canoe trip partner, so he's using me maybe more than I'm using him)
Actually, in November when I'm off the water, I'll make some decisions and head out to a sunnier climb - hopefully before the first snow. (destination t.b.d. - maybe somewhere new like SE Asia, New Zealand, or India, or back to Colombia or Argentina for somewhere familiar.
Where ever, I'll be looking for some new (to me) wheels to get around. Something appropriate for the area.
The journey continues...