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  #1  
Old 5 Mar 2009
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Riding, technology and adventure

I have been reading this forum for about 6months now, im an Australian currently on a 3year journey around the world. Im in Malaysia at the moment living with some friends

I plan to ride from KL to Hamburg on a Honda XR400.

I do not intend to say what im about to say to stir anger but rather as a helpful hint from a well travelled person.

I get the feeling that allot of people are obsessed with getting every peice of their kit perfectly right and having all the latest GPS systems, cameras... even right down to making a huge fuss over sleeping bags and eating utensils... you name it... If one is putting so much time into this they are also most likely thinking, fantasising, idealising and creating expectations about their adventure.

if you prepare to such a degree you create expectations in your mind and have idealised fantasy's. Playing out in your mind how its going to be in a unrealistic manner.

I say dont concentrate on these things so much. If things dont go as planned to those expectations it creates fear, frustration, anger and disappointment if one does not have expectations they dont expect anything and are able to adapt and live in the moment rather then in the future through their expectations.

Do you really need a GPS system? or is it more interesting to just ask locals? get lost and have fun doing so? it puts you more in the real world and having to deal with it is the true sense of adventure. Asking familys if you can stay at their house often leads to some unforgettable experiances. not taking so much luggage to prepare for every tiny little misshap and making yourself seem like your carrying your house.

anywy im sure i will get allot of strong replys to this as teh first thing people usually do is feel attacked and defensive when someone points something out. I dont do it to do this or to seem like i know everything. Its just something i have learnt through allot of travel and other life experiences. this thinking can be applied to anything: friends, relationships.. anything. Expectations always create disappointment and an inability to adapt and enjoy the potential fun of the way things "never go as planned".. dont try tt plan life to much just enjoy the twists and turns.
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  #2  
Old 5 Mar 2009
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sorry was posted in wrong area
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  #3  
Old 6 Mar 2009
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Great post Andrew!



We're all working on it in different ways ....

Last edited by mollydog; 25 Mar 2009 at 07:31.
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  #4  
Old 6 Mar 2009
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You hit the nail on the head Andrew. No matter where you are there is always someone to help out if things go wrong so you don't need to plan for every problem. The pioneers of world travel just set out and did it. They accepted that when something came along they would deal with it in the best way they knew how and move on.

In respects to over preparation I was very lucky. When I finally decided to leave it was spontaneous. I had of course had the same fantasies of everyone who dreams about trips like this but I hadn't put anything down on paper or made real plans. When the time came to leave I quit my job and was on the road a month later. I prepared as best I could in that time but basically knew that only the absolute worst situation would stop me. (I had a bit of a recurring nightmare about being stuck in the Amazon with a broken bike)

Since leaving I know I will be able to deal with anything even if I am not prepared for it because I have already dealt with things that were far beyond my comfort zone. Oh and of all the problems I did prepare for the only ones needed were travel insurance (had the shits) and spare inner tubes!

I've actually received a lot of criticism for this style of travel from other bikers on RTW. They seem to think that my lack of preparation means I am not dedicated to the ride or something like that and that I have to rely on other people to be able to make it around.

Truth is that s the only preperation you need to make. Be prepared to have to deal with all kinds of people to get anywhere. You will have to put blind faith in people you don't know and that is a very difficult thing to do, especially when you don't understand what they are saying.

Ride safe,
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  #5  
Old 6 Mar 2009
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I think Andrew is basically right, but would split technology from preparation. Once you've got the miles in, it's easy to forget just how different some perfectly normal activities seem to people who havn't done it. I'm guessing everyone here can fix a puncture? Don't forget, at any UK biker type cafe, you'll find dozens who've never so much as adjusted their own chain. Drop them up woodland trail in Finland or the Baja and without preparation they are well and truely stuffed. I'll help anyone, but it does get a tad annoying when they havn't brought along their own tubes, spanners, levers etc. and simply expect you to impersonate the AA. I've never left anyone stuck, but I'm afraid I'm not beyond making my feelings known to people who aren't showing any signs of wanting to learn. Asking questions is learning, so I think posts here about any gadgets are a good thing if only to point out good levers and a bottle of soap are a better friend than any £40 bit of ally that looks like a medieval Japanese weapon.

The modern solution for a lack of skill and time to learn seems to be technology though. It is far easier and quicker to post a "is the TouraMW tyre removing widgit better than the yellow gloop" on here than go learn how to do it yourself with levers. People get a nice feeling from the certainly that the gadget will bypass lack of skill. As you say, we are often disapointed.

I've really nothing against GPS or any technology that works and the person can use. GPS works and is quick and easy. I can read a map, navigate using a sun compass, magnetic compass and might even manage a bit of celestial navigation at a push, but am truely awful at languages. I find GPS a useful tool in the same way I have a set of tyre lever I'm comfortable with. I know people who are really good at languages and can't work a microwave oven or fill in their own cheque stubbs. In their case, asking directions could well be the way to go.

Preparation: yes, make sure you know the basics and don't try to skip directly from a London-Brighton to a London-Cape Town.
Technology: use what works for you and know what you've got. Don't get hung up on bits of laser cut aluminium.

Andy
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  #6  
Old 6 Mar 2009
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I think, certainly as far as the forums go, that there is an element of people preparing instead of going (and I include myself in that). I've been scouring the HUBB for months reading up on kit and 'the best bike' etc. while dreaming of getting out and setting off on my own adventure.

As new shiny bits of kit come out I would read up on them and maybe even purchase some of them, all without realising that all this so called preperation was in reality just a way of keeping my dreams of travel alive without actually having to take the plunge and travel. It's only lately that I have started to realise that all I really need to do if I want to travel is stop waisting money on accesories or finding the perfect bike, start saving along with paying off my debts and in a few years just get up and go.

Would metal mules panniers be better than my existing ones? Possibly, but my existing ones (Givi) will actually still work. Would a new Tenere be a better choice than my existing bike (Trans Alp), well as far as fuel economy and tank range goes maybe, but the Trans Alp is still a bloody good bike, and if the likes of Birdy can ride through Africa on a C90 I am damned sure I could do it on my Alp.

I am sure there are people that are travelling who are obsessed with having all the latest kit, but I would bet that as far as internet forums go, the majority of people that get obsessed with the latest kit are not actually travelling but are instead, like me, dreaming of travelling.
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  #7  
Old 6 Mar 2009
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People do have different preferences.

For me it’s not an adventure when my cooker fails in the middle of nowhere because I bought a badly designed model. I would rather spend time exploring the area or talk to the locals then messing with my equipment.
Nor is it an adventure when your pump fails when you are alone in the Sudanese desert.

On a long trip you will always need to maintenance your gear. When I select gear I focus on gear that doesn’t need much maintenance. When I travel I want to use as little time as possible on fixing my stuff. After a while you see what’s working and what’s not.
I have used plenty of tire-irons through the years but I have found one type that works great and it’s only 20 cm long, why don’t use it? It’s cheap….
The brand of the equipment is not a big factor (for me), and there is a lot of expensive equipment that don’t fit my needs, there is also a lot of equipment you don’t need at all.
It also depends on where you are going, there is a big difference in what you need in most of Asia compared to a remote jungle or desert.

Getting lost might be an adventure. I have traveled a lot with map and compass but now I use them together with my GPS (which is 5 years old).
Traveling with a GPS makes the navigation easier but most important of all is that you are less likely to get lost so you can have smaller margins and go places which used to be out of limits – that’s important to me.
Asking locals for directions in the third world is pretty optimistic. Most people don’t travel much.

I’m not saying you can’t go with crap gear and still have a good time, I have done it many times myself. It can be nice and relaxed, as long as things are going your way.
If your route goes through a civilized city almost every day you probably don’t need the equipment anyway.
Personally I’ve found that I like to focus on the nature, the locals and my driving – not my gear!


But for me the most important part of the preparation is to get knowledge about the countries I plan to visit. There is no need in overplaning or making a strict route but the knowledge makes it easier to make decisions. Mark interesting places on the map and see what you feel for later. (Continue to add points when traveling).
I’ve met a lot of people who have traveled long distances on the main roads without seeing anything. That’s fine by me but it’s not my way.

Some people choose the highway, some prefer to be unsupported on the backroads and remote places there is nothing wrong about it– just different.
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  #8  
Old 6 Mar 2009
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Going Retro?

I know a couple of guys who've "gone retro". Graham Carrick from the Thumper Club did the Dragon with no technology later than 1965. There are various people who've done big trips on Indians, Enfields and the like. I've been playing with a sun compass, old cameras and alternative winter riding gear based on pre-synthetic ideas.

This to me depends why you are doing it. For Graham and myself, we basically got fed up of old boys telling us it was harder in the old days and we didn't have the skill/bottle to do it. On the first point they are right BTW, on the second, well I think you work with what you have and get better with practice. There are some old skills/methods that are better (lots to be re-learned about waterproof collar designs), but honestly, they call it progress for a reason.

If you are "going retro" so you can do the Monty Python Three Yorkshiremen routine down the pub, I think there'll be times when you'll miss GPS, Goretex and so on to the point where you'll wonder why you are doing it. It's one thing to say " I was only 10 miles out using a star fix" and another to run out of petrol 10 miles short of /past the fuel stop! Either way it's an adventure of course.

Andy
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  #9  
Old 6 Mar 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Threewheelbonnie View Post
I know a couple of guys who've "gone retro". Graham Carrick from the Thumper Club did the Dragon with no technology later than 1965. There are various people who've done big trips on Indians, Enfields and the like. I've been playing with a sun compass, old cameras and alternative winter riding gear based on pre-synthetic ideas.
For me it sounds that the guys that go retro is more focused on technology (or lack off) then most others.
Tomorrow I will hopefully talk to some guys that will go RTW on 70 years old bikes (Nimbus). It’s not my kind of trip (in many ways) but I do find it fascinating.

More here: KCCD - Kong Krøsus - King Croesus
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  #10  
Old 6 Mar 2009
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Quote:
Asking familys if you can stay at their house often leads to some unforgettable experiances.
Don't ask yourself. If you are invited by them that is fine but don't ask yourself. Because even they don't want to take you they may often find it polite to "help" you out.

This and other points in your post make me think that you have tendency to shift your burden to other people. You carry less and feel better, manage cheaper, but continuously take advantage of hospitality. Unfortunately I have seen quite few backpackers and "hippies" with this mentality.

If you have right gear you can be INDEPENDENT. You can go where you want to. That is what I value.

P.S. I carry pocket knife every day.
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  #11  
Old 6 Mar 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AliBaba View Post
For me it sounds that the guys that go retro is more focused on technology (or lack off) then most others.
Of course, if the aim of the expedition is to find out how 1930's technology performs and if the guys in the 1930's had something we've lost, that will be the main aim.

Love the Nimbus guys web page where the opening line is about actors doing it the Girlie way, made me laugh.

Andy
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  #12  
Old 6 Mar 2009
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Sure!

Sure you don't need much, but day to day reality for most of us is that we're working between trips. And between trips, I think it's a fun pasttime, researching stuff, dreaming about bikes, and cars and all the trips you can do with them. Oh, ... and I like gadgets. I like playing with maps and GPS. That's what I do for a living, and what I use when traveling. Don't think there's anything wrong with that.

When it is wrong, is when people getting ready for their first trip in the end blow the whole thing off because they "need" all the expensive equipement and can't afford it.

But in my experience, there's always at least one reply indicating that you don't "need" that other gadget...

;-)
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Old 6 Mar 2009
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first impressions

Wow, this is a difficult subject but there is a fine balance between taking too much and being needy on the locals.
We surrounded ourselves with equipment and personal stuff on our first trip- in hindsight we realise this was a 'comfort blanket' for us entering the great 'unknown' !
We were left with a bad taste in our mouths when locals treated us as ATM's on legs and we can imagine some travellers had left that impression on locals by 'taking' too much.
We found the balance to be helping where we could, trying to have fun with everyone we met,and always giving something back where some-one has been kind and helpful to us. Sharing a meal, doing magic tricks, helping in a hands on way if some-one has a problem, always left everyone feeling satisfied.
We're taking less on this trip, have learnt to be more open and understanding to others ideas, opinions and lifestyles and enjoy meeting some great people along the way.
Relax, enjoy and savour the experience and remember some-one is following behind you. Rose
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Old 6 Mar 2009
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I think you have to be wary of assuming that everyone with lots of kit is doing so out of fear or because they are trying to unrealistically attempt to pre-empt problems on the road.

I think the very common obsession with kit that a lot of people have is just that: they love the kit. If it helps them on the road, so much the better. But a lot of people just really like well engineered things.

It can also be a way of feeling like you are doing something constructive towards the big trip. It might be six months away, but for the time you are programming your GPS, reading your books, building the perfect pannier rack or assessing what the best sleeping bag is (!), you are already there, already enjoying the freedom of the road.

And the non-technology way to go is not always the best. I've done a lot of riding sans GPS and there is definately a sort of freedom and feeling of adventure about it, but I have recently bought one and am looking forward to using it when I go to Europe this summer. Because, quite frankly, when your riding around in the dark in the pissing rain after ten hours in the sadlle with a headcold looking for a hotel you can shove your adventure up your a**e!

I agree that some people do seem to over obsess about technology, but there's an equal number who like to look down their noses on the guys with all-singing/all-dancing GPS, BMW 1200GS, Goretex underpants, bike to bike intercoms, NASA grade laptops and laser-etched turbo boots. Everyone's different and there is no one right way of doing things.

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*Disclaimer* - I am not saying my bike is better than your bike. I am not saying my way is better than your way. I am not mocking your religion/politics/other belief system. When reading my post imagine me sitting behind a frothing pint of ale, smiling and offering you a bag of peanuts. This is the sentiment in which my post is made. Please accept it as such!
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Old 6 Mar 2009
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To you it might seem like a helpful hint and useful advice, but what works for you doesn't always apply to everyone else. People have different personalities. I enjoy all the preparation and planning and I don't care if it goes out the window within the first 10 miles, I had fun doing it. I like gadgets too, it suits me, I get pleasure from it, I enjoy it. And if it gets me to the point where I feel confident enough to set off into the unknown then that can only be a good thing.

In my experience the people that do the least planning and preparation and boast about how light they travel are the same ones who always want to borrow my screwdriver/map/torch/phone/towel/spare doofer/extra thingy/back-up widget and can only find the way to where they're going by following or asking someone who bothered to make the effort to work it out and carry the necessary equipment.

For some I'm sure getting lost is fun. For others it isn't. People are different. Each to their own.
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