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  #1  
Old 19 Jun 2012
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Yesterday and tomorrow

Some years ago fuel was a lot cheaper, and we had not yet been defrauded by bankers and politicians. People travelled long distances and did RTW. They still do but I suggest those days are over for many.

I wanted to ride to Georgia, but I calculated how much it would cost in fuel alone, for I don't have the money for hotels etc. Anyway I like camping. The cost would be around 800 euros for the round trip. That is too much for me and I suspect, for many others. I can go to India with flight and all costs for 2/3 months for that, and hire a bike there.

Politically, too, at least for UK riders there are real problems; I believe that you can forget a visa for Iran. Understandably, for the UK has interfered in that country's affairs for decades, and they don't like it, quite rightly. So you have a look at the 'Stans and find you have to suffer high visa costs and short duration transit. Sure you can buy your way through, but I'd say they don't deserve my money. Africa is an unstable nightmare, I'd say. Now Mali and all round there is a problem.

So tomorrow, what do you do? I say, like Ted Simon, that shorter, more thoughtful trips will be the way for some. Go to Turkey or Albania and base yourself somewhere cheap in a village in the hills and explore slowly and in detail. TS said that at Ripley, but nobody heard it -it didn't fit with perceptions of him.

Or, go anywhere in the EU, like Estonia, where you can enjoy the city, forest or coastline. Or Spain, where the interior of the country is a hidden treasure. Or even the Western Isles of Scotland; I read that some "travellers" on here found Scotland too far away to travel to, so I don't include them in any of this. I don't include those who pay for guided tours either.

But all this requires a change of thinking, and I guess that some won't make that change. Why should they of course, if that doesn't appeal. There's a lot of crass consumerism with travel biking, and what I suggest is not in line with that. The rider who expresses his character through what kit he buys is not interesting.

None of you are getting younger, and a glance at the age profile at Ripley confirms that. Expect to have less cash when you're older, for the bankers etc are going to take your money from you. So what will you do for trips of quality? How will you fund it?

I've suggested some ways for those who continue biking into old age, when you have more time but less money. Ian Coates is one example but there are many who you will never hear of. I expect that some riders will give up the bike when older so I don't count them.

I wish I'd got a diesel bike when I was earning, but as I have an AT I'll stick to that now. A diesel would allow distance to be done cheaply. And I like it for its anti -image.

So what will you do?
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  #2  
Old 20 Jun 2012
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Big heavy expensive bike too pricey, uses too much gas? Ride a smaller bike, go a little slower. Hotels too expensive? Camp. Food to pricey? Can't help you there, I like to eat and eat well but shop local joints and eat local market food if you cook for yourself.

Travel has always been an expensive proposition. Gasoline/Petrol has always been expensive, food has always been expensive, hotels have always been expensive. Very few people ever actually leave their home states or nations, even fewer leave their native continent, and fewer still make it all the way around unless their trip was subsidized by the military. I'd like to think that thanks to the internet and general availability of knowledge on what it takes to go RTW or just on long trips has actually increased the number of people who are 'out there'.

On the other hand, I think things have gotten out of control. More more more more. More displacement, more bags, more gear, more more more. I just got back from riding the Dalton Highway and was on the only motorcycle under 1000cc's and the only thumper except one KLR, one DR, and one older F650GS. Most were on GSA's, most had their poor bikes piled up with more crap than I literally own. I moved to Alaska on my motorcycle and carried less on it. Less is more.

Just outside of Coldfoot, on the Dalton Highway, last week.


Spares in the left saddle bag, toiletries and a few spare layers in the right, clothes and sleeping bag in the stuff sack, tent and gas can on the rack. Everything I need for a few days... or a week... or a year (basically, I'd add a few more clothes in a second tail bag, get a smaller packing sleeping bag, and drop the walmart tent for something smaller packing and nicer probably).

So what will I do? I'll keep riding and working to keep riding. I gave up on the rat race and conspicuous consumerism.
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  #3  
Old 20 Jun 2012
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Thanks SK. I'm not actually looking for help or advice, I'm raising an issue. Your comment about most people not going abroad -I'd say that only applies to the US, where very few actually have a passport, and who view the world with suspicion. Your comment about many in the US only travelling with the military bears that out, and says much.

I'd say that most Europeans have a passport and travel.

Your solution about smaller bikes is a good one. Reducing involvement in the ratrace or consumerism is appropriate too. You might care to read a book by Thorstein Veblen about conspicuous consumerism.
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Old 20 Jun 2012
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I think your somewhat prone to making glib generalizations and denigrating comments regarding stuff you don't appear to know much about--for example, who travels and who doesn't, how much money any of us have, used to have, or will have, what kinds of places are mere "unstable nightmares." And FWIW, there sure appear to be more people traveling long distances on motorbikes than ever before....despite your claim that we can't and won't. So what was your point again?

The price of gas? Here's the first Google result for the USA: InflationData: Gasoline Inflation . I'll leave it to you to show results for other places.

Long distance travelers? Well, there sure are a lot of books, websites, videos and (shudder) television shows these days. What do you make of that? Are they all pretenders?

But....When I first traveled in Africa for 7 months 20 years ago I saw not a single overland rider. I've now been going to West Africa for about ten years straight, and whereas I used to see one Western overlander per month I now see one per day in the same areas. When I first drove the pipeline Haul Road to Deadhorse I saw not a single rider in four days --and I didn't see any up towards Inuvik either. Now there's a constant stream of them through my hometown, coming and going, and the Alaskan roads are full of overlanders. Same with South and Central America, although I've got less basis for comparison: hundreds per year (as best I could figure) from North America to Ushuaia.

A lot of this is driven by the fact that the demographic--middle-aged and up--is relatively flush with cash and freedom, notwithstanding your statements to the contrary. Ted Simon, like me, may just be feeling a bit weary, having taken a lot of long trips. That's fine, but there are a hundred where there once was only Ted. That's not an indication that overland riders are staying home, clinging to their few remaining coins.

On the other hand, you know what they say about opinions....and that's at least doubly true with stuff, like this post, written late at night.

Mark
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Old 20 Jun 2012
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Caminando, I can see where you are coming from, There are many countries that I would like to travel to but due to the fact I hate paperwork and the thought of actually paying and form filling for visas just puts me off. any motorcycle travel on your own bike will be expensive, even in the 80's when I used a T140 Bonneville you had to make sure you started the trip on new tyres, or ones that you had put little mileage on, about 3 years ago I 'garaged' my R80gs as it was not as practical as other bikes I have and that can be used for trips. I would be quite happy to use either my ybr125 or Royal Enfield.recent trips I have done have been to India(yes I know I needed a visa!) and hired a bike, and also rented a bike(!) in Thailand.
Unless you have pretty much unlimited time, you also have the constraints of how far you can get in say 2-3 weeks especially on a small bike.
The last couple of years at the Isle of Man TT I have used either my 125 or in the case of this year the Enfield and I can honestly say that I have enjoyed the Island much more from the seat of a smaller bike.
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  #6  
Old 20 Jun 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
I think your somewhat prone to making glib generalizations and denigrating comments regarding stuff you don't appear to know much about--for example, who travels and who doesn't, how much money any of us have, used to have, or will have, what kinds of places are mere "unstable nightmares." And FWIW, there sure appear to be more people traveling long distances on motorbikes than ever before....despite your claim that we can't and won't. So what was your point again?

The price of gas? Here's the first Google result for the USA: InflationData: Gasoline Inflation . I'll leave it to you to show results for other places.

Long distance travelers? Well, there sure are a lot of books, websites, videos and (shudder) television shows these days. What do you make of that? Are they all pretenders?

But....When I first traveled in Africa for 7 months 20 years ago I saw not a single overland rider. I've now been going to West Africa for about ten years straight, and whereas I used to see one Western overlander per month I now see one per day in the same areas. When I first drove the pipeline Haul Road to Deadhorse I saw not a single rider in four days --and I didn't see any up towards Inuvik either. Now there's a constant stream of them through my hometown, coming and going, and the Alaskan roads are full of overlanders. Same with South and Central America, although I've got less basis for comparison: hundreds per year (as best I could figure) from North America to Ushuaia.

A lot of this is driven by the fact that the demographic--middle-aged and up--is relatively flush with cash and freedom, notwithstanding your statements to the contrary. Ted Simon, like me, may just be feeling a bit weary, having taken a lot of long trips. That's fine, but there are a hundred where there once was only Ted. That's not an indication that overland riders are staying home, clinging to their few remaining coins.

On the other hand, you know what they say about opinions....and that's at least doubly true with stuff, like this post, written late at night.

Mark
Actually, I think it's you who offer "glib and denigrating "comment and verbal flatulence since you feel free to offer such personal comment to me. And I gave no such denigrating comment. As for who has passports/travels and who does not, it's in the statistics. It's a fact not a criticism. You check it out. And SK agrees -read his post. You're clearly defensive and I understand that, and why. It's OK.

Most of what I said IS one opinion about the possible future - I hope I'm wrong. I hoped you'd see that it's mostly opinion without spelling it out to you. Sigh. I'm quite happy to read other points of view - that's fine by me. I want to read what others think. I'm relaxed if that view is different from mine. It could be that you're unhappy with differing ideas/opinions. My friendly advice to you is don't take general comment so personally.

You present yourself as an old Africa hand. I said Africa was a changing nightmare and you 'disagreed'. Zimbabwe, Uganda, Congo, Mali, Mauritania, Libya, Algeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Rwanda, Angola, Nigeria, Kenya, Somalia to name but a few have all seen recent serious conflict. I suggest that this is a nightmare, especially for the people there. It is also a problem for a traveller. Not impossible, but a problem. Until you show me different, I'll stand by that.

I'm pleased to read the relevant opinions you gave when you got to the point. That's what I hoped some people would do. That is, discuss the issue without beginning as you did with a spoiler.

Last edited by Caminando; 21 Jun 2012 at 08:00.
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  #7  
Old 20 Jun 2012
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Originally Posted by palace15 View Post
Caminando, I can see where you are coming from, There are many countries that I would like to travel to but due to the fact I hate paperwork and the thought of actually paying and form filling for visas just puts me off. any motorcycle travel on your own bike will be expensive, even in the 80's when I used a T140 Bonneville you had to make sure you started the trip on new tyres, or ones that you had put little mileage on, about 3 years ago I 'garaged' my R80gs as it was not as practical as other bikes I have and that can be used for trips. I would be quite happy to use either my ybr125 or Royal Enfield.recent trips I have done have been to India(yes I know I needed a visa!) and hired a bike, and also rented a bike(!) in Thailand.
Unless you have pretty much unlimited time, you also have the constraints of how far you can get in say 2-3 weeks especially on a small bike.
The last couple of years at the Isle of Man TT I have used either my 125 or in the case of this year the Enfield and I can honestly say that I have enjoyed the Island much more from the seat of a smaller bike.
Thanks Palace

You make some good points IMO especially about the smaller bike and the Enfield, and about the changing problems of travel on a bike. And you actually garaged your GS, which I find hard/impossible to do with my similar bike.

Yes travel can be expensive, especially on fuel. It's about finding the money and for some/many, that's not easy.

Last edited by Caminando; 20 Jun 2012 at 12:16.
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Old 20 Jun 2012
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From what I have seen at travellers meetings and from the number of people that I have met on the road the interest and participation in overland motorcycle travel has actually increased in the past few years, partly I suspect due to the Ewan and Charlie effect. The cost has always been high and it has taken a well paid job, selling your house and or long term saving to pay for travel, I took 5 years to save for my first long trip, so no change there.
The thing I have noticed with rising cost has been the increase in the use of smaller bikes, Honda C90 or XL125 instead of big GS or XT's, the smaller bikes not only having cheaper running costs but travel insurance and shipping cost being less.
I find that I am now prepared to make those shorter trips and explore places more thoroughly but only after experiencing the thrill of riding across entire continents on previous trips, something I expect people will be doing for sometime yet.
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Old 20 Jun 2012
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Old 20 Jun 2012
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What's the Ewan and Charlie effect?

What's this Ewan and Charlie effect? Does this refer to quality of experience being inversely proportional to money spent? That should be called the First Law Of worldly Dynamics. But then I really did badly at physics at school. Lindsay.
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Old 20 Jun 2012
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Caminando - there's a lot of food for thought in your original post and much of it has been on my mind in recent years as well. What I have been trying to do is distinguish between signal and noise when it comes to travel and bike travel in particular. The signal is what's actually happening in the world that affects my ability or desire to travel with the noise representing my own personal circumstances. For example, too many years of long queues, aggressive officials, petty restrictions, decreasing value for money and many other factors have all combined to put me off air travel. I really don't enjoy it anymore. My 22yr old son however wouldn't agree with any of that list and uses Easy Jet / Ryan Air to flit round Europe on a whim like they were his own personal airlines. He, and most of his peer group, enjoys it. I used to but no longer do. It's me that's changed and my personal noise is drowning out the signal that air travel is probably cheaper, easier, safer and more commonplace than its ever been.

It's much the same with bike travel. I did my first long distance bike trip in 1970 so it's probably not surprising that I've changed somewhat in the meantime. I've been bike traveling ever since and that interest has remained a little bit of a constant while everything else has changed around it. I'm older (obviously), wealthier (not so obvious but a combination of luck and judgment has kept me level with my peer group) and subject to an accumulation of biases and prejudices that creep up on you over that length of time. I also have to have accumulated numerous commitments and responsibilities that I didn't have when I first started.

All of these have to be juggled and weighed when I start planning any sort of trip. Twice in recent years substantial bike trips have been canceled at reasonably short notice because of fiscal prudence. There was enough money available if the future went well but not if our circumstances took an unforeseen downturn so I decided that I couldn't justify the expenditure. All of this, the state of my health, bank balance, predicted level of homesickness, my wife having to take up the slack while I'm away or even can I be bothered with it all is just noise in the system. It's personal to me and nothing to do with the state of the wider world and external problems such whether I can get a Sudan visa or even whether I should use a pizza delivery bike or a GS1200. Back when I first started these decisions were everything. We'd spend weeks pouring over maps on the floor or pre booking campsites by letter. Now I hardly glance at a map.

That's the reason I've only been to Ripley once (and then only for one night) - the corporate world that's become "adventure motorcycling" doesn't interest me. I've no interest in the latest overhyped megatourer or the contents of the TouraTech catalogue. What I've always enjoyed is the actual touring whether it's sunken lanes in Devon or shipwrecks in Mauritania. It's kind of fortunate really that I'm now old enough and experienced enough to be able to decide for myself whether a piece of kit is right for me and happily ignore opinions to the contrary.

Anyway, the point of all of this was to say that I'm not sure that we're in any sort of new era or difficult times for bike travel. Certainly fuel costs have gone through the roof here in recent years but they did back in 73/74 and I managed to cope then. Borders come and go although I would admit that Africa at the moment does seem to have more no go zones than the average over the last few decades. That may not be the case in ten years time although (depending on how old you are) that may not be much personal comfort. For me though, for the last 25yrs or so, its been personal circumstances, relationships and commitments that have governed where I go or whether I go at all.
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Old 20 Jun 2012
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Many thanks for your detailed and very thoughtful post. Much of it I recognise and share.

I do think that these are issues that affect, or will affect most of us. I fully admit that when younger, I paid little heed to the thought of being older.

I was interested too, in people's response to this, if any. It's actually about keeping on riding, and adapting to changing circumstances. However, like Ogri, "I've still got my bike"!
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Old 20 Jun 2012
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Beyond agreement or disagreement, I like your post. It's thought-provoking, honest and respectful; some may not agree, as said, but that's a different issue. It's a good starting point to hear opinions. Some are really nice to read. It comes to my mind Clifford T. Ward's song "Thoughts from Abroad": [I've been reading Browning, Keats and William Wordsworth], Well I like the words they use, and I like the way they use them.

I agree with many points and see no contradictions between what you stated and what others said against. I tend to position myself a lot, but here I cannot see a clear statement 100% right, but many nuances.

Not the big issue discussed here, but I'm sure I profoundly dislike the BMW GS+Touratech+Sunday coffee life-style. I may not go anywhere far, but I prefer that to be a pretender.

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Old 20 Jun 2012
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Right, I've had a couple of glasses of red so I'm hoping what I say makes sense.

I agree with what a lot of the OP says. It's become something of an obsession here. Not at retiring age yet but seriously looking forward to being able to get away more. We've noticed how much the cost of everything has increased over the last few years. Increased costs at home have meant there is now much less 'disposable income' to spend on breaks and holidays. Fuel costs are a major issue making it more expensive to go any distance on our old airhead than use our modern diesel car.

Dreams of 4/5 star hotels on our bike tours are just that (dreams) so we're looking at ways of making camping more comfortable (we like camping but unless you do it a lot it takes a while to get used to it).

We don't have as much opportunity for hopping on a cheap Ryan air/Flybe as people living in the UK but we do have the advantage of being only a few hours from Biarritz, the Pyrenees, Barcelona, Marseille etc. which is a big plus, however the prices for hotels and food in big cities is generally beyond our means.

I enjoy meeting up and riding with other adventure bikers but personally can't bear standing around all day with the express purpose of talking about bikes, so avoid the Ripley and Ace cafe stuff as much as I can. I'm also stongly anti farkles - in my book it's either essential or a waste of money
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Old 20 Jun 2012
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Originally Posted by Caminando View Post
Thanks SK. I'm not actually looking for help or advice, I'm raising an issue. Your comment about most people not going abroad -I'd say that only applies to the US, where very few actually have a passport, and who view the world with suspicion. Your comment about many in the US only travelling with the military bears that out, and says much.

I'd say that most Europeans have a passport and travel.

Your solution about smaller bikes is a good one. Reducing involvement in the ratrace or consumerism is appropriate too. You might care to read a book by Thorstein Veblen about conspicuous consumerism.
The situation is very different in Europe, full of small countries piled on top of each other. You need a passport to actually go anywhere, which is probably as much reason for 'most' (and I'd be willing to wager its still not a majority) have a passport than any real desire to travel farther than a few hundred miles from home. Riding across the EU is roughly equivalent to riding across the lower 48 is it not?

Regardless, money and the costs of it all have certainly put a damper on my long distance trip planning. I really really really want to spend a few months riding around Europe, but the cost of shipping my bike over and back is absurd. I could spend months traveling in North, Central, and South America for the money I'd spend to get over and back, before factoring in 2x-3x fuel costs; its a rough pill to swallow. But I think as others have mentioned, its the 'other' stuff that gets in the way as you get older and get used to the ins and outs of what needs to happen to put a tour together. I also still believe there are more people out there now than ever before, the sky isn't falling its just changing.
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