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Are you a TRAVELLER? Are you interested in motorcycle luge, dodgem-trucks in India, the three gossips, paved rivers in Mexico, wild west in Dawson City, the ultimate fish story, sandpits of Bolivia, the HOG parade, AK47 attacks, Mad Dogs of Manila, close encounters with buffalo, motorcycle cattle mustering, Arctic wildfires, and much more...?
Then you're reading the right newsletter!
On the Website:
TIP: If you like to print the ezine, in Outlook Express or Outlook go to View / Text size (or Font size) and select smallest. If you're reading this online, in IE select View / Text Size and set it to "smallest."
Then print it. The smallest font size is just right for printing, and saves a lot of paper.
Netscape, Mozilla and Opera etc are similar.
Welcome to the 46th Edition of the Horizons Unlimited E-zine. Yeah I know it's a little late - well, okay, you win, a lot late! Between Europe, the HU meeting in early September, and a few mandatory house projects, we haven't caught up with ourselves yet. The meeting was brilliant, though. Carol Palladino and Peter Cameron hosted this year's event in beautiful Revelstoke, BC. Fantastic riding country, and great slide shows. Sixty people from all over North America and overseas as well showed up, twice as many as last year, so we are continuing our record of doubling attendance every year at these meetings.
I will be heading south from Vancouver BC for Mexico around about October 20-22, and will be visiting a few potential advertisers on the way. Susan will be meeting me in Chihuahua, (she has to fly in, business gets in the way) then we will be heading for the Copper Canyon Travellers Meeting. See you there!
Next month's issue will be late too, just so you know, due to the Copper Canyon meeting. We hope to be back on schedule in the new year.
We're pleased to say that the move to the new server went very smoothly, only a couple of minor glitches, all fixed now. We've received reports of improved speed too, a bonus we weren't expecting, but happy to have.
Thanks to all our loyal supporters
... and a gentle reminder to those who haven't contributed that we still need your help to pay for the ongoing costs of keeping the website running (especially now that our server costs have more than doubled :-( and keeping this global community going. If you know anyone who should be advertising with us (anyone who sells motorcycles or motorcycle accessories, riding gear, camping equipment and clothing, transports motorcycles, organizes motorcycle tours, or has motorcycles to rent should be advertising), please let us know or send them to our Advertising page with your recommendation.
Start your planning with travel books at the Horizons Unlimited books page, and use the Amazon search function for your area to look for what you want. We'll get a small percentage of the sale when you buy anything. Don't forget to visit the Souk for sweatshirts, mugs and boxer shorts. If you don't need any clothes (or you have to work off a few pounds before you can fit into any ;-), we now gratefully accept donations through PayPal, as well as the Amazon Honor System, and checks in 5 currencies!
Finally, if you do use the services of one of our advertisers/supporters, we hope you'll let them know that you're buying from them because of their support for HU - and of course that they have a great product or service! :)
Please submit news reports, web links etc. to us for inclusion in this newsletter.
We try to link to your website if you have one. And if you don't have a website, we can help.
This newsletter is provided as a complimentary service for travellers everywhere, both on the road and (temporarily;-) off. Your support is greatly appreciated.
Some more on the new BMW R1200GS
Main change is a loss of 30kg!
Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meetings 2003/2004 - time to plan ahead!
A great way to meet new friends and fellow travellers is at one of the many HU Travellers Meetings planned for this year and next! You can meet people who don't think you're crazy for wanting to ride your bike to South America or Africa or across Asia, or even around the world! Admit it, all your 'normal' friends and most of your family fears for your sanity! So, this is your opportunity to meet the people who will encourage you in that craziness, share their experiences and advice on how to do it, and maybe you'll meet them again in Mongolia or Timbuktu! We're on FOUR continents now, so no excuse left - now's your chance to get to one!
Get your registrations in soon for Mexico - Oct. 31-Nov 2 2003 - Juan Carlos and Gerardo Ibarra are organizing this event, in the Copper Canyon. If you'd like to present a slide show or put on a talk for the Mexico 2003 event, please let us know. We plan to be there too, in case anyone wants to see us ;-) See the thread on the HUBB if you're interested in riding with others.
Bolivia - Nov. 8 2003 - Frank and Ann Schwarzbauer are organizing this event in La Paz. Details on Frank's page. If you'd like to present a slide show or put on a talk for the Bolivia 2003 event, please let us know. This should be a fun event, with a ton of great food, so if you're going to be anywhere near La Paz at the right time, make sure you get there, and let Frank know you're coming asap! There's even a special surprise for all travellers!
And of course there's more coming next year - see the Meetings page for more details.
Thanks to all the volunteers!
Mark your calendars for at least one of these events. This is your chance to meet your fellow travellers, share adventures and travel tips, and incidentally to help support your favourite website! We are going to try very hard to be at as many of the meetings as possible ourselves, so we hope to see you there!
Western USA / Canada, September 5-7, 2003 meeting. Carol Palladino and Peter Cameron hosted this year's event in beautiful Revelstoke, BC. Fantastic riding country, and despite the forest fires and the off-road closures, everyone got in some great rides. Sixty people from all over North America and overseas as well showed up. Speakers included Peter and Kay Forwood, Ekke and Audrey Kok, Eric and Gail Haws and ourselves. Typical comments:
Thanks to all the speakers, and the volunteers who pitched in to help! And thanks to all those who came and had a great time! Full report and photos here.
Plan where to be when!
If you know of any events of interest to travellers, send me a note.
2nd Caravana Eco Turística ECUADOR and PERU, October 5 to 11, 2003
From Ricardo Rocco: "6 days, 150 plus riders from Ecuador, Peru and many other countries. 2000 km of asphalt and off road exciting routes, events, prizes special events, excellent hotels and restaurants for very inexpensive prizes. Organized by the Ecuadorian Motorcycle Federation, Motorcycle Touring Commission (me)." For more details, write to Ricardo.
Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meeting Mexico - Oct. 31-Nov 2 2003, in the Copper Canyon.
See the meetings page for details.
Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meeting Bolivia - Nov. 8-9 2003
Frank and Ann Schwarzbauer are organizing this event in La Paz. Details on Frank's page. If you're in the area around then - as in somewhere in South America - make it a point to get there, it should be a fun event - Frank is doing a lot of work to make sure! There's even a great surprise gift for you!
Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meeting Argentina is on! Be in Viedma 5-7 December.
Oskar says: "We are organizing it with the municipal authorities, we don't have the details yet, you can be sure that there is going to be wine, asado and beer. The price it is going to be the minimum just to pay the costs. Also we are trying to get a place where all the travelers can sleep, free or very cheap."
Christmas is coming, so plan on where you want to be if you're on the road!
Goa, Ushuaia and Cape Town are the traditional spots. See the Motorcycle Events Forum on the HUBB to try and connect with other travellers.
Motorcycle Outreach (MOR) is a charitable organization to fund initiatives for taking crucial health services, like children's vaccinations, by motorcycle to poor remote areas. The co-founders are Robert Rasor, President of the American Motorcyclist Association, and Simon Milward, former General Secretary of the Federation of European Motorcyclists Associations, now on the US leg of his fundraising motorcycle ride round the world. Ricardo Rocco is working with Motorcycle Outreach to extend the model to Latin America.
Horizons Unlimited is pleased to help further the aims of Motorcycle Outreach through raffles at the HU Motorcycle Travellers meetings. The recent Revelstoke meeting raised C$170. for the cause.
For more details about Motorcycle Outreach, and to contribute, see Simon Milward's site.
From Matt O'Neill, UK;
"It may be pretty basic stuff for HU site users, but I found a tidy little doc on the RAC's web site. It's a technical leaflet about checking your bike before going touring. Link (.pdf) here.
Simon and Lisa, 2RideTheWorld.com
"5 years ago following a rough day at work (& a few drinks) Lisa & I had a conversation about getting a life. 5 years later, 2 people on 2 BMW bikes are on the road and have now ridden through 15 countries and are enjoying a truly global adventure..."
Get your website listed in the LINKS Section
by listing Horizons Unlimited on YOUR web site, let me know you've done it by mailing me a link to the page, and you may get listed here in the next newsletter and on the Horizons Unlimited web site Links page. To make it easy for you, we even have our logo and link code here!
All sites will be considered for listing, but must be a MOTORCYCLE or TRAVEL site, useful or of interest in some way to travellers. We reserve the right to refuse to link back.
Norma and Max, in Preetz (near Kiel) Germany
"Bikers welcome! On your way to Scandinavia? Just look in. You need information about northern Germany? Send a mail. Technical problems? We´ll try to find help. We hope to see you! Drive carefully! Drop us an email.
Irakli, in the Republic of Georgia,
"...riders can stay in my apartment some days, take a rest, fix the bike if necessary in friend's garage. GSM contact number (+995 93) 326198 or city number (+995 32) 962489 Regards, "Soika", ATiC #1606 1993 RD07"
From Simon McCarthy and Georgie Simmonds
"... a little real sanctuary for us in Delhi. We had heard that there was a motorcycle overlanding English woman, living in Delhi and more than happy to have other overlanders descend and stay. This angel called Lisa (Lisa with the broken leg, to those in the know) not only responded positively to our self-invite, but also let us use and abuse her luxury life-style. Big aircon apartment, cook/maid, driver, swimming pool, satellite TV and video collection. Just the job - we are eternally grateful."
Ed. Lisa Roberts can be contacted via e-mail.
Do you know of a good shop 'on the road,'
...in other words, somewhere there isn't a large number of shops? (Also of course any shop that specializes in travellers equipment and repairs is of interest.) But we're particularly looking for those rare items, good repair shops in South America, Africa and Asia etc. Please post your info in the Repair shops around the world Forum on the HUBB.
There are now 46 + shops listed in out - of - the - way places, from Abidjan to Ghana to Peru! Be sure to check out the HUBB "Repair shops around the world" forum if you need work done!
Just so you know what the differences are when you're buying a helmet: Snell Memorial Foundation comparison of the DOT and Snell Testing of Motorcycle Helmets. Note I am NOT saying either is better!
When you meet people on the road, and they haven't heard of this e-zine or the website, we'd appreciate it (and hope they would too!) if you'd get their names and email addresses and send it in to me, or use the recommend form available on most all pages of the website.
Kevin and Julia Sanders, UK, on Brazil licensing;
"We have just received some distressing news about driving licence requirements in Brazil! Having applied for the IDP, the UK RAC attached a note to the licence which said that since printing the IDP application, Brazil informed them the the GB licence or IDP were no longer valid for Brazil and they advise people either to use taxis (der!) or if they are there for a longer period of time to get a Brazilian licence!
Now maybe this does not apply to motorbikes, we are trying to find out, but we were wondering whether you had heard anything along the grapevine at your end? If it just the GB licence the Brazilians have taken a dislike to or all foreign licences?"
It was news to me! So I asked him to keep me informed:
"It would seem that it is true. All info from the RAC tells us this. We have changed our route on the Trans Americas Record to avoid Brasil, just in case it holds us up. "
Anyone have RECENT proof positive this is NOT true? Meaning, you entered Brazil within the last couple of weeks without problem. Let me know.
Kevin and Julia have broken another world record - Prudhoe Bay to Ushuaia in 35 days!
If they ask "want to go for a ride?" you might think to say no...
Peter Slarke, UK, needs a bike in Ecuador
"I am currently in the USA travelling from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. My girlfriend will be joining me in Ecuador and will need to buy a bike, something small like an XR200/250. We will then be selling it in Chile when she returns home. She is with me for 5 months only. Could you tell me if this is a simple process to buy a bike in Ecuador, or will it involve a lot of complicated paperwork. Also are these types of bikes easily available. Any other advice would be appreciated. Thanks for your time, Peter"
Ben Zack has a bike for sale in Colombia:
"Aug 18, 2003 - I am a solo traveler from the US traveling on a black Yamaha 2001 XT600. I will arrive in Bogotá this weekend. My father has been ill for some time and I have interrupted my travels twice to return home. his health has become worse and I must return home, unable to return to South America (and I have been down here for almost 8 months!) so, I would like to sell my bike. It is in perfect mechanical shape, new oil (as of today), new chain (which I have to change), new brake pads (front and back), new back brake disc, new air filter and a new spark plug as of 3000km ago. The bike has a GIVI rack, three rear GIVI boxes, a Bagster tank cover and separate tank bag. The bike has Chilean papers. I would like $2950USD for the bike, a very good deal for someone! Please let me know if you know of anyone who might be interested in buying a great bike at an awesome price! Thanks Ben"
Bob Lyskowski writes to the HU San Jose, Costa Rica Community about long-term bike storage:
"I am trying to do as much of an around the world trip as I can in tiny bits. I have travelled through Mexico and would like to start on Central America. This November I am leaving to tour part of Central America. Due to limited time, I would like to find a place where I can legally store my bike for 6 months to a year. As I understand it I would need a Government Bonded Warehouse. Costa Rica and Belize would be ideal locations. Do you know of such a place?"
Dalbir, from Singapore, writes to the HU Istanbul Community:
"I'm riding a 1989 Honda dominator from Singapore. Heading towards western Europe. Got into Turkey on the 21st and just arrived in Sanlurfa, and just got a traffic fine today (131 million lira!). 99km per hour. So not in the highest spirit. Anyway what I wanted to ask was does anyone know of a good mechanic around here or on my route. My bike makes the strangest noise while starting, sounds like the starter needs some oil? Very loud dry noise. I also plan to give the bike a cleanup, clean the carbs and basically looking for a nice place where I can do that. I'll be heading to Nemrut Dagi in a day or two, then to Cappadocia (probably Gerome) and haven't decided whether I ride along the north coast or south to get to Istanbul.
I'm also in the need of a mailing address, to receive my green card insurance (Compulsory Bike Insurance for Europe) from Knopf Tours. We don't have a Singapore Embassy here. I may ask the Malaysians if they will help. Anyway if anyone has the answers to any of my questions please email me. Thank you and see you on the road."
Plenty more questions and answers on the HU Bulletin Board! We've over 3,100 registered users on the Board, which I think is pretty amazing, and gives a huge resource of knowledge and experience to help you with anything you might need to know.
Security Alert for all travellers doing electronic banking in Internet cafes!
"For more than a year, unbeknownst to people who used Internet terminals at Kinko's stores in New York, Juju Jiang was recording what they typed, paying particular attention to their passwords. Jiang had secretly installed, in at least 14 Kinko's stores, software that logs individual keystrokes. He captured more than 450 user names and passwords, using them to access and even open bank accounts online.
The case highlights the risks and dangers of using public Internet terminals at cybercafes, libraries, airports and other establishments.
'Use common sense when using any public terminal,' warned Neel Mehta, research engineer at Internet Security Systems Inc. 'For most day-to-day stuff like surfing the Web, you're probably all right, but for anything sensitive you should think twice.'
Mehta said that while millions of individuals use public terminals without trouble, they should be cautious.
'When you sit down at an Internet cafe, ask the owner or operator about the security measures in place,' he said. 'If they don't know or don't have anything in place, you could consider going somewhere else.'
SJ Note: any Internet cafe which will allow you to install FTP software may also allow someone to install key logging software. And it is not likely that they will have high security measures.
"Encrypting e-mail and Web sessions does nothing to combat keystroke loggers, which capture data before the scrambling occurs. But encryption can guard against network sniffers - software that can monitor e-mail messages, passwords and other traffic while it is in transit."
SJ Note: Encryption is used by your bank's server (look for https: and the small closed padlock on the bottom of the browser window) to protect the user ID and password as it travels between your computer and the bank.
"Data cookies also contribute to the risk of identity theft. Cookies are files that help Web sites remember who you are so you won't have to keep logging on to a site. But unless you remember to log out, these files could let the next person using the public terminal to surf the Web as you.
Furthermore, browsers typically record recent Web sites visited so users won't have to retype addresses. But such addresses often have usernames and other sensitive information embedded. Secure public terminals should by default have provisions for automatically flushing cookies and Web addresses when a customer leaves, Internet security experts say."
SJ Note: Since you can't count on the Internet cafe to have security provisions, you should ensure that you delete cookies and temporary Internet files when you finish an online session.
"Richard M. Smith, a security consultant in Cambridge, Mass., said customers could also use certain techniques to foil keystroke loggers. When typing in sensitive information, for instance, he suggests cutting and pasting individual characters from elsewhere to form the password. No keys depressed, no characters logged."
For more details:The Register (UK) article.
From Martin Rooiman and Jeannette Boom, Netherlands, around the world, on Australian visas, carnet;
"Hi Grant, ... I just want to let you know something about the carnets in Oz as you wrote in your last newsletter as Jan Loesche had problems with it in Sydney.
1. I also had my carnet extended in New Zealand and had not a single problem entering with it on Brisbane Airport, but I might be lucky that they overlooked it or didn't know these new rules.
2. Indeed they tightened the rules regarding the extension of carnets quite a bit. In the past carnets were extended for years as long as you had a reasonable story. In an attempt to stop this practice Customs decided to accept no extensions anymore. This rule was without any vision as they find out now as well as lots of people have problems with extension as the RAA gets crazy with it as well. So hopefully Customs will change back these rules; at least to the point that your vehicle can stay inside the country as long as your visa is valid. According to me that's the original idea behind the whole carnet, so people can travel around with their own vehicle! Jeannette's carnet runs out on 11-10-2003 and our visa is valid until 03-11-2003 so the carnet is running just over three weeks short. After some phone calls with the RAA and Customs, Customs agreed not to make a problem of it as it's just a couple of weeks. Fortunately we're returning home afterwards so we don't need a new carnet. Extending the carnet would be difficult as they are afraid that you will stay longer then. Also transferring your vehicle from one carnet onto a new issued carnet is causing difficulties at least.
So, at least for the time being, the best thing by far is to arrive with a brand new carnet into Australia in which case your vehicle can stay (almost) one year in Australia without any problem, though this is not the cheapest option. Hope this thing change soon, Martin Rooiman.
There's more important information on entering Australia that you must read if you're going, here.
Turkey speed limit:
From Burak Cedetas, HU Community Istanbul, in response to a note from Dalbir about a ticket he received;
"There are some very old traffic laws here in Turkey. The speed limit for a motorbike is 70km/h on the intercity roads. In any case if you did not pay the fine on spot (which is an option) maybe you can leave the country at the end of your trip anyway. I am not suggesting you anything bad but you may choose to forget... :)"
Patrick and Danette Harkness, Canada, on Costs in Ireland:
"Gas is easy to find but only the 95 octane. High test is hard to find. Prices from .85 to .95 euro (per litre).
As a Canuck converting from the Cdn$ Ireland, particularly Dublin, can be expensive. Try staying outside of the bigger towns in B&B's. Although this is no guarantee. We are not camping but that would obviously be less expensive again. We do have a camp stove with us so we can cook simple meals and make coffee in anyplace we stay.
Eating in the gas stations is easy cheap and shockingly very good. Most have a deli/hot food service.
The pubs here are so different from home. You are almost expected once you get to the pub to sit there until closing time. It's like being in your friends' living room.
Now to the roads... 95% of them are narrow bumpy and have no sight lines around the corners. Bring all the suspension you can cause you will need it. Being on the wrong side of the road adds to the fun.
There is currently a huge amount of road construction going on and you often hit upon it when you least expect it on some small side road. The road signs are very good for both directions and upcoming things on the road whether it be a hotel or gas station coming up or something on the road itself. I have noticed though that when the sign is no longer needed or accurate that the sign stays up. So - gas station next exit open - and then you drive by and it has been closed for at least 5 years."
Tommaso Piccioli, Italy, writes about Bali to Darwin shipping:
"Just to inform you that the Bali to Darwin shipment is no longer possible since Qantas don't do 'dangerous goods' anymore. I had to take a Pelni ship (they carry the bikes from Benoa) to Kupang and drive to Dili. Good drive anyway Tom"
In response to a message from Jim Stanley to the HU Medellin Community about safety in Colombia, Camilo Delgado writes:
"Hi Jim, Colombia is a little bit safer that it was one year ago but still you should be prudent, especially when you have to ride for some areas where the army has not taken fully control yet like between Pasto and Popayan in the south.
In these areas - which are less and less every day because the army is winning the war against guerrillas - you should take some caution like: never ride after dark; ask the army or someone you trust beforehand how safe is the area; hopefully tell someone that you are going to through this area and report to this person that you left the area, as a way to keeping track of you. Try to ride those areas early in the morning, try to avoid riding late in the afternoon, always see how many cars are coming the opposite way because if there are no cars coming that might mean that something is wrong ahead. Try to stay always on the Panamericana - at least in the southern part of the country until you reach Cali.
Regarding your question about how dangerous is Colombia. It is quite a difficult question. It depends a lot on your point of view. I'm not the person to answer that question to you. I'll give you some names of bikers that came through Colombia so they can tell you their point of view: Liam McCabe, Mika Kuhn, Mariola Cichon, Simon Milward. I think they all will tell you that Colombia was safe to them, but I also think it is because they all took no risks.
In any case, if you feel like coming to Colombia please do not hesitate to contact me. By the way, I live in Medellin. Camilo Delgado R."
Ed. Also check with Glen Heggstad, who was kidnapped by the guerrillas and held captive for six weeks in Colombia. He may not have followed Camilo's excellent advice above.
Request for info
Wouldn't YOU like to know all about the border you're approaching - what it should cost, paperwork required, 'tips' needed, and who to talk to, etc.?
When you cross ANY border, take some notes, and pass them on to us. Thanks!
If you have any information to contribute, please go here, and register (or just login IF you have used this system before) and you can then submit your information. Thanks!
The US State Department regularly issues updated travel advisories, information and/or warnings.
Shaun Munro, NZ; Henning Lorenz, USA; Matt Glitman, USA; and Ilja Erche, Germany; around the world, in Russia, BMW F650 Dakars,
Matt: "Between the cites of Tumen and Ekaterinburg lies a short stretch of road that left a real and lasting impression upon me. We had been riding hard for several days on our way to the Black Sea town of Scochi. For the last few months the name "Ekaterinburg" had been popping into my head like a siren call. It wasn't that far out of our way and I was able to convince Shaun and Ilja to make a slight detour so that I could spend a couple of hours in that city. I didn't know why I kept thinking of it, or where I had heard of it. It was either because it was a horrible place, or a place not to be missed, and I had to know.
...The road ahead was clear and straight and I had been very successful in keeping my visor clear with my gloves.
Suddenly I noticed the small dark older Lada with no lights on. So binders on and drop behind the truck. Nope he's braking hard as well, so try to squeeze next to the truck to make a third lane. Nope, there's a huge patch of oil on the road and someone just yanked the front wheel away from me. I fortunately 'low-sided' off the bike and started to luge down the road, feet first on my back. I had been told many years ago that one you fall off a bike, always be wary of the motorcycle tumbling after you. So with one eye on the motorcycle, one on the approaching Lada and a third (you grow several eyes at times like this) on the truck I steered myself down the center line of the road. Ilja, who was behind me described it as a smooth descent off the bike and that I looked to be in complete control of my slide, even propping myself up on an elbow to look around and steer.
I had wondered what would happen if one of us had a collision with a Russian. We have no insurance for this part of the world and can barely speak the language. As I was sliding it occurred to me that I was about to find out. Did I fear for life or limb? Really only for a fleeting instant right before I dropped off the bike. Since I hadn't 'high-sided' I knew that my only risk would come from being hit by a vehicle. I had control over my direction and, as in all facets of life, when you can control the direction you're going in, fear fades away.
I heard the Lada hit the bike and I finally came to a halt. I was certain that I had been sliding on ice, but we later learned that my 20 meter slide had been on oil...
Ilja and I pulled the bike to the side of the road and surveyed the damage. It was all cosmetic, but aren't brake discs supposed to be flat? They just don't make them like they used to. The weight of a passing Lada was enough to bend it a good half inch down. We decided to try and repair it and moved the bike completely off the road...
We eventually hit on a solution to straightening the disk, heating it with my Coleman stove and whacking it with the back of a hatchet and bending it between two concrete posts laying on the ground. It flattened considerably and we put it back on..."
More here, Sept 26 entry.
Maarten Munnik, Netherlands, around the world, in Australia, Honda Africa Twin,
"Gilberton is a medium size cattle station in Queensland, Australia. 330 square kilometers of land and around 2500 pieces of cattle. Pretty big for a Dutch bloke. In Holland we call 50 cows a lot! ;-) I'm working on my image as a cowboy.
The best part here is mustering, or driving, the cattle. Not on a horse (although that is possible too) but on a 200 cc dirt bike... Great fun, driving through the hills, gullies and valleys. Plunging in steep descents, climbing even steeper hills... and having the occasional crash. Looking for cattle and if you find some, drive it to a meeting-place... When we gathered a 'mob' of around 200 or 300 we drive them home. It's amazing how these animals react to the bikes. If done well (and it's tricky) you can make them do whatever you want... Go left, go right... As long as you get the first cow in the right direction, the rest will follow. Then it's just a matter of keeping the herd together. One strays off into the trees, cut it off and send it back.
And don't forget the work in the yard; Branding, cutting horns, vaccinating, castrating (auch) and selecting... a dusty job but it's a real 'cowboy life'.
It does not always go as planned. One time we let a mob of 100 youngsters (1 or 2 years old) out of a corral... and to prevent them from stampeding away you drive in front of them in a straight line. If all goes well, they stay behind you. It's a bit awkward... so many cows (yes also bulls) behind you... trying to find a way to get by, and if one finds a way, the rest will follow. In this case a breakout occurred and Rob (the station owner) ended up with a cow on the back of his bike... Now, this is a nasty situation, for the bike, for the cow and for the bike-driver, so Rob gave the bike over to the cow, but that animal was not too good on a bike so all crashed into the ground. The next moment 100 cows saw their chance and stampeded, leaving us in a cloud of dust. No one got hurt, not even the bike. Maybe Rob's pride had a little dent, but even that was not serious... Life of a shit-kicker is rough.
And when there is some time off? Go and look for gold... This area used to be filled with goldmines and there is still plenty around. So far I have found only a few little bits but the thrill of finding your first bit of gold... even if it's only a tenth of a gram. This shiny yellow material has a magic over it. When I leave here I'll have lots of it... and even if I don't, I don't care... I'm here to enjoy myself, and that I do - big time!
Family life out here is great... Has to be because there is no one else around... They call each other the worst names, smack each other in the ribs, twist arms and run after each other... but it's all for good fun. The nearest town with 1 shop is 250 Km away... The nearest town with a supermarket is 450 Km away... So you don't just 'go out to town' if you're fed up with the rest.
When I get my first kilo of gold I'll give a party and everyone is invited... but at the rate it's going... it might take a while. Maarten"
JD Smith, USA, to Alaska, BMW F650GS,
"I recently attended a Horizons Unlimited (International World Motorcycle Travelers) Meeting in Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada. After the meeting I drove the Alaska Highway through British Columbia, The Yukon and Alaska to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska - the most northern city in the world accessible by road.
One day in Northern British Columbia I saw 7 bears, 1 coyote, 5 Stone sheep, 3 Caribou, 3 Elk and a few deer. The Alaskan Highway during the September leaf fall was extremely beautiful and the weather was quite moderate.
There are 400 miles of dirt road North of Fairbanks into Prudhoe Bay. I traveled 100 - 150 with no trouble but there was a 150-mile section over the last pass into the North Slope and Prudhoe Bay that had received the first permanent snow of the season the night before. The road had been ice-free for 2 - 3 months and I missed my window by 12 hours. I made it to Prudhoe Bay but a truck had to take me into Prudhoe Bay - over the ice."
Bill Thompson and Bo Johnson, USA, western US road trip, BMW R1100R,
"Epic Journey Planned - Mid-Life Crisis Blamed for Lapse in Judgment. Two and one-half years ago Bill Thompson and Bo Johnson were out one spring day fly fishing. Late in the day Bill put down his rod, looked at Bo and said, quite out of the blue, that when he turned fifty he wanted to take a month-long motorcycle trip and tour the west. Bo put down his rod, thought about it for maybe 10 seconds and replied that unless Bill wanted to go on the trip alone, he could count Bo in.
We registered for the beginners motorcycle class at Nashville Tech. After passing the course with flying colors we soon received our motorcycle licenses. We then began shopping for appropriate bikes. We talked to several friends who had extensive motorcycle experience and they all said basically the same thing, 'learn on a small bike and buy something bigger when you get some experience.' It was free advice so we felt free to ignore it. Soon our garages were graced by 1100cc BMW motorcycles, which were way too big and way too fast. Perfect for the mission!"
Notes from the road:
"Pueblo, Colorado - Our day started out with a quick trip to Mailboxes, Etc. to send home a few unneeded items. This is our first extended motorcycle trip and we packed like it was a car trip. Five days on the road gave us a good idea of what we could do without. About 20 pounds of assorted electrical gear and clothes left our bikes a bit lighter and our luggage easier to pack.
Moab, Utah - Arches is one of America's smaller and least publicized national parks. It is accommodating for motorcyclists, however, as it is bisected by a 20 mile road. The views are exquisite. The park was full of impressive rock formations that were the result of millions of years of wind and sand erosion.
Woodward, Oklahoma - There's always a price to pay for the good things in life. Do you remember the mountain passes, gorges, mesas, canyons, sweepers, twisties, high plains, switch-backs and vistas we've raved about for weeks? They came at a price. It's called the Oklahoma Panhandle. Neighbors here can keep an eye on each other. If you lived here, you could step out on your front porch and look over and wave at your neighbor. The thing is he would probably be 20 miles away. It is flat land with little on it. Kansas looks like downtown New York City in comparison.
Mena, Arkansas - It's great being in Arkansas, back with people who don't have an accent.
We took Highway 7 between Russellville and Harrison, Arkansas. Highway 7 is known in the motorcycle world as one of the nation's better roads. It lived up to its' reputation. It offered sweepers and twisties that rivalled anything we have ridden yet..."
Ed. Read the whole story by Bill and Bo on Horizons Unlimited.
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Chris Lockwood USA/Japan; and Daisuke Yokoe, Japan, around the world, in Russia and Japan, BMW F650's
"Greetings from Chris at the European Medical Center in Moscow.
What, you may ask, am I doing mailing you from a hospital? Well, I was in an accident between the cities of Orenburg and Samara. A car ignored a stop sign at high speed and crossed the highway I was traveling on. I managed to avoid a direct hit on the side of the car, instead, clipping the rear end. That sent me flying to the pavement where I broke my left collar bone. I managed to get to the local hospital that x-rayed me, put on a plaster cast (directly on the skin, with no gauze underneath), and sent me on my way with a 'by the way, you'll never regain full control of your arm.' That was by no means satisfactory with me. The next day, I got a flight from Samara to Moscow and a taxi to the European Medical Center. They have a trauma specialist here who scheduled me for surgery the next afternoon. I am now recovering from the surgery and will be back in Japan in about a week to begin rehabilitation. The doctor assures me that I should regain full mobility in my arm. I will try to get a new bike (my F650 is dead) and reunite in South America with Daisuke who is currently riding alone. Advice to fellow travelers: Get insurance. The introduction to a 'real' hospital alone is worth the price I paid.
...I go back to Japan today if Russian customs will let me out without paying a fine for leaving the bike. I spent almost a full day with an un-set fracture trying to get a police report saying the bike will not run. Hopefully this and the cast on my arm will get me through... I am now accepting donations so I can purchase a new bike."
I wrote to see how he was doing, and asked about the bike.
"The front fork was twisted and it had severe body damage. The engine runs but not well. I considered my options and took the offer of a cop to buy it for $1000. Will probably never see the money though. I had him make a bank transfer... I would not be able to go back for the bike for more than a month, and I was in a hurry to get ME repaired. The bike had more than 70,000 km on the meter, too. It would be cold in Russia and cost me $$ just to get back to the bike. The Russian visa alone is a pain in the posterior! It may not have been the best idea to abandon the bike, but it seemed the best option at the moment. I managed to get a police report, so maybe I can get my carnet money back. I slipped by customs in Moscow airport yesterday, so I don't anticipate any trouble from Russia. I'll be back on the road in a few months. I just have to think about the best way to go. Thanks for the words of encouragement. This traveler is down but not out. Heck, I was only on the road 2 months!"
And a while later...
"Hi Grant. My injured arm is much better now. I hope to continue my travels in November or December in South America (if I can scratch up a bike in Chile or someplace). I got the money back for my carnet with no problem because it had not been stamped at all (Russia, etc. don't use the Carnet as you know). The auto club told me that if the bike is totalled in a Carnet country, you need to get proof that it is scrapped from a scrap yard. Then show that to customs in that country and have them write that information on the final page of the carnet in the 'location information' area. (Sorry, I don't have my carnet any more, so I don't know what the actual name of that area is). With that, your auto club should release the carnet deposit..."
So for those who wonder "what happens if I wreck my bike?" there's the answer.
Lois Pryce, UK, Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, in Mexico, Yamaha XT225 Serow,
"Bienvenido a Mexico! Suddenly there was more of everything. More people, more cars, more trucks, more fumes, more noise, more potholes, more stray dogs, more cows on the road. More roads. The latter being the main problem when trying to find our way in and out of any decent sized town, especially when the signposts are just plain wrong! The other dramatic difference was the climate. The ferry had deposited us in the port of Mazatlan, just south of the Tropic of Cancer and the weather was indeed tropical: hot, humid and sticky, while the scenery was suddenly lush and green. The emptiness and barren aridity of Baja seemed to belong to a different country.
The following morning we awoke to a sound I haven't heard since Canada. A sound guaranteed to fill the heart of every motorcyclist with dread. Rain! But not your average, every day, wimpy Canadian type rain. Oh no, this was the proper tropical downpour stuff. So much rain that within an hour the streets had turned to rivers. Through streaky windows we watched as local women hitched up their skirts, wading knee high through torrents of grimy, grey water. Shopkeepers barricaded their doors with sandbags and rows of previously idle taxis, now crammed full of passengers, ploughed through the flooded streets, the drivers no doubt glad of this sudden, if sodden rise in business.
'Cold and wet? In Mexico? In August?' There was nothing else for it but to dig out our long forgotten rain gear and get going. Plus, we now had a deadline. Rachel had booked a flight back to Europe from Mexico City and we were heading to the conveniently located town of Valle de Bravo where she would temporarily store her bike at the home of fellow adventure rider and all round motorcycling hero, Juan Carlos Ibarra.
Every day, all day we rode solidly in the pouring rain, dodging the brimming potholes and cursing our waterproofs for not living up to their name. Each night we would book into a cheap hotel, taking full advantage of the fact that we were Out Of Season. Soon we developed a routine. Check in, go straight to the room, try not to scare the other guests, pour contents of boots down sink, wring out soaking clothes in shower, hang said clothes from every available hook, hanger and light fitting until room resembles a shanty town. Eat. Drink. Sleep. Ride. Repeat to fade.
...one morning, feeling slightly soggy and sorry for ourselves, I attempted to inject a shot of optimism into the conversation. 'Well, at least the bikes are running well', I said cheerfully. This was the cue for my bike to blow an oil seal, duly depositing half a litre of Mexolube on to the petrol station floor. But help was at hand, in the guise of local motorcyclist, George and his 600cc sports bike. 'Follow me!' he instructed as he wheelied the wrong way up a one way street. I dutifully followed to find him parked outside the workshop of the local moto mechanico who, to the delight of Rachel and I, resembled a young Che Guevara. Che knew just what to do. I was up and running again in less than half an hour. Muchas gracias all round.
So at last we arrived in Valle de Bravo, and to a hero's welcome from Juan. The ultimate host, he soon made it clear that he would assist us with our every motorcycling need and we spent a couple of days cleaning things, drying things and performing essential maintenance on the bikes."
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Doris Maron, Canada, RTW, in Greece and Italy, Honda Magna 750,
"My border crossing into Greece was so easy I could hardly believe it. The officer looked at my passport and handed it back. I asked, 'don't you want anything for my bike?' He waved his arm in dismissal and said 'goodbye'.
The highlight of my ride across Greece was a little place called Meteora. Meteora is an area of beautiful towering rocks reaching up to 600+ meters high. On top of the rocks are magnificent monasteries that sit like a crown on a prince's head. As I rode around the sharp curves I marvelled at the magic of this place.
After only five days in Greece, I took the overnight ferry from Igoumenitsa, Greece to Brindisi, Italy. As most passengers, I didn't book a berth. Once I had my bike parked I went up on deck, found a chair and enjoyed the sea breeze. Shortly after midnight I looked around for a place to sleep. On the top deck there were several large wooden boxes about 10 feet long - probably contained life saving apparatus. I claimed one and settled down for a very uncomfortable sleep. It didn't take long for the other large boxes to be claimed for beds as well as every available spot on the floor of the restaurant and lounge.
I spent 12 days riding through Italy - from Brindisi to Naples, Rome, Pisa, Florence and Venice. It's a great country for riding and I met many touring bikers on the road. It's good to see people riding with helmets and riding gear again - now I don't feel so out of place!"
Peter Slarke (aka Oz) and Jess, UK, Alaska to Patagonia, in Alaska and Canada, Honda Dominator,
Jess' story: "The Denali Highway gives endless views of snow peaked mountains, forest , lakes and grasslands and not a soul to be seen only the occasional RV or truck that passes you. Top of The World Highway took us over the Canadian border and offered more in the way of jaw dropping scenery and the first views of the Yukon river winding its way through the remote forested valleys.
The Yukon rocks! We like it and were going to stay... or maybe we'll just come back and live here. Dawson City is the coolest little place. If your looking for a city you'll be sorely disappointed but if you want to chill out in the true wild west style this is the place. Saloon bars, dancing girls, casinos. Totally quirky and even though geared to the tourists it comes without the cheese! But we were going to have to wait to enjoy the high life of Dawson, we had another arse numbing mission in mind.
Jealous of Oz's arctic experience, I convinced him that he needed to do it again. We travelled on 500 miles of dirt road up the Dempster Highway to Inuvik (the furthest north you can get to by road in the North West Territories). The road was in great condition and we got up to Inuvik without a hitch. I couldn't help thinking it would have been a very different story if we'd hit some bad weather. We were told the roads turn into mud within hours and the skill then is just staying on the road. The scenery again just blows you away. Unbroken views that stretch for 180km in every direction and not a single person in it. A truck or RV passes you maybe every half hour but other than that its just you the bike and the wilderness."
For more stories, check out Peter's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
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Gregory Frazier, USA, with the ultimate fish story, in Alaska, KLR,
"Crossing one stream I was hit by a fish. The clean glacial stream was about one foot deep and fifty yards wide. Near midstream my focus on the rocks and water ahead of me was shifted quickly to what looked in my peripheral vision like a log moving upstream towards me. Before I could analyze what I was seeing it ran right into my front wheel with a 'thunk'. Then it started to thrash around in the water. I was so surprised I forgot to put my foot down to steady the motorcycle and both the Kawasaki KLR 650 and I flopped on our sides in the water.
A 30-40 pound King salmon swimming rapidly upstream towards its spawning ground had run into my motorcycle. While I thrashed around in the water trying to keep my cameras from getting wet, the salmon got its bearings right, and swam around the downed motorcycle and on upstream. It was so close I could have grabbed it had I not had my dripping cameras in both hands.
Once I got the motorcycle righted I could not get it to start. When it fell on its left side it had been running, so sucked water into the engine through the air intake port, killing the motor. Water had also gotten into the electrical system. I spent the next hour on the stream bank trying to get it to run, and slowing killing the battery with each unsuccessful attempt. After an hour I was reaching a high stress point because I realized it was salmon spawning time and I was on the bank where bears liked to eat their catch. So there I was, with no gun, alone, and stranded on the bank of Bear-All-You-Can-Eat-Alaska-Salmon-Café..."
Ed. Luckily Greg survived to tell this fish story and others - read all about Greg's recent adventures in Alaska on Horizons Unlimited.
Arno Backes and Sian Mackenzie, Germany and UK, Australia via USA to South America, in Bolivia, on BMW R100GS PD and Yamaha XT600E,
"After 200kms or so, the road changed to packed earth, still easy to ride but now and again it was covered with sand. Not a problem but it slowed us down a little. There were lots of villages along the way, mostly by rivers. Most of the rivers were dry or pretty low and most had bridges - at least for light vehicles. A couple of times though we got wet feet as the bridge hadn't yet been rebuilt after the last flood.
The next day Arno's starter motor turned temperamental and wouldn't work, perhaps it knew what was ahead. It eventually sprang to life and we continued on towards San Jose, 100kms away. 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."
For more stories, check out Arno and Sian's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
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Diego Gamboa, Costa Rica, Costa Rica to Canada, in Mexico, BMW F650,
"The coastal road towards Valle de Bravo was without a doubt the highway I have enjoyed most up till now. It is a mountain highway with many curves and very few cars. Since we are in the rainy season there has been one landslide after another but in the highest part I encountered an apparently impassable one. However in a short while with help from others who were stuck there, we built a roadway, got the motorcycle through, also a car and a truck.
Juan Carlos Ibarra hosted me in Valle de Bravo. This expert motorcyclist has already made a trip similar to mine and is planning a trip from Valle de Bravo to Ushuaia. He helped me a lot with the motorcycle, advice on equipment and handling, etc.
... After 29,000 kilometers, 8 countries, two and a half months, I have returned to Costa Rica."
Ed. Juan Carlos and Gerardo Ibarra are hosting the first Horizons Unlimited Mexico Travellers Meeting in Copper Canyon next month. Details here.
Richard Parkinson and Lisa Godfery, New Zealand, UK to NZ, in Turkey, Yamaha TDM850,
"We had no problems crossing from Greece into Turkey but had to pay 9 Euros for a temporary import licence for the bike. We headed straight down to the Gallipoli peninsula and found a beautiful campsite on the beach front of a national park. We spent a day visiting various ANZAC and Turkish cemeteries and monuments from the of the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign of World War I.
It was great visiting at this time of year as there were so few people around and surprisingly we were the only non Turkish visitors we saw visiting the sites that day.
We imagined it would be a bit of a headache riding into Istanbul as its such a big city and although the Turks are crazy drivers and it was very busy we didn't have any problems finding our way in. We also found a hotel in the old town around Sultanamet that accommodated Bob in the lobby so we had no security worries.
Everything is so close here that it's pleasure sightseeing and wandering around and we visited the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Aya Sofya, the Grand Bazaar and Egyptian Bazaar and an evening cruise on the Bosphorus.
After 4 great nights in Istanbul we reluctantly gave up the hotel keys and headed south along Turkeys western coast to Behramkale where we camped on the shores of a gorgeous bay under the ruins of the city of Assos. It has a beautiful little harbour with tiny fishing boats and most campers had all but left for the summer season so we almost had the place to ourselves."
Ed. See Richard and Lisa's blog here on Horizons Unlimited.
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Peter and Kay Forwood, Australia, around the world since 1996, in the USA, on a Harley-Davidson,
"The HOG Parade of Flags had to muster at 4 am. So at 3 we woke just as the last revellers were heading off to bed. Harley had limited the number of participants in the parade to 10,000. The Muscular Dystrophy Association Heroes, those who raised large amounts of money, in front, HD executives and VIP's next, HOG Chapter representatives, including us, one member bike from each club from all over the world and lastly the lucky random winners of a place. Quite a line up. Having to be here first we watched the others roll into the parking lot for the next four hours. The HOG chapters, parade of flags was by far the most impressive, flags and poles supplied, bikes dressed up with home town memorabilia from all over the world including our riding partners, Ray, Vivian and Priscilla the inflatable kangaroo, from the Adelaide Chapter in Australia.
Two abreast we rode the 11 km through streets packed with cheering crowds, screaming, snapping photos and wanting hand slaps as we passed. Being the most noticeable Australians, the Kangaroo on one motorcycle and Australia emblazoned on our windscreen we received extra cheers of welcome from the crowd. Pumped, we entered the main H-D area to displays of famous and antique bikes, stunt and drill experts such as the incredible Craig on a Buell motorcycle and the Indianapolis Police on Harley-Davidsons. Ford put on a monster truck display while at another area a BMX stunt team did amazing aerial displays. The Ball of Steel, 4 metres diameter, had three motorcycles inside defying gravity and precision riding upside down and horizontally as they narrowly passed each other. This was all interspersed by great bands and of course the feeding frenzy. We were unable to hang around for the evening band, exhausted, choosing to ride home in daylight."
Ed. After riding back across the continent to present to an enthusiastic audience at the HU Revelstoke meeting, Peter and Kay spent a night with us (Peter somewhat appalled at how sedentary we've become, but Kay was very interested in the garden ;-) before heading down to San Francisco to ship back to Australia and prepare for the next trip. The Forwood's have been to 143 countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North and South America. Horizons Unlimited is proud to host their entire trip story here.
Merritt Grooms, USA and Pierre Saslawsky, France, across Africa, in Ethiopia and Kenya, BMW F650's,
"We left Addis and traveled South through incredibly dense crops and rich countryside. Stopping in several villages and being met with one thousand handshakes, Ethiopia left us with beautiful and diverse experiences that we will never forget. We were then swept into and openly welcomed by Kenyan people. The road in the North of Kenya, however, was amongst the most difficult we have experienced. Sure, we missed an AK47 attack by the bandits on a police station one day after we got through, after which the piste was closed, but that's Africa right?
Now we are in Nairobi, at the Upper Hill Campsite and will stay and play for at least 2 weeks before exploring the country. The travelers we are meeting here are the most interesting and provoking yet! The day after we arrived in the city, our picture was on the front page of the Daily Nation, the largest newspaper in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, with 2.5 million readers.
Everywhere we go, people cheer us up and encourage us; some even ask for autographs. Difficult to stay insensitive to so much energy around us. Our love for travel and towards one another continues to grow..."
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Daniel Todd, USA/Puerto Rico, second around the world tour, in the Philippines, KLR650,
"After full circle of Luzon I reached Manila on a Friday afternoon and had no desire to wait three days to renew my 21-day visa. Instead I decided to continue on into the State of Bicol in Southwestern Luzon and try and catch the Mad Dogs on one of their annual rallies. Another typhoon was moving in and my best option was to 'hole up' for some days with some more bikers! My political friends in Manila assured me that they could sort-out my expired visa anytime but I considered this a grave error as I later realized the consequences I would face if I were to get into an accident or who knows what else.
I finally stopped just short of Legaspi in the torrential downpour and watched all the Mad Dogs roar past on their Harleys on their way back to Manila to complete a 1200 Km ride in this weather! Bicol is known for perfectly symmetrical volcanoes and the views from some of the Spanish colonial cathedrals made of stone were awesome! The journey became even more interesting when I left Luzon and started hopping car ferries and other boats on an almost daily basis through the Visayas in the Central Philippines. This was an excellent opportunity to meet the locals as the journeys were up to eight hours. Most of these rides never cost more than five dollars for both the bike and I. At least once a day I would pull off the road and take a swim, sharing the beach with only the fisherman or the women doing their laundry. I had every kind of road from perfect asphalt to deep mud and rocky roads but in general the roads got worse as I went south. But this was one of my first journeys with out a single puncture and I was grateful for that!
The scuba diving was spectacular in Boracay and Sabang, especially the deeper ones where I saw loads of manta rays and other marine life. I scared myself silly one morning descending into the abyss when my regulator malfunctioned and let seawater into my mouth. Nearly choking to death I bolted back to the surface, which luckily was very near and coughed my lungs out!
I was severely disappointed in the end since I could not exit from the other side of the country in Mindanao. This was due to the fact that I had to post a bond with customs in Manila and this could not be refunded at any other place! I would have to ride all the way back to Manila, apply for my refund and then find passage on another container ship! Knowing what I know now, I would have forfeited my $450 (I lied about the value of the bike) and have taken one of the many ferries that ply these seas to Borneo or Sulawesi. This one event radically changed the outcome of my journey through SE Asia. But Mindanao at present is one of the hottest places on the planet with regular kidnappings of foreigners and terrorist planting bombs in many of the larger cities. All along my journey people urged me not to ride Mindanao. While this never dissuaded me, maybe things really do happen for a reason..."
André Lomme, New Zealand, India to Germany, in Iran and Turkey, R100GS,
"In 4 days in Esfahan I met Greg with his Enfield again, he had made it somehow over the Pakistan / Iran border without a Carnet in only 3 days. Also Andy on his Africa Twin showed up at the hotel and we decided to make it into Turkey together. From Esfahan we took a shortcut over small roads and ended up on gravel in the middle of a beautiful part of the countryside. After some dusty photo shootings and trying to figure out who gets the most stylish around the corner, kids stuff, we ended in a small village where houses are build of mud and clay, as mostly in this area, we got invited by a family. After parking the bikes in the courtyard dinner was prepared and we tried conversations with hands and feet and the help of a textbook English / Farsi.
In Tabriz we easily found a hotel and ended the day with a walk around town. The next day was again a bit of a service day. Since the oil change in Pakistan the oil temperature was getting quite high 110° - 120° C which had never happened before even in the Australian outback.OK it was really hot in the Baluchistan Desert and now in Iran as well but I didn't have a good feeling. So an oil change and synchronizing the carbs was quickly done.
From Tabriz it was only 300 km to the border and getting the exit stamp from the Iranians was a bit confusing but then done in no time. The Turkey site was the most time consuming I had so far on this trip. After waiting 30 min. at a Gate to reach immigration and customs and a stamp from a health check person (?), they had a power cut so all the computers where not working. After 3 hours lying around and sleeping they got back the power and the chaos started, many people where waiting by now. After some palaver with customs and some extra money for them we finally where free to go. Dogubayazit was only 30km more and it had a great campsite with a great view and yes the first cold beer was excellent."
Ed. For more stories, see André's blog on Horizons Unlimited.
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Simon McCarthy and Georgie Simmonds, UK to Asia, in India, BMW R100GS and Enfield,
"I admit that we added a number of hardships to our trip (travelling on a bike, going to the most populous part and arriving in the pre-monsoon heat) that could have been avoided, but there is no denying that India was the most extreme place we have visited, ever.
First, Indian's are big on 'Karma' - that is the philosophy of 'if something happens to me it is because I did something before and one of the god's wants payback' and 'if my Karma is good, I can do what I like with impunity'. Second, Indian drivers' road sense is based on the 'walking through a crowded market' ethic - 'I'll drive wherever I like, bump into things and push things out of the way, and if my Karma is good, I'll make it home'.
So the whole road system is like a dodgem-car ride, and they play dodgems with trucks. On average we saw a freshly wrecked truck (with its load still onboard) every 25kms.
We knew in advance that this would be a problem, and had fitted the bikes with extra loud horns (Georgie's bike now has 6 horns and mine has 4), but that still did not get rid of the problem of cars just pulling into the space that we were occupying. Cars would try to overtake us and the 3 buses ahead of us, then realize that the trucks heading towards them on the other side of the road would seriously threaten their karma and then they'd pull into us; time after time, every time. In such circumstances the local bikers all head for the side of the road and allow the bigger vehicle to be an idiot. But being stroppy euro bikers we stood our ground with horns blaring, to the amazement of the offending drivers. They were even more amazed when I started to kick in their passenger doors as we rode (a dangerous thing to do by the way - you have to avoid kicking the wheels). In all but one of the 20 times I ruined car doors the drivers slowed down and started behaving properly. So much for being 'ambassadors for your country' - better to be a live hooligan than a dead ambassador.
Next to Agra to see the Taj Mahal and Red Fort (both sanctuaries). Along the way we started to collect photos of various types of man-made (actually woman-made) dung-hills. We'd first seen cow-poo being collected for fuel in Mongolia, but in India they have perfected the practice. The dry poo is collected (there are always cows around, even in the heart of a city), and then rehydrated and mushed up by hand. The refreshed poo is moulded into 'ideal sized' pies and either left to dry on the ground, or preferably stuck to a wall. No wall is safe, we even saw poo pies drying on the boundary walls of the Taj Mahal! Once dry the pies are stacked and then covered against the oncoming monsoon rains - the preferred covering is either another layer of poo, or a nicely thatched roof and walls.
...The one thing that kept us sane in India was the food. Wonderful veggie curries and freshly baked naan, whenever and wherever you want it. Thank heavens for our rigorous training in curry houses in England. When we get home we'll look out for some new tastes we've acquired - paneer (buffalo cheese like mozzarella) curries, dahl (lentil stew), maater (peas) and super sweet deserts. You can even order Maater Paneer curry - yes, cheesey peas!"
Check out all their stories on Simon and Georgie's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
Mike Chapman, UK, in Idaho and Montana, USA, Yamaha R6,
"Instead of heading north (the shorter route), I decide to head south the scenic route and I am not disappointed. This route takes me up and over a very large mountain range and into Grand Teton National Park. The scenery is just beautiful, not long into the park I notice cars pulling over and people running to a fence, I also pull over and wonder what the excitement might be? In the field a herd of Buffalo graze, I stand and watch them in awe. Buffalo. Wow! My first buffalo I had ever seen, last time I saw one of these was on TV in a Wild West movie. Buffalo wow!
A crack of thunder took my attention away, I look up black clouds approaching, here we go again! Before I get back to the bike the heavens open with some very large hailstones. As I am pulling on my wet gear all you can hear me saying is 'ouch oww ouch oww' these are not small hailstones I look for cover...none! I crouch behind the bike for protection, but stray hailstones hit their mark...owww! The storm is over quickly and I move on. The road is flooded. I look back over my shoulder, lift my visor and mutter 'buffalo Wow!'
... I had what looked on the map a fairly easy ride of about 130 miles. How wrong was I! I had no indication that between me and Billings was a huge mountain that I had to go up and over, they call this place the 'Top of the World' I prefer to call it 'Gods country' I started to realise that I was getting higher due to the snow all around me, and fingers that were getting colder and colder... When I thought I had reached the top I still had at least another 30 minutes of twists and turns that was turning my hair grayer by the minute. Sometimes I would just close my eyes and hope that I made the bend in the road! The views were spectacular the mountains that looked so big from afar now I was looking down on them!
When I reach the top I park at the scenic over look, the sun was almost down, and the air so crisp and fresh it hurts your lungs. I had the feeling of being able to reach up and touch the clouds, this really was Gods country. Now it was time to go, I looked down and could see the road snake its way round the mountain, and if you must know I said a little prayer! I walk over to the bike and check the tyres make sure I have enough rubber, forget roller coaster rides for thrills. Just take the bike and ride up this mountain! I arrive in Billings the sun has set over an hour ago. When I get to my room I fall asleep straight away, I guess it must have been all the excitement!"
Chris Bright, UK, (RTW 1999-2002), in India on an Enfield,
"People and views are great. Glaciers, snow, windswept plains, steep 'roads', mud, dust, rock, wildlife, goats, cows, the lot. Manali is below the tree line. Lots of stuff grows here.
All the people smile. Some just stare. But then you smile at them and say 'joolay', which means 'hello', 'goodbye', 'thanks', 'I think your wife looks a fine woman', 'your cat must like chasing mice', 'aren't Enfield's great thoroughbred machines' etc and they all say 'joolay' back and smile. Even got a free spark plug socket from a mechanic. He refused to accept my money. Also got Paul's rear break line welded for free by the Indian army (plus 3 cups of chai). Luckily he was riding up hill when it snapped.
Also had 3 punctures in one day. Only had 2 spare tubes. Abandoned my bike on the plain and hitched to the nearest tent village. As I already have a PhD in BMW, I can say I have at least a M.Sc. in Enfield.
... Arrived back in Manali last night. In the rain. In the back of a truck.
At 5pm, just over the Rotang pass (4000m) in big cloud and lots of rain. Down hill in 2nd gear. Taking it real easy. The engine stalls, the back brake doesn't work (the front hasn't worked since Leh... Peter Fonda's bike in easy ride never had a front brake either.). Heading towards a right-hand hairpin bend. Luckily the back wheel had seized so badly, the bike skidded to a stop before the edge and before I had to consider driving into the hillside to my left or dropping the bike (nice friction: steel on wet tarmac).
Waited half an hour in the hail and rain until a pickup came by. What fun. Bouncing up and down with petrol seeping out of the tank. The fumes... Mmmmmmh... And it only cost 300 rupees for the lift!
Am chilling today. Getting the bike repaired before I return it. The whole inside of the back wheel is donald ducked. The front turns kind of funny too. Great exhaust sound though. Will prob take a bus somewhere. Bye, cb and Norman (yes, he's here too...)"
Ed. See Chris' stories about his RTW trip on Horizons Unlimited.
Paul Schencking and Yolanda, USA, Laguna Beach to Alaska and back, Honda Gold Wing,
"We begin our round-trip from Northpole to the Arctic Circle aware of the extensive wildfires that broke out along the Dalton Hwy just a day ago. The Dalton Hwy itself is a hand full on the Gold Wing two-up. But the dense smoke for 40 miles of our way makes it a challenge.
The picture shows the scenery before we enter into the smoke. Further on there are open fires just next to the road. There is no sun anymore. We dare not stop as we fight our way through this mess for two hours. We are rewarded when we finally reach our goal, the Arctic Circle at 10 p.m. with the sun shining. However, the smoke is catching up with us as the wind carries it North beyond the Arctic Circle. Masked by the thick smoke the sun now looks like an orange planet. We had back south and arrive in Northpole at 4 a.m. This was a 14 hour / 250 mile round-trip. We did not see a single motorcycle on the Dalton and only very few trucks.
Now I know the Dalton can be done on a Gold Wing. The rear tire took a beating and there are many cuts in the rubber. Luckily not deep enough to make a tire change necessary. The bike survived the trip with only minor nicks and scratches. I changed the oil once in Fairbanks. The Gold Wing didn't consume a drop (of oil that is). The rear tire needs to be checked regularly, as it carries a heavy load. It was completely gone after 7000 miles. The cord was showing when it was replaced in Bellingham.
The next larger trip is in the works. I want to see South America... Paul"
One Year on the Road, Cinq Continents en Moto, by Manou Emringer and Ellen Spencer, in English and French. "This travelogue illustrated with over 400 photos follows their journey through North and South America, West Africa, Europe and Asia."
Available only through Manou and Ellen directly. Don't forget to tell them where you heard about it.
From Nordkapp to Cape York on a Motorcycle, by Werner Bausenhart. Werner, 66, was born in Germany and worked in Canada until his retirement. He has authored a number of books since getting bit by the motorcycle travel bug, including 8 Around the Americas by Motorcycle, Into the Den of the Bear and the Lair of the Dragon on a Motorcycle, and Africa Against the Clock on a Motorcycle.
Werner's latest book describes his travels from Nordkapp to Australia overland, and back to Canada to complete the RTW trip. Should be an inspiration to any of you who have been thinking you're too old to go around the world on a motorcycle!
All his books are available directly from Werner. Tell him we sent you and get US$5.00 off the regular US$20 price!
La Vuelta Al Mundo Por La Paz, America del Sur, Un Sueno que se hace Realidad, Ricardo Rocco Paz.
This book, in Spanish, with pictures, describes Ricardo's circumnavigation of South America. He also has a couple of videos!
"Más que una crónica de viaje, es un libro que relata las experiencias humanas; relata la viviencia emocional del autor-motociclista en un proyecto por la Paz y contra las drogas, dándole una motivación inspiracional a sus viajes."
Contact Ricardo directly for purchase details. Don't forget to tell him where you heard about it.
The Producers of Mondo Enduro present Terra Circa, Around the World by Motorcycle (6 x 20 minute episodes).
Regular readers of this newsletter will remember Terra Circa's adventures around the world, and especially the Zilov Gap. Now's your chance to see it in video. Austin Vince is a very funny guy and the video is hilarious, as he leads his intrepid crew through misadventure after misadventure.
"This is adventure motorcycling" says Chris Scott, who wrote the book, so he ought to know!
Contact Austin directly for the PAL video or CD. Don't forget to tell him where you heard about it.
Looking for a travel book for someone special?
There's links to Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, and Amazon Deutschland, so no matter where you are - you can order books at great prices, and we'll make a dollar or a pound or a Euro, which goes a very little way to supporting this e-zine.
There's also links to search Amazon sites for all their products, books, CDs etc., and yes, we get a tiny piece of that too. We really appreciate it when you start your book search from our website! Thanks for the support!
Book suggestions please!
If you have a book or want a book that you think other travellers would be interested in please let me know and I'll put it on the site. Thanks, Grant
A very good link...
which I took to heart - that's why the newsletter's late.
Important Tech Bulletin (everyone should read it even/especially non-BMW riders :)
"The hardest thing to learn in life
is which bridge to cross and which to burn."
"Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections
must first be overcome"
"Two roads diverged in the wood, and I, I took the
one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."
"A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be
wrong is to think you control it."
"...we really enjoyed the get together
in Revelstoke and got a kick out of everyone's enjoyment of our slide show!
Now to plan something a little more adventurous than Europe... :)
"Top class read, makes me want to pack
up and get on my bike!"
"Just got back from the HU meet in derbyshire, thanks
again to you both for a great site, I'll be using it a shedload over the coming
year when I do the panamerican."
"Thanks for a great site, guys!"
"It's wonderful to have the opportunity
of getting fresh news from all over the world on bike travels. Thanks."
"One of the, if not 'the' best motorcycle
information websites out there. I've gleaned so much info from reading others
experiences it's given me so much confidence to go out and try the big adventure
"We would like to say
thanks to everyone we met, it was the sights and folks along the way that
made the journey. Most of all we wish to thank the Horizons site as this gave
us invaluable help and enabled us to meet some of the folks."
You're very welcome, and we appreciate your support, Bob!
"A wonderful source for motorcycle travel
information. Grant and Susan publish a monthly newsletter. Just ask for details
on how to enter into their system, and you will have at your finger tips an
unbelievable source of information."
"Whoa! What a super site. May take
me awhile to absorb it all ... ;0) I've subscribed to the e-zine. Many thanks
for your help. Safe riding,
"We're doing our bit on advertising
the HU site. Most overlanders we meet have used it extensively, and some hotel
owners in popular places like Kathmandu have heard of it from past bikers!"
"Grant & Susan, good work on the
website - the info on this site has really helped a total motorbike travelling
novice like myself!"
"I discovered your site this afternoon...
"We have used your page for preparing
our tour and as far as we get internet we keep in contact with the HUBB. Thanx
for creating your site."
"Grant, Thanks for the welcome. After
reading through the site I was really impressed with the varied nature of
the site. I keep telling all my friends about it and one thing I couldn't
believe. In one of the other forums a person mentioned using camels to cross
part of the Sahara I believe. A person replied with unbelievably detailed knowledge
of where to rent the best camels for desert crossing. I was blown away. Thanks
"Your site must be an inspiration to
many around the globe. I was planning a overland trip to Britain some years
ago, lack of information stalled the trip, I wish you had been around then.
I plan a trip to the Australia centre later this year and next year if all
goes well I am off overseas, North and South America. Your site has inspired
me to follow my mind."
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ISSN 1703-1397 Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' Ezine - Copyright 1999-2003, Horizons Unlimited and Grant and Susan Johnson. All rights reserved.
Redistribution - sending it on to friends is allowed, indeed encouraged, but other than the following requirements, only with permission. You may forward copies of the Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' e-zine by forwarding it yourself by hand. You must forward the issue in its entirety, no fee may be involved. Please suggest they Subscribe!
Legal gibberish: (particularly for those in countries that have more lawyers in one town, just for instance, New York, not to name any names, than some whole countries, as another example, Japan. Again, not naming anybody specifically you understand) Recommendations are based on positive or negative experiences of somebody, somewhere. Your mileage (kilometrage if you insist) may vary. We are not responsible in any way for any product or service mentioned, and do not warrant any such mentioned product or service, and are not responsible for any bad things that may befall you. You are responsible for yourself! Act accordingly. We check all links and information given as close as possible to publication, and all info is correct as best we can determine at that time.
Didier Martin, France / Australia, around the world for World Vision, in USA, F650GS,
"Back on the road, at last! Hwy 1 is California's premier scenic highway, and it certainly deserves the title. The brilliant coastal scenery is breathtaking with towering golden cliffs plummeting down to the rock-strewn sea, which can change from peacock blue to the deep purple of a marlin's back in a heartbeat. I saw many bikers along the way and every time I stopped, people would start to talk to me, wondering where I was heading to and where I came from. For some reason they were astonished at what I was doing. Americans usually only get two weeks vacation per year and spend them in America so it's hard for them to imaging how can someone take a year or more off and just go traveling. Even when I am riding along the freeway people acknowledge me with a hand wave as they pass me by, something I have not experience anywhere else.
I have just started my third and final leg which will take me from the USA to Argentina to eventually finish in Buenos Aires early next year. In a couple of day I will cross the border into Mexico and make my way through Central America. Then I will be facing some more difficult countries like Colombia or Peru but I hope that my bad luck is over now and that it will be a smooth ride all the way to Ushuaia."
Ricardo Rocco Paz, Ecuador, "Around the World for Peace," in USA,
"... I said goodbye to Eric Haws, my great friend and mentor, who rode with me for a while up to some road crossing and then indicated the direction for me to continue my trip. It's the only thing I don't like about traveling, to say goodbye of such dear friends like Eric and Gail Haws, Glen Heggstad, like Peter and Kay Forwood, like Grant and Susan Johnson, like Todd, Peter, Ken and all of them. People that have done so much for adventure motorcycling. It's like a little piece of myself gets left behind. It's kinda how I felt when I left Colorado, and my good friends Matt Stackpole, Ed Tarleton and Greg Frazier.
... I go towards Auburn, one of the satellite cities, to meet Tom Hunter, another friend from the Internet, an adventure motorcyclist just like us. He has better luck than I though, since he remains married to his lovely second wife, who is also a motorcyclist and with whom Tom has done some long trips, including Alaska and Central America.
Tom greets me with incommensurable hospitality in his cozy home and takes me to do the touristy things in all the interesting places of this fascinating city. Also I take advantage of the opportunity to share with him all the necessary information about South America, for his next trip to the sub continent. This is easier every time for me, since I'm working on my South American Moto Travelers Handbook that with some luck will be my second published book. Likewise, I get to buy a new sleeping bag in one of the biggest camping stores of the USA, since it's about time I start camping."
Dan Walsh , UK, USA to South America, BMW F650 Dakar,
August 10 "I'm in Antigua, Guatemala, heading south. Mexico was incredible, an absolute winner, and nothing like I was ignorantly expecting."
Rene Cormier, Canada, around the world, F650GS,
"I am here in New Brunswick recuperating after nailing a deer a few weeks back. I am ok, but getting parts through BMW Canada is like pulling teeth - sigh... This little incident is going to cause a change in my schedule, and I am not able to make the La Paz HU meeting..."
"I am crossing the to the US today, so we are back under way. In the rain, of course. Good thinking with Copper Canyon."
If you can't make one, go for the other! See you in Copper Canyon!
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Simon Kennedy, Ireland, RTW, in USA, Transalp,
"I am currently in upper NY state and am heading towards Mexico for mid-October."
And the Mexico Travellers Meeting I think!?
Chris Jones and Spice Griffith, USA, around the world, KLR650's,
"Hello Horizons. My name is Chris Jones and I have been a big fan for a few years. My girlfriend and I finally left on our own 2 year round the world trip on June 17. We would love to be in your Travelers Tales section as we have immensely enjoyed reading your own and those on the e-zine. Our website is www.rtw101.com Let us know what we need to do to officially be included on the Horizons site. We have already put a link and reference to Horizons in the motorcycle section of our own site. Thank you and we look forward to crossing paths in the future. Chris and Spice."
Chris writes to the Leon, Mexico HU Community August 11:
"We are from Atlanta, Georgia in the US and currently in Tucson, Arizona getting things together before we enter Mexico next week. I think we will do all the usual things, Copper Canyon, etc. but we also plan to take a two-week Spanish Immersion course in Guanajuato. I am not sure when we will be there probably a couple weeks, but I have a couple questions for you if you don't mind. Are there any bike shops in town where I may be able to get some oil and other little things? From what we have read, Guanajuato is a pretty large city. Any advice you have for a language school around town or things to see would be greatly appreciated... "
To be included on the HU site is easy - go here for the details.
Frank Butler, Papua New Guinea, around the world in 1000 days, F650GS,
"I thought that you might find this photo interesting in a 'Man Bites Dog' sort of way. It's not often that a guy on a Bike gets to ask a truckie if he's OK.
Anyway, I have been down at the sea side for the last couple of weeks. I have been dividing my time between helping a young American fellow called Fred start up his new Dive business 'Eco Sea Dive' and doing trips to other parts of the coast. I have visited cloud filled ghost towns, an ancient port town now in it's decline, and done some fantastic off road riding. So all in all it's been more of the same - poor me.
I am now on my way to Vietnam, I'll let you know how I get on, apparently getting a bike in there can be a pain in the saddle parts. "
Mika Kuhn, Germany, around the world, in Russia, Tenere (temporarily on a Honda),
"After nearly a month in Vladivostok it was time for me to move on. None of the cargo ships going to Kamchatka was willing to take me and the small Honda to Petropavlovsk. And flying the bike was far over my budget. So I changed the plan and went overland to Magadan. Khabarovsk, Shimanovsk, Tynda, Aldan, Yakutsk, Susuman - more than 5000km on adventurous roads.
... I managed to drown the bike completely under water and mud. It took me a few hours to get it out and going again. I even had to cook the oil to get the water out. It was in bad condition as I arrived in Magadan and as a young Russian biker offered a reasonable amount I sold it to him.
The Soviet Union still exists in the heads of Russian officials here, and of course I have some trouble. Until Monday I will stay in a nice hotel (the manager dropped the price so it fits into my budget) and than I will fly back to Vladivostok. The plan is to go to Lake Baikal, maybe with another bike, or just spend another month in Vladivostok, I will see. Enjoy life. Mika"
Sue Ebers and Mike Coan, USA, touring Europe, in France, Honda GTS1000,
"The walls of Avila were a wonder of military architecture for their time, and today the well-restored walls still completely encircle the rectangular old town. The walls were started in 1090 to stave off the Moors, taking advantage of stones left from ruined Roman walls and buildings in the area. In fact, you can clearly see the 'recycled' stones in the wall; various stones bearing an inscription (and set into the wall up-side down) taken from the roman cemetery, while other stones are carved with a hole or basin, possibly altar stones.
... Salamanca's old town is mostly old buildings faced in a yellow sandstone, that at sunset turns golden in the sunlight. Salamanca also boasts Europe's oldest university and there are many intricately decorated buildings influenced by the Italian Renaissance style. Salamanca also has not one but TWO cathedrals to its name, one built in the medieval period. The other, finished in the early 1700's, was lit by the waning sunlight as we walked past, glowing bright gold.
The plaza in front of it was crowded with people, as a free concert was going on. The city was celebrating a weeklong annual festival with music and performances going on."
Uwe Krauss and Ramona Eichhorn , Germany, around the world, KTM's,
Writing to the Rio Community, August 19;
"Hola Cariocas, We are a German couple travelling around the world and coming to Rio soon. At the moment, we are in Trancoso, in Bahia and should arrive in about five days time. Could you recommend any cheap place to stay, maybe camping with a secure parking for our two KTM's? We would like to meet you anyway for a beer or a Caipirinha. We intend to stay for about two weeks in Rio. See you soon, Ramona and Uwe "
Anton Largiader, USA, in Alaska
"... I'd have tried to make Dawson City, but the border closes at eight, so instead of riding until far too late I pulled off the road (the Taylor Highway between Chicken and Eagle - no, I'm not making that up) and pitched the tent on a little clearing in the tundra. Lit the stove, cooked some ramen noodles and had a beer, then went for a walk to the top of a nearby ridge.
There was no one to be seen for miles and miles. Maybe in the Rockies or the Sierras you can find places that show off the sheer size - isolation, desolation, whatever - of this place, but there's no way that you could see so much of it in so many places. Riding through the Rockies on the way here, I was surprised at how soon they were over. Here in northern Alaska, going 50 or 100 miles with few signs of civilization in between is pretty normal. Last night at the campsite, I 'ran down the road' 15 miles to get beer, and I thought that was pretty close. Going towards Eagle, I went about 50 miles without seeing another car on the road.
Although I'm not an avid hiker, and I sure don't have hiking gear with me, I've found myself hiking more than I expected, simply to get to see more stuff. Especially in the southern part of Alaska, there are the most fantastic trails taking you to glaciers, mines, waterfalls, and more. Anchorage is nearly heaven for people who like hiking and winter sports. Wrangell-St. Elias Park is awesome (and the largest in the US), and even if you don't want to get out of your car you can drive right through some pretty spectacular stuff. Visit Alaska, especially in late June and July. You'll love it."
Erik and Hanka, Germany, around the world, Honda Transalp,
"...today we greet you from Panama town center. Our virus infections we left in South America and we are now fresh and lively for the second continent of our journey - at least nearly: Erik tilted the motorcycle briefly, so that he limps now somewhat. But it is ok to drive and that is most important!"
Jason Grotte, USA/Netherlands to New Zealand, in Laos, BMW R1150GSA,
"I crossed the Mekong River at the Thai border town of Chiang Khong. Now I am in Laos. The first night I stayed in the Lao town of Huay Xai, right in the Golden Triangle. Being that roads where very bad in the mountains, I opted to find a small boat for me the bike, and to travel a day the Mekong to village called Pak Beng. From Pak Beng I would make my way north through small villages to the first town called Udom Xai. The road was dirt and snaked it way through the green jungle villages just north of the river banks. The amazing thing about riding in Laos, is that the villager all wave, smile, and shout greetings as I rode through. The country is very green and full of mountains. I did not see power lines, or phone poles until I reached Udom Xai. All the villages I passed through where thatched huts on stilts;very simple and clean."
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Daniel Schaller, Switzerland, to Asia, Yamaha XT600E,
"I just took off from Switzerland to a journey that brings me to a place that I don't know yet. My intention is to get to Asia somewhen this year, but who knows yet. I always read the HU newsletter with great enthusiasm, and now I myself am on the road living the dream...
...drove through Syria to Eastern Turkey. The shortest way leads through Kurdistan, close to the Iraqi border. The Turkish army is all around in the region but as a tourist you encounter no other problems except many checkpoints. High up in the mountains I experienced the Kurdish hospitality. Proud people, and they don't make any secret of their hate against Turkey. Although it was only a short piece of road through Turkey, it took me some days to arrive in Iran. I proceeded quite quickly to Tehran to organise the visa for Pakistan. Tehran is a giant city and its traffic set new standards for me. But the Iranian's themselves are very open people and are keen to meet foreigners. Many of them also speak English.
I drove to Pakistan, and this is like day and night. Having seen Iran's welfare, the province of Baluchistan appears much poorer. With their beards and turbans the people look much like the Ex-Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan. But after a 'salam alaikum!' they are very hospitable and nice. I'm currently high up in the Karakoram/Himalayan mountains of Pakistan..."
Jens Pillat, Germany, around the world, R100GSPD,
"The Highway 1 on the west coast to San Francisco is one of the most beautiful motorcycle distances in the USA, and I am pleased finally to be able to ride curves..."
Simon Milward, UK, around the world, in Peru, home built ROTAX,
"I leisurely rode down the Pacific coast, stopping at a few beaches here and there making most of the warm sea before it turns cold due to the current coming up from the south. I saw the world's biggest mud ruins at Chan Chan on the coast and met Michal from Poland going round the world on his Yamaha cruiser with trailer.
... It has been nice to ride up and down the Andes. I saw the world's highest sand dune at about 2000m. I also had another incident with a two foot deep concrete drainage ditch, this time riding right into it on the exit of a curve, I could hardly believe it, spectacularly sliding my spine along the concrete edge. The bike was hardly scratched, a crack in the front fender basically, after coming to rest upside down in the ditch on top of me. It has been a painful week and the bruises are only now starting to come out. Half an hour later down the road I came across a religious procession of Incas, the whole village of Vado was out giving thanks to the god of water, and they danced around my motorcycle. It was a happy occasion."
William (Nick) Palmer, USA, Round the World, in Montenegro, Bosnia and Croatia, BMW R80G/S,
"Montenegro has a beautiful coast line with sandy beaches and many visitors. If the coast line of Albania is a continuation of what I saw in Greece and Montenegro, there is a source for a wonderful industry - tourism. I did not see futile land or an industrial base at all in Albania, but plenty of sunshine and blue skies. As I stopped in the shade for gas, $3.80 USD, the thermometer on the handlebar showed 102 F. Shortly after departing and back out into the sun, it registered 117 F, my hottest day to date!
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina - a nicely laid out capital city with an 'old city' that is easy to tour by foot. SFOR (NATO) service members from Canada and Italy were present in the city. Bosnia has a population of 6 million. Much evidence of the recent war with destroyed homes as I road north on to Croatia. There is evidence still present on the walls of some offices in downtown Sarajevo also. Earlier in the day the temperature reached its normal 100 + F, but as I was stopping for the evening, a strong rain storm came through dropping the temperature to 60 F.
The ride along the coastline of Croatia was one of the most attractive and pleasant rides I have had. The road is several hundred feet above the sea, will engineered, and the scenes spectacular. The border crossing was very easy on both sides - sort of like welcoming parties. The highway is excellent and gasoline $3.00 USD."
Steffen Utzmann, Germany, North and South America, in the USA, KTM 640 Adventure,
"I had much fun travelling through the National Parks like Yellowstone NP, Rocky Mountain NP, Arches Canyon NP, Canyonland NP, Bryce Canyon NP, etc. Apart from the weather in the Colorado Rocky Mountains (it was raining basically every afternoon), I had much fun seeing all these natural wonders of the American West.
I didn't 'enjoy' so much losing my money in Las Vegas afterwards, but the city is always fascinating. After that I spend a couple of days in Malibu. There I enjoyed riding in the Santa Monica Mountains. Right on Mulholland Hwy there is a motorcycle meeting point called 'the rocks', if you happen to be around on a weekend, you will find many motorcyclists around that place. Or you can just ride up there for the nice and windy roads or a have a snack.
Now I am on my way south again. I will be crossing into Mexico in about a week from now. Being in Southern California, I will try my luck with some body surfing today. Greetings, Steffen"
Martin Rooiman and Jeannette Boom, a.k.a. De Twee Musketiers, Netherlands, around the world, in Australia,
"Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (Olga's) were a must see but a little bit disappointing. Kings Canyon was much better. Leaving Uluru the weather turned nasty and we drove along a pitch black thunderstorm. The temperature dropped to 10°C (Max!) and driving down South it didn't got better. We were lucky with the rain however but even dressed like onions (multiple layers clothing) we were freezing. Problem in the outback is that there is no coffee-stop every 50 kms. The heated handlegrips were fully on... and Jeannette's ones were even melting. We managed to get to Adelaide where we take a break to get back to temperature and buying even more clothing before heading south to Melbourne."
Ed. See Martin and Jeannette's blog here on Horizons Unlimited.
by Lisa Roberts, UK, previously Chasing the Sun, now living in India and hosting motorcycle travellers
"I'm safe, well and happy here in Delhi and enjoying seeing the overlanders as they travel through.
Ted Simon spent a couple of weeks here back in May before shipping his bike to Istanbul. Simon and Georgie stopped off for a few days in June before heading for Pakistan, madness in this heat! Last week Chris Bright and Paul Mason flew out here and headed for Manali for a few weeks of fun on a couple of Enfield's.
... Intrepid travellers are welcome to drop me a line if they want some help or just a place to stay and recoup for a few days. My apartment one hour outside of central Delhi with swimming pool, washing machine and air conditioning is well suited to those who need a break from the madness of the Indian roads and I'm happy to lend a hand to anyone on the road out here... Lisa's e-mail.
Life is good, too much work but plenty of traveling around India. Catch you soon - take care. Lisa Roberts"
by Frank in Bolivia,
"Some days ago we had visitors from Switzerland (Sibylle and Marco - www.sima.li) and Jo Ann from Canada (on your site). The Swiss were here when my wife had the official invitation to the Swiss embassy 'national day'. She asked and finally took them with her to have a great meal and a good time there."
by Timo Scheiber, Vancouver Island, Canada,
"I picked up Paul and Sarah (last name?) (UK) in Nanaimo on Wednesday, and dropped them and their bike (R100GS) off at Shail's this morning. They are staying in a Hostel here in Van until the work is done on the bike – probably a week, if I guess correctly. Shail’s first guess is that the engine will have to be pulled for welding and re-drilling at a machine shop – the heli-coil option is not a good one seeing as they have already had a failed one. They seemed resigned to their fate... I suggested to Paul that he might pull the engine himself, as it is a lot of fairly basic mechanical work, but he didn’t want to go that route, and I can understand that. He has already replaced the shaft on this trip ($1600!). He was aware of the issue, but was told his bike should last (60k miles? Don’t know who told him that).
They have the Overland Solutions racks on, which look quite well done. He says in hindsight he would take two smaller bikes, 250-350cc. Although, so far the things to fail on his machine are fairly typical, and not necessarily caused by overloading or such."
By Brendan Murphy, USA,
Vladimir Yarets Alexeevich, Belorussia,
"Last June '03, while traveling around the Great Lakes, my wife and I ran into Vladimir who wants to go down in the record books as the 1st deaf/mute to go around the world on a mc. He left Minsk, Belarus, Russia on 5/16/03, went thru Europe, from Spain to Morocco, Venezuela, Aruba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Dom. Rep, Cuba,(new engine), all 50 USA states and DC, across Canada to Alaska and Pt. Barrow (!) and back to Colorado where he stayed with us outside Denver for 5 days.
The best time was when he met 6 other deaf/mute bikers at the Rocky Mt H-D party and we all ended up at my house. What a raucous affair it was with hands flying all over the place; I could hardly get a word in edgewise!
He headed out Mon 9/8 for Wyo, the Dakotas, Minn, Neb, Kans, and at present is in KC, MO for a rest and tour of the H-D factory.
Some notes on Vlad: He's 62, at 5'4' and built like a he-man; does pilates and yoga, eats voraciously, likes pickles, and is hard-headed in his quest. He can read and write some English but can understand the simplest sign language you can muster. He's a wonderful, likeable guy who lives hand-to-mouth daily and with his sheer pluck and great karma has made it across borders and situations that would daunt any of us.
You can't help but like the guy and I strongly invite all bikers to help him out any way they can. From the East coast he'll travel back to Calif then south to Baja, mainland Mex, and down the Pan Amer Highway to Tierra del Fuego. From Santiago he heads to NZ, Australia, Indonesia, China and Japan, India, East Africa, Mid East, eventually Tunisia and Italy and then home. To look at his map you'd think he needs a compass or GPS.
He's been featured in many newspaper reports, recently in Anchorage and Thunder Press. My letter brought many sightings the day he arrived. We will miss him and hope he stops in on his way west, barring any snow or cold.
Cheyenne, Wyo 9/8 Casper, Wyo 9/10 Worland, Wyo 9/11 Moorcraft, Wyo 9/12 Kadoka, SD 9/14 Minot, ND 9/16 rain all day St. Paul, MN 9/20 Mankato, MN 9/23 at dad of P.Rico girl Sioux City, IA 9/25 Omaha, NE 9/27 Manhatten, KS 9/28 Topeka & KC 9/29 KC, MO 9/30"
by Jeff Anspach, USA
"There is no doubt that the customary response to the logistics of Kevin and Julia Sander's attempt to go from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina in under 40 days is 'Why spoil a perfectly good adventure by putting such draconian time pressures on it?' Sort of analogous to the reaction people have to skydiving, 'Why jump out of a perfectly good airplane?' Any skydiver would have an easy answer, 'For the adrenaline rush, dude!' But what would the Iron Butter say? Well, in as short of a time frame as possible, I wanted to find out. I dusted off my Honda VFR 800 Interceptor, bought a new helmet and tank bag and hit the open road. For me this was going to be a baptism by fire. I haven't been riding much and am afraid that my once calloused and hardened ass has now become soft and supple...
... Around 9:30 pm Kevin & Julia arrived at the restaurant (in Prince George) in full ride regalia. They had just completed a 700-mile ride from Watson Creek. It was a happy reunion and we immediately pick up from where we left off in Rio. After breakfast we were ready to hit the road but we first had to get those tires changed. In the end it took until 11 am to finally get on the road. Not to worry because Julia had factored in a long pit stop and late departure in her route plan. At this point I still had not come to terms with the seriousness of their mission. They were seemingly at ease and didn't seem too pressed for time considering that they now had to ride 2,000 miles in the next two days and we were leaving at 11 am.
Off we rode through beautiful, empty highways, complete with moose, coyotes and black bears. The temperature was perfect and the sky was blue. We quickly made tracks for the Icefields Parkway, the road that connects Jasper to Banff through the Jasper National Park. Before we got there though we met up with 3 Ecuadorians who had rented Harley-Davidson's in Alaska and were riding down to Mexico on a great road trip adventure. They were excited to join us for a while. It gave me a chance to use some of my Spanish and as always share some stories of the road. At first they seemed very awkward on those big bikes but once we were moving they did a great job keeping up.
We arrived in Jasper in no time but Kevin was starting to feel the need to make more miles so I slugged down a few pretzels and hoped that our new buddies could join us. Kevin sternly said that we couldn't worry about them and that we had to keep moving. So off we sped without the armada. After a little over 400 miles, we arrived in Lake Louise around 6 pm. By now I had become resigned to the fact that I was nothing but an outsider who was only going to get in the way of Kevin and Julia's Guinness World Record attempt. It was very nice of them to let me tag along but the best I could do is to get out of their way. We had dinner at the Lake Louise gas station (not nearly as bad as it sounds, I recommend the trout dinner), took our obligatory photos and said our melancholy goodbyes. A little further down the road I turned off towards Banff and home and they towards Calgary and infamy.
At the end of the day we should take a little lesson from both Kevin and Julia and the Ecuadorians. Sometimes we should Iron Butt it and sometimes we should rent Harleys and take a grand adventure with your buddies. Both experiences are just as noble as the other. Good luck K&J and smash that record!"
Ed. Kevin and Julia have indeed broken another world record - Prudhoe Bay to Ushuaia in 35 days!
Maarten Peeters, Netherlands, to Turkey,
"I'm leaving for Turkey on August 28th. The route: Netherlands-Germany-Austria-Itali-Greece-Turkey. Trip duration 5 weeks. Plan to enter Turkey on September 5th. Main travel destination is Cappadocia but if everything goes well I will ride to the far east of Turkey. "
Brian Coles, UK, North and South America, in USA,
"... a whole month will have flown by tomorrow since I left the UK. What a month! I cannot believe how much has been packed into that month.
It's been amazing - I've spent the last 9 days hooning across from Chicago to here in Yellowstone park. Stopped off at Madison for a couple of days, been through badlands but apart from that its been 350-400 miles a day on the bike. Not a great deal maybe in a car, but on a bike in weather, it's a com-ple-tely different experience. Take wind for instance. In a car you notice the odd gust here and there...on a bike it can put you at riding at a 45 degree angle for bloody hours out here. 'That's Wyoming winds for you' - the locals say.
As soon as I started to hit the hilly stuff 100 miles east of Yellowstone, the rain starting sticking to my visor as the bike climbed over 10000 feet. Oh dear... snow. None of the forecasts or things I had read said that it would snow in September. Chuck in a few miles of ridiculously slippery mud and you have one lad using up his entire life's worth of adrenaline keeping a heavily laden bike upright. I did it. Big grin on my chops when I got to the top of the mountain pass and saw a lodge open. A few hours later I was off in a van in the snow with the locals to a place down the road for late night beers. The mountain people. Not something I've encountered before. Hunt'in, Fish'in and Fight'in. Met and drank with mountain people till 2am then went on a small tour in the truck with them on the search for elk, amazingly delicate creatures for the amount of cold out there. It was an amazing experience and a real insight... into mountain lives!
Phew. Another little tale of life out here is when I checked into a motel 4 days ago, shortly after my snow experience. Got talking to the owner and Lucielle - who works there. Lucielle heard my concerns of going into Yellowstone with the chances of snow on the bike. She offered me one of her trucks to cruise around the park in, which is what has enabled me to truck around in.
Next stop is Salt Lake City (to change both bike tires & general repairs) and then up through Idaho then Oregon and Washington, hopefully get to Vancouver before it gets too cold up there. Massive departure from my original plan, but then again, the Rockies are getting a lot of snow - two wheels and the white stuff do NOT mix too well. Things change - learning that - fast.
I'll stop here as I could probably go on for another few pages, but I won't, instead I'm going to chuck another log on the fire. Take it easy"
Omar Mansour, Egypt, Africa Twin, France to Egypt,
"I will start my trip. (if every thing is ok) from France around 22 August, then I will go to Italy and all the way to Egypt, via Turkey. Hope to see you"
Ed. Comment: Well I guess everything wasn't ok - as of 11 September he hadn't left yet, but was still planning on leaving soon!
Xavier L. Rozas, USA, to Ushuaia, R1100GS,
"...Me, a one-time eager beaver in corporate NYC who, jaded at 28 years old decided to take take up two exciting/dangerous endeavors; I became a vol. firefighter and started taking my R1100 GS off-roading in prep for the trip to Ushuaia.
After doing the prerequisite research and reading about the trip/route I felt confident I could do the run solo. I still feel I could do it solo, but I think it would just be more fun (not to mention safer) to roll with a companion or two.
November 1st was my estimated departure..."
Check out the plans on the HUBB here.
Richard Beaumont, UK, was also planning on heading south to Ushuaia and Jacob Sherman, USA, as well, but his KLR was stolen! Who said it was risky on the road - he hadn't left yet!
Ronnie Skårner, Sweden, to Africa, Yamaha XJ900S Diversion,,
Back in April Ronnie (Skonte on the HUBB) said:
"...as an alternative to all the BMW R80/100/1100/1150 GS, what about a offroad-modified Yamaha XJ900S Diversion? It has shaft drive, comfort, reliable and easy engine, large fuel tank, is available and inexpensive second hand... Heavy yes, but so is the BMW's and they don't seem to be trouble free...
With modifications as for example Ohlins with longer wheel travel and increased ground clearance, cross handle bar, no fairing or clocks (only bicycle computer), offroad tyres (rear 130/80x17 backwards on front wheel and 150/70x17 rear wheel)...
I have made my mind up to go for it, including an increased fuel tank (approx 45 litre) and some other modifications including weight savings..."
"The bike is now finished!
The Diversion 900 offroader finished and ready for Africa. On the photo you see street tires for the Europe stretch, a wide home-made seat, alu-boxes and a top box made of offroad tyres and a lockable alu cover, inside a special made tarpaulin. SAE20 fork oil with some ml of Slick50 Gear and Ohlins fork springs, together with Ohlins rear shock absorber. Wheel travel is now 150 mm both front and rear. The box on the handlebars is for a small video camera, with the possibility to operate the camera without stopping, through a sealed hole. Dark colors have been avoided as it gets very hot in the sun, especially fuel tank and seat. The ugly looks will hopefully keep fees and bribes to a minimum (poor biker)."
So "what's the perfect bike?" Don't like what's out there? Make it! See the HUBB thread for more details.
John Wilson, Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Gerry Tiernan, Roscommon, Ireland, around the world, R80GS basics,
From their webmaster, Alex Bradley; "John and Gerry have made it home... after 10 months and 50,000 miles around the world... On July 26th some dozen bikes from all over Ireland made the trip down to Rosslare to meet them off the ferry from France. I have some pictures of the homecoming on the site."
Tiffany Coates, UK, around the world, home again (temporarily?), R80G/S,
"Wow...What a journey, and I am now in the land of the 'Home Again' people. Life on the open road was a fantastic experience - so many people, places and experiences over the last year.
I had quite a time in Caracas, trying to sort out my shipping and eventually found a sympathetic and reasonable shipping agent - who also rides a bike - full details will be posted on the shipping section. It seems as if no-one ships from Caracas back to Europe and so I'd had to drag my way through the phone book - not an easy task when it is all being done in Spanish and they can't believe that it is a woman with a motorbike, they then assume that it's my language skills (or lack of) and make me start the conversation all over again.
So, I got back to England and then... what happened was that I managed to break my wrist the day after getting back to the UK! Yes, while riding my bike with the UK GS Club doing some off-roading on the green and leafy English lanes, I took a small tumble, felt some pain, but determined to keep riding. Six hours later it had swollen so much that they had to peel my glove off my hand for me. I was then carted off to hospital where I was put in plaster for two months. I am happy to report that despite complications from having ridden while it was broken, it has finally healed and I am back on Thelma again.
It is good to be home, though I do miss travelling a lot, and have more plans in mind. I covered 60,000 kms on this last trip - Alaska to Tierra Del Fuego and then up to Venezuela, I had a few falls, only one puncture (and that was when there were three of us on the bike) and managed to have the time of my life. The main highlights were the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia (largest salt flat in the World) and the immense beauty of the mountains and glaciers in both Alaska and Patagonia.
Good luck to all those who are still on the road, I will be following your travels, green with envy.
Having been helped by so many people along the way, I will now be returning the compliment by starting a community here in Cornwall, SW England."
Ed. Good on ya, Tiffany! See Tiffany's blog here on Horizons Unlimited for more great stories.
We've got over 238 communities in 65 countries as of September 15, 2003!
A big thanks to all those who took the first step and established the Community in their area. New Communities are in Calgary, Alberta, Canada; San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico; Worcester, England; and Perth, Western Australia.
For details on how you can join a Community in your area, or use the Communities to get information and help, or just meet people on the road or at home, go to the Community page. Send me some photos - with captions please - and a little text and you can have a web page about your Community! A few links to web pages about your area would be useful too.
Just a reminder to all, when you Join a Community in your area, send a note to the Community introducing yourself and suggesting a meeting, or go for a ride or something. It's a good way of meeting like-minded individuals in your own town.
Support the Horizons Unlimited E-zine - check out the HU Souk for jumpers / pullovers, t-shirts, hats and other products with the new logo and a variety of slogans! Just in time for Christmas presents for your favourite motorcycle traveller!
Thanks! Grant and Susan
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Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle
I am working on a listing of people who have ridden around the world, as well as what I call 'significant journeys' e.g. the first across Africa. Any information you may have on this topic, please let me know. Preferably e-mail me direct. I currently have information on over 100 world travellers listed, but there are many more. See Bernd Tesch's page for more. Bernd lists around 245 long distance travellers. And there's at least 100 enroute to an around the world. Have YOU done it? Let me know!
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It is not the unknown, but the fear of it, that prevents us from doing what we want...
All text and photographs are copyright © Grant and Susan Johnson
and their respective authors or creators, 1987-2003.