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Welcome to the 60th Edition of the newsletter and the last edition for 2006. We wish all of you a happy holiday season, and hope that many of you are enjoying the holidays somewhere warm and with loved ones (or at least one out of two ;-) We're spending Christmas at home this year (London, that is), winding down from a long and eventful 2006 and resting up for 2007!
This has been a good year for the website. We've been reported on in many magazine articles, and our traffic is way up too, passing over 520,000 user sessions a month, which helps get new advertisers and keeps existing ones happy: for example, Lee at Kudu Expeditions writes: "Just to let you know we are very happy indeed with the response we are getting from the homepage banner."
And in lieu of the book we've been meaning to write for years now, we did manage to publish the HU Achievable Dream DVD, which is selling very well. We've had eight Travellers Meetings, most of which Grant managed to get to! Many thanks to all the local meeting organisers, who make the events happen. For 2007, we're planning 11 meetings, including new meetings in Thailand (January), and hopefully South Africa.
We finally launched the HUBB upgrade with lots of new features, including avatars, private messaging and the ability to post pics in messages (with no separate account required).
Over the next few months, we are investing considerable time and money in new content management software for the site, which will integrate with the HUBB so only one user ID will be needed. Registered users will be able to have their own personal page including pics. Finding information will be much simplified. There will be more sophisticated blog software for the travellers stories. Not least, from a maintenance perspective, updates will be quicker and less effort, and we will even be able to update the site from the road if we ever get to travel again!
And so to the 60th edition of the newsletter - bigger and better than ever - who knew back in December of 1999 when we published the first one, that we'd still be going strong seven years later? Thanks to all of you :-)
"The Achievable Dream" Video
Many of you who have attended our Travellers Meetings over the years, and at the meetings that Susan or I have been able to get to, have attended our 3 (sometimes 4) hour long "How-to" presentation. At the UK 2005 Meeting, we had a videographer tape it for us in front of the live audience. It's available now. Thanks very much to those who sent in video clips and pics, you'll see your name in the credits...
Everything you need to know if you are seriously interested in travelling - your questions answered. Feedback has been great. Typical comments:
"Hola Susan y Grant! The video is brilliant! After watching the video is like I know you guys forever! Great DVD, it just makes you want to get in a bike and go cross some borders! Great job! Now I just have to convince the boss ('my wife') that biking back to my homeland is a good idea! Thank you again for those great tips." Francisco, from Ecuador, in Canada
Price is US$29.99 (or £15.99 or €22.99 or C$32.99). Order now, and we'll pay the shipping / postage costs! Wouldn't it make a nice Christmas gift for your favourite motorcycle traveller? But be warned, viewing this may be a life-changing experience! Combine it with the inspiration from the 2007 Horizons Calendar (below) and you'll be hooked.
2007 Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers Calendar - Winners from the 2006 Photo Contest.
The 2007 calendar is now available! Check it out and get your copy now, for some terrific travel inspiration! The calendars are available through CafePress, and the price is US$24.99 plus postage. Just so you know, the cost to us from CafePress is $14.99, and we split the $10.00 profit with the photographers.
Congratulations to the winners of the 2006 contest - (in month order) Nezasa Takayuki (cover), Michel de Schoutheete, Ingo Cordes, David Robinson, Timothy Bussey, Martijn Pater, Todd Lawson, Rupert Wilson-Young, Sheonagh Ravensdale, Yau Chi Lim, Pierre Saslawsky, Emma Myatt and Andy Gower. It was a really hard job to narrow it down to only 13, as we had hundreds of great photos to choose from, but I think you'll agree when you see these pics (small photos don't really do them justice, but the full-size ones are gorgeous!) that the winners really deserve the accolades.
The grand prize winner of a portable solar charger (generously donated by Antonio Caldeira) is Michel de Schoutheete for the picture of Gerald Regnier crossing a bridge in Park National Torres del Paine, Chile.
The 2006 contest is now CLOSED, but with the great success of last year's calendar and contest, it's now an annual event, so plan now to take those great pics for next year's contest.
Tip: Make sure your camera is set to at least 2300x1800 pixels!
As always, thanks to all our generous supporters for helping us to keep going. For those who haven't yet contributed, or haven't recently contributed, here's all the ways you can help!
Start your planning with travel books at the Horizons Unlimited books page, and use the Amazon search function for your region to look for what you want. Don't forget to visit the Souk for sweatshirts, mugs, boxer shorts and much more.
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.
It's our advertisers, sponsors and product sales that make it possible for us to make the website and e-zine available to you. We hope you'll check out their products and services and if you plan to buy these products, do it from our site or links. 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! :)
If you've had problems receiving the e-zine due to spam filters or insufficient bandwidth, remember you can subscribe to the 'Notice' edition instead of the full HTML version. The Notice edition is a short, straight text message that contains a URL to bring you to the full text on the website. Because the Notice email is so small, it downloads in a flash, and leaves your mailbox uncluttered. Change to the Notice version here.
We now have an RSS feed for the e-zine (you'll need an RSS Reader to use it) and all the travellers' blogs have their own feeds. The HUBB has a full RSS feed here. If you're not sure what that's all about, there's a detailed RSS Guide here.
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, and it won't cost you anything.
This newsletter is provided as a complimentary service for travellers everywhere, both on the road and (temporarily ;-) off. Your support is greatly appreciated.
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Mark your new HU Calendar with the following dates:
Grant will be at as many as we can manage. If you've been to one, you know why it's worth going! If you haven't been to one, why not? It's a great experience, different from any other motorcycle event, described as a "...uniquely typical travellers atmosphere that's an odd ball combination of mellow, and tail wagging enthusiasm." Make this the year to get to one, two or more events and meet your fellow travellers!
If you are planning on coming to one of the meetings, please register early. Also let us know if you'd like to show a few slides from one of your trips too - it doesn't have to be a fancy multimedia presentation, a few slides and a few words about the area is great. Length can be anywhere from 10 minutes to 45 minutes.
From Brian Coles, who presented at the HU UK 2005 meeting:
For the Saturday afternoon (for most meetings) we are also adding even more prepared seminars on all subjects, and looking for more volunteers to lead them. Tech subjects such as tire changing, travel prep on documentation, health, packing the bike and anything else anyone wants to talk about are all of interest. You don't need to be an expert, just have done it! Let us know if you can help!
Volunteers for all meetings are needed, just a couple of hours of your time makes it all a lot easier - and fun - for all. You can volunteer a few hours of your time for any meeting here.
If you'd like to host an HU Meeting in your area, please see the How To Host a Meeting page for details.
See you there!
Grant and Susan.
Too many to list! If you haven't checked out the Links page it's time you did - it's scary long, but it's a fascinating browse.
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.
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 100's 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!
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.
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.
Lois Pryce, UK, UK to Cape Town, in Tunisia, Yamaha TTR250,
"Heading west across the scrubby plains of southern Tunisia and into the desert, where I was meeting up with the El Chott Rally that takes place every November in this far western part of the Sahara. My reason for this diversion was that the UK support truck is headed up by none other than rally and overland expert, David Lambeth, who had done some work on my bike for this trip. He had kindly let me come along for a few days, so I met up with him in the desert town of Douz, along with his support crew, Reg and Jez, and the rally riders, Rupert, Tamsin, Gordon and Stuart, plus Henry and Karina who were racing their vintage 80's Landcruiser. Also in the party was John, a competitor from previous years, who this time just happened to be riding around Tunisia on his KTM 950, and was joining in the fun.
I spent four nights with the rally and had a fantastic time, riding to remote desert outposts each day, stopping at lush oases surrounded by sand dunes, camels and palm trees with clusters of fresh dates hanging from their branches. Each evening we would meet up with the racers and after comparing notes of our day's adventures, we would join in the moaning about the German catering truck, a huge, sinister looking, black Tatra lorry that rolled up every night, dishing out meagre portions of unpalatable food to the hungry rally. This entire catering operation was run by a terrifying army of hard-faced ex-porn actresses, complete with pierced gums and diamond studded teeth, who would have been enough to put you off your food, if it had been edible in the first place.
As if being served raw sausages and over-boiled cabbage by a poor man's Pamela Anderson in the Sahara wasn't strange enough, we were lulled off to sleep every night by the Polish rally team, who would start up their welding and grinding equipment around dusk, and then round off their evening of toil with a rousing sing along of Polish folk songs. Occasionally I would catch a glimpse of one of the mechanics striding along in his greasy overalls with an enormous axel slung over his shoulder, singing heartily and looking for all the world like a Soviet propaganda poster. If you did manage to get to sleep, it would almost certainly be broken around 4.30am when the catering team would crank their generator into life and start boiling the vegetables - just to make sure they were cooked in time for that night's dinner.
Just when I thought things couldn't get any more bizarre, nature surprised all of us with a day long rainstorm. Us Northern Europeans who had come hoping for a Saharan November of hot sun and blue skies were predictably aghast. 'Wet and cold in the Sahara! I don't believe it!' the entire camp was saying in various languages. The rainstorm was duly followed by a vicious sandstorm, which saw everyone blundering around in their goggles and hiding in their tents. Thus is the life of the desert rallyist - and I have to say, I loved every minute of it!
So, my time in Tunisia is coming to an end and it has been a good warm-up for the road ahead. I enter Algeria in a couple of days, where I will head south across the Sahara proper, and that's when the action starts!"
Peter and Kay Forwood, Australia, around the world since 1996, in Montenegro, Serbia (Kosovo), Macedonia, Greece and Turkey, Harley-Davidson,
"31/10/06 Montenegro is the world's newest country. Created less than five months ago after a referendum to separate it from Serbia and one of the reasons we are again here. Although the motorcycle visited the autonomous region Montenegro, whilst it was part of Yugoslavia (later changing its name to Serbia and Montenegro), it hadn't visited Montenegro, the country. Montenegro and East Timor are the only two new countries created during the almost eleven years we have been travelling. A friendly welcome at the border but we needed to buy motorcycle insurance, not having the usual European Green card Insurance, 10 Euro for the minimum two weeks, and we received a stamp in our passports, the first since entering Italy from Tunisia last week.
We moved along the coast and into the mountains towards the small and new capital, of Podgorica, of this country of 650,000 people, and settled in a lovely mountain lakeside village for the night. The old building also houses a restaurant and with a few British holiday makers we enjoyed an early evening wine as the sun set at five pm and dinner was over soon after in this early to bed town…
--- 2/11/06 Yesterday was the first day we felt winter rapidly closing in. As if the first of November was the start. Frosts in the hills and snow roadside on the mountain pass. Today we awoke to light rain which turned to sleet and snow before breakfast and decided our staying another night here. It is still a long way to Eastern Turkey with high mountains in that region before we get to warmer Iran."
Peter and Kay Forwood have travelled to 175 countries, travelling over 450,000 km during 10+ years on the road. Horizons Unlimited is proud to host their complete RTW story and pictures here!
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Africa Bike Tours provides you with a selection of unique guided Namibian tours by experienced off road hosts.
Hamish Oag and Emma Myatt, UK, Asia, Australia and the Americas, in Australia and Easter Island, BMW R1100 GS,
"We visited a few wineries, with Hame at the handlebars I did the tasting for both of us (he was very patient as I got giggly by 10am) and discovered, amongst several other delicious wines, red champagne - another fab Aussie invention!
We called in to visit Kevin, the BMW enthusiast we'd met near Cairns months ago. He was really happy to see us and eager to show off his four restored old BMWs, they were pretty impressive. He had the most amazing tool collection I"d ever seen, I caught Hamish drooling over it when he thought no one was looking!
Australia as a place to live?
Definitely. Australia has so much to offer, you could live here in any climate or environment you chose simply because of the size of the country. You could choose not to have seasons at all, or only very mild ones. You could choose dry or wet, hills or plains, mountains and snow or rolling green hills, desert or lakes... the list goes on. It's all here, if you have the skills Australia needs. Talking to people who've emigrated here has been interesting, and it seems as if Hamish and I would qualify - we've been offered jobs several times already and apparently there is a bit of a shortage of teachers and engineers, in fact there's a bit of a shortage of most skills.
Australia has much to offer everyone and it would be a great place to bring up children, there is just so much more for them here - more opportunities, more space, more freedom. The cost of living is cheaper and house prices are cheaper. There seem to be so many advantages, and we've yet to meet anyone who's emigrated and regretted it.
...After an interlude to our travels, flying back to Scotland for a family wedding, we're back on the road for part two of our adventure; South America. Having landed in Santiago, Chile and being successfully reunited with Bertha (our bike), we're off to Argentina, hopefully in time for the HU meeting in Viedma.
...When back in Melbourne, our main task was to crate Bertha for the journey to Santiago. BMW Melbourne kindly provided us with a crate, albeit minus the new 1200 Adventure it originally contained, bummer! Mindful of freighting the bike with an empty tank, we arrived at BMW with the fuel pump wheezing; saving us the job of emptying the tank of residual fuel. As with all the best travels, a case of good luck as opposed to strategic planning.
After braving a Melbourne hail storm (remember, it's supposed to be summer here!), and a bit of juggling here and there, we squeezed the bike, panniers and spare tyres into the wood and cardboard box, strapped it down and said goodbye. All being well, we'd be reunited in Santiago in a couple of weeks time.
...Rather then fly directly to Santiago, we'd opted to stop-off in Tahiti for a couple of days and then Easter Island for a week. After all it was the same price as a direct flight, so why not? I should have realised if David Essex sang about somewhere, it was bound to be dubious! Ok, that's a little unfair (on Tahiti, not DE), it wasn't so bad, just expensive. Nonetheless, it did provide us with the chance to kick back after the previous month's excesses. (Next time I'll go to Tahiti and he can go to Skegness! - I liked it! - Em)
..Both keen to visit Easter Island, Isla de Pascua or Rapa Nui, depending on your language persuasion, we soaked up our week there exploring the island both above and below the surface. Other than its isolation, wonderful barren landscape and friendly folks, Easter Island's draw card is of course the mystical Moai, the massive stone figures that dominate the horizon.
Hewn from a dormant volcano between 800AD and 1600AD, the Moai were then lowered down to the base of the volcano, final carving completed, before being transported to their respective Ahu or platform at various locations around the island. Sounds straightforward, however these statues can be up to 20m in height, weighing in excess of 100 tons...and no cranes, hoists or low-loaders to transport them the kilometers required back in them days! There are of course as many theories as there are possibilities, most employing wooden logs in some configuration or another. Hence the reason for the lack of trees, so it is believed.
So when we weren't learning about stone statues and birdmen, we took to the water to explore the crystal clear depths. Did I mention visibility? 30m +! Diving to a depth of around 25m and looking up as if wearing aqua marine coloured sunglasses on a sunny day. Spectacular..."
Ed. See Hamish and Emma's blog here on Horizons Unlimited for more stories and great pics!
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John and Alanna Skillington, UK, Europe to Australia, in in Turkey and Iran, Suzuki V-Strom,
" …Off to Goreme Open air Museum. This is a World Heritage Site, rock cut Byzantine churches and chapels. The Karinlik Kilise is the most famous of the churches for good reason. Look at the amazingly well preserved frescos dating from the 1st Century AD.
Our second day in Goreme is spent being lazy wandering the cobblestone streets and watching the daily lives of the people. Goreme although a heavily touristed area still clings to its traditional way of life with veiled women in their baggy trousers and the men drinking tea in the tea houses. It is a truly amazing place.
The following day with the help of Ramazan our host we manage to find a box and post home all our camping gear, and other bits and pieces. Nearly 12 kg worth. The poor old bike is going to be so happy without this weight.
...We end up staying in Goreme for eleven days. Each day is wonderful, walking the valleys, chatting to the local shop owners who now recognise us and shake hands with us and invite us in for tea.
...We have a wonderful days riding firstly up the steep rough road to Mt Nemrut. For those of you who don't know, this summit was created by a megalomaniac King called Nemrut who built two ledges into the mountains and erected huge statues of himself and the Gods and then had his underlings build an artificial peak of crushed rock 50 metres high. The sheer scale of it is breathtaking even more so when you realise it was built in about 50 BC. It remained hidden from the world until 1881 when a German engineer happened upon it.
For other Overland Motorcycle Travellers in Turkey:
Athena Pension - Bergama (fantastic breakfasts, Aydin's omelets are the best)
Our two favourites were Athena and Star Cave Pensions.
Up and at em early as we know it will be a long day. Breakfast, packed up and gone by 8.30am we ride past the plains beneath the twin peaks of Great Ararat and Little Ararat on our way to the border. (Gurbulak)
At an estimate we passed through 5 different checkpoints each time thinking well that must be it. Eventually we are on our way riding through Barzagan, Maku on our way to Tabriz. We have our first fill up with fuel. It costs us less then $2.00 AUD, after the astronomical prices in Turkey Skill is a happy camper, although he doesn't appear to be in this photo.
Into the City Centre where we stop again and ask a policeman for directions and then another stop, we are just rechecking our directions on our Lonely Planet map when a man sticks his head over Skills shoulder and says in perfect English "Can I help you"? " Ummmm not sure" is our response. He then points to a name in the LP and says this is me. Sure we think, here we go. He hands over his business card and sure enough it is Nasser Khan, one of Tabriz's most experienced and respected guides.
Most of the cars on the roads are old (pre 1980) and seem to be of a similar make. Driving on the freeways or in the towns are the ubiquitous blue utes (or pickups) in varying shades of blue carrying all manner of cargo. Whether it is supplies for the shop, or perhaps some furniture, And even Marcus' broken down motorbike. (Read on for more about that saga later. Poor Marcus.)"
Ed. See John and Alanna's blog here on Horizons Unlimited for more stories and fabulous pics!
Grant Guerin and Julie Rose, Australia, Trans America and Beyond, in Ecuador, Suzuki V-Strom,
Exit Colombia (Ipiales)
Enter Ecuador (Rumichaca)
For us the process took all day, and that included being interviewed for Colombian TV news about our trip and our life in Australia!
Excited about seeing our first Inca ruins in South America we climbed aboard the local bus from El Tambo for the 9 kilometer journey to the archeological site of Incapirca. Archeologists believe that Incapirca was a strategically placed military post on the Royal Highway that ran from Cusco to Quito. The short distance took about half an hour slowly winding up the mountains through numerous indigenous settlements, farms and a tapestry of plowed fields with meticulously planted crops.
The bus filled with locals, in traditional dress, their goods and chattels including a sheep that was lifted up on to the roof, by its horns, and tied down, it was not happy being up there, kicking, stomping and bleating.. guess he wanted a first class seat!
Cuenca is one of the premier colonial cities of Ecuador. We attempted to negotiate the way into centro, after half an hour of going around in circles we gave up and went to the nearby town of Baños.
A beautiful and imposing blue church is perched high above the town and overlooks the valley that contains Cuenca. There are many mineral hot baths to choose from, stunning expensive resorts and cheap 'n' nasty hotels.
We pull up to the first establishment. The lazy staff looked at Jules as if she was insane when she asked how much a room would cost for the night. 'The whole night?' they questioned and then mutter between themselves, eventually deciding on a price. Ok, so they don't seem to get much overnight custom Jules thinks and moves on to the next hotel. Sensing Deja Vú or a glitch in the matrix the scene replayed itself and continued to do so until hotel number 4 which finally, at least, had parking.
Meanwhile Grant, waiting patiently, had begun to notice that this town had a plethora of discos and karaoke bars. What was this place? Not the sweet little resort village Baños we had visited further to the north. It was summed up nicely when we turned the TV on that night, and the only clear channel was a porn channel!"
Ed. See Grant and Julie's blog here on Horizons Unlimited for more stories and lots of great photos!
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"More important than all the fancy jackets and pants put together..."
Grant says: "Where've these been all my life? A no-brainer - the only way to ride!"
Andy Tiegs, USA, to Central/South America, in Peru, Bolivia and Argentina, KLR,
"I left the next day for the short ride to Sucre. Sucre turned out to be a really nice town, and I stayed around for a few days. I had read about the Joy Ride Cafe there, run by a Dutch motorcyclist, who used to run motorcycle tours out of there, so I stopped in for lunch and met Gert, the owner. He does run mountain bike rides now, so I signed up for one the next day.
It was on this ride that I met Simon and Lindsay, a British couple who I would continue to run into over the next couple of weeks. This ride, unlike the World's Most Dangerous Road, actually had up as well as down hills, so I had to work, which was a good thing. Sucre is the Bolivian capitol, so there are a lot of government buildings, and really nice looking parks. Sucre is a much smaller city than La Paz, which is the finance center of the country, with high rise banking and insurance buildings throughout the downtown.
After Sucre, I headed toward Uyuni, which is the town nearest the Salar de Uyuni, the world's highest and largest salt flat. This meant backtracking to Potosi and then taking a gravel road 130 miles or so to Uyuni. The road was an easy ride, except the washboard on the gravel was pretty fierce at times, keeping my speed down. It ended up being a pretty easy days ride. I rode into town, and started looking for a hotel, and as I was about to walk into one, I heard someone holler my name. It was Jeremiah, who was sitting in an internet cafe writing me when he heard my bike go by,and went outside to look and see who it was. Jeremiah is someone I first met in Mexico at a HU meet, and then again this summer in Colorado. He is also the one who knows the two Ecuadorian guys I met in Mexico on this trip, who I ended up staying with in Ecuador. Small world. I knew he was roaming around down here in Bolivia, so it wasn't a total coincidence that we met up here. He was travelling with Ming, another American rider from Oregon, who he met on the road.
Jeremiah and I knew that Allan, another American, was in the area as well, and we tried to figure out where he might be. We came to the conclusion that he was probably out on the Salar on a jeep tour, since we knew he had shipped his bike here on a train, due to an injury he had from a small crash in Santa Cruz. Allan was in fact, out on a jeep tour, and we all eventually got together for a traditional Thanksgiving pizza dinner, at a restaurant run by a guy from Massachusetts. It was here that I ran into Brits, Simon and Lindsay again, where thanks to me introducing them, they were cornered by Allan and interviewed for a podcast on worldrider.com. I'm sure they will thank me for that someday. Not today, though.
Once into Argentina, I rode 100 miles, until it started raining. I found a really nice little town called Tilcara, and ended up staying 2 nights there. From there it was an easy paved ride to Salta. My main goal there was to get insurance sorted. I found an agent through my Horizons Unlimited contact who could insure a foreigner, and stayed here 3 nights checking out the city while I waited for my insurance policy. While I was walking down the street, I bumped into Simon again, and met he and Lindsay and 2 guys they were travelling with, for dinner and drinks later. Tomorrow, Saturday, (is it really December already?) I will head south toward Mendoza. There are a lot of outdoor activities there, plus I need tires for the bike, so I will likely stop there for a few days. Maybe a bicycle tour of the wine country is in the works."
Ed. For more stories and pics, see Andy's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
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Linda Bootherstone-Bick, UK, Gibraltar to Australia, in Malaysia, Indonesia, Suzuki DR650,
"Cherating has a nice sheltered beach and a little river estuary where you can take a boat ride amongst the mangroves. Saw some black and yellow snakes in the trees, monitor lizard, kingfisher and hornbill on the trip. It reminded me of being in the bayous around the Mississippi region. The laid back atmosphere of Cherating made me want to stay again. There are a few foreigners around. One Englishman, David, has taken early retirement in Malaysia and keeps himself fit on his mountain bike and giving windsurfing lessons. When I hired a local push bike we went on a 34km ride into the jungle and up the coast to check on where I could see the turtles, as there was another hatchery close by.
That night at 11pm we , and about 50 others, held a baby turtle in out hands and gently set it on the beach to watch it scurrying by moonlight down to the waters edge, to be washed away by the next wave. Good luck little turtle, I hope you don't get eaten before you have a chance to grow up.
Unfortunately, the leather back turtles, once prolific on this coast are now practically extinct. Now it is mainly the Green turtle who comes on shore but fewer and fewer. Even this ranger program, where people are allowed to touch the babies, is not a good idea. Any human involvement is a deterrent and of course the demand for turtle eggs on the black market means that only a small percentage of those laid get to hatch, no matter how hard the rangers try to keep watch.
Like Angor Wat in Cambodia, the Borobudur temple complex is the main tourist attraction. As with Angor it is also expensive for tourists who pay 11 times the local price to get in. However it is a must do. Built in the 8th century by the Sulendra dynasty, it is a huge square structure that rises to several levels each with carved motives depicting the stages of karmic life. One of the carvings depicts a sailing ship and in 2003 a model of this ship was built and sailed successfully from Indonesia to West Africa retracing the old Cinnamon trading route.
The temple complex lies in a big park surrounded by the volcanic mountains and is pretty speccy, especially at sunset, I'm told. After playing music with some buskers in the temple tourist area I was about to find a cheap sleep, aiming to return about 6 to see the sunset there. However, on returning to my bike I found 2 strange looking Vespa converted sidecar outfits parked alongside and was immediately surrounded by a group of scruffy looking, dread locked young men with broad smiles, reaching to shake my hand.
The leader, Eric, invited me to come back to their house in Yogyarkarta and I have been staying in their student digs ever since. They have kindly sacrificed one of the bedrooms for me and they sleep in the lounge. Typical student life, they are now on holiday and come and go on their bikes, playing computer games, watching telly, shooting the breeze and drinking tea and juice, playing guitar and generally hanging out. I have been getting up early and hitting the email cafes to get these reports written and catch up with your emails.
Yesterday Eric acted acted as my guide for the local temple complex and finally my police permission came in handy as we produced it as documentation to get me the local entry price instead of tourist fee. It worked!
Today I aim to go into the town centre and do the tourist trail there before I leave tomorrow..
…on to Bukit Lawang, 150 kms north in the jungle. There is an attempt to save the diminishing number of Orang Utans and they are given a supplement of a few bananas a day but not enough to make them dependent and put them off looking for their own food in the bush. Unfortunately the cost of guided walks in this National Park are too high for my budget so I just went to the feeding areas and found a bat cave in company with a nice young Czech man who was touring by bicycle.
The road out to this jungle resort is bloody awful with broken tarmac and lots of water filled potholes. Both Marek and I were seduced by the information that there was a shortcut back to Berastagi which bypassed the heavy traffic of the trucks through the city of Medan we both passed on entry. Independently we set off the next morning to find this way.
After 30 odd kms of bad road,(but less traffic and through pretty villages) I came to a section that I could not negotiate so turned back and met Marek on his way up. With his push bike he could get through but I went back adding several kms and hours to the ride and , whilst in the town had to stop because of torrential rain. Got to the GH late and exhausted but poor Marek had an even worse time, he told me when he finally arrived. Neither of us will take advise about shortcuts again."
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Patrick and Belinda Peck, Australia, around the world, again, in Canada, Yamaha Super Ténéré XTZ 750,
"Howdy Doody from Edmonton, Canada, home of The Peck Family! Since we wrote last we were on our way by ferry without the bike from Crete to Athens. We met up with our Greek God friend Orestis Padouvas (see photo below!) who we have been in email contact with for a few years now. He has a Super Tenere too and we stayed in his parents penthouse and had a great time checking out Athens and surrounding area and the Peloponnesus. We travelled by hire car and it was different but great, we saw some amazing scenery and Pats friend, George Andrew's, family roots in a small town called Stemnitsa.
We were a week ahead of schedule, so decided to fly to Romania and have a week of fun and parties with our great friends Csilla and Oliver Schul. They are a really amazing couple who think big, are fantastic company and really good people to call friends. They are a motorcycle accessories dealer for Romania and work and play hard.
Next step was the much looked forward to week in Paris. We had a great time, saw all the sights and walked our legs off while staying at JJs very homely house with a great fireplace! JJ is a lovely, hospitable French biker with a beautiful African Queen wife.
It is now snowing and -15 deg C in Edmonton, Canada with -25 expected tonight BBRRRR! We will be here till 26 December, with a week in Calgary for a Bikers meeting and a week in Jasper to catch up with friends in the middle. Arrival home in Cairns, Australia on 29 December to +32degC expected!!
Thanks for all your love and interest in our lives! This will probably be the last update till we get on the road again in January 2008. Remember, we are the ODD couple and you can visit us at home in the ODD years only! Have a great Christmas and we hope the new year is a good one for you!"
Ed. Check out Pat and Belinda's HU Blog for stories and great pics!
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Joseph M Devine, UK, Touring the America's 2006 Alaska to Patagonia, in Peru, Argentina and Chile,
"In this part of the world it pays to blend in, have a good bike but keep it plain I throw a tarpaulin over my boxes and tie it down, it keeps my kit dryer and I look more like a courier rider and attract less attention. Also the hole in my screen has been a big plus it's the first question any one asks 'where did you get that'. And as a bonus if I had money I would have replaced it. So therefore I must not have much money, my riding kit is very good, but plain black with no logos I have been saluted on more than one occasion so there must be military or police who wear something similar. Other than that, get them before they get you. The police and military are better than a GPS for locating gasoline, hostels etc and enjoy being asked and I have never been asked or had it been suggested that I pay for any thing.
...Today I get to Cusco, an easy run through breathtaking countryside. I was at 3000m and started meeting landslides some big, others just the odd rock where there were no hills, a bit odd I thought until I turned a corner into a queue of traffic and burning up ahead. My first reaction was an accident but as I filtered through the traffic it became obvious this was a protest, tyres were scattered across the road and on fire, broken glass and rocks were also scattered everywhere around. I noticed that the incident seemed to be limited to a small group of people and the rest students so I just rode forward navigated the glass and burning tyres said hola smiled and cruised through one of the women threw a glass bottle in front of the bike but I just twisted round it and shouted not gringo, Irish. After that it was all hola and buenas dias, no problem I just pulled over, had breakfast and tried to find out what the protest was about.
It seemed it was high school teachers complaining over pay. I then headed down the road, knowing that another blockage was somewhere ahead as there was no oncoming traffic, and sure enough 20km later and many landslides and obviously there it was, only this time the barrier was right across the road were there were concrete drainage ditches so no going around. I pulled up to the front, parked the bike and joined them. ...had a good chat and a drink, and an hour and a half later I was allowed through along with a local bus with a heavily pregnant lady, the rest were held for another 3 hours. Communicating and being good with people always works unless you're married to them.
...The first problem was water, lots of it running across the road. I negotiated all the streams and washed out areas, difficult when you are on a track 8 foot wide with a 500 foot drop, and then I saw the bridge - it was about 400 foot below me and the road seemed to vanish around a corner and not reappear. I decide to play it safe and walk down and check. Sure enough the road went around the corner but was there. It snaked down the cliff. A few areas were damaged but I could see to within 50m of the bridge and it was manageable so I walked back up. Very hard work in motorcycle armour at 4000m, and rode down around the last corner. The road disappeared - it had been washed away. 150 foot below me was the bridge but no way of getting to it. I could not turn the bike around as the track was now only 6 foot wide and a 20 degree slope so I laid it over, stripped off as it was exhausting work and manhandled it around using the engine bars as a pivot point. When it was pointing uphill I stood it up, kitted up and rode it back uphill very glad that I had left the boxes behind as the extra weight on the back would have been impossible and I would have had to carry them up individually. It was another 5 miles on the upper track until I reached an intact road to the bridge. The first 2 concrete platforms of the bridge had also been washed away and replaced with an assortment of planks, railway track and tree trunks so it was go for it and no looking back.
...My detour from Machu Picchu to see the Cruz de Condor has been eventfully to say the least, Political road blocks, mud you could lose a person in, cliffs, often over a 1000' drop, snow, water, ice, sleet and high temperatures all in 2 days, but best of all great people, good food and 560m of dirt and gravel at over 4000m altitude - very rewarding motorcycling. And the only occasion I have been thrown from the bike in 23,000 miles.
...Up early and it's off south about 900 miles to Ushuaia, so it will probably be two days riding, especially as the wind is very strong. The journey started well enough, just another desert with scrub bushes. I was making good time when I hit some road works and had to detour through a short stretch of gravel, well the enviable happened and the bike sank in 2 foot of gravel. The grader had managed to fill a ditch in with loose stone. As the bike jerked to a standstill and sank I rolled off the side and wandered what had hit me. The machine was fine standing upright but half buried and impossible for me to pull out. Lucky for a me a lorry driver saw what happened and stopped and the two of us released the bike it seems a few lorries had their wheels stuck to the axles there as well and had to be towed out.
I arrived in Ushuaia - I had completed the North to South. I found a nice hostel and settled in for a few beers. Ushuaia, visited the National Park, and took a boat out to Penguin Island. It is snowing a lot and there's not much in the line of motorcycle shops so a bike service is not on. I looked into shipping the bike straight back to the UK or USA from here as I was still concerned about the clutch and pivot bearing and now the rear shock was leaking as well. However no freight to Europe seemed to go from Ushuaia so it's ride back up to Buenos Aires and repair or ship from there.
...500km to Comodoro Rivadavia everything was going well when the clutch just blew. I was on a long slow incline when it started to slip then was gone in seconds. I pulled over to the road side 350km from nowhere.
Luckily a couple of builders were not far behind me when I hit the hazard warning lights. The lads were great and as there was no way of lifting the GS into their small truck they gave me a tow 100km to a petrol station. It has got to be the scariest thing I have ever done and there was no way I could have done the 250km left to Comodoro so I thanked them and waited at the gas station. Sure enough 4 large Lorries pulled in shortly and in broken Spanish and with the help a Dutch couple who spoke some Spanish I was able to get a lift to just out side Comodoro. The Lorry drivers were fantastic lifting the bike unto the lorry with the crane and then insisting on sorting me a hotel and dinner; a great bunch of guys. I tried to get a clutch and bearings send down from BMW but every thing seem to be a week to 10 days, and allowing for 2-3 days work that would mean 2 weeks before the bike was back on the road. There was no way I could get to Venezuela and then to Florida to meet the wife for Christmas, so I decide to ship the bike straight home from BA.
...I was still 1800km from BA airport and we could find no trucks going in that direction so we arranged a one way hire from Hertz at Comodoro Airport to BA airport. I got a pickup truck at $200 US a day and we lifted the bike straight off the Lorry unto the pickup. I started driving at 15:30, drove through the night and was in BA at 10:00am the following day. I went straight to Air Cargo and Lufthansa, booked the bike in, completed all the paper work and customs and had returned the hire car to Hertz in 4 hours. I took a taxi to BA as I had a couple of days before my homeward flight. The Bike shipping cost $1270US to Heathrow and my flight to Heathrow via Mil ian was £370 so not too bad.
The bike is back home in Milton Keynes and dismantled. I have fitted a new clutch and Pivot Bearings. A replacement rear shock is ordered and a big clean is on-going. Hopefully by December she will be fully operational again and ready for the next instalment, which is now in planning."
Ed. Congratulations on getting all the way to Ushuaia, sorry to hear about the bike problems, hope they get sorted.
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Grant says: "simply a must-do for all airheads"
Mark and Erin Kirkendall, USA, RTW?, in Colombia, BMW F650GS,
"So we are in Colombia, the kidnapping capital of the world. In 2003, there were over 3000 kidnappings, setting a new world record. My sister just sent me a nasty email about how selfish we were to go here, complete with the US State Departments advisory against travel to Colombia. 25% of the nations foreign currency exchange comes from the exportation of cocaine. These are a few of the reason we initially decided not to come to Colombia. It was too risky. But then Nick showed up, he told us us there was only one US kidnapping in 2005. A little more research and we find out that the government had ended talks with the guerillas, who were taking advantage of the cease-fire, and driven away from most of the major cities and roads. We found that folks that have visited here, have had a wonderful time.
And guess what, we are here and it doesn't feel that bad. The place is super clean, the feeling of the constant hustle from Central America is gone. The average joe on the street seems appreciative that we are here. Ok, so the average joe REALLY appreciates that Erin is here, but it's all good. The military presence is everywhere, random searches are the norm (Nick's been frisked twice). But if you're doing nothing wrong, it's no big deal. So far, this has been a lesson in stereotypes. The government war on drugs is real, the guerillas are real. But those two groups make up an extremely small percentage of Colombians. For the most part, folks are just like in the US. The walk the park on Sunday. Men and women hug and kiss each other. They ran a 10k in downtown today.
Yesterday we rode from Medellin to Cali, almost 10 hours from start to finish. Going through the mountains of Colombia was some of the most beautiful country I've seen so far. I think it's just a taste of what we'll see farther into South America. We did have a bit of a scare. We got stopped by one of the police roadblocks, not uncommon. After all our paperwork was checked out, they proceeded to tell us they'd had problems on the upcoming section of road. What we think we understood was 'not everyday, but for many days.' It didn't sound like kidnappings, just robberies, but the prospect of losing our bikes in Colombia was not a promising one. And there were not really any other options for us. An hour later we were out of the dangerous section. It was a bit more risk than I expected we were going to have to take. All behind us now.
Our last night in Colombia was in a mountain city, Pasto. Bogota and Medellin were large cities so other than turning a few heads, we didn't cause much of a stir. Pasto was a different story. Two minutes after pulling into the square we had a huge crowd around the bikes. Cameras came out. Welcomes and handshakes and questions. People started handing Erin babies for photos. It was really cool at first then got uncomfortable. Just too many people. So we mounted up and found a hotel. Just walking around later that day, we had a couple ask us if they could take our picture.
It's been tense riding the last couple of days. It's gotten harder to find a good compromise so all three of us feel good on the road, and that's a significant part of the trip. There's a ton of variables: times, speeds, aggressiveness in traffic, where to stay. I've had some off days, mood wise, which has added to the tension. So we think it's time for a split. Nick's a great guy, hopefully we'll hook up again with him for a while, but it's time for us to go our separate ways for awhile. We got to Quito, Ecuador yesterday. Looks to be a beautiful city. More to come in Quito."
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Peter Baird and Jason Homewood, the Americas, in Argentina, KTM 950s,
"Finally I'm in South America! 3 years after deciding this continent would be the next I'd explore I'm tucking into my first Asado (bbq) out the back of Dakar Moto's with Javier and Sandra, woo hoo!
A few months ago my mate, Jason Homewood, decided to come along and retrace some of the places he visited on a similar trip a few years back and to explore some more. The plan is to head down to Viedma for the HU meet on Dec 8th, then on to Ushuaia then North with no real plan for most of 2007.
...Last Wednesday was a big day for us, we got the bikes out of the port and back to Dakar Motos. There's a load of paperwork to do and money to pay, luckily we had the help of super Sandra from Dakar Motos doing it for us and any problems that cropped up (for future reference, 2 bikes on 1 bill of lading is not recommended!) were swiftly dealt with. How you'd run the gauntlet of customs officials/import papers and warehouse workers by yourself I do not know.
The Argentines we've met so far have been a great bunch, from the crew at Dakar Motos to shop keepers to commuters jammed into an early morning subte (BA equivalent of the tube, though a Jubilee Line tube in rush hour is a picnic by comparison) everyone appears friendly and happy to help out and have a laugh with you (or in my case, at you, when trying to use my disjointed Spanish).
There have been plenty of other overlanders coming through here too. They all seem to make it out to DM to check in and either stay for a few days, as we did, or get their bikes seen to by Javier. So far we've met Germans, Cypriots, Australians and Luna, an Austrian on an Enfield who's ridden from the States over the last 18 months or so. Having spent a fair while on Enfields in India my hat is well and truly off to her. All have a tale to tell and an experience to share which is going to be invaluable to us on our way north.
...I finished up school on Tuesday, sorted out some bike insurance (5 quid a month!) then on Wednesday headed out to Dakar Motos to pick up my bike and... well, hit the road! I reckon I'll learn loads of Spanish on the road and may do another week in Mendoza or somewhere else.
Luckily Dakar are really close to the the motorway heading north so I didn't have to navigate through BA. To be honest I was quite nervous about getting on the bike, don't know why, just a combination of riding on the right, not knowing the traffic and well... the unknown! By the time I was in second gear all these fears where gone and the feeling of this being the start of the trip took over, woo hoo, Iguazu Falls here I come!
It was stinking hot and once I was off the motorway onto single carriage way I just cruised along at 70mph, passing the odd truck and taking in the scenery. The road I was on, RN14, is notorious for cops looking for bribes but having read so much about it I was kind of looking forward to being stopped and checking out my technique for getting away with not paying (playing dumb appears to be the general rule, not hard with my Spanish!)
I saw the first group of cops on the left side of the road. Just at the last minute they saw me and I heard a whistle then saw an arm indicate that I should pull over . I pretended I hadn't seen them and carried on, checking behind every once in a while to check they weren't chasing. Phew, first cops successfully avoided! Wasn't so lucky the next time. I'd just passed a truck on a really open left hand turn (okay, so I did go over the double yellows but it was hardly unsafe), and there they were... about half a mile down the road. I had to stop for these guys. They first tried to tell me I'd passed on the dos lineas, I pretended not to understand and he drew a picture. I then drew another picture showing me passing on the dotted line. He then tried to tell me that I was doing 140kph, I protested that I was only doing 100 (which I was, surprisingly) and figured there was no way they could have a picture of me as the only 'speed detection' equipment they had was a pair of binoculars! By this point I knew they just wanted some money but I was still surprised when he asked me outright for cash. I pulled out a packet of cigarettes and indicated I'd spent my last pesos on them and that I used credit cards. Eventually he got frustrated, shook my hand and wished me buen viaje! Pete 2, cops 0."
Christian Burrows, Central and South America, in Mexico,
"The ferry ride from La Paz to Topolobampo was not your average boat ride. It was a nonstop party, the whole 5 hours. Unfortunately, I didn't think to take my camera because it was at night and I assumed there would be no opportunities for good photos. WRONG! First of all the boat was huge and modern. Giant semi-tractor trailers back into the boat, the boat probably held about 20 large trucks, 50 cars and my motorcycle. I got to park the bike right next to the exit.
I took my Lonely Planet, journal, banana and water up 3 flights of stairs to find a very chic restaurant (dinner was included), bar, store and a quiet salon for movie watching. This was no boring ferry ride. They had entertainment; a guy who sets up a loud speaker system and walks around the bar area with a microphone singing along to mexico's current hits. There was a real festive mood, guys drinking beers, kids running around and playing the arcades. On the observation decks men watch the goings-on down below as the semis get backed into place, perfectly next to each other so as not to waste an inch of space. It's like watching the baggage handlers, air controllers and airport employees from a bay window at an airport. There was a lot of commotion, tying down trucks with heavy chains, passenger-car alarms being set off from the rumblings of the giant trucks and the shriek whistling and fervent hand waving of the orange jumpsuit-clad men who assist the truckers as they back into place.
...After about an hour of the professional singing, the real fun started- Kar-e-oke! This is when I regretted leaving my camera below the hull. There was a large book of songs to choose from, spanish, english and even Portuguese ones. By this point, I had made my way to the bar and was befriending the truckers and young men that made the bar their permanent seats for the duration of the trip. Three Tecates later (with generous amounts of 'limon' and 'sal' - a nice addition to beer I must admit) and the whole bar wanted me to sing. I perused the book and decided Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' was a fun one to do. By the end of the song I had really gotten into it, reaching all the high pitched notes just like Michael, and even finished with a little moon-walk. The audience went crazy, they wanted more...
...I was tired (I had managed to escape the debauchery of the bar and found a bench on which to take a cat nap). When I got off the ferry in Topo it was 3am, cold! and very foggy. Leaving the city to find somewhere to stay (there were no hotels in Topo), it immediately got very foggy and provided for dangerous riding. Trucks were flying by me and I tried to keep up so I could follow their taillights, but I couldn't maintain their speed. Finally, one of the truckers must have noticed I was struggling to survive on the road, and he thankfully slowed down enough for me to follow. As we passed some lights on the left side of the road, he switched on his left indicator but didn't turn (usually in Mexico this means it's ok to pass, but in these conditions I knew he wasn't suggesting I pass him, so I took the signal as a sign to stop and seek out the lights on the side of the road). What a friendly soul, an angel sent to guide me, because it turned out to be a motel, El Topo Viejo. I turned into the lot and a garage door opened and beckoned me to enter. Turns out this was a 'motel de amor', where each room has a private garage and there's hardcore porn on the TV! It smelled of disinfectant, the sheets were probably stained (I purposely didn't make a close inspection and slept with my clothes on), but it was cheap and I was thankful to be out of the dark, cold fog."
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Richard Lindley, RTW 2006 -7, in Russia, Triumph Tiger,
"So, how did I come off? The first reason, without doubt, was pilot error. I had taken to riding very close to the verge constantly seeking the best route through the rough roads. There is often a gravel build up on the edge of the roads. It was the end of a gruelling day, sun in my eyes...
When I hit the gravel build up I knew I was in trouble. When you're riding solo, the immediate reaction is to standup on the foot pegs. When you're riding two up, maneuverability is impaired by the dead weight of your passenger. I had two choices. I could keep going off the road into a tree, or I could try to maneuver back to the road.
I chose the latter of course, which made the front tyre 'snowplough' into the gravel, loosing valuable traction and BAM! down on the flinty Russian mountain road at 35 mph I was fine thanks to my ARAI helmet. Always wear a helmet kids!
We got a cheap hotel room, bought some food and champagne and cheered ourselves up. At this point, there was talk of putting ourselves and the bike back on a train to Khabarovsk and call it a day. There is a shock period that always accompanies an accident. Compound that with being so far from home, the uncertainty of the damage to the bike and being in an unfriendly Russian town. Thank heaven's for Nikolai's good humour and companionship.
Deb and David Welton, RTW, in Argentina and Chile, F650s,
"We left Canada in mid-November and flew back to Mendoza, Argentina to pick up our motorcycles. Our friends Juan Pablo and Juan Luis were both out of town but Juan Luis made arrangements to have his girlfriend Ampora take us to pick up our motorcycles at the cement company where they were stored. Mendoza had a 6.2 magnitude earthquake in September so we expected that they might be sitting at the bottom of a pile of rumble.
Instead, the only sign of disturbance was the arm of a mannequin laying on the floor between the two motorcycles. We took the covers off and found them exactly as we had left them. Deb's battery was completely dead and Dave's headlight came on but the bike wouldn't start. We rolled them down a ramp made of cement bags from the room in which they were stored into the larger building where Ampora pulled in her car and jump started Dave's bike. Deb's bike would only run when connected to the car battery so we had to leave it there and Dave took his bike to the BMW dealer, removed the battery then took a taxi back to put the battery in Deb's bike. Luckily the dealer had a new battery.
...The ride down from the pass was a series of about fifteen 180 degree turns with trucks moving at about 10 mph or less. It went like this - pass a truck, take the curve, pass a truck, take a curve, pass two trucks, pass the third one in the turn... We didn't want to go to Santiago right away so we spent a several days riding around north and west of Santiago. On one road, we were on our way to the coast and just before getting there saw a sign that said 'Dangerous Curves' for the next 2 kms. No big deal, we see them all the time, then we saw the sign 'End of Pavement'. Deb hates steep dirt roads but managed to make it to the bottom where the pavement picked up again. The road ended right at the ocean.
I (Deb) was very concerned about getting back up the steep hill but Dave told me, 'it's much easier going up'. I thought if I could just get through the first two turns, I would be ok. Just as I was coming around the first turn the road had several whoop-de-doos (hills and troughs). I let off the gas to go over slowly and my bike stalled. 'Oh crap!' just when I was ready to bail off, the bike came to a stand still with the back tire sitting a trough. I was upright so I started it up again and gassed it. While Dave in front of me was using the skills we learned in our dirt bike course, (standing up and moving his little butt from side to side to shift his weight) I was flailing all over the place, afraid to let off the gas and cussing the entire way, almost certain that I was going to crash in every turn. Was I ever happy to get to the top of that hill!"
by Sam ManicomSam's plans frequently don't work out as they should... new challenges and surprises... jailed in Tanzania ...lives in a remote village, canoes a dugout in Malawi, escapes a bush fire and much more. Get it here!
Into the Den of the Bear and the Lair of the Dragon on a Motorcycle. 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,
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 Aimimage for the PAL video or all format DVD. Don't forget to tell them you heard about it on HU, we'll make a bit, and it won't cost you any more.
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Jeremiah St. Ours, USA, to South America,
"I am now in Bolivia. In the past couple of weeks much has happened. I have been run down by a truck, I've broken down in the middle of nowhere, and last night I was robbed--big time. Stories to follow.
Riding the hand built cobblestone road to Santa Lucia
Here are a few photos from Bolivia taken prior to the above mentioned fun and games. Thanks for your patience- Jeremiah"
Brian Coles and Anne-Sofie Hennings, UK, UK to India, in South Goa, BMW 1150GS,
"Well since Srinigar we have skipped along way south. My god its taken bloody AGES to get to the beaches here in South Goa. Really it has. Don't think that we are ungrateful for this because we've seen quite a few things on the way down. We saw a tiger in Ranthambore National Park, sunrise over the Taj Mahal and have re-created the scenes from Octopussy in Udaipur (I've perfected Roger Moore's acting prowess - by moving my right eyebrow suggestively - Fie is most impressed) just to mention a few. We are taking it easy here in Goa for about 10 days - doing Yoga, resting my hands a bit from riding (they started hurting because of the long days we have put in since riding from Srinigar). So plenty of stretching and eating lobster (because good food seems to help the mood). We have managed to avoid the mainstream part of Goa - have found a beach home 50 metres from the warm Arabian sea. Complete with a very very good number of restaurants serving big bits of fish for a couple of quid for a complete meal. Damn delicious stuff."
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Jack and Janet Murray, PR of China, China to Europe and North America, last heard from in Kiev, Ukraine, BMW-engined Chiang Jiang,
"I am looking out the window in Kiev and staring at a cold, damp, blustery day. Since we left Ulaan baatar, we have experienced mostly this kind of weather. First, it is very depressing, but second it is inhibiting for site-seeing. I did get outside today and checked out the food vendors, buying a chicken and bread for lunch. Although eating in the hotel room is not appetizing, it does save some money.
On Saturday we had made the decision to dump Max and fly to Stuttgart, Germany to purchase a new bike. Well, the night before we had been invited to a local bikers bar, having a great time and drinking a lot of beer and vodka. We had made plans to go play paint ball the next morning, when Oleg, Vadim and Valerliy arrived at the hotel our plans got put aside not only for paint ball, but to purchase a new bike. The decision was made to try a fix on Max one more time. First, we could not sell Max in the Ukraine, because parts and similar bikes were cheap; second, we could not leave the country without our bike since we entered on it; and third, they had a mechanic that is good and would work cheaply, but we had heard that before and it cost us $1,500 in Moscow. Luckily, the mechanics at the BMW in Kiev only charged us $170 for two days work. Since Max has additional problems, the BMW mechanics could not continue to house Max without charging us regular prices, so he has been moved to another garage for service.
Right now we do not know how long it will be before we move on. Our escapades with Max: take a train, drag Max, take a truck and drag Max remind me of an old golf joke. There are four guys that are playing golf. On the 10th hole Charlie has a heart attack and dies. So it is hit the ball, drag Charlie, hit the ball, drag Charlie. I certainly hope that this changes with the next fix. But there has to be a time when we say that there are no more fixes and I think that we will reach it, if we have any more problems with Max. So right now we sit and wait… for a room, better weather and the decision on Max."
Tommy and Rosa, Germany, RTW, in Queretaro, Mexico, BMW F650GS's,
"We visit a family from our hometown, who live in Mexico since one year. Here we take a rest, to update the website and change tires. It's nice to be there, because it's like a small piece of home…
Our nice hosts in Queretaro - Carmen, Dirk and daughter Shannon
We meet friends of our hosts: Matthias from Villingen/ Germany (Rosa's home) with his Mexican girlfriend Yael and Thomas from Haslach/ Germany come to have BBQ. Matthias and Carmen drink too much Tequila, because of a bet - so funny! We enjoy our rest very much, and it's hard too leave...
We take the first hotel we find in Guanajuato, it's not cheap, 350,- Peso, but they have underground parking lot, which is important for tonight, because it's fiesta 'Dia de los Muertos', the All Saints Day, and the streets are crowded. It's the nicest town we visited so far in Mexico, there are nice plazas, gardens and colonial buildings and we walk through town watching the stands, where you can buy flowers, skulls made of sugar or plastic skeletons. It's tradition, that kids masquerade as vampire, skeletons, witches or clowns and ask at the stands for sweets."
Eric and Gail Haws, USA, in Brazil,
"On this journey we only traveled a little over 3200 miles. Most all of it was in the state of Minas Gerais (MG). West of Rio de Janeiro MG has many old towns and sites. Having once been the center of mining, gold and silver, then diamonds, it has a long history. The old cities are well known and contain many historical buildings. This time we were there during Carnival.
...The roads are not the best once off the main highways, and not always even then. As always one must be careful driving in a foreign country. Each country has its own traffic problems and the locals drive differently. In MG, during their winters, there are frequent strong winds. Many people fly kites thus strings often cross the roads. This leads to moto accidents and some have resulted in fatalities. Motorcycles frequently are seen with radio antennas attached to the front windshield. In theory this helps cut the strings. A tip: when it begins to rain get off the road as soon as safely possible. Drainage is poor, trucks throw muddy water all over and blow you off the road with rain gusts, when they pass. They do not slow down for wet pavements..."
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Mike and Ruby, Canada and Germany, in Romania,
"Not knowing what to expect from the 'Merry Cemetery' we walk along the street of Sapanta in search of it. Locals charge a small fee to enter the Cemetery. We are unable to read the inscriptions below the colourfully painted wooden crosses, but pictures are a thousand words. Each cross depicts the persons tragic death or their lifelong profession. 'Death, when it visits this isolated town in a forgotten corner of Europe, comes laughing - in the guise, almost, of a comic book.' A graveyard that is a 'pleasure' to visit.
This was our final stop in Romania, it was time to make our way toward the Hungarian border. From Sapanta to Satu Mare we were engulfed in thick fog, the trees seem to take on a life of their own. We have never ridden in fog like that, where visibility is almost zero and I had a hard time seeing Mikes' rear light in front of me, not to mention that each corner scared the crap out of me. My imagination is running wild and I can hear the sound of old carriages with horses snorting and racing through the dense woods. This is where the legend of Dracula lives on."
Fabrice Blocteur, From Japan across Asia to Europe, in Russia,
"I crossed the Ural Mountains on September 22nd. I had left Tyumen the day before and spent the night in Yekaterinburg in Elia's apartment, a local biker. This is the city where the czar Nicolas, his wife and children were murdered by the Bolsheviks. I was glad to have crossed the Urals. I knew that I could relax a bit more from now on; winter west of those mountains was still a few weeks away.
I stayed in Perm for a weekend. I was welcomed there by Vadim, a local biker. I was planning to go down the Kama River as well as the Volga all the way to Nizhniy-Novgorod, as Madame de Bourboulon had done in 1862, but unfortunately the season was already over. The temperature wasn't very high to cover those 1000 km by road but at least it didn't rain.
In Izhevsk, I stayed in Mahrat's place, a local biker and I received some help in Kazan by some other bikers. I don't think I could have crossed Russia without the help of all those bikers. They've done more than what I could ever have imagined."
Salvador Carlucci, Italy, A Journey For Healthcare Access: Latin America, in Ecuador,
"The next day we decided to go to La Mitad del Mundo. The monument and line that you see in the picture was built sometime in the 1800 and thus is slightly off the actual line. So we just took a picture and went to the real place.
The actual half of the world is a couple kilometers down the road where they have a museum. I didn´t know but there is the half of the world geographic and half of the world magnetic. In the half of the world geographic the GPS marks all zeros.
In the magnetic half of the world you can see some really cool physical experiments. One of several was the water experiment. If you pull the plug from the sink in the middle of the world the water goes straight down. If you pulled up five feet north the waters creates a swirls that turns counter clock wise and if you pull it five feet south the water creates a swirls that turns clockwise. Another experiment that was interesting was the strength experiment. The guide told me to hold my hands up and she tried to pull them down – she couldn't. however, when I was in the middle of the world she pulled them down with ease. Also in the middle of the world one weighs 2.4 pounds less."
Peter Hendricks, Germany, Europe to NZ, in Turkey and Iran,
"They are two young men living together in a small house right next to the checkpoint and so I'm invited. We are having a great time, despite the language barrier. I note with interest that they are all Turks teaching Kurdish children. They teach Turkish and Islam, but certainly not Kurdish. This is also the first place I've been to in TR where the power keeps going off. I seems that people seem to get poorer and that there is more rubbish around the further East I go. The locals just seem to throw it away wherever they are and if it is collected the trucks just dump it down a bank, preferably into a river. The teachers want me to stay tomorrow, but I explain to them about the freezing rain forecast and decline politely.
In the morning they put on an amazing breakfast, then I'm off. They have to be in school at 7h, so this is my earliest start so far. The road continues along a river valley and I start to think that perhaps there is no pass to cross.
I have trouble deciding whether to stay or to leave, but in the end I'm off. I never thought that the desert could be so interesting, but the scenery keeps changing all the time. There are salt patches, sand dunes and mountains, with some oases sprinkled in between. Late in the afternoon I get lost, as usual, but finally end up pitching my tent in the desert on a sandy track. I can't get a peg into the ground and find that underneath the sand and stones is a layer of tar seal. I'm camping on the old road.
...Had to change route, couldn't get a Pak visa in TR, thanks to German govt.! Now heading to Dubai, hopefully Oman and Yemen, then back to try again for Pak. Wish me luck for that one."
Robbo and Amy, Africa 2006-2007, to Africa, in Senegal and The Gambia,
"Whilst we wait and wait for our Senegalese visas at the embassy after hours of arduous pigeon english/french translations. Rob and I sit quietly like school children next to an official desk that looks like a table used at a b'day party with a tie dyed cloth, 2 plastic chairs, a 80's phone and a crumbled up senegal tourism poster tacked on by a single piece of blue tack. Alas, we eventually get told that visas will not be ready until Monday (5 days away)! Monday comes, again we get turned away to come back later, increasing frustration but we try to remain patient. Finally, we filed into a room where we watch a man silently for 20 mins proudly glue stamps into our passports and then Senegal, here we come!
We avoid the notoriously bad Rosso border and hit the Diama borders off road but it's still full of money hungry corrupt officials, Rob is quite calm but I get quite agitated and refuse to pay money (am told it could get us into trouble) and our Mauritania insurance ran out by 4 days as we had to wait for our Senegalese Visa. We then get faced with our first bribe! The customs officials asks for our expired insurance, Rob and I pretend to fumble for it to stall time but it doesn't work. He tells us 'if you give me 10 Euros, I turn a blind eye, you ride through' so we pay up.
At the border, we managed to catch the officials at lunch so the border subsequently gets closed for an hour and a half, we then get subjected to 'offer me a soft drink' when it reopens for an official stamp. What the! we say we have no money as all the police have fleeced us dry so he slams our passports on the table and lets out a huge sigh gesturing us to leave..."
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Cynthia Milton, UK, RTW, in USA, R80G/S,
"I've been learning all sorts of new stuff - the day before yesterday I fitted and wired a new bilge pump and float valve, and yesterday I was initiated into the mysteries of the kind of stuff you need when refitting a boat, during a mega shopping expedition with Stuart. We've fitted a new loo and shower, lots of electrickery, a mega sound system with speakers inside and out, new navigation kit, all sorts of stuff.
This is all because Dave Liddell (old friend and ex-employer) invited me to spend a few days aboard his RTW-capable racing trimaran, moored at Port Aransas on the Texas Gulf (of Mexico) coast, a little north of Corpus Christi.
Pelican John has been teaching Stuart how to do celestial navigation (using a plastic sextant); Jeff and Tom fitted a new forestay; and we declare the day over by walking to Shorty's for a well-earned beer or three. The Old Dear is parked on the dock by the boat, and attracts greater attention. The boat is currently called 'Unconditional Love', but is being renamed 'Aransas', which means 'Lost Souls' in Indian.
This morning we went for a bit of a sail, which was brill with a two-metre swell and having to avoid large tankers and things. We were accompanied by schools of dolphins and flights of pelicans, all of whom hang around in the marina a lot as well, in the company of blue cranes and the marina cats. Whenever the shrimp boat next door comes back the boss pelican hops up to watch the unloading in the hope of a freebie, and when he flies off the cats have a go as well.
I'll be here a few more days as I'm waiting for my new bank card to arrive, and anyway I really can't miss the belt sander racing on Saturday night at The Gaff (where Vanessa makes excellent pizzas). In fact, Stuart and I are considering competing as David's flying back to London tomorrow and we can bunk off work a bit."
Jacob Sherman, USA, Americas, crashed in Baja California, Mexico,
"I met two guys the night before and asked them to follow be down the road out because I was still worried about the road. I could handle the rocks, but that sand was something I never experienced before. So, I suited up and we headed out. I had originally planned to go on to San Felipe and down the coast. However, they convinced me it was a bad idea because of the heat and the horrid conditions of the road. So, I had planned to go back to Ensenada and down the west coast.
I was a few miles from the pavement, but that last stretch to the pavement is a long stretch of sand. I was feeling good but pick up too much speed and hit something. The force instantly stopped my forward movement, threw my head through the windshield and tossed me clear of the bike. My leg was in pieces.
They lifted into the rear cab of their pickup and pushed my bike behind a push. I felt every bump of the road on the way back to Ensenada to get to a hospital. Once at the hospital, I eventually received the bad news. A spiral fracture of the tibia running up from my ankle to the midpoint of my calf. My new friends decided that this was not something I should have done in Mexico. So I was drugged up for the ride north to San Diego. One day later I had a rod inserted into my tibia."
Simon Gandolfi, Veracruz, Mexico to Tierra del Fuego, in Argentina and Chile,
"I eat an excellent grill and stroll back passed the Liverpool Pub. The cops remain in occupation. The kitchen at the Hotel Argentina is welcoming. The coven and the students slope off to watch a couple of rented horror films on TV. Graciela and I sit and chat of this and that. Hotel Argentina is the best budget option in Rio Grande and Graciela gets the travellers. Most are good and easy. Some are weird; some have chemically recalibrated their brains; a few suffer from tangled wires in their heads. A young Frenchman stayed two months. He believed that Graciela was the Virgin Mary reincarnated. He was John the Baptist. He tended to stare at Graciela; this put her off cooking. Imagine attempting a mayonnaise with someone gazing at you, someone with such expectations. Virginal is a tough demand when you have three grown kids and have suffered a recent divorce.
I sit there in the kitchen utterly content while Graciela tells me of her life. She is both extraordinarily youthful and very adult. She has humour and she reads books. I have been biking five months and have enjoyed no proper (nor improper) female company apart from those few days in Nazcar. I prefer a woman's company. Men don't do it for me. I miss Bernadette. I miss all four boys. I want to cuddle my grandson. And I want to visit with my daughter. Yeah, yeah, yeah... Get to bed, you old fool. It is 1:30 a.m. and you ride to Ushuaia in the morning. Thank you, Graciela.
...I cross the final mountain pass to Ushuaia. A few specks of snow sting my cheeks. Snow turns to rain as I dip into town. Ahead lies the Beagle channel. I book into the Hostal Cruz del Sur. The owner, Luca, is Italian. He is a friend of Graciela's. This is his birthday. He is thirty-three. Luca shows me to a bunkroom. Bunkrooms are unsuitable accommodation for an old man. How will I manage the climb to an upper bunk in the middle of the night? I cross the street to a hotel with rooms that have private baths. I look back over my shoulder and see Luca watching me. Argentine friends are preparing the barbecue on the sidewalk. Luca has invited me. I feel a traitor. I circle to a grocery and buy three bottles of red wine."
Adam Lewis and Danny Burroughs, UK, UK to Nepal, in Thailand,
"Hi All, we are two English motorcyclists who have just arrived in Bangkok. Having spent 8 months riding from the UK to Nepal we air freighted from Katmandu to Bangkok."
Jorge Alejandro Conde, Argentina, in Monaco, Honda Transalp,
"I am Argentine biker who is traveling around the world in a transalp with my girlfriend (she is from Mexico)... We have near of 5 years traveling. We do not have sponsor or help, because we travel slowly... but we are not hurry. We make handcrafts for continuing the trip.
...We decided to make a stop in Monaco, since Guada wanted to make a pair of photos. This principality has different types of architecture: classic and modern. It is firstly a tourist complex, but the tourists are high-income people. Monaco has everything, except for traveling salesmen like us. And it is common to see in the streets cars which are worth thousands of euros. In addition, in this small port are yacht-restaurants, where we could not even pay for a glass of water. Much luxury, for our pleasure... In the evening we continued until Aix and we slept in a rest area on the side of the road..."
Elias Monaxios, Canada, writes to the HU Arequipa, Peru Community
"Hola everyone. I am in Puerto Maldonado, riding a BMW 650GS Dakar, heading south. I dropped the bike in a river a couple of times and the bike will not now start, even though it did run for a few hours after the drops. Does anyone know where a good mechanic shop is that I can go to from here? I would prefer heading south if I have an option. Greatly appreciated. Elias"
Sam Uprichard, Northern Ireland, RTW, in Bolivia, KTM 640 Adventure,
"Buenas Tardes! I am riding a KTM 640 Adventure around the world and I am currently in La Paz. I have a problem with my rear shock/suspension and I need to get the suspension serviced or rebuilt/reconditioned. Would anyone know of a good bike mechanic in la Paz that could maybe help me with my problem? If you would have any advice it would be greatly appreciated. Ciao for now. Sam"
Ken Minnion, Canada, in Mexico,
"Crossing the Sonora desert was a lot nicer than I expected. The rainy season had left it very green & full of flowers. We just left the coastal plain when we ran into some serious lightning and black clouds! At the first rain drop I stopped to pull on the rain suit. By the time I got it on I was drenched. Riding along at 20 kmh, the visibility was so bad I missed a puddle 15 cm deep across the road. Another km along everybody had pulled over at a closed restaurant and stood under the palm leaf awning to wait it out. It only rained a little inside. Estimates put the rainfall at 15cm in an hour.
Then the sun broke out and we were clear to go... on to the most continuous piece of twisties I had ever been on! Nearly 200km of nonstop 1st, 2nd, and 3rd gear with no straight stretches more than 200m in length! Straight up cliff on one side, deep canyon on the other. For those that know it, the Duffy Lake road looks like Saskatchewan in comparison. In the middle of these twisties, we came across the first of many Army checkpoints where we were asked all sorts of questions: where we came from, where we're going, how fast does the bike go, how much does the sleeping bag cost, etc.
...After lunch we met another Canadian, Darren, on a VSTROM 1000 who travelled with us to Creel. At Basiachi, Fred opted to do a gravel shortcut while Darren and I stayed on the paved road for more mountain twisties. Met up again about 4 hours later in the hotel where we joined the group for the www. horizonsunlimited.com rally. As we arrived a day early, not much was yet organized, so we took some time off to explore Creel on foot. Creel is in a pine forest at about 2,000m , so was very pleasant during the days with frost on the bikes at night."
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Pueblo Viejo, Ushuaia, Argentina
Freddy invites you to stay at the "Pueblo Viejo" in the heart of Ushuaia, at the end of the world! Pueblo Viejo is just a few steps from the main avenue, Museums and places of interest.
Plenty of safe motorcycle parking, FREE internet access and WIFI and Breakfast included too!
Ronnie Skarner, Sweden, in South America, Suzuki DL1000, writes to the HU Lima Community,
"Hi Lima! I´m from Sweden travelling around in South America. I need to fix the front rim on my Suzuki DL1000 (casted alu) end of this week, which have one big dent after hitting a big rock at high speed. I will do most of the work myself, but need help with heating the rim and a hydraulic press. Do you know of an workshop where I can get some help? Kind regards"
Kang Se Whan, Korea, in South America, writes to the HU Buenos Aires Community,
"I ride F650GS solo without camping gear and very not good at mud road. I had cross Uyuni desert to Chile border for 3 days,following tour jeep. But, I will never try such kind of road again.. I was so scared to death! Thanks to Uyuni, I had to get rid of both side pannier (I found that it was too heavy when the frame was broken at each side) and I had to rest 2 weeks here in Buenos Aires as my neck was swollen, so tired..
...I will go down to Routa 40 around the late of Oct. When I see the map, from Mendoza-Bariloche- Esquel -Rio Mayo is paved,but from Rio Mayo to El Calafate is Unpaved. Regarding this unpaved section of Routa 40, I don't know if I can make it or not."
Ed. Se Whan recently broke his 3rd shock, bummer!
Robert Runyard, Tierra del Fuego, Chile, KLR650,
"Robert Runyard and his mostly faithful KLR650 spent a couple of days on Tierra del Fuego checking out the new road being pushed into the southern end of the island by the Chilean Army engineers. Roberto is planning to work with a local Chilean in Puerto Natales in 2007 to have a couple of KLR650s for rent, conveniently just half a day's ride from the ferry crossing to Tierra del Fuego.
...Now in Punta Arenas, on the long trip back to Colorado. Don't want to go back to Colorado, actually. Much prefer living here in Magallanes/Ultima Esperanza, here in Chilean Patagonia."
Jacqueline Furneaux, UK, in Colombia, Enfield,
"I have been having a super time in Colombia and am now at Cartagena. I am doing research on yachts that will take me and my Enfield to Panama and wondered if you have any contacts. I have made a note of a couple from the website but wondered if you have any up-to-date information that I can't find.
I thank you again for all your support. I am having a ball here all my confidence restored. I have gone way off the main roads many times!
Dear Bikers in Panama! I hope to be arriving in Panama soon, probably to Colon as I am leaving Cartagena, Colombia by boat sometime next week. Are there any rules and regulations I should know about before I arrive? I have a New Zealand registered Indian-made Enfield which badly needs a new rear tyre size 3.25 19. Will I be able to find one easily? I cannot find one here. Sorry for not writing in Spanish but I am not very good yet. Thank you, maybe we can meet! Jacqueline"
Ryan Martin, Canada, Panama to Canada, in Mexico,
"I am so proud of my dad. This trip is certainly not for the faint of heart. His friends think he's crazy. He's absolutely killing it. I have seen him maneuver his bike up and down steep grades of washboard gravel and sand and even through washed out river crossings. I've seen him weave in and around potholes the size of craters on the moon. I've watched him negotiate heavy crosswinds and rain while cornering sharp turns. Part Ricky Carmichael and part Valentino Rossi. I always have a watchful eye on him through my little side mirrors and he's always right there every step of the way with that headlight brightly beaming, right on my ass. I admire his spirit of adventure and hope that I will carry that through when I'm in my 60's and beyond.
Every morning we suit up in our gear and adorn ourselves with our blackened jerseys (which were once sparkling white) like a badge of honor. We will have a light breakfast if it is available, we gas up and give each other the handshake and I pray for the motorcycle gods to be with us another day. We board our all-terrain B.C. bound rockets with 'JWM is my co-pilot' emblazoned on our front fenders and just like that the day begins. At 7am, the road is ours to own. Within a few hours the traffic thickens and we must jockey for position. We continually battle to be in the front of the line. My dad and I share this common thread that has definitely been a key to the success of this trip - our relentless pursuit of open road. We have passed hundreds and hundreds of bikes, cars and trucks. I'm quite certain it is in the thousands. You may think this sounds reckless and unsafe but I would have to disagree. I can justify our riding style for five solid reasons:
1. Time - My dad says I have to get back to work!
Ed. See Ryan's blog here on Horizons Unlimited for the rest of the story!
By Rick McDermed, USA, Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, in Peru,
"I also want to tell you about several other motorcycle travellers we have met in the last few days. John is from B. C. Canada (Peachland).
He is 71 years old. He flew to Caracas, Venezuela, bought a 125 cc Chinese motorcycle (that is being kind, it's really a scooter) :=) and is doing a three month circumnavigation of South America. He has almost no pack and rides in sandals. He also has no windshield and a very little helmet. He is a retired logger, I guess that is what made him so tough! John is having a GREAT time and Sal and I sure enjoyed his company. We will see him in Tierra Del Fuego since he plans to be there for New Years also. We also ran into Yoshi and Yuko Ishizawa.
They were on some kind of large scooter and were doing their trip in stages. In April 2005 they started in Los Angeles and made their way to Prudhoe Baby and back to LA. This year they are going to make it to Santiago, Chile. VERY friendly folks. Hope to see them down the road. On the road from Nazca to Cusco we met this fellow. I have forgotten his name but he is a REAL biker."
By Dani Silvian, in Seattle,
"Katsutoshi Yagisawa, a friend of Chris Lockwood. He just bought Chris' KLR here in Seattle and I helped him with the title transfer/registration/insurance. Motorcycle Express of course, from the HU website. He's doing a loop of the western US. Will be back in Seattle Nov 1 and he will fly back to Japan and keep the bike here."
Ed. When you meet fellow motorcycle travellers along the road, try to get their name and e-mail address so we can contact them. Thanks!
Brennan Dates, Miami to South America, BMW 1150GS,
"I plan on raising money for the National Parkinson Foundation through donations on a per mile basis as I ride my BMW 1150 GS Adventure from Miami, Fl to the tip of South America and back. Over 20,000 miles. I Am going to travel West through the Gulf States to Mexico, Central and South America , over pavement and dirt, arriving eventually at Ushuaia , Argentina. The Southernmost town of the world. At which point I'll turn Northward and head home, back to South Florida . Raising money and awareness every mile along the way.
I have a close family member who has recently been diagnosed with early onset Parkinson Disease. They have spent their entire adult life trying to make this planet a cleaner more environmentally aware place for all of us to live.
Parkinson Disease is a degenerative neurological disease of the brain. I want to do something that will draw peoples attention, raise awareness, and collect money that can be delegated to researching the causes and the possible cure for this non-curable disease. Hope. I strongly believe that cures for this disease, and others closely related, are very near.
With your help and my effort we can all combine our resources and talents to help make a huge difference in finding a cure.
100% of all donations go directly to the National Parkinson Foundation. All trip expenses will be paid for by myself, Brennan Dates."
Motoedde, USA, 93 BMW K75s
Count me in boys...the dog was given away, the girlfriend was given two months notice, the family one month, the boss three weeks, and I'm now a week away from arriving in Casablanca on the 14th of Nov...Route...Morocco, Maur, Senegal, Mali(festival du desert)... Niger, Chad, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Yemen, Oman, Iran, the Stans, Mongolia, Russia, Alaska, the West Coast of America and back to Philadelphia... Will see you on the piste at some point.."
Richard Miller and Sascha Meyer, through Europe, the Middle East and Africa on a 1955 Royal Enfield Bullet,
"Dammit! Delays galore. Everyone says that in planning a trip such as this preparation takes a lot longer than you expect and they are not wrong.. From packing everything up at home and cleaning it up to rent out to sorting out the paperwork and getting the bike in order all has guzzled up precious money and time away...
Our scheduled departure was back at the end of October and now a month later we are still here whittling down our travel budget. The Iranians have not yet obliged us with a visa and the bike is having more teething problems than Jaws as a child. Hmm. maybe I should have suspected that resurrecting a 50 year old bike that has been off the road for more than 20 years and preparing it for a two up trip through Africa would be a task that would take slightly longer than 3 weeks. But still, if it weren't for a strong sense of optimism we wouldn't attempt such ventures would we?
Actually, all on the bike was sorted fairly early on. It is just that it has shown itself to be a keen smoker and really reluctant to break the habit. No amount of fettling and new parts has persuaded it that giving up is the best option. Normally one could live with a little wisp of smoke tailing us from the exhaust but this machine has a real 40 a day habit and the thought of slating its thirst with a pint of oil a day seems a bit over the top. We had been planning to carbon offset our trip but at this rate instead of purchasing a few trees we would have to be investing in the entire tree life of Borneo.
Still, we remain optimistic and all going to plan we should be off this weekend. Sorry to those friends we haven't managed to catch up with before leaving. Hopefully the next posting will be from Turkey in a couple of weeks' time.."
Andrew Wells, UK, Chelmsford to Cape Town,
"So what is the plan? That's a bloody good question; about a year ago in a moment of boredom or was it after too much to drink. I thought to myself that there would be nothing better to do than buy a motorcycle, another one, leave work and ride overland down to Cape Town. Not even sure what brought it on, guess it must have been lingering deep in the mind somewhere for a long time. After all we have all at one time or another read or watched the Long Way Round. Personally I prefer Ted Simon's Jupiter's Travels. You can get a really sense of his adventure as the imagination runs wild.
This then marks the beginning of my adventure into the complete unknown. As with all beginnings there is an end, what that will be and how it will be dealt is all part of the excitement. Just wish for a better result than that of my racing pursuits which ended with one RS250 and myself a little rearranged in the gravel trap at Clearways, Brands Hatch after a high speed high side.
...The expedition will start from Chelmsford in January 2007 and last between 6-9 months travelling across a diverse and challenging terrain."
Hubert Kriegel, France, writes to the HU Buenos Aires Community,
"Hello all I am looking for a garage in Buenos Aires to park my motorcycle between 15 of December and January the 18. I finish arriving in Buenos Aires this morning from Uruguay and will go to the meeting of Viedma in 2 weeks. After that, I will return to Buenos Aires and I will fly to New York for Christmas with the family and I will return on January the 18 to travel to the south to Ushuaia. If you have or know of such possibility, please contact me by email.. I am thankful in advance for your assistance"
Haydn and Dianne Durnell, Australia, SE Asia, write to the HU Singapore Community,
Hi, my wife and I are Australians beginning a 4 month tour of SE Asia and will be arriving in Singapore on the 19 Nov.
Srinidhi Raghavendra, India, RTW,
"Dear friends, I am sure all of you are aware of my dream to travel around the world on motorcycles. Well me and my friends have been working on achieving this dream since 2000. And now after hitting a lot of blind spots, dead ends, problems, postponements etc we have concluded on one thing.
It is almost impossible to get through the paperwork in India. For example: Carnet de Passage - a document which enables us to take vehicles to any country without paying any customs duty or tax - is provided in India for only one year period. We will have to come back to India with the bikes and renew the carnet and travel ahead. It is impossible to renew it elsewhere in the world and Indian automobile associations/ government don't issue the Carnet for more than 12 months.
Hence it was a hard decision that we had to take. We decided that instead of taking a 4-5 year break to travel around the world, we split the entire world into 10 different zones and have decided to accomplish our world tour in the next 8-10 years by taking one zone at a time. The first Zone as you might have all guessed by now is South Asia. We are starting our South Asia Motorcycle ride on December 3, 2006."
, Australia, RTW, Honda XR Adventure,
"After two years, , 90,000kms (over 60 boats), , countless punctures, accidents, four natural wonders, diseases and near death, Steve has destroyed almost everything he owns..
...A few days ago I had what initially seemed to be a relatively minor motorbike accident. I was riding through Randwick on a rainy night when the bike slipped on an oil patch. I ended up in hospital (for a few hours) with a dislocated shoulder. I've spent the past few weeks seeing specialists and having intensive physio and been advised that I won't regain full strength for four months (unusual dislocation that none of doctors have seen (ball slipped underneath socket, arm locked straight up).
...I need to be at full strength for the next leg. Relocating my unusual dislocation in the middle of Mongolia would mean locking my arm onto the bike and sliding backwards on my stomach like a snake to try and schlop it back in place. This is possible, but also stupid. Its taken me a while to accept this.
...The shoulder has healed the bike is ready, the wheel is turning and the trip is about to begin. In February 2007 I am going to start again. "
Robert Bielesch, Canada, leaving Venezuela,
"With the premeditated precision of a guided missile I made good my exit from Venezuela. I had been through the mess that was Central America too many times and the prospect of passing through in the wet season appealed even less. I made a clean break. From the Caracas Airport I would be home in 9 hours. The bike would follow separately in a day or two.
It was an easy way to close the chapter on a 6 month odyssey through South America. It was a wonderful trip shared in part by my wife, Sandra...the "Best of Brasil", as we called it.
As I reflect back on the journey which carried me through six countries in six months, it just didn't seem that long. The pace was more leisurely than aggressive and yet I still accumulated 34,000 kilometers. I accomplished all I had set out to do and more. I met and befriended many wonderful people along the way, some of whom I still correspond with today. I have gained an insight into lives and cultures that were both foreign and very different from my own. I supplemented my Spanish and learned Portuguese. I traced the paths of conquerors and therefore history. I made my own history. I fulfilled some dreams.
…Few people understand the motivation to travel and experience life on a motorcycle. It is a high energy form of travel often accompanied by fatigue, always suffering the vagaries of Mother Nature from searing heat to freezing cold. There is no feeling of aloneness quite like breaking down in the middle of nowhere and knowing there will not be another human being along that day, who can help you, or the feeling of fighting the clock to make a destination as night closes in on you. There is no blackness like the South American night. It is total. It is absolute.
Those who have never travelled by motorcycle often liken it to a car journey on two wheels. They will never understand the risks or the hardships and therefore never reap the rewards. Their travels will always be diminished from a motorcycle adventure. For that is what it is...an adventure...much more than just travel...an unforgettable lifetime experience. It can easily end in tragedy, but when it doesn't it is the closest you can come to nirvana and remain on earth with both feet firmly fixed on the ground.
Extended duration motorcycle travel is even more demanding on both man and machine. The conditions down here are far more extreme than anything available in North America. Until you have witnessed it you simply cannot relate to it because you have no scale to measure against. You can only measure against that which you have seen. How can you relate to a road that takes 3 hours to travel 60 miles (100 km), if you have never seen one. You simply cannot if you have not been there. The continuous 8 hour per day pounding that you and the machine take as you fight your way through is often more than most people can endure. Why everything does not break or shake to bits is beyond me. But those are the tough days.. rewarding in their own sense for their own special reasons.
Equally rewarding are the brilliant days where everything is simply perfect from start to finish.. .fantastic scenery, lovely roads, good food and good people.
All of those combined are the memories that televisions, cars and cruises can never provide for you do not earn anything. You simply pass through barely touching the surface ...barely receiving any sensory feedback... barely a part of anything at all ...earning nothing, gaining little.
That's why we do it.. to get more out of life. You have to risk more to get more. We risk it all, for the risks are high...but we get more.. oh, so very much more. And when we drag our sore asses and wounded bikes home, it takes barely a day of healing before we yearn for the next adventure, start looking at that other faraway and desolate place where we can punish ourselves yet again in the quest for the ultimate high.
There's a sadness that comes with the close of a trip. Yes, of course there is the anxiety of going home and the sense of euphoria that accompanies it. But, the sadness is right beside it, matching it step for step. The daily struggle will not be there; the hardship, the suffering, the ever changing kaleidoscope as you follow that ribbon of asphalt; which branch you take determines the outcome of the day. Those choices move behind you when you return home. They are replaced by normalcy, familiarity and things you know well but whose memory has faded during your absence.
It is a return to a familiar land with familiar customs and a familiar language. You are no longer THE White Guy. You are simply any other white guy. You blend in. You become invisible because of your sameness. There will be no Jantar Lady, no mystery meals, no daily plan to dissect and execute. Suddenly I feel like cancelling the whole return. It was the winning against the struggle that I had subconsciously looked forward to but had failed to recognize."
Ed. See Bob's blog here on Horizons Unlimited for more stories and great pics!
Martin and Jeanette Rooiman, Netherlands, RTW 2000-2003,
Martin and Jeanette got married in July, 2006, and are living in rural France, in a place called Bagnac. If you'd like to keep in touch with them, you can sign up for their journal on their website.
We've now reached an amazing 443 Communities in 89 Countries as of November 20 2006!
A big thanks to all those who took the first step and established the Community in their area. New Communities are too many to list - it has been a while!
If you are on the road, do check out the Communities - don't feel like you're imposing on people! They signed up for a Community because they want to meet travellers - that's you! You'll have a great time, so go to the Communities page and let them know you're coming. Please remember that they are volunteers and offering to help because they're great people - common courtesy helps! When you write, tell them who you are, that you're passing through, and would like to meet them. Let them know if you need anything, and I'm sure they'll help as best they can.
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.
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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 500 world travellers listed, but there are many more. 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, 1987-2006.