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Welcome to the 88th Edition of the motorcycle travellers' e-zine! This month, for a change, I don't have to apologise for how long it's been since the last issue :) Since last month, we've been to the Canada West meeting in Nakusp, which was fantastic! Just under 200 people came, and enjoyed numerous inspirational, informative and funny presentations. After many years at many different locations for this event, and our 3rd year in Nakusp, I felt like Goldilocks - we finally are in a big enough venue, the weather was perfect and the food was great, so thanks Deb! Thanks to all the presenters for sharing their stories and tips, and to all the volunteers for keeping the whole thing on the rails and making it fun for all! And a very big thanks to Ekke and Audrey Kok, Onno Kok and Murray Barber for their hard work in making it happen - they did a great job!
The following weekend was the UK Autumn meeting in Mendip, also just under 200 people, so a great turnout for a first meeting! This meet was organised by Gabe Bolton and Charlotte Moore, back from their own travels and just before heading off to Pakistan! Our thanks to them, and also to our veteran HU meeting organisers Liam McIlhone, Naomi Hodgins, Sam Manicom, Iain Harper, Colin and Dee Masters who all pitched in to help out. Alas, we couldn't be there in person, but by all reports the meeting was a brilliant success :)
It looks like the chaos will last a bit longer for us. Just last week, we managed to finally unpack the last of the boxes and hang up the pictures that had still been in their packing crates. The very next day the landlord's agent called to tell us they've listed the house for sale, so the odds are good that they won't be renewing our lease, and we will need to move again by end of January (or sooner)! While it's not as big a move as from London to Vancouver, it will still be disruptive and costly, so we're bummed :-(
We are home for just a couple more weeks, then we head south to the California Meeting, which is the last meeting we'll attend this year. This is shaping up to be a major event, over 25 presenters, including the 'Who's Who' of motorcycle travellers! See details below. We've been working hard on the 2012 meeting schedule and have a lot of dates now set, so you can mark your calendars, and even sign up now for many of them!
I'm woefully behind on the accounts, but based on our bank balances this will be a record year - for expenses, that is! Moving from the UK, shuttling around Europe and the USA this summer for events, plus throwing a huge amount of money at the website (most of it wasted), has left us well into the red. The meetings are very important to us, because they allow us to connect with so many of you face to face each year. They are also a significant source of revenue, but our meeting costs, especially venue costs, have gone up a lot in the past few years (some of them by as much as double or triple), so the net income doesn't contribute much to the website, and the return on our time is very low. Even the UK meet, with almost 700 attendees, netted less than £3k before travel costs, which is pretty tiny for the amount of time and effort that goes into it, not only ours but all the volunteers.
We have reluctantly concluded that we need to raise the registration fees for the larger meetings. We think the meetings are still incredibly good value for the entertainment, information and inspiration they provide, and the connections they enable. For most meetings, we'll hold the 2011 price as an 'early bird' rate for the next few months, then raise it in stages. This seems fair to us - if you can commit to the event and pay early you get a bargain, if you wait until the last minute it will cost you more. We really need the cash flow, so the early bird registrations benefit us too :)
While I'm on the subject of the hole in our finances, we still need advertisers, so 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 even better send them to our Advertisers page with your recommendation. Finally, don't forget all the people on your Christmas list (and maybe yourself?) who still don't have the Achievable Dream or Road Heroes DVDs ;-)
Where are our intrepid travellers this month?
We've got great stories from Colombia, Mexico, Morocco, Argentina, Costa Rica, Panama, South Africa, Guatemala, Australia, Germany, Indonesia, Turkey, Denmark, El Salvador, Netherlands, Venezuela, UK, Canada, Spain, USA, Zambia, Mali and Peru... And those are just the ones we tracked down! What about you? Get out there on the road and make your own adventure, and don't forget to write! Seriously, there are so many travellers out there now that it's hard for me to keep up with them all. If you send me a couple of paragraphs and pics every month you'll have a much better chance of making it into the e-zine!
Susan Johnson, Editor
Why Come to a Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers Meeting?
You can meet people who don't think you're crazy for wanting to ride your bike to South America or Africa or across Asia, or even around the world! Admit it, all your 'normal' friends and most of your family fear for your sanity! So, this is your opportunity to meet the people who will encourage you in that craziness, share their experiences and advice on how to do it, and maybe you'll meet them again in Mongolia or Timbuktu!
Also importantly, the meetings help to make HU more than just a website - a community of motorcycle travellers - real people, not just e-mail addresses ;-) And last but not least, they make a significant contribution to HU revenue, thus helping us to keep the HUBB and website going! So thanks to everyone who comes!
Meetings and Events, 2011 and 2012. Mark your calendars and sign up now!
Germany Autumn, 13-16 October, 2011. If you missed getting to the summer event, this is your last chance before 2012! Jens Ruprecht promises another great event, a little earlier this year. Lots of nice people, beautiful campground, great riding area, several workshops, slide shows from all over the world, local food and drinks, bonfire at night - meet your next travel buddy here! Registration open now!
We have an amazing lineup of presenters for this meeting - the 'Who's Who' of motorcycle travellers - Ted Simon, Dr. Gregory Frazier, Peter & Kay Forwood, Carla King, Clement Salvadori, Merritt & Pierre Saslawsky, Nicole Espinosa, Tim Bussey, Zigy Kaluzny and many more - over 25 presenters, plus lots of useful 'how to' sessions! You can sign up for an optional 1/2 day off-road riding clinic by Coach2Ride.
Numbers are strictly limited! Registration open now!
Argentina - Viedma, December 8-10 2011 Registration open now!
2012 Meetings and Events Calendar
Thailand, Chiang Mai Mini-meeting, 14 January, 2012.
Australia, (within 1 hour of Brisbane - Dayboro showgrounds), 8-10 June, 2012. Registration open now!
Germany, 7-10 June, 2012, Registration open now!
Ireland, 29 June - 1 July, 2012. Registration open now!
UK Summer - Ripley - the big one! 5-8 July, 2012, Registration open now! Early bird rates until end of October ;-)
Canada West, Nakusp, BC, 23-26 August, 2012. Same great location! Registration open now!
UK Autumn - Mendip, 31 Aug - 2 Sep, 2012 - TBC if we can persuade Gabe and Char to do it again!
North Carolina USA, Stecoah, 7-9 September, 2012. Note: New dates, a month later and hopefully cooler weather ;-) Registration coming soon!
HUMM Morocco, 17-21 Sep, 2012 - TBC.
Ontario and California - Dates and details still being finalized, planned for late September to mid-October.
What's a Mini-Meeting?
Dates subject to change, more dates and locations to come as we get them.
How about you? We're all here to learn, and there's LOTS to learn! We want to do more presentations and seminars - but we need volunteers to give them! Any topic you can contribute having to do with motorcycle travel, maintenance, planning, first aid, etc, lasting 20 minutes or more, would be great. Please contact us here to volunteer.Volunteers and Hosts
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. And volunteering is always a great way to meet a lot of people!
If you'd like to host an HU Meeting in your area, please see the How To Host a Meeting page for details.
Vendors/Traders sign up here to join us at a Meeting.
See you there!
Grant and Susan
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 how you can help, and the benefits to you of becoming a Horizons Unlimited Contributing Member or Gold Member!
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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 even better send them to our Advertisers page with your recommendation.
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This newsletter is provided as a complimentary service for travellers everywhere, both on the road and (temporarily ;-) off. Your support is greatly appreciated.
Too many to list! If you haven't checked out the Links page it's time you did - it's huge, and 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! From there you can request your link.
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 of 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 e-mail 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!
The US State Department regularly issues updated travel advisories, information and/or warnings.
Tea with Bin Laden's Brother, by Simon Roberts
An Adventure motorbiking graphic novel telling the gripping story of a solo ride through Iran, Pakistan and India to Nepal. Take a look inside...
Part 1 - Get Ready!
Part 2 - Gear Up!
Part 3 - On the Road!
Part 4 - Ladies on the Loose !
Part 5 - Tire Changing!
Road Heroes Part 1!
Wade Stubbs and Philip Atkinson, Australia, Circle to Circle tour, in Mexico, BMW
"We ask some workers what the thru road is like. The guy shakes his head, said it's way too hard for those big heavy bikes and left us to it. With that kind of advice, obviously the decision had already been made for us. So, I attacked the hill first. Well, the first part of the first hill anyway! Not one to give up too easily, I turned round and had another go. Faster this time. It's getting a bit like the good old days where as kids momentum was your friend, and if you don't crash you're not trying hard enough! Hmm, is this really a good idea?
No, it wasn't. The road was actually pretty bloody tough, and really too much for these bikes. Then factor in Wade's foot and it was stupid. 2 crashes later, and in a river of sweat we manhandle the bikes to turn around, then telling ourselves we won't get into a situation like that again (a lie) we ride out the easy way and into Las Felipe. Found a bar and campsite on the beach. Argh... this is the Mexico I've been dreaming about!
Today was cool. Really cool. We arrived in Isla Gonzaga around midday and decided that was enough. Time to relax and enjoy ourselves. As I floated about in the Sea of Cortez like an albino fur seal (I know, I know. I should run more. But I really like riding my bike instead! I swear I'll exercise next week. And it's tough to get a tan in riding gear!) I rolled lazily onto my side and said 'Hey Stubbsie. You know what's brilliant about today.'
'Yeah, I didn't fall off!'
'Well, that's true, but it's not what I meant. Today we woke up and rode somewhere exciting we've never been before. You know what's even better? Tomorrow we get to do the same, and the next day. And the next for another 6 months. Can you believe it'?
If that's isn't a pinch yourself moment, nothen is. Sometimes I slap Wade in the face for no apparent reason.
'Hey, what's that for?'
When I was on Flinders Island before leaving Aussie for the first time I would look up and see jet planes and think to myself 'I don't care what part of the world that plane lands, I wish I was on it (so long as it isn't Australia!)'. Now? Well now I look up and see jets crossing paths all day long and think to myself 'I don't care where in the world those planes are destined, I am bloody happy I'm not on it'!
We are half way down the east coast of the Baja, Mexico. Its 21:25, dark and about 95 Fahrenheit / 33 Celsius. I'm sitting on the beach writing, trying to wipe away the sweat before it drops onto the keyboard. The moon is out, but like a great lead in a Broadway musical it doesn't quite shine so bright as to hide the other stars. They are in perfect harmony.
My bed is rolled out underneath the stars, bathed in moonlight. There is no need for a tent tonight. A quick swim to wash away the sweaty reminder of the day's heat and I'm sleeping like Beauty. Mind you, if Stubbsie tries any funny business to wake me in the wee small hours of the morning there'll be trouble!
Good night to you all, and may you sleep like me!"
Colin and Dee Masters, UK, Wrinklies Wround the World, on the road again in Turkey, BMW 1150 GS,
"Arrived at the Turkish border around noon and still around 30 degrees. Showed passports and then had to buy visas. He was away having lunch, so we sat on the side of the lane waiting patiently. Not too long a wait and the 2 visas were 70 lire (£26.92 ). Then on to another building to buy insurance -- Colin did this whilst I stayed with the bike in the shade. We were partially blocking the lane exit --- but the official had told us to leave it there -- so we did! Insurance cost 120 YTL (£46.15) for 6 months. Customs control; checked bike papers only and we were through after an hour - good going. We thought we would be longer than that.
Went straight into Erdine and got a Caravanerie hotel which was built in the 1400's - it has been modernised since then! It was very tranquil in the courtyard - the place outside heaving with people and noise - but inside the hotel you can't hear any of that. 180 YTL for the night (£69). The place was full of atmosphere, traditional and obviously very old with thick walls and inner courtyards. There is a particular smell to these old places -- slightly sewery and musty --- but you soon get used to it!
The mosques here are stunning inside - they say they are as good as The Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Huge domes inside that are painted and gold leafed. I had to cover my shoulders and wear a headscarf- and we both had to take shoes off. We were visiting the second mosque when the call to prayer came out - so we left.
Got back to the hotel and asked for 'water'- guy didn't understand that and when I got the laptop out he rushed over and said 'Google translate' It's 'soda.' So now you know! We had to laugh.
That evening I had a dose of the squitts and took 2 Imodium. We were then down to 4 tablets, so next day I was sent off to get some more. Well you try to mime diarrhoea to 2 girls who don't speak English! We were in fits of laughter, then the guys came in to see what all the fun was about, so I was playing to a crowd! No embarrassment though, it was all taken in good part. First of all they gave me Dulcolax (a laxative). 'No, no, the other way'! Then I spotted a computer and said 'Google Translate' which they did and eventually I got 2 lots of tablets for 14 YTL (£5.38).
We got into Istanbul at 1 pm. The traffic was manic to say the least. Car and, lorries cutting you up on either side. People driving down the hard shoulder, horns beeping and at the toll-cars or lorries backing up to change lanes! Colin pulled into the side to let things sort out a bit and then we went for it! Had to get through to the third lane. This is not for the faint hearted and I kept Very quiet on the back!
Then we found ourselves in the airport and at the arrivals! At this point I said to Colin: 'We have got to get a taxi and follow that to the Ibis. We are rapidly getting into a Delhi situation here'. (i.e. hot and bothered and under a great deal of pressure) The taxi fare was worth every penny. It was 10 k away and we would never have found it under our own steam. The Ibis found us a room overlooking the Sea of Mamara and we are chilling nicely, thank you!
We are having 2 days off here to see the sights and have been on a cruise of the Bosphorus today. The funniest thing about that was the taxi running out of gas and we had to walk the last 1000 metres back to the hotel! See, Colin's not the only one to run low on gas - and he didn't run out completely!
We went off to see the sights: Sofia Museum, Cisterne Bacillicus, Topkapi and the Blue Mosque. Tomorrow we are go on to Safronbolu - but first we have to get out of Istanbul - which Colin is not looking forward to..."
Ed. See Colin and Dee's blog here on Horizons Unlimited for more stories and great pics!
Ionut and Ana, Romania, Trans-Africa, in Morocco, Yamaha Tenere,
"While Rabat has a European feel, the shanty towns that line the coast and the lively fresh food markets are intensely Moroccan, so is charming Mahommedia. East from Rabat we used Meknes as our base camp for a few days, visiting the Imperial cities (Fez, Meknes), the sacred town of Moulay Idriss and the ancient ruins of Volubilis.
The Medina, (the medieval centre of Fez) has not changed for centuries: a maze of narrow alleys housing hundreds of merchants and craftsmen, stalls with spices, dried fruits and nuts, fish, handmade copper items, carpets and musical instruments. A seat of Arab learning, a Holy City and a place of pilgrimage (when the route to Mecca was obstructed), Fez was a place of considerable importance until recently, being the depot for the caravan trade from the south and east of the African continent. A must see in Fez is the Leather Souq with the oldest leather tannery in the world, Chouwara.
Even if Fez has a more intricate architecture in the beautifully preserved UNESCO World Heritage Medina, we found that Meknes has a more authentic feel, with few to no tourists and touts and a Medina where people seem to actually live and work (not just for show). Moulay Idriss is a little gem, a fairytale town on top of a mountain among olive tree hills, where life has a slower pace.
In the afternoon we stopped again in Azilal for a tagine, then continued on a breathtaking route among peaks ranging from 2K to 4K. The landscape kept changing every hour, from lifeless valleys, to cactus infested walls, from reddish soil and rocky forests to fragrant cedars and green canyons punctuated by magenta wild flowers. When the road appeared to end, we suddenly found ourselves at 2750m altitude, from where 50km of tarmac interrupted by gravel brought in by spring floods led us to Imilchil.
You can see the mighty sand dunes in two places in Morocco: the golden ones of M'Hamid or the psychedelic pink Erg Chebbi in Merzouga, which is where we arrived in a blazing hot weather. A weird afternoon rain in the Sahara and a pool plunge later, we woke up to see the sun rising behind the glistening foot-trace swallowing mirage that is Erg Chebbi, a dune 160m high, bordered by the village of Hassi Labied.
After a month in Morocco where we rode over 6000 km, the motorbike is in great shape and we experienced no technical issues, except for the chain problem. We took a few low-speed falls due to deep sandy patches and rocky pistes, the battery was drained two times while charging our laptop with the engine off and we had to send home a few spares and personal stuff in order to lose some 6,5 kg off the bike (which do make a sizable difference). So our first advice (not that is a huge novelty) is pack light, cause every gram counts.
People in Morocco are friendly, sometimes aggressively trying to sell you something or guide you, are not easy to trust, which is a shame, because up in the mountains you will meet genuinely sweet villagers and generous men. Moroccans nurture close family ties and friendships, and we witnessed how they warmly greet each other for minutes. The cafe culture is a big deal here, with solo men filling up terraces from morning to dawn, at a chat over coffee with friends. Women are harder to meet, but they are highly educated and almost all speak fluent French. Some Arab and Berber will come a long way here; in Merzouga area English is largely spoken and understood. We bought a Meditel modem for Internet, but discovered that IAM has a better 3G coverage, so we suggest you get that one instead.
Food is a reason to be here in itself. Produce is mostly organic and very regional: in Fez you have the famous fassi cuisine with treats like b'sara (a soup made of fava beans served with a fragrant garlic olive oil), pigeon pastilla (a pastry spiced with cinnamon) and very spicy and hot sausage made of mutton and offal; in Meknes you can eat the freshest figs and delicious flat bread with thin crust and cumin spiced crumble; pure eucalyptus, almond or cactus honey is produced high in the Atlas; in Erfoud you will eat the best dates with the extraordinary sweet and creamy Medjool reigning supreme; Marrakech is home to sheep meat and offal delicacies like tangia (mutton or beef cooked slowly with cumin, ras-el-hanout, preserved lemons and olives in a dough-sealed clay pot), sheep brains and tongue and mechoui (whole sheep baked with spices in a vertical clay oven); the freshest fish is in Essaouira and other coastal cities - here you can follow our example, and buy your fish from the fishermen, then have it cooked for 5Dh/plate at the public grill, next to the market; in the Banana Village just before Agadir you can taste the local varieties of banana and succulent cactus fruits.
All over the country you can find tasty veggies, mutton and beef kafta, gorgeous watermelons and melons, dried fruits and nuts, along with top quality spices like saffron, paprika, cumin and ras-el-hanout. The breakfast is usually bread with the best local olive oil or served with honey sweetened leben (local yoghurt), or couscous with cold sour milk from streetside vendors. Bread is sold freshly baked along Moroccan pancakes, which in Fez have a sweet spongy texture. At lunch people usually eat a tagine (a typical stew of meat or fish, slowly cooked on charcoal in a signature clay pot). Dinner is protein based: kafta or harira (bean soup with aromatic herbs, which in Agadir is served with a local twist - with dates, a boiled egg and a piece of hard caramel).
Other signature Morocco treats available countrywide are freshly squeezed orange juice and green/black tea perfumed with fresh mint (called whisky marocain). Tap water is safe to drink and wild camping is possible in most unmarked places, even if locals may try to discourage you from doing so."
Ed. Yummy! See Ionut and Ana's story and pics in the HUBB Ride Tales Forum!
Chris Sorbi, Around the world on a classic Suzuki for a cause, in Argentina,
"We finally woke up early, took a hot shower at the fire station, and headed out due south for Cafayate. We went five blocks and I was hungry already so we stopped for one last salami and bread in Salta. We only had 250km to go and it was early in the day so I wasn't too concerned about the time. At one of our stops, there was an all familiar shrine built for someone who had died in a car accident. In most of South America, when people die on the road, their families build a little shrine for them on that spot. Depending on wealth of the family, shrines differ from a simple cement box to elaborate granite covered cabins. All year long, people leave water, candles and flowers in them, and in some I have even seen food. (Just in case they come back from the dead and are hungry I suppose.)
This particular shrine had something I had never seen before. Apparently the deceased was a smoker, so people had been lighting up cigarettes for him instead of candles, and leaving a few unlit ones just in case he came back to life. That was a touching gesture and I liked it so much that I left him a few cigarettes too. So this is my will: when I die, leave me cigarettes too and don't forget the lighter either. If you're feeling generous that day, a few liters of fuel would be nice too since I always run out gas.
The road started nice and turned gorgeous. We entered a landscape so extraordinary that the 100 degrees heat had no effect anymore. This was a land of massive sand stones, tall cliffs, blue sky, and a sun the size of a football field. I have spent a lot of time in Moab and Zion in Utah, but the enormity of this place makes Moab look like a dirt parking lot. The road with its class A asphalt twisted through cliffs after cliffs, and we rode from tropic to desert up and down with each ascend. What we could see from the road was a drop in the ocean of what was beyond, as the real beauty was always a mile off the road but it was mesmerizing nevertheless.
I don't think I ever used the 4th or 5th gear as we stopped constantly just for another picture. The 250km trip which should have taken three hours at most took us nine hours to complete, and we arrived at the wine producing town of Cafayate at sundown. Cafayate is a beautiful little town surrounded by vineyards and most if not all of its income comes from the barrels. Cafayate is a touristy town and being poor means that you don't get to enjoy it the way the others do, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't stop there.
We needed a place to crash for the night. We started by looking for the Police Station, but they were no good, and the tourism office was less than helpful. The hotel prices were an arm and a leg so we went straight for the fire station again to see if we could find a place to sleep there, but the station was so small that it barely had room for their own fire-engine. As always, somehow things worked out. A guy at the station called around, and found us a place to camp at his friend's yard. When we got to the place, I saw no yard. The house was a colonial style mansion with an open area in the middle and the only way to get inside was to ride the 1000 lb street motorcycle up 6 stairs with no ramp. I looked at the stairs and shivered but there was no other way as I wasn't going to leave the bike on the street. My first try almost ended disastrous as the bike simply wouldn't go up - it stalled in mid-air and started to roll back down. On second try, I gave it hell and she climbed all the way up the stairs and we settled down for the night; munching on salami, cheese, olives and bread yet another night.
I grew up not eating pork due to ridiculous religious taboos, but as soon as I reached the age of reason, I took revenge by indulging in this wonderfully delicious animal whenever possible. Now don't get Vegan on me, pigs are not cute, they are not funny, and they are not smart either. They are just what the good lord had intended them to be - stupid and delicious. In Argentina, pigs fulfill their destiny by voluntarily going into casings with white pepper corns, garlic and salt, and they get reincarnated into some of the best Salami in the world. The word Salamé comes from Italian and Salami is its plural form used in English to describe this product. Salami is produces in much of Europe and Americas, and it's an assumption that the Italians are the masters of this craft, but I beg to differ. In my opinion, Argentine salami is the best salami in the world, with Hungarians taking the second place, and then Italy. On average, it takes 30 to 40 weeks for salami to be ready for consumption, and to clarify something, I'm not talking about the garbage you find in supermarkets in United States sold as hard salami or Genoa salami. Genoese salami is a fantastic salami which comes from Genoa, but it has nothing to do with the crap they sell in US by the same name. It's interesting to know that salami was originally made by peasants as an alternative to fresh meat as they could keep it for years. Now days, it's not uncommon that a good salami (once a peasant food) to be priced as much as three times of best cut of fresh meat.
Argentina is heavily influenced by Italian and Spanish cultures, and they created bests of both worlds out of this merger when it comes to food. On my trip to Uruguay, I discovered a very small village on the border of Argentina that was like heaven on earth. On both sides of the street, there were shacks with signs that read cheese and salami. Once you enter one of these huts, you can get high on the smell alone, and it doesn't help much that pretty farm girls shove samples into your mouth. I left that town almost broke as quickly as possible, as it was a sure way to get me to settle down.
I wanted to write a travel blog but somehow I ended up writing a whole page on salami and I haven't even scratched the surface yet. Now that I wrote about salami, I kind of want to write about hams too (again not the kind of ham you see on your thanksgiving table, that's not ham, that's an abomination to Spanish Jamón.) I'll cut this post short here so stay tuned for the rest of the story, but I can't promise that it won't have any salami in it."
Ed. Who knew salami could be such a big topic ;-) See Chris' story and pics in the HUBB Ride Tales Forum!
Ian Moor, UK, Wrong Way Round The World, in Costa Rica and Panama, BMW F650GS,
"Parking the bike beside the small San Vito central plaza I found a hotel on foot, the easiest way with the one way system and town traffic. I picked a place on the main street, primarily because it had covered off street parking for the bike and I was anticipating plenty of rain. The volume of traffic using the steep main street was surprising, because of the one way system all the traffic coming into or leaving town had to pass down it. Large trucks regularly passed the hotel using their noisy Jake's compression engine brakes. I had never heard of these in Europe but most trucks in the Americas are fitted with them. In the USA there are signs stating that the use of these brakes is illegal in towns due to the noise pollution. In addition to the traffic noise road works involving pneumatic drills and mechanical diggers started up at 10:30pm and continued through the night for the first three nights. They do the work at night so that they don't disrupt the daytime traffic which is a great idea unless you happen to live in the street.
San Vito was established by Italian immigrants in 1952, the first tree was felled to start clearing the ground on February 28th making the town six days older than me. Settled by farmers, they cleared land for a runway to get supplies in then set about creating the town and the surrounding coffee plantations, coffee is still the main industry. It is the only place in Costa Rica where Italian is taught in the schools and the town has a reputation for keeping to its Italian roots. I can't say that I was aware of it, maybe they have always had pizza restaurants in San Vito but now every town in the Americas (and Europe) has them!
The rain in San Vito is pretty much continuous apart from early morning which may be dry. I found a weather web site which breaks each day up into eight hour periods. In the week that I was there the driest period was Thursday morning with 4mm of rain and the wettest was Sunday afternoon with 50mm of rain. The total rainfall for the week was 355mm (14 inches). At least it is warm with temperatures in the low 20s centigrade (around 72F) but all the rain restricts riding the bike and walking.
I originally planned to ride from San Vito through Ciudad Neily to the main Panama border crossing at Paso Canoas on the Pan Americana Highway. This crossing has a reputation for being a chaotically frustrating experience but there are few alternatives. There is a border crossing at Sabalito / Rio Sereno only five miles (eight km) from San Vito which isn't shown on my fairly detailed map. I had read that there was no customs office on the Costa Rican side so it wasn't possible to enter or leave with a vehicle which is probably the reason the map publishers don't show the border crossing. Also, a blog entry from three or four years ago said that the roads on the Panama side of the border to Volcan, the first proper town were a series of unmarked dirt tracks which at this time of year could be awash with mud or washed away completely. I had dismissed trying this border as I didn't think I would be allowed to take the bike through if there wasn't a customs office and if I did get into Panama I could be stranded by impassable dirt roads and not be allowed back into Costa Rica as you are supposed to stay out of the country for at least three days before being allowed back in. This rule is apparently aimed to make life a little tougher for the foreigners who live permanently in Costa Rica with tourist visas and have to exit and re-enter the country to renew their visas. It doesn't seem much of a hardship to me; having to spend a long weekend in Panama or Nicaragua once every three months.
All the rain meant I spent more time than usual in my hotel room so I utilised some of it to further investigate the Rio Sereno border and came across an 18 month old blog entry on the Adventure Rider website. The rider had crossed the border from Panama to Costa Rica without a problem and said there was a new paved road from Volcan to Dolega that rivals the famous 'Tail Of The Dragon' road in the USA with mountain scenery comparable to Switzerland and New Zealand. This got my juices flowing and further research suggested that there was now a Costa Rican Customs office for clearing the bike and that the new road has been extended right up to the border on the Panamanian side so it's Panamanian 'Tail Of The Dragon' time.
I had to ask directions at a junction between San Vito and the border and the last few miles were on a dirt road which was easily passable despite all the recent rain. The border offices were close together in Rio Sereno although not particularly well signposted but it wasn't a problem as there were officials around to get directions from. There were no queues and I was invited to sit in the various offices while the paperwork was processed by friendly staff."
Ed. Follow Ian's adventures in his blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
Larry and Sharon McGillewie - BMW 650 and 1150, in South Africa,
"We got very cold riding this leg of the trip and decided that we are real woosies so we would booking a room in Springbok. We had been told of a hotel / camping ground called the Kokerboom and we headed there, we enquired about the rate and were told that it is R450,00 for the night, no ways the other guy on a bike only paid R150,00 so the receptionist phoned the owner and he also has a bike so we could have a double room (with heater) for R250,00! Apparently temperatures had been below freezing, with ice on the ponds!
The next morning it was blowing a howling gale and very cold, I had my duck down jacket on under my riding jacket and it made it bearable. We decided to ride to Saldahna Bay and try and get the broken pannier bracket repaired on my bike, we went to the airfield there and Johan Froneman was very kind in allowing Larry to use his workshop for the repairs and we spent the night in the control tower at the airfield. An unusual place to spend a night!
So after a late start with the repairs and welding of bike and pannier brackets - again - we set off for Cape Town, with wonderful sunny warm weather. We had decided to try and do some shopping and landed up at Canal Walk, these two plaas jaapies in dirty riding gear walking around one of the biggest and fanciest shopping centres in Africa. And then we bought nothing!
We had a wonderful ride around Table Mountain, Camps Bay, Hout Bay and Chapman's Peak en route to Noordhoek to see Sue and Trevor Abraham. Once again it was wonderful to see some Grahamstownians and some friendly faces."
Dan Peters, Milwaukee to South America, in Guatemala and El Salvador, Suzuki TS185,
"Natasha and I were on a traveler's high riding out of Guatemala City. The border was a few hours away and I thought I would ride straight to it non-stop. 20 minutes after leaving the Morales', we stopped. A man on a fancy BMW bike saw us in traffic and waved us to the side of the road. His name was Martin and he insisted that we come back to his house for lunch and wait out the rain that had just begun.
Martin and his beautiful wife and kids treated me to the best meal of the entire trip. BBQ steak and assorted Guatemalan side dishes and vegetables. After the early pit stop we were back on the road and riding at full speed to the border, opting for side roads that took us through the mountains and away from traffic.
At the border we ran into the first hurdle of the restarted adventure. When I had entered Guatemala from Mexico, I was given the proper 90 day visa, however, upon reentering Guatemala from Belize I was only stamped for 30 days. I did not notice this and ended up overstaying my visa by four days. Guatemalan immigration told me that I would have to return to Guatemala City, find the customs office, and apply for an extension.
This was the last thing I wanted to do after finally escaping the urban sprawl. With 30 minutes of negotiations and schmoozing I was granted a cheap five-day extension, but with a catch. Guatemala shares its immigration system with its neighbors of El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. Natasha and I would have to make it out of that system in five days, all the way to Costa Rica.
By the time we cleared El Salvador's border it was dark, but our headlight worked and we had no desire to call it a day just yet. It would not be until 2am, when we came across a surfing town with a raging disco party, that we stopped. The first day ended and the second began sipping El Salvador's brew in sweaty riding clothes and meeting new friends."
Ed. See Dan's video blog in the HUBB Ride Tales forum.
Anders Johansson, Sweden, across Russia on Harley powered Chopper Trikes,
"The first idea was to take my adventure bike for this ride across Russia, but I felt... everyone else who crosses Russia does it on adventure bikes, so why not take our Harley powered Trikes instead... more fun to be different and my wife Sandra doesn't have to be a passenger... and so we did.
We started from our village 100 km east of Gothenburg Sweden, took the ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki and from Finland we crossed the border to Vyborg then we rode thru St Petersburg to Moscow then to Novgorod, Ufa, Celjabinsk, Ekaterinnburg, Tjumen, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Krasnojarsk, Irkutsk and Baikal, Ulan-Udé, Cita, Habarovsk, Vladivostock. It took us almost exactly 5 weeks and 13000-14000 km from Sweden to Vladivostock. I believe the distance we rode was about 1/3 part around the globe at this latitude.
It was really hard to ride these low to the ground trikes with very short suspension on some of the Russian roads, especially at the roadworks but we got so much feedback from the friendly Russian people! Almost every time we stopped for petrol, food, hotel or whatever we stopped for there came Russians with their cellular phone cameras and took photos of the bikes, of us at the bikes and themselves together with the bikes and us... even in the traffic they took photos from their cars, they waved at us and gave the sign thumbs up. Even the police stopped us just to take photos! The positive response was overwhelming and this helped us a lot when we were battling with the roughest roads!
When we arrived at Vladivostock we had run out of our 5 weeks vacation and we still had to wait two more weeks to be able to send our trikes back home to Sweden."
Marco Hoffmann (BikingMarco), Australia/Germany, Sydney to Germany - the African way, Suzuki DR650,
"I am typing this in my tent, somewhere nowhere, a little conservation area 100km east of Ceduna in South Australia. Yep, I made it across the border to South Australia yesterday. And will cross another border once I made it across the Nullarbor, entering Western Australia.
There is actually not too much to write about. I wouldn't be able to point a finger towards any particular highlights during the last few days. There has been just an abundance of nothingness which in itself is a highlight. The road simply stretches on forever. Straight and flat. And there is nothing beside the road either. Just more flat ground. Some might find it boring but I love it. I can't really explain why. Being just a little dot in such a massive landscape is just awesome. It is hard to tell how far away the horizon is, maybe 10km, maybe 20. You are able to see such a huge and vast area, it just makes you feel ever so small. And free.
My little Suzuki has done an awesome job over the last few thousand km, she's been to places she's never dreamed of. Starting out in her first few months being a city bike she really enjoys as much as I do the open road, the use of more than just first and second gear, the rocky bits and sandy bits and muddy bits, the little wobbles along gravel roads, both of us getting wet, getting dirty and being covered in a thick layer of red dust. Chasing road trains, going for hours at a time and going where there is no road, we're a great team!
Doing one of my walkarounds around her today I noticed a few missing bolts. They must have shaken loose on those corrugated roads, pretty much all bolts on the underside of something (fuel tank, bash plate, horn mount) were either gone or halfway there. But only $1.90 in the local hardware store in Norseman bought me a handful of new bolts and washers. And a friendly guy from the caravan parked next to me gave me a helping hand replacing them all. Good to be in 'no-worries-country'!
...It is now only 600km to Perth along a 290km gravel road from Norseman to Hyden where I plan to see the Wave Rock, a big red rock shaped like a breaking wave (what else?). And the rest of the distance will be on paved roads to Perth.
It was meant to be an easy few hundred km, the last stretch to Perth. But the event that really started up the adventure was the rain. While camping at Disappointment Rock it started raining heaps during the night. One of those strange nights when it keeps bucketing down for 10min, followed by the clearest sky imaginable with millions of stars, followed by another downpour. It was the wind that made the rain clouds travel so fast. And since my old tent has proven many times before that it can withstand whatever the weather throws at it, I wasn't worried. The big awakening came the next morning, reminding me that I was some 80km into a 290km dirt road. Or now: mud road. The rain overnight transformed the top few centimetres of the road into a brown slimy slippery something to negotiate a way through on my little Suzuki. It was a really wobbly affair, often going more sideways than forward, just impossible to judge the depth of the soft surface. And not helped by the hidden ruts under the soft stuff either. Throw into the mix a few oncoming trucks and you can imagine the walls of brown stuff that followed them. If I was lucky they only created a cloud of fine brown mist which instantly turned hard on contact with my visor. If I was unlucky it was a whole swell of mud being flung right towards me. The average speed was down to 40km/h or less, so it took the best part of the day to get through this.
I will never forget the sweet look of the tarmac when it finally started in Hyden. By then bike and rider where just soaked in brown stuff, head to toe, helmet to boots. There were kilos of mud, now hard as concrete underneath the fenders, the panniers enjoyed a new nature inspired look. And me, pretty much wearing all my clothes because of the cold had suddenly all my clothes looking a bit brownish."
Ed. See Marco's story and pics in the HUBB Ride Tales Forum!
Peter and Kay Forwood, Australia, RTW (193 countries), in the USA, on Harley-Davidson,
"We had internet purchased a second hand gearbox (transmission) and attached sump from Pinwall Cycle Parts in Massillon, Ohio a couple of weeks ago, $400. It was from a crashed 1994 Electraglide Classic, same model and year as ours. The bike had travelled 59,000 miles, about 100,000 km's, before it was broken down for parts. Pinwall Cycle Parts have an enormous parts warehouse, tens of thousands of catalogued parts, many listed on eBay for sale, where we found ours. As we were passing the shop we called in to collect the transmission which was loaded onto our top box rack for the 300km ride to our friend's place, where we will store it till it is needed. Our motorcycle's original transmission is well worn, a repaired hole in the sump, ovaled swing arm attachment holes, not to mention 600,000 km's wear on the gears. Still, it is running for the moment, but a spare will ultimately be needed, and they aren't making any more for our model. Moved on to Cambridge, Ohio, another roadside motel, nicely air-conditioned as temperatures rise to 34 degrees centigrade.
The American Motorcycle Association's Hall of Fame Museum is in Pickerington, Ohio, displays over 100 motorcycles and has a few hundred inductees, including Dave Barr, a good friend, a double amputee who rode his Harley-Davidson motorcycle around the world back in the 80's, on a Shovel, and it is on display at the museum. We were there at opening and spent a few hours reading about the people who made motorcycling great in this country.
As we mentioned before, Americans are a friendly bunch, and while riding towards Bowling Green, Ohio, a Harley rider pulled alongside, acknowledged us, then pulled in behind, and we rode this way for the next 50 miles till needing gas. Cricket, his nickname, followed and we spent the next half hour chatting before again riding together past his turn off probably never to see each other again. A great guy, interesting, forthright enough. A snippet encounter of lasting memory."
Ed. Horizons Unlimited is proud to host Peter and Kay's complete RTW story and pictures here! See their story on the new Road Heroes DVD, or come listen to them in person at the HU California meeting 14-16 October in Cambria!
David and Heidi Winters, USA, RTW, in Germany, Denmark and Netherlands, KTM 640 Adventure,
"Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria was our last 'must see' stop in Southern Germany even though we had to pry ourselves away from the area that we have come to love so much. From here on out it is a race to get up to Norway. Once we were on the road we drove 7 hours north to the town of Iserlohn, about an hour northeast of Cologne, Germany.
We met Tobi and Louie at the Horizons Unlimited meeting a few days ago and spent the weekend swapping stories. They took two 2002 640 Adventures across Africa and again across South America. Then they up-sized to a Mercedes G-series overlander and again went to Africa and South America. Needless to say they were a wealth of information and encouragement. We told them we were headed north but had no idea where and they invited us to stay with them. Of course we said yes!
We spent three restful nights at their house in Iserlohn, a beautiful old town that's not accustomed to 'tourists' which made it feel very warm and welcoming.
The time spent being stationary allowed us to get some work done on the bike. First on the list was an oil change. Once that was taken care of we addressed our kickstand problem. The side stand has been a thorn in our side for 7 months now. Yikes! One of Tobi's friends offered to repair it for free. He bent it back into proper alignment and welded reinforcements on it. We are So Thankful! I have been carrying around a 2"x 2" block of wood in my coat pocket that I have to slide under the kickstand every time we get off.
While David worked on all these bike specific jobs, I spent 8 hours washing all our laundry! Our poor motorcycle gear hadn't been washed since we were in Sydney, Australia in January. In those last 5 1/2 months we took our gear through the ringer with 6 weeks of sweat and grime from India's roads to another 5 weeks of filth in Nepal. There was actually white salt lines on the outside of our thick jackets from all the sweat! Gross!
...The ride from Iserlohn only took about 3 hours but the weather was so erratic it made the ride a bit painful. Pummeling rain storms gave way to sun that gave way to huge hail storms that gave way to high side winds that forced us to slow way down for fear of being pushed right off the road. Repeat all those scenarios several times and there you have it.
To make it all worse, in the morning after packing up our tent and all our stuff we loaded up the bike, got all our toasty gear on, helmets and gloves included, and then the bike wouldn't start. David tried kick-starting it and was quickly sweating and stripping off gear. After a while we tried push starting it but that failed miserably too. Finally a friendly driver stopped (we were still trying to leave the campground after 45 minutes of this) and gave us a jump. That did the trick, so we put our gear back on and angrily rode off toward Copenhagen.
We were riding north in Germany, almost to Kiel (and the border with Denmark) when we saw this super nice truck with two fully kitted out KTM 990's in the back. Everything looked brand new and we started drooling again. They gave us a thumbs up and we motioned that they should pull over. They obliged and pulled over at the next exit where we got to meet these two Austrian guys who were trucking their bikes up to the ferry in Kiel that would take them to Iceland for a two week off-road trip. We were pretty impressed by all their awesome gear and they were pretty impressed that we were two up on a 640, significantly smaller then the 990's they had.
'Are you trying to break a world record or something?'
'For longest time spent two-up on such a small bike. I don't believe it's ever been done before! Good for you!'
Maybe they have a point..."
Chad Watson and Kyla, NZ, in Venezuela, 2-up on a Chinese 250,
"After a night in El Vigia and getting the bent rear wheel straightened the next morning, we headed out to Puerto Concha, where we could get a boat out to the fishing village of Congo on Lake Maracaibo. Out here you can see the Catatumbo lighting phenomenon. Congo was an interesting village, built on stilts on the edge of the lake. About two out of three nights a year you can see the lighting, which is over the same place near the lake every time. There are a few theories about this but no one is really sure why it happens. We got lucky and saw the lightning, not its most impressive display apparently, but still lightning.
On the way there and back we also saw monkeys, toucans, freshwater dolphins and a whole lot of other wildlife. Back in Puerto Concha, we headed to Merida for a another couple of days rest. In Merida we did a lot of sleeping and tried out the ice cream shop with the most flavours in the world. I got gristle in my steak ice cream and tried Viagra flavour, while Kyla didn't really like the rice grains in her arroz con pollo (rice and chicken). Chino from Posada Guamanchi told us where some back roads were in Los Llanos that would be fun to ride with lots of caiman and capybara to see, so we thought we'd head that way.
Next day we loaded up and head headed back up to about 4000m before dropping down into Barinas. We had a very close call that day with a car pulling out to pass a truck, not seeing us and coming within a few metres of a head on collision. Sometimes things remind you that even at 21 you're not bulletproof. We spent that night in a small town in Los Llanos called San Silvestre, having given a cop $2 to stop harassing us on the way. Los Llanos is a huge, flat, mostly dry area through the centre of Venezuela that is mostly used for cattle ranching. In the dry season huge amounts of birds, caiman and capybara are concentrated around the few remaining water holes.
From San Silvestre we headed south on a slowly degrading road that ended up being a one lane sandy track by the time we got to the Rio Apure. The Apure is quite a large river but there is a family that lives on the bank operating the ferry. It was quite an interesting ferry, with a one medium vehicle sized platform on a couple of pontoons and a dugout canoe with an outboard motor tied to it for power and steering. Over the other side, after helping a local fix a flat, we headed off for a 2 hour ride in the wrong direction on a crappy road in the very hot sun. Nice scenery but it turns out our map wasn't the most accurate one in the world and GPS for me is looking at the sun and mumbling to myself. It's easy to lose your sense of direction when it's so flat, a new experience for me. So a 2 hour ride back to where we were after realising the road we wanted didn't exist. Then we tried the other way.
Not long after heading down this road there were big water holes running parallel to the road filled with literally thousands of caiman and hundreds of capybara. There were so many Caiman around there were a lot of road kill caiman just flattened in the middle of the road. As it was getting late we noticed a tour group pulling into to a compound for the night. We asked and they gave us a cheapish room for the night with a bunch of other gringos who had paid for a 3 day wildlife tour from Merida. The next day they let us ride around the ranch behind the jeep on a wildlife spotting tour. This was quite amusing for us and for the bunch of Russians paying for the tour.
We headed east out to the main road and on towards San Fernando de Apure. Just finding a petrol station in time before we ended up pushing. Then an expensive but air conditioned restaurant as we were about to pass out from heat exhaustion/dehydration in the 30+ degree weather. After some amount of recovering we hit the road again towards San Fernando, only getting stopped and our papers checked at about 4 military checkpoints. The soldiers were generally very nice and gave us iced water at a couple of the stops while mostly not pointing their big guns at us. Eventually we find a hotel just after dark that there has been an attempt at some point to make look like a castle. And it's rotisserie chicken takes away for dinner again (about $3 for a whole chicken).
With the cheap fuel in mind and enjoying the open road we decide to head the long way to Ciudad Bolivar, via Puerto Ayacucho. So it's south towards the jungle, on a road we soon christen 'the road of death'. This was due to the intense heat, dryness and sheer amount of dead animals, birds and plants everywhere. It seemed quite mad-max post apocalyptical for awhile there. We somehow survived and made it to Puerto Paez, where there is a ferry across the Orinoco River. It was a nice ride over with river dolphins swimming alongside us. Over the other side we got hassled for half an hour at another military checkpoint, but at least they gave us more iced water. Then it's on down to Puerto Ayacucho through another few checkpoints, to find another crappy hotel for the night."
Ed. See Chad and Kyla's story and pics in the HUBB Ride Tales Forum!
Ronnie Borrageiro, South Africa, RTW, in Indonesia (preparing for Australia), BMW 1200 GSA,
"The previous evening, as I entered the gloomy little 'eatery' recommended by Alphonso, a large rat, the size of a kitten, had dashed out of the interior, throwing what I fancied to be a 'Good luck, Mate' over his shoulder as he went scampering off into the darkness! I sat down at one of the two tables, and was summoned towards the counter by a grouchy looking woman, who indicated what was on the day's menu by waving a large dirty soup ladle at a few bowls of food hidden in thick gravy! I noticed a plate of ready cooked chicken pieces off to one side, and asked for a few pieces of those with some rice. When the food arrived, barely a minute later, I found myself chewing down on a plate of cold rice and even colder fried chicken, which had me trying to remember where I had stashed my Imodium!
...The following morning, I rode down to the Toll Marine offices, eager to begin the process of getting the Big Fella shipped, and knowing that I had just one day to do it in! Joao, the guy who handled the customs clearing, greeted me with a smile, and within a few minutes had copied all my documents and with my Carnet in hand, promised to do all he could to get it stamped and cleared that same day. He then took me over to the office that would be arranging the actual shipping, where I met James Geddes, who I had been communicating with for the past few weeks. He and his assistant, Lucy Campos, handled my queries with absolute professionalism and efficiency, and gave me the impression that the chances of getting things squared away that day were 'do-able'! But there was one little catch!
'You will need to have your bike washed thoroughly to pass the Australian import and quarantine regulations, Mate!' James advised. 'I'm not sure that you'll have enough time to get it done today, because you need to be back here by about 3.30pm so that we can get the bike loaded and lashed down. We close at 5.00pm, and tomorrow as you know, is a holiday here!' He gave me directions to Troy Logistics, and told me to take every piece of kit that I intended putting in the container with me when I went to have the bike cleaned.
I met Chris at Troy Logistics, who introduced himself as Troy's brother and asked how he could be of assistance to me.
'Well, I need to have this bike prepped for shipment to Darwin.' I explained.
But the boys from Troy Logistics were up for the challenge and a few minutes later I was stripping the bike down and together with two of their staff members, we began soaping and washing the Big Fella down. I could not believe the lengths we went to, to get every piece of dirt and grime off the bike! We removed all the covers, got to grips with all the nooks and crannies on the bike, using toothbrushes, and cloths covered in wire.
Just when we thought we had it all done, Troy himself arrived and began finding spots we had missed! Troy is the kind of 'hands-on', owner/manager that I relate to completely. He got down and dirty, making sure every bit of the bike was scrubbed clean before he pronounced himself satisfied that the job had been properly done. He then went even further, by helping me empty every bit of kit and equipment from my panniers, and after giving them a thorough washing, proceeded to wipe down each and every item with a clean cloth, before passing it back to me to be repacked!
'I worked with the customs guys in Darwin for a few years, Mate, so I know what it is they will be looking for when they inspect your bike! You need to be sure that not a single blade of grass or a seed pod is lodged anywhere on this bike. Get rid of all sticky tape on these packages, as that is where they will look first! All kinds of shit sticks to tape, so it is best not to have any for them to look at!'
We cut the tape off the small boxes I used to hold spare parts; we removed the duct tape that I had put on the pannier frames to avoid wear and tear, using thinners and petrol; Troy inspected all the stickers on my luggage to make sure that none of the edges had lifted and dirt had become trapped underneath them; we sandpapered some of the rust marks on the pannier frames. The list of things we did could fill a page or two of this post!
'Are you sure we need to go to all this trouble?' I asked.
By 3.00pm, we were done, and I had worked alone through the lunch break the guys took, to make sure no time was wasted in getting the Big Fella as clean as he was when I rode him off the showroom floor in June 2007!
I eyed the muddy puddles between the wash bay and the front gate, and wondered how I was going to get this clean bike through them. Troy made a phone call and ordered a breakdown truck, one of those with a ramp on the back, and when it arrived, we pushed the bike directly onto the metal bed and with a few of Troy's guys holding onto the handlebars, rode out of the yard and down the road to Toll Marine's offices and container yard.
Once there, a forklift brought an empty container up close to the truck, lifting it to the same level as the load-bed, and then we pushed the Big Fella directly into the container without his wheels even touching the ground! Talk about door to door service!"
Brian Kennedy, Canada, in Colombia, Aprilia ETV 1000 cc CapeNord,
"At such an early hour in the morning I was the only one checking into the American Airlines counter in Ottawa, I was relieved to find out that passengers flying to South American destinations were allowed two pieces of luggage, no charge. Its been a few months since I last flew out of the Ottawa airport and as I approached the security screening area, I could see that there were some new changes in place at the airport. They now had one of those new total body scanners, the ones that does a virtual strip search of you when you go through it. When I approached the security area, the security personnel asked whether I wanted to be scanned or patted down. I reluctantly said that I preferred a physical pat-down (wrong choice!)
In a stern tone the security screening personnel directed me to go stand inside the designated circle a few feet away and wait for a CATSA person to conduct the search. I am not sure what I was thinking, but I was expecting that the search would be no more than some guy passing a metal detector around my body and do a quick pat down. No, what I got was some guy kneeling on the ground in front of me who then began to grope my body from my ankles up to the inside of my crotch, next he stands up and repeated the process on my upper body. After he had completed frisking my upper torso, I thought he was finished and started to walk away, at that moment I had an image in my head of drop kicking this guys gonads into the next county.
The security dude then then yells over to me 'Sir I am not done, I need for you to turn around so that I can search your backside'. It is at this point that I lost it. 'F**ck-it I am not going to be subjected to any more of this humiliation'. My outburst had caught the attention of the other screeners. 'Sir you have the choice of still going through the scanner if you do not wish to continue with the enhanced pat-down'. 'In that case', I said, 'I prefer to have my balls irradiated by this machine than to have them manhandled by any of you'. After passing through the security area I made a mental note to myself, 'I will have to behave myself when going through airport security in the states'...
...For a first time driver in Colombia the experience of riding a motorcycle or driving a car through the street of a large urban city can be a life changing experience that is if you survive the ordeal. The first rule about driving in Colombia is realizing that there are no rules. Every intersection, every roundabout, every lane merge becomes a game of chicken and the driver with the biggest pair of cojones rules the road. And down here the drivers with the biggest set of cojones are the bus drivers, followed by the truckers and lastly by the army of kamikaze taxi drivers. Now put into this mix, swarming hordes of 100cc and 125 cc motorcycles piloted by individuals with a strong death wish and you begin to get some idea of the chaos that governs the roadways in Colombia.
A note of caution when you are traversing the roads in this area, beware of the sugarcane trucks trains. The sugarcane after it has been harvested from the fields is then transported in these enormous truck vehicles called truck-trains, these units can be anywhere from two to four trucks bodies in length.
The first time I encountered one of these was when I was trying to make a quick pass around one of these trucks only to discover that I was not just pass a single truck but 4 of them at once. I was glad to have all that extra horse power afforded by the Aprilia.
As I neared the town of Tulua, I stopped off for a late lunch at a roadside restaurant. There is one aspect of Colombia that I find to my liking and that is the availability of restaurants where ever you go. Colombians really enjoy their food and drink. I stayed longer than I should have at the restaurant, there was a couple I met there from Australia and we got on to talking, exchanging travel stories and drinking Colombian. By the time I got back on the road it was already late afternoon and I could see that the sun was getting low in the sky. Unlike up north in Canada and the US where we enjoy long days and extended periods of twilight, Colombia as it is only 4 - 5 degrees above the equator, days and nights are equally 12 hours long and come 6:00 pm nightfall comes in a hurry.
North of Tulua the road branches east to Armenia along route 40 and up into the mountains. The surrounding scenery starts to change and the twisty winding road makes for some interesting riding. You know you are now in coffee country as all around you are coffee farms spread out across the rolling hills. With the increased altitude the air feels cooler than down in the Cauco valley. I arrived into the town of Armenia just before 6:00. I would not be able to reach my intended destination of Salento as it would take another 30 minutes to reach the town and with darkness falling I was not keen on riding in the dark along a narrow mountain roadway.
It took me 15 - 20 minutes of driving around Armenia to find a hotel for the night. I pulled over on one of the main streets in the center of town and was about to ask someone where I could find a good hotel and realized I had stopped on the door step of the Hotel Caf Real. As I dismounted from the bike an excited door man came out to greet me and ushered me into the hotel lobby. The place was more expensive (by Colombian terms) than I was expecting but I was in no mood to look elsewhere. When I asked where I could park my motorcycle for the night, the door man led me over to the end of the hallway and to a room with a sign indicating 'Hotel Spa and Gym', he opened the glass doors to the room, inside the room contained gym equipment and a jacuzzi and said I could leave the bike in here for the night.
Riding the fully loaded Aprilia up the street curb and up the slippery polished marble steps of the hotel lobby was a trial in itself with the width of the motorcycle handlebars almost as wide as the entrance door. Everyone in the hotel was very accommodating to me. I parked the bike in the far corner of the Spa, thinking to myself that it was going to be a real chore in the morning when I would have to get the bike turned around in order to exit the room. However after unloading my bags and settling into my room, I came down later to discover that some of the hotel elves had been at work and had turned the bike around for me. Fantastic!"
Ed. See Brian's story and pics in the HUBB Ride Tales Forum!
Daan Stehouwer and Mirjam van Immerzeel, Netherlands, Canada to South America, in Mexico, Africa Twins,
"'Do you carry a gun on the bike in Mexico?' Honestly, we started to doubt whether we should go south into Mexico after all the warnings! Someone really asked us whether we would carry a gun on the bikes, and if not, we should definitely not drive into 'scary Mexico'!
The prediction by most people was that we would be shot, raped, murdered and robbed within the first week. Now that we are in Mexico for just over six weeks, I think we owe the Mexican people, country and wonderful hospitality this story; this country is great and the people are even better! To whomever is in doubt: get your ass on the bike and drive up here!
We did meet the police though, which seemed to be quite scary! Driving to Fresnillo, Durango, Mexico, we ended up searching for a hotel. We had been driving about 650 km and were quite exhausted. As the rainy season has started, we didn't have a lot of time. Combine this with a travellers' budget and you end up driving through the village in search for the best value-for-money accommodation.
Driving through the main street seemed okay, until we had a police car behind us at a traffic light. He turned on his lovely colourful lights on the roof, and the car in front of us drove through the red light. We thought we should do the same, having the idea the police car was in a hurry and we needed to make space. Once we were going, he followed us. Oops, we just drove through a red light and now we had a flashing police car on our tail! Finally he shouted 'Pull Over' via his speaker on the roof. Daan went to the left of the narrow street and Mirjam pulled over to the right. 'To the Left!' we heard being shouted, so Mirjam nervously parked her bike next to Daan's. We really thought we were in trouble now!
The officer stepped out of the car, walked up to us with a huge smile and asked us whether he could help us with anything, as it seemed we were looking for a hotel or something! Sure he could, and finally we were following him and he showed us various hotels. He still had his lights on which resulted in quite an 'efficient tour' I have to admit. When we said goodbye, I asked him why he pulled us over like he did, with all the lights and shouting. 'Well, I had to get your attention, didn't I?' was the reply. ;-)"
Sherri Jo Wilkins, Australia/USA, RTW, in UK and Canada, KTM 690 Enduro,
"Time is nearly out... I must get to England! Another overnight ferry (I wish I kept count of the ferries on this trip!) to get across from Rotterdam Holland to Harwich England.. which as normal sails through the night and arrives very early in the morning the next day. Off the boat and a mad dash of around 320 km to Ripley England to attend my first ever world famous Horizons Unlimited meeting!
Another country, another language... and it's English! Boy does it hit you when you see road signs in English and can have meaningful conversations with the people at the fuel station! I immediately thought, this won't be as fun... far too easy in English... ha! (I've been gone too long I think)
When I first decided to do this motorcycle journey, one of the first places on the internet I found with the majority of info I needed to arm myself was at HorizonsUnlimited.
Most of you know about HU, but for those of you who don't, they have meetings all over the world bringing people together who love motorcycle adventures! This one in Ripley just happens to be the largest one and perfect for it to be here now. I can meet so many incredible adventurers and then get my butt down to Heathrow airport where I have booked a flight.
... What an absolutely beautiful day it was. Eventually arriving to Halifax airport in Nova Scotia. I was recommended to fly here instead of America as the fees and paper work for the bike would be much easier. Since I didn't have an experience with New York, I assume they must be right! My bike arrived Halifax around 4 pm, and I arrived around 7 pm on a different airplane.
I had spoken to a man named Paul Blois from the Horizons Unlimited website a couple days prior and not knowing for sure when my bike would arrive OR be released from customs, I told him I'd give a call with information after I arrive. To my surprise, he was waiting for me at the airport!
Customs and paperwork were a total breeze. So Paul suggested after my long flight not to uncrate the bike here. He'll just put it in the pick-up truck and we can take it to the family farm and tackle that project in the morning... sweet! What a seriously nice man! So lucky and so unexpected! With neighbor friend and daughter in tow, we all rode back to his farm. After a fairly good sleep and a bit of jet lag, I come out the next morning to see where the heck I am! And there's my bike in the box, waiting so patiently for me.
This is one big motorcycle riding family! Very fun and lucky to be here as they are all looking after me so well during my big transfer to North America... Unbelievable!
They show me this most unique spot... it's called Bay of Fundy... claiming to be the location of the highest tide in the world! 'The Natural World, Greatest Tides: The greatest tides in the world occur in the Bay of Fundy... Burntcoat Head in the Minas Basin, Nova Scotia, has the greatest mean spring range with 14.5 metres (47.5 feet) and an extreme range of 16.3 metres (53.5 feet)' from Wikipedia info.
Now, thanks to the Blois family, I am off to a great start exploring parts of North America I have never been before."
More stories below...
Tea with Bin Laden's Brother, by Simon Roberts
An Adventure motorbiking graphic novel telling the gripping story of a solo ride through Iran, Pakistan and India to Nepal. Take a look inside...
Motorcycle Therapy, by Jeremy Kroeker
From the Canadian Rockies to the Panamanian Jungle, Motorcycle Therapy rumbles with comic adventure as two men, fleeing failed relationships, test the limits of their motorcycles and their friendship. Get it here!
Lois' adventures in Africa!
'Alone. No support vehicles, no fancy GPS and no satellite phone. Leaving from London, finishing in Cape Town - and the small matter of tackling the Sahara, war-torn Angola and the Congo Basin along the way - this feisty independent woman's grand trek through the Dark Continent of Africa is the definitive motorcycling adventure.' Get it here!
Distant Suns, by Sam Manicom
'Sam Manicom's dynamic third book transports you to Southern Africa, South and Central America in an action-packed three year voyage of discovery. a thought-provoking mix of scrapes and encounters with people which illuminate some moments of true darkness. acute observations on everything from human behaviour, to remote and stunning locations. Distant Suns grabs you, enthrals you and spits you out as a convert to the dream of overlanding these amazing continents.' Buy direct from Sam 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
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!
Looking for a travel book for someone special?
There's links to Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, and Amazon Deutschland, so no matter where you are - you can order books at great prices, and we'll make a dollar or a pound or a Euro, which goes a very little way to supporting this e-zine.
There's also links to search Amazon sites for all their products, books, CDs etc., and yes, we get a tiny piece of that too. We really appreciate it when you start your book search from our website. Thanks for the support!
NOTE: If you buy a book starting with one of our links below, we get a little bit to help support the website!
Book suggestions please!
If you have a book or want a book that you think other travellers would be interested in please let me know and I'll put it on the site. Thanks, Grant
Help support your favourite website! Here's how!
Part 1 - Get Ready!
Part 2 - Gear Up!
Part 3 - On the Road!
Part 4 - Ladies on the Loose !
Part 5 - Tire Changing!
Road Heroes Part 1!
Motorcycle Therapy, by Jeremy Kroeker
From the Canadian Rockies to the Panamanian Jungle, Motorcycle Therapy rumbles with comic adventure as two men, fleeing failed relationships, test the limits of their motorcycles and their friendship. Get it here!
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ISSN 1703-1397 Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' E-zine - Copyright 1999-2010, Horizons Unlimited and Grant and Susan Johnson. All rights reserved.
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Legal gibberish: (particularly for those in
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We are very pleased to announce the release of Part 1 of 'Road Heroes - Motorcycle Adventure Travel Tales'. The first in an exciting new series, Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers Peter and Kay Forwood (Challenges of travelling to 193 countries 2-up on a Harley Electra-Glide), Dr. Gregory Frazier (5 times RTW on a variety of bikes), Tiffany Coates (RTW traveller recounts her Mongolia Mayhem) and Rene Cormier (5 years in the University of Gravel Roads).
First reviews on Amazon:
"Inspiring and hilarious! If you're curious about motorcycle travel to far-flung places, you owe it to yourself to watch this video. Upon viewing, you soon get the point that these people are 'regular Joes' who decided to do something BIG, and had a great time learning the ropes along the way. They are all entertaining speakers, and guaranteed to make you laugh out loud! Lots of amazing stories and even more amazing photographs, it's great fun and very inspirational. We have watched all the other Horizon's Unlimited videos, and can heartily recommend every one of them." Peter Jowett
"A must see/ own DVD - Just finished watching this incredible DVD... It will take your motorcycle traveling to another level. The ONLY thing these motorcycle travelers/adventurers haven't done, is ride on water itself. Otherwise, they have ridden on every terrain possible: muddy, snowy, gravely, sandy & a combination of all mentioned terrains, & they have the pictures to prove it. Also check out the first series of DVD by HU, on how to prepare yourself & your bike to take such a trip..." Alexandre Tavitian
First reviews on Amazon.co.uk:
"Excellent Excellent Excellent - Grant and Susan bring another fantastic DVD to the market. I loved watching this DVD and would dare anyone to watch it and NOT want to travel the world by motorbike. This complements the Achievable Dream series and I can't wait for the next chapter. Thanks!" Michael P
"Just do it! This DVD is an inspirational tour de force of the different ways to tackle round the world motorcycle travel. Whether it's the semi professional approach of Dr Greg Frazier or the 'just do it' approach of Rene Cormier, you can't help but feel the itchy throttle hand and know you'll be enjoying the hours to be spent researching your own trip. This is a great follow up to the Achieveble Dream set of DVD's and includes the retirees approach of Peter and Kay forward as well as the one area at a time method adopted by Tiffany Coates. All the presenters tell great stories, which are well illustrated, and they seem to have been chosen so as to present four different ways of achieving that dream. I can't wait to leave these shores and discover the world! Well done Grant and Susan." Geoff
"Essential Inspiration - If you have ever dreamed of travel by motorcycle and have yet to explore this by meeting like minded people at a Horizons Unlimited event then buy this DVD. Truly inspiring travel heroes sharing their stories will get you hooked and inspire you to realise those dreams. My DVD arrived today and I watched right through this afternoon without a break, loved it." A.A. Coe
Check out the trailer and go here to order.
Have you been inspired by the stories you've read in this e-zine? Or perhaps you watched the 'Long Way' series and it's got you thinking of a motorcycle trip to distant climes – the markets of Marrakech, the Karakoram Highway in Pakistan, the salt flats of Bolivia, the Bungle Bungles of Australia, the Pan American to Tierra del Fuego?
But you've got questions: Will I be safe? What do I need to know? Which bike should I take, and what gear do I need? And what the heck's a carnet anyway?
We are proud to present a remarkable series of DVDs - the inspiration, encyclopedia and definitive how-to for everyone who dreams of travel to faraway places, whether it's the next country, or another continent. This insanely ambitious 2-year project has produced an incredible 18 hours of informative and entertaining content - everything you need to know about motorcycle adventure travel!
The series features interviews with veteran travellers, such as Ted Simon (Jupiter's Travels), Austin Vince (Mondo Enduro), Greg Frazier (5 times RTW), , Chris and Erin Ratay (Guinness World Record), Peter and Kay Forwood (193 countries two-up on a Harley), Tiffany Coates, Sam Manicom (Into Africa, Totems to Tortillas), Sheonagh Ravensdale and Pat Thomson and many others. Over 150 contributors from all over the world tell their fantastic and entertaining stories, sharing their hard-earned knowledge from amazing motorcycle trips to every country on earth. Includes thousands of great photos, video clips, presentations and demos by experts.
The series was filmed in broadcast quality wide screen, with multiple cameras and custom written music. Filming took place at Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers meetings and on location in the USA, Canada, UK, Switzerland, Spain, Germany and the South Pacific.
There is also a 'Collectors Box Set'- all 5 DVDs in a custom box for US $139 - that's $10 less than buying them individually!
What the press say:
What our viewers say:
The DVD's are not 'region-locked' and we have both PAL and NTSC (North America) formats stocked.
Special thanks to our generous sponsors of the Horizons Unlimited Achievable Dream Series, Touratech and Michelin!
Pascal (Nish) and Abby Leclerc, Hong Kong, RTW, Spain, Kawasaki W650,
"The next day we were awoken by a familiar sound of fireworks. There were scores of Chinese shops everywhere and one of them was having its traditional opening ceremony right in front of our window. We dressed up and went out for breakfast. The sun was shining bright and the temperature was very pleasant. We walked to the river and found an interesting display of modern, colourful and weird sculptures along series of surrealistic buildings. We crossed a vast public park that had about everything Hong Kong doesn't provide, tracks for roller skaters, skaters and BMX acrobats, a large pond where people could let their dogs bathe and play, fountains, water displays and rowing boats. Large alleys allowed for bicycle riding.
A huge Gulliver, tied up to the ground served as playing area for kids with scores of toboggans and swings. The place was lively and diverse. Unlike Hong Kong sad and tiny Victoria Park, there wasn't a single outlet or shopping fair to spoil the fun. Along the park lay a music museum, beautiful old houses and some antique bridges. While having a smoke, yes inside the public park, I took a picture of a sign displaying the only three things that were forbidden: No fire, no camping and keep dogs on leash. That was it. Looking at all these folks having all sorts of free fun in their park, we couldn't help but feel sad about the amount of life Hongkong people are being deprived of, not even missing it, having a long time ago forgotten what having a good time really meant."
Rockwell (Rocky and Paula), RTW, KTM 990 Adventure,
"...Not having had a proper shower for several days, we decided to give CouchSurfing a try instead of tenting out another night. CouchSurfing is a worldwide network for making connections between travellers and the local communities they visit. It is a social network of people who offer travellers a couch or spare bedroom for a night or two. We were contacted by a guy in Winnipeg and were offered a spare room for the night. As we got closer to the city later in the day, we received a text message from him explaining that he had to cancel. This left us having to find a place to stealth camp for the night.
We pulled onto the University of Winnipeg campus in the hopes of finding some sort of locker room shower in the campus rec center and a place to pitch our tent, but we were disappointed. We weren't able to find accessible showers, and all the security cameras on campus didn't make it a viable option for hiding out over night.
Slightly more hungry than we were tired, we decided to grab a bite to eat and weigh our options. Looking on the GPS, we found a large park in the middle of Winnipeg. This seemed to be a safe bet. We drove over to Assiniboine Park to find hundreds of people gathered with their kids for, what we later learned to be, Friday movie night in the park. We set up our tent in an inconspicuous location, unpacked the bike and settled in the the night. We even managed to snag an unsecured WiFi connection!
The next day was a pretty steady and uneventful day of riding, though finding premium fuel proved to be a bit difficult. Gas stations were few and far between, and many of the ones we stopped at didn't have anything higher than an 87 octane.
We spent that evening camped out in the central park in Regina, Saskatchewan, pulling in at dusk, setting up the tent, and riding off early the next morning."
Ed. Rocky and Paula, you could have contacted the HU Community in Winnipeg and connected with our social network of motorcycle travellers ;-) There are almost 700 HU Communities in 109 countries, and they've been going strong since 2001. Check them out as you travel for help with anything motorcycle related, advice on where to eat and stay, and quite often you can crash on someone's couch or spare bedroom.
Darius and Jane Skrzpiec, RTW, in Zambia,
"The first question we're confronted with while at the South African border is 'What do you have?' Having no clue what to answer we just say: 'nothing'. Apparently that's the right answer. We can pass and nobody is interested in our (not paid) road tax.
It's bright blue sky and no signs of the rain which was bothering us the last few days. Despite the sun shining down on us it is mid winter in this part of the World and we're freezing badly. Our clothing bags are almost empty as we're wearing several layers of shirts and jumpers. At the few petrol stations along the way we'd try to stop shivering while having a hot mug of coffee.
Big cities aren't really what we'd look for and after only 2 nights in Durban and visiting its Sea World, we find ourselves quickly in lovely St. Lucia.
It doesn't take long for us to find out about the Hippos in town. Apparently they're strolling through town occasionally! Well, they're not during our stay and we decide to find them instead. We can get as close as 20 meters before receiving warnings from the biggest bull. I try to get just a bit closer still but need to retire quickly as the bull lifts his body accompanied by heavy grunting. Unbelievable but these fat animals can outrun any human being."
Hubert Kriegel, France, Sidecar-ing the world, in Mali,
"Finally, we went on the road. We were a little rusty the first day but it improved rapidly.
Ed. Hubert is a Horizons Unlimited 2010 Photo Contest Winner, and his winter photo on Lake Baikal is on the cover of the 2011 Horizons Unlimited Calendar! Check out Hubert's website for lots of great pics!
Graham Holden, UK, RTW, in Peru, BMW R100GS PD,
Overland to India
by Gordon May
Paperback, 21x14.8 cm 234 pages incl 8 pages of colour photographs. £9.95.
In 2008, Gordon May set off on an 8,400 mile ride from Manchester, UK, to Chennai, India, on his 1953 Royal Enfield. Despite encountering intense heat, suffering a crash in the Baluchistan desert and battling against some of the worst roads and driving standards on the planet, Gordon and his old Bullet did make it to Chennai.
In Overland to India Gordon describes how he restored his beloved motorcycle, the build up to departure, the larger-than-life characters he met and how he tackled the many challenges that came his way. He also recounts the more personal highs and lows of life on the road. Above all, Overland To India is a heart-warming book that reveals that there is much human kindness and hospitality to be found, sometimes in the most unexpected places and situations.
What I really liked about Overland to India was the sheer determination of the rider. Gordon's love of his motorcycle shone through too; he often thanks it for getting him to his various destinations along the gruelling route and I liked reading about his running repairs. I felt his joy, his euphoria, at being out on the open road. I also felt his exhaustion. When Gordon suffered a crash I could almost feel those bruises and also his fear following an attempted highway robbery. What was also really striking was the generosity, friendliness and humility of many of the people he met along the way, who Gordon describes with real warmth. It's uplifting to discover that it's a welcoming world out there. Overland to India is a lesson to all of us who have a dream and want to pursue it. Inspiring. Judith Coyle
The contest is now an annual event, where you can showcase your best photos, and they can help inspire others to get on the road too. The best 13 photos will be used in the calendar, and those photographers will share equally in half the proceeds. Winners will also get a free 2012 calendar, and 1 year Gold Member status on the HUBB.
Congratulations to the 2010 Photo Contest winners: Hubert Kriegel, Eric Starling, Darius Skrzypiec, Peter Russell, Erdem Yucel, Iza Gamanska, Heike Pander, Adam Lewis, Martin Hák, Scott Kindleysides, Matthias Kuhlmann, Matjaz Prosen and Peter Cullen! You can still buy their pics (below) in a 2012 calendar from CafePress. The price is US$24.99 plus postage. The cost to us from CafePress is $14.99, and we split the $10.00 profit with the photographers.
What's your favourite slogan? What do you think are the words that epitomise motorcycle adventure travel? We had a terrific slogan contest years ago, and we have now 'used up' all those slogans - so we thought we'd have another one!
First Prize - A t-shirt with your slogan on it, "The Achievable Dream - the Motorcycle Adventure Travel Guide Collectors Box Set" and FREE entry to an HU Travellers Meeting anywhere in the world - you just have to get yourself there!
Second Prize -A t-shirt with your slogan on it, plus your choice of any "Achievable Dream" title.
Third Prize - A t-shirt with your slogan on it, and a copy of "Road Heroes"
There will be a RANDOM DRAW for a FREE copy of the 2012 Calendar!
Rules are simple - it can't be one we've already used (see the list on the contest entry page), you assign us full rights to use as we see fit anywhere we choose, and you assert that you own the rights to it so they can be assigned to us, and that it is not trademarked / copyrighted etc elsewhere (or we can't use it.)
When we close submissions, we'll pick the top 10-20, and those will be put to a VOTE by you to determine the winners!
Entries must be in by: October 30. The vote will be shortly after, and close November 30. Winners will then be announced. You will be notified if you are a winner by email. So get your creative juices flowing, and enter here.
"Last week we had an opportunity to visit with old and new friends at Horizons Unlimited's meeting in Nakusp. A great event! We had a ceremonial start to our trip and Grant Johnson the co-founder of Horizons placed the HU decal on the sidecar to begin the adventure.
We camped with the Snowsells: Ken and Charlotte, as well as Sherri Jo Wilkins, an ex-pat living in Australia and continuing her around the world tour - A great time was had by all. Quite a few travellers shared current information about South America and Adrienne shared her new soon-to-be husband who she met on her trip south!
The Ural performed flawlessly and carried all our gear without a hiccup - We are ready!
Eleven days to go and Tracey is disappointed that I'm not excited yet - I'm trying! it's just been busy out lately. Our 'smiles and miles' decals are on the way and we should see them soon. Get them while they're hot. Wade helped out and turned all the brake drums on the bike. It stops better than ever now and no more headshake. Thanks Wade.
Now we just have to get on the road!"
"Erin and I are fun, optimistic people with a sense of humor towards life. We love the outdoors and will break just about any plans for a chance to go camping. In January 2010 I proposed the idea of riding motorcycles around the would. With both of us having a sense of adventure and a previous want to travel, a plan was set in place. A plan that eliminated the common excuses like: 'We don't have enough money.' 'We don't have the time.' 'What about our jobs?' 'What about our house and the life we have here?'. With a plan in place and our departure date set for June 4th, 2011, we are determined to be as ready as we can when that day comes. Now, we have dedicated our lives to achieving our goal of a global motorcycle adventure."
"Riders will know that Australia in general and Queensland had huge rains earlier this year. So much for Global Warming and 'we may never see flooding rains again'! So it was no real surprise to me to find lakes where there never lakes before in living memory. And: oh yes, they just crossed the road.
I have to say, it's the first time that I have heard Harley exhausts underwater. Happy too, to avoid hearing the air intake underwater...
...In the pub that night, I had another incredulous query about a 'Harley in the Outback'. I do not know why people are surprised at this. Certainly, there are a host of made-for-the-job adventure bikes on offer, but there is no reason that any well-maintained bike should not do the job.
And a Harley was the first motorbike ever to be ridden around Australia. In 1929, two-up and burdened with a sidecar, sometimes through places where roads did not exist."
Ed. And then there's Peter and Kay, who've ridden their Harley to 193 countries!
"We headed for Cesky Krumlov, still in the Czech Republic, in the Southern part of Bohemia. This town was a power center during the middle ages and has the second biggest castle in CZ other than the on in Prague. The ride took us through the rolling hills of the countryside. I don't know what we expected, but the secondary roads were great. Some farm traffic but otherwise not much activity. I think the new freeways are the best thing for motorcycle riding. cars and trucks stay off the good roads.
We stopped in Tabor for lunch. The variety of architecture is interesting. Every little town has an interesting history told by the buildings.
After lunch we continued through the countryside to Cesky Krumlov where we stayed the evening at Pension Anna near the square. The only rooms available there were apartments. But they had a garage for motorcycles so we took it. We went for a nice tour of the town and castle which was the Eastern Nazi headquarters during the war."
Sean writes to the HU Santiago Chile Community: "Hi guys. Im starting a 9 month round South America trip in Santiago in late November hopefully buying a couple of new Honda NX400 Falcons with my best mate in Santiago. Can anyone recommend any good shops to fit a top box and/or panniers? Be more than happy to have a few beers and find out about good riding places in chile. Love to hear from you guys/gals. Go Wallabies!"
"Hello Folks, I'm Lynn and I live in Scotland, and I'm planning to take my bike on a tour of Western France and Northern Spain in September and October. If anyone has suggestions for good biking roads, bike-friendly campsites/hostels, places to visit and things to see, it would be great to hear from you. And if anyone would like to meet for a beer or a coffee that would be great too. :-) Cheers for now, Lynn"
"We set off early morning to fly back home, stopping at Abu Dhabi on the way - so I suppose that counts as another country. The bikes are expected to be about another month, so fingers crossed that they arrive safely.
So, now we've done Sheffield to Cape Town overland.
Time away - 3 months / 12 weeks / 88 days Countries - 21 Miles (from GPS) 12,321
This is the final leg of our round-the-world trip (as far as we know.) We missed out South America due to lack of funds, and cut short this Africa trip by not returning to the UK via the west coast of Africa as had been originally planned. But we think we've covered most of what we wanted to cover - and some parts that we weren't fussed about!
The point of the trip was just the journey - not particularly the destinations, although we've seen some spectacular sights. It was about being on the bike, every day, and having our eyes opened to the rest of the world.
You do come to realize that the world isn't as big as you thought it was. Last year's circumnavigation was 23,500 miles on the bike, and covered as much land as we could find, going east as we left the UK and just getting up most mornings and riding east.
Yes we know we've only seen a snapshot of each country, but that's enough for us. If there had been a place that we wanted to go back to, then we would be doing just that.
But it's made us appreciate England much more, and we'll be exploring more of the UK in the next few years, I hope. Not least because we now don't have any money for foreign holidays, and we'll both have to start looking for work in the next few days.
It's been an eye-opener though, and we have no regrets about any of it.
If you're contemplating doing a similar trip, just do it. We are not special people - we don't have lots of money - we're not making exciting and witty media appearances - we just made a decision to go, and did it. So can you."
Ed. Good on you, guys - well done! Read about Bob and Sheila's trip here on Horizons Unlimited!
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Thanks! Grant and Susan
We've now reached an amazing 693 Communities in 109 Countries as of Sep 17, 2011!
A big thanks to all those who took the first step and established the Community in their area.
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.
A recent e-mail from Pat McCarthy to the HU Barcelona Community, also prompted us to remind folks that although some HU communities are very small, many others (such as Barcelona) are large and could be more active in getting together for rides (even just to the pub!) or other activities. It's a great way to meet other travellers in your area - who knows, you could meet your next travel partner! All you need is for someone to suggest a place and time, kick it around a bit and make it happen. If there aren't any HU Travellers Meetings in your area, perhaps it's time there was one? A Community could do a Mini-Meeting, (just a get-together in someone's backyard or at a restaurant), or a full meeting! Let us know about it and we'll help promote it :)
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.
Become an HU Contributing Member!
If you want a t-shirt or other logoed merchandise, go to the Store.
All contributions will be acknowledged and gratefully accepted. If you later decide you do want a t-shirt or other member logoed merchandise from the store, let us know and we will arrange access to the Members Private Store.
Also, you can just click on any Amazon link on the site and we'll get a small commission on your purchase of any Amazon merchandise - and it won't cost you any more!
Thanks, Grant and Susan
or to remove yourself from the list.'
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 800 world travellers listed, but there are many more. Have YOU done it? Let me know!
We hope you've enjoyed this issue, and do please let us know your thoughts. It's your newsletter, so tell us what you want to know about!
It is not the unknown, but the fear of it, that prevents us from doing what we want.
We'd like to think that Horizons Unlimited; the website, the HUBB, the Communities and this newsletter help to push back the fear through knowledge and connecting with others, and teach all of us about the world and it's wonderful people.
See you on the road!
All text and photographs are copyright © Grant and Susan Johnson
and their respective authors or creators, 1987-2011.