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Achievable Dream DVD Series
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Welcome to the 89th Edition of the motorcycle travellers' e-zine! Trees are all turning many colours here, which is gorgeous to see, but sad because you know they'll soon drop off and it will be bleak until spring :( But considering the weather and natural disasters that many people are suffering through in various parts of the world, we can't complain too much!
Since last month we've been to the HU California meeting in Cambria, which was fantastic - perfect weather and a great venue! More on the meetings below. Unfortunately, we drove down from Vancouver in a car on the interstate, but it was good to get out of the house! This was the last meeting for us until next summer, and we are looking forward to staying home for awhile. Over the winter, we have only a few large projects to keep us from getting bored - redesign the website, launch the 'Road Heroes 2' DVD and move house ;-)
We've finally gotten the website working well again after the software upgrades, last of the HUBB log-in bugs squashed. Thanks to all our loyal users for hanging in there! Now we can move forward with the long-awaited redesign, the first part of which will feature a new graphic design, and much better navigation, using mega-menus. Next, we will be updating the blogging functionality to make it more feature-rich for those travellers who want additional functionality, while still keeping it easy to use for all. The software will also allow us to implement new social features for the HU Communities, and lots more...
Erdem Yucel, who does our DVD covers, will be the lead designer, along with his wife Evren, who is also a creative genius. We are working with Deeson Group, the web developers in the UK that pulled our asses out of the fire this summer, so we're happy we've got a good team.
Now we could just do all of it in the background and unveil it when we think it's perfect, but we'd rather have your input as we go. After all, it's your website, we're just the caretakers! So, we're looking for volunteers to give us feedback on the design and menu structure, to try out the blogging and community features and tell us what you like and don't like, and later to help with testing. We need several teams for all this, we're not expecting anyone to be involved with all of it. If you have some spare time over the next few months and want to help, get in touch!
Where are our intrepid travellers this month?
We've got great stories from Mexico, Guatemala, Turkey, Mali, Zambia, Panama, Australia, USA, Pakistan, Ecuador, Colombia, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Chile, Tanzania, Italy, Canada and Argentina... 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
Just in time for holiday presents for friends, family (or yourself!), E-zine readers can buy all Horizons Unlimited DVDs at 10% off the retail price.
There's Part 1 of the new series - Road Heroes - Motorcycle Adventure Travel Tales, featuring 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).
If you've been inspired by the stories you've read in this e-zine and are keen to get on the road yourself, the Achievable Dream is the definitive 'How To' series on long-distance motorcycle travel.
The 'Collectors Box Set' is also available - all 5 DVDs (18 hours of informative and entertaining content!) in a custom box at a gift price of $124.99.
This offer is for orders until November 30, 2011 only, so stock up now for Christmas! You must start your order from this link to get the e-zine special. After selling over 6,000 DVDs, we're pretty confident you'll like them. If you're not completely happy with them, just let us know within 30 days of purchase for a full refund or exchange. And you don't even have to send them back!
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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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...
Road Heroes Part 1!
Part 1 - Get Ready!
Part 2 - Gear Up!
Part 3 - On the Road!
Part 4 - Ladies on the Loose !
Part 5 - Tire Changing!
Brian Kennedy, Canada, in Colombia, Aprilia ETV 1000 cc CapeNord,
"The road east out of Libano follows a windy twisted path through the mountains. And as with most remote mountain roads in Colombia, the road surface was in rough shape with lots of pot holes and ruts from the constant truck traffic. And every kilometer or so the road would be washed out evidence of some past mudslide. Since they had been having a lot rain over the last few months there were numerous road crews out and about making repairs to the road. Judging from the state of the roads I would say that they are fighting a losing battle with nature in trying to keep the roads maintained.
There was lots of traffic on the road this morning especially truck traffic, so it was hard to keep up a good rate of speed. Around every turn there would be a truck in front of me, belching out plumes of black arid smoke from its diesel engine. It didn't seem to matter how many trucks I passed as there would always be another lumbering truck there to impede my progress.
I was now about at the half way point between Libano and Armero, when the flow of traffic came to a stop. The road in front of me was blocked by a large landslide. See video of landslide.
Construction crews had created a detour around the landslide by bulldozing a new path around it. There was a large truck in front backing up the traffic as he attempted to navigate his vehicle over the deeply rutted dirt track route around the landslide. While I was waiting my turn to enter the detour I imagined what this makeshift road would be like in the rain. These clay covered roads turn into a slippery mess when wet.
The rest of the of the ride between the location of the landslide and the turn-off for Armero was slow going, many sections of the road was torn up and often covered in pools of water. The road continued it torturous climb up through the mountains. As I climbed further up into the mountains the thick green foliage on the adjacent hillside encroached ever closer to the road.
I arrived into Ibague just after noon, I still was not decided if I would stay the day in Ibague or head elsewhere. Ibague is a moderately large city with a population of half a million people. My Lonely Planet guide book suggested that there were a number of interesting things to see and do in the town. As I entered the town, it was very hot, and as I made my way for the town center the traffic was the most congested of any town I had seen so far in Colombia. Fighting my way through the congested traffic all my previous held opinions about local Colombian driving habits were confirmed.
I come from a country (Canada) where lane splitting for motorcycles is not permitted. Here in Colombia not only do motorcycles lane split but they also jump between lanes squeezing perilously between trucks and buses. I had one taxi cab driver who after spotting my big foreign motorcycle kept following me closely down the main avenida, he had his cell phone camera out taking pictures of the bike as he drove, he was literally driving with his taxi inches away from my bike. After 30 minutes of riding around in this traffic chaos and narrowly escaping becoming a hood ornament on one of the kamikaze buses, I had enough, and when I saw an exit sign for Nevia was out of here."
Ed. See Brian's story and pics in the HUBB Ride Tales Forum!
Wade Stubbs and Philip Atkinson, Australia, Circle to Circle tour, in Guatemala, BMW
"Getting to Guatemala: A new day, a new country. Nerves were on edge as we approached the Mexican border. Then it was all over before it started. Too easy in fact, which we were punished for later with a $100 fine because we didn't purchase a tourist visa. So, how is it going to be crossing into Guatemala?
Absolutely amazing! That's how it is to cross the border from Mexico to Guatemala. There are easier ways, but the shortest route was through customs in Frontera, Mexico and then Bethol, Guatemala. Unfortunately there is a river in the way. Not usually a problem, but in this case it is a problem as there isn't a bridge, and no scheduled ferry service. Not to worry, we had met a couple in Chicken, Alaska on the Top of the World Highway who had mentioned the crossing and said they hired a local skiff to take them across. Beauty!
It was very easy, and for those adventurous types a 'must do' border crossing. We met some boat drivers (and I use the term 'boat' very gently) as we entered the National Park (fee 15 pesos each - not too bad at $1.15 Australian). They sped off on their pushies, three BMW 1200's in hot pursuit.
The boatmen guided us through customs, which again was super easy. For anyone riding through Mexico, make sure you pay the tax. Its only 262 pesos and separate from the tourist visa and the temporary import tax. It's automatically paid if you arrive by plane. This tax needs to be paid at the border, or in Palenque, a 3 hr ride back to where we started. Oh crap! Obviously we didn't, and neither did Kev. In fact, none of us had even heard of it. Fortunately the customs officer was a lovely lady, and Big Kev has a lovely smile. At least I figure it must be, cause one flash of those pearly whites from Kev and she said 'Don't worry, pay me and I'll sort it out from here'. Good on ya Kev!
Low on fuel, we top up with 10 litres from the local 'service station'. By service station, what I really mean is about fifteen 20L drums and a siphon hose in some guys shed. How cool is that! Mind you, I wouldn't want to fill the 100 L tank on my ute back home!
Next stop, the river. As I ride off the road and head for the bank (there is no car park, foot traffic only for these boats normally) disaster! My back wheel hits a rock, and at the super high speed of 2 km/ hr instead of tracking over it, the bike stops, leans past the magic 5 degree angle, and that's it. Down she goes!
Three skiffs were nosed up to the bank, engines still running to keep them together and in place against the strong current. We unload all our gear, then Wade takes the plunge and rides down the muddy bank first. It takes 5 guys to man handle Smokey onto the boat. Half and hour later, Aialik and Kev's bike are tied down. We are ready to go!
It doesn't look right. It doesn't feel right. The bike makes the boat look tiny, and how the centre of gravity is low enough to prevent capsizing neither Wade nor I have a clue.
Our little boats gingerly pull off the bank. Everyone, including the drivers hold their breath. They are looking pale, palms sweaty. I am happy to see Wade's boat backing out first. As it floats off, everyone sucks in a long overdue lung full of air. We just might make it after all!
Unloading is hard! Hot, humid, and a steep, slippery, muddy bank. The local Guatemalans jump in and help out. Brilliant! We don't have to ask, we don't have to wave cash. They helped because that's what Guatemalans do. After the bikes were safely on the bank Wade offered one guy 50 pesos. He was so happy you'd think Stubbsie just handed him his first born son. He was proudly showing his mates the note that would buy at least the first two rounds at the bar tonight.
As soon as we left the heavens opened, in a big way! My goodness did it come down. Water everywhere. Welcome to Guatemala!
We easily floated thru Customs on a bit of driftwood we found on the stream flowing thru the building (well, not really, but it sounds better than simply saying 'customs was easy'). Awesome! We are officially in Guatemala.
Now, the good news. It is free to enter Guatemala. No tourist visa required, no temporary import, no tax. Nothen. Whoooo Hoooooo! The guy even said it should be free to leave, and if a customs official asks for money don't pay him. Argue the point. I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound like the best advice ever!
Bergalia Boys tip of the day (Brought to you by Wade Stubbs):
Ionut and Ana, Romania, Trans-Africa, in Mali, Yamaha Tenere,
"...a wonderful ride through a fertile hilly landscape, dotted with scenic villages and lush gardens. A group of Fulani people passes us by: the women are topless and have intricate hair braids and jewelry and huge moonshined packs of tree branches are tied to the donkeys. We are happy we have arrived here in wet season!
Bamako is a sprawling metropolis, with scooters and cars entangled together in big traffic jams, with bridges thrown over the mighty Niger river which divides the capital in two. The shanty towns are on one side, immersed in a sleepy rural life, while on the other side of the water there are concrete and glass administrative buildings and offices and some expensive hotels (with good wifi connection). Here it rains almost daily and only some of the streets are tarred. Bamako is a welcomed pit stop: we rest, wash our pathetic scruffy riding gear, we go for a visa and ATM run and Skype our families. The Burkina visa breaks our bank: 80 euro/pers!, recently doubled cause of French propaganda.
Bamako's heart beats in its colorful markets: near Place de la Liberte & Cinema Vox, in Grande Marche, in the fetish market we find innumerable stalls selling anything from fruit and vegs to clothing and plastic ware made in Nigeria. Men are generally sporting generic Chinese designs, but the elegant women of Bamako wear traditionally inspired dresses and elaborate hairpieces and metes. People are warm and friendly, except for the usual guides, touts and beggars, with tricks that we are too familiar with from Romania. The sad thing is that they believe that 'les blanc donnent des cadeaux', so who's to blame for that?
The first night in Sikasso we camp in the backyard of a local family. We quickly become the village attraction, every detail of our tent pitching and logistics being scrutinized, analyzed and discussed with loud enthusiasm. Later at night we are invited to join the family (husband, wife, 3 boys and a toddler + uncle) for dinner: boiled yam with a dash of oil, eaten by hand from a big pot. We offer some almonds from Morocco and then enjoy the ritualistic 3 glasses of African tea artfully brewed by the woman. Only Bambara is spoken so we cannot communicate easily, and under the star-covered sky the silence in this village where there is no electricity nor running water is broken by some music coming from an old radio.
The Monday market in Djenne is legendary: this is the most important and biggest market in West Africa. Vendors and buyers travel from all regions to fill up the square in front of the mosque and to sell and shop everything from local art, bogolan - typical cloth decorated with mud mixed with medicinal plants, amber jewelry, food, spices, baskets, plastic ware and livestock. As this is an authentic local market, the people are not fazed by tourists so we are taking a breather from the touts and faux-guides harassment to enjoy the unique atmosphere."
Ed. See Ionut and Ana's story and pics in the HUBB Ride Tales Forum!
Colin and Dee Masters, UK, Wrinklies Wround the World, on the road again in Turkey, BMW 1150 GS,
"Here we are again folks --- last time we had climbed Nemrut Dagi and I felt that we needed a T shirt saying we had done so! - The guy in the hotel offered to write it on a white T shirt, if I had one!
We were (and are) feeling very lonely - only spoken briefly to some Germans and Americans at breakfast one morning. At the hotel in Kahta there were 2 coach loads of English - great, we thought - some conversation at last. Not on your Nelly: they cut us dead - it was as if we didn't exist. So snooty it wasn't true. As you can see they really climbed up my nose! Any contact from you is greatly appreciated!
This is the Roman Cendere Bridge in the Nemrut Dagi National park, near Kahta, eastern Turkey. It was built in the 2nd century AD in honour of Emperor Septimus Severus and his wife and son and it now goes nowhere. The new bridge is now open to the right hand side.
We left Kahta and had a good run though to Gaziantep on a 'B' road that had been suggested by the driver at the hotel. What a star, he said that it would be a good road surface and, for once Colin was able to get out of third and fourth gear. It also cut out 60k from the trip. We were stopped by a Military checkpoint with a Sarasen Armoured Personnel Carrier. All the guys were armed, but we were waved through after stopping.
Gaziantep is a large city and once again we got a taxi to follow to get to the hotel. Had a day off there and on Thurs 6 Oct onwards to Kizkalesi with the temperature rising again to 30 degrees. This was a good day's travel on auto route with good road surface. This is a very fertile area and we passed fields and fields of cotton, bananas and pomegranates. The first view of the Mediterranean sea was invigorating, to say the least! Kizkalesi is famous for its 2 castles - one on the shore and t'other in the middle of the sea. It's dark by 6.15 pm.
...onwards to Alanya - on the south east Turkish coastline and very much a tourist area for Turks and Germans. This was again an horrendous drive through roads that were unmade, rubble and potholes. The coast road winds from being 20 feet from the sea, then up into the mountains where, more often than not, you are riding off road. No hotels or petrol stations and hard going. Colin had had enough. We are tired and then we saw the weather forecast for the next few days - heavy rain and wind! We are booked into the hotel here till Wed 11th and will see if the weather has improved by then. It's an opportunity for Colin to rest as well."
Ed. See Colin and Dee's blog here on Horizons Unlimited for more stories and great pics!
Marco Hoffmann (BikingMarco), Australia/Germany, Sydney to Germany - the African way, in Zambia trying to get a visa for DRC, Suzuki DR650,
"I just need to write a little update about our attempt to get a visa for the D.R.Congo. On Thursday morning we visited the DRC embassy in Lusaka for the first time. And were met with super friendliness by one guy we shall, for the purpose of this post, call 'the friendly guy'. Who listened to our situation and said the visa is no problem. But the decision lies with the chancellor who we need to see but who was not in the house. But expected back any moment. So we were advised to go back home and the friendly one would send us a text message to Martin's mobile as soon as the chancellor arrives.
We did not get any text message all day. So back we went on Friday early morning. To be told that 1.) the chancellor is not in the house, no one knows if or when he would be in and 2.) we could not get a visa because we need a letter of invitation from within the Congo, rubber-stamped by the Congo immigration department. So we referred to Thursday's conversation and said we wait here for the chancellor.
...So we waited and no chancellor came. And waited. And no one knew if the chancellor would have the grace to appear at all. Hours later a fine white limousine entered the compound and a friendly well dressed guy walked through the waiting room, friendly greeting us with 'bonjour' and disappearing through the backdoor.
...Nothing else happened for another hour. It was lunchtime after all. The embassy closed at 4pm so we thought we might just wait till then. The reception lady came back with the clerk, we asked her a question, without even listening she just told us we need a letter of invitation while walking straight past.
...Meanwhile the well dressed guy was busy signing papers, given to him by the clerk. His presence had a profound effect on the mood in the room. Something was happening. He talked with authority to everyone (except us), was super friendly to everyone (just ignoring us) and obviously told a lot of jokes because everyone was now in a great mood and laughing a lot. Except the two white guys in the room who don't speak the Tonga language.
...After an hour of signing and talking and laughing the well dressed guy was finished and went to the backroom. It was now just after 4pm, closing time for the embassy. But the waiting room was still full. Full of the same people as at 11 am this morning. All just sitting in the same chair as they did all day. None had achieved anything. No one seemed to bother though. So one by one they left. One waiting lady asked us why we were still there. 'Waiting for the chancellor' we said. 'But the chancellor was just here, the guy signing the papers!'. Which was Mr. Well dressed guy.
...Then, finally, the unthinkable happened. The door opened and the chancellor appeared. We were the only two people left in the waiting room, so he must intend to talk to us. And he did. However, all his friendliness and good mood was gone. Instead he gave us a dress down about the impatience of white people, that there is no way to hurry things up. He gave us no chance to talk. Whenever we tried he just interrupted us loudly and continued his tirade against impatience.
So we carefully listened and tried to be following his speech with silent interest. Once he finished we could say one sentence: 'We just want to apply for a visa, however long you need for processing doesn't bother us, but we don't have a letter of invitation.' We said that very quickly, always afraid not being able to finish our sentence. But we got the whole sentence out! He asked us about our business in the Congo. 'Tourists' we said and pointed towards all the nice colour photos on the walls saying in capital letters 'Visitez La Republique Democratique De Congo'.
His response? 'Come back on Monday'. But then, in the most amazing moment for the whole day he said 'Please go ahead and apply for a visa on Monday'. 'We won't have a letter of invitation on Monday either'. 'No problem, you don't need one.' This was said by the mighty chancellor. 5pm Friday night.
We shall now see what will happen on Monday morning."
Ed. See Marco's story and pics in the HUBB Ride Tales Forum!
Ian Moor, UK, Wrong Way Round The World, in Panama, BMW F650GS,
"Taking things for granted never works in the long run. I got a three month visa for Panama at the border and asked for three months insurance for the motorbike and as the woman in the insurance office didn't say anything I assumed that's what I was given. I then presented the insurance certificate to customs to get the temporary import licence for the motorbike and assumed the bike was valid for three months. In all the previous countries on this trip the bike permit has always been for the same duration as my visa which has a nice symmetry and what is the point of getting a visa and bike permit for different durations? However that is what they do in Panama (and Egypt apparently).
From now on I will be doing more research before getting to each border and reading the documents as I get them until I no doubt eventually lapse into taking things for granted again! I was talking to a group of travellers over coffee who mentioned that vehicle permits were only valid for one month. I argued that I had been given three months but on checking later on I discovered I had indeed only been given one months motorcycle permit and that was one month and two days ago.
It was the weekend and there was nothing I could do until Monday morning when I presented myself at an insurance office as it opened at 8am. The plan was to pick up another months insurance then not wanting to use the bike without its permit, get the bus to David City which had the nearest customs office to apply for an extension to the bike permit. At the insurance office I was told to return at 4pm to collect the certificate so that was another day gone. Bright and early the next morning I was on the bus to David then took a taxi to the customs office.
I wasn't expecting too many problems other than the usual slow form filling and waiting as the bureaucratic wheels slowly turn, possibly a small fine to pay for the lapsed vehicle permit and a small fee for extending the permit by a month. What I experienced was a farcical morning having to bribe a corrupt customs officer of the Republic of Panama.
I was happy to go through the official process but that option wasn't offered. At the desk the customs officer was furtively glancing around the room as we attempted a whispered conversation in Spanish. He even used 'Google Translate' to print out a sentence, show it to me then put it through the shredder, sadly like most 'Google Translate' sentences it didn't make any sense.
Other people came into the office, got processed and left as I was still hanging around. I suspect I would have been processed more quickly and cheaply if the officer had done the paperwork officially. Eventually he typed out a new permit making it look like I had arrived in Panama that day and valid for a month which is fine providing no one inspects the permit and passport together because the passport shows me entering at a different border crossing on a different date.
After waiting for ages until there was no one else in the office he surreptitiously slipped the new permit into my bag and moved it closer to the wall to conceal me passing across $20. If there are no more blog entries after this one assume the dodgy paperwork was discovered and that I'm now languishing in some sinister jail sharing a cell with a group of gringo hating habitual criminals.
... I overtook a slow moving truck on a long straight section of road crossing the double yellow lane markers as I did so. The manoeuvre was perfectly safe but technically a little bit illegal and of course there was a police checkpoint further up the road to witness it. Our discussion included illegal overtaking and the soccer teams of Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle United and Barcelona, fortunately; my apology for supporting Newcastle United and crossing the double yellow line was accepted.
A bit further along the Pan Americana I was overtaking a bus, legally this time, crossing back onto my side of the road before the lane markings changed so that oncoming traffic had the right to overtake. Again there was a police checkpoint further ahead and this time I was told that I was in big trouble for overtaking illegally. I have found it prudent when confronted with someone holding a gun to agree wholeheartedly with everything that they say so clearly I was mistaken about the lane markings. I was told that I would have to go to court in Panama City to pay a fine of over $100, we agreed that this was 'mucho problema' so the police officer kindly suggested I could pay an on the spot fine of $40. I counter offered that a fine of $20 would be less painful and although his gun gave him the final word he agreed. For some reason that wasn't explained the officer wanted to wait until the road was clear of witnesses before I paid the fine and then he forgot to give me a receipt.
I continued the rest of the journey following the trucks and buses, not daring to venture anywhere near the centre of the road regardless of the lane markings. I have only had to pay bribes twice on the trip so far, both in Panama although I think this has more to do with the luck of the draw rather than Panama being more corrupt than other Central American countries."
Ed. Follow Ian's adventures in his blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
Peter and Kay Forwood, Australia, RTW (193 countries), in the USA, on Harley-Davidson,
"A strong headwind welcomed us as we climbed up from the Colorado River to Las Vegas, our hotel in the middle of the Wedding Chapel area of The Strip. Such places as Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel and Little White Wedding Chapel, where such famous people as Demi Moore and Bruce Willis, Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow were married. Elvis and limos the theme at many Chapels but anything goes, and we mean anything. Our hotel room overlooks the Viva Chapel and limos rolled in half hourly as large and small weddings moved through, an interesting couple of hours.
In the evening we wandered down to Fremont Street, the old, original Las Vegas, now revamped with a magnificent overhead light display on the covered pedestrian area. Alive, the area attracts dozens of excellent buskers, or more appropriate perhaps, street performers, as some acts were excellent. A wine in the Plaza Casino, coffee in the Golden Nugget, legs aching standing and people watching. The mix of people totally international. The wealth from super rich to poverty stricken, each attempting a living from the street. We have been asked for money from many street people since arriving in the US, mostly people left behind by society, alcoholics, drug addicts, mentally handicapped. A bit of loose change might ease the day for some. There were the two hitch-hikers, with two dogs, stuck in the desert without a shower for three weeks, the street sitters with polystyrene cups begging while they slept off last night's hangover, and tonight a slim self composed proud middle aged woman asked for change, "I am homeless, can you help me a little", moved amongst the crowd of revellers receiving little success, more composed elegance displayed than from anyone else on Fremont Street.
Saturday, busy in this region as locals and internationals descend, particularly as it is school holidays again. We headed out to Hoover Dam, alongside Lake Mead, taking in the contrast of bright blue sky and lake and the stark desert. A new freeway and bridge has been built since we last visited, across the Grand Canyon, just below the dam, and has attracted many more visitors. Another change, security is tight, post 911, the dam being a possible terrorist target, all vehicles pass through a security road block. We met a group of Germans on an organised tour, Harleys, rentals, a ten day tour of the region from Los Angeles, and a popular tour, perhaps 30 bikes. Also had a cuppa with New Zealanders renting two motorhomes, seven weeks touring the area. In the evening we attempted a ride down Las Vegas Boulevard but traffic was almost at a standstill. After the slow cruise-by viewing we returned for a ride across Fremont Street and called it a night."
Ed. We caught up with Peter and Kay at the recent HU California meeting :) 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!
Ronnie Borrageiro, South Africa, RTW, in Australia, BMW 1200 GSA,
"I am back on the road and riding the fourth leg of my Aussie Tour - Melbourne to Brisbane via Canberra and Sydney, and a few other places in between!
...The Great Ocean road opened up before me and if the first 50 km is anything to go by, I want to find a job somewhere down here, so I can ride this road every day!
If you thought Binnum was an out of the way place, wait until you hear about Carboor!
I still have many posts to bring up to date, including the amazing rides I got to do in Tasmania, a bikers paradise!
I have thousands of photos to sort through which I have taken since I entered the Nullarbor, rode to Melbourne and tackled Tasmania... Finding the time to do this, and write up the posts is proving to be a major headache!
I have changed tyres (Finally! I heard many say!) had a new windshield fitted, received a new passport, and had to buy a new charging cable for my laptop (the third one since kicking off on my tour!) and today, rode to the middle of nowhere, to meet the Touratech Australia guys, who very kindly, together with Aldo of Touratech South Africa, donated a lockable windshield spoiler to me!
A big 'Thank You' to both Robin Box and Aldo van der Walt for the kindness and generosity shown! More on them when I find the time to write!
Right now, after a long and tough day's riding on the Great Alpine Road, (which is easily better than the Great Ocean Road), my eyes are buggered from the cold wind that I have been squinting into all day...
Tomorrow I ride to Canberra, and perhaps even on to Sydney... Right now, I crawl towards my bed!"
Danielle Murdoch, Australia, Australia to Africa, in Pakistan, Suzuki DR350,
"Riding across Pakistan, I couldn't help wishing I was back in Gilgit. I was excited to be entering Iran and seeing new things but super scared to cross the most dangerous part of Pakistan and Iran, the most risky part of my whole trip to date. Leaving Pakistan wasn't going to be as romantic as the past 6 months, it boiled down to three things, riding, expensive hotels and paperwork. How much fun can that be? I had been told by other overlanders that this is the worst 1000km in people's lives and no one ever wanted to repeat the experience ever again.
First on the agenda was to obtain my Iran visa in Islamabad, which was quick and relatively painless except for the cost. Second on the list was to arrange for my No Objection Certificates from Quetta to be able to cross Baluchistan and then I had to inform the Superintendant of Police when I will be arriving into Quetta.
Arriving in Quetta around 11am, I was taken to the Home Department to apply for my next NOC and they issued me with a 5 day exit permit. I still had three days left of my visa but personally I think they knew something because on my way to my hotel my motorcycle started to make horrendous noises... What's wrong? Why are you breaking down in the MOST dangerous city of Pakistan?
At this point I was too upset. I had just driven nonstop for three days, I had somehow caught a cold, developed a fungal infection, and I was fed up with the politics, paperwork and the lousy police escorts and now my bike was having mechanical issues. Why was it all happening at once?
Luckily for me I had made some really good contacts in Pakistan, so I contacted my friend in the Pakistan Bikers Club and asked about a mechanic in Quetta. The following day with my police escort in tow, I found the mechanic shop and they got right to work, pulling my tiny bike into millions of pieces. While this was happening the Superintendent of Police Security for Quetta called me into his office for a small chat about the situation in Quetta.
For the next three days, I was under house arrest - well not really but it sure felt like that. I was granted two hours per day in the workshop. I would be picked up at 11am and taken back to my hotel at 1pm. Not exactly what I wanted but it was a compromise."
Graham Holden, UK, RTW, in Ecuador and Colombia, BMW R100GS PD,
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!
Road Heroes Part 1!
Part 1 - Get Ready!
Part 2 - Gear Up!
Part 3 - On the Road!
Part 4 - Ladies on the Loose !
Part 5 - Tire Changing!
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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Grant & Susan Johnson, Editors
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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.
Redistribution - sending it on to friends is allowed, indeed encouraged, but other than the following requirements, only with permission. You may forward copies of the Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' e-zine by forwarding it yourself by hand. You must forward the issue in its entirety, no fee may be involved. Please suggest they Subscribe!
Legal gibberish: (particularly for those in
countries that have more lawyers in one town, just for instance, New York,
not to name any names, than some whole countries, as another example, Japan.
Again, not naming anybody specifically you understand).
Hubert Kriegel, France, Sidecar-ing the world, in Mali,
"I discovered I had to change the drive shaft cross of the 2WD and went shopping for a new one.
We were not lucky with the size needed, but at the end... we found one I bought in Switzerland 3 years ago! At the end, we are very happy with their work and their kindness...
Hubert reports from his sickbed,
... I have no more malaria in my blood, but I am enduring the after effects. I have stomach problems and throat problems. I have difficulties to eat and I am very tired. I am in bed 22h a day trying to relax and sleep. But there is progress so I'm moving on.
As for Jean Louis, in Germany, they found 3 kidney stones at different times, so his return was delayed, but now he is in good shape and will take his plane to Bamako tomorrow.
Thank you for all your good wishes on the guest book and all the emails I got, I appreciate your support and the only reason I am not communicating too much is because, I am still groggy!"
Ed. Best wishes for a speedy recovery for you and Jean Louis, and Happy 65th Birthday!
Darius and Jane Skrzpiec, RTW, in Tanzania,
"Finally we left Malawi behind and crossed over to Tanzania. having some problems with changing money at the border was not a good start for Tanzania but very soon we'd find out that Tanzania is a great place to be!
At the moment we're staying at a German expats place in Dar es Salaam and trying to get hold of an Kenyan visa for Jane. if everything works out fine we'll be in Kenya by the beginning of November to meet Darius' parents who are coming for a visit."
Jos Van Berckel has a great offer for the HU Vancouver community:
"Me and my wife Regien are near the end of our trip to Ushuaia. if there are any couples out there or friends that want to be in Ushuaia with Christmas or at the travellers meeting in Viedma, that would like to buy our bikes in Ushuaia or or Santiago, before we ship them back, please contact me.
CaperMike and Beverly, USA, Eastern Europe on two V-Stroms, in Italy,
"The ferry arrived in Venice at about 7:30 am. We disembarked and the trusty GPS took us right to our hotel, the Elite hotel which was a 20 minute bus ride to Venice. There is a 10% discount if you book this hotel through bikerhome.it but we didn't discover that until after we checked in. We had breakfast, did some internet work and a room became available early. We were fortunate to be able to get settled before our venture into the old town. Our goal: see Venice and take a gondola ride and get a picture.
The prices for a gondola at the square were stupid expensive - 200 Euros! We wended our way back away from the most popular areas and found a gondola for 70 Euros. Still too much but this was in line with what we learned was a going rate. The gondola ride was nice. The highlights from the gondola driver's point of view were Marco Polo and Casanova's houses.
We stopped in one of the many squares for something to eat. The people at the table next to us included two Asian women. One was speaking Italian with a Japanese accent. Then they switched to French, English and Japanese. Why they kept switching languages we do not know but we were thoroughly impressed. We started a conversation with a young couple sitting next to us from Barcelona. They too had noticed the languages spoken at the table behind us. We tried our Spanish with them. His dream is to take a motorcycle trip through Africa. We gave them the Horizon's website so he could dream a bit more."
Rockwell (Rocky and Paula), RTW, in Canada, KTM 990 Adventure,
"Arriving in Banff after enduring a bitterly cold rain, we found a Tim Horton's to camp out at for a while to rest, dry off and get warm. We waited for several hours for the rain to stop. It didn't. After about five hours of sitting, we decided to find a place to stealth camp. We found a suitable location on the outskirts of town, set up camp and endured a long, cold night.
We awoke the next morning to some breaks in the clouds that had been overhead for the past few days. The day was spent riding along the Canadian Rockies - to Lake Louise, Bow Lake, and up to the Athabasca Glacier. The scenery was awesome. The sun shared the sky with the clouds, and the temperatures cold, especially while riding. With nightfall quickly drawing upon us, we pulled off the side of the road to camp just outside the town of Field, British Columbia, a picturesque town of approximately 300 people situated along the snow capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains.
We were awoken in the middle of the night to a fierce thunderstorm. I was sure that the tent would be blown apart by the winds, but I was too tired to care, so I shut my eyes and went back to sleep.
Coming down in elevation the next morning, the sun began to shine and the temperature began to rise. We followed the route John had made up for us through Golden, into Revelstoke, and down along Upper Arrow Lake where we had our first ferry crossing. We continued along twisting and winding roads and beautiful scenery, and stopped just before sunset. We camped out in the park next to a lake in the small town of New Denver along the edge of Slocan Lake.
The next morning, the bike refused to start. My initial guess was that the battery was drained from charging all of our electronics the previous day, even though it was while Almeida's alternator was turning. The several attempts of fire up the engine were in vain. The battery just didn't have enough juice to crank the starter motor. Luckily, a neighbour, just across the street from the park where we were camped, heard us trying to start the engine and offered his assistance and his battery charger. After about fifteen minutes on the charger, I tried the to start the bike and the engine immediately fired up. We thanked our new friend, David, for his help, I put the bike in gear and we headed towards Grand Forks, British Columbia."
Ed. See Rocky and Paula's story and pics in the HUBB Ride Tales Forum!
Paul and Angie, UK, RTW, in USA, Yamaha XT660Rs,
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
"We met 6 other RTW motorcycle travellers who just happened to meet separately in Bamako. Rare coincidence in Africa."
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!
Our finances are dictating that we need to raise the registration fees for the larger meetings that we attend. 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 :)
We couldn't get to this meeting in Ober-Liebersbach, but feedback was excellent, and the weather in mid-October was definitely better than last year ;-)
"Hi Jens, Thank you for the excellent meeting! It was really nice to meet people from the earlier meetings as also new people. Presentations were excellent!" Hemuli, Germany
"Hej Jens, thank you (and all helpers) for this great weekend. Friendly people, nice roads and sunshine all the way!" Uwe, Sweden
"Thank you Jens for a great organisation ... we really had fun!" Heike, Switzerland
As usual, Jens did a great job of organising and making everyone welcome. Thanks from us too, Jens!
We did get to the USA California meeting in Cambria, venue was fabulous, overlooking the Pacific. We want to thank all our presenters, including Ted Simon, Dr. Gregory Frazier, Peter & Kay Forwood, Carla King, Clement Salvadori, Merritt & Pierre Saslawsky, Nicole Espinosa, Sherri Jo Wilkins, Tim Bussey, Zigy Kaluzny and many more. Thanks to all the volunteers, too numerous to name, you know who you are! Special thanks to Mike and Sandra Dimond for finding the venue, and all their hard work - not sure they knew what they were getting into! And thanks to everyone who came - you make it special!
Finally, thanks to all the vendors who attended and generously donated prizes for the raffle for Motorcycle Outreach, including Touratech USA, San Jose BMW, Schuberth, BurnsMoto, Altrider, Rugged Rider, RKA Luggage and Giant Loop, We raised $515 for the charity, so well done!
"I just learned about HU a month or so ago, and that gathering in Cambria exceeded my wildest imagination. What a great group of folks; what a great spirit in the air; what an encouragement to get out and go. Felt like I was in the company of several legends, each with their unique perspective/contribution to the good of the order." Gary Wegener and Joanie Tauzer
"Had a great time at the meeting again this year. Love the new location, hope we can have it again next year. Many thanks to the hosts and volunteers who organized the event and also to all the vendors. Grant and Susan of course, and the stellar presenters." Peter Dean
"Kathy and I have been doing this event stuff for 26 years now and I found the most unusual thing at this event. There was NO attitude of any kind from anybody. Everybody seemed to enjoy everybody else's company. The camaraderie was fantastic. Thanks for inviting RKA." Richard at RKA Luggage
More comments here on the HUBB.
Argentina - Viedma, December 8-10 2011 Registration open now!
Thailand, Chiang Mai Mini-meeting, 14 January, 2012. Registration open now!
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 only until 1 November 2011.
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 Dates and details still being finalized, planned for late September to early October.
California, 18-21 Oct, 2012 - TBC. Note: We are planning to extend this event by 1 day (starting Thursday) to accommodate the number of presentations!
Small 'local' HU Community meetings, often held in someone's backyard/garden/field for a barbie, or in a restaurant or local watering hole. Often held to welcome a traveller passing through, or just as an excuse to get together and keep the travel fires burning. Join, and contact your local Community to get a discussion started on where and when, then let me know and I'll post it here! OR just post it on the HUBB in the HU Events Forum.
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
"The adventure begins with the simple idea to get out and visit some out of the way places, meet some interesting people and take in some new experiences. It's about moving forward in a non-conventional way. While my route may pass along many notable landmarks, my hope is that the journey will take me to places about which I have never dreamed.
While the dream is to go around the world, the plan is to do it in segments. I'm naming this first segment 'Tejas a la Tierra'. Or in other words, Texas to Tierra del Fuego. My route may change based on which way the wind is blowing. Right now the plan is to start in Texas and head South... through Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Then I'll take a boat to South America. I'll continue through Colombia, Ecuador (with an excursion to the Galapagos Islands), Peru, Bolivia, Chile (with a stop at Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost place on the continent), Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Venezuela, French Guiana, Suriname and Guyana. Then I'll head back home to Texas. If I can swing it, I'll try to stop by Antarctica while I'm in the neighborhood.
If there is a place that you think that I should absolutely visit, please let me know and I'll try to check it out. And, if you have family or friends that might be willing to host me for a few days, definitely drop me a note. Que te vaya bien!"
Ed. See Troy's story and pics in the HUBB Ride Tales Forum!
"In early 2007 I was engaged, living with my Fiancé and planning to get married in 2008. I was pumping money into my 401k plan, which I could use for a house, and we were looking at registries and locations and all the rest. My father became sick that summer, passing away in August. In September I learned my fiancé had been sleeping with a co-worker from her job. By October the engagement was off, and she moved out while I was at Thanksgiving with my family.
That wasn't enough to change my vague idea of 'It would be cool to...' to 'I'm going.' That happened over one painfully memorable week.
I was working on an ambulance, and for one week it seemed I was doing nothing but Hospice or Palliative care transports. The patients didn't seem older than me, one was my age. And one, less than 10 years older than me, had been planning to travel with his wife. He had made enough money, they had bought a giant RV. Then he was diagnosed with cancer. Six months later he was in a drug induced stupor and going home to die. It was a nice house, the RV was covered with a giant tarp. The wife wasn't sure if she should still travel, or sell the RV and stay home. You dream to do something with someone, and lose the someone, do you also lose the dream?
I didn't really have a someone at the time. But I realized I had a dream, and time was slipping past me just as fast. So I would go.
The initial plan was just to ride the Americas, north to south and back, but as I looked at the trip more I realized there was more I wanted to see, if I could. So the trip became the Americas north to south, followed by 'we'll see.' Now it is to travel until finales force me to stop. Hopefully that won't be for a while, but however long it is I will enjoy the journey.
...When planning my route through Mexico I had one goal clearly in mind - Avoid Mexico City. I have heard wondrous things about this, one of the world's largest. Museums, buildings, things that you can see there that you just can't see anywhere else. But I had also heard about its traffic, its maze of streets, and its less than honest police force.
When I had changed my route to an inland, I had to pass close to Mexico City, there was just no way to avoid it. Sergio, in Puerto Vallarta when he was helping me build an inland route, had carefully explained how I should go around the city.
It didn't quite work out that way.
The day started off fine. The sun was shining and traffic wasn't bad. But the sun didn't stay shining. Somewhere I took a wrong turn and found myself in a small town off the route Sergio had given me to follow. Looking at my map, it looked like I could get back to it following a smaller road that wasn't labeled on my map. I found a road that looked to be the same one, and rode off. I felt better, since there were freight trucks on the same road, and they had to know where they were going.
They did. And I found myself in Mexico City..."
"In the beginning - July 2010 - we got married, and without having ridden since our one day in April, we embarked on a two-day 'bush tour' into the jungle in Cambodia while on our honeymoon. These fateful two days were probably the most exciting yet demanding, enlightening and inspirational days of our lives, that far. Riding two Honda XRs, we were led by our guide through the bush, through mud, paddy fields, and river crossings. The bikes were dropped an insurmountable number of times, particularly by the female contingent. However! We made it, we finished our two day trek with gleaming eye and the knowledge that we would never look back again.
On the 4th September, (five weeks late), we boarded the Grande Amburgo in Tilbury, London, heading for Buenos Aires. After much research and deliberation, we decided this mode of transport was by far the safest way to get us and the bikes, together and intact, to Argentina. This obviously relies on having several weeks on your side for the crossing. The potential for our bikes to get lost, damaged or left in another port was not something we wanted to deal with. Plus, the prolonged customs ordeal at the other side is something that can be avoided by riding-on, and riding-off the ship yourself. We helped strap the bikes down ourselves, and could rest soundly in the knowledge that they were only a few floors below us where we could keep an eye on them.
Having spent just under six weeks on the ship, we safely arrived in Argentina and followed the HU community advice straight to Dakar Motos in the suburbs of the city. Run by Javier and Sandra, this was the perfect introduction to life on the road, motorbikes, and the biking community.
Our journey is only just beginning. The 'vague' plan is to travel south through Argentina to Ushuaia, then back up through Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, Central America, USA, through to Canada. At this present time we think we will stop in Vancouver for a year or so, working and hopefully earning some pennies.
This adventure of ours may not be original, but for us it definitely is out of the ordinary! Nothing will ever be the same again, and we can only thank those in the biking community and HU who have helped us to realise our dreams and step out of the rat-race. The journey begins!"
Ed. You're very welcome, Chris and Chloe, well done and keep in touch!
"I left the UK on 28 July and since leaving the train in Calais the Family Truckster and I have travelled 10,883 miles (17,514km). We been abroad for a total of 68 days of which 51 have been spent riding at a daily average of 213 miles (343km).
Enroute, we passed through the following countries: France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Switzerland, France, Andorra and Spain.
After tonight, my last on continental Europe, I will have another night aboard a ferry in transit from Spain to the UK. When I return to London on Wednesday afternoon I will have been away for exactly 10 weeks - just what I told P I'd allowed for (lucky guess, that's all).
So in summary, 21 days to reach Turkey, 29 days in Turkey and 20 days to get back to the UK travelling through 21 different countries, 15 of them for my first time.
And the star of the show was the Family Truckster. Even though I had to replace the front wheel, it did not miss a beat. Mechanically and electronically it was faultless. The new tyres I put on in Poland will be replaced on my return to the UK with all but 10,000 miles on them in tough conditions including high temperatures and a bad puncture (there is still a slow leak). There are a few scratches but this is to be expected. The 3M paint protection I put on before my departure was a good investment although it appears I have scratched through this in a couple of places through my carelessness more than anything else.
You simply cannot take a bike on a journey like this if you are scared of scratching the paintwork.
It hasn't had a wash since Antalya in Turkey on day 43. It looks a bit tired now with about 500 species of bugs smashed all over the lights, windshield and fairing but it should clean up ok and look as a good as new again. Some sections of the paint protection film may need replacing as they have bubbled and lifted, but only a little. No rush to get this done.
Even though I don't want to count my chickens yet, I've made it unscathed. No real days of sickness (one day in Cappadocia I felt a little average) or worse, injury. The bike and me remained upright all the way (touch wood).
I have a certain amount of pride in completing a journey like this, even though many of the hard heads will say I did it the easy way. All on-road, not venturing into 3rd world countries, staying in hotels, new bike, good dealer network, lots of unnecessary trinkets, too much junk etc.
I don't really care - each to their own. If you want to make it tougher then great for you. I have still achieved something that a few years ago I would have not even thought about and many would not undertake - but it is easily achievable.
A very good friend of mine once said about university that the only prerequisite for graduation was enrolment. This is true. I think the same can be said about a trip like mine. Once you make a start you are bound to finish it in one way or another. But unless you start the trip will always remain in your dreams."
Ed. Good philosophy, Brett, and congratulations on your trip! See Brett's story and lots of great pics here on Horizons Unlimited!
"At Last. HM The Bike is back amongst its subjects - mud, sand, ruts, stones, holes, good dirt.
And when you go to Guildford by bike for radiotherapy, there's only one way home.
Starting here after the daily dose of sub-atomic particles:
Then continuing from Shere, taking London Lane, on the left by the cricket field. Yes, there's a hamlet called Little London just south of Shere. That was my first real ride on the TTR since Cape Town airport, so quite an occasion.
Although the recent MOT annual test was a bit of an adventure.
'What have you brought me here?' demanded the tester.
'I can't see whether these pipes are for petrol, brake hydraulics or rear shock adjuster. They're buried in a mess of oily sand and mud and look as though they've been leaking for months. But who knows? Maybe it's just oil off of the chain.'
'I've found a petrol tap here, buried in dirt, and the pipe seems to go nowhere!'
I explained it fed the open-ended stub of pipe clipped to the sub-frame, to fill my Coleman stove for tea in the depths of the desert. The look of bewilderment spread further across his face. We had a little chat about the softness of the sand on Tanzanian roads and he was kind enough to acknowledge, 'I know the last thing you want to do is wash all this good African dirt off your bike - but it's got to be done. I can't see what I'm supposed to be examining under it all!'
It's taken quite a few months to reach this stage although not much work was needed. Repair of the headlamp, new rear tyre, new bulb above the rear number plate. And now this.
For anyone considering such an overland journey, I can definitely now confirm that the hardest part by far of the whole undertaking, London to Cape Town, and air-freight back, is cleaning the bike when you return home so the tester can see it. But it's done at last, with the Green Piece Of Paper now in my hands.
It's Saturday now. The sun's shining, there's a day off from treatment, I think I'll continue where I left off yesterday and check out some more of those alternative routes."
Ed. Best wishes for your recovery, Ken, and keep in touch about your plans for the next trip ;-) Read all of Ken's trip stories and see the pics in his blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
"We are currently back in the Seattle area for the summer. We got jobs within days of coming home and we are now in the process of refilling the bank account so we can go back to Europe and be reunited with Charlie, our long-lost KTM. In the meantime, we are already antsy and dreaming of the day we get to ride across Africa with no deadlines in sight.
Back in Germany, thanks to our good friends Tobi and Louie, we were convinced that riding two bikes is the way to go. So, here we are, sitting at home scanning Craigslist daily for another 640 Adventure that will one day be my bike. Finally, we found a deal that sounded too good to pass up.
It was a 2003 KTM 640 Adventure. Exactly what we were looking for. It wasn't molested with aftermarket parts. Another plus. It had less then 750 miles on it. Perfect. It was basically a new bike that had been sitting in a garage for years. Even better, it was cheaper then any bike we had seen on the West Coast. That's right, it was for sale in Detroit, Michigan.
Even so, it proved too irresistible for us so, on August 27th, David flew out with all his riding gear and motorcycle luggage to buy the bike and ride it home over the next couple weeks. I'm super jealous that I'm not there but I've asked him to take pictures and try to keep me updated as much as he can. He emailed me this update to share. Enjoy!
...The previous owner was a very nice guy but didn't really have a clue when it came to maintaining a motorcycle. He let the bike sit with fuel in the tank and carb for the past 5 years. It took a lot of work to get the gunk out but now the bike is finally idling smooth and running as an LC4 should- like a jack hammer! I took out the gas valve because it was leaking. Still no solution there.
Oh, and thanks to John who picked me up at the airport and drove me to the bike, great guy! If you want to be awesome like John, go to horizonsunlimited.com and become a community member."
"Good morning, I recently completed a tour in North America, USA/Canada kicking off from Frankfurt. Hope you will find it interesting... My best regards, Vas"
Ed. Not many words, but lots of pics and video on Vas' site.
"At the beginning of May 2008 I left the UK for a around the world motorbike trip on my BMW F650 GS Dakar. So far, my route took me via Europe, Central Asia's Silk Route, South East Asia & Australia into South America.
When I first set out from the UK in May 2008, the idea was to travel to Australia and then return to the UK. But I've since changed plans to complete the 'around the world by motorcycle' circle.
After reaching the northernmost point of Alaska that's accessible by road (Deadhorse / Prudhoe Bay), I headed over to the East coast of the USA, where I delivered the motorcycle to the shipping agent near New York. The motorcycle is on its way to Europe.
The end of travels? Maybe - maybe not ;) Later this year, I'll meet with this_young_lady, who's currently on her way through Pakistan and Iran. If things work out well, we might team up & travel together from Egypt to S-Africa as of early 2012."
Ed Note: Photos are incredible. - One of Bjorn's photographs has recently been on display in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, printed 13 feet high. Be sure to check them out and you'll feel like you are there with him.
"I was often struck by peoples' surprise regarding the presence of a Harley in such rough country. And why not? I would query.
'After all the first motorbike to travel around Australia was an HD over 80 years ago, two-up and with a sidecar, where few (or no) roads existed.'
I do understand. Rough desert and bush roads are hardly within the common image of Harleys and (God forbid!) not at ALL within the scope of Willie G Davidson. Not too many sales to be made with Adventure Bike crowd.
And besides they are doing just fine in their traditional markets. I understand that nearly half of the big bike sales in this country last year were Harleys.
So then I got the shock/horror reaction to all those gravel roads being travelled on a belt drive bike. When I got a new tyre fitted in Darwin, the mechanic was aghast to find: 'Rob! You have two holes in your drive belt!'
'Actually, old boy, There are 3 holes. Been there for tens of thousands of kilometers. The Birdsville roads did not cause any new ones.'
Besides, I didn't add, I carry a spare belt. A relative virgin with only 2 holes. And I carry enough tools to change the belt at the side of the road if necessary.
I might have mentioned my only maintenance hassle of the trip: My left rear shock absorber (Progressive, after market fit) spat out its oil, and while it continued to work well enough, the oil ended up on the rear brake - and totally stuffed it.
And let me tell you this boys and girls: after such an event, Do Not spend money on cans of Brake Kleen. Because those pads are screwed. Just buy new ones, clean and roughen up the disc and Ride On."
Support Horizons Unlimited - check out the HU Souk for DVD's, map stickers, jumpers / pullovers, mugs, steins, t-shirts, hats and other products with a variety of slogans!
Thanks! Grant and Susan
We've now reached an amazing 695 Communities in 109 Countries as of Oct 13, 2011! A big thanks to all those who took the first step and established the Community in their area.
Alexandros Papadopoulos writes from Chile:
"Hi Grant, We recently had a couple of failures (Coleman stove tapped out, I dropped the water bladder while speeding down a mountain and killed it) and have therefore been reaching out to local HU communities for help.
We were both impressed with how the local HU communities have made a bunch of helpful people so easily accessible. Ping-Yi in particular is new to the whole HU experience and could not fathom such a thing existed.
Overall, you and Susan have pulled off an incredible feat - creating a global online community that is not too centralised, not too anarchic, not too autocratic, not too complicated or exclusive... I have been a member of many online communities for years now, some of them professional, some of them of enthusiasts, and all of them suffered from any of the above and invariably disintegrated after a while.
But the HU community is still kicking ass after all these years! So, an official well done, many thanks for making enjoying life via traveling easier for all of us and best regards from both of us from San Pedro de Atacama, Chile! (next stop: Uyuni) (*gulp*). Alexandros"
Ed. Alex and Pin-Yi are bicycling through Chile! Check out their story and great pics on Horizons Unlimited!
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.
Remember that although some HU communities are very small, many others 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 its 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.