Are you a TRAVELLER? Are you interested in tarantulas in your tent, kidnapped in Kazakhstan, skirting precipitous drops into the wet depths of Hades, running on donkey piss, up a steep muddy slope on an elephant's back, subverting Cuban national security, drinking petrol and burping pure gasoline fumes... and much more? Then you're reading the right newsletter!
Welcome to the 97th Edition of the overland travellers' e-zine! Summer has finally come, we've actually had shorts weather! The bike still languishes in the garage, though. It does need a lot of work, maybe we'll get out on it in August. Sigh! Most of our travelling this year is in planes and rental cars, ugh!
We'll be at BMW MOA in Oregon from July 18-20, doing a couple of presentations and catching up with various old friends. Then we're home for a month before we leave for Nakusp for the Canwest meeting Aug 22-25, after which the schedule gets a bit crazy! We'll be in Parry Sound, Ontario Sep 12-14, fly home and immediately drive down to Los Angeles, then fly off to Australia for the three HU meetings there - Dayboro in Queensland Sep 26-29;
Cavendish in Victoria from Oct 11-13; and
Yanchep, just north of Perth from Oct 18-20! Then fly back to the USA just in time for California Oct 24-27. Whew! Hope to see you at one of the meetings!
Looking at last month's issue I can see we were expecting to get wikis launched in June. Well, that didn't happen, falling somewhere in the cracks between recovering from HUBBUK 2013, preparing to launch HUBBUK 2014, and back-office support for the Montenegro, Ireland and Colorado meetings, plus day-to-day website stuff.
But it did lead me to think! Setting unrealistic targets and then beating ourselves up about what we fail to accomplish causes stress, and we need to reduce stress for Grant to shake this pericarditis thing, which has been lingering since February. :-( So I've decided we should stop putting dates on projects, we'll just announce them when we actually get them done! But enough about us!
Where are our intrepid travellers this month?
We've got great stories from Ecuador, Kazakhstan, Peru, Argentina, India, New Zealand, Angola, Laos, China, Kyrgyzstan, Tunisia, Bolivia, Singapore, Indonesia, Morocco, Jamaica, Cuba, Peru, Poland and the good old USA!
...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! We try to link to your blog/website if you have one. If you don't have a
blog, we can help,
and it won't cost you anything.
This newsletter is provided as a complimentary service for travellers everywhere,
both on the road and (temporarily ;-) off. Your support is greatly appreciated.
your editors, Grant
and Susan Johnson, (about us, contact us)
Mark and Carlie, Australia, Just out to get some milk - a three year RTW journey, in Ecuador, 650 V-Strom,
"...But things got pretty exciting pretty soon as the fresh road disintegrated into muddy slush, newly churned by the road workers currently taking shelter in last gas station for who knows how many more kms!
Now a small admission might be due here. I'm not so good on the dirty stuff. I like the fast corners, late braking cheap thrills of the black-top and the plan was to slowly ingratiate myself into the muddy stuff, especially with a fully loaded bike complete with a wife suffering my abuse at the road through the helmet intercom. The next couple of hours turned my pristine brand new motorbike into something I am kind of proud of, a real touring bike!
The road was a mess and the rain was falling as quickly as my mood. But somewhere inside my helmet came that voice that many adventure riders must hear, 'toughen up princess, THIS is the price the ferry man demands for future joy!' There are many different ways to look at overlanding. A fair-weather ride and take shelter from the rain or as an endurance contest. I am somewhere in the middle, I'll do what I have to to get the job done but I would rather conditions looked more like the motorcycle commercials on TV!
In my infinite wisdom (a phrase my wife will roll her eyes at), I missed the turn off to a supposed campsite. Now we were faced with a longer day ending in Santa Rosa around 8pm. It's only the first week and already I had battled the mud and dirt and broken my rule of not riding at night.
...Three days, numerous rain showers and uncountable close calls later we finally start the climb into the cloud forest where we had organised a week or so volunteering in a bird sanctuary/lodge. I should have taken more notice of the adjectives, 'cloud forest'. We met the man in the small, quaint, rain soaked town of Mindo who gave us directions to the lodge.
What followed was a road that made the previous muddy track feel like a German autobahn. Once upon a time it was the main road from Quito, the capital of Ecuador. This would have been around the time of the Romans I think. Now it was a slippery, muddy goat track skirting precipitous drops into the wet depths of Hades. At one point I think my training as a whitewater rafting guide came in handy."
"I always said it would be Kazakhstan that was the most likely place my bike would break. But only 2 hours into it was a bit extreme.
We negotiated the border crossing to Kazakhstan and left Russia without 'registering' our visas, a confusing law that may or may not have been necessary due to us travelling every day. The Russian customs guards thought about it, discussed it and then a truck driver pointed out the obvious to them 'They are on motorbikes'.
Then we had one of those encounters that changes the day, while admiring the view and having a wee a car pulled up. Three men got out to come and talk to us. They asked about the trip and where we were going to be staying in Semey. We told them and then Yergie, who could talk some decent English, called his brother and told him to meet us on the outskirts to guide us to the hotel.
As we parted, Yergie took my phone number and said 'Tonight, 6 o'clock, I call you, we go sauna'.
Sure enough, as we reached the police post outside the city a man was waiting for us in a Land Cruiser. He then proceeded to lead us through the outskirts. This was when my bike broke down. The engine cut out and the service warning lights came on. It restarted, but cut again. A quick battery test showed that the voltage was down and there was no charge going to it from the engine. Fortunately due to the wiring issues I had in the USA in 2010 I can bypass my headlight and turn it off. This enabled me to carry on riding to the hotel.
We had no Kazakhstan money on us, so Yergie's brother paid for the room and then took us to the bank. Once he had left, refusing to take the money for the hotel off us, we set about looking at my bike. Then some of the local bike club turned up, the Irradiated MC, Yergie knows them and sent the message I had a problem.
The bike club is called the Irradiated because Semey is in what is known as the Polygon, the area where the USSR tested nuclear bombs up until 1989.
There was still enough power to ride the bike to their clubhouse, where I was fed and watered while they tested my electrics, found a broken wire and fixed it for me.
Once fixed, it was back to the hotel to drop the bike off, collect Mike and jump in a taxi to return to the clubhouse, and start drinking. We have been kidnapped again.
Bike fix gang
One of our drinking partners was the deputy mayor of the city, he was very pleased to see us and kept proposing toasts. Another biker, from South Korea arrived and joined in. At some point I passed the limit and the rest of the evening is a blank, apart from one memory of being in a pool of very cold water. Mike tells me that Yergie turned up and we all went to a sauna, hence the cold water. I have no recollection of it. The next thing I remember is waking up in bed."
"...The ride is beautiful, we stop at every viewpoint and every village, it is a glorious sunny day and we happily play tourist and enjoy the sights. The village of Maca was particularly geared towards tourists but we stop and join in the fun anyway.
The tourist street of Maca
Ed. How unimaginably cute are these guys!
We spend another 2 days in our salubrious surroundings (in Arequipa) and visit the sites of Arequipa, including Museo Santuarios Andinos, home of Juanita the Ice Princess, the Monastero de Santa Catalina, a monastery citadel within the city founded in 1580 and countless other churches and squares. We really enjoy this cosmopolitan city with its fabulous food, glorious views and the ever present Misti Volcano visible from everywhere in the city.
Views from the Mirador Yanahuara with the ever present Volcan Misti
At this point we need to make a decision about which way we are going to go, do we head back to Chile or should we see a bit more of Peru in the dry season... flip a coin... more of Peru it is. So it is off to Nasca. We leave Arequipa with only a couple wrong turns and head towards the infamous Pan American Highway. Once we hit the ocean road it was a spectacular glorious ride that we both thoroughly enjoyed, the scenery is just beautiful and the road is a series of endless twists and turns along the sea cliffs for over 200 km. We also enjoy the sight and smell of the ocean, it has been a long while since we were at sea level and smelled the saltwater. The huge ocean swell comes straight in from the Pacific and just smashes against the shore and cliffs, ocean spray and mist fill the air for kilometres inland.
Our plan is to continue on to Nasca, but as we near Chala we realise that it is after 4.00 pm and it is still 200 km to Nasca. Helmut has told us of a nice little spot to stop called Puerto Inka just North of Chala so we decide to check it out. What a find. We can camp right on the ocean, the hotel has a restaurant and cold beer, what more do we need?"
"...We arrived in New Orleans on Friday night with a bang! Literally! As we peeled off the highway and cruised down the off-ramp, heading towards our hotel just a few blocks away, I felt the Big Fella shudder beneath me, and then a loud grinding noise came up through the engine! The vibrations rippled up my spine as the bike bucked under me...
I grabbed a handful of clutch and brake to disengage the gears and slow the bike down, but if anything, the noise got even louder... After 190 000 km, either the clutch or gearbox has finally called it quits. I pulled over to the side of the road in what can only be called a dodgy part of New Orleans, and began making frantic phone calls. It was after 6.00 pm before I finally managed to get an answer from a guy called David, who happened to be working late in his motorcycle repair business.
An hour later, he arrived with a trailer to take the Big Fella away. The bike was stuck in gear and no amount of pushing or shoving would disengage the gearbox. We off-loaded all my kit onto David's truck and then manhandled the bike up onto the trailer. Patricia had gone on ahead to check us into our hotel and was making calls to try and find someone to collect the bike and I."
Extreme Bike Tours - India, Rajasthan, Bhutan
"After getting to Puerto Madryn, the landscapes and roads - as well as the cities - became a lot more interesting, and still the Tranny performed fine. Driving into the foot of the Andes was spectacular as expected; and we actually took our first real dirt road into a National Park near Esquel. There, in the middle of the park, the unavoidable happened: the motor broke down for the first time! But it wasn't a puncture or something small like a faulty fuse - which we were prepared for - the motor just wouldn't start anymore after a short photo stop!
So there we were, no reception and no clue what to do. After hitting the start button just a couple dozen times, hoping that it would magically come to live again, we got the tools out and opened the Haynes Manual on our laptop. Side panels taken off, seat slid out, we were going through all possible options. What didn't help was that we had no idea where each part was at that time... 'The CDI unit? Where is it! Which fuse, 10A? It's nowhere to be found!' However, we managed to conclude these were not the problems and soon help came in the form of a complete Argentinean family spread over two SUV's. The pater familias took a look and assured us it was the battery - even though it was just one year old -, he had that problem with his own bike last year! He went off to find another motor to recharge our battery and came back with a police buggy which also had a 12V battery. Relieved as we were, we collected our tools, spare parts and motor clothing - basically just a small garage out in the open - in order to get going. However, juicing the motor didn't work at all and just produced some small clouds of smoke near the battery.
It was getting dark fast and we needed to get out of there. We tried starting the motor before by pushing it, but only in first gear with the result that the motor wouldn't turn over even a bit. Doing it in second gear worked though and soon we were on the road again, with something broken, but that could wait! However, after a short while we heard a clunky noise and had to stop again; this became a thorough test. The middle part of the center stand, which prevents the center stand from hitting the chain, broke off! This time around we dealt with the problem better and performed some regular magic with stones and old rubber tubes. Having bandaided the motor, we finally made it to Esquel and quite quickly drifted off to dreamland, where the motor was still in perfect shape.
Welding the centre stand
Encountering local people quickly is one of the great benefits of driving with a motorcycle in our experience and in Bariloche we quickly met an Argentinean engineer with his own hobby garage. We could weld the center stand there and were sent off to some shops and garages. However, it was Argentinean Easter, meaning that it was holidays from Friday until Wednesday, and almost everything was closed. So we decided to push the motor (to start it) all the way to Santiago, Chile; the next big city where we could find a good mechanic. Suzanne was surely getting her daily exercises now, pushing the motor every day a couple of times!
In Santiago we quickly found a mechanic via the HUBB and, after consulting the local HUBB community, let him fix the bike. Long story short, it turned out to be a broken rectifier. Sadly, on its turn that rectifier broke the battery because we kept on driving with it! Because our Spanish and technical knowledge was being tested at the same time, this took a couple of days. In the end the mechanic delivered good work and we decided to also let him clean and adjust the carburetors, after which Tranny was running better than ever."
On the road again!
"...First night of the trip we camped in Laventie, France. The owner spoke not one word of English, and his french had a very thick accent. I thought holy cow, if I cannot understand a man, from 30kms from the UK border, and after 'studying' GCSE French for 2 years, how on earth will I cope in the back end of Tajikistan.. I think I understood that he couldn't guarantee a hot shower in the morning as he would be milking the cows, or something like that."
No health and safety issues
Sneaking under the railway crossing. My bike is too tall to do this so I cause a traffic jam
Ferris Wheels Motorcycle Safaris are one of the pioneers of the motorcycle tour industry. We have been taking clients professionally to the highest road in the world several times a year since 1994; over 50 times now! Other exotic destinations include Morocco, Turkey, Bhutan, South America, and the Dalmatian Coastline.
All fully-detailed itineraries can be found at www.ferriswheels.com.au where you may also find countless client accolades and many press articles endorsing our tours over the past 15 years or so, and request our free DVD!
"Mount Taranaki sticks out like a sore thumb.. in a beautiful way! I've been riding through relatively flat land and I could see Taranaki for a good part of the day. This is one of the most symmetrical volcano cones in the world, however it hasn't produced any lava flow since the 1800's.
I followed the bottom half circle around the volcano as I tried to make make my south to Wellington but Taranaki kept calling me back. I'm lucky I didn't crash from neck strain, so I turned toward the volcano once again.
Further down the coast I saw these whale bones and I wondered what my motorcycle would look like inside a whale... as you do! So I turned around and would have made a nuisance of myself if I tried to put my bike inside with all the landscaping they've got in there. An outside photo will have to do."
Jo Rust, South Africa, Circumnavigating Africa, in Angola, BMW F650 GS Dakar,
"I phoned my friends in Ondjiva to notify them that I had arrived and would be waiting for them at their house. (Afrikaans couple from Zimbabwe) They got home from work a little later on. After greeting one another with big hugs and loads of questions we had dinner and sat catching up on what's been going on in our respective lives. And here is where the proverbial paw-paw strikes the fan.
There we were, sitting, minding our own business when next thing I know four guys storm into the house armed with a pistol a crowbar and some kind of spray which I suspect was mace/ pepper spray. They find tape in one of the drawers and tape us to chairs. I'm first in line so they're still very eager and almost use half the roll of tape on me. They tape my hands, my feet, my body to the chair and put tape all around my head to cover my mouth. They tell us to increase the volume of the television. (Guessing so no one can hear what's going on). They keep demanding money. (Dineiro in Portuguese).
Luckily... the police knew of my whereabouts and came checking in on me. Just as these guys were starting to really get agitated with us, the idiot with the gun took out a magazine to load the pistol, but then heard someone hooting at the gate. It was the Police! They took off into the night. We were able to break free and Hennie ran to open the gate.
Within the next 10 minutes about 5 cars filled with Police officers arrived on the scene and it was all pretty chaotic. They only took my phone! I was so relieved, knowing that they could've taken the bike and all my gear if they wanted to. And most importantly, we were okay! (My phone was replaced the next day). So from Ondjiva onwards I have had Police escort all the way, everyday. I am not allowed to move without informing the Police.
From Onjiva I made my way to Lubango, knowing that a very bad stretch of road lay ahead between Xangongo and Cahama. It's a 83km stretch, bad potholes, sand, you name it. The Police rode with me, all the way. In each town I am handed over to the next convoy who then escorts me to the next town, and so on and so on. The Chief of Police in every town has to literally sign me over to the next Chief of Police, and then I become his responsibility!"
Next Tour Dates: July 16 - 25, 2013 | August 09 - 18, 2013 | September 21 - 30, 2013
Experience the European Alps at their best on the Ultimate Alps motorcycle tour. This is the measure by which all other adventures are compared. Every mile of these roads, every menu, every hotel, every roadside, lunch spot and camera opportunity are etched in our memory, ready to be shared with you!
If ever there was a place on earth that was made for the eye, the camera and our bikes, it is surely the Alps. We have chosen the very best of those roads and selected the choicest hotels. We know what is here, this is our home, and we offer it to you! If you could take only one motorcycle trip in Europe in your life, this is the one we would suggest.
TOUR DESCRIPTION: START/FINISH: Mieming, Austria | NEAREST AIRPORT: Innsbruck | DURATION: 10 days vacation, 8 riding days | ROUTE: Total distance 1160 - 1370 miles (1870 - 2200 km). Daily rides 73 - 175 miles (116 - 280 km). The entire route runs on good asphalt roads. | ACCOMMODATIONS: Comfortable middle-class hotels with a special Alpine touch. | REST DAYS: Bolzano | HIGHLIGHTS: Lucerne, Matterhorn, Menaggio, Lakes Maggiore and Como, Lake Garda, Dolomites, roads and passes of the Western Alps.
Wolfi (Germany) and Ilta (Finland) and dogs, Sauerkraut and Tofuwurst (vegan bikers trotting the globe), BMW R1150GS Adventure and Suzuki V-Strom DL650,
"Friday 3rd of May 2013 we totally changed our lifestyle! That's when we started our journey around the world by motorbikes. Together with our dogs we want to see more than eighty countries and spend more than five years on the road.
The rough plan is like this. We will spend the year 2013 in Europe, one year Africa, one year South America, one year North America, one year through Siberia, Mongolia, Russia, Asia and the fifth year in Australia. During our journey, we are promoting a 'cruelty free world'. We will do so by helping animal shelters and sanctuaries. More to come on this topic..."
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! People who will encourage you, share their experiences and advice on how to do it!
Also, 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 and a roof over our heads! So thanks to everyone who comes!
We have a record 18 events this year! We're getting to as many of them as we can - looking forward to seeing old friends again and making new ones!
You missed it!
Montenegro - June 27-30, 2013. Near Kolasin at a park high in the mountains! Local hosts Blazo Milic and Tonko Nisavic had a great turnout of international travellers, heaps of presentations, a First Aid course, technical sessions and some great rides in a fantastic location! Our thanks to all who came, and especially to Blazo and Tonko for the huge effort!
"It was a marvellous experience and we like to thank all the speakers for filling our heads with countless plans, dreams, ideas and inspiration!" Sofie, from Belgium
See other comments and great pics in the HUBB thread here, and post your own pics!
Ireland - July 12-14, 2013. Enniskillen. Weather predictions are very good! Liam, Naomi, Jochen and the team have a bunch of great presenters lined up, including Sam Manicom. Online registration is closed, but come along anyway!
Colorado - July 12-14, 2013. Campfire and Ride Mini Meeting. Greg Frazier is hosting this event. Plan to RIDE! Online registration is closed, but come along anyway!
India - July 27-28, 2013. Motorcycle Travellers Meet India, near Bangalore. Santosh and friends are organizing the first motorcycle travellers meeting in India, which we hope will be a full-on HU event in 2014! Register here and help make it a success!
North Carolina - August 8-11, 2013, Stecoah, NC. The 10th Anniversary of this meeting will be hosted by Mike Kilpatrick, assisted by Steve Anderson. Online registration is open now!
Canada West - August 22-25, 2013. Nakusp, BC. We'll be there! Online registration is open now!
Kyrgyzstan Mini-Meeting! - August 31, 2013. Patrik Zimmermann is organizing this event. No charge, but please sign up here!
France Mini-Meeting! September 6-8, 2013. John Whyman (Pongo) and Mark and Gemma Herron (Gemmasun) are organizing this event in St Amant-des-Cots, Aveyron. See the HUBB post for details and to let them know you're coming!
Ontario Canada, September 12-15, 2013. New location on Lake Manitou near Parry Sound! We'll be there! Online registration is open now!
Australia QLD - September 26-29, 2013. Dayboro, Queensland. Shane Kuhl and Helen Black are the local hosts for the 10th Anniversary of HU meetings in Australia! We'll be there! Online registration is open now!
Australia VIC - October 11-13, 2013. Cavendish, Victoria, in the beautiful Grampian Mountains. We'll be there! Online registration is open now!
Australia Perth - October 19-20, 2013. In Yanchep National Park, near Perth. We'll be there! Online registration is open now!
California - October 24-27, 2013, Cambria. We'll be there! Online registration is open now!
Argentina, Viedma - first weekend in December usually - details to come.
Thailand, January 10-11, 2014. Chiang Mai - Greg Frazier hosts this event, which is expanding to 2 days - details to come! See the HUBB post for pics from the 2013 event!
HUBB UK 2014, June 19-22, 2014. Donington. Sam Manicom and Iain Harper host the premier event for overland adventure travellers on two, three or four wheels! Online registration is open now! Early birds are rewarded with the biggest discount, so make sure you register online before the end of August to get the best value. Watch the video from the 2013 event for a flavour of what to expect.
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. We love people who have done trips and taken pictures to come present, but we also are interested in practical how-to sessions such as roadside cooking, navigation/GPS, trip prep and planning, adventure motorcycling medicine, packing light, setting your bike up, bodging/bike maintenance, tire repair, communications/blogging from the road, photography, videography, self-publishing your story, self-defense, safe riding techniques, picking up your bike and off-road riding. 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 the Events page for more details on all events.
Hope to see you there!
Grant and Susan
"Laos was an unexpected surprise. We had heard bits and pieces about it from other travellers, about rough roads, river crossings and thick jungle. I was a bit wary on the ferry ride over the Mekong, especially after riding the muddy approach onto the boat. To disembark, the ferry staff had two big semis pull up right to the edge so that their weight would stabilize the boat while we rode off. Easy. The Laos side of the Mekong did not look as prosperous as the Thailand side with crumbling buildings and infrastructure.
...Two riders from Germany, Heike and Filippo had emailed us about which hotel they were staying in, so we found a room at the same place. The Sombounsub Guesthouse in Huay Xai was simple, but spotlessly clean, for about $12 per night. As we went for a walk to find a cold drink we ran into Sarah and Tony whom we had met at the Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers Meeting in Chiang Mai.
We sat down in a small restaurant for mango smoothies. They had just done the Gibbon Experience, and told us all about zip lining and staying in tree houses. Sounded amazing. We told them we were meeting Heike and Filippo for dinner, so they joined us. Sylwia, who had ridden up by herself from Chiang Mai because her Thai visa was expiring, was also there. Her riding partner, Jens, was still in Chiang Mai getting his Honda Transalp fixed. Seeing Sylwia's yellow BMW F650GS parked in front of the hotel made me feel nostalgic for mine, the same bike I had ridden through Africa.
What a great evening we had at the Hay Bow restaurant listening to stories about riding through India and Nepal. I hadn't laughed so hard in a long time. We ate an interesting potato dish for dinner, washed down with the local brew, Beerlao. Heike was a beer connoisseur and declared it to be very good.
An interesting carving in front of the museum
It rained heavily all night long, which was a bit of a worry as we had booked an elephant trek for the next day, January 30th. We had seen elephants in Africa, but they weren't for riding so we were really looking forward to this... When we climbed aboard it felt really tippy and our mahout, the elephant manager, told us to shift our weight to the middle. He rode on the neck and we headed into the jungle with two other elephants. It felt pretty comfortable and just as I was getting used to it, we approached a steep hill. I thought, we must be going around it somewhere because it looked too steep for the poor elephant to make it up. Our mahout told us to lean forward as we went up, the elephant carefully stepping up the muddy slope. It really felt as if we would tumble off with the angle of the slope but the elephant persevered with instructions being called out by the mahout and a few tugs at its ear with a stick.
Ed. Wow, does that look scary!
...We tuk-tuked over to an international clinic to have my leg checked out. It had been swollen since the kayaking incident, so I thought I'd better have it looked at. I got a complete blood test and was asked to return for an ultrasound the next day. The facility was a little rough around the edges, but to get the results of tests almost immediately, and have them in my hand to look at was impressive... Ultrasound results confirmed that I had DVT, deep vein thrombosis in a knee vein. The doctor said that as long as I took medication, I should be able to continue the trip. It would mean staying in Vientiane a bit longer, for more tests, but we were enjoying it here... We discussed how the trip would be impacted by the DVT and what level of risk was acceptable. Back at the hotel, I phoned my doctor in Canada at 11 PM, 9 AM Calgary time. He confirmed that the trip could continue as long as I got regular blood tests, was near consistent medical care and avoided high altitudes. Okay, so this would take the Himalaya of Nepal and northern India out of our plans. Also, how consistent was the medical care in rural Pakistan? Disappointed... The next day, it got even more disappointing. I received an e-mail from my travel medical insurance company, Europ Assistance. They indicated that repatriation was medically necessary for my insurance to keep covering anything DVT-related. We were floored. Was this the end of the trip?
So, we made the tough decision for me to fly home, get better, and then resume the trip in, hopefully, a few weeks. Europ Assistance checked my policy and said that as soon as I landed on Canadian soil, complete travel coverage would kick in again... Europ Assistance booked me on the first available flight. They needed to make sure that I had medical clearance from all the airlines and that each leg of the trip was in business class."
SILK RIDERS, Jo and Gareth Morgan's Incredible Journey in the footsteps of Marco Polo
Marco Polo's legendary journey overland from Xanadu in China to his home in Italy has fired the imaginations of travellers for 700 years. Even today, traversing the 20,000km Silk Road between Europe and the Far East is a perilous undertaking. But it sounded like just the challenge for Wellington economist Gareth Morgan and his intrepid wife Jo.
With five friends, they set off to travel the ancient route by a very modern mode of transport - motorcycle.
Starting from the historic port of Venice, the Silk Riders crossed some of the most remote, inhospitable and politically unstable terrain in Eurasia, from the Balkan states, Turkey and Iran through various 'stans to the isolated western reaches of China, and along the Great Wall to Beijing.
Get the book now at Gareth's World by Bike website, Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.ca or Apple Store
Moritz (hellcoder), Germany, Munich to Vladivostok, in China and Kyrgyzstan, Transalp,
"My stay in China was too short to say a lot, but compared to my first time in China (Yunnan), people in this province seemed to be a lot more friendly, I even got invited for dinner from a young waiter!
I guess you guys are interested in the following facts for my China crossing:
Time needed by the Guide to organize everything: 1.5 Month
Visa: I got my Visa in Islamabad, was not that easy, you have to show a lot of stuff and they made some mistakes in the beginning, but finally I got it (never say you cross with your own bike).
Guide: stays with you all the time when driving, but sometimes they might give you a bit of distance. I say 'they', because apparently it's not possible for a guide to be a guide and drive a car at the same time, so I had to pay a driver too.
Company used: newlandtravel, in general I can't complain, but I think there are cheaper ones (not a lot cheaper though).
One thing I really did not like was the included visit to some big Jade shop. This was pure advertisement (they get their commission), but I got free food and internet and didn't buy anything, so I probably shouldn't whine too much. It's just that I really really hate having a Guide ...and being carried to partner shops is one of the 1000 reasons why. Total cost: For the 3 days including hotels (no other bikers to share the costs with): 1700$
I understand everyone who thinks it's crazy to spend that amount of money for a 3 day crossing, but it was key to my planned route, no alternative ways exist. I don't regret it, it's quite a unique route that I've done on this trip, allowed me to see Mongolia too
Kyrgyzstan (7 days)
After exiting China without too much hassle, I arrived at the gates of Kyrgyzstan. This border was fun, I arrived in the middle of nowhere, not having seen anyone for the last 30km, at a locked wooden gate. Hello? Anyone there? *honk, scream, jump* *silence*
30 minutes passed until I saw someone in the distance slowly walking in my direction. He opened the gate, not saying anything, pointed out that I should follow him to a old soviet-style building, he took my passport and 1 minute later I was free to go, 'Welcome to Kyrgyzstan' were his first and last words. I think that was my fastest border ever.
Nowadays most countries don't even need a visa for Kyrgyzstan anymore, but I was there about a month before they waived the requirement.
Which is okay, because I had a great time with the Kyrgyz Ambassador in Islamabad. Before handwriting my visa, for ~2 hours he told me stories about prostitutes, alcohol and some lake that magically loses water.
...the bike was not running fine for the last few hundred km, on neutral it often died, I thought it might be a problem with the carb, so I let some friendly maintenance guys clean it, apart from an ant there was nothing noticeable wrong. Problem wasn't fixed, I asked then if it could be bad petrol, they laughed and answered 'Kyrgyzstan no petrol, only donkey piss'.
Good, problem understood, so we could continue having some booze.
Kyrgyzstan is for most people in the world (not the HU crowd...) a totally unknown country, but it's beautiful, full of mountains, people are great and food is delicious. I really had a good time there (supermarkets had three big fridges full of different beer, quite a difference to the Islamic countries I crossed before). That was not my last time in Kyrgyzstan! Highly recommended!"
"...It's our last camp in the northern Sahara and during the night, the wind really picks up leaving any of the sounds we normally hear silenced by its steady roar. When we wake, everything is covered in sand. Even the inside of the tent has a fine layer of sand covering everything – including us! The burn in my throat is now accompanied by a persistent cough which I've noticed in many of the people living here. As we prepare to pack, a couple from a nearby 4×4 say good-morning and a quick chat turns into a couple of hours talking over coffee and sweet chocolate biscuits they've brought from Italy.
Mahmoud and Layla are guides working in Libya, Tunisia and Algeria and have some wonderful stories they gladly share with us. She's Italian and he's Tuareg – properly Tuareg he assures us – from Libya. He makes the clarification since a fair number of people in the area dress in the beautiful indigo tagelmust (or cheche) that the Tuareg traditionally wear but lack the actual lineage. As they speak, it's beautiful watching the cultural influences this pair have made upon one another; from the colorful garments and hair wraps on Layla, to the occasional hand gestures from Mahmoud that are unmistakably molto Italiano.
Always sporting a massive smile, Mahmoud captivates us with stories of an entire life spent in the desert. Recounting his experiences of the great challenges and rewards of such a life, he takes us through some of the desert survival techniques he's learned from years of helping expeditions through the Sahara. He explains that the tagelmust is not simply a cultural style, but a tool that serves many uses – as does everything they carry. From dissipating heat and shielding the face from blowing sand to providing a means of drawing water from deep wells, it's an essential bit of kit for the desert nomads.
It's a great morning (and education) spent with two wonderfully paired people – it's a remarkable life they've built for themselves here. It's not every day we get to spend a morning talking about drawing water from a radiator to survive, or how leather tassels can keep flies away and help you find your keys in the sand!"
'You'll be taking on some of the finest enduro terrain in the world. With an expert team at your side you'll pass through jungles, cross the Mekong, climb mountains and stand in the shadows of the ancient temples of Angkor.'
"Bolivia feels tiny in comparison to Peru and we're making good ground. These people have nothing but huge grins and even bigger hearts. I started to grow fond of Bolivia's people which was tarnished only by another bent copper who pulled us over waving a device he claimed to be a speed gun.
We'd been stopped on numerous occasions in Bolivia but up until now they had all been decent enough guys interested in what we were doing. We were speeding and this guy was well within his rights to pull us over but I could see from the word go that he was a nasty piece of work who wanted more than the value of a speeding ticket. He asked for my licence, I handed him my old expired card. He couldn't speak English and wouldn't be able to interpret it anyway. He asked for my passport, I handed him a laminated copy. He then informed me that he didn't have the necessary paper work to fine a foreigner on the side of the road and that in order to pay my fine we would have to ride all the way back to a town over 250km away.
I knew this wasn't how it worked as I had been stopped no more than 100km earlier in the day. The previous officer had warned me of corruption in the Police Force and that I should always take note of the officer's ID number before involving myself in any conversation. He didn't have a vehicle and he didn't have my legit paper work so I knew I could ride off at any point and leave him standing but I was interested to see how this one played out. He mentioned how we could solve this with an on-the-spot fine but it would have to be $60 USD for each rider. A little on the steep side given the average monthly salary in Bolivia is short of $400. Once I had made it clear I was making a note of his I.D. number his colleague instructed him to give me my paper work back and let us ride on without needing to pay a penny."
"...in NYC we took the subway to Battery Park and a visit to the World Trade Center Memorial. It will be a beautiful place in the center of the new towers when it's done. Currently it is a bit upsetting how they have made this into such a commercial enterprise (gift shops etc). The design is a bit eerie also with the water falling into a deep hole to nowhere. The first of the 7 towers is open and the second much taller is well underway. The 'survivor's' tree is the only tree that remains from the original WTC site.
We then did a walking tour of Lower Manhattan starting at Bowling Green where the famous Bull is located and behind this is the beautiful 1907 US Custom House. At Battery park nearby is the WTC sphere recovered from the wreckage."
Clancy Centenary ride - an update by Greg Frazier:
"In 1912 Carl Stearns Clancy and his riding partner Walter Storey set out to become the first motorcyclists to 'girdle the globe.' Using two of only five Henderson motorcycles produced by the famed Henderson Motorcycle Company in 1912, the duo left Philadelphia and started their land trip from Dublin, Ireland.
After a frightful crash on Day 1 and miserable weather in October and November, Storey left the 21 year-old Clancy in Paris, and Clancy soldiered on alone.
Clancy at the beginning
100 years later...
...Our group managed to finish the USA leg of The Clancy Centenary Ride, 5,600 miles from San Francisco, where we had left on June 2, with a 'Mission Accomplished' feeling. Soon after we parked we were surrounded by well-wishers and photographers, all wanting quotes, photographs or autographs. It was a media frenzy which lasted about 20 minutes until we had to leave the unauthorized parking zone we had taken over. (the photograph) below shows our group at Pennsylvania Station, from where Clancy and Story departed in 1912 on their global circumnavigation.
...me holding the pennant from Feargal O'Neill and Joe Walsh which had been carried around the world. When Anna Livermore, also holding the pennant, asked what I was going to do with it, I told her I thought it was deserving of another trip around the world, which is what Richard Livermore and I are beginning."
"Here are some of our favourite shots from this fantastic city (Singapore). What a change compared to the rest of SE-Asia. Everything is efficient, organized, clean - and the architecture is simply amazing. Also a great mix between old and new, and between different cultures
We did some nice riding around Medan today together with Marko... only two days in Indonesia so far, and we really love it!"
"...When we drove into Meknes for the first time we did not notice what a gem this place actually is as all we wanted was getting to Marrakech as quick as possible. It's one of the places I would definitely visit again.
Meknes, Morocco - city walls
On the way back we unexpectedly had to extend our stay because Harry was not feeling well . He was feeling fine when we walked up to the medina on the evening we arrived and but we think there was something in the salad that did not agree with him.
Meknes was once the capital of Morocco under the reign the mighty Moulay Ismail in the 17th/ 18th century. The place is much smaller than the Djama el Fna in Marrakech but full of life and cafes where you can relax and watch the world go by.
There are all the gates that lead into the souks and unlike the markets in Marrakech there were almost no Europeans wandering around.
The atmosphere is more relaxed and when we sat there the night before the local kids were brought there by the parent for a ride on the donkeys, ponies or a spin in little electric cars.
I dived right into the souks and a world of colour, the smell of spices, sweets, secret beauty potions and food from all corners of the country open up in front of me .
Fresh dates, dried apricots, figs lemon and almonds, large varieties of nuts, spice, herbs and huile d'Argan were sold in the lane with olives, pickled lemon and fresh herbs... Butchers selling fresh cuts of lamb and goat, fish mongers and the chicken were still alive when they were sold."
Gene and Neda, Canada, 'Lightcycle', RTW, in Jamaica and Cuba, R1200GS and F800GS,
"We didn't stay in South America for very long. After only 9 days in Cartagena, we loaded the bikes back on the Stahlratte and set sail into the heart of the Caribbean sea. First stop: Jamaica, mon!
We're doing this leg of the trip by wind power only, which lends a very different flavour to our journey. Whereas the Panama to Colombia run was a regular commuter run; with the sails up and the engine off, it now felt much more romantic, harkening back to an older method of transportation.
...Four days is a long time to spend cooped up on a ship with 21 other people, especially for a bunch of landlubbers like us. As we arrived into Port Antonio, on the north shore of Jamaica, the passengers were itching to get off the boat, pacing the deck and climbing the ropes to get a better of view of where we'd be after we cleared customs.
This is how we treat immigration officers on the pirate ship Stahlratte...
...At the marina, the immigration police came on board and upon seeing us swinging out on the ropes and diving into the harbour, one of them takes off his shoes, gun and cellphone and decides to swing out into the waters himself!
...We're spending 6 days in Jamaica, but unfortunately our bikes can't come with us. There is an engine size restriction for importing motorcycles, and besides, Port Antonio isn't equipped to handle vehicle importations. Most of the passengers rent vehicles or take buses to tour the island. I used to work in Jamaica, so I've already seen most of it. Neda and I spend most of our time in Jamaica touring the different beaches on the north shore near Port Antonio.
Yes, that sign does read, 'Do Not Jump'...
...We booked the Stahlratte for our Darien Gap crossing around Christmas-time last year after hearing how quickly spots get filled up. However at that time, we also found out that the ship continued on after South America to travel around the Caribbean Sea up to Cuba. So we thought "How cool would it be to ride our motorcycles around CastroLand?". The answer, of course, is "VERY COOL!". So here we are back on the Stahlratte, sailing less than a day away from Jamaica, ready to deposit our bikes on the shores of Cuba.
...We spent most of the morning waiting for the immigration process to unfold, already a familiar procedure with the Cartagena and Jamaica landings. A couple of new wrinkles - a couple of very cute drug-sniffing dogs were brought on board and they went through the entire ship looking for banned substances: cocaine, marijuana, explosives and the highly illegal GPS receivers! Yes, we were told we had to leave our Garmins on board. I think the reasoning is that because the GPS satellites are a US military tool, it could be used to subvert national security? Oh well, Google Maps already did that...
GPS technology was not the only controlled technology, we were told that access to the Internet was also tightly enforced. I guess the Internet did come out of a US DARPA project.
Finally, our bikes get to come out and play
...We don't get very far from Santiago on our first day, we're too busy lollygagging. Over the communicators, we yell at each other, "Cuba baby!" So excited to be riding here. Along the way, there are lots of roadside vendors selling fruits and my favorite snack in Cuba: Cucurucho. It's a mixture of coconut, honey and a bit of dried tropical fruits all wrapped up in a cone of palm leaves. Our trip in Cuba so far has been positive, but things were not going to stay that way for long..."
Twisties! We stop for a snack
As a thank you to our loyal e-zine subscribers, we are giving a 15% discount on any Store order over $20. The discount code (enter when you checkout) is 'ezspec' (case is unimportant).
Road Heroes - Motorcycle Adventure Travel Tales, 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). Not to be missed!
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.
This insanely ambitious 2-year project has produced an informative and entertaining 5-part, 18 hour DVD series: "The ultimate round the world rider's how-to DVD!" MCN UK.
The series features interviews with veteran travellers, such as Ted Simon, Austin Vince, Greg Frazier, , Chris and Erin Ratay, Peter and Kay Forwood, Tiffany Coates, Sam Manicom, 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.
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 $139.00. "The series is 'free' because the tips and advice will save much more than you spend on buying the DVD's."
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!
If by some chance you've never heard of the Achievable Dream and Road Heroes DVDs, you can see the trailers and read the comments for all the DVDs here.
Nick Jones, UK, (klous-1), Tales from the Saddle, in Bolivia,
"At camp on day two, I'd noticed that the number plate of the bike was breaking at its mounts thanks to the continuous vibrations from bumping over the corrugations. I'd tightened the nuts and put a zip-tie through one of the holes as backup security. Today, thirty kilometres out from camp and trying my best to fill a memory card with honking flamingos I notice that the zip-tie is there, but Houdini the number plate has gone! Mieeerrrrrrde!
Ride this three times....no problem!
I go through my morning photos to see when it was last in place, and the only photo I can see the plate still fixed to the bike is at the salt-lake; hanging from the zip-tie. This means that it is somewhere between me and a point 2km from camp. Who knows; it could be just over there, 500m away, or it could be 28km. It makes no difference, I don't have the fuel to get it in either case. This said, I can't leave it, I'll have problems at borders and checkpoints without it. It means I'll have to ride the 40km remaining to Quetena, fuel up, then ride the 60km back in the hope that no one has picked it up... then return back to Quetena again, another 60km!
Llamas grazing in the lovely mossy channel, Uturunco in the background at 6008m.
'Huhhh, bollox,' I sigh as I slump in to the saddle, 'you idiot.' I pop the helmet back on and slip in my glasses, which scrape painfully against the side of my head and look up. To the left and far off to the right ahead I can see cone-shaped snow-topped volcanoes, amongst them the highest in the area, Uturunco at 6008m, purple and black. I smile, I'll happily ride this twice! The road tends to the left towards the lesser volcano, and then drops very steeply into and then across a deep-cut and gorgeous sandstone water channel. When it rains the water must rush down from the un-vegetated sides of the volcanoes and down through this channel. But for now, during the eight months when hardly a drop of rain will fall, it is a broad and gentle, spongy green stream teeming with grazing llamas and their indigenous female herders.
To the left, and continuing on across the channel, brilliant!
There are two villages with the name Quetena; Quetena Chico and Quetena Grande, ironically Chico is the bigger, but it is Grande that I come to first. On either side of the road are crumbling adobe homes, turning to dust in the dry heat of altiplano daytime. Places like this make me think of Egypt, or Sudan, some ancient ruins, and yet lived in. Camels wouldn't look out of place. A biker does, though perhaps only a little here, and soon a friendly man comes over from stacking pale adobe bricks, making a house next to the village square. He rubs his dusty builder's hands on his blue shirt and shakes my hand. We chat, always his tongue poking out to one side of his cheeky face as if in perplexed thought. Perhaps though, it's my Spanish, or because we have to speak Spanish at all and not his first language, Aymara.
'Where are you from?' he asks going to peer around the back of the bike,
'England.' (it is only rarely that people know UK' or Wales').
'England! Hey, you've got no plate?'
'Yeah, it fell off back there!'
'But why didn't you go and get it?'
'I couldn't! I don't have any fuel. Actually, it's why I'm here, I'm going to go back now. 60km!'
'60km....' he ruminates, perhaps the number means little to him.
'Yeah, ummm... I think it's near the salt-flat.'
'The salt flat! Puhff, that's a really long way!'
'Not as far as England!'
'How far is that?' he says, ruminating again.
'Depends, about sixteen hours.'
'You rode sixteen hours on a bike!?'
'No, that's in a plane... it's about 9000km. You can't drive it, it's over an ocean.'
'Pufhh! Nine-thousand! Well, anyway, I've got some fuel. Head over there,' he says pointing across the square, 'and I'll come over in a second.'
'What that one there?'
'Yeah, the shop.'
I trundle over, not quite sure where he means, I don't see any shops, not one and don't want to look a wally, hard as that is. But soon he is there again, with a smile, a good smile, that tells me that I'm in good honest hands, which now point the way, 'Go on, go on!' guiding me in. I ride into his dusty courtyard which resembles a miniature refuse dump; toys and bicycles, bits of car, an old motorcycle, animal skins, plastic bottles. He sends his little five year old nephew off in his dirty sweat-pants to search the village for some bread. After a long while, the bike still empty, Alfonso, the man, gets his wife to make me 'tallarin,' spaghetti with chunks of beef, pepper and onion. We eat together at a rough wooden table in a small and dark cave-like room of the house. In the room, a hammock is occupied by a sleeping baby niece, which the woman swings reflexively. A double bed, a wood oven and wood stove, and a TV complete the house.
Alfonso and his Jawa 350cc two-stroke! A lovely, lovely man.
Alfonso does have a shop too, which his wife runs. At regular intervals, people poke their faces into the darkness of the house to ask for laundry soap, cheese or sodas from the shop, though usually the answer is 'there isn't any'. I need to stock up myself and go inside to look, though like all altiplano shops the shelves are filled with only sweets, biscuits and tinned food (no problems for me then!). The nephew eventually returns, though sadly empty handed, the village is out of bread and so he continues his game of driving a plastic truck beneath my motorcycle. I'm given some of the family's own bread and I argue with Alfonso about this, not wanting to take their food but they insist. It's unleavened, and made with fat instead, to resemble a puffed up cream-cracker; free, fresh and yummylicious.
I thank Alfonso and tell him that I'll be back tomorrow morning needing more fuel if he can spare it - and more yummy bread. I then start back up the road up to the higher plain via the llama canyon, towards yesterday's camp and hopefully the number plate.
Hell's teeth! Pushing again in thin air at around 4500m.
Now though, that steep descent on my way here is a steep ascent and actually a much steeper one than I realised. It's too steep for Rodney and even with a ferocious run-up the bike won't even start up it. The hill is long, continuously steep and a little rocky."
"...when night fell, it was time to hide away. Time to crawl under a blanket as fast as possible and don't go out until morning. Yes, I was getting closer to the Equator, the weather could only get warmer, but at the same time, I was climbing higher and higher in altitude. The nightly chill followed me into Bolivia and though the scenery was getting even more beautiful (Bolivia is kind of the undiscovered beauty of South America), it was getting colder and colder. On my way to Uyuni, night caught me in a smallish town called Atocha. Over time, I've created a category for this kind of town, I call it 'ghastly little mining towns'. They give you a much deeper insight of life in the country outside of the tourist circuit but the regular comforts that I've come to expect from city life are non-existent. I checked-in at the better looking *hotel* without even realising that the name meant that it was right next to the train tracks.
...But the train stopping next to my window and blowing the horn multiple times at 1AM wasn't the worst. The worst part was that I had to sleep inside my winter sleeping bag. Partly because I didn't want to touch the bedsheets but mostly to avoid freezing to death during the night. It was also the most expensive accommodation I paid in my whole stay in Bolivia.
Eventually I woke up the next day in good enough health to ride to Uyuni and enjoy the incredible views of the altiplano. I almost didn't survive the electrically heated shower (proper insulation being one of those comforts we've come to expect from civilisation) but that's just a small detail.
Crossing the Titicaca
...It was also freezing at night. A side effect of freezing night and unheated hostels is that the common room quickly becomes a place where you don't want to be and everyone is sleeping by 10PM.
It's getting late and I ride to Colombia tomorrow so the rest of this post will just be pictures of other beautiful places where I froze my ass. Suffice it to say that I was getting tired of being cold and breathless (for lack of oxygen) but stayed at high altitude because, paradoxically, I didn't want to miss any of the breathtaking scenery that Bolivia has to offer. Also, because most of Bolivia isn't very close to the sea."
On the Death Road
by Sam Manicom
| The latest Adventure Motorcycle travel book by the
legendary Sam Manicom
Motorcycling the magnificent landscapes of Mexico, the USA and Canada. 'Sidetracked by the Unexpected'
'One of the World's leading Motorcycle Authors' - Motorcycle Sport and Leisure
'Sam's descriptions are in Technicolor.' - The Riders Digest
'Inspirational reading.' - World of BMW
'Superbly entertaining travel writing.' - BM Riders Club
'Few travel writers can conjure up sights and smells so provocatively as Sam.' - Daily Record - Scotland
Signed copies available directly from the Author here.
Order your copy now! Be sure to tell Sam where you heard about him!
"...So, after we spent 2 extra days in Tierra del Fuego because of the wind, this time we are 'stuck' here because of the rain. It's not actually a problem, good talks, excellent asado and grandma-made empanadas make for a nice Sunday spent in house. And sun comes out fast in such company so the second day we are ready to hit the road, not before receiving another amazing gesture of good faith from Daniel: when talking about Buenos Aires and the traffic there, Daniel knew that our GPS was broken for some time now, so he wants to make sure we don't get lost in the big city. So, he wants to give us his GPS for the remaining of our trip in Argentina. 'It's OK, you can send it back with a bus before you leave Argentina.' We were speechless. What's there to say other than a big thank you. With Daniel's GPS with us it's less likely we get lost (ya, right) so back in the saddle. Goodbye, lovely family!
...Pressing on, there are signs explaining the 'rules'. Humans on one trail, the snakes on the other. Hmm what about the humans who behave like snakes? But enough with that..."
Motocare Motorcycle Rental, hiring Honda's Transalp for touring Argentina and Chile. Ride across the Andes, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, lakes, deserts, salt pans, waterfalls, beaches, rain forests, glaciers. Motocare Argentina
"...When packing our gear the next day, I was startled by what I thought was a little school girl screaming, I turned around and saw Gavin peering into his tent in horror. He had left his tent door open while we were eating the previous night and he had spent the night in his tent with a large hairy tarantula. The spider presumably had been creeping around Gavin as he slept.
We decided we needed to share some fuel in order to make our destination. We tried syphoning fuel from Gordon's bike, but the tank was too high and his hose not long enough. But while doing so I sucked in a mouthful of petrol and swallowed it. I tried to get it up but it wouldn't come. I felt a severe burn in my gut. In hindsight I really can't believe we hadn't just pulled off the supply from Gavin's carburettor instead, but Gordon had pulled out his syphon pipe before we had really considered the situation. So syphoning it was. (Having read that a third time it seems a bit risqué and maybe a bit gay). (Note to Ladies: we are all hetero single men, rough and ready, and dirty..)
Hmm.. this tastes pretty good..
With some more fuel in my tank, and some in my belly we headed on. We were soon climbing again and skirting along the edge of a beautiful mountain range. We could see the crumpled landscape falling away and unfolding as far as the eye could see to the west. The drop was almost sheer and fell away for hundreds of meters. As I drove I was burping pure gasoline fumes and the taste in my mouth was sickening. It had started to rain slightly when myself and Gavin had pulled in to take some photos and that's when Gordon came coasting along behind us.
What a day..
Gordon's choice of motorcycle for the trip was rather unfortunate as he had evidently chosen a motorcycle that did not work in the rain! This was perhaps the third time his bike had just decided to stop mysteriously in the rain. We spent a half and hour on the side of the road trouble shooting his problem. The problem we deducted was that the vacuum operated fuel valve in his tank was not opening. This didn't seem to fit with the theory of it being caused by rain but Sod's Law dictates if your motorcycle should stop for whatever reason well it might as well rain too, just for good measure. After removing the tank, very scientifically shaking it about a bit the fuel started to flow again. We were soon on our way again but only after I tried to puke up the petrol I had drank, which didn't work. I was destined to burp gasoline for the next 2 days!
...An hour later we reached a road block. A road crew were cutting a trench directly across the road from the inner the cliff wall right to the outer side of the drop off to the cliff. There was no way around. We approached them and they were pretty dismissive of us initially telling us we couldn't cross and to turn back. But using my best (or worst) Spanish I managed to crack a few jokes with them and they soon warmed up to us. A few moments later we were dragging planks from the back of their truck to span their trench to allow us to cross. Gordon was first to cross followed by Gavin and then myself."
Become a Horizons Unlimited Contributing Member or Gold Member!
To help with the cost of creating and distributing the newsletter and running and maintaining a huge website and forum, which has been a full time job for Grant for ten years, Susan for almost 4 years, plus occasional part time assistants, we gratefully accept contributions via PayPal, credit card, and cheque.
Finances have been especially tight this year, so we are grateful 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!
Become an HU Contributing Member!
||$20 Contributing Membership Payment:
|$45 Gold Membership Payment:
Your choice of amount Payment:
All contributions will be acknowledged and appreciated.
Please Support our Advertisers
Our advertisers and sponsors help
us to make the website and e-zine available to you. We hope you'll check out
their products and services and if you plan to buy these products, please start your purchase from
our site or links. If you do use the services of one of our advertisers/supporters,
we hope you'll let them know that you're buying from them because of their
support for HU - and of course that they have a great product or service! :)
If you 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.
More ways to support your favourite website!
Thanks, Grant and Susan
Support Horizons Unlimited - check out the HU Store for DVD's, map stickers, calendars, t-shirts and more!
As a thank you to our loyal e-zine subscribers, we are giving a 15% discount on any Store order over $20. The discount code (enter when you checkout) is 'ezspec' (case is unimportant).
Muchas Gracias! Grant and Susan
"When I crossed the Polish border the joy overwhelmed me. I'm almost at home, I can almost say 'succeeded'. But with cheers of joy I have to wait more than 300km because I decided to stay last night of this trip in... Poznan.
The city surprised me very pleasantly compared to Berlin. Old Town is beautiful, full of clubs, cafes, young people. On all sides you hear languages from around the world.
P.S. The day before I got an email from another Polish rider who wanted to meet me somewhere near the Polish border. I sent him my number via e-mail, but then I quickly jumped on the bike and I was going ahead without a stop. Suddenly the reserve light in my VanVan I passed some 'strange stations' where I didn't want to stop. I started riding on the fumes, until suddenly I found a large station and what I see!?! I hear horn, someone waving to me. It was Mark who spent at the gas station nearly two hours waiting for me to just shake my hand and congratulate the expedition. It was a VERY nice gesture from a complete stranger.
(If not the lack of the gasoline I wouldn't probably stop because I didn't read a text message from him, as you can see life directs us, so that certain events could take place).
12 000 km!
All good things come to an end... Last night I couldn't sleep as if I subconsciously felt that as I fall asleep then this whole trip will be just a dream... that I dreamed about those 48 days which I spent on the road and they will blur like a fog. And I will be still sitting with the atlas on my desk and dreaming of Riding Across Europe. But in the morning I woke up with a big smile on my face, Suzuki VanVan had on his counter more than 13 000 kilometers (which meant that I realize my dream.
To the city (Warsaw) I entered on the VanVan singing the song of Czeslaw Niemen 'Dream of Warsaw'...
My dream has crystallized. In Warsaw despite the cold I was greeted 'warmly' by a group of friends. There was champagne, flowers, applause, cheers and tears of happiness. Thank you all for your support, for your help, for accompanying me on this trip... I felt your presence at every kilometer!"
Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!
Looking for a travel book for someone special?
Here's a few of our favorite picks! Check out our Books
pages, where we have listed hundreds of the best motorcycle
travel books, as well as overland travel stories, BMW
books and travel guides.
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
Channel Islands to Cape Town by Motorcycle
by Sam Manicom
"Whether he's thrust into a brutal jail cell in Tanzania, being shot at, or knocked unconscious in the Namibian desert, this eye-opening tale catapults you into Africa. He lives in a remote village, escapes a bush fire and climbs a mountain. This is a captivating book."
Old Man on a Bike: A Septuagenarian Odyssey
by Simon Gandolfi
"Outrageously irresponsible and undeniably liberating, Gandolfi's travels will fire the imaginations of every traveller, young or old."
Tea with Bin Laden's Brother
by Simon Roberts
"Evocative, honest and inspiring, it's all brightened up by a great design and amusing comic book graphics which all help set Simon's book above the average motorcycling travelogue". Chris Scott
Mi Moto Fidel:
Motorcycling Through Castro's Cuba
by Chris Baker
"A unique, exhilarating solo adventure into Cuba astride a cherry-red, 1000cc BMW Paris-Dakar motorcycle."
Motorcycle Adventurer - Carl Stearns Clancy
by Greg Frazier
"The longest, most difficult, and most perilous motorcycle journey ever attempted." In 1912, there were no GPSs, ATMs, Internet, and often no gas, roads or motorcycle repair shops...
One Man Caravan
by Robert Fulton Jr.
RTW in 1932! Grant: "A terrific book, right at the top of the list. Recommended."
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.
The Road to Getting Yourself Out of the Way
by Annette Birkmann
The book is about the author's solo motorcycle journey through Latin America and her search for an effortless approach to living. It describes the lessons she learned living her dream and her realization that in every experience there was something familiar: herself.
The University of Gravel Roads
by Rene Cormier
Rene runs out of money half way through the tour and ultimately takes five years to cover his 41-country, 154,000-kilometre route. The ride of a lifetime, the old-fashioned way; no sponsors, no support vehicles, and no idea about what he is going to learn along the way.
If you have a book or want a book that you think other
travellers would be interested in please let me know and we'll put it on the
Update on Contest dates - Please note!
In the past we have used Cafe Press to print calendars on demand. However that is quite expensive for the buyer, and there is very little profit to share with the photographers! :-(
We were approached by Octane Press, a company with a large distribution network, who are (rightly!) impressed by our calendar photos. They have offered us an opportunity to produce a bigger, better calendar at a lower price, with worldwide distribution and potentially a larger profit to share with the photographers.
The catch is the timing - in order to have calendars printed well before the peak autumn sale season, for the 2014 calendar, the deadline was early May! So, the calendar producer has selected 12 winners from previous years to produce a 'best of' calendar for 2014, and those photographers will share the profits from the 2014 calendar sales.
What about this year's contest? We've decided to extend the entry deadline to Jan 31, 2014, which will allow enough time to properly put the 2015 calendar together. Prizes are unchanged, just the time frame for calendar royalties will obviously be later.
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.
Grand Prize is a South America Tour with Compass Expeditions!
Dec 2014 to Jan 2015 - This wonderful 9 day tour by Compass Expeditions explores the scenic wonderland of the famous Chilean Lakes District, the frontier lands of Chiloe Island and the epic riding experienced as you cross the Andes and ride into Argentina. As with all Compass Expeditions rides the lucky winner will be aboard a BMW F650GS Twin. Approximate Value at time of writing: $3990. You are responsible for your transport to the start point of the Tour. Airfares and transport are NOT included.
First Prize is a Progressive Suspension Makeover, approx value US$650. (This prize is ONLY for winners in the USA and Canada.)
The new Progressive Suspension PSi - 465 Series Shock
ALSO: The best 13 photos will be used in the 2015 calendar, and those photographers will share equally in half the proceeds. All Winners will also get a free calendar, and 1 year Gold Member status on the HUBB! Your photos could also be in an HU DVD!
To enter the 2013 contest, start here! Ends January 31, 2014!
We've now reached an amazing 755 Communities in 114 Countries as of July 7, 2013! 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.
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.
Adventure motorcycling clothing for the demanding traveller
Grant: We've been wearing Rukka since 2002 and highly recommend it!
We hope you've enjoyed this issue, and do please let us know
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!
Grant and Susan Johnson
Inspiring, informing and connecting travellers since 1997
Please note that you are receiving this newsletter
only because you requested it! We are 100% opt - in only. To remove yourself from the list, please go here. To subscribe,
or change the format you receive, go here.
If you've had problems receiving the e-zine due to spam filters or insufficient
bandwidth, remember you can subscribe to the 'Notice' edition instead
of the full HTML version. The Notice edition is a short, straight text message
that contains a URL to bring you to the full text on the website. Because
the Notice email is so small, it downloads in a flash, and leaves your mailbox
uncluttered. Change to the Notice version here.
the RSS feed for this e-zine
Errr, what's an RSS Feed? there's a detailed RSS Guide here.
TIP: If you like to print the e-zine, in
Outlook Express or Outlook go to View / Text size (or Font size) and select
smallest. If you're reading this online, in IE select View / Text Size
and set it to 'smallest.' Then print it. The smallest font size is just right for
printing, and saves a lot of paper. Netscape, Firefox, Mozilla and Opera etc. are similar.
Please be assured that we will NOT under any circumstances,
rent, lease, sell, or give out our mailing list, and/or your name and e-mail
address, to anyone for whatever purpose. Your privacy is assured, and
See our complete Privacy
All comments and suggestions are carefully read,
and where possible will be acted on. Your help will make this a useful service
for all travellers.
Please use the Bulletin
Board for questions and suggestions.
If you would like to advertise your product or
service in this newsletter or on the website, please contact
me. Ad rates are very reasonable.
ISSN 1703-1397 Horizons Unlimited
Motorcycle Travellers' E-zine - All text and photographs are copyright Grant and Susan Johnson, 1987-2013,
or their respective authors. 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!
Every newsletter is permanently archived
online. Back issues here.
Legal gibberish: (particularly for those in
countries that have more lawyers in one town, just for instance, New York,
not to name any names, than some whole countries, as another example, Japan.
Again, not naming anybody specifically you understand).
Recommendations are based on positive or negative experiences of somebody, somewhere. Your mileage
(kilometrage if you insist) may vary. We are not responsible in any way for
any product or service mentioned, and do not warrant any such mentioned product
or service, and are not responsible for any bad things that may befall you.
You are responsible for yourself! Act accordingly. We check all links and
information given as close as possible to publication, and all info is correct
as best we can determine at that time.