May 03, 2013 GMT
An hour gained, a day lost

Things often seem closer than they are, we got off the train at Gatwick and could see our hotel. It wasn't far so we walked. Aided by directions from a car park attendant we cut through some woods at the back of it, lugging our awkward bags.

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Finally after trekking round the river to the road we found the airport/hotel shuttle bus parked out front.

And we expect too get all the way around the world ?

Our next day was all fly, fly fly, answer questions, answer more questions and just to make sure, answer some more.

Fortunately the rubber gloves never came out. But the young girl just in from Jamaica should have thought twice about hassling the the customs officials regarding the time spent queuing. She may be out of the interview room now, maybe.

After that things went smoothly, the bikes were at the port, all the paper work had been completed by the agent, and port fees paid for. We repacked the bikes and hit the road.

Day 2 was going well, up early and rolling by 07:15. Lunch at 12:00, 220 miles done. As we left the Tim Hortons diner we noticed the clock, an hour gained after entering another time zone.

That was until Mike's bike failed to start. All we could hear was "click, click, click".

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We tried bump starting it, nothing. Out came the testing gear, the battery was low on charge. We switched my battery into his, the bike started so we tested the circuit. It was charging OK. his new battery was dead.

I find at times like this, some one comes over and gives some form of help. This time it was directions to a bike dealer.

Eighty dollars lighter, and four hours later to allow the new battery to charge we set off again. Our 400 miles a day target is slipping. The ferry in Seattle feels further away.

At least the long wait gave me the chance to take some pictures that were not of bikes, diners and motels.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 02:10 AM GMT
May 08, 2013 GMT
Hit the brakes

We are into the swing of it, get up at 06:00, on the road by 07:00. Do 200-250 miles before lunch and then another 100-200 afterwards. The 400 miles a day are ticking along nicely. Or at least they were until we received a RoRo update tonight.

The ship has been delayed, initially that was good news. We could slow down However he next email brought the bad news that it won't sail until June 4th. This means that It is not due to arrive in Vladivostok until the June 15th. Ten days after we land there.

This leaves us with two weeks before we need to deliver the bikes to the port. After being all geared with the headlong dash to Seattle the rug has been pulled out from under us. We have now started to consider our options.

As the ship is not going to leave until after we fly out, this is bad because if the bikes fail to be on it we will be in Asia. And with losing a week in Russia we will have to reconsider our route home, any more delay and getting Mike back to work on time will become almost impossible.

Alternatively we could look once more into the (extremely) expensive air freight option. This may also mean we will have to ditch our flight from Seoul to Vladivostok and take a ferry to Russia with them.

Mean while we can consider what to do with our time now, watching the weather channel. :-

Go North ? That seems to be all snow and cold.

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Go South ? That seems to be all snow, rain and cold. And tornadoes,

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Stay in between ? All flat and boring.

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Cross the rockies, still snowing, and try the Pacific ? Maybe.

Posted by Bruce Porter at 03:12 AM GMT
May 13, 2013 GMT
Wandering west

Following the bad news of the ferry delay we mulled over things while riding the next day then reviewed our options. We did some research and emailing and we have been able to find a shipper who will fly the bikes from Vancouver without (hopefully) breaking our budget.

As we have already booked flights to Seoul on the 27th, that has set our new timetable.

We now need to be in Vancouver by the 21st, to crate the bikes at Pacific Motosports , they, with the aid of Motorcycle Mojo Magazine , are supplying the crates free of charge. Hopefully we will now have the bikes in Vladivostok by the 5th June, ahead of schedule and back on track for the 91 days.

In the mean time, we have time to kill. We have slowed down and are now able to enjoy breakfast at diners, also we have the time to stop and talk to people.

Firmly ensconced in tourist mode, anyone watching the progress map ( on http;//www.ytc1.co.uk) will notice our westerly pursuit has veered south.

We have wandered on the Custer "Last Stand" battle grounds.

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Ridden through a snow storm over the Big Horn mountains.

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And dawdled through Yellowstone.

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All the while we have made the effort to eat at non-chain diners and stay at "Ma and Pa" motels.

Now, finally we are in the heat of Utah/Nevada in the state border town of Wendover where, when we cross the road we enter a new time zone.

We came here for the Utah Salt Flats, and Bonneville Speedway. It would have been rude not to

bonneville.jpg.

Posted by Bruce Porter at 03:21 AM GMT
May 19, 2013 GMT
Riding the Redwoods

Three years ago I bumped into Jim in Mexico, and then later crashed into him twice in the same day, somehow we have still remained friends. This time my bike was much better behaved and kept her panniers a decent distance from Jim's.

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Jim found us outside a bike shop in Eureka, California, as we were about to hunt out a marine upholsterer to get my non working jacket zip replaced. He had ridden over 600 miles from south of Los Angeles and slept in a rest stop overnight, just to ride a portion of the Californian and Oregon coast road with us.

The idea was to ride some roads called the 'Lost Coast' and wild camp. But as we bounced around the rough and gravelly back roads we came across a number of road blocks, there was a man hunt on for a triple murderer in the area. We still camped, but went for an official site. Safety in numbers.

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Over the next 3 days we bimbled slowly north, enjoying the roads and camping out, riding the 'Avenue of the Giants' and being tourists.

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In between I needed to buy a new rear tyre, our detours had killed it. We have a set each waiting in Vladivostok, an added expense I could do without. But the cheapest was sourced and fitted.

At a Starbucks Internet stop we were had just settled in, laptops up and running, when a white haired woman of senior years came over to us and congratulated us 'three old men' being able to use all the new technology.

After all the hard work of riding the clear, sweeping roads, flanked by giant trees to the right and the craggy Oregon coast line to the left, roughing it next to babbling creeks and cutting logs for the fire, it was time to get back on route.

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Finally we parted company with Jim at Portland, he turned south, we continued north crossing into Washington state and trashing the first motel room we came across.

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The Oregon coast is green for a reason. Stuff needs drying out before we crate the bikes and have them flown to South Korea.

Posted by Bruce Porter at 05:36 AM GMT
May 24, 2013 GMT
Twiddling thumbs

The bikes are all crated up and waiting to be flown to South Korea. We had an exciting and tiring two days sorting out the crates and paper work.

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Pacific Motorsports supplied the crates, by arrangement of Motorcycle Mojo Magazine . All we needed to do was strap them down and build the frame around them. Easier said than done so we paid for some help by Rusty the bike shop manager.

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Now we are sat around in Vancouver, our flight to Seoul is not until Sunday, from San Francisco. Poor logistics.

It is fairly pretty around here though.

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This will be a big step for us, up until now I have always ridden a bike in countries that used the "roman" characters and numbers. And I have always been able to get to grips with the language. My Spanish was good enough for Central and South America, I was always able to ask directions and understand the answer. It was bad enough realising we needed to decipher the Russian Cyrillic character set, but now we have to cope with Korean as well. In fact it will be nearly 2 months before we can possibly read signs easily or converse with locals again.

Strange days.

Posted by Bruce Porter at 07:56 PM GMT
May 29, 2013 GMT
Trucking bikes

When we packed the bikes in Vancouver we expected to be off the road for a week, ride for a few days in South Korea then ship them to Vladivostok and be riding away again a few days later.

It has now been over a week bikeless, it looks to be another week more.

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate paper work ?

I should have known it was a bad move to publish the last blog entry, it exuded the air that the bike shipping to Seoul was all sorted and we would be riding across the country.

On the Friday night before leaving Vancouver we received an email from our agent in Seoul. She had misunderstood our intentions about how we would get to the ferry in Donghae, on the east coast. When she had OKed the bikes arriving in one name on one set of paper work she thought we wanted to truck then to the ferry. It turns out that to ride the bikes in South Korea then customs required separate paper work for each bike and rider to grant the temporary permits.

It was too late to contact our Vancouver shipper to make changes to the documents (and increase the price), she had left for the weekend. Reluctantly we accepted the bikes needed to be trucked (at cost) across the country to the ferry.

We managed to get a ride with the bikes, the freighter was worried we would not fit in the small cab, so the driver built an extra seat out of cushions

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South Koreans are very accommodating, They have an eagerness to please, but once we had suggested the idea of travelling with the bikes a full operation was put in place. All we had to do was get ourselves to the Gimpo International Airport for 11:00. From there we were collected by the shipper, Kim, taken to their offices where we were given snacks and coffee. Then she took us to meet the truck, all the time very concerned we would be comfortable.

Our day started early, with both of us awake by 05:30 and off to play on the metro. The day differed from the previous one because no one we met or requested help and directions from were able to speak English. This included our truck driver, but hand signals and a dictionary helped the journey pass. Especially when one of the tyres burst.

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For me it was moment of deja-vu, it was only six months ago I was standing on the side of a major foreign highway (in Chile) next to a broken van. At least there was not a dead dog in it this time.

How many Koreans does it take to change a tyre ?

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The trip across country allowed us to have a glimpse at what we missed by being unable to ride. We would not have taken the motorway route because bizarrely motorbikes are not allowed to use them here. The roads we would have used crossed frequently with the motorway, dipping in and out of the smoothly rounded hills smothered in green foliage.

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At the ferry port we thought we had encountered a "jobs worth", not allowing Mike and I to enter with the van, despite the bikes being ours, yet allowing the driver in. Later it was explained to us that they are still on a high alert state due to the North Korean threats. A consequence of which we may not be able to get into the holding pen to unpack the bikes and refit panniers and other parts we needed to remove back in Vancouver.

This morning we were just getting ready to return to the port and unpack them when the bell rang on our hotel room. A young man form the ferry company was there to give us the bad news. Customs will not allow us to unpack the bikes. They must go to Vladivostok as they are.

I understand "going with the flow" is part and parcel of trips like this, but this is starting to stretch my patience.

Posted by Bruce Porter at 11:43 AM GMT
 


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