In 1993 I passed my motorcycle test. The next thing I knew I was sitting on a bike six times bigger than anything I had ever ridden, on 42nd Street, New York, at rush hour, on the wrong side of the street. In front of me lay the whole of the USA, and I took a peak at most of it!
I looked down from Yosemite Falls, as a rainbow framed Half Dome, I looked off to one side, as the wind eddied around the vast lonely cornfields of the Mid West. I looked up from the very bottom of the Grand Canyon in awe of the red moonscape I had descended into. Most of the time I was looking sideways at a Wal Mart or gas station as I struggled from underneath my now horizontal Honda Nighthawk 650 that had fallen on top of me. I am so grateful for what I saw and whom I met and the whole experience helped to shape the rest of my life.
So I got home, a job, married, kids, house, business etc. And forgot about biking, in many ways, I just wasn’t interested. As the big 40 approached I felt a long since dead bug begin to wiggle, and the need to two wheel travel began to take shape. I wanted to see all those things in Europe that I was interested in or had heard about or could barely remember.
So in just over 3 weeks I will be setting off on my Apriia 650 Pegaso Trail single cylinder bike. I am hoping to get to Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina and then turn back to spend some time in the Alps with my family and then go on and touch a few mountains. All in all, a one month trip by myself. If it is anything like my trip around North America it will be hilarious....
Since my Early 20's I have always wanted an Aprilia Pegaso. I blame that Colin Schiller, the then editor of Fast Bikes for all of those 'Ooligan pictures of wheelies and stoppies on a bike they kept raving about. Bizare really, because fast... It really isn't!
So last year I chanced upon an '08 Trail version being sold cheap on ebay. high miles, very grubby but full service history. I hadn't ridden for 8 years but as soon as I (just about) swung my leg over it, I was a happy dude. Setting off on it out of London I became even happier. It was comfortable, nimble, pokey and didn't vibrate you to death at motorway speeds (I was worried about that). I knew we would get on famously.
Then it broke down. Everything died as I came off the motorway. After taking out all the fuses and replacing then, I was moving again. I spendt many a month cleaning her up and fixing minor niggles, but the same problem kept re-appearing. It would get embarassing as the same cars that I had overtaken five minute before would go past and toot... again. My eldest son Elliot came up with the name for my bike. Breakdown Betty (both mental and physical).
So the good thinks about Betty...
Good looking (something desperately lacking in this sector of bikes IMHO)
Low seat (I am 5'5", 5'6" with a blow dry)
plenty of room for stuff
Unusual around these parts.
Some of the bad things about Betty....
Electrics like overcooked pasta.
I think they used one tin of paint on the whole production run and it flakes off very easily.
lumpy spot at about 4000 rpm. A few mods has sorted this out.
Melts the 20 Amp fuse.
Parts are astronomically expensive.
Breaks down constantly.
As you can see, She is the perfect bike for a 7000 mile trip!
To be fair, things have been going well for the past 2 months after I uprated the melting fuse to a 25 amp one.Maybe Betty has shaken off her forname. I do hope so!
Well, less than 3 weeks to go now, working hard to earn the money to do it! Almost 20 years ago, as I have already said, I went on a much longer trip around North America and the difference in relation to planning and getting ready for the trip has been astounding. I bought my bike in the USA in 1993, whereas I already own my bike for the European trip and I have had to do quite a bit of work on her so that has added to the preparations. What is astounding in this day and age is the amount of information about places you want to travel to, it is mind blowing!
The HU site is a goldmine for the overlander. Wonderful little snippets from generous souls smoothing out the path for those that follow. Then the travel books like lonely planet, rough guides and so on make choosing accommodation so easy to both find and budget for. And finally, the WWW. That will throw up information on each grain of sand in the Sahara.... Maybe? I have spent a year planning for this trip and I am liable to tell you the precise location of where I will be stopping each night, and how much for.
It was so different 20 years ago, I had bought a rough guide to the USA about three months before I left, but it only talked about the cities apart from major attractions out of town. I hadn’t much of a clue, but I did have an overwhelming desire to do it and that, I was sure, would carry me through. I finished my job a week before I left, bought a few things, had a party and was off! I knew two people on the other side of the country and that was it. I only bought a map of the USA when I got there, I could not find a road atlas of the country in the UK.
You may think, due to the information explosion of the past 20 years and the technology that goes to boot, that we should be overjoyed at the ease of our travels. Don’t get me wrong, I have been making full use of it, but something is slightly missing. That stepping out into the unknown. That mystery and slight apprehension. So I am going back through my route and making sure that I don’t HAVE to be anywhere (within reason), to leave a little ‘blown by the wind time’. I am not bothering with a GPS either. Expensive things that aren’t as good as a map or broken conversation with a wide eyed drunk by the side of the road.
A bike forum I subscribe to has this gem as someone’s signature, well roughly translated....”Never plan for anything. When failure hits you, it therefore comes as a total surprise, and is not preceded by fits of panic and self doubt.” I think there is some mileage in that!!!
Next HU Events
- USA Colorado: July 11-13
- Ireland: July 18-20
- Canada West: Aug 21-24
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- France Mini: Sep 5-7
- Canada Ontario: Sept. 11-14
- NEW! UK - Haggs Bank: Sept. 19-21
- USA California: Sept. 25-28
- Aus Queensland: Oct 3-6
- Aus Perth: Oct 10-12
- Aus VIC: Oct 24-26
- NEW! Aus NSW: Oct 31-Nov 2
- NEW! South Africa: Nov 13-16
- NEW! HUMM Morocco: May 13-16, 2015
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