October 11, 2000 GMT
Italy

Get cut up on the autostrada by a hearse at 120kph. These roads make me appreciate how well Britain regards safety. Green for go, explains my Italian friend, red for stop—if you want—and flashing amber for whatever.

I keep dropping the bike. Each time a bit more of my number plate cracks off. None of the international borders has been a problem, but my luck won’t hold forever. I have only three digits left. I go to a print shop. When the guy hears the problem he drops what he is doing and puts a new one together in a couple of hours. A handmade number plate from Rome: my first custom part. Illegal, but mine was broken wasn’t it?

My first breakdown. The bike not me. Somewhere after Napoli the bike begins to make strange noises from under the seat, like it’s trying to start all the time, even though the motor is running. I get to the service station and find the mechanic. He does his best, but it’s a motorbike. He does cars. At this point back home the guy would point to the yellow pages and go back to his achieving his bosses’ targets. Not here. He starts the bike, opens up the back door (illegally letting me off the toll road) and gets a mate to guide me to the local bike shop. Not before arranging to pick me up later to organise a hotel.

The bike mechanic—‘el pirato’—soon sees the problem. The starter motor has packed in—maybe something to do with the acid that has been pouring out of the battery. Knew I should have learnt how to fill it. Apparently just leaving it for several weeks across Europe while high-speed driving in Summer temperatures has the effect of losing water. And this is a bad thing. Now I know.

As well as a free ride to the hotel and negotiation in Italian for a discount, the mechanic picks me up in the morning and takes me back to the bike. El pirato takes a starter motor off a brand new Transalp sitting in his showroom and puts it in mine. The cost is about forty quid. This is crazy. This should take a week, cost a minor limb and involve experts sucking teeth while shaking heads over folded arms. Instead I am back on the road in under 24 hours. What is it about motorcycles? People seem to realise that travelling on them is a kind of higher calling.

I realise that setting off across the world on a motorcycle I will have to rely on others’ help a great deal. So far so good. That freedom thing people write about is kicking in. All the world seems before me. Arsenal are playing in Prague tomorrow evening. I could go. I won’t. I don’t like arsenal. But to be able to. There’s the thing.

Posted by at October 11, 2000 10:52 PM GMT
 
 

NEW! HU 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar is now available! Get your copy now for some terrific travel inspiration!

HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!

Horizons Unlimited 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar.

"The calendar is magnificent!"

"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"

We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!

Next HU Eventscalendar

See all events

 

HU DVD Autumn Special!

Take 40% off Road Heroes Part 1 until October 31 only!

Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers Peter and Kay Forwood (193 countries two-up on a Harley); Dr. Greg Frazier (5 times RTW); Tiffany Coates (RTW solo female); and Rene Cormier (University of Gravel Roads).

The first in an exciting new series, Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers."Inspiring and hilarious!"

"I loved watching this DVD!"

"Lots of amazing stories and even more amazing photographs, it's great fun and very inspirational."

"Wonderful entertainment!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'HEROES' on your order when you checkout.



Scottoiler automatic chain oilers. The most important accessory for your next motorcycle adventure!


Renedian Adventures


Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!


What turns you on to motorcycle travel?


Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

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!


New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.


Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!