My decision to venture forward with this experiment really started about a year ago. I was just one of those job-related things that happened which brought it all about. In retrospect, I should be very grateful for the circumstances which made me decide to go. Without them I would probably never have come to the point of actually cutting the ties.
As the year passed and the equipment started piling up in my apartment it began to dawn on me, that this adventure was actually beginning to happen. In order for it not to lose momentum, I began talking to friends and family about it. This turned out to be some experience: the vast majority of people to whom I mentioned my idea of taking an extended time-out going on a long motorcycle journey encouraged me, thought it was a great idea. And the few who were critical - well they, too, served a purpose; they made me think about the plan some more. But rather than causing doubt, they made me more and more convinced that is the right thing for me to do.
So, in February 2003, I resigned my job, which meant that come March, I was “free” to start my venture. Most of the time since was spent on making some adjustments to my domestic situation, to make sure that I would still continue to maintain my “bourgeois” existence while being gone for a couple of months. Admittedly , I was not overly eager to deal with the “admin” part.
The more fun part was making some adjustments to the motorcycle and testing them. I will therefore not write too much detail about the pro’s ad con’s of the perfect equipment to be taken on a longer trip (there’s tons of stuff available on the net).
During the past couple of years, I had found that the basic concept of the BMW R1150GS suited my overall needs - at least for one or two week trips. For the type of extended trip I had in mind, I made to following changes: added an extra 12V socket to the left side of the fairing. This is more conveniently place than the original socket: I will use a 12V charger (placed in the tank bag) for AA type batteries. These are the mainstay of my “electricity supply” while on the road. All of my gadgets (GPS, digital camera, flashlight, radio) use these.
Additional 12V socket for ease of use
Thus far I have used the BMW luggage system/bags. I was for some time considering getting alu-boxes but since I intend to stay mainly on paved roads and in inhabited regions, that ideas was done away with for the time being. Instead , a friend offered to use his Givi boxes which are slightly (about 1 ½ to 2 inches) wider but offer more storage volume. – This is the time to say a special “thank you” to Klaus Schrader of Zubehoer Shop Frankfurt , a friend and motorcycle mentor (who also has the skills and resources to make technical changes that require more than tightening or loosening screws (which about describes my technical skills).
Givi boxes instead of BMW system boxes
The boxes will be used to store my camping equipment (small tent, sleeping bag, cooker, air-mattress etc. ) and the PC, plus the various cable needed to connect some of the electronic equipment mentioned above. If placed together, the combined electronic stuff looks not dissimilar to a “special offer tray” at your local electronics shop. We’ll see how this will work out.
The next two weeks will be filled with some more test packing and final arrangements. The estimated departure date will be on or around May 10th. More to follow soon.
My excitement was growing as – finally – the day of my departure came nearer. After a relatively (…too…??) relaxed preparation time until about two weeks ago, things got a little bit hectic as I tried to make certain domestic arrangements. This involved among others a sort of wrestling match with (yes…”with”, not “on”) a monstrous mattress that decided to make things difficult for everybody (but that is a very different story).
I had intended to leave on Wednesday, May 10 and therefore went on a little practice tour with the fully loaded BMW on the weekend before. I was still smiling then.
“The weekend before” – everything is okay
On Wednesday, with the GPS set to lead me to the Czech Republic, I left my place. Some friends were waiting at my local motorcycle hangout to escort me out of town. At that point I was probably too pre-occupied and/or excited, and thus was unconcentrated at the second traffic light about 1 km from my home. The car in front of started, began to accelerate and then, for whatever reason, slowed down and came to sudden stop. I must have been thinking about adventures to come when I was rudely brought back into reality. I failed to react and hit the back the car in front of me. Of course I “dismounted” in a very un-elegant way. Because of my protective gear and the slow speed (<15km/h) I was completed unharmed. Damage to the car seemed minimal (broken stop light) and the same applied to my BMW.
No apparent damage at first glance
That initial impression was immediately corrected as I tried to manoeuvre the motorcycle away from the accident site: the GS was impossible to steer. The handlebar was difficult to move. It was then that I realized that, in all probability, this was – for the time being – the very unglamorous end of my trip around Europe. A mere 10 minutes after closing my apartment door. This must be some kind of record...
Damage to front fork and telelever
The complexities of the damage are not very apparent from the picture. Front fork and telelever (plus parts) will have to be replaced. But there were some good things, too: The owner of the car I hit was moderately relaxed about the event and since we both happen to have the same insurance, there is very little administration involved. I also had a chance to meet my “farewell party”: instead of an escort out of Frankfurt, they quickly arranged for transport of my luggage back into my apartment and the BMW was brought to the repair shop. For this my particular thanks to Klaus Schrader of Zubehoer-Shop-Frankfurt.de (once again...) and Dietger Pudenz.
For the time being, the future of my trip lies in the hands to Tiberius (“Tibi”) Erdelyi, of TIBIZA repairs located in Offenbach, near Frankfurt. Tibi is an expert offroad rider
and motorcycle mechanic
and now and then performs as “impresario” of enduro trips which he arranges for friends. Above pictures were take during a one-week offroad extravaganza in Romania last year.
With any luck and relying on Tibi’s skills, I should be able to make a second start in the not to distant future. I hope to be back on the road early next week (May 20 or 21). In the meantime, I will try to deal with the bruises suffered by my ego……(just kidding – or am I?).
More to follow soon….
I am about ready to leave again. Having completed my trip around Europe last September, I am in the process of starting Stage Two of my experiment: the tour across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
The trip will start in Chicago (arrive on May 20) and end in Denver (leave on September 6). From Chicago I shall go west, likely to come to Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana. From there I intend to turn north, into Canada (Alberta, Br. Columbia, Yukon). Then further into Alaska, with the goal to make it to Deadhorse/Prudoe Bay, which would mark the northernmost point of this trip. I have not yet made up my mind about the route south from Anchorage. I am still looking into the possibility of a ferry ride from either Anchorage or Skagway to Vancouver (on the Marine Highway Ferry System).
From Vancouver/Seattle it will be the Route 1 all the way along the west coast down to San Diego and into Baja California, then cross north-western Mexico, back into the U.S.. I shall work my way through Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado toward the final destination, Denver.
"Experiment - Part 2 – planned route"
(Click here for larger map)
So much for the plan. Changes to the route may occur, as I listen to recommendations and/or intuition whichever the case may be. But that will be part of the experiment and I hope that I can let the reader of the blog participate. From the feedback of some of you, I gather that people are more interested to be “close” to what is happening to me (rather than read about it long after its over). Well…some of the problems I had to face during my last trip was the availability of adequate Internet access.
Finding an internet place is one thing, but since I keep my texts and photos on my laptop transferring the data onto the internet computer proved to be “challenging”. In the meantime I have equipment that should allow me to use so-called “hotspots” to access the internet via wireless LAN directly from my laptop. A test-run in Germany suggested that this should work. – Now I only have to find a couple of the 4000plus hotspots, listed on the website of my provider.
In the meantime, the motorcycle has been shipped. I had chosen DHL Danzas in Frankfurt as my shipping agent. Martin Schweizer, Manager Automotive/Motorcycle Div., has been very helpful in the process. We had a great time at the cargo facility of the Frankfurt Airport, putting the BMW 1150 GS on the shipping rack. (I am told the bike would be “star” in a promotion clip for DHL’s bike shipping operations which was to be taped the following day.)
"Martin Schweizer (right) and his crew at the DHL facilities at Frankfurt Airport"
(Click here for a larger version of this picture)
The bike remains largely unchanged compared to last year. I did, however, switch to Touratech aluminium boxes for better use of space a increased “ruggedness”.
Well – that is it for the time being. The next report will be from the U.S.
Next HU Events
- Brazil: Feb 22-23
- Germany: May 29-June 1
- HUBB UK: June 19-22
- NEW! Canada Maritimes: July 4-6
- USA Colorado: July 11-13
- Ireland: July 18-20
- Canada West: Aug 21-24
- USA North Carolina: Sept. 4-7
- 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! South Africa: Nov 14-16
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