March 02, 2006 GMT

Hi, and welcome to my 'diary' of mine, Allens and John's trip to australia on Bikes.
For those of you that know me out there some of you are perhaps thinking this is a little out of the blue, but hopefully as you read on you will find out more about me than I have let you know in the past, and perhaps this will help you understand why I am involving myself in this whole thing.

So why travel half way around the world on two wheels, with pretty much everything i own on the back of my bike, leaving my friends, family and loved ones behind??? Good question!!! And one i doubt i couldn't answer fully, but I shall try to answer it as best i can.

For years i have been wanting to travel and see other cultures. To experience first hand what friends and family have been telling me is out there. To smell the spices of foreign cooking, to feel the heat of a foreign summer and to experience first hand how people from other backgrounds live there life.

So when Allen said to me he was going to ride to Australia, my initial thought was oh yeah, have heard these crack pot ideas before. The idea appealed to me also but being in the position i was it was out of the question. I am a partner in the family company, i had just met a wonderful girl who for the first time in years I could see a relationship going somewhere. And to be honest the last time i had gone anywhere outside the coutry was with my parents. I am now 30, so that was quite a while ago.

Anyway, after thinking about it some more and seeing Allen getting more and more serious, I spoke to my girlfriend (Kay) about it, and she could see that I wanted it to happen. So she gave me her 'blessing' or so to speak on the provision that i would send her a postcard as often as i could, and that i would come back to here when we had reached our destination. Shes a good girl and i know im lucky to have found her. When i get back from Oz we plan to move in together, watch this space..........

So what am i going on?? Well, we looked into this long and hard from the beginning, and basically our decision was dictated by funds, same as everyone else' i suppose. But what could we get that would do the job for the money we had, which to be honest, wasn't much. We decided XT's would be a good bet, made for the job in hand, simple, reliable, and pretty inexpensive. So we set about looking for some bikes.Al found his pretty quick. It was an 89 XT600, on 35k miles. I took him down to pick it up and it looked the part, no doubt, but since then he has had a few difficulties with it. Perhaps he shall mention this in his blog, but if i said the engine has been turned inside out for the past 3 months, has done more miles than the rest of the bike and been put back together a couple of times i wouldn't be stre
tching the truth. Anyway, before all this happened i was looking for an XT also, in the end i found a 97 XTZ 660 tenere in sheffield going for a good price, so off i went to have a look. image

This is the bike when i got it home. Its not quite finished yet but shall post another pic when it is completely ready, should be this weekend, or next..... will have to wait and see.

I had some of the things i would require along the way as i had started hiking a couple of years ago, so i had a tent, sleeping bag, and other camping things, though some of these clearly weren't upto the job and would have to be replaced. Anyway, over the past few months we have been trawling ebay and other online sites looking for things we need and have slowly got together a long list of things we think we are going to need. All of which is going to fit (i hope) onto the back of the bike............

The route.

We are to travel through Europe, into the Ukraine, Russia, Kazhakstan, back into Russia, Mongolia, China (fingers crossed), Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and finally to arrive in Perth Australia sometime in early September. Where all being well, Kay is going to meet me for a two weeks before returning home together.

Anyway that should keep you going until my next entry which should be in the next 2 weeks. All being well the bike should be finished then and i can post a new pic, along with an update as to how things are progressig.

see you then.


Posted by Colin Patrick at 11:26 PM GMT
March 14, 2006 GMT
Al's bit

So why ride to oz on a 16 year old bike, leaving my hot girl gemma behind and spending a large portion of your savings to do it? Well... why the hell not. you only have one life, don't realy fancy sitting in my rocking chair at 60/70 years old thinking i wish i'd done this and i wish i'd done that and it being to late to change it.
Since moving back from spain after a 2 year jolly i have prity much worked 7 days aweek for 3 years so it was time stop working like an idiot and go and have some fun.( can think of cheaper ways).

I was original going to do the trip from spain in 2001 on a gsxr 600 via Pakistan and india, but after working out what i thought would be the cost i new i realy couldn't afford it. Then a couple of years later once i had the money and living in the uk i decided to look in to it again. But after 2 months of planning, (which those who have done this will tell you it totaly consumes every minute of your day) we decided to invade iraq and suddenly people where getting there heads chopped off, after looking at the area and talking to alot of people it was obvious that going the afgan, pakistan way was out of the question because drug gangs were kidnapping foreigners for ransom and didn't much fancy the iran route either. So i sat on it for a while to see how everything panned out in the area. In 2004 i decided that i had to do the trip via mongolia because the urge was to great, i couldn't stop thinking about it and getting it done was all i cared about, which isn't a good thing! Since i couldn't get anyone to come on the trip with me and none of my friends having a license i decided to do the trip on my own as i couldn't not do something just because there was no-one there to hold my hand. Luckily after a got in to the swing of things, people started thinking about coming, i think at one point there was about 12 of us going, but people started falling by the wayside when a little effort was needed.
So after just over a year of planning, recruiting colin who i lived with, john who i met on the hubb and a trip to porto to meet up with some round the world bikers (and getting very very drunk) we decided to set the ball rolling and set a date...the 15th April 2006, which would make us miss the rainy season in Mongolia and the bloody world cup.

So for the people who are thinking of doing something similar, here's the bits you want to know.

Costs........ bloody expensive, my orginal budget for the trip which included everything was 5000 pounds. Here's what i'v spent so far:

bike 1000
rebuild of engine and bike prep 800
panniers 170
personal kit- clothing, tents, sleeping bag, cooking stuff, helmets, intercoms and 2 ways, all half price from the bike show at the NEC 500.
injections, hepititus a+b, tetanus, diphtheria, typhoid, japanese encephalites and rabies - 230
Malaria. we need full strenght tablets for 4/6 weeks, waiting for a price, was told possibly 60 pounds for 2 week supply.
visa's - russia double entry, kakahstan single entry and mongolia single entry though who have been great 210 pounds other visa's we'll get on the way. most tourist visa's are only for 3 months so if we get china, laos visa's now, they'll run out either while we're in the country or before we get there. most visa's average out at about 30 pounds so about another 150 for the rest of the visa's.
carnet from the r.a.c 680 but we get 450 back when the bikes back in the uk.
international drivers permit from the r.a.c 5.50
medical insurance through 104.00 the cheapest we could find.

As you can see the budget has gone before i've even set off. But i don't need to buy it all again so when i do the next one, (probably alaska to argentina) the trip will be about 70% cheaper. well thats what i tell myself anyway.

Money for the trip, i'm taking a couple of hundred euros, 1000 pounds in travelers cheques, 500 us dollars. the rest gemma can send me when i need it, we recon 5000 pounds should be enough.

The route - uk-france-belgium-germany-cheq republic-slovakia-hungry-romania-moldova- ukraine-russia-kazakhstan-russia-mongolia- china-laos-thailand-malaysia-indonesia and australia.
travel at gave us a good on/off road route through romania which aparently is prity amazing. thanx.

doesn't look very far does it!

please dont mail us asking how the hell are we gonna get into china because the answer is.... not a clue! we're sick of everyone on the hub saying you can get through and you can't get through so we're just gonna go there and have a go.
if we cant get in with the bikes then the other option is to send the bikes to loas or chang mai thailand and ride it on a chinese scooter. oneway or another i'm riding it!

the bike of choice.... a yamaha 3aj tenere 600 xtz. with a small budget, she seems to be the bike to do the job. suppose to be reliable, i'm sure they are but mine wasn't, gears started to chip away with in a month of having it, which scratched the oil pump and bore because the monkey i bought it off probably abused her. but on a good note, at leasted it happened before i set off with enough time to fix her. Heres a picture of the sexy little thing, still being worked on though.

For the panniers. well i looked into touratec and metal mule and all the other fancy ones which are all very nice and prity, but just to expensive. so i built my own. cost me about 170 for the pair. thats 100 for the metal and about 70 for the touratec quick release fittings. not bad. quite easy to do. built them with a rubber hammer, a drill, about 200 rivets and 2 tubes of sealant. they ain't prity but iv'e got the bike sat on one of them while i do the wheel bearings fit motorcross innertubes and new pirelli mt21's so they must be strong.


Posted by Allen Starkey at 06:01 PM GMT

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