May 15, 2002 GMT
A Road Less Travelled


LAT:N36.66594 LON:E117.03069



[The Zhonghao Grand Hotel in Jinan, China.]



[Xuzhou to Jinan, China, 230 miles in 1 day.]



Today finds us in Jinan, China, the capital city of Shandong Province and home to about 2 million people. Our itinerary claims that Jinan in also known as the "City of Springs" due to more than 100 bubbling natural springs in the area. They should rename it "The City of 100 Potholes" as all of them have apparently left Middle Kingdom en masse, and moved to the The Celestial Kingdom - we've been driving in solid rain for the last two road days.

The Globeriders are a well-disciplined group. Everyone has shown up for the morning pack and road march routine on time. But, things happen - just as we were ready to pull out yesterday, Rick discovered he had a flat tire. Helge had the tire off in minutes. Rick pulled out a set of three TITANIUM tire irons! The tube was replaced, and normally, we would expend about 350 to 400 strokes with a hand-pump to re-inflate the tire to get the bead seated. With great pride, I pulled out the USD$10.00 12V tire pump that I had purchased and modified prior to the trip based on a "how-to" article I found on the Horizon's Unlimited website. All BMW GS motorycles are equipped with a 12V accessory outlet. Once again, we had a crowd of admiring on-lookers watching as we wheeled the repaired wheel over to my bike, plugged in the pump, flipped a switch and Voila! Let there be air!

The pump was a standard, cheap widget purchased from Wal-Mart. Of course, it came from China. The plastic cases were removed and tossed, the air hose shortened, the switch bolted directly to the pump housing, and cigarette lighter adapter removed and replaced with a BMW accessory plug. The whole thing is about the size of a 2" thick passport, and I assure you, that $10.00 purchase was "priceless" on a rainy morning in China with 9 other riders ready and waiting to get underway:


[How to make a $10 tire pump priceless by throwing most of it away.]

The Chinese officials continue to punish us for all failing our driving tests by making us drive in Chinese traffic ;<) It was a very different group of riders that set out on our 2nd full day of driving yesterday, then that which first left the freight yard where we took delivery of our bikes. On day one, the group was disorganized, bewildered by the chaotic traffic, and extremely hesitant to cut in front of anyone. We kept doing stupid things like stopping for pedestrians and red lights. We foolishly beleived that that blinker actually meant something. We were uncomfortable to sound our horns.

Amazing what a difference one day can make. First, a word on traffic lights. The big cities have all-new infrastructure. Bright LED-powered signals exist at major interserctions. Also, on each signal arm, there is a large numeric LED display which actually counts down the time until the next signal change. The time hits "0", the lights go red. It starts counting down from "53", and when it next hits "0", the signals go green. Unlike the States, people know exactly how much time they have to put on that eye-liner until the signal change. The results are dramatic!

Much more confident now in traffic, the timer hits "0", and the Globeriders shoot out like pools balls on a clean break. Each rider chooses his "spot", carooms thru the intersection (because cross-traffic may or may not heed their red light), and magically forms up, properly staggered and spaced on the other side. In addition to split-second analysis of the traffic pattern, horns, turn signals and high beams are all used in a carefully orchestrated concert. The first few miles are the toughest, and the chance for a mishap greatest. We've only driven a fraction of our journey, but no one has had an accident. The Globeriders have fully lived up to the what was expected of our failing the driver's exam - we've learned that, just like the test, the rules don't matter - Darwin rules!

Paying attention is critical. We were motoring along a fairly wide and well-paved highway, when suddenly, the horizon moved in about 17 miles. Coming to a stop, we found the road ended in a high berm of dirt. Not so lucky, the driver of a late model car, which we found high-sided on top of the berm after hitting it at what must have been a high rate of speed. This accident happened at night. Like us, he saw no warning signs, as there weren't any; no indication of what lay ahead, and the highway was unlit. Giant holes magically appear in the best stretch of road. Detours are are filled with large rocks, giant mud puddles, small streams of silt-laden water, people, dogs, ox-drawn carriages, and every imaginable manner of petroleum-powered vehicle. We spent a lot of time up on the pegs, sitting down would punish not only the rider, but the bike and suspension as well. With is typical wry Norwegian humor, Helge assures us "It's good to get used to it, up North, they have a LOT of mud.!"


[A little higher bumper, better suspension, or a warning sign or two, and he probably would have made it.]


[As you can see, the other side was unpaved, but ready for it, wide, and covered with woven mats made of rice stalks - the road you're on can suddenly become the road less travelled!]

I'm closing today's update with the Three Stages of Chinese Traffic Acclimation:

(Day One) - This traffic is amazing! I've never seen so many different vehicles in my life, and the traffic signals are so cool!

(Day Two) - I can't believe these people! They're the rudest most insane idiots I've ever seen - that b**tard tried to kill me! I hate this place! There's no way you're going to get me on that bike again!

(Day Three) - What traffic?


[Motoring along the highway to Jinan in a driving rain and gusting crosswinds. I'm not complaining, with state of the art equipment, a capable bike, 41 liters of fuel, and as fine a group of companions as you could hope for, nothing could diminish my joy, wonder and the miracle of travelling the People's Republic of China on two wheels - No problems here!]

Posted by Mike Paull at May 15, 2002 05:08 AM GMT

Mike, We went with Helge on the 2000 tour. I was hopeing someone would tell the story, it is a wonderful experience you are having. Enjoy each minute and expect the next to be even better. We look forward to hearing about the rest of your trip.

Posted by: Ann & Jeff Roberg on May 15, 2002 05:50 PM GMT

great stories Mike, keep them coming. This is the high point of my day, and you are helping me to enjoy your trip vicariously!!

Ride well, have fun, and have 1 for me!!
Peace,out, the rev

Posted by: wayne on May 15, 2002 06:12 PM GMT

Well, Mike, glad you're enjoying the adventure. I actually don't envy you at the moment. Seattle has had some gorgeous weather over the last week. I thought of you when I was out on the Ducati today, soaking up that rare sunshine. I am often fooled into thinking our traffic here kind of sucks until I read about China's! Bet the Hummer would come in handy at times, huh? Keep the stories comin', we're all enjoying "the ride"! Your lovin' sister :-)

Posted by: Lily on May 16, 2002 07:29 AM GMT

Whether it’s stranded motorists in Alaska or a broken-down bus load of Nuns in the Yukon, Mike is always the man to lend a helping hand.

…from day 8 update:
“Rick discovered he had a flat tire. Helge had the tire off in minutes. Rick pulled out a set of three TITANIUM tire irons! The tube was replaced, and normally, we would expend about 350 to 400 strokes with a hand-pump to re-inflate the tire to get the bead seated. With great pride, I pulled out the USD$10.00 12V tire pump that I had purchased and modified prior to the trip based on a "how-to" article…”

Jim & Jan

PS: Are you having fun yet, Mike?

Posted by: Jim & Jan on May 16, 2002 04:35 PM GMT

Thanks for providing such a great minute by minute account of the Globeriders Journey we read every update.

P.S. What does Jim Hay think of your "electric air pump"? Does an owners manual come with that?

Posted by: The Smathers Family on May 17, 2002 04:34 AM GMT


Posted by: Lolita on October 11, 2003 02:07 PM GMT
Sorry, due to heavy form spamming, Comments are OFF.

HU DVD Summer Special!

Now that summer is here, get On the Road! Take 30% off the Achievable Dream - On the Road! 2-DVD set until August 31 only. Get On the Road! Learn the tips to staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure!

Our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure.

"A fantastic, informative and inspirational DVD."

"It's brilliant - thank you very much!"

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

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


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!