May 11, 2002 GMT
Only From Failure Can Success Be Achieved!


LAT: N31.19031 LON: E121.35405


yihe hotel shanghai.jpg

[Hotel Yihe Longbai in Shanghai, China]



[7,343 air miles so far on Northwest, Japan, and China Eastern airlines, and not a single road mile driven yet.]



Today, the Globeriders are together for the first time, thus, I consider the tour officially started, and I'm going to change the format a bit. You'll note I'm starting off with the LAT//LON (Latitude/Longitude) of our current location or "waypoint", followed by a map showing that location. Next, is a second map showing the actual path or "track" that we've driven since the last update. The track is automatically generated by my Garmin MAP 176 handle-bar mounted portable GPS (Global Positioning System), and uploaded to my PC at the end of the day. This is followed by a few "stats" on the trip.

So why a statistic on AA batteries? So glad you asked, as that brings us to Today's Travel Tip! When selecting my battery operated widgets for the tour, I tried to take only those that used the commonly available AA-size disposable battery. That way, I only had to carry one size of spares, and if one widget goes dead (like the Nikon 990 digital camera, which seems to consume batteries at a prodigious rate), I can always swap batteries out of something else as a last resort. I know its not "green". I did investigate rechargable cells, but couldn't find a universal 110v-240V charger that didn't require a bunch of different wall transformers and/or adapters. Plus, the recharge times are too long. I did pretty well - my alarm clock, two flashlights, digital camera and GPS all use AA's.

Two goals were paramount on today's itinerary: (a). getting our Chinese driver's licenses, and (b). finding out the status of our motorcycles, which were last seen sealed into 40 foot China Shipping container in Tukwila, Washington, USA.

It was with great alarm that we learned prior to leaving Seattle we would be required to take an examination for our Chinese driver's licenses. No study manual in English was available, although we were assured the test itself would be in English. We hustled onto our tour bus and went to the testing place:


[Our first brush with Chinese officialdom. The testing bureau in Shanghai.]


[Helge pretending like he actually knows what he is doing. We were told the test would take about an hour - I don't think anyone spent more than 8 minutes.]

What a fine group of driving students were were. Every single one of us failed the test! Before you start with the disparaging comments, here's my best recollection of one of my questions:

You are involved in an accident involving injury to some persons or damages to property or business establishment. Although this matter has been presented to the People's Proceuratary Court for relevent consideration, an ending judgement is not to be obtained in the amount of judgement time stipulated by the govering regulation. It is likely that you would have not been at fault for the accident, but in such a situation, and in consideration of your obligations, you should:

(a). Pay 10% of the potential amount of damages resulting from such accident.

(b). Pay 30% of the potential amount of damages resulting from such accident.

(c). Pay 50% of the potential amount of damages resulting from such accident.

Bear in mind we had no study materials available. Having failed the test, we were nonetheless issued driver's licenses. We all suspect that this was simply a clever ploy to gain some hard currency, as examination fees were invovled, and to also insure that we were properly humbled before being allowed to run amok in the Middle Kingdom. First hurdle passed, on to find the bikes.

To make a long story short, we had apparently not been humiliated enough by having failed our driver's exam. The next 8 hours were spent riding in the bus from freight office, to custom's office, back to the freight office, over to the forwarding office, and round and round again. Yes, the container had arrived on 05 MAY, right on schedule. But, so sorry, one of your documents is missing. We also found out that the two bikes shipped from Australia over a month earlier had failed to arrive, the freighter they were on having been delayed a week in Singapore. It was a subdued group that returned to the hotel that evening.


Once again, we boarded our bus, and spent the better part of the morning and early afternoon running around tracking down documents and forms. To cut to the chase, the Globeriders (well, 10 of us anyway, the Australian bikes are still clearing customs) are MOTORIZED:


[I can't imagine how any more people could have been involved in opening a simple container. Uniformed officials kept appearing, a ominous mini-bus with police markings arrived and disgorged more uniforms. I'll bet former President Bush didn't have this much brass surrounding his visit here this week.]


[With all the officialdom, we expected the worst, and had no idea what was coming next. SUddenly, a cheerful yard worker appeared with the bolt cutters as long as he was tall, and the super-high-tech security seal applied by the US Custom's people in Seattle was unceremoniouslysheared off.]


[As the doors swung open, our guide, Mr. Wu, suddenly ran in front and raised his arm. I thought that some sort of blessing ceremony was about to take place. In fact, he was waving us back from the blast of gas fumes than eminated from the container.]


[The Globerider fleet, minus 2.]


[Helge, Sterling and I had spent the better part of the day on 16 APR loading the bikes and securing them for shipment. The conatiner was unloaded in about 10 minutes once we got the first bike out. This is all it took, some 2x4's, nails, and four straps per bike.]


[Mission accomplished - a German-made motorcyle, shipped from America, weighing-in at almost 900cc's OVER the legal displacement allowed, properly licensed for operation in the People's Republic of China! ]


[A very smug (and relieved!) Yours Truly, at the Shanghai container yard.]

Our first stop was at a gas station. We were supposed to ship the bikes with less than a gallon of fuel in the tank. This poor pump attendant couldn't beleive how much gas was going into my tank. It holds a little over 10 gallons/41 liters, probably more than many cars in China. She kept shutting off the pump. I kept urging her to keep filling:


Our ride back to the hotel was unbelievable. TO say that we attracted attention was a massive understatement. In front, we had our "guide" car, the tour mini-bus, running with all flashers on. We drove in staggered formation behind. Our chase car, also with flashing lights, brought up the rear. This is the ONLY way we are allowed to drive our bikes. No one is allowed to ride alone, or without the two vehicles present. All 22 days in China will be driven like this, and the maximum speed limit for us will be around 45 MPH. Everyone was staring at us. Cars honked, would pull up to look at one bike, accelerate to the next, slow down to check it out, and so on, right down the line.

Traffic police were at most of the major intersections. We were waived through every red light. As we approached one intersection, a turn lane materialzed to our left. Three vehicles were waiting for the light to turn green. Coming up behind was a mini-van, paying more attention to us than to what was ahead. He paid dearly. Like a scene from "Speed II", we heard the screech of rubber on pavement, the unmistakable crunch of steel smashing into concrete, and the mini-van hit the divider, shot vertically, rotated over the car in front, miraculously missing the other two, and landed on its roof. We were waived on though.

Less than 15 minutes later, all properly formed up on the expressway, the whole caravan was pulled over by a police car, lights flashing, loudspeaker blaring in rapid Shanghainese. Motorcycles are apparently not allowed on any expressway in China, unless it is the only way across a river. Then, they may use the far right lane, but must take the first exit after crossing. I guess our mini-bus driver and caravan leader decided to push his luck, with the result of one bus, 10 bikes, and a chase car pulled over in rush-hour traffic. I can just hear the conversation that ensued - "I don't have any idea officer. Of course, we did nothing wrong as a bus in allowed on the expressway. These nefarious foreign devils have been following us all day. I hope that you can go back there and convince them to return to wherever they came from."

I guess the patrolman didn't feel up to the task. With a lot of shouting and hand-waving, he made it clear we were to get off the expressway immediately, but let us resume. We made it back to the hotel without further mishap. 39 liters of gas, one accident, and a police incident on our first day. This tour has just become an adventure!

Posted by Mike Paull at 12:08 AM GMT
June 02, 2002 GMT
Sleepless in Seattle, Thinking of Dezhou


TOTAL DRIVEN MILEAGE (me only): 740.1
TOTAL AIRLINE MILEAGE (me only): 13,451

Before getting into the update itself, a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU! to all of you who have sent "get well" and "good wishes" email. You're generous with your online time - I've spent upwards of five hours a day simply replying to it all! And, a special thanks to my wife Aillene, for having her vacation cut short, making the journey to Beijing for what must surely be one of the shortest stays in China for any US citizen, and for taking care of me at home. Thanks to my mom for not lecturing me. Thanks to my sister Lily Paull for having chosen nursing as her career, and for being there not only with ready medical advice, but for also literally being there when we arrived t the U of W Med Center where she now works. Thanks to my brother Pat Paull, for watching and maintaining the house while we were gone, and readying it for our return, to include a full re-stock of fine ales, none of which I can drink until I'm off my meds! My deepest gratitude to the the wonderful people at MEDJET Assistance and Global Doctors, for my evacuation and repatriation back to Seattle. And to Sim, Julia and all the kind doctors, nurses, and staff in China, I hope that someday I may repay the wonderful kindness that you showered on me. Man, this is starting to sound like an Academy Awards speech....

Many of you have asked for more details about my accident and evacuation. I promise you, I'll give you FAR MORE than you ever wanted to hear or know. Before that however, I want you to assure you I'll try to keep these updates coming, from bits and pieces of email and images sent back by the other Globeriders when they find the time and connections to do so.

Also, I'm not sure if I mentioned it in an earlier update, but a full-time videographer accompanied us on the trip, and will be with the group until the tour ends in Germany. The reason? Not only do we get a way cool video of Globerider Tour 2002 at its conclusion, but, if all goes as planned, starting next TUE, (or the following TUE) The Speed Channel's (the cable motorsports channel) weekly show, Bike Week, will feature footage of the trip, shot and edited by Sterling Noren on location, and flown to Bike Week by DHL for final editing and broadcast. They'll show a segment each week until the tour is over, delayed, however, by about four or five weeks.

Finally, if any of you out there ever travel regularly more than 150 miles from home, especially those of you who are as passionate about motorcycling as I am, do your loved ones and yourself a favor, and visit the website of MEDJET Assistance IMMEDIATELY and take out a membership policy. Do it now! Here is their website (click on your browser's "Back" button to get back here):

And now, some images of Dezhou, China, the accident, and aftermath....


[A side street in a small village on the way to Dezhou - looks like the set for Kung Fu movie doesn't it?]


[We weren't able to determine what this is, but it looks very Asian, and pretty cool.]


[The grounds and river below it were equally beautiful.]


[In my opinion, the travel service insured we had incredibly good meals - too much of a good thing actually, and many of them began to look and taste suspiciously alike. Why haven't we seen any dogs or cats around? The night before, two of the group couldn't stand it, and "escaped" the formal dinner, walking into a local restaurant, with not a single word in common with the staff and patrons. They had so much fun, we did it again the following night. From left to right: David Stafford from Renton, WA; Roy Cox from Arlington, TX; Sterling Noren from Seattle, WA; Rick Wetzel from Dexter, OR. I'm taking the picture. David and Rick instigated the "escape". Roy is still practicing his skill with chopsticks .]


[The last image I of have of my trusty "iron horse", my 2000 BMW Mandarin R1150GS, fully out-fitted with Touratech and other accessories, and a Garmin MAP 176C GPS. Not a scratch on it in two years of ownership, and transit across the Pacific, just a good coat of Chinese mud.]

Now, for a painfully detailed and LONG narrative of the accident, hospitalization, and medical evacuation back to Seattle, please click on the link below, read as much as you can stand, and hit the "Back" button on your browser to get back here:

Please click here to read the Accident Narrative

To read the MEDJET Assistance Press Release on the evacuation, please click on the link below, and when done, again, hit the "Back" button on your browser to get back here:

Please click here to read the MEDJET Assistance Press Release

Back to the images....


[Yours truly being gently helped towards the waiting ambulance.]


[Very much in a state of shock, sitting in the ambulance with an unsteady smile, thinking I had nothing more than the wind knocked out of me, and a sprained shoulder.]


[Helge, knowing that next to the riders' safety and well-being, the bikes had to by kept operational and protected at all costs, and thinking I'm in the best available medical care, begins work on my bike in case I might actually be able to re-join the group. Here, he has borrowed a hack saw and shovel from a local work crew or fire truck, and is sawing through the crossbar. Once done, the shovel was affixed to each side of the handlebar with - IS THAT DUCT TAPE - to use as a lever in straightening it out. Jim Harding, always ready to jump in and help, in the background assisting, .]


[Helge visiting me in my "private room" at the hospital in Dezhou. The tape on my upper lip is holding the open end of an oxygen line in my nostril. They had no mask or nose breather. After the first day, the tape they were using wouldn't stick anymore, as they wouldn't let me bath or shower as it would be "bad for my health". Soon, they ran out of tape, and a policeman was dispatched to my motorcycle to get more from the medical kit I carried with me! Unlike doctors in the States, they still believed that binding up the chest, a clavical brace (which, fortuantely, they didn't have) and patient immobilization were the best treatment. Western doctors now beleive the exact oposite. And, no cold liquids of any type were allowed - as some diseases (this one apparantly) are treated with "hot liquids", others with "cold" - remember, this was the Traditional Chinese Medcial Hospital.]


[A parting shot of my room, the travel bags I'm allowed to take with me on the bed, just prior to transport to Beijing. In the baclground, "Julia" Ling Feng, still providing my link to the doctors and nurses. As you can see, cleanliness was not at the top of the list - although the food was good and came from outside, it was often left on the desk overnight.]


[The wrecker taking my bike to the police yard for investigation and storage. By now, the first awful diagnoses of my injuries was known, and we knew my tour was over.]


[A view of the left side of my bike, the most damaged, at the police yard. Not much really given the force of the impact, the speed during the slide, and the fact that the bike flipped onto the other side. Those big cylinders jutting out from either side and stout Touratech panniers and mounts fully protected my legs from any injury at all, and, saved much of the bike from further damage as well. Hmmm, anyone seen my windshield?]

Now, imagine this, I come home to Seattle, and find two of my favorite magazines waiting in my mail stack. In the May 2002 edition of BMW Owners News, David L. Hough, an editor and MSF instructor (mine, in fact, when I took one of their fine courses), notes "The natural resting position of a motorcycle is horizontal. The key to keeping upright is to learn to read the road surface." Boy, wish I'd know THAT before leaving Seattle!

And, in the June 2002 edition of MOTORCYCLIST, Editor in Chief Mitch Boehm's column begins "I've learned a lot over the last six weeks. I learned that coughing or sneezing with freshly broken ribs is probably the most painful thing that can happen to you. I learned about bed sores, from having to sleep in one position all night. And I learned that broken ribs do not heal quickly." NOW he tells me, if I'd known all this, I would have stayed at home in the first place - not! (Mitch had been involved in an earlier accident apparently).

It didn't end there. Laura Seaver, a fine rider who participated in Globeriders 2000, informed me that Chris Shea, co-president of the WA State BMW club, had hit one of nature's 4-hoofed SUV's (aka a deer) at 70 MPH and broken a collar bone, must be the month for it!

But, I'll end it here - this "update" has become an "epic" through the sheer number of words. I'll leave you with the following two images of David Stafford, showing that, in China, even walking requires constant attention.


[In Japan and China, specially textured sidewalk tiles are used to help the blind stay on the sidewalk, and know when an intersection is at hand - you can actually feel the pattern through the soles of your shoes. Here's David proving this is true, unfortunately, you can see he's blissfully unaware that it's apparently lunch time, and a work crew left a manhole cover open. Just like the car that had plowed into the dirt barrier in an earlier update, Dave's vacation is also about to become "An Adventure!"]


[The result? Actually, remember in grade school science class when they asked that stupid question "So, like, if I keep digging a hole deep enough, will I dig through to China?" Here is Dave proving the theory, in reverse! Or, did he really dig thru from "the other side"? Actually, the whole thing was staged - Dave saw a rickety wooden ladder disappearing into the depths of the hole, and just couldn't resist. With that, I leave you until the next update. Good night!]

Posted by Mike Paull at 09:54 AM GMT
June 06, 2002 GMT

05 JUN 2002 - SEATTLE, WA (06 JUN 2002, Krasnoyarsk "Globeriders time")

Since I last saw them, the Globeriders have traveled thru:

CHINA: Huludao, Shengyen, Changchun, Harbin, Daoqing

MONGOLIA: Zhalantun, and Yakeshi.

Have crossed the border into Russia at Manzhouli, then continued on:

RUSSIA: Zabaikalsk, Chita, Ulan Ude, Irkutsk, Lake Baikal, and Tuluun, and now, Krasnoyarsk.

Exotic names, continually shifting roads, new dialects and languages - how I wish I were with them. But, here I sit, restless in Seattle....

As I noted before, Speed Channel's Bike Week did begin coverage of the tour with this week's episode(s). I watched in admiration and envy. One-third of the broadcast highlighted the remarkable exploits of Helge, his comments and thoughts on this year's tour, with some footage from the first one in 2000. To paraphrase Andy Warhol - I had my 5 seconds of fame moving bikes around the warehouse and into the shipping container with Helge. I think part of next week's segment may include scenes in our house here in Seattle as I was packing for the trip. Right now, I'm Bike Week's most avid fan.

When I started my retirement from 10 years at Microsoft, my team presented me with the following:


[In retrospect, maybe this "baby GS" would have been the better choice. At least, it would have kept me off any streets, and I could have spent my fuel budget for beer! You can actually buy these from your local BMW motorcycle dealer. Of course, BMW sells $500.00 skateboards, and $5,000.00 mountain bikes, so, don't ask....]

Here is the first of many snippets of email that I hope to receive from those Globeriders able to find the time, and more importantly, an internet cafe, as they ride on to Krakow, Poland, where I hope to re-join the group by "plane, train, and automobile". I'll leave the excerpts pretty much as received, correcting only those gross spelling errors that I know the author(s) would have caught had they access to a spell-checker:

Received 5/24/02

Well I'm sitting here in Docquin or something like that. We left Harbin this afternoon, and then rode 140 miles down a really, really bumpy road, that was paved, but in terrible shape. John, on a KLR 650, broke his sub-frame and sheared two bolts that hold it on, but it was welded up within an hour!

We were joined yesterday, in Harbin, by the local "outlaw" motorcycle club. Bikes over 250cc are illegal, but there is an underground scene that has 1100 CBR's, V-Max's , hot-rodded Harleys, etc., etc. They actually followed us the whole way today. Some on pure dirt bikes! Laws are made to be broken here in China, so it didnít surprise us. They were doing wheelies in very busy traffic on the main street, against the traffic, through a red light. Unbelievable.

David and I decided to go for a walk and do some shopping as I lost my sunglasses, and he needed zip-ties, so we walked around down town (a little town by comparison to what we've come accustomed to, with just a little over 3 million people in it.) We stumbled upon the club house of the "outlaw gang" that ďwelcomedĒ us earlier in the day. Whatíre the odds of that???? Well, we were invited in, given beers to drink, etc., etc. Needless to say, we didnít get our shopping done. In the end, they ( 23 of em') took us out to dinner, in a nice Chinese restaurant, of course, then presented us with some seriously nice "racing style" motorcycle jackets! They have about 30 patches on them and are new! Only myself and David, my roomie, got them!

We are only 5 days away from Russia, and have ridden 1900 miles. We have been on 2 TV. news stations, and in one newspaper. The traffic is better as we are getting into more rural areas, but the cities still are murderous. We saw a dead guy hanging out of a truck cab day before last, with his brain dripping out! Yuk. Bike accidents every once in a while too, but not us. The only dropped bikes of ours were both on marble floors in parking garages, or hotel lobbies. So all in all, were doing really well. Some of the craziest drivers are people that will do ANYTHING to stay with us to give us the thumbs up sign or take a picture of us, riding down the highway. They will drive in the oncoming lane with traffic coming right at them, in the lane next to us, making the oncoming traffic veer around them. They do this for miles at a time. Having 3 lanes of traffic in a single lane is common. In a way, itís really fun, but itís for real! The dirt road action today was exciting. We are in the Manchurian plains that are the largest corn and wheat plains in the world. It sounds boring but isnít. Every single moment is right out of a National Geographic magazine.

Dinner tonight was great, just when I think we have seen everything, they bring us an entire pigís head complete with snout, and cherries or some kind of red berries stuck in the eye sockets

I am definitely enjoying the trip so far, and I feel it has been worth what was paid for it. The only bummer is our not being able to stop when we want. But the fact that we can be in China at all is really something. We are such outsiders. Most everywhere we go, people act like they have never seen such a crazy thing. The crowds are annoying sometimes, but most of the time, they are fun. They really get a kick out of the map stickers that Mike Paull made for each and every one of us. My globe fell off 2 days ago, almost breaking my heart.

Shui De Hao,

Rick (Rick Wetzel is from Dexter, OR - USA)

As for me, I'll continue to "ghost write" updates as I can, and will hopefully go "live" again around 01 JUL. I'm getting a bit better day by day, but still can't "sleep" in any position but upright. And, worrisome, no word on when my bike will get shipped back home - always another excuse about paper-work. If things don't go as hoped, I may get an empty crate for the $1,000.00 it's going to ship the "bike" home. Of course, even with that, the riding need not end. I received the following from my brother-in-law, Christian Balagtas, in Cainta Rizal, Philippines. I have no idea where he found it, but, see what you can do with an empty shipping crate, some coconuts, bark, and a little straw?


[I've heard the term "iron horse" used to describe a motorbike, but, a "wooden horse??!!]

Posted by Mike Paull at 12:17 AM GMT
September 01, 2002 GMT
The Ultimate Hardtail....


LAT:N50.05876 LON:E19.92361



[The Cracovia Hotel in Krakow, Poland]



[While Aillene and I traveled around 5,800 miles by plane and train in a little under 30 hours....]


[...the Globeriders covered close to 7,000 miles over a period of 48 DAYS! That portion of the journey is their story, and it wouldn't be right to recount it here.]


Aillene and I took the train from Warsaw to Poland. I was glad to see that even the national railway people had a sense of humor, see below:


[I doubt Steven Spielberg would approve of this aptly-named dining car. Hope the scene inside doesn't match that of the movie from which the name was derived!]

Since I had last seen the group in Beijijng, they have driven over 7,000 miles, travelling through Northern China, Mongolia, across the vast country of Russia (8 time zones!), and through Ukraine. I hope some of you were able to follow their exploits on Speedchannel. I couldn't begin to recount their adventures (and mis-adventures) here, but I know that a lot of vodka was consumed, a few braves souls dared the frigid waters of the world's largest and deepest fresh water lake, Lake Baikal (20% of all the fresh water on planet Earth in that lake!), joined in drag races, got lost, found, and continued to make friends and memories across Eurasia.

However, the "endurance far and above the call of duty" award had to go to David Wilde, an English ex-pat from Indonesia, riding his Kawasaki KLR 650. Somewhere in Russia, his bike developed a VERY pronounced vibration from somewhere down in the bowels of its engine. Another rider, who rode it for a while to give David a rest, claimed that he could only hold onto the handlebars with one hand positioned near the center. The vibration was so bad his hands became totally numb in minutes. As if that wasn't bad enough, David's rear shock lost its damping ability, meaning that he was riding solely on the spring. Imagine riding a two-wheeled pogo stick across Russia! Then, adding insult to injury, the shaft and spring finally gave up the ghost and broke. A replacement shock was nowhere to be found in Russia. Their solution is shown below:


[Any self-respecting engineer would tell you that you can't weld steel to aluminum - here's proof that isn't neccessarily true. A local repair shop in Russia took David's now broken rear shock, removed the upper and lower mounting points, and jammed and welded them onto a piece of rebar (concrete reinforcing bar, a universal way to strengthen concrete)!]


[A bemused Sterling Noren holding David's make-shift "shock".]

I'm sure the pogo-sticking was bad. I can't imagine how horribly worse it must have been to ride a motorcycle on roads in a sad state of disrepair for hundreds, if not thousands, of miles. In the United States, people still build highly-customized motorcycles called "choppers", and many of these are intentionally built without a rear shock to enhance their appearance. These are commonly referred to as "hardtails". With his "rebar strut" in place, David surely deserves an Ironbutt award for riding the "ultimate" hardtail through the world's largest country! Fortunately, I had received a desperate email plea to locate and hand-carry a new rear shock with me from the States, which I presented to a weary David when we met at the border. The cost of a new replacement shock in the States as quoted by a local dealer? $850.00! The value in Poland - priceless!


[David and friends busily installing the new shock in a border restaurant's parking lot near Krakoweic, Poland.]

In the next Update - Krakow, Poland....

Posted by Mike Paull at 07:11 AM GMT

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