Rules of the Road by Patrick Peck
- Only ride at night or in the rain if it is unavoidable due to poor visibility for you and other traffic.
Poor road conditions are magnified exponentially.
Beautiful surroundings are not visible. Remember that travel is not all about just getting there.
-Constantly check your turn signal switch.
Something simple but it can KILL you if you don't.
-Relax your shoulders continually as tension will exhaust you on long rides.
Your reflexes are much quicker in emergency manouvers if you are relaxed.
-Be very aware of your blind spot and the blind spot of other close vehicles.
Never ride in someone else's blind spot.
-Learn to read the "body language" of other vehicles and assume they cannot see you.
Use movements and wheel directions to help you to predict if a car will cross your path.
-Never drink and drive a motorcycle.
Even a small amount will effect your balance and coordination.
-Get in the habit of shoulder checking EVERY time you change lanes or cross a lane of traffic.
Remember your blindspot.
-Know when you will go to reserve and how far reserve will take you.
Zero your trip meter at fill up and know your fuel capacity.
-Know when your next service is due.
Carry spares like oil filters, sprocket and brake pads.
-Cold start- Idle your bike for at least a minute.
Most engine wear occurs in that first minute from cold.
-Cross railway tracks and road ridges as close to right angle as possible.
You never know if oil or water has made them slippery.
-Keep your visor clean.
I use water and my bare hand to clean.
Setting sun on a dirty visor is blinding.
-Avoid distractions like map or GPS reading on the move.
Things come for you when you are not looking.
-Try to keep up with traffic to avoid being an obstacle to other traffic.
We all know the dangers of passing a slow vehicle.
-Constantly watch for sand or oil on the road when cornering, or anything that may cause you to loose traction.
-Stand up on your peggs while crossing rough terrain.
It's easier on your back and stops the catapult effect.
-If you fall off your bike, get off a busy road.
Do a quick check of you and your bike and ride on.
-Always drive with your headlights on.
You are so much more visible to drivers only looking for other cars.
-Try NOT to brake strongly and suddenly.
The vehicle behind may not react quickly enough.
-Keep your distance from the car ahead.
They may do an emergency brake.
-For emergency braking use your front brake in stages.
Full on front braking may lock your front wheel and down you go!
-Never ride with your foot resting on your back brake pedal.
It wears out your brakes and keeps you brake light on.
-Avoid passing a slow vehicle who could be slowing to make a turn, possibly in front of you.
-Never pass a vehicle indicating across your path.
In some countries, this is a signal from the driver that it is clear to pass!
-Think ahead, and use your engine and gearing to slow you down rather than your brakes.
A set of pads will last you a lot longer and you get better fuel consumption.
-Watch your mirrors about 5% of the time as 99% of collisions come from the front.
Still know whats coming up behind you.
-Check tyre pressures regularly.
It will save fuel and make your tyres last longer!
-Always cover your bike at night or long storage.
It stops rust and corrosion and hides the bike from thieves.
-Don't ride in salt water.
Rust will quickly dissintegrate your bike.
-Check oil at each fill up until you get a usage pattern for your bike.
-Wear protective clothing for the season.
If you are too hot or too cold it will affect your judgement.
We find that layers is the answer.
-Drink lots of water on the road.
Dehydration will also affect your judgement and energy.
-Don't get angry if someone cuts you off.
Just practise collision avoidance and stay mentally positive.
-Count to 5 at the intersection when the light turns green.
How many times have you seen people run the RED?
-Be obliging and respectful to all police officers.
They have the capacity to make your life a misery.
-Keep a record of all services and maintenance so you know what to do before your next trip or for the next owner.
I will pay more for a bike that I know is maintained properly.
-Nice things are always at the end of a gravel road!
Don't be afraid, just adjust your speed to suit your bike.
-Stick with your mates:
Keep them behind in your mirror- If you haven't seen them in a few minutes, slow down for a few minutes and if you still haven't seen them then stop for a few minutes. If still no sight then turn back to the point you last saw them. No contact then phone, if out of range then go to original destination and call or email your friend.
-Keep the guy in front in sight.
Never turn off the road if the guy behind cannot see you. Stop and wait.
Which country do you visit?
- Choose a cheap and safe country as your daily budget will be lower and the trip can be longer.
It may not be cheap or safe the next time you travel.
-Time your visit to avoid the cold or wet season.
-If your time is specific then choose a country for the season.
-Shipping is expensive and a hassle so choose a country that is easy to get to.
-Make sure you have valid 3rd party insurance for the country of travel.
A lawsuit could ruin your life.
-Choose the lightest bike possible to do the job.
No one has ever complained about having a bike which is too light!
-Choose a bike first for it's reliability.
-Choose a bike that has many dealerships in the country of travel.
Bring a parts manual (on a CD or USB) as dealers can order your parts even though they didn't import the bike.
-Contact the H/U community members ahead of your travel.
They are like minded people wanting to meet fellow travellers.
-NEVER BORROW MONEY TO TRAVEL!
Enjoy every moment, sometimes riding is like a computer game, but in this game you only have one LIFE!
Posted by Patrick Peck at 12:43 AM
We are now back in sunny Australia and will attempt to summarise our 3 months motorcycling around Sri Lanka! Having searched the season weather for Sri Lanka, we were mentally prepared for the wet November that is expected each year, but the following two months of predicted sunny weather would make it worth while (or so we thought!!)
Alfons Van Hoof the Horizons Unlimited community member for Sri Lanka met us at the airport and found us great accomodation near the Nagumbo beaches not far from the Airport. He was an incredible host, providing us with local knowledge of where to go and what scenic roads to take as well as GPS software for our Garmin handheld. Alfons was nice enough to rent his second Bajaj cruiser 180cc bike and fitted it with any extras and mods needed for a 3 month overland trip. This Indian built Japanese design bike never gave us a moments grief and disproved our doubts in Indian machinery. An added bonus was the 43.5 kms/litre fuel economy, giving us a 500km range before reserve making it a total of 600kms range.
Alfons also provided us with soft panniers big enough to carry everything needed for three months of blistful touring 2 up.
Our first overnight stop enroute was the elephant sanctuary on the way to Kandy. Most of the Elephants were orphans from the landmines of the Tamil Tiger civil war that had been raging for more than 20 years. One adult had lost the bottom half of one leg and the other front leg was badly disformed from the explosion. Another more fortunate occupant was a 95 year old mammoth tusker. The guide tried to temp Belinda into stroking his enormous donger that nearly had the circumferance of one of his legs and nearly hung to the ground! We heard he died a few weeks after our visit.
The roads are really quite good for motorcycles, providing you stay off the main busy roads, as they are mostly asphalt and wind thier way through rice paddy fields and tea plantations with little traffic.
The main roads take a bit of getting used to if you are from a first world country where "might is right" and buses are at the top of the foodchain. Locals refuse to use their mirrors and use their horns to make their presence known.
If you see a local with his right indicator (turn signal) on it could mean a number of things: They may want you to pass them on the right or they want to turn right themselves or they really want to turn left but forgot thier indicator was on!
All western driving rules are "out the window" with vehicles and obstacles coming onto your path of travel from all directions and various speeds. A driver needs 110% concentration as if in some fast action computer game. Its all about collision avoidance and in our 3 months although we had many close calls, we didn't see one accident, so the system does work.
The city of Kandy was not as nice as its name may indicate with a lot of slow moving taffic congestion and a lot of noise and air pollution, although we really did enjoy the walk around its central lake and a visit to the Tooth Temple.
From Kandy's central highlands we meandered slowly through manicured tea plantations toward the national park of Yala near to the southeast coast to see our first wild Indian Elephant (which is much smaller than its African relations)
Before picking up our daughter Kate at the Columbo Airport we stopped into nearly all of the beaches along the southern coastline and there are many!
Belinda and I felt very fortunate to have Kate accompany us by motorcycle for nearly a month. We rented a DR 250 Suzuki to accomodate her long legs and some rough terrain we had experienced from time to time for around US$15 per day.
With the monsoons persisting, we became good at reading precip forcast maps on the internet and dodging looming thunderstorms on each horizon. As good as we thought we were, we still got a good drenching on a few occasions.
Together we travelled to the north along the west coast which took us past many abandoned beach towns and fishing villages. We spent our first travelling night together on the sandy peninsula town of Kalpitiya.
The next day would take us to the ancient ruined cities located in the central north and closely accessable from the more mdern city on Anuradhapura.
Posted by Patrick Peck at 03:56 AM
Oman Oct 2012
A relatively short flight from Greece to Oman took us to our Muscat based friends from our home town Cairns, Chris and Dale Bartlett. Now did they have an action packed agenda for the next 2 weeks! From porsche drives through the country to a 4 day desert and mountain 4WD camping trip.
We explored ancient Arabic ruined cities, abandoned cliff dwellings, wadi bashing (driving up dry, rocky river beds) as well as a motorcycle day trip with a loan bike (BMW1150GS) from Tim Seed, The HU community member in Muscat. Tim is our hero as he located our lost motorbike from our previous trip to Oman. The freight forwarder took our money and our bike with no intention to ship it to Zanzibar. Tim forced the forwarder to ship the bike, thus saving us one huge monumental hassle and a ruined trip!
We were very impressed with Chris and Dale's adventure equipped 1998 Moto Guzzi Quota 1100ES ready for their upcoming trans Africa trip two-up.
We went hiking at the Grand Canyon of Oman, boating along the scenic coastline, beach combing and photography club at sunset, souk shopping for frankincense, cocktails at awesome palaces, met lots of their friends, BBQ's on the beach and had a fantastic time!
The fuel prices at .24 Euro Cents/litre made the touring cheap!
We found the Omani's extremely friendly and tolerant to the Western ways. Our two weeks were up before we knew it and we were on a plane to our next destination ....four months motorcycling around Sri Lanka!
Posted by Patrick Peck at 01:03 PM
East Europe 2012
With only days left on our Schengen visa we must leave our beloved Switzerland to enter Croatia (which is scheduled to join the Schengen programme July 2013). We had heard many great reports on the Stelvio Pass in the Italian Alps and as it was on route the accent was a must. The switchbacks were so tight that you had to carefully plan your approach to each 160 deg turn and it was to our amazement that we passed a few medium sized motorhomes creeping up and down the slopes! We still dont know how they did it.
A response to our email to the members of the HU community in Croatia came from Goran Radetic in the small town of Porec on the West coast of the Istrian peninsula. He invited us to stay at his house with his new bride Jelena. They were so kind as to escort us around the peninsula showing us and telling us about the Greek and Roman history.
Heading south to the island of Krk we all met up with Nikola Mrakovcic, another HU community member. We had visited Nikola on our first pass through in 2005 and found him a wealth of knowledge on most Slavic countries as he writes motorcycle travel articles for the Croatian Bike Magazine.
Nikola instructed us to make contact with his friend Anton Rozic on the island city of Trogir. He and his wife Marija and daughter Paulina were fabulous hosts and treated us like family! Once again we had a local tour guide in Anton and he really showed us around the mainland on some fantastic roads.
He was kind enough to organise a 5 day inter island boat trip for us and store our bike til our return. One island visited was Korcula, the claimed birth place of our hero Marco Polo.
South of Croatia, along the Adriatic Coast is the magnificent country of Montenegro. We had no idea how beautiful this country really was when we took 24 hours to pass through along the coast in 2007. Having no expectations we were in for many surprises: from the cliff chiseled Monastery of Ostrog to the Pivsko Jezero Canyon with a section of road containing 67 rough tunnels in a 20km stretch leading to Durmitor National Park. This road was made to literally hug the canyon wall. The mountainous interior is dotted with ski areas and associated ski towns. The small windy interconnected roads made for some real "magic carpet rides".
Along the coast was just as jaw dropping with the island Monasteries surrounded by coastal mountains. We were lucky enough to find an apartment just opposite and overlooking these monasteries in Perast and that was enough to stop us in our tracks for over a week! From Perast there were too many spectacular biking roads to mention. Every day we would do day rides, only to return to our apartment on the water at night. The fortified town of Kotor, with its walls stretching for over 2 km's kept us enthralled for 2 days. Our thought was that Montenegro is the Switzerland of Eastern Europe.
Just to the south lies Albania and we were pleasantly surprised at the upgraded condition of the roads compared to our previous ride in 2007. Two worthwhile forts to visit are Rozafa Castle and the UNESCO listed Berat Castle. Fuel in Albania is considerably cheaper than the other European countries that we visited.
Heading east to Macedonia we entered Macedonia at Lake Ohrid and spent the night in a modern guesthouse on the overcrowded shoreline of Ohrid city. Thank goodness we fueled up before the border as Greek fuel prices rate amongst the highest in Europe. We had made arrangements to meet up with our old friend Orestis, the HU member for Athens at the picturesque town of Kastoria.
We celebrated our 3 year reunion with many bottles of wine on our penthouse verandah overlooking the Lake. The windy mountain rides and great Greek food, with great company made for an awesome 3 days. Sadly it all came to an end when we heard from HU community members and our bike partners Csilla and Oli, that a truck had been booked to take the bike back to Oradea, Romania. Upon leaving Greece the Immigration Officer thoroughly checked our passports for Schengen overstay.
Next stop.... Muscat, Oman.
Posted by Patrick Peck at 11:21 AM
Pat and "Miss Adventure 3" in front of an awesome Swiss House...just cant get enough of them...so unique!
The beginning of our trip...Belinda, Patrick, Oli, Dominik, Erik and Csilla, with Miss Adventure3 on the trailer.
Brian and Sandra Smith and Patrick in Southern Germany celebrating their 40 years Wedding Anniversary
Posted by Patrick Peck at 10:21 AM