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Riding the globe...

Horizons Unlimited
Motorcycle Travellers'

in cooperation with
Quality Touring equipment worldwide.

Are you a TRAVELLER? Does the smell of spices wafting through the air make you think of Zanzibar, a cacophony of honking horns is Cairo, or a swirl of brilliantly patterned clothing Guatemala?
Then you're reading the right newsletter!

Special Events News


Plan where to be when!

If you know of any events of interest to travellers, send me a note.

Calendar 2000

Nick Sanders, Fastest Man Around the World,

is organising a two week trip from London to Casablanca, to be filmed by Sky TV. Get famous, call Nick at +44 (0) 1295 758095

BCCOM 2000 Kamloops, B.C., Canada

August 4-7, 2000

KXA Exhibition Grounds in Kamloops, B.C., Canada. BCCOM (British Columbia Coalition of Motorcyclists) 2000 will have demonstrations involving all aspects of motorcycling from the novice to the expert, displays, motorcycle skill events, games, entertainment, dealer demos and almost everything else you can think of concerning motorcycles. There will also be the 2000 BC Ride for Sight, a great charity mass ride.

Tours for Africa

August 2000

...Wanna do a (the first?) motorcycle circumnavigation of Africa?

BC Canyons Rally Hot Springs 2000, British Columbia, Canada
August 13-19, 2000,

A five day dual - sport/road tour in beautiful British Columbia that starts in Kamloops and ends in Fairmont, BC. Riders will have a choice of hard-surface and gravel routes. Every night we camp at hot springs. Tour is limited to 20 bikes. Cost: CDN$525 or US$375 includes five nights camping, catered meals, excellent map books, and support vehicle to carry some of your gear. Contact Ged Schwartz at or Tel. +1-(250) 372-0550. All routes tested by an overweight 1100 cc dual-sport bike...some technical stuff is optional. NOTE - only a very few places left!

German Motorcycle - Magazine MOTORRAD is having a BMW-rallye August 18-20, in Zellerreit, Germany

"(south of Wasserburg, which lies east of Munich). The reason is the 20th birthday of the BMW GS-Series. There will be some Travellers like Helge Pedersen, some BMW-Specialist like HPN or Touratech and of course many interesting guests, all of them riding a GS (or most of them...). Only camping, of course. If somebody is around - please come! But give me a note before.
Hope to see some of you!

Michael Schröder, Ressort Unterwegs"

A note from Gregory Frazier:

"Grant, I will be an invited guest at MOTORRAD's BMW GS "20th Birthday Party" August 18-20 in Zellerreit, Germany. This will be the formal announcement date for my new pictorial book about the BMW GS motorcycles, "BMW GSing Around The World."

I am looking forward to seeing many of the BMW GS riders I have met in Germany and around the world. In the two trips I made around the globe, a majority of the riders I encountered along the way were on GS motorcycles.

One, with his wife, was even riding a GS he bought after it fell off the back of the delivery truck! (I wonder who he's talking about ;-) Grant) Talk about being built to "take the knocks," the GS's have taken a lot of abuse handed out by me as I rode them around the world.

In all, I have owned about 6 or seven of them, have ridden them over 300,000 miles, raced one and still do some off-road rally riding with an older model. Pretty tough bikes, even with their quirks.

Zellerreit should be fun. I will be presenting a short slide show. I look forward to seeing/meeting any Horizons Unlimited subscribers who are there.

Dr. Gregory W. Frazier"

Susan and I plan to be there too, so we'll see you there!

BIG DOG 2,000 August 25-27, near Denver, Colorado, USA

A new entrant class has been added for those riders who want to log some big miles, the "GP Class." Ideally suited for the GS rider who prefers to cover some ground rather than rock-hop, the GP Class will incorporate a combination of gravel (high speed gravel roads) and pavement. The remaining classes (A & B) will again encounter a combination of mud, snow, sand, single track and goat trails crossing the upper reaches of the Rocky Mountains. All classes will exceed 11,000 feet above sea level, some 12,500 feet.

As in years past, the number of entrants in the BIG DOG RIDE will be limited. First receiving Invitations will be veteran BIG DOGS from prior years. Those unable to accept their Invitation will create openings for new entrants.

MOTORCYCLIST magazine will have an entrant this year.

The BIG DOG RIDE 2000, the "world's highest, toughest" BMW GS motorcycle event, is hosted by BMW Of Denver, the Rocky Mountain's oldest BMW motorcycle dealer. If you would like to be considered for an invitation, reply to or BMW of Denver 1-(303) 936-2317


The first 'INTERNATIONAL BMW GS WHEELIE COMPETITION' has been announced, and will be open to all entrants in the BMW GS 'BIG DOG RIDE.' BIG DOG RIDE organizers say that any participant entered in the BIG DOG RIDE 2000, on any motorcycle ridden in the event, is eligible. This excludes 'special purpose' BMW motorcycles that may have been designed to capture the 'Wheelie King' title and not ridden in the BIG DOG RIDE. BIG DOG RIDE entrant 'Gordo' Pairman, from Tucson, Arizona, on a BMW R100 GS says, 'I can win this event, if I do not crash.'

Dr. Gregory W. Frazier R80G/S (Very Tired)"

TTT Rally - Thrasher's Terrifying Trek, Australia

26-27 August

" of the best rallies for Adventure bikes. Held in the wilds of the Blue mountains near Wombeyan Caves, 200km southwest of Sydney.

The ride in includes some windy tar, great dirt roads and some fun easy firetrails. There is always a good mix of different offroad bikes and a smattering of intrepid souls on roadbikes. BYO food and drink with a glass of port and gelignite (go there and find out) supplied! We will have lunch on the way in at Wombeyan Caves.

Meeting 9am for a 9.30 leave at the Caltex (used to be Ampol) servo on the Hume Hwy. at Casula. Meeting points can be arranged at Mittagong and Wombeyan Caves.

Contact- Michael Trimboli on 02 9499 7716(H) Or 9634-4419 at work."

Abgefahren, Germany

Monday, 28 August

"...will be the slide show Abgefahren, by Claudia Metz and Klaus Schubert - 16 years around the world, presented at an open air show in Bonn. This couple travelled on two XT500 and did some unbelievable things. (like lashed the two bikes together and SAILED the Atacama, rafted the Amazon with the bikes for power...Grant) You're welcome to come, since it's just before the Gieboldehausen weekend. Although it will be in German only, it should be a great event."

4th International Motorrad Reise Treffen (Motorcycle Travelers Meeting) in Gieboldehausen, Germany

(GPS: N 51 37'11.9" E 10 13'10.1")

September 1-3, 2000

Ralph Wüstefeld and Wolfgang Simmert put on a great little rally in the middle of some terrific riding country somewhere in the middle of Germany. Slide shows, lots of food and drink, a band and long distance Travellers only! What more could you want? Oh yeah, forgot about those Danish rallies... they're truly wild.

Note: You MUST register in advance! Contact Ralph for details.

Airheads European Millennium Rendezvous

September 4-9, 2000

So far only the date. For those who aren't familiar with the term "airhead," except as an insult, it's a name given to old BMW twins, air-cooled, where the new ones are oilheads, mostly oil cooled, and the 4's are water-cooled. The 'airheads' are a busy group of old BMW lovers and riders...This includes all the old R80 and R100GS's.

"Airheads and airhead riders, registration desk for the '4th european airheads rendezvous' Sept.4th-9th is open until August 25th.

This year´s rendezvous like last year's will include 2 parts, one part will be at the camping-moto in the French region 'la drôme', the other part at a gîte close to Sospel in the French sea-alps.

Camping-moto, a motorcyclists only campground close to crest/drôme is beautifully situated at the banks of the Gervanne river under lots of shady trees - one of the best motorcyclist campgrounds in Europe.

In Sospel we will stay (camp or bed) at a typical french gîte, situated at the base of famous rally Monte Carlo "col de turini". Besides numerous other challenging paved cols around especially the gs-riders will find a whole net of unpaved ww1 and ww2 military dirt-roads like the 'Monte Saccarello road' connecting old forts on the mountainridges between France and Italy. in the evening our host will be proud to serve us the great typical southern French cuisine.

If you want to register please send an e-mail asap to:, including name, address, abc# (if you are a clubmember already) and the bike you will ride to the rendezvous. You will receive the registration form afterwards.

Horizons Unlimited new LINKS...

GET YOUR WEB SITE LISTED in the LINKS section by listing Horizons Unlimited on YOUR web site, let me know you've done it by mailing me a link to the page, and you may get listed here in the next newsletter and on the Horizons Unlimited web site Links page.

All sites will be considered for listing, but must be a MOTORCYCLE or TRAVEL site, useful or of interest in some way to travellers.

Links will be rotated regularly as needed.

Motorcycling in Thailand

Great primer on Thailand with lots of good information for travellers. Go to the home page and there's some great recipes too!

Tom Grenon's way off-road website

Repair Shops...

Do you know of a good shop "on the road,"

in other words somewhere there isn't a number of shops? USA, Canada, Europe etc. don't count. That's too easy. And too many! We're looking for those rare items, good repair shops in South America, Africa and Asia etc. I will create a web page for them eventually.

From Erin and Chris Ratay, in Thailand:


Bangkok, Thailand
Attn: Yut - simply the best
Near Kao San Rd -- specializing in BMW, but catering to all overlanders
ph: +66-2-282-9999
fax: +66-2-281-0322
mobile: 01-866-9961


Penang, Malaysia
Guan or Jessie
ph: +60-4-281-9452
fax: -0981
mobile: 010-445-4646

Tech tips and bits...

Submit your tips and questions here, anything goes! Got a great idea for travellers, found a new solution to a problem? Send it in! If you're having a problem, just ask, there's a lot of people with a ton of experience out there to help.

Carburetor Tuning

In one of his e-mails for help Matthew Newland brought up the subject of carb balancing on BMW twins. (Luke Timmermans did too, so I thought it was time to comment) He (and Luke had been told to also) had been taught to do it by disconnecting one spark plug lead and adjusting to a specified RPM, then doing the other side. This is NOT recommended on any electronic ignition BMW as it will damage the electronic ignition module. So how do you balance the carbs on the road? Some people ignore it and put up with a little roughness, or just wait till they hit a dealer. If you like to do it yourself, there are a number of methods.

The vacuum gauges used by dealers are nice, but expensive and fragile, as well as bulky to carry. The popular and inexpensive CarbStix, long glass tubes with mercury inside, are hopeless for travelling. Another one called the Twinmax is nice and purported to work very well, but is all electronic, battery powered, and seems a bit fragile.

My favorite is a Suzuki Balancer. I've had mine since 1972 when the first Suzuki triples came out. I was a Suzuki dealer then and had to buy it as part of the dealer kit. It was designed for triples, but it was easy to cut the excess parts off to make it small and suitable for a twin. It's only about 5 inches long x 1 inch wide x 5/8 inch thick plus the hoses. The system consists of plastic tubes with a steel ball inside, and an adjuster at the bottom to vary the amount of air let in. Mine has travelled with me for 13 years now, and while it looks a little the worse for wear, still works fine.

Suzuki still make it, but for 4 cylinder outboard motors! It can be purchased ONLY from Suzuki OUTBOARD shops. Part #09913-13121. It's £121 in the UK, expensive, but you could get together with someone else and make two!

Another good tool based on a similar principle is the Carbtune II. I haven't tried one but it looks pretty good. Available in twin (UK£37) or 4 cylinder models (UK£49). Shipping is only UK£6 anywhere in the world, less if you're in Europe or the UK. It gets good reviews, and the size, while a little bigger than the Suzuki version, is quite reasonable and should pack well. And it's much cheaper!

And a Special Offer for Horizons Unlimited MC Travellers E-zine readers!

Free worldwide postage for subscribers or readers on the Carbtune II if ordered before the end of September 2000. To get the free postage just mention "Horizons Unlimited" in the order.

Don't miss out, get one now!

Who are they?

I've made contact with some of the people we were looking for last month, thanks! - but the following are still unaccounted for...

From Chris Walstow, Canada "Quote from Tommy's (Ryser, USA,) latest e-mail "Met Kazumi, a gal from Japan solo riding the continents on a Honda Trail 225. She said it was a bike she could pick up by herself when it fell." Anybody know anymore on Kazumi?

Lionel Marx, I have no e-mail for him...

Annette, Sweden, travelling solo, heading North from Nairobi ...(met by Dave Thompson in Nairobi)

A Brit heading for Timbuktu...?

a Danish guy, Pauly, travelling on a new R80G/S classic converted into a PD, last seen in Kenya.

Russel, a guy travelling on an old Yamaha XT600 Tenere, last seen in Kenya.

A Brit on an F650 in Kenya, heading north...

A Brazilian biker, Raphael Karen, travelling on a Yamaha Super Tenere, going from Sao Paulo to Alaska...

Chris van de Goorberg, Netherlands, XT600, last seen in Mali...

Nacho and Carina, from Argentina, last seen in Mali...

Johan ? traveller from Netherlands, last seen in Rio de Janeiro.

Lee Prescott and Ian Freeman on an F650 and R100GS last seen in Chile..

When you meet people out there, please get contact info and let me know so I can add them to my who's who and where list! Grant

Travellers' News Report

10th Edition, August 1, 2000

Hi, and welcome to the 10th edition of the Travellers News. Never thought I'd make it to this milestone. ;-) Thanks for all your terrific support.

If you didn't get the full story on "where in the world is Gordon Chase," I received an e-mail from a reader who had visited his website, hosted by Corbin, the seat manufacturer. They had posted a "Missing" Bulletin, saying that he hadn't been heard from for some time, was last heard from in Thailand heading for India, and were wondering if anyone had seen him. Fearing the worst, I sent out an e-mail to everyone on the list.

Within a matter of hours I had a report back from the Ratays in SE Asia somewhere that they had talked to Gordon via e-mail recently. A few messages later I had an e-mail direct from Gordon himself wondering what all the fuss was about! As he says:

"Hi, You are not the only ones that are shocked that I have gone missing. Found myself in the mirror this morning and was very relieved. Where did this idea come from that I had gone missing? The web articles on the Corbin page stopped because they said they were too busy with the 2000 catalogue to devote time to posting my web pages (how long does that take by the way)!

They didn't post the last couple and so I gave up sending them as they had got so far behind. Now I see I am missing though the Corbin people never even sent me an e.mail asking after me. Go figure!

I have sent Corbin a mail today to tell them I am fine and back in Montana, but if you could relay this to all those who you might have forwarded it to I would be grateful.

Rgds, Gordon Chase"

Many people responded with offers of help, notably Mac McCowan with useful info and contacts in the US State Department, Graham Rogers in Thailand, Ralph Wustefeld, Skip Mascorro of Pancho Villa Moto Tours, BMWeb in South Africa, Peter Henshaw, editor of Motorcycle Sport & Leisure in the UK offered to run a story in the next issue, and of course Erin and Chris Ratay who found him, and others. Thanks to all.

The power of the motorcycle community, and the desire to look after it's own continues to impress me...and makes me proud to be one of you. I hope we don't ever have to look for someone who really is missing.

Note that we did have some trouble with the mailing list during all this, and a number of people received multiple mails and responses from others on the list that should have come to me only. The problem has been fixed, my apologies for any inconvenience.

Chris Scott's Adventure Motorbiking website's bulletin board is now closed, and he's sending everybody here to the Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' Bulletin Board, so there is even more activity on the board than usual! Lots of great information there, drop in and maybe you can learn something, or even better, contribute.

For those of you who haven't been to Chris's site, do take the time to check it out, there's plenty of good info there, a ton of bike reviews and travel reports.

Some nice comments:

"Great e-zine!" Paddy Gibbins, UK

"Thanks very much for the link, if there is one site where our website needs to be listed, it's definitely yours." Manou Emringer, Luxembourg

"...many thanks for all the brilliant stuff I found on your pages." Peter Baernert, United Arab Emirates

"I thoroughly enjoyed reading this edition (July 1st) and as I get my bike ready (new tires, oil change) to ride to Ohio for the International Women on Wheels rally in Dayton on July 10-12, I think how concerned I am about the weather here in the U.S. The difference between my concerns and what your writers endure (sand storms, mud), makes me want to hide my head. I will definitely share your website with WOW members. At a rally several years ago in Seattle, I met a lady in her 70s who had just returned from the Soviet Union. She was telling us how she had to solve the problem of riding her Gold Wing plus trailer over their railroad tracks that stuck 5" up over the road. People are amazing! Laura Thompson" USA

"...your web page and e-zine are awesome, I keep visiting it all the time. Jose Garcia" Spain

"...I've just completed my first cross country trip...thanks for all the touring tips and links...You have a great site BTW...Galen Wolfe, Minneapolis, MN, USA"


Dr. Gregory Frazier, round the world traveller and author extraordinaire has very generously contributed a FREE book (or video) a month to the lucky reader whose name gets drawn. That's right, you don't have to do a thing, you lazy sods, just sit back and wait for an e-mail telling you that you've WON!

Here's what you get to choose from when YOU win!

Europe By MC, book
Alaska By MC, book
New Zealand By MC, book
MC Sex, book (Hey Greg, when do we get the MC Sex Video? ;-)
Motorcycling to Alaska, (PAL Video)
Motorcycling To Alaska, (NTSC Video)

Winners must respond to me by the 25th of the month following the announcement of your name or e-mail address, or next month there will be TWO winners, and you're out of luck. Free shipping is included with the winning prize. Local Taxes and Duties, if any, are not included, sorry. First Winner next edition!

Visit Gregory's website, find out more about these great titles, and have a look at some of his many other books and videos, there's sure to be one you can use.

Thanks Greg!

Note: If YOU would like to donate a prize, please let me know. Thanks, Grant

We also have a special offer for our readers only

on the Carbtune II carburetor tuner. Details in the sidebar under Tech Tips and Bits.

New "stuff" to check out:

Russell Fisher's report on the first leg of his attempt to be the first to ride across the USA on the TransAmerica trail - dirt all the way - is posted on the website.

More "stuff:"

Please feel free to submit news reports, web links etc. to me for inclusion here. I try to link to your website if you have one, and also the photos in this ezine are generally linked from your website. If you don't want me to do that please say so!

This is a free service to travellers everywhere, both on the road and off. Editions are planned to be out approximately the first of every month, but will be more often if there is sufficient interest and support.

A NEW volunteer for 'People en route willing to help!'

Anton Perdices. "I have done only minor trips around Florida but one day will hit the wide open roads of the rest of the world. My home is always welcome to these sorts of travellers. I live in South Florida, USA" More details on the Links page.

There are a few more listed on the Links page, a huge thanks to all of them. How about you?

your editor, Grant

more about Grant Johnson

Who's on the road, and where...

Mika Kuhn, Germany, around the world, in Ulan Baator, Mongolia

"...looking like a three day old beard of grass and scrubs on the face of the earth, the vast, ragged-steppe landscape that dominates Kazakhstan cannot be described as exciting. After the nightmare in the customs in Almaty I travelled along the eastern frontier to the town Semey, maybe better known as Semipalatinsk from its days next to a Soviet nuclear testing area. Also Semey is not an exciting town, but I had to spend a few days there before my Russian visa was valid. So drinking in the evenings in the Fort Nocks disco with some Russian friends was the only thing to do.

Border crossing into Russia was easy, only the bike had to be declared - and that was much easier than in Almaty. I just had to wait about 20 minutes sipping tea with a lady from the customs. And nobody asked for any money or made up a problem.

Travelling Siberia in the summer with a bike and a tent is really fantastic, as you can camp everywhere you want and small "KAFE" shops along the road offer good food and cold beer.

In Kemerovo, 200kms east of Novosibirsk, I met members of the local "Highway Devils" bike club and next day I had a long tv interview, the first one on my journey. On the weekend I was invited to see a motocross championship in Tomsk - it was really interesting. The best were the heavy Ural bikes with sidecars racing like mad around the track.

Going east I met other Russian bikers, fantastic guys, in Angarsk, Sludjanka and Ulan Ude. I stayed with them for a few days, always invited to Russian sauna "banja" and good food.

On Lake Baikal I met a Swiss biker on an Africa Twin, and we decided to travel together to Mongolia. Border crossing into Mongolia was not that easy, we had to put the bikes on the train - yes, the Trans-Siberian railway - for a few kilometers. Because the Mongolian law says: you are not allowed to drive your vehicle into the country, but you are allowed to drive it in the country.

Ulan Baator is not the place to spend too much time, so we will leave tomorrow for a tour through the steppe, the mountains and the Gobi desert. Greetings, Mika"

Christian Pelletier and Anik Moronval, Canada, through Central America, in Xela, Guatemala,

"Hi Grant! Here's a few line about the first part of our trip. Unfortunately I'd rather lay on the beach than sit in front of a computer... :0) Beside we're both software engineers and we decided that we will stay as far as possible of a computer during this trip...

Guanjuato, Mexico

Guanjuato, Mexico

Adventure, travel and motorcycles have always been part of my life. So once again, I found myself and my girlfriend, Anik, trying to convince our bosses that they should give us 3 months off this summer...

I rode around in Costa Rica a year ago and I knew these countries could give us lot of pleasure and adventure. Besides, this should be a good training to a longer trip around the world later in my life...

We left Montreal, Canada, June 29...headed for Brownsville, Texas...The excitement really started when we crossed the (Mexican) border.

How will be this Mexico? We have heard so many horror stories before we left that we weren't even sure that we will keep our motorcycles more than one day...

Even thought I had read a lot about paper need at the border, I quickly realized that it will be more complicated than expected. Fortunately a year spent in Africa should help me to face the bureaucratic formalities...finally on our way to San Fernando, first step of this journey. Our goal was to reach Guanajuato as fast as possible to meet some friends before their departure for vacation.

...three days later, after having discovered in the middle of nowhere that Anik's Suzuki DR350 has a really short range of 100-125 km. Since then we always carry a jerry can in my pannier...

Guanajuato is a really beautiful place in the middle of Mexico....don't miss it. After that, we rode around Central Mexico. We visited San Miguel de Allende, Tepoztlan, Oaxaca, Puerto Escondido, etc. Each place we visited we met very nice people, far from the horror stories we heard...Once again, you have to visit a place to really understand that what you see on television is not the reality.

One of the nicest road we have discovered is the one that goes from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido (Mexico 175). 200 kilometers of curves and hills in the mountain reaching 3000 meters. Except for the truck full of Mexicans that missed a curve and almost threw me and my KLX650 in a deep Canyon, it was the type of road we were dreaming about...

We are now on our way to Guatemala. When you read these lines, we should be somewhere around Antigua. If you would like more details, I have a French transcript of our adventure...

Please don't hesitate to drop us a line!"

Pete, unknown - I saw this somewhere, and lost the mail address for Pete! Anybody know? in Auckland, New Zealand,

"The Biking Dutchman is still on the run and likes to -jabber- about Australia.....

No doubt: it's a very nice country to be. Its well organised, full of very friendly people who take the time for you! (Lot's of them go barefoot 24 hours a day....) It's a country to make friends, work a little bit, watch a game or hang out in a city. But unfortunately most time I spend on the road. Bloody fool! In Oz that's the most boring thing to do! Its a pretty flat and HUGE continent, I can tell you. Driving dirt roads is the thing to do, but NOT during the time of the year I was there. I could choose between mud or bitchment! (Haven't heard that description before - Grant) Damn.

And when it is hot, it is too hot to drive! When it starts raining they call it a tropical rainstorm and is washes everything away, including bikers. And what to say about cyclones: When it starts to blow it is not a good idea to pitch your tent to find shelter.

But mistakes always make the best stories, so wait for my book! Some optimists say: -'I wait for the movie!' ... I survived cyclone Steve (and my tent as well!), I crossed a lake, I mean driving on the bike. And I learned what rain does to the famous Aussie red bulldust.... Visit Oz in the wrong season and you get your adventures... But I have to say I used my raingear only twice during the 19.500 km's (3 months), so the rainmaker wasn't me!

My bike is on her way by ship to Japan, I will follow by calculations are correct I will arrive in Tokyo just before the rainy season starts there....

Wish you all well, Keep on travelling: by bike, book or dream...

-No worries- Pete, RTW (=on his way back home)"

Duncan, Australia, from Shanghai across China to India on a Chang Jiang, in Songpan, Northern Sichuan

"The state of the roads must be an indication on the length of time this area in China has been open to Foreigners. Yunnan is definitely more prosperous than Guizhou. Another surprise was the numerous amount of gum trees that grow in Yunnan. In some areas I could be back in Adelaide, if it wasn't for the occasional mud brick house or white tiled building! Peter managed to arrive in Kunming as scheduled and so far has been able to tolerate the bumps that are inherent with the pillion seat. We will see how long that lasts!

From Kunming we have travelled to the Stone Forest, up to the soils forests of Yuanmou and down to Dali. Dali is famed as a backpackers paradise, and lives up to its reputation. Surrounded by mountains reaching 4000m above sea level, on the edge of a lake, the place has heaps of little cafes where cheap western food (yippee!!) meals can be had--with plenty of cheap beer...Spent today walking a few trails in the mountains, around a Buddhist monastery, and eating such delights as kebabs and burritos. Life is Hard! The bike is doing well and enjoying life...

11/07/00 In Sichuan, On Schedule

...I've arrived in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, on schedule and depart tomorrow, one day behind. Had a fantastic trip from Yunnan into western Sichuan, with the small exception of a recurring problem with the battery. The countryside is without doubt the most picturesque in China to date. The road from Xiang Cheng in Sichuan passed through ever varying countryside. From hair-pinned roads hugging the sides of mountains to straight roads passing over gently undulating lands we saw the country change from pine forest to grassland to high altitude lakes and back again. A constantly changing array of wildflowers filled the grassland as well as other countryside. Crystal clear creeks, not so distant snow and herder tents...Other areas were absolutely arid, with high mountains climbing to a scorching sun above us. In one area we passed a sand dune on the edge of the Chang Jiang river (yes, the bike is named after China's greatest river). Not a pleasant manoeuver, with wind blown sand blinding me (lost my goggles near tiger leaping gorge). Even though the area apparently gets little rain, rivers which are grand in scale still cut their way through valleys. There is no shortage of water in this country.

Isolated communities gave incredible welcomes to these two "tall" foreigners riding atop a very interesting looking vehicle. Quite in contrast to herders who generally let us be when we camped nearby in tents. That's not to say herders are not hospitable. While herders appreciate a need for space and privacy they are very hospitable when approached. We are always offered some of their homemade yak cheese and milk, and in return we offer whatever we can. French onion soup proved to be a hit!

The first night camped in the high altitude mountains was very memorable, sleeping under canvas with the sounds of cow bells all around after a meal of Tibetan bread and cheese. We have had no problem with police, maybe because we travel for hours without seeing another being least a town...

...our trip to western Sichuan was also a test of the bike's ability to perform at high altitude. And it did. We don't really know how high we went, although a figure of 5400m above sea level was offered by one local. This sounds a little to high to us, but we did continually descend for a considerable distance from our highest point to a town known to be 4700 meters.

Whatever the height we are confident that the bike's performance is now only a small problem in comparison to some of the paperwork related to our entry into Tibet...We still have a bit of a trek ahead of us before we reach Tibet and the Nepalese border, even though we were within a few kilometers of the Tibetan border at one time while in Northern Yunnan...

Tomorrow's destination is Songpan, Northern Sichuan, where we plan to spend a couple of weeks on horse back. I am sure that after that Peter will not complain again about the Chang Jiang's creature comforts!"

(Ed: Duncan was living and working in Shanghai, China, before this trip, and is believed to speak passable Chinese!)

Ken and Carol Duval, Australia, in Greece, just finished Africa North to South,

"Our days in Cape Town were blessed with many fine days which complimented our sight seeing. We enjoyed the hospitality of Anton (chairman BMW Club Cape Town.) and Gill with a drive through the wine district of Stellenbosch.

A cool fine day saw us visit Cape Point, Simon's Town Penguins more wineries, one with a Cheetah farm, Tabletop Mtn, Charlie's Motorcycle Shop - a must for the overlander. Busy, Busy, Busy. After fitting a new front tyre and a little maintenance we headed off to Africa's most Southern point, Cape Agulhas. We have now covered Africa from its most Northern point to its most Southern.

We travel the Garden Route...Another border crossing into Swaziland created the usual interest. Where are you from? Where are you going? Why on a bike? Where do you get your money? These are average questions from average people everywhere we go in Africa...

...Travelling through Lesotho we decided to exit the country that day...reports of rain snow and winds...We rode almost 700 kms...After camping on the South Coast we headed north to Durban...Sth African hospitality at its best saw us enjoy a hectic social week plus trying to organize our transport North. We settled on Athens flying Olympic Air. Our fares were OK but the bike was expensive. We think the cheap airfares on offer these days are heavily subsidised by freight charges...More by good luck than management the bike was travelling on the same plane as us. We hoped this would allow us to collect the bike the same day.

Athens...It worked. The bike was unpacked and customs was attended to with little fuss. We were on the road before lunch. Wow... We just love it when things come together like this. Sight seeing in Athens is a busy schedule...Plenty more to see - so its back to the road again. Keep it upright. Love Carol & Ken.

P.S. This is just a big THANK YOU for the genuine help and hospitality extended to us over the past few weeks in South Africa. Anton & Gill in Cape Town.....John at Trefco BMW Cape Town. BMW Club in Cape Town......Charlies Motorcycle Shop Cape Town (Wolf & Gerry) Tommy Johns BMW Pinetown (all the staff)......BMW Club of Durban...Ace Motorcycles (Vic & Chris) Pinetown...Gavin, Jenny, Alan, Michelle, Gunston, Package, Beemer and Tippex. (Hope things have settled a bit since we left. Many thanks. See you in Aus one day.)"

Nikki Gaudion and Luke Timmermans, Australia, to India and Africa, in Nepal,


The subcontinental stare - I'd forgotten it's truly soul-piercing qualities. It's not so prevalent in Nepal, where people are generally more polite and have some idea about the word 'personal space', but now we're in India and the stare returns with renewed intensity. Like 'Return of the Living Dead' when the zombies with their jaws hanging open close in for the kill. In India there are now officially one BILLION people, and of course it's totally unfair to call them zombies. Indians are among the friendliest and most hospitable people you'll meet; just don't expect to get any privacy. I suppose you can't blame them for staring. In this country we look about as normal as a couple of quarks from the planet Kron who've just landed in the mother ship.

We left Kathmandu 3 days ago and immediately got stuck in a traffic jam in the pouring rain. A truck overtaking another truck, leaving no room on our side, nudged us into the ditch and kept going. Thank you very much.

Immediately a dozen Nepalis helped us lift the bike out, then disappeared, no gratitude required. The rain came down, and kids watched open-mouthed as the hugest motorcycle they've ever seen came splashing through the knee-deep river crossings (slightly out of control) and continued up the road.

Now we sit in Rishikesh watching the wide brown Ganges meander through the foothills of the Himalaya. This is where the Beatles met their guru. I think they were mostly impressed by his ability to smoke even more grass than they did.

So we're back in India for a brief spell before continuing to Pakistan.

'India; perfect one day, shithouse the next'

Although I'm sure we'll come back some day, I'm sort of glad we're only on a transit visa this time.

...Tomorrow we drive across into Pakky. The KKH is calling!

Luke and Nik"

Bente Bråthen and Dag Jenssen, (Rocinantes' Travels) Norway, North America, in USA

"...Just received your latest edition of the E-zine, and we feel honoured to be given that much attention in there. The e-zine is great read, especially while we're on the road. Lots of info, good stories and a way to find who's possibly going to cross our paths in the future...

...Going through the Black Hills was much like driving through the Norwegian countryside, and we looked forward to the Custer National Park, where supposedly we would see the bison. There's very few left of this once great herd of animals...When we finally got to see them, they were simply too close. Ahead of us a group of cars had stopped to view forty odd animals close to the road. We stopped at the rear end of the line and watched as one of the drivers got out and started to pet a young calf. We don't know much about these very impressive creatures, but you don't have to be an animal expert to know that walking over to a young calf when the mother is close by could be dangerous. The bison is an extremely powerful, fast and sometimes angry animal. We decided to get out of there, since we were the only unprotected motorcycle around and were by now surrounded by animals. I started up and drove very slowly between the cars, not seeing a second calf hidden behind a RV...We scared it as it wasBente in her first Cowboy hat - Note: you must be connected to the Web to see this image

Bente in her first Cowboy hat

crossing the road, and then, all of a sudden we had a huge bison chasing us - probably the mother. She was only meters away from us, and we barely escaped by giving full throttle. Or barely is what it felt like. In reality I'm sure the bison was only trying to scare us, or? We don't know what intentions she had, but talking to rangers afterwards, they have assured us that when we first got into the trouble, we did wise in getting out of there. After this incident we were a bit wary each time we saw a buffalo, and especially when there were cars around. Wary is maybe a little vague, since an ordinary cow managed to scare us a couple of days later..."

Travellers' questions...

Luke Timmermans, in Nepal,

"I'm wondering if you could suggest someone that might know where I can get a front tire for my GS (any brand will do!) in Pakistan or Iran, and if you know of someone who can tune a boxer in those countries. It's nearly impossible to find vacuum gauges here and I'm not au fait with the shorting method. Thanks in advance if you can help. I'll (check) later (probably in Islamabad) on the bulletin board."

Andy Dickson, Arusha, Tanzania

"Living out in the 'bush' for 3 yrs was fantastic, no phones or electricity, fortunately I bought an '88 XR 600 to play around on. It was indispensable during El Nino when we were cut off from Arusha for weeks on end by flooding. Words cannot describe the conditions of the roads during those days, 4WD's weren't up to the challenge at times but the bike always made it home...

Anyway I sold the beast in April as it was getting very tired and getting parts is a nightmare, however I'd like to buy another one, say 2-4yrs old. Perhaps you know of someone with one in E.Africa or someone who is planning a trip down this way. I'm not really interested in anything but an XR as other bikes are too heavy or unreliable for the places I like to ride to (read - isolated).

So who wants to do a one way trip to Tanzania? Save yourself a lot of money on shipping and help somebody out!

from Etienne Posthumus, Amsterdam, Netherlands,

"A friend of mine from South Africa will be travelling in Europe in September this year. He is investigating the possibilities of a bike-swap arrangement for that period. Here is the message

'Looks like I'll be hiring a 650 for a week or two, but I was wondering, since you are still subscribed to the GS list, if you could post a 'Bike Swap' message on my behalf. Basically, anyone wanting a bike (1150GS and/or 800G/S) for a week or two in ZA to swap for the same (or a 650) in Europe (pref Germany) for the same period. They can e-mail me.

BTW, Don is the guy who did the R80G/S blue owners manual on the net at the dogpage which is referenced quite often..."


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"Only in America"

or, why I don't carry a gun...

Super Grannie, Defender of Justice (True story - I'm told)

An elderly lady did her shopping and, upon returning to her car, found four males in the act of leaving with her car. She dropped her shopping bags and drew her handgun, proceeding to scream at them at the top of her voice, "I have a gun and I know how to use it! Get out of the car you scumbags!"

The four men didn't wait for a second invitation but got out and ran like mad, whereupon the lady, somewhat shaken, proceeded to load her shopping bags into the back of the car and get into the driver's seat.

She was so shaken that she could not get her key into the ignition. She tried and tried and then it dawned on her why. A few minutes later she found her own car parked four or five spaces farther down.

She loaded her bags into her car and drove to the police station. The sergeant to whom she told the story nearly tore himself in two with laughter and pointed to the other end of the counter, where four pale white males were reporting a car jacking by a mad elderly woman described as white, less than 5' tall, glasses, and curly white hair carrying a large handgun.

No charges were filed.

Quotable Quotes...

Eat one live toad the first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day. "Dilbert"

New Proverbs

1. If you're too open minded, your brains will fall out.
2. Age is a very high price to pay for maturity.
3. Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, if he gets angry, he'll be a mile away - and barefoot.
4. Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.
5. A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
6. A closed mouth gathers no feet.
7. If you must choose between two evils, pick the one you've never tried before.
8. Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.
9. It is easier to get forgiveness than permission.
10. For every action, there is an equal and opposite government program.
11. Always yield to temptation, because it may not pass your way again.
12. A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.
13. Eat well, stay fit, die anyway.
14. No husband has ever been shot while doing the dishes.
15. Men are from earth. Women are from earth. Deal with it.

Julia Powell and Kevin Sanders, UK, from USA to South America, back home - but the story continues,

"Amigos! Well, I know I promised that this would be the final one, but there was just so much to write about that this in fact will be the penultimate note and there will still be one more to look forward to!

Arriving at the train station, we rode the bike round to the cargo entrance where small crowds of locals had gathered and a variety of battered household furniture, rusted iron gates, higgledy piggledy cardboard boxes containing coffee and two coffins waited their turn for weighing and paperwork...a number of "agents" abandoned their consignments and started touting for our business - clearly gringo business was more lucrative! As we knew from Jeff and Linda that they paid 78 centavos per kilo for their bikes, the consensus from the agents that it would cost us 100 centavos (1 boliviano) was treated with contempt...we were being ripped off, I decided to see if I could find the helpful bloke that had given us his card a couple of days previously.

...into the train station, now transformed from deserted air hanger to frantic bustling market place...I spotted the bloke from a couple of days ago, loitering around the ticket kiosk and he beamed furiously at me and held his hand out, as I made my way to him. He immediately took charge of the situation, scurried off to the cargo area and acted as intermediary with the agents. The price immediately came down to 80 centavos per kilo, but we could not get any lower - I presume the extra 2 was his cut!

And then we had to pay another US$10 to the guys who would load the bike onto the train. This was another "tip", but one we handed over without question. Jeff and Linda had been asked for US$16 and bargained it down to US$8, only to find that their bikes had been loaded so poorly that they were damaged on arrival in Quijarro. We decided to pay $5 there and then, stressing to the loaders that the bike had to be very safe and we would check it later, whereupon we would pay another $5.

...Jose asked me about which passenger tickets we wanted to buy. Jeff and Linda had taken second class, very cheap at $7 each, but seemingly crowded with locals, which afforded them little sleep. Knowing that we had 3 days heavy riding at the other end, we plumped for the most comfortable luxury carriage, splashing out at $23 a head for fully reclining seats, videos, evening meal, snacks and breakfast. Not bad value for a 20 hour journey. And best of all, Jose then fled back into the mayhem of the station to get our tickets for us.

...Whilst waiting our turn, Jose returned with our passenger tickets in hand. It was a pleasure to have not waited in the queue and I happily paid over a $3 dollar tip for his time and effort...

...we were beckoned over to Franky where an officious looking little man, the Narcotics Officer, hovered over him, eyes glinting "GRINGOS!" and demanded to see our bike papers. We pulled out our documents but had no elusive Bolivian bike permit. He waved his hand dismissively over the rest of our papers and kept asking for the permit. Kev started to get irritated, saying we needed no other papers, no other police had asked for them, the Aduana did not give us one and there was "no problema". But the official persisted. Eventually Kev demanded that the Aduana come and check the papers to confirm that nothing else was required. It was a standoff. But the Narcotics Officer still did not capitulate. Someone overheard the situation, and before we knew it, a younger man appeared wearing a T-shirt marked "Aduana". It was our lucky day. He spoke excellent English and looked through everything, confirming to the Narcotics Officer that no further papers were required for the bike. The other man was obviously furious and there then ensued an argument between them in Spanish, with both brandishing their authorisations and ID.

The Aduana came away smiling, saying to us that all we had to do was open up the bike for the Narcotics Officer and apologised profusely for the treatment we had received. "He is giving you a hard time because he wanted you to pay him some money", he explained, "but you must not give him any money. It is not necessary. Just show him whatever he wants to see in the bike."

Since we had obviously pissed the Narcotics guy off, it was no surprise at all when he started giving us the full works. Firstly, he wanted to see inside the gas tank, then he went onto the panniers. Everything in the first pannier was hauled out and all our carefully packed belongings lay strewn over the bike as he laboriously went through it all. He seized eagerly on small piece of volcanic rock, sniffing it suspiciously, before he dropped it back down, disappointed. We stood back and watched, trying not to laugh, knowing we had plenty of time and he didn't! But it started to get tedious. We opened up the second pannier and knew it was full of stinking clothes. We hadn't done laundry for over two weeks, and Kevs socks were almost leaping out of the bag as we unzipped the hold-all and the knickers were equally as gruesome! The stench hit our nostrils and in a fit of impatience, Kev grabbed a handful and shouted at the Officer, "solo ropas" (only clothes) "necessito limpiar" (need to clean!) and proceeded to shove them right under his nose. The Officer stumbled backwards as if hit with a brick and coughing, finally waved his hand to say he was done. Hee hee hee!

It was strange sitting on the train...It was quite rare for us to cover distance together in an environment where we could both relax, watch the scenery...

...From time to time, with a hollow squealing of brakes, the train would grind to a halt, as we came to a small collection of homes and stalls along side the track. Women and children would amble alongside, holding up drinks, water, fruit, nuts. The cries of "mani" "agua" and "naranja" would float upwards. We leant out and bought a bag of mandarins for the old lady who was sitting in the seat opposite us...

That morning en route, the train stopped again, this time picking up either army or police who made their way down to the front of our carriage and started yet another search of luggage. In fact we found out that they were more Narcotics Officers - great! Their disposition was much better than our previous encounter, you could almost say they were quite a friendly bunch! They rifled through our huge Ortlieb bags, pulling out a tin of peanuts and shaking then around as if they expected a little packet of something to appear! Maybe they just wanted a few!...I was always nervous at these types of searches - I remember reading horror stories about other unfortunate traveller experiences where officials plant drugs to extract money...

We arrived at Quijarro slightly early...we showed our cargo papers to a member of staff, who shrugged... there was no cargo on this train. We were baffled... We had a mild panic.

Then someone appeared out of the blue and asked us if we have a motorcycle...The whole consignment was surrounded by soldiers and they were not letting anything be unloaded. We watched as some passengers had a frantic conversation with them, pointing inside the carriage. After a few minutes, one of the soldiers gave a nod, and they climbed on board and unloaded the two coffins! I'd like to think that there was nothing inside them....Once these were off the train and lain in the middle of the tracks, the cargo carriage was then sealed and the soldiers wandered off in the opposite direction...

...a drugs search (yet another!) of the cargo had to take place before anything else could be removed and this would not take place for another hour...An hour slowly ticked by and so did another. With every question of "when?", we received "in half an hour"...

Eventually...our helper reappeared and beckoned Kev to follow him. I stayed with our bags. Kev disappeared into a little speck trudging down the middle of the rail track towards the freight carriage... Lost in thoughts, I re-focused on the freight carriage and with a whoop of joy, saw Franky being wheeled down the planks. I could see Kev having to go through further inspections with yet another round of soldiers...

We were only a few klicks from the border and within minutes we stood in front of Bolivian Immigration Office. We chatted to the guy there, showing him the journey we had just done on the bike, on a huge map of Bolivia that was pinned to the peeling walls. He stared at us in disbelief, pointing to the bike and shaking his head, before stamping our passports. The Aduana was equally incredulous and, as on entering the country, showed little interest in our paperwork. We pointed to his rubber stamp and the back of our title document and he duly obliged us.

It was another emotional moment in the trip as we crossed under the welcome sign to Brazil; it was our last South American border. We slowed down at a huge modern building, expecting it to be for the formalities, only to realise it was deserted but for one man who told us that the immigration was in the town of Corumba...we were about to encounter the worst border entry of the whole trip and the fact that we did not understand a word put us at a distinct disadvantage...

Kevin and Julia"

Ricardo Rocco Paz, Ecuador, "Around the World for Peace," in Brazil

"Ricardo Rocco was interviewed in the talk show Gazeta Sportiva and very fine articles were writen about the expedition by the newspapers A Tribuna, Gazeta and Agora, emphasizing the work he does about drug abuse prevention......heading to Northeast Brazil...

...July 13th, I leave Rio de Janeiro finally, while I ride for the last time in this trip, the spaghetti of bridges that take me from the Ilha do Governador to the bridge of Niteroi, I get Rio's final gift, a fantastic view of the city and all the natural wonders that surround it...

...The day is overcast and a bit chilly...but it doesn't matter, my Aerostitch suit keeps me warm and comfortable, no matter the kind of weather and my inner strength is pulling me out of the 'blues'.

Helps me to think about my good friend Ivan Vallejo, who is now going for the summit at K14, in the Himalayas...Simon Milward, traveling in Nepal and Chris Bright, riding in Alaska, and all the other riders that are now travelling the globe, facing the same obstacle as I am.

Yes, I have lost a partner...but I've won many, many friends in every country I visited, and I haven't had any major problems, except maybe the financial one, yes, money is a problem, mainly because my itinerary extended far more than I expected it.

...I arrive into Vitoria and go directly to the Yamaha dealer, unfortunately they can not help since it is quite late, but tell me about the place were the local motorcyclist meet...

After... I go to the motorcyclist meeting place, a bar called 'Moto Beer', in gas station somewhere in the soon as I get there, all the guys and girls start talking to me in their fast Portuguese, that I only understand when is spoken slowly, but since motorcycling is definitely an international language, I make friends on the spot.

...The 'boss' of one of the local clubs, 'A Butres', (their motto: a race in extintion !?!) introduces me to the guys, but most importantly to the beautiful girls, who promise to find me a 'girlfriend', really nice people, they all were watching my bike, making all kinds of comments, laughing and making jokes, I'm having a great time after the worries of the day, and enjoying being with all these nice persons... invitations come to go to a party that night and next day to a motorcycle acrobatic show, to the rodeo, to a barbecue party. They give me plenty of stickers not only from the A Butres, but from the local chapter of As Cobras du Asfalto, the Maquinas do Aco (Steel Machines) and Os Calango Moto Clubs and, on an unbelievable gesture, one of the guys takes off his club T-shirt and gives it to me.

Then, Joao 'Johnny' Merizio arrives, riding a Honda Falcon (brasilian designed 350 cc.), he's the president of the Maquinas do Aco Moto Club, he gets very interested in my work and promises to help me with the media, and presents me with the club newsletter, that not only deals with trips and good times, but with traffic laws and technical tips, that affect directly to motorcyclists.

I'm just amazed, I just got to town, I didn't know anybody, and I'm being treated like a long time friend. Is this hospitality or else?

When I take the bridge back to Vitoria, it is about 1 am., the full moon is well over the sky now, and I get the incredible feeling of flying on my bike over the bay. I don't need drugs to get the sensation of flying, this a natural, free feeling obtained only though the wonderful sport of motorcycling.

...arrive at Puerto Seguro at's packed. I have a hard time getting a good price on a room. Then I go to see Valeria, my tour guide girl friend, she is very happy to see me, didn't expect to see me again...We go to a fantastic party at Mamagayo and dance till the sun comes up, at the beach. After sleeping all morning we go to the beach and get a heavy sunburn. Another tough day in the life of a motorcycle traveller!

We ride tomorrow to Morro du Sao Paulo, up north, which is supposed to be an amazing natural wonder..."

Matthew Newland and Richard Smith, UK, around the world, on two 1996 BMW R80GS Basic, among the last built, in Peru, having a litany of troubles...

Last issue I said:

"What's next? I'm afraid to open mail from Matthew now...good news is the starter is fixed, oil leaks dealt with, short and battery fixed, bad news is I haven't heard the final word on the rear shock... Grant"

Well, it continues with good and bad news...

"...still in Quito and am still waiting for BMW Germany to see if I get the back shock for free. Anyway the unit is being sent to Bogota where it will be fitted for free at the BMW garage there. Andres Fuse the BMW rep in south America is a pretty good guy who is organizing everything for me. I leave for Colombia in the next week or so. Plan to fly out of Bogota to Panama city. I'll let you know how it goes. Should be fun!

The BMW Garage in Quito is really great. They are really friendly and worked on the bikes for a whole day with NO charge. No parts but ready to help any way they can."

a few days later...

"I have just had some good news from BMW. They are going to give me the back suspension free under guarantee. Now all I have to do is get to Bogota. Thanks for the flight info in Bogota..."

a few days later...

"...there is now oil leaking from both of the front forks. We have some (but not enough) oil seals but it looks a big job to fit them. Do you know if this is easily fixed? ...Where it can this bike will leak oil..."

I got them sorted on that, and at last word they were on their way...

Russell Fisher, UK, across the USA on dirt, the Trans America Trail

"The trouble with living all your life in a country the size of a football pitch is that you tend to think you're normal -- normal in the sense that if it takes you more than a couple of hours to get anywhere then it's a major consideration and may, indeed, not be worth the hassle at all.

Now, of course I realised that the US is somewhat larger than the UK - I paid a modicum of attention in geography class y'know - but when someone says they're loading their dirt bikes up on a trailer and popping off for a week's holiday to ride some trails, you don't expect a 24-hour, mind-numbing drive just to get there. Do you? Well I certainly don't.

Friend Ernie in the water, R100GS - Note: you must be connected to the Web to see this imageHere, though, it's pretty much par for the course. And, just a week into my ass-numbing US non-roadtrip, I'm finally getting to grips with the concept; I now realise why the majority of the natives ride around on two-wheeled leatherette, buckle-encrusted, super-squishy armchairs - can't say I condone the habit, though...

...Arkansas...the TransAm Trail sticking to the beautifully sweeping, crown-cambered and graded gravel tracks which form the network of public highways running through these hills -- amazing riding if, like me, you're buzzed by the idea of getting into the swing and rhythm of riding a rear-drive roller coaster on a bed of pea-sized marbles. After 400 miles of this your inside foot's less inclined to twitch nervously out and your right hand more inclined to twist back; so much for sightseeing - the only sight I was looking out for was the next hillbilly-piloted pickup with forward vision somewhat impaired thanks to a dashboard littered with empty Bud cans. They sort of get in the way a bit when you're hooking those apexes. And they don't believe in insurance in Arkansas either, or so I was warned.

The last day in the state before crossing into Oklahoma was wetter than a weekend in Wales - and if anyone from the Hein Gericke shop in Bristol is reading this, no your Tuareg lightweight jackets are NOT waterproof, thanks very much. Fortunately the Ortlieb soft luggage definitely is, and what's more the Happy Trails racks they're secured to are showing absolutely no signs of weakening under the constant off-road hammering; the further west we got, the rockier the tracks became, until by just north of Alma we were into sections of 18-inch high rocks steps followed by stretches of 18-inch deep glop - when it rains here it doesn't piss around..."


Chris Bright, UK, around the world, in Montana, USA,

Chris Bright in the USA - Note: you must be connected to the Web to see this image"Greetings, after mucho driving and Olympic Peninsula and Mt. St. Helens, Washington, Moscow, Idaho and Yellowstone, Wyoming I can now be found doing the cowboy thing in Jackson, Wyoming... In a couple of days I'll be heading south down the Rockies, before braving the heat of the Denver to Las Vegas run via all the usual sights."

see the website for more...

Erin and Chris Ratay, USA, around the world, in Thailand,

"Kirstin and Tom are sending their bikes to NZ later this week (July 3) (XT600 and GSPD), and Liam is sending his bike to Sydney (Africa Liam McCabe with his crated Africa Twin - Note: you must be connected to the Web to see this imageTwin). We're sending our bikes in about 2 weeks to Darwin. Most of the

Liam McCabe with his crated Africa Twin

bikers before us shipped from Singapore to Darwin, but it looks like we can save about 30% by shipping from Port Klang (Kuala Lumpur). Will send you the info...

All is OK now, but last weekend Erin had a pretty scary accident. See the story:

The bikes were crated here in Malaysia and should be in OZ at the end of the month. We're temporary back-packers, off to Melaka, Singapore, Bali, then Sydney..."

Erwin Thoma, Germany, around the world, in Central America heading south,

"...thanks for thinking about me. I am now in Panama City and will fly to Colombia. Will stay there approximately 2 weeks and then head for Ecuador. I will send some informations and a trip report about Central America from Ecuador...It is good to know, that we stay in touch."

Dirk 'Krid' Bernhart, Germany, to Cape Town, in Kampala, Uganda,

"...My next goal is Lake Baringo... on a boat trip...I feel like Earnest Hemingway, watching all the birds, crocs and hippos idling around in the brown water. The campground has a huge pet turtle and a pet hippo cutting the grass for them.

Bad roads take me along the north of Mount Elgon into Uganda, to the Sipi Falls and further on to the Bujagali Falls near Jinja. These are actually rapids, offering great rafting opportunities. The camp is right on the Nile's shores, I can hear the water roar all night...

...I realize that there's something wrong with the rear suspension. It leaks oil and driving feels like riding a jo-jo. I decide to rush to Kampala to get it repaired, and here the odyssee begins...

In Kampala, ...workshops have never seen such a high-tech suspension and refuse to repair it. Some mails with the producer Technoflex Deutschland later...send it back to Germany through DHL (costing lots of bucks), they repair it and send it back again. Said and done... OR?"

Myles Nott and Atsuko, Australia and Japan, around the world, heading to Venezuela from Buenos Aires,

at last word are in the Amazon somewhere...

Myles and Atsuko met on the road in Africa, married, and are on the road again. Atsuko had already been travelling for years on a Honda CT110 with a one-legged Japanese photographer. Myles was riding a big single at the time, travelling with a friend, Leo. When Atsuko was asked how fast the CT's go, Atsuko replied, "the same speed as Myles and Leo's big singles - 35,000km every 13 months."

They shipped their bikes to Holland from Melbourne where they are now based, turned right and headed east, then took another right in Alaska and travelled south to Chile - but they seem to have taken a wrong turn recently and are now heading towards Venezuela (as anyone would in Patagonia in August)

We'll have more on their travels next issue if they emerge from the jungle in time...

Wylie and Helene, USA and Canada, Around the World, in Kyrgyzstan,

"Seeing the mountains from Bishkek was not good enough, so we scampered off to the hills as fast as we could. We found ourselves guests of a Kyrgyze family in a small village located at the foot of the Alatoo Mountains. A few Russian words and much mimes allowed for some communication with our hosts.

...After a few days with our hosting family, I was getting very frustrated not to be able to communicate very well. I therefore decided to learn Russian. Our very patient neighbor, Gildis, offered her help. I kept forgetting everything. All the words sounded the same to me. I did retain one little sentence though: 'Ya Zabila', which means 'I forgot'..."

Martina Moßmann, Martin John, and Rainer Scholz, Germany, to India,

currently in Turkey heading east...

Leaving soon...

Sara Down and Chris Jagger, UK, around the world,

"...we're setting off from London in the direction of Dover on 2 August - hopefully we'll make it to the coast and from there we travel to Calais, down through France, on to Italy and Greece, where we'll take a well earned holiday on the island of Kalymos (?). After that it's Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India and Nepal. You'll have to wait to find out where the rest of the journey takes us but it involves South-East Asia, Australia, the States, Central and South America, and Africa!

We'll keep in touch, Sara and Chris"

Sam Koops, Germany, to Australia,

Leaves in August heading east...

Sylvie, Hubert, and Philippe, Montréal to Ushuaia

Three Canadians leaving August 29, 2000 for Ushuaia. (Amazing how some people can set an exact day - I feel lucky if I leave in the right season...Grant)

Srinidhi and friends, Bangalore, Karnataka, India,

"We are three Indians from Bangalore planning to do a world tour on motorcycles. We plan to travel across 86 countries over a distance of 100,000 + kms. We would like all those like minded individuals give us some information or help or both regarding this. All advises are welcome and will be highly appreciated."

(from a post on the Bulletin Board, please reply on the board - they may be able to help YOU out on your India Trip!)

Peter Delft, Holland, around Australia,

"I will be in Australia from 1 Aug. till 1 Nov. this year. Starting in Perth for 30.000 km's, first to Darwin then the east-coast to Sydney then the south road back to Perth. I am driving a modified Transalp."

David, Gmunden, Austria,

"I will fly with my girlfriend in November 2000 to Argentina and will drive the Pan-American to Mexico within 15 months. I would like to exchange info with motorcycle travellers who come down the other direction from USA to South America."

see the Bulletin Board for updates with David.

Michael Odland, South Africa, to Tanzania September / October,

...planning a trip from South Africa to Tanzania on an F650. He would love to hear from South Africans who want to join him on the trip - and/or the climb of Kilimanjaro.

Claudio and Marcelo, Angostura, Argentina,

...getting ready to start their motorcycle trip north to the USA.

Manou Emringer and Ellen Spencer

...depart in August 2000, for a one-year, 5 continent trip around the world. Nice site. (Note that you may have trouble accessing it for some reason - my IE5.01 hangs on it, Susan's IE 5.01 is fine, my Netscape 4.7 is fine.)

Tom Grenon, Victoria, BC, Canada

"...Doing a Dual Sport ride in August - September 2000 to Northern BC, Yukon and the Northwest Territories. Leaving Victoria, BC around Aug. 18 for a 4 to 5 week trip that can be spilt into 3 sections if taking in the entire adventure is not possible. Looking for 2-3 experienced riders to support one another through the remote areas and river crossings."

Home again...

Russell Benton, UK, Cape to Cairo,

"Hello Grant, I have made it home now, I am afraid, back to reality after my 18 month adventure...

Jeff and Linda Anspach, USA, Central and South America,

"...we've finally arrived home to Portland, Oregon on Saturday afternoon, July 29th, around 4 p.m. It was a fabulous trip and an emotional return to our "other" life. All in all we travelled 28,702 miles in 303 days through 14 countries. Suzi (Suzuki DR 650) and The Green Hornet (Kawasaki KLR650) did a fabulous job...

We return a little soft around the edges, a little frazzled but still buzzing from the experience. When we pulled up into the driveway I was flooded with the memories of the moment when we left 10 months ago. I thought of all the uncertainties, expectations and unanswered questions at that time. We both had wry smiles on our faces in remembrance of that time.

Boy were we naive. But now that we're seasoned veterans we can look back on the trip and just shake our head in disbelief. By itself it was a grand adventure but doing it together as a couple made it a very special experience. After all we've seen and done, nothing much has changed with us except that we can speak pretty good Spanish, really bad Portugese, we've gained a combined 7 lbs, the stuff on top of my head can no longer be considered hair, we have a lot less money, a billion more stories to bore all our friends with, a stronger relationship and, last but not least, a much more worldly view of the world.

It was truly a treat to have your webpage to keep us company while we were on the trip. I can't thank you enough for hosting Horizons Unlimited. It was an invaluable resource to us and I derived much pleasure from reading the monthly e-zine. Because even though the scenery that we rode through was awe-inspiring the most valuable thing to take away from a trip like ours was all the incredible people we met along the way. Especially the fellow mototourers.

We hope this e-mail finds you guys in good health and spirits."

Travellers' tips on countries...

Andy Dickson, Arusha, Tanzania

"Re: Tanzania. These days most major roads have been worked on a lot, there are lots of internet cafes around and the phone system works much better."

Ken Minnion, B.C., Canada

"I've just taken delivery of a new book titled: DESTINATION HIGHWAYS BRITISH ColUMBIA written by Brian Bosworth & Michael Sanders, published by Twisted Edge in Vancouver,B.C.

Anyone thinking of travelling in B.C. has to get this. It shows the top 185 rated MC roads with info on bike dealer locations, camping, pubs, etc. All roads also rated by twistiness, pavement, scenery, & character. I personally have been on about 70% of them & agree with the ratings. Each road has a detailed map with a running commentary on what to expect."

Peter Baernert, United Arab Emirates, "Nightmare in Minneapolis"

"...May this year with my Road King...on the aircraft from UAE to Minneapolis. Upon arrival in Minneapolis ...KLM informed me that I had to contact Customs for clearance...for a temporary "tourist import". While the customs officer busied himself with this I casually asked what the proceedings would be should one consider selling the bike in their country. He wasn't too sure of this and called his colleague Mr. Todd No 13149. And this was when the nightmare started.

His first statement was 'So you want to sell your bike here?' On this my reply was that this was certainly not my intentions, but the question purely academic. This was supported by the fact that the bike was still on UAE register and insured there, return tickets and arrangement for return shipping was in place. But he was not interested in this and instead started to explain that he needed EPA and DOT approvals etc. ...this I could not produce that day, or any other day as I was pretty sure some changes, like speedo change etc. had to be made.

The discussion went on for a while and finally he stated that "nobody in this office will touch this bike without above paperwork", and he didn't care if I had to ship it back or anywhere else, it sure wouldn't pass through their office. Pondering this I finally surrendered and asked for a written statement for his I could base further actions...was produced by him and I departed heading for the nearest cold beverage outlet.

The following day Ann Ziller at Harley Insurance was kind enough to issue a statement. With this in hand I returned to the place of my nightmare, fearing the worst. Mr. Todd was nowhere to be seen, but another officer was. To him I loosely babbled about yesterday, statement, tourist import etc. He didn't seem too impressed or interested either way and certainly not of any statement. Instead he stamped and signed the freight papers and I was finally free to go and check out my RK at KLM freight.

The trip was absolutely brilliant...11,718 miles in 38 days made it possible to see a lot of the Midwest and the west coast, wished I could have stayed longer...the people you meet are so friendly that it's almost embarrassing.

Heading back to Minneapolis for the return trip to UAE I had some days to spare as I planned to check out the town. Good thing...You guessed it, ...again it was nothing but hassle from customs.

Despite having plenty of supporting paperwork that the bike was mine etc, Customs was less than cooperative in letting me take my bike home. They stated that I should leave my bike at the Airline cargo dept, and they promised within three days to inspect the bike so it could be shipped. At the same time they suggested to me that it would be wise to hang around until this inspection could be done, should there be any questions.

... the Northwest/KLM cargo dept, one block down the road, had no such procedures for keeping a bike in bonded store for such customs purposes as they requested in this case. And could thus not accept my bike until it was cleared with customs!

Talk about Catch it turned out Mr. Joseph Reichman at KLM cargo was kind enough to make special arrangement for my bike whilst customs was getting around to take the time to inspect the bike. The following day I went down again to the Customs office and pleaded with the officer to get it done so I could fly home, this he promised to do it by the evening. This was done as promised and my bike was shipped back to UAE, where it will stay, it sure won't go back to the land of the free for a long time.

As a contrast I can mention that here (in the UAE) the action of shipping a bike in and out of the country are very straight forward, procedures to check up on ownership, tax applicability etc is well documented and is running very smoothly and will be done on the day."

Basic lesson here: when in customs offices keep one's mouth shut tightly! ;-) Grant


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In Progress...

I am working on a listing of people who have ridden around the world, as well as what I call "significant journeys" e.g. the first across Africa. Any information you may have on this topic, please let me know. Preferably post it on the Bulletin Board, or e-mail me direct. I currently have around 89 world travellers listed, but there are many more. Some people think there are around about 100 people who have done a full around the world. And there's at least 20 enroute now, although some won't make it all the way. Have YOU done it?

Bernd Tesch has produced a very comprehensive list, at his website of long distance travellers. (Just updated 22 July, much more info) Bernd now lists some 209 travellers, but not all have actually done an around the world. I'll let you know when we have the actual count to date. We have some overlap, and some new to each other. We'd like to think that we have everybody, but of course we don't, so please continue to send any new information on any travellers you meet.

Final thoughts...

Thanks for joining us, we hope you enjoyed it, and do please let us know your thoughts. It's your newsletter, help us fine tune it so it helps you!

We always get a kick out of reading your travel stories, and there is plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth when it comes time to decide what's in and what's out of the latest issue of the e-zine. And of course we'd MUCH rather be on the road... But keep it coming anyway, make us suffer more...

See you next month.

Ride often, ride far, and ride it like you stole it!

Riding the globe...

Grant and Susan Johnson

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