Motorcycle Travellers' News Report - January 2014, 99th Edition

Are you a TRAVELLER? Are you interested in the Madagascar Wall of Death, giant jumping rats, surfboard biking in Brazil, strung up in Tajikistan, deadly Aussie spiders, friending penguins in Chile, strange Chicken encounters... and much more? Then you're reading the right newsletter!

Introduction to this issue.

Welcome to the 99th Edition of the overland travellers' e-zine! It's January and that means most of you are off your bikes. If you're snowbound, this is just the ticket to take your mind to faraway places (or even nearby places you've never been to), and get you started planning your next adventure. :)

The last issue was published just before we headed off to North Carolina to start our autumn meeting season. Seven HU events in North America and Australia plus a quick trip to Europe for business meetings and Intermot later, it was mid-November before we got home - whew! After spending so long out of office, we had a few things to catch up on (including sorting new venues for California and Queensland and Nova Scotia and getting the 2014 meeting registrations open), website updates and a bit of recuperating to do, and then there was the holidays.

Finally getting back into harness, and hope to be publishing more frequently for the next few months (at least until the main event season starts). We've just had the first event of 2014 in Thailand, many, many more to come - see details below! We can't get to all of them, but we'll do our best!

Where are our intrepid travellers this month?

We've got great stories from Madagascar, Bolivia, Egypt, Sudan, Ecuador, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, England, Tajikistan, Chile, Sardinia, Portugal, Gibraltar, Iceland, Colombia, Netherlands, Panama, Peru, and even Alaska and Canada!

...And those are just the ones we tracked down! What about you? Get out there on the road and make your own adventure, and don't forget to write! Seriously, there are so many travellers out there now that it's hard for me to keep up with them all. If you send me a couple of paragraphs and pics every month you'll have a much better chance of making it into the e-zine! We try to link to your blog/website if you have one. If you don't have a blog, we can help, and it won't cost you anything.

This newsletter is provided as a complimentary service for travellers everywhere, both on the road and (temporarily ;-) off. Your support is greatly appreciated.

your editors, Grant and Susan Johnson, (about us, contact us)

Travellers on the Road

Tiffany Coates, UK, in Madagascar, Suzuki DR350,

"I'm in Madagascar, one of those countries that many people want to visit, but don't always get there as it's not on the way anywhere and it's pretty expensive to reach - even from Africa just 300 miles away. So I'd saved up, looked into and reluctantly discarded the possibility (due to high shipping costs) of taking Thelma, my trusty BMW R80GS who always accompanies me on my trips. Instead the plan was to do a very simple fly-in and buy a bike. I'd made contact in advance with a recommended bike shop - Moto Store - and the helpful guys there had a few bikes for me to look at.

Tiffany Coates with bike when it was clean, Madagascar.

Within two days of arriving I was off on the bike - a Suzuki DR350 which I called Suzi. I'd brought my own soft luggage - Giant Loop tank bag with small side panniers and a Coyote Saddlebag. I also had their double-ended dry bag. Double-ended, now why hasn't that been thought of before? I had three months ahead of me to explore this massive island; it's two and a half times the size of Britain, with around 50,000 kms of roads though less than 20% are paved, and even then the tarmac is barely recognisable due to the massive potholes and general erosion - basically the place is an off-roader's dream. Tropical mountain ranges leading to deserts and jungle not to mention the incredible beaches and the azure blue Indian Ocean.

Initially I headed over to the north east coast, where I encountered sand and a severe lack of infrastructure - there are no bridges so boats are used to cross rivers, often quite small boats.

Tiffany Coates putting bike in canoe, Madagascar.

My sister joined me for three weeks, she was riding pillion on the bike with me. Our route included a stretch where the road ended and we took to the river in a pirogue (dug-out canoe) for three days, the bike included, camping out on the river banks as we went.

Tiffany's sister in Madagascar.

...The mud stretched away in front of me, oozing, reddish-brown and stretching 200 metres long. A deceptively calm appearance but I knew that underneath it lurked unknown depths that would swallow me and the bike. Somehow I've got to get past this menacing presence. It's already 4pm and I've had a long tiring day of riding along this obscure track which on my map is laughably masquerading as a main road. It's been muddy dirt interspersed with torrents of mud all day and yet it's still theoretically the dry season.

My usual strategy with the mud is to edge up onto the very narrow trail to the side where the locals have been walking to edge past the mud. I call these small trails 'Walls of Death' as they inevitably slope steeply downwards towards the mud and they're slippery. I know the only way to successfully ride them is to build up speed so that the centrifugal force will hold the wheels on the narrow path - or maybe it won't, physics has never been my strongpoint. Muttering 'Wall of Death' several times, I open the throttle and ride up onto the trail, aware that as a personal mantra, a phrase invoking the word death is possibly not the most positive one to use. But it works for me, or at least, it did until this point, I slowed, I dithered and oh dear, the front wheel slid down and over the bike went into the mud. With me close behind.

Tiffany Coates bike in mud, Madagascar.

I staggered to my feet, and almost fell over again, as by the front wheel the mud was well above my knees and sucking me down. I managed to get the luggage off but even then I had no hope of getting the bike upright again. I had to wait for help, which appeared in the form of a teenager walking past; between us with a great deal of effort, we got the bike up and then onto firm ground. We were both covered in mud.

He headed off to the nearest river to wash, I didn't bother because with many more kilometres of this ahead of me, there was no point in getting myself clean now.

Tiffany Coates after the fall in mud, Madagascar.

So far it's been an amazing journey and that's before I even mention all the weird and wonderful creatures from the Giant Jumping Rat to the chameleons and the inevitable lemurs. And yet again, the locals enrich my journey. They're an intriguing mix descended from many different races, the Indonesians, Malaysians, Arabs, Asians and of course Africans and even some descended from British pirates from the 18th century. It's not an easy country to live in - one of the poorest in the world with 90% of the population living on less than $2 a day; it's a very humbling experience to spend time with people to whom 70 pence is a lot of money. And yet there is a very strong joie de vivre, with music, singing and dancing. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the island."

more »

Ed. Tiffany is leading a women's tour of Ladakh on Enfields in 2014 for H-C Travel. Contact her at for more details and don't forget to tell them where you heard about it!

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Nick Jones, UK, (klous-1), Tales from the Saddle, in Bolivia,

"...There are several roads in this area all running parallel from south to north along the basin and rising up towards Sucre at 2600m. I assume that they are all old petroleum hunter trails. With the heat and the dense scrub land being hostile to almost all but mythical goddesses and the hardiest organisms, there is little to tempt people to live here, far from Villa Montes, Sucre or Santa Cruz, even with these roads in place. The initial part of the route is as expected very good, leading to a petroleum well and with some rural houses along the way whose inhabitants manage somehow to scrape a living farming tired-looking (pre-cooked!) cattle, or else at the oil wells. There are several junctions and feeling lost and a little anxious I am eager to speak to anyone and everyone I can, to quiz them about the route ahead and not feel quite so alone.

Nick Jones, UK, in Bolivia.

The last photo, hereafter I was too anxious to cover ground and didn't take any until things got easy again... and I relaxed

This is always a bit of a Catch 22; asking means more information, and more information often means more fears, things I hadn't thought about. If not this then they have no idea about the route at all, which is almost as worrying as it only shows the lack of use it receives. The consensus here is that the route does seem at least to exist, is a very long way, is very sandy and meant only for horses. But they say I will make it. I hope so.

Narrower, the trail tunnels deeper into the gnarled jungle which closes over and around the thin strip of dirt, closing me off from the houses and people behind. After some time I surprisingly see two men amongst the trees making a concrete water trough for cattle. They give me very complicated directions and explain that just round the next curve the road becomes bad, no people, unused. I get a photo here and pour in the first of the two 4-litre jerry cans, which the tank gobbles dismayingly, meaning I've covered just over 120km. I've not even started, I hope I've got enough fuel."

more »

Ed. Read the rest of Nick's story and great pics on the HUBB Ride Tales Forum!

Jo Rust, South Africa, Circumnavigating Africa, in Egypt and Sudan, BMW F650 GS Dakar,

Jo Rust on camel in Egypt.

"We finally arrived in Wadi Halfa around 13:00 in the afternoon. A bit of a frantic scurry broke out on board as people were grabbing their baggage and pushing to get to the front of the queue to disembark. I was met by Mazar, THE fixer in Wadi Halfa. He came on board and led me to the dining room where we sat and started filling out all the paperwork I needed to go through.

I sat among the rest of the passengers and numerous people struck up a conversation with me whilst Obai and Mazar went about trying to get our bikes released. Sudanese people are incredibly friendly! Before I knew it I was sitting on a bench between about six men, eating peanuts and chatting about my trip. (Why is it always peanuts?)

Jo Rust on the road in Egypt.

About four hours later it became clear that we weren't going to get our bikes and they'd only be able to release them the next morning. So Mazar took us to our hotel where we met up with Francois again. Turns out he'd been at the hotel the whole time.

We settled in and I took a long, blissful, hot shower, after which we headed out to find something for dinner. As this was Obai's home turf he insisted on looking after us and refused to let us pay for any of our meals! Not only are Sudanese people super friendly, they're also super generous!

There's not much to see in Wadi Halfa. It's a tiny, dusty border town with a hotel or two that offer you the basics and a number of curios shacks and little outdoor restaurants. Though it makes up in personality, smiles and good food. We took a tuk-tuk into town and had a wonderful meal at a local restaurant. Various fried meat strips with onions and humus. Very yummy. Obai also helped me get a local sim card for my phone before we headed back to our hotel to turn in for an early night.

After breakfast we headed back to the port to sort our bikes. Mazar was already at the port and sorted all the paperwork. I never even came into close contact with a single customs or immigrations official. Mazar sorted everything. We headed off to the barge and there were immediately a dozen men gathering around to help and watch our bikes be off-loaded. Off loading meant having to lift the bikes over the side of the barge and then maneuvering it down a plank back to solid ground.

Unloading the bike in Sudan.

Obai's bike was first, then my beloved Dax and Francois' 1200 last. When all the bikes were safely back on solid ground I let out a great big 'eHamdoulillah', (Thank God) which was echoed by all the guys standing around, followed by a big round of applause. And with that we headed straight back to the hotel to load the bikes and within an hour we were off! Next stop - Dongola!

Jo Rust packing bike at hotel, Sudan.

The new main road through Sudan is absolutely fantastic! Beautiful lazy turns surrounded by desert as far as the eye can see. We stopped off about halfway for lunch. Every now and then you can find a little settlement on the side of the road with small restaurants where you can stop off for something to eat or drink."

Jo Rust on the road in Sudan.

more »

Ed. Lots more fantastic pics on Jo's blog in the HUBB Ride Tales Forum!

Mark and Carlie, Australia, Just out to get some milk - a three year RTW journey, in Ecuador, 650 V-Strom,

"...We had allowed ourselves 4 days to make the roughly 470kms from the coast. Plenty of time to indulge my new found hobby of discovering roads that the good people at Garmin only see fit to give the thinnest of thin lines to! The first day was without a shadow of a doubt my hardest on a motorbike. Ever.

Mark and Carlie, dropped bike, Ecuador.

Once we started into the foothills the road condition didn't deteriorate, it plummeted. From smooth asphalt to 4 inch thick sticky mud in 5 kms. Add to this switchbacks that would have Salvador Dali scratching his head and inclines more often found on escalators and it really is no surprise that I dropped the bike for the first time. Ever.

It was one of those back wheel spinning, forward momentum stopping, gravity winning type scenarios. All was well and the obligatory photo taken before hearing another vehicle approaching, the first car we had seen for almost an hour. After a battle with the mud we were upright again and on our way.

Laguna, Ecuador.

...After spending the night in Latacunga it was off up and back into the mountains. A perfect road wound its way west and up, sheer motorbiking joy on a road all to ourselves. After a memorable 2 hours it was time to hit the dirt again at Zumbahua and towards the laguna. I know I go on about the cold but this place at 3900m was simply too much for us Aussies. It was however made for up by the laguna itself. An extinct volcanic crater now partially filled with water is on many a travellers list and for good reason."

more »

Ed. Read more of Mark and Carlie's story in the HUBB Ride Tales Forum!

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Classic Bike India - Guided Motorcycle Adventure Tours To Ladakh - Sri Lanka - Bhutan - Rajasthan - Nepal - Thailand - Tibet - Goa & South India.

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John and Alanna Skillington, Australia, RTW in Brazil, Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom,

"We are very nervous about riding into Sao Paulo, a city of 20 million people, (that is nearly the population of Australia living in one city) however we needn't have worried, it is Sunday afternoon, and for some reason the bike suddenly decides to behave itself. It takes only an hour to get into the city and we ride straight to the Hostel with only one minor wrong turn. Feeling slightly dazed by our good fortune we check into the very busy Pousada de Franceses.

We had chosen this hostel after finding they had parking and it was not that far from the motorcycle shops. Of course as usual we hadn't booked and they were full, but the amazing staff here pulled strings, reorganised guests and found us a room, they then proceeded to back out all the cars and managed to squeeze the bike into the small crowded car park. Nothing is too much trouble. And so begins the generosity of the people from Sao Paulo. (Paulitanos)

There is also another bike parked in the parking area, we later get a knock on the door and Rainer introduces himself. He is a lovely, young German guy travelling on a really old DR 650. The sole purpose of his journey is surfing, he had ridden from Mexico to Brazil with his surfboard seeking out the best surf beaches.

Rainer, German surfer biker, in Brazil.

...Later that evening we get an email back from Marlon saying he is out of Sao Paulo on business but he has posted a message on his motorcycle group's website to ask for some assistance for us. We are then inundated with offers of help, we cannot believe it.

On Monday morning Skill goes off to the Suzuki shop closest to the Hostel but they are really busy so kindly redirect him to another Suzuki shop, they also get someone to pilot him there. As all this is going on I have been emailed by Taz (a complete stranger) saying he is worried about us and is sending a friend to help us at the Suzuki shop. Padu (Taz's friend) manages to track Skill down at the second motorbike shop and then spends the whole day (until 7.00pm) helping Skill out.

After all day at various bike shops with numerous diagnostic checks of engine management, fuel pressure and a number of test rides by various mechanics, the decision was we should replace chain, sprockets and sprocket bearing to eliminate this obvious problem that was complicating the engine diagnosis. Skill could not believe what a difference replacing the chain/sprockets/bearing had on the rough running at low speed, it was so smooth now. So all the problems seemed to be fixed, or so it seemed at the time. The badly stretched chain was definitely our main problem but as is often the case, there was another intermittent engine problem that has plagued us for many months and of course this problem was not showing itself at this moment.

The bike definitely seemed to be running a lot better so we spend the next two days playing tourist in Sao Paulo.

Huge sculpture in roundabout, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Huge sculpture in the middle of a huge roundabout - Sao Paulo

...We also get invited for dinner with all the motorcycling people who have helped us out. Taz and Karin pick us up and give us a tour of the city before we enjoy a lovely evening with these amazingly friendly and charitable people.

Helpful biker group in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Sao Paulo is a foodies delight, we are staying in Bella Vista the Italian part of the city, but we also visit China town which is also where a large proportion of the Japanese community live so we eat as much sushi as we possibly can. We have a bit of a laugh one day, we are sitting in a Japanese restaurant in China town, Sao Paulo, Brazil listening to a Men at Work song 'I come from the Land Down Under', how's that for a multicultural moment?

Taz pilots the Skillingtons out of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Taz pilots us out of Sao Paulo.

...Over dinner Taz and Padu have a discussion, they are worried about us getting out of Sao Paulo onto the coast road to Rio, so Taz decides he will meet us at the Hostel at 7.30 am the following day and pilot us out of Sao Paulo, and that is exactly what happens."

more »

Ed. Read more amazing stories on John and Alanna's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!

Ian Moor, UK, Wrong Way Round The World, in Australia,

"I arrived from New Zealand into Melbourne to be greeted at the airport by my brother, Keith who has lived in Australia for more years than either of us cares to remember and my nephew, Reuben who is on his gap year between school and university. Reuben has travelled from his home in the UK via various European organic farms and is working in a gourmet cake kitchen in Melbourne which makes him my current favourite nephew. It was a pleasurable but hectic change to be living amongst a boisterous young family instead of the peaceful solitude and tranquillity of travelling on my own. The plan was to buy another motorbike to travel around Australia.

Stunt rider at Australia Formula 1 GP.

Stunt rider at Australia Formula 1 GP

The bike I chose was called a Mitsubishi Express. It has four wheels, one at each corner to aid stability and a large fully enclosed fairing which is one hundred percent windproof and waterproof. It has controls that can warm or cool the air to any desired temperature which keeps me comfortable even more effectively than the heated handlebar grips I had on the BMW F650GS I rode through the Americas. A huge advantage of the Mitsubishi Express is the enormous luggage space. After living out of two panniers for four years it feels as though I have moved into a mansion.

New wheels, Kangaroo Valley, Australia.

Proof That I'm Now Officially Old, Four Wheels, Camping Table, Folding Chairs And A Grown Up Nephew

Ok, it's a metal box and nowhere near as thrilling, exciting or adventurous as travelling by motorcycle. After four years of continuous motorcycle travel and becoming a whopping four years older in the process my body finally convinced my head that it wanted a few of the creature comforts befitting my age of sixty one. Protection from the elements of wind, rain, heat and cold was one thing I craved. Smaller things such as carrying a chopping board and a couple of kitchen knives instead of taking forever to slice vegetables with a Swiss army knife on the lid of my camping pan became a dream come true."

more »

Ed. See more of Ian's pics of Australia and a cost breakdown of his trip on his blog at Horizons Unlimited.

Sherri Jo Wilkins, Australia/USA, RTW, in New Zealand, KTM 690 Enduro,

"More than two years ago in February 2011, a magnitude-6.3 earthquake hit the city, killing 185 people and injuring many more. I can only imagine what it was like to see the damage 2 years ago, but there is complete chaos even now.

Damaged church, Christchurch, New Zealand.

There were several churches we saw today that have steeples on the ground conserved for a future rebuild.

...The neighborhoods are surreal. So empty. The red zone is where nobody can live. All the pipes and general infrastructure is broken, while the rebuilding in this area has not begun as of yet. Carole and I got out of the car just being nosey. It's like a ghost town and I can only imagine. What if you didn't have earthquake insurance... where did they go?

Broken house, Christchurch, New Zealand.

...On a positive note and a complete change to the sadness, here is what the city is doing that I really liked... Shipping container shopping!"

Shipping container shopping, Christchurch, New Zealand.

more »

Ed. Sherri Jo is back in Australia now. We caught up with her at the HU Victoria meeting, where she captivated everyone with her adventures!

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Extreme Bike Tours India, Raasthan, Bhutan

Extreme Bike Tours - India, Rajasthan, Bhutan

Wolfi (Germany) and Ilta (Finland) and dogs, Sauerkraut and Tofuwurst (vegan bikers trotting the globe), in England, BMW R1150GS Adventure and Suzuki V-Strom DL650,

"...Just before Chesterfield, my charging control lamp went on. This was not good! I called Les to tell him we will be late and hoped he had some good ideas. Amazing, I had another deja-vu (Rudi, you will remember this). Broken charger and it was Monday, which meant that the 'typical' bike repair shop is closed :(

I lifted the tank a little, whether I could see anything (no idea what one could see but I did it anyway), I saw nothing and put everything back together. After some thinking, googling and calling around, we decided to hit towards Nottingham. My big battery would certainly last for those 50km or so. The BMW dealer there did not have time to fix my bike as they were fully booked, but then at least I could buy or order spare parts. We booked a cheap hotel via internet, I put off all my lights and off we went.

So, we thought... I pushed the start button on my bike and it did not start - instead it was spitting petrol from one of the connection pieces. This cannot be happening! Two faults at once. I took broken connecter pieces away and connected the fuel hose directly to the fuel filter (which is outside my tank). After that fix, we finally could get going (the sales persons of the shop must have thought I have diarrhoea since I went so often to the toilet to wash my fingers) :D

Wolfi fixing bike in England.

We arrived in our hotel in Nottingham and the guy at the reception was so friendly to lend me his battery charger to charge my battery. In the meantime, I had a quick look - easy things first, so I checked the poly-belt and BINGO. It fell off when I opened the cover. That was easy. Maybe here is a good time to end the ongoing dispute in some of the GS/boxer forums whether the service of the poly belt is 40.000 or 60.000km. I strongly recommend to change it at 40.000km. It costs about 16EUR and saves you from trouble on the road and additional costs like cancellation fee of a booked hotel."

Dogs watching Wolfi fix bike.

Lyra is bored during the repair - nobody played with her...

more »

Seb Leeson, Belgium, North and Central Asia, in Pamir Valley, Tajikistan,

"I had zero knowledge of this valley, other than that it looked as there should be a track going all the way through the Pamir mountains back to the North East of Tajikistan to Lake Kara-Kul and the Pamir Highway where I was a few days before. I also only found one report of a guy on a motorbike who did it and who had a lot of problems. I met two Austrian guys on bicycles and at least one of them said it would be impossible on a motorbike and the other said that only a really skilled rider could maybe make it. So this sounded like something I could do or at least try! I looked on the map and saw a few 'points' that should be villages, so I thought it would be ok and that I could find some food and water. I would learn that this was not the case... Right from the beginning it is clear that this would be a special and magnificent ride.

The whole way consists of a track that is mostly hard gravel with rocks and stones, but there will also be river crossings, sand, bigger stones, washed out track, bigger rivers etc. you get the point: it's definitely not for beginners or anyone on these beautiful heavy bikes that are advertised as being the 'ultimate adventure bikes'. They're not. But anyway it's not about that, it's all about riding in the Bartang valley.

The track is also in some places really 'rocky' so I started to slow down a bit as I didn't want to end up in the river. Actually I'm glad I slowed down as a few turns later I had to brake hard for this:

Seb Leeson in Pamir Valley, Tajikistan.

The road was completely blocked as a part of the mountain came down on the track; no way to pass it but I really did not want to turn around so I started to work... and remove as much as I could to make a small passageway to try to pass with the bike:

Seb Leeson in Pamir Valley, Tajikistan.

It took me some time but I managed to get through! Next part again lot of rocks and water, but nothing I couldn't handle on the DRZ:

Seb Leeson in Pamir Valley, Tajikistan.

The next part is more tricky. The river washed the road away completely. You know where you need to go, but it was a pain in the ass to get through. You just don't know how deep the water is and I was too lazy to walk it all first so I just went for it... The first part was ok, 30cm deep and sand and small rocks to ride on until I came to a little island for a break.

Seb Leeson in Pamir Valley, Tajikistan.

The next part though, was only like 35 meters or so but it took me almost an hour to do that. I started from the little island trying to stay as close to the left as possible (mountain side) but after like 10 meters I hit a big rock hard, the bike stalled and I had to use all my strength to keep the bike from falling over and going completely under. Because the rock made me stop abruptly my chest hit the GPS on my steering bar and the GPS went over the bike, into the river… nothing I could do about it! So when I finally stabilized the bike (and hurt my arm with this) I could get off and push it a bit further to be able to put it on its side stand as the bike wouldn't start again. Time for a picture:

Seb Leeson in Pamir Valley, Tajikistan.

So I'm there, no help, haven't seen anybody for the whole day (except some locals in their farm) with a GPS that is somewhere in the river and a bike in the river that won't start anymore… Time to sit down for a minute and overlook the situation. Tried to push the bike out of the river, but as said, the riverbed is made of sand and small and larger stones and I was pushing uphill. After making a passage with my hands in the water (removing stones etc) I finally got the bike out! But still no GPS. So I went back into the river and started to look for it on hands and knees. After what looked like an eternity there it was! A few meters away from where it fell down into the water. And it was still working! Thank good for a real waterproof GPS, it was for 15minutes completely submerged into this ice cold river at 3000m altitude and still works!"

more »

Ed. Amazing pics! Seb and Kim started their travels from HUBB UK 2013 and plan to come back to HUBB UK 2014 and tell their stories - see you there!
HU Events

Why Come to a Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers Meeting?

You can meet people who don't think you're crazy for wanting to ride your bike to South America or Africa or across Asia! People who will encourage you, share their experiences and advice on how to do it!

Also, the meetings help to make HU more than just a website - a community of motorcycle travellers - real people, not just e-mail addresses ;-) And last but not least, they make a significant contribution to HU revenue, thus helping us to keep the HUBB and website going and a roof over our heads! So thanks to everyone who comes!

We have a heap of events this year, and we're not finished organizing yet! We're getting to as many of them as we can - looking forward to seeing old friends again and making new ones!

You missed it!

Thailand, January 10-11, 2014. Chiang Mai - Greg Frazier hosted this event, which expanded to 2 days - thanks Greg! See the HUBB post for pics from the 2014 event!

Meetings and Events still to come, 2014. Mark your calendars and sign up now!

Brazil Mini-Meeting! February 22-23 - Iguassu - Rodolfo Datsch is hosting this event again, note that's a month earlier this year. No charge, but please sign up here!

Germany Summer Meeting - May 29 - June 1. 12th Meeting! Ober-Liebersbach. Online registration is open now!

HUBB UK 2014, June 19-22, 2014. Donington. Sam Manicom and Iain Harper host the premier event for overland adventure travellers on two, three or four wheels! Online registration is open now! Early birds are rewarded with the biggest discount, so make sure you register online to get the best value. Check out the video from HUBB UK 2013 for a taster.

Atlantic Canada - July 4-6 in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. Craig Cairns, Philip White and Clarence Tidd are organizing this event. Details and registration soon!

Colorado - July 11-13. Greg Frazier is hosting this Campfire and Ride Mini Meeting (and Dave Rankine and Chris Kelly are doing all the work!) Plan to RIDE! Online registration is open now!

Ireland - July 18-20. Enniskillen. Liam, Naomi, Jochen and the team already have a bunch of great presenters lined up, including Sam Manicom, and of course Liam and Naomi will tell you about their South American adventures. Online registration is open now!

Canada West - August 21-24. Nakusp, BC. Ekke and Audrey are back, Kevan and Karen Ibbotson will be there and so will we! Great riding in the area, friendly town and lots of great presentations and workshops lined up. Online registration is open now!

Nakusp Lake, BC.

North Carolina - Sep 4-7. Stecoah, NC. Moved back to September and cooler weather! Southern hospitality provided by Mike Kilpatrick, assisted by Steve Anderson, John and Charlene and the team at Ironhorse Motorcycle Lodge. Great riding in the Tail of the Dragon, Cherohala Skyway and Blue Ridge Parkway. Online registration is open now!

Camping at Ironhorse Motorcycle Lodge, North Carolina.

Ontario Canada - September 11-14. Fantastic location on Lake Manitou near Parry Sound! Online registration is open now!

Camp Manitou dock and lake.

California, Sept. 25-28. New! New location - Yosemite! Lots of camping space, several large presentation rooms, and a very friendly town! Flip Morton and Nicole Espinosa are the local hosts for this event, which will be awesome! Online registration is open now!

Yosemite, California.

Australia QLD - Oct 3-6. New! New location - Beaudesert, Queensland! Shane Kuhl and Helen Black are the local hosts for this event! We'll be there! Online registration is open now!

Beaudesert camping.

Australia WA - Perth, Oct 10-12 - TBC. Tamara and Xander Kabat will be hosting this event, supported by Ewen MacGregor and a great team of volunteers. Details and registration to come soon!

Australia VIC - October 24-26. Cavendish, Victoria. Anthony and Janet Morrison are the local hosts for this event in the beautiful Grampian Mountains. Strictly limited numbers, so don't miss out! Online registration is open now!

Grampian Mountains, Victoria, Australia.


How about you? We're all here to learn, and there's LOTS to learn! We want to do more presentations and seminars - but we need volunteers to give them! Any topic you can contribute having to do with motorcycle travel, maintenance, planning, first aid, etc, lasting 20 minutes or more, would be great. We love people who have done trips and taken pictures to come present, but we also are interested in practical how-to sessions such as roadside cooking, navigation/GPS, trip prep and planning, adventure motorcycling medicine, packing light, setting your bike up, bodging/bike maintenance, tire repair, communications/blogging from the road, photography, videography, self-publishing your story, self-defense, safe riding techniques, picking up your bike and off-road riding. Please contact us here to volunteer.

Had a great trip? Got good stories and pics of it? Never presented before? Tips for putting on a successful Travel Slide Show!

Volunteers and Hosts

Volunteers for all meetings are needed, just a couple of hours of your time makes it all a lot easier - and fun - for all. You can volunteer a few hours of your time for any meeting here. And volunteering is always a great way to meet a lot of people!

If you'd like to host an HU Meeting in your area, please see the How To Host a Meeting page for details.

Vendors/Traders sign up here to join us at a Meeting.

See the Events page for more details on all events.

Hope to see you there! Grin!

Grant and Susan

Liam and Naomi McIlhone, Ireland/UK, in Chile, 4WD,

Liam and Naomi.

"We were sad to say goodbye to the new friends we had made over Christmas and we were sorry to leave the beautiful Elqui Valley, but at the same time we were excited about striking north into the desert. Our route along the Pacific coast took us through Parque Nacional Pan de Azucar (Sugar Loaf National Park), named on account of the shape of the island a couple of kilometres offshore. We stopped at a tiny fishing village just as the daily catch was landing, and we were amused at the antics of the gulls and pelicans fighting over scraps discarded by men who were cleaning the fish.

Huge beach in southern Chile.

We teamed up with travellers from Italy, France and Finland to hire a boat to take us out to the island in the hope of seeing some Humboldt penguins. The Humboldt current, which washes the coast of Chile, cools the waters in this area sufficiently to attract these birds. We were not disappointed. We lost count of the numbers of penguins, pelicans and other sea birds we saw, and we also saw otters and sea lions. The crystal clear waters revealed a high population of jelly fish too. We found an idyllic campsite on the beach and watched the sun set behind the island.

Humboldt penguins in Chile.

The road north next day took us through mile after mile of hilly desert, in places so dry that there was no vegetation at all. In other areas we marvelled at the tenacity of cushion cacti and scrubby brush plants clinging to life without any obvious source of hydration. Rising from the desert sands, the adobe buildings of abandoned mines eerily appeared like mirages in the landscape. This mineral-rich area was the site of dozens of nitrate mines in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The sculpture of a gigantic hand, El Mano del Desierto, loomed on the horizon about 50 kilometres south of Antofagasta. We turned off the road up the short dirt track leading to this famous sculpture. As we got closer, we could see a couple with a motorbike posing for photos, and nearby, a bicycle, heavily laden with yellow panniers and overland gear. The cyclist was taking a photo for the biker couple. The cyclist was none other than Andrew Rutherford!

Andy Rutherford, cyclist extraordinaire.

Andy Rutherford, cyclist extraordinaire!

I last saw Andrew about 24 years ago, when he was 8 years old, in Malawi. His family, who are Scottish, lived next door to ours on the mission station in Blantyre. Hugs and smiles and much chat and laughter ensued and we listened to some of Andrew's tales of his journey to date. Andy gave up his job in Edinburgh eight months ago, flew to Caracas with his bicycle (as you do!) and has been cycling southwards ever since. He plans to continue through Chile and Argentina, all the way to Punta Arenas. Looking fit and well and in great form, he left us feeling like couch potatoes as we bade him farewell and safe cycling.

We took ourselves into the Salar de Atacama (salt flats) to float in the saline waters of Laguna Cejar. The salt content in the water of this lake is higher than that of the Dead Sea. The buoyancy made swimming breaststroke impossible, as my limbs would not stay below the surface and, it was only when we tried to get out of the water, that we realised we could not stand up. We had to float to shallower water, turn over like beached whales and get to our knees before we could stand!"

Liam McIlhone floating in Laguna Cejar.

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Ed. Fantastic pics on their blog. Liam and Naomi will be at the HU Brazil meeting, and we expect them to be home in time to share their adventure at the HU Ireland meeting!

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Ferris Wheels Motorcycle Safaris.

Ferris Wheels Motorcycle Safaris are one of the pioneers of the motorcycle tour industry. We have been taking clients professionally to the highest road in the world several times a year since 1994; over 50 times now! Other exotic destinations include Morocco, Turkey, Bhutan, South America, and the Dalmatian Coastline.

All fully-detailed itineraries can be found at where you may also find countless client accolades and many press articles endorsing our tours over the past 15 years or so, and request our free DVD!

Adam Lewis, UK, Short Way Round, in Tajikistan, BMW F650,

Bush camp in Tajikistan.

Bush camping in Tajikistan

"...Just a few kilometres from the village it all went wrong. The track was decent, I was a little refreshed and cruising along at 50-60km/h when suddenly I was stopped dead in my tracks; all but flung over the handlebars, spun around and dumped on the floor.

It took me a few seconds to gather my senses and understand what had happened. I turned the fuel off and checked myself for injuries but I was ok.

A closer look revealed 5mm steel cables strung across the road from a telegraph/electrical pole. I'd hit it with my headlight and as it tightened so it spun me around, getting snagged in my rear wheel, chain guard and suspension in the process.

Cable in Tajikistan.

This shot shows quite clearly where the cable came from

Daisy was so wrapped up in the cable that I couldn't pick her up until I unwrapped it. When I did I found the chain guard almost ripped off, the handlebars pushed forwards and the forks slightly twisted in the clamps."

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Ed. note: For video right after the crash and more amazing photos of Adam's ride through the Bartang Valley, see Adam's blog.

Issa Breibish and Nita, Canada, RTW, in Sardinia, BMW F650GS,

"The touring highlight of our stay in Alghero has to be our visit to Grotte di Nettuno, a massive cave with an incredible display of stalactites and stalagmites. It's accessible by land or sea and we opt for the water approach rather than the 654 steps down from the nearby cliff - which in itself looks to be quite beautiful. The boat ride is a quick 30 minutes and finishes with an exciting plank-walk from the bow of the boat along a foot-wide aluminum 'bridge' that rocks steadily with every wave.

At just a meter above sea-level, the cave is often closed during heavy winds and rougher seas which can apparently result in travellers getting taken on a scenic tour of the area rather than actually going to the grotto itself. Our journey to the mouth of the cave is windy but beautiful, and the views of the cliffs as we approach are simply breathtaking. Perched high atop a cliff, a lone lighthouse catches the attention of everyone on board. Apparently, this is the image everyone seems to want as the relatively still crowd suddenly springs to life with cameras clicking from every free viewpoint on deck.

Grotto di Nettuno, Sardinia. Grotto di Nettuno, Sardinia.

After walking the plank, we pay up for the guided tour which is now the only way to tour the cave. As we make our way through the caverns, the guide's voice drifts into the background as we take in the incredible beauty here. It's hard to believe that places like this actually exist outside of story books. Every corner reveals something more incredible than the last; giant stalactites hang from the cavern's ceiling, reaching like fingers to their counterparts that rise from the floor only to meet somewhere in the middle. Around another corner an old canoe sits idly in the water that's pooling and bringing the colour of the stone to life. Truly, it's a place that needs to be seen."

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Beth and Dave (Irish) Anderson, USA, in Portugal and Gibraltar, F700GS and F800GS,

"...As soon as we entered Portugal we noticed several changes, although fuel prices climbed, just about everything else became cheaper, there were far fewer vehicles on the roads and signage gave you more of a rough idea than an actual direction, the attitude seemed to be, if you've made it this far you can probably figure the rest out by yourself. Overall, the country had a rougher, more rural feel to it, less manicured than where we had come from. The people were no less hospitable and appeared happy to welcome visitors even though we were on the less traveled Eastern side. Our map book road numbers occasionally corresponded to what we found on the ground but we managed to locate the roads we'd been pointed towards and all the frustrations and wrong turns were soon forgotten as we wound back the throttles and snaked our way into the mountains.

Serra de Estrela, Portugal.

...The following morning we quietly left the area and set our sites on Gibraltar, stopping briefly for breakfast in the stunning town of Ronda before climbing our last mountain pass as we neared the coast. A rest stop on one of the summits provided us with our first view of Africa. Through hazy ocean air we could just make out the distinctive shape of the Rock of Gibraltar and the mysterious Atlas mountains beyond. Motivated to see more we picked up the pace and by lunch time we were approaching the border between Spain and this old bastion of the British Empire. Security appeared a little tighter here than on any European border we had crossed yet, with passport checks on both sides of the frontier.

Barbary macaque or 'Rock Ape' in Gibraltar.

...There was a certain amount of excitement in the air as tensions over fishing rights in the surrounding waters, and the bigger question of sovereignty, had brought the Spanish and British governments into yet another heated exchange. One fastidiously patriotic older lady explained to us that 'as long as the apes remain, the Rock will always be British', we thought it a rather odd way to refer to your fellow country men."

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You'll be taking on some of the finest enduro terrain in the world. With an expert team at your side you'll pass through jungles, cross the Mekong, climb mountains and stand in the shadows of the ancient temples of Angkor.

'You'll be taking on some of the finest enduro terrain in the world. With an expert team at your side you'll pass through jungles, cross the Mekong, climb mountains and stand in the shadows of the ancient temples of Angkor.'

Paul Warden (Wildman), UK, An Icelandic Saga,

Seyoisfjorour, Iceland.

"...Starting from Seydisfjördur, our first destination, Dettifoss, Europe's largest waterfall by volume made famous in the opening scene of Prometheus.

Dettifoss waterfall, Iceland.

We take the 'bad road' to get the good view giving us our first off road experience on Iceland. Pushing on, we arrive at our target destination of Lake Mývatn in good time and pitch camp. It never truly got dark overnight and Friday morning slowly greeted us with a chilly, wet and windy start. We eventually got tents packed away and hatched a plan to take an easy day riding to the top of the Kjalvegur aka the Kjölur Route, Iceland's main north/south thoroughfare; 104 miles of unpaved road.

Almost empty road in Iceland.

The Kjölur Route spits you out at Gulfoss and Geysir.

Gulfoss and Geysir, Iceland.

Two days across Iceland to get to Landmannalaugar and time to make a decision whether to head back through the central highlands on the F26 Sprengisandsleid or whether to head for the ring to the south and Jökulsárlón. We'd met a Dutch guy riding his bicycle on the Kjalvegur who'd told us that Kjalvegur was a 'highway' compared to the Sprengisandsleid and that he, in turn, had met a Russian cyclist who'd had to carry his bike for 12kms due to sand on the F910 towards Askja, the route Daniel and I had considered.

With the water likely to be rising due to the rain for the past day or two, it wasn't a difficult decision. We're here to enjoy the riding, not to push ourselves to the limit so it's back to the ring (a decision we are later pleased about on hearing the stories of a couple of German guys nearly drowning their bikes) and as if to reward us, the sun puts in a welcome appearance, drying off our wet tents."

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Ed. Lots more pictures, not too many words about this little travelled island on the HUBB Ride Tales Forum.

Heike Fania, Switzerland and Filippo Fania, Germany, Europe to Australia and beyond, in Australia, BMW F650GS and BMW R1150GS,

"Last weekend, the vessel with our container then finally arrived in Darwin. On Tuesday we had an appointment for the quarantine inspection, which we passed without problems. We then had to sort our stuff, change tires, repair a few things, we had to pass a technical inspection, and register the motorcycles.

Getting bikes out of Australian quarantine.

Finally, bikes have arrived, waiting for the quarantine inspector to arrive.

After all this is done now, we are ready to hit the road! We are looking forward to get the motorcycles dirty again, which shouldn't be too difficult with all the dirt roads around here-. but it will definitely hurt after all the cleaning for the quarantine inspection.

...Since we have met at a Horizons Unlimited Travelers Meeting in Germany, we have always had a special connection to those meetings that exist in many countries around the world. So whenever there is a meeting taking place whilst we are travelling, we are trying to get there. And now in Australia, we made actually quite a detour to get to the one in Queensland.

Heike and Filippo with Grant and Susan at the HU Queensland meeting.

It was great to see Grant and Susan again, the two people that have set up the website and started to organize those meetings. We usually like to joke that is Grant and Susan's fault that we are married, and that we are riding our motorcycles now around the world… We met lots of well-travelled people and motorcycles, we heard a few fantastic presentations, and got into contact with many nice people.

...Right in the middle of nowhere, at a place called Brigalow, which consists only of a few houses, we were invited by Chris and Shane. We were standing there on the road, just having a short break to drink water, when this guy came over from the house next to us, and in the next moment we found ourselves in his yard, we could use the workshop, we got tools, a bed to sleep, a tasty dinner, and, most important!, wonderful company... and all that from strangers, whom we hadn't known only a few hours ago. One of the unique experiences that make travelling such a wonderful thing!

Heike and Filippo with Chris and Shane.

We could tell lots of stories from our trip through the Queensland outback, from the birthplace of the airline Qantas; about the place where the song 'Waltzing Mathilda' was written; about the enormous flocks of cockatoos that flew over our tent in the evenings, and with deafening screeching; about the longest fence in the world; about gigantic Road Trains, for which you better make room; about water that is so hot when it comes out of the earth that you have to cool it before you can use it; about the farms that are so big that they use helicopters to round up the cattle; about emus, kangaroos, and cows on the roads; about the Royal Flying Doctors (which are not only a TV series); ... and so on - but unfortunately there is not enough space and time here. You can say a lot about the outback, but it is definitely not boring!

Wild dog barrier fence, Australia.

...We've also visited the Olgas, another spectacular rock formation, as well as the Western MacDonell Range, a mountain ridge between Alice Springs and Ayers Rock. On one of the campsites there we met one of the most dangerous spiders of Australia under the picnic table: a fully grown female redback spider - uaaahhhh..."

Female redback spider, Australia.

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Ed. Heike and Filippo told some great stories at the HU Queensland meeting!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

Gino Rondelli, Scotland, Argentina to Alaska, in Anchorage, G650GS BMW,

"So we have made it to Anchorage, 22000 miles from our start in Buenos Aires, it's been a hell of a trip so far but not at the end yet, bike problems again (Damn you Mr BMW) but we will get over it and carry on to our final destination in Miami.

Bear warning in Alaska.

Notices on all the doors just to keep you aware!

...The original intention was to spend 3 days here and get out before the weather turned, we have now been here almost two weeks and every day gets colder and wetter! The plan is as soon as we get my bike back to retrace our steps to Tok then Whitehorse and then South towards Jasper, Banff and Calgary, That's a distance of just over 2000 miles and we hope to do it in a week, the weather appears to be turning against us with heavy rain forecast all over with much lower temperatures so we'll take it as it comes. What should have been a pleasant meander will now be just about getting the miles in which is a great shame because there is so much to see en route. Of course first we have to see if BMW can get me my bike back, as I've said before life on the road should be just that, not hanging around in large towns waiting on bike parts and repairs!! We remain positive despite the setbacks, now gimme my bike back!"

Glacier in Alaska.

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Ed. Gino & Fiona report they are back in Scotland now, moaning about the weather and wishing they were still travelling! Guys - come to HUBB UK, tell your stories and plan your next trip!

Gene and Neda, Canada, 'Lightcycle', RTW, in Colombia, R1200GS and F800GS,

"...We're flying on the highway, northbound to the Caribbean coast of Colombia, past the port-town of Barranquilla, towards Santa Marta. Although the temperatures are still scorching, in the low 30s, I can feel the humidity wash off of us as if they were wraps of stifling plastic blown away by the wind blast of our racing motorcycles.

This feels good - breaking new ground after 3 months of re-riding through Central America. Although it was nice to actually see these countries properly instead of blasting through it the first time, there is nothing like riding into the unknown, the unexplored. I don't regret our boomerang tour, but re-tracing some of the same routes felt a bit stale, like drinking microwaved water.

Santa Marta is a fair-sized city, but Neda has us bypassing it and heading over the sea-side mountains to the tiny beach-resort town of Taganga. It'll be less hectic than the city, but still close enough to Santa Marta to run errands if we need to. The road between the two towns is twisty and winds high along the coastline to give a terrific view of the shore below.

Taganga, Colombia from above.

Taganga, Colombia

Taganga is a paradise! The temperature is hot, and it doesn't seem to rain very much on the coast. There's very little humidity and most importantly - no mosquitoes! Perfect place to drop all our bags (and panniers and top cases) and just catch our breath. Neda finds us lodging at the Tayrona Dive Center, a huge complex that caters to scuba divers. Since it's off sea-season, we get the largest room in the building!

Sunset in Taganga, Colombia.

Even though we've only booked this place for four days I have a feeling we'll be staying here for a while..."

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Ed. See Gene and Neda's story and great pics on the HUBB Ride Tales Forum!

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Karen and Kevin Browne, UK, RTW, in Alaska, Moto Guzzi Spada,

Karen and Kevin Browne at the Top of Alaska Highway.

"The locals say strange things happen in Chicken, Alaska and indeed our strangest encounter to date happened here in small township of approx 15 people (in winter). Kev was outside having the usual conversation with a stranger: where, what, why, how, by the time Karen joined them it had been established that Tom hailed from the town where we both come from. Not only that he lived in a village on the outskirts which Karen grew up in and that Karen possibly went to school with Tom's sister as they were about the same age. Karen asked Tom his surname then proceeded to quote his address and after a timely pause added, I used to babysit for you ! I was your next door neighbour!

Finding an old neighbour in Chicken, Alaska.

Meeting my old neighbour

There then followed hugs all round and a brief catch up of news from both parties. The surprises didn't stop there after Tom introduced Kim his partner originally from Australia we established her home town of Mount Eliza Melbourne was the next town over from Lilydale where we stayed at Pierre's. Karen did her hydrotherapy in Croydon pool where Kim used to swim as a kid, what a small world we live in."

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Ed. Kev and Karen are a wee bit behind in posting updates - sensibly, they were in Alaska in July!
HU Presents...

Achievable Dream and Road Heroes DVDs!

Ho, ho, ho! 20% off all DVDs in the HU Store until Jan 31,2014! Remember to use Coupon Code 'EZSPEC' on your order.

Road Heroes - Motorcycle Adventure Travel Tales - Part 1.Road Heroes - Motorcycle Adventure Travel Tales, features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers Peter and Kay Forwood (Challenges of travelling to 193 countries 2-up on a Harley Electra-Glide), Dr. Gregory Frazier (5 times RTW on a variety of bikes), Tiffany Coates (RTW traveller recounts her Mongolia Mayhem) and Rene Cormier (5 years in the University of Gravel Roads). Not to be missed!

If you've been inspired by the stories you've read in this e-zine and are keen to get on the road yourself, the Achievable Dream is the definitive 'How To' series on long-distance motorcycle travel.

This insanely ambitious 2-year project has produced an informative and entertaining 5-part, 18 hour DVD series: "The ultimate round the world rider's how-to DVD!" MCN UK.

The Achievable Dream Series - the Motorcycle Adventure Travel Guide!

The series features interviews with veteran travellers, such as Ted Simon, Austin Vince, Greg Frazier, Lois book., Chris and Erin Ratay, Peter and Kay Forwood, Tiffany Coates, Sam Manicom, and many others. Over 150 contributors from all over the world tell their fantastic and entertaining stories, sharing their hard-earned knowledge from amazing motorcycle trips to every country on earth. Includes thousands of great photos, video clips, presentations and demos by experts.

The series was filmed in broadcast quality wide screen, with multiple cameras and custom written music. Filming took place at Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers meetings and on location in the USA, Canada, UK, Switzerland, Spain, Germany and the South Pacific.

Achievable Dream Collectors Box Set - 5 Motorcycle Adventure Travel DVDs!The 'Collectors Box Set' is also available - all 5 DVDs (18 hours of informative and entertaining content!) in a custom box for only $111 (previously $139). "The series is 'free' because the tips and advice will save much more than you spend on buying the DVD's."

We've sold thousands of these DVDs, so we're pretty confident you'll like them. If you're not completely happy with them, just let us know within 30 days of purchase for a full refund or exchange. And you don't even have to send them back!

If by some chance you've never heard of the Achievable Dream and Road Heroes DVDs, you can see the trailers and read the comments for all the DVDs here.

Rockwell (Rocky and Paula), RTW, in Canada, KTM 990 Adventure

"...We pitched our tents on the shore of the St. Lawrence River along the coastal Highway 132. It was a great place to gather our thoughts as we enjoyed the view. Early the next morning, we headed towards Gaspé, Québec. After a few incidents, we all realized the difficulty in riding together. Alex continued in his own direction without us. Rocky and I remained in Gaspé and found an abandoned house to set up camp in the backyard. I love camping but I've been getting eaten alive. Mosquitos bites annoy me but black flies are attacking me, biting me repeatedly, taking small chunks of my skin and leaving me bloody, bruised and intensely itchy. It is tough being delicious.

Perce, Quebec.

Not far from where we slept was a small city near the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula, called Percé. We decided to stop there on our way to New Brunswick, Canada. Percé is mainly a tourist town particularly well known for the attractions of the Percé Rock, translated to English as the pierced rock. It is one of the world's largest natural arches located in water. Percé is known as one of the most beautiful villages of Québec. It was a perfect location to remind us of the beauty of Québec before leaving the province to visit New Brunswick for the first time!"

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Ed. See Rocky and Paula's pics and read their great stories in the HUBB Ride Tales Forum!

Bruce Porter and Mike Speechley, A northern hemisphere RTW in 91 days, in Holland,

"...My last few days on the were not without mishap, the bike broke down again in Holland (and people wonder why I call her the 'Bastard' ).

Bruce Porter, final breakdown, Holland.

Ignition failure struck again just as I was accelerating from a fuel stop onto the motorway, which was an interesting moment. Fortunately I was able to push the bike back to the services to work on her. The failure initially appeared to be similar to the one in Almaty. However when I stripped the front end of the bike and ignition I could see the wires were intact. Following some head scratching I realised the ignition barrel was worn and a small amount of pressure was needed to force a connection in the lower section. The insertion of a small piece of plastic did the trick and I was up and running again within an hour.

Apart from having to fix my own bike this time, the major thing I noted was that despite me having the bike and tools spread all over a services forecourt no one stopped to help, not even passing bikers. At that point I knew I was definitely back in Europe."

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Motocare Motorcycle Rental.  Motorcycle Rental, hiring Honda's Transalp for touring Argentina and Chile.

Motocare Motorcycle Rental, hiring Honda's Transalp for touring Argentina and Chile. Ride across the Andes, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, lakes, deserts, salt pans, waterfalls, beaches, rain forests, glaciers. Motocare Argentina

Gail Baillargeon, USA, RTW, in Panama, BMW R1200GSA,

"I retired from the US Navy 1 April 2013 and am now embarking on a life's ambition of traveling around the world on a motorcycle. No set destinations or time schedule, just want to see the world.

I'm in Panama City now. Arrived a couple days ago and have taken advantage of a hot shower and no mosquitos. Went to the Mariflores Locks today, I've been there before, however there were a few tourist buses ahead of me and I didn't want to wait in line so I headed for the Gatun Locks. It's pretty simple how the locks work but it's amazing to see them operate and see the canal. You learn about it in school, but actually seeing the place is amazing! I can't imagine the working conditions back then.

Gatun locks, Panama.

Ships passing through of course are on a schedule and some do it up to a year out, three to six months normal, however if you just show up they'll get you through within the next 48 hours. The price for commercial vessels is based on load, value and if it's above or below deck and can cost up to $300,000.Smaller private craft share the locks with larger ships and it cost around $800. They usually fit them in at night. I want to apologize for the poor quality of photos. I do have a very lame excuse though, I was wet, I smudged the camera lens and it was on the wrong setting. The weather was getting worse and I needed to head back to Panama City. Oh ya, I left my rain gear in the hotel, good times!"

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Ed. See more great stories on Gail's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!

Damien Fauchot, French only. France/Quebec, RTW, in Peru,

"I dream about this trip for a long time, and I do not want to do it just to travel but to add something, again: Share, grow, meet people, show that the world is not a scary place as some people want to believe, add the photograph, not a single photograph, but something different. A new vision through my camera. Some colors, some black and white. And of course, add some writings to explain and share all my feelings, all my wanderings. Travel and change, travel and share my experience after my return. After my return, because I do not want to continue my life as now, without transfer of my own experience.

Damien Fauchot.

The plan is to leave Montreal and go south to Tierra del Fuego. Traverse the United States quickly, because I have traveled extensively in the United States from east to west, from north to south during previous trips with my wife. The idea is that my wife joins me for 2 months in South America. This is perhaps the only part of this trip planned: to be on time in South America. After this first step, crossing from Brazil to South Africa and join the north by the west coast, with a jump to avoid certain places.

If all goes well, but I know that everything could be different, I'll stop in France , the country where I was born. And take a rest between France and Canada to spend the winter with my wife. The third step is to cross Paris to Vladivostok, with Mongolia with my wife again. After that... back home?"

more »

Ed. Damien Fauchot is a Jupiter's Traveller, and has lots of great pics and stories on his site (French only).

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Interesting threads on the HUBB:

Just wanted to call your attention to the wealth of information out there!

Sarez Lake.

more »

Ed: Lots more topics, so check it out. All opinions posted are from their respective owners and your mileage may vary etc.
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To help with the cost of creating and distributing the newsletter and running and maintaining a huge website and forum, which has been a full time job for Grant for ten years, Susan for almost 4 years, plus occasional part time assistants, we gratefully accept contributions via PayPal, credit card, and cheque.

Finances have been especially tight this year, so we are grateful to all our generous supporters for helping us to keep going. For those who haven't yet contributed, or haven't recently contributed, here's how you can help, and the benefits to you of becoming a Horizons Unlimited Contributing Member or Gold Member!

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Thanks, Grant and Susan

Support Horizons Unlimited - check out the HU Store for DVD's, map stickers, calendars, t-shirts and more! 20% off on all DVDs until Jan 31, 2014! Remember to use Coupon Code 'EZSPEC' on your order. New 2014 T-shirts now available!

Road Heroes - Part 1. Baby doll T-shirt - front. 2014 Horizons Unlimited Calendar. Pannier map.

Muchas Gracias! Grant and Susan

Home again, or off the road temporarily...

Ekke and Audrey Kok, Canada, Circumnavigation of Asia, R1200GS, F650GS,

"The Circumnavigation of Asia tour is finished now and we're home. And we're already planning the next trip. South America?"

Ekke and Audrey Kok in Cambodia.

more »

Ed. Ekke and Audrey were back just in time to tell us their stories at the HU Canwest Meeting in Nakusp! And they'll be sticking around to host the 2014 meeting!

Sam and Clare (Pheebs), UK, Africa,

"...Namibia: I think we found another favourite country here. So so vast, so varied and extremely camping friendly. We thoroughly enjoyed it here from riding with elephants, spotting dinosaur tracks, stroking a wild rhino, visiting ship wrecks, riding to the edge of Fish Canyon, dunes, the Atlantic and seals that sound like a million chewbaccas. We are definitely returning here!

Shipwreck on the skeleton coast, Namibia.

Ship wreck on the skeleton coast

...South Africa: Again, sad we had to cut this one short but a really stunning place to be. We saw some sweet sunsets, amazing coastal lines, mountains and well so much more."

South African sunset.

more »

Ed. Lots of great pics of Africa on Sam and Clare's post in the HUBB Ride Tales Forum! Back home now, reportedly will be doing more travels in 2014 in Canada!

Ronnie Borrageiro, South Africa, RTW, BMW 1200 GSA,

Ronnie Borrageiro, reassembling the bike in South Africa.

Reassembling the bike in South Africa

"...People smiled at me, some just nodded their heads in my direction, a kind of grudging respect written in their eyes... Some gave me the thumbs up; others just stared...

We passed a few bikers who swiveled in their saddles to get a better look at us... I wondered what they were thinking, and almost felt the envy they were undoubtedly feeling...

This was after all, almost every biker's dream... That long trip to experience the uninterrupted freedom that only being on a bike on the open road to faraway places, can bring...

I had dreamed the same dream once....

Then I had gone out and lived it!

...How lucky I was to have had so many wonderful experiences and have traveled so far on this bike. It had hardly skipped a beat throughout the journey, and considering some of the accidents we had had, and the roads I had ridden on, I am totally convinced that there is no other bike that I would want to do long distance rides on...

Ronnie Borrageiro's place marks on the planet.

Place-marks on the Planet...

And I am fairly sure that there will be many more long rides we will do together. Some might be fairly tame compared to the one we have just completed, but there is one more 'Big One' that I hope to take on in the next few years...

Good friend and fellow adventurer, Michel Jongens, who has ridden from Amsterdam to Katmandu, and the whole way around South America, has developed yet another itch that he needs to scratch! He is putting together a ride both he and I have talked about often: Taking on the 'Road of Bones' to Magadan in eastern Russia, and preferably not adding ours to the pile!

There may well be many adjustments to the current route which is about 16,000 km long, as I want to ride as many of the 'Stans as possible, something Michel has already done as I recall. And being the 'extreme' personality that I am, I hope to start the ride from the extreme western point of Europe at Cabo da Roca in Portugal, and travel as far to the east of Asia as is possible, perhaps even beyond Magadan and on to Vladivostok!

Only time will tell if I get to make this ride, and for the record, Patricia has not yet given her stamp of approval to the idea! In fact, she knows precious little about these plans, so for the time being, let's keep it amongst ourselves, shall we! Mum's the word!"

more »

Ed. Congrats, Ronnie, on finishing your RTW adventure - we'll keep future plans on the hush, hush! ;-)

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Looking for a travel book for someone special?

Here's a few of our favorite picks! Check out our Books pages, where we have listed hundreds of the best motorcycle travel books, as well as overland travel stories, BMW books and travel guides.

There's links to Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, and Amazon Deutschland, so no matter where you are - you can order books at great prices, and we'll make a dollar or a pound or a Euro, which goes a very little way to supporting this e-zine.

There's also links to search Amazon sites for all their products, books, CDs etc., and yes, we get a tiny piece of that too. We really appreciate it when you start your book search from our website. Thanks for the support!

buy from Amazon USA buy from Amazon UK buy from Amazon Deutschland Shop at Amazon Canada

Tortillas to Totems

by Sam Manicom
Tortillas to Totems by Sam Manicom.

The latest Adventure Motorcycle travel book by the
legendary Sam Manicom

Motorcycling the magnificent landscapes of Mexico, the USA and Canada. 'Sidetracked by the Unexpected'

'One of the World's leading Motorcycle Authors' - Motorcycle Sport and Leisure
'Sam's descriptions are in Technicolor.' - The Riders Digest
'Inspirational reading.' - World of BMW
'Superbly entertaining travel writing.' - BM Riders Club
'Few travel writers can conjure up sights and smells so provocatively as Sam.' - Daily Record - Scotland

Signed copies available directly from the Author here.
Order your copy now! Be sure to tell Sam where you heard about him!

Red Tape and White Knuckles: One Woman's Motorcycle Adventure Through Africa

Red Tape and White Knuckles:
One Woman's Motorcycle Adventure Through Africa

Lois' adventures in Africa! 'Alone. No support vehicles, no fancy GPS and no satellite phone. Leaving from London, finishing in Cape Town - and the small matter of tackling the Sahara, war-torn Angola and the Congo Basin along the way - this feisty independent woman's grand trek through the Dark Continent of Africa is the definitive motorcycling adventure.'

American Borders - A Motorcycle Misadventures Journey

American Borders
A comedy of breakdowns...

by Carla King

Excellent! Well-written - Carla's easy and engaging style sucks you in to the adventure and keeps you going right to the end. Highly Recommended - Grant

Obsessions Die Hard

Obsessions Die Hard:
Motorcycling the Pan American Highway's Jungle Gap...

by Ed Culberson

"For the die-hard motorcycling adventurer... both a riveting adventure story and a practical guide to this exotic and dangerous sport." 

Into Africa

Into Africa:
Channel Islands to Cape Town by Motorcycle

by Sam Manicom

"Whether he's thrust into a brutal jail cell in Tanzania, being shot at, or knocked unconscious in the Namibian desert, this eye-opening tale catapults you into Africa. He lives in a remote village, escapes a bush fire and climbs a mountain. This is a captivating book."


Old Man on a Bike

Old Man on a Bike: A Septuagenarian Odyssey
by Simon Gandolfi

"Outrageously irresponsible and undeniably liberating, Gandolfi's travels will fire the imaginations of every traveller, young or old."

Tea with Bin Ladens Brother, by Simon Roberts.

Tea with Bin Laden's Brother
by Simon Roberts

"Evocative, honest and inspiring, it's all brightened up by a great design and amusing comic book graphics which all help set Simon's book above the average motorcycling travelogue". Chris Scott

Mi Moto Fidel

Mi Moto Fidel:
Motorcycling Through Castro's Cuba

by Chris Baker

"A unique, exhilarating solo adventure into Cuba astride a cherry-red, 1000cc BMW Paris-Dakar motorcycle."

Motorcycle Adventurer

Motorcycle Adventurer - Carl Stearns Clancy
by Greg Frazier

"The longest, most difficult, and most perilous motorcycle journey ever attempted." In 1912, there were no GPSs, ATMs, Internet, and often no gas, roads or motorcycle repair shops...

One Man Caravan

One Man Caravan
by Robert Fulton Jr.

RTW in 1932! Grant: "A terrific book, right at the top of the list. Recommended."

Motorcycle Therapy, by Jeremy Kroeker.

Motorcycle Therapy,
by Jeremy Kroeker

From the Canadian Rockies to the Panamanian Jungle, Motorcycle Therapy rumbles with comic adventure as two men, fleeing failed relationships, test the limits of their motorcycles and their friendship.

The Road to Getting Yourself Out of the Way

The Road to Getting Yourself Out of the Way
by Annette Birkmann

The book is about the author's solo motorcycle journey through Latin America and her search for an effortless approach to living. It describes the lessons she learned living her dream and her realization that in every experience there was something familiar: herself.

The University of Gravel Roads

The University of Gravel Roads
by Rene Cormier

Rene runs out of money half way through the tour and ultimately takes five years to cover his 41-country, 154,000-kilometre route. The ride of a lifetime, the old-fashioned way; no sponsors, no support vehicles, and no idea about what he is going to learn along the way.

Book suggestions please!

If you have a book or want a book that you think other travellers would be interested in please let me know and we'll put it on the site.

Photo Contest

Update on Contest dates - Please note! 2013 Photo Contest is still on - entry deadline extended to Jan 31, 2014!

The contest is now an annual event, where you can showcase your best photos, and they can help inspire others to get on the road too.

Grand Prize is a South America Tour with Compass Expeditions!

Compass Expeditions - trips of a lifetime!

Dec 2014 to Jan 2015 - This wonderful 9 day tour by Compass Expeditions explores the scenic wonderland of the famous Chilean Lakes District, the frontier lands of Chiloe Island and the epic riding experienced as you cross the Andes and ride into Argentina. As with all Compass Expeditions rides the lucky winner will be aboard a BMW F650GS Twin. Approximate Value at time of writing: $3990. You are responsible for your transport to the start point of the Tour. Airfares and transport are NOT included.

First Prize is a Progressive Suspension Makeover, approx value US$650. (This prize is ONLY for winners in the USA and Canada.)
(The shock is available for popular models only, not all. Winner is responsible for any customs and duties payable. Progressive Suspension is awarded rights to use the Photo in promotion and advertising).

PSi - 465 Series Shock

The new Progressive Suspension PSi - 465 Series Shock

First Prize (non USA and Canada) is an Individual Annual Medical & Security Membership (up to 45 days per trip) from Global Rescue, value of $655. Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

ALSO: The best 13 photos will be used in the 2015 calendar, and those photographers will share equally in half the proceeds. All Winners will also get a free calendar, and 1 year Gold Member status on the HUBB! Your photos could also be in an HU DVD!

To enter this year's contest, start here! Ends January 31, 2014!

Help support the Horizons Unlimited E-zine - visit our sponsors!
Please be sure to tell them how you heard about Compass Expeditions. Thanks!

Discover the extraordinary with Compass Expeditions.

Traveller's Community News

New Communities:

We've now reached an amazing 766 Communities in 116 Countries as of Jan 12, 2014! A big thanks to all those who took the first step and established the Community in their area.

If you are on the road, do check out the Communities - don't feel like you're imposing on people! They signed up for a Community because they want to meet travellers - that's you! You'll have a great time, so go to the Communities page and let them know you're coming. Please remember that they are volunteers and offering to help because they're great people - common courtesy helps! When you write, tell them who you are, that you're passing through, and would like to meet them. Let them know if you need anything, and I'm sure they'll help as best they can.

Remember that although some HU communities are very small, many others are large and could be more active in getting together for rides (even just to the pub!) or other activities. It's a great way to meet other travellers in your area - who knows, you could meet your next travel partner! All you need is for someone to suggest a place and time, kick it around a bit and make it happen. If there aren't any HU Travellers Meetings in your area, perhaps it's time there was one? A Community could do a Mini-Meeting, (just a get-together in someone's backyard or at a restaurant), or a full meeting! Let us know about it and we'll help promote it :)

For details on how you can join a Community in your area, or use the Communities to get information and help, or just meet people on the road or at home, go to the Community page. Send me some photos - with captions please - and a little text and you can have a web page about your Community! A few links to web pages about your area would be useful too.

Just a reminder to all, when you Join a Community in your area, send a note to the Community introducing yourself and suggesting a meeting, or go for a ride or something. It's a good way of meeting like-minded individuals in your own town.

Help support the Horizons Unlimited E-zine - visit our sponsors!
Please be sure you tell them how you heard about Rukka
. Thanks!

The Rukka brand name has become a synonym for high quality textile motorcycling apparel, and year after year the Finnish manufacturer has caused sensations pioneering highly innovative solutions for those looking for maximum quality, comfort and protection.

Adventure motorcycling clothing for the demanding traveller
Grant: We've been wearing Rukka since 2002 and highly recommend it!

Final Thoughts.

Grant and Susan at Ripley 2011 by Dan Walsh.

We hope you've enjoyed this issue, and do please let us know your thoughts. It's your newsletter, so tell us what you want to know about!

It is not the unknown, but the fear of it, that prevents us from doing what we want.

We'd like to think that Horizons Unlimited; the website, the HUBB, the Communities and this newsletter help to push back the fear through knowledge and connecting with others, and teach all of us about the world and its wonderful people.

See you on the road!

Grant and Susan Johnson
Inspiring, informing and connecting travellers since 1997

Subscriptions, Privacy and Administrivia

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All comments and suggestions are carefully read, and where possible will be acted on. Your help will make this a useful service for all travellers.

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ISSN 1703-1397 Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' E-zine - All text and photographs are copyright Grant and Susan Johnson, 1987-2014, or their respective authors. All Rights Reserved.

Redistribution - sending it on to friends is allowed, indeed encouraged, but other than the following requirements, only with permission. You may forward copies of the Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' e-zine by forwarding it yourself by hand. You must forward the issue in its entirety, no fee may be involved. Please suggest they Subscribe!

Every newsletter is permanently archived online. Back issues here.

Legal gibberish: (particularly for those in countries that have more lawyers in one town, just for instance, New York, not to name any names, than some whole countries, as another example, Japan. Again, not naming anybody specifically you understand).

Recommendations are based on positive or negative experiences of somebody, somewhere. Your mileage (kilometrage if you insist) may vary. We are not responsible in any way for any product or service mentioned, and do not warrant any such mentioned product or service, and are not responsible for any bad things that may befall you. You are responsible for yourself! Act accordingly. We check all links and information given as close as possible to publication, and all info is correct as best we can determine at that time.


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