Riding Without Rubber – Arriving in Bogota

Riding Without Rubber

The last few days have been exciting, breathtaking, anxious and now we are safely tucked away in Boutique Hostel Violeta in the Candelaria part of Bogota.

Here is a short video which shows Ivanka describing our recent challenges and what happens if you push your tyre changes to the limit! Lesson learnt from our point of view and we won’t do it again.

The whole experience with BMW was exemplary, so if you need assistance while on the road in Colombia then do pop by and say hello to Edgar Gomez.

www.bmw-motorrad.com.co

http://www.bmw.com.co

We are now ready for the rest of the adventure and the strength and durability of the Metzeler Tourances has to be noted here; amazing that they lasted so long (10,500 miles) and incredible that they did not decide to blow on us.

Crossing Death Valley – Video

Crossing Death Valley

Here is footage from earlier on in the trip as we got up at 4am in the morning and travelled across the Moave desert in Eastern California so we could get in and out of Death Valley. It was the hottest time of the year and the US were experiencing a heat wave so we were apprehensive to say the least. The hottest temperature we encountered in this area was 47 degrees Celcius at a place called Needles. After this point we put white tape on the handle grips so I could touch the handlebars.

Viva Las Vegas

Viva Las Vegas

We didn’t place any bets in Vegas but the odds were definitely stacked in our favour.

Let me explain.

The day we rode through Death Valley National Park we woke up at 4am. We woke up in our second hotel room of the trip and Jude, the motel manager, had set the coffee machine on timer so we were fed, watered, caffeinated and on the road by 5am. The motel was in a place called Olancha just outside the park so were set to see the sights before it got too hot.

The park itself? Well, I don’t think either of us will ever be at home in a desert; the beauty is harsh, magnificent and other-worldly and, being in a place where a person’s ability to survive is so limited is scary – no other world for it. It was hard to associate much, if any, of it with the planet I live on.

We stopped for breakfast (yes, another one!) in Beatty in a great little diner, filled up our camel packs and headed towards our agreed destination for the day. We anticipated arrival in Indian Springs at 11am and the plan was to hide in a motel with airconn.

We stopped for fuel in Indian Springs pretty much on time. We found a bench in the only shade for miles and toasted a well executed plan with some ice cold Pepsi and ice water. Nick had one of his enviable power kips and we were both feeling like we had survived, maybe even conquered, a new planet!

“Shall we carry on?”

“What? Vegas?”

“Well, we could ride down the strip, that might be cool?”

“Yeah!”

“Yeah!”

Amateurs.

We managed to get to the outskirts of Las Vegas, pull into the car park of a strip mall and collapse in the nearest shade!

To say it was hot would be a gross understatement of one of the most uncomfortable journeys we had had until that point. (Yes, that includes freezing on the Dalton Highway). Riding a motorbike in anything over 35C is silly; when it gets over 40 you need your head read!

After we had recovered slightly (about an hour later) we braved the sun to cross the car park to Starbucks. A couple of hours of airconn and some Internet time later I suggested to Nick that we sit outside in the shade and start to acclimatise. “We can’t sleep here.”

And so we sat. Barely able to breathe in a hot wind that felt like a reasonable strength hand-dryer. We sat and we pretended we weren’t both quite concerned about how we were going to complete the next steps.

“Where are you riding to?” – said a man whom we had clocked looking at the bike as he pulled up in his car.

“Top to the bottom of the world”

“Where next?”

“Grand Canyon”

“Can I pitch you a road?”

Yes. Take a seat.”

Mike pitched us a route and invited us to his house.

“You may as well shower and sit in the airconn – you can leave later as it gets a little cooler, or you can stay the night and leave in the morning, we have room.”

During our chat it had transpired that Mike had a few bikes and had done our journey and many others, more than once.

“Yes please.”

Shower, pool, pizza, chat, info, maps, sleep and an early departure set us up very well for the next few days. Turns out Mike is president of Iron Butt. I discovered this while chatting to his wife who coped extremely well with the invasion of hot and sweaty biker types. Many many thanks to the Kneebone family, and their neighbours for all their hospitality and company.

Despite adding some miles into our original plan we had no choice but to follow his recommendation, did we?

Did we win in Vegas?

I reckon.

Leaving North America. Now the Adventure really begins!

Leaving North America. Now the Adventure really begins!

Tomorrow we set off to the US/ Mexican border at 3.30 in the morning as we leave wonderful California.

The last few weeks have been very memorable indeed and it was a shame our US visa had to be cut short.

We set off down the Oregon/ California Coast and experienced part of the Pacific Highway all the way down to San Francisco.
We experienced San Fran and all its different areas as we were escorted by Mr Cronin as our cycling guide.

Next it was the amazing Yosemite, hanging out with Billy as we wild camped with the locals.
Over from Yosemite we prepared for days in the desert. Death Valley, Escalante, Las Vegas, Marble Canyon, and the awe of the Grand Canyon. Never before have we ever been so vulnerable to the heat and so reliant on our means of transport to get us through these often barren lands. Most days we started the day about 4.30 am just so we were able to enjoy the cooler parts of the day for riding, otherwise we would have baked under the 47 degrees celcius heat. Did I mention scorpions and rattle snakes in the campsites?

Yesterday we experienced the glitz and glamour of Beverley Hills and Hollywood. It was a flyby tour hosted by our good friends the Tomlinson’s. Laguna and San Clemente were my favourite places as well as people watching within the high society of Orange County.

All in all the last few weeks have been amazing and here we are anxiously preparing for MEXICO. Looking forward to attending Spanish school as we live with a Mexican family in a place called Ensenada on the Baja peninsula.

Glacial Waterfall soak

Glacial Waterfall soak

Nick sometimes has some very daft ideas about what fun is.

‘Adventure Motorcycling’ – What to take.

‘Adventure Motorcycling’ – What to take.

This is an ‘Adventure Touring’ Motorcycle Wish List featuring all the essentials and desirables that we need for the ‘Big Trip’.

This basically means that, with four months to go we need to start ticking things off the list and decide which kit it is worth taking and which isn’t. On an adventure motorcycling trip like this, space is everything and we have been told so many times that ‘less is more’. Here are the items which still need reviewing. The list incorporates everything from technology to cooking equipment and first aid kits and guide books. I researched most of the items through the Horizons Unlimited website.

  • Larger touring paniers – either Touratech of Metal Mule hard luggage. Possible other soft luggage options.
  • Carnets, IDP (International Diving Permit), Freight Fowarding assistance – Perhaps James Cargo.
  • Health Insurance and Motorcycle Insurance.
  • Medical kit.
  • Route planning guide books – Central, South, North America. Plus Spanish phrase book.
  • Camping Equipment. Already have great Taranaja kit. Need better fuel burner which burns petrol.
  • Need to review what type of food we will use and carry.
  • UHF radio?
  • Vaccinations
  • Spares so I can carry out my own servicing: oil/ fuel and air filters. Spare cables. Wire and duct tape.
  • Extras like bulbs, fuses, puncture repair, jubilee clips, bungees
  • A full motorcycle service
  • A wider foot for my side stand
  • More durable riding attire: boots, jacket, all season gloves
  • Waterproof bags

Top to the Bottom of the World on a Motorbike

Top to the Bottom of the World on a Motorbike

‘A dream that millions dream of and  never make. The story of  a couple in their mid 30’s who leave it all behind and set off from a journey from the top to the bottom of the world.  ‘

It doesn’t get any bigger or better than this. These are a list of the countries which we will probably encounter on our route.

9 months, riding 24,000 miles from the top of the world to the bottom. It is the ultimate adventure through diverse terrain, cultures and peoples, bringing you the best balance of spectacular and challenging riding, with time to explore the countries that you are traveling through. Quite literally, it will change our lives.

This is our proposed itinerary:

ALASKA

Anchorage. Sweat Lodge Ceremony. Fairbanks. Dalton Highway to the Arctic Circle. Coldfoot Camp, Prudhoe Bay and the chance to swim in the Arctic Ocean. Return through Delta Junction, furthest point north on the Alaskan Highway.

CANADA

Alaskan Highway to Watson Lake. Stewart Cassiar Highway to Bear Glacier, Stewart and Hyder (the most southern point of Alaska). Watch the bears at Fish Creek. Prince George, Jasper National Park, Lake Louise, Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump. Enter the USA through the Glacier National Park and “Going to the Sun” Road.

USA

Flathead Lake. Yellowstone National Park. Cody, home of Buffalo Bill. Arches National Park, Canyonlands, Monument Valley, Lake Powell and the Grand Canyon (North Rim). Tucson.

MEXICO

Naco border crossing Nuevo Casa Grandes. Creel. Colonial heartland to Zacatecas, the centre of silver mining production and San Miguel de Allende. Mountain riding to Caribbean coast. Ruins of Palenque and the village of San Cristobal.

CENTRAL AMERICA

Guatemala – Lake Atitlan, Chichicastenango market, Antigua. Border town of Esquipalas. Honduras – Copan ruins. Nicaragua – Granada, San Juan del Sur. Costa Rica – Arenal volcano and hot springs. Northern Caribbean Coast. Panama – Bridge of the Americas and the Panama Canal. Visit to SOS Children’s Villages. Air freight of bikes.

COLOMBIA & ECUADOR

Ride the great Colombian roads to Medellin. See the odd Botero Sculptures. On to Ecuador and cross the Equator, the local Indian market town of Otavalo and experience your first riding in the Andes.

PERU

Chiclayo, Lord of Sipan Museum, Huanchaco, adobe ruins of Chan Chan, Paracas, Nasca Lines, Cusco (days with many optional excursions – Machu Picchu, Pisac market, Sacsayhuaman), Lake Titicaca, Arequipa & Colca Canyon to watch condors.

CHILE

Arica, the Atacama Desert, The Hand, Tropic of Capricorn, Pacific Coast villages, Pisco Elqui, Santiago, Chilean Lake District, Andes crossing to Bariloche and Esquel (Argentina). Cross back to Chile to ride the Carretera Austral. Puyuhuapi Thermas.

ARGENTINA

Ruta 40, the infamous gravel road through Patagonia. El Calafate & Perito Moreno Glacier. Cross back to Chile to Torres del Paine National Park, Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas. Argentinian Tierra del Fuego, Rio Grande, Ushuaia (the most southern city in the world), Tierra del Fuego National Park – the end of the road.

ARGENTINA

The final part of the expedition will involve riding back north along the South Atlantic coast to Buenos Aires for air freight back to the UK.

Why from the Top to the Bottom of the World?

Why from the Top to the Bottom of the World?

So one evening in Brighton I was out with friends and I stumbled upon a map of the world in the Globe Pub in Brighton. The map was twice the size of me and for some reason I remained transfixed with pint in one hand as I supped away. My mate Dan came over and asked me what I was doing and I told him that I was just looking…then it was at this point that I decided that a motorcycle trip could be a possibility. Several drinks later I arrived home and suggested the idea to Ivanka. All I can remember was that she said yes. No pleading no encouragement required. It was just a simple yes.

So the following day Ivanka reiterated our conversation from the night before as things were a little bit blury for me. This is where the idea begins. It did help that neither Ivanka nor myself had traveled to South America and it was a continent that we had yearned to visit.