A Blessing in Disguise

A Blessing in Disguise

GS Adventure – BMW Clutch Repair – Better it goes here than deepest Patagonia!

Well, what a week.

From a simple trip to the cinema with Ivanka one evening,  the bike has deteriorated into a bit of a mess over just one small ride out.

The thing was the clutch had been a little sticky for a while, but I just sort of ignored it and hoped it might go away. Saying that though, when I did take it into the garage they asked me what was wrong and I said that though I did think it was the clutch, it seems as though the throttle cable is sticking too.  Anyway I took the bike to the trusted KC Motorcycles in Hove to see Kevin, and they soon diagnosed the problems. I was right, it was a bit of both!

On the first visit to the garage they sorted out the slightly frayed throttle cable. Then they rang me to say it had been sorted, however they asked me to sit down when they told me that the whole clutch needed replacing – ‘You are F**king Joking I said!’.

So the bike spent almost a whole week in surgery. They had to take the bike in two, suspend the back end in the air while they did the necessary, they also inspected the drive shaft bearings – so all in all, it was a good inspection, a good service, and I feel a lot better about the bike and its relaibility for the 24,000 miles ahead.

Here are a few images from the bikes trip to the garage. You often think to yourself that by the time you’ve spent a grand or so on a repair like this, you could have traded it in for a couple more grand and possibly bought another GS model but a lot newer. Saying that, this bike is really a great bike and I would find it difficult to replace it for anything else.

Anyway, if any one does ever need a motorcycle garage in Brighton then you must go and find Kevin from KC Motorcycles.

Thank goodness I didn’t have a breakdown like this on the trip. It is a lot more convenient to have breakdowns like this before I go.

Starting at Ace Cafe London

Starting at Ace Cafe London

From the Top to the Bottom of the World – Starting at Ace Cafe London

On Sunday May 8th, Nick and Ivanka will be sharing their preparations and excitement for the ‘Big Trip’ by being part of the BMW Day hosted annually at the Ace Cafe London. On the day we will bring along the GS 1150 Adventure that we are taking, it will be fully loaded in terms of accessories and gadgets and, we will be available to tell you how we have personally prepared for this ‘unsupported trip’ – oh and by the way, it will be the start of our honeymoon. The following week, the bike is off to a freight company, so this will be our last planned ‘ride out’ before we hit Alaskan soil. We simply cannot wait!

Come along and meet us on Sunday 8th May and find out why this trip is so special and of how it has taken us almost a year to prepare and get things organised. From motorcycle maintenance courses to kitting the bike, then reading about Canadian bears to fuel burners; also find out about our fund raising efforts as we look to raise £20,000 for our chosen charity Oxfam. For this day at the cafe, we will be as equipped as we will ever be and we look forward to meeting fellow adventure rider enthusiasts to share our experiences and get ready for a honeymoon and a ride with a difference.

We look forward to returning to Ace Cafe London in 2012 with 24,000 miles under our belt and smiles from ear to ear.  Please feel free to donate to our Just Giving page on this link:
http://www.justgiving.com/bootsboatsandbikes

Thank you for your support and perhaps we will see you on the 8th May.

Nick & Ivanka

Motorcycle Accessories – Why we like Touratech

Motorcycle Accessories

The Wish List Continues to Grow – 3 months and 28 days to go

While we are away we need to have thought about everything. Anything could go wrong and we need to be thinking about everything we need to offer that added functionality and perhaps comfort – Planning is so important. Only this week my throttle cable needed replacing as it was frayed so I found my self with my throttle stuck at about 5,000 rpm for a couple of days until I could get it sorted..Fantastic that this has happened before the big trip, otherwise it would have been a different story! So it just shows you that you cannot prepare for everything and you do need an element of look to see you through certain situations.

Anyway back on track with this post. This week I have spent a bit of time on the phone with the team from Touratech and discussing what I need to take and I am now waiting for a great parcel of goodies to arrive! In the past I have bought a windshield extension, stand/ engine cover, oil sump plug, steering restrictors, waterproof bags, tank protector, toureg stickers and I’m sure a few more bits and bobs.  In the new Touratech parcel I have a pair of Zega panniers and mounting brackets; a very wise investment considering that Ivanka and I will be living off the bike for a year. This means the BMW black plastic touring panniers that I got with the bike are now redundant.

The Love of Big Boys  Toys

Touratech is based around ‘New Ideas For Motorbikes’ and it definitely inspires you to abandon the daily grind and just ride off into the distance. I am a big fan of Touratech because they seem to have thought of everything for the adventure motorcyclist and they are so knowledgeable about it. On the numerous occasions I have seen them at the UK bike shows and meets they have always had great looking stands, informative and friendly staff and their interest in all the top endurance events just shows you that their kit is tried and tested. You know you aren’t dealing with a tinpot outfit with shoddy substandard gear!

The next decisions I have to make are – Do I need the following?:

  • BMW Cruz Tool kit and GS multitool – Have tool kit already but how good is it?
  • Ceramic Clutch
  • Waterproof inner bags for panniers – essential, don’t want any wet kit. Or is there an alternative. Ortleib kit is great.
  • GPS – I have Ivanka so I dont know if I need this?
  • Fuel siphoning adapter line. Have Trangia set already. Still need multi fuel burner too.
  • Zega Table – not essential
  • Rukka jacket – Or will my leather Dianese do the job?
  • Goggles, Alpine Star Boots, Gore Tex socks
  • Straps/ more tie downs
  • Money belt. Need to keep money hidden and safe.
  • Document bag – For duplicate liscences, paper work etc
  • Compression bags, travel pillow, sewing kit, mosquito net
  • Mess kit, coffee press, pocket knife, water purification, torches, quick metal repair, puncture repair kit

I have now been through the whole of the Touratech 2010 catalogue.. Just too much to chose from. Feeling more prepared already.

‘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.

Understanding the mechanics of a motorbike.

Understanding the mechanics of a motorbike.

My knowledge of bikes is now average.

The skills I have acquired and learnt through life have lead me heavily through hospitality, the service industries and general business. I am great with people, I am a great talker and can sell ice to the Eskimos. One of the things I wish I had however is the knowledge my dad has so I would be able to understand the workings of the bike from start to finish. Understanding what a cylinder head and a combustion chamber is – something I wish I could understand.

However, as I sit here right now, I can proudly say that about 3 weeks ago I went on a motorcycle weekend course and now feel better equipped to tackle this trip. Thanks to Peter from Bike Smart in Haywards Heath I can now perform a basic service on my bike and I used the opportunity to ask other questions about my trip and what I need to plan for.

The basics we learnt were:

  • how to change brake disc pads
  • oil filters
  • electrics
  • bolts and levers
  • tyres

And, we ate a lovely banoffee pie prepared by one of the other guys attending.

Thank you Peter, I look forward to returning to do the full service on my bike prior to my departure where I will work under your supervision and get my bike ready for the 22,000 mile journey.

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.

Brighton Sea Kayaking and Mackerel

Brighton Sea Kayaking and Mackerel

Living in Brighton gives you great opportunities to play around with your grown up toys. Whether its a windy day and you want to go kitesurfing, or a still day and the other option is to get out on the kayaks and catch yourself some fish.

I have two Bic Ocean Kayaks which I share with my friend Sophie which we bought about 5 years ago and we have certainly had a few adventures on the sea, up the Adur river or along the Seven Sisters Country Park Estuary.  What I like about kayaking in Brighton is that you can miss all of the crowds that Brighton attracts and you can have your own peace and tranquility out at sea and have a good catch up with your mates. You can watch the bustling crowds from afar, plus you can catch your dinner and eat fresh fish within an hour of catching them.

When we go out to sea in Brighton we always go armed with a makerel line and we always enjoy venturing through the two piers. The circuit is usually entering the water from the east side of Brighton Pier, then after that we head west through or round Brighton’s main pier then we head towards the burnt down West Pier which is over a kilometer away. Depending on the shore drift and the swell we then decide whether it is wise to head out to the lobster pots and find some fish for dinner. The Brighton sea can be treacherous so it is very important to give the sea the respect it deserves; if the shore dump is too big or the white sea horses are too big then it is always a good idea to take a back seat on the sports for the day or go mountain biking or something.

In terms of catches of the day, the best we have ever achieved is catching 18 makerel in one go. If you are lucky enough to find  great catch like this then its a good idea to get on the phone to your friends so you can celebrate your success. Then it may be  a case of wrapping the fish in individually wrapped pieces of foil with oil, herbs and spices; then perhaps a quick visit to the local chip shop so you can have fish and chips beside the sea.

Where to Begin?

Where to Begin?

Planning a big trip requires lots of research and investigation in my opinion as you can’t underestimate this process. Having ventured to Kilimanjaro and Everest Base Camp in the two years previously I knew what I was letting myself in for. Plus I knew that as we were going for longer there were the big questions like whether we would rent our house out and what would we do with work?

I run my own marketing agency in Brighton and Ivanka leads strategy and design for a technology company so both of us had to have a look at different approaches or temporary exit strategies as we both want to continue with our careers on our return.

My first real effort to begin making plans started when I was referred to the adventure motorcycling handbook by Christ Scott this was recommended to me by a bloke I met at Bikes of Brighton. The Adventure Motorcycling Handbook and Lois on the Loose where his two recommendations.

Heli Skiing From Panorama Mountain Resort

Heli Skiing From Panorama Mountain Resort

This day, without question has to be in my top 5 ever – I love Heli Skiing!

If you love skiing as much as I do and you can’t get enough of bashing through endless powder fields then this is the best experience you could wish for. Sitting in a helicopter with a group of skiiers and boarders, heading through the National Park and then landing on a mountain peak in the distance is unbelievable.  The adrenaline, the anticipation and the the protocol of diving out of a helicopter – grabbing your ski’s and then heading down an un-tracked mountain side is something else. We are talking waist deep powder every run, a minimum of 5 runs in total and each run must have taken about 45 minutes to get to the pick up point before we were swept away by our very own helicopter.

Organised by my pal Rupert at Ski Safari, we used the very experienced RK Heli Ski centre which is based out of Invermere in British Colombia. Panorama was a mountain resort we spent 2/3 days at as we continued our trek throuhg BC and the Canadian Rockies on this 3 week trip. Just to let you know Ski Safari are a quality mid to high end ski tour operator that specialise in organising multicentre ski trips in North America. It’s the sort of operator where you pick up the car, all the accommodation is arranged for you and then you travel between different resorts and properties depending on what you have booked. In my opinion (and having worked in the industry) this type of company works for me, it is minimal fuss, assistance is there if you need it and the type of holiday gives you complete flexibility to do what you want.  I think on this trip we also went to Ferne, Kicking Horse, Banf, Lake Louise and 3 or 4 other smaller resorts.

This particular day started at about 6am I seem to remember.

We arrived at the Heli-Centre early, Rupert had organised some great rates as he worked in the industry, we checked all of our gear, signed away the papers and then we sat around waiting for the rest of our group to arrive.  Fiddling with our avalanche transceivers, I remember the thoughts passing through my head as I think about how good the other skiers could be and whether my off piste skiing was good enough?

Navigating and soaring through the valleys the helicopters noise and ability to maneouvre was so impressive. Then the helicopter eventually lands as it positions itself literally on a overhang on a mountain peak with steep drops either side – all we have to do is dive out under the propellers, grab our gear and then get ourselves ready for the first descent. This took about 10 – 15 minutes.

Our mountain guide informed us about how the group was going to work and he gave us a strong briefing about the type of terrain. I remember it was a north facing slope (less sunlight and safer), we were going down 1 at a time and we were thinking about the lines we were all taking just so we all had the best and safest descent down possible.

So here we were, ready to do one of the runs of our lives and the heart was racing. I think I went second or third down and it was everything I hoped it would be. The first 10 metres or so were steep so it was a matter of adjusting my skiing position, getting a feel for the snow and anticipating what sort of approach I would take for my first heli ski run ever.

It was simple, I settled in with my rhythym, I soon started gasping for air as the snow continually covered my face and I remember looking around at the fellow skiiers as I anticipated hitting a forest in about half a mile.

It is hard to put into words exactly what this experience is all about.

It’s like one of those perfect powder days going on and on and on.

It was about pushing the legs as hard as possible and making sure that you get the best experience  possible as we eventually arrive safely back with the rest of the group with an ear to ear grin representing sheer satisfaction.

If you are a virgin ‘Heli Skier’ like I was then I think that this set up has got to be one of the best out there! My reasons for saying such a thing is purely down to the ski conditions in British Colmbia and my experience on the day.

Thanks Rupert!

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