Planning an Adventure Motorcycling Trip

Planning an Adventure Motorcycling Trip

Planning for an Adventure Motorcycling Trip.

Here is a video which introduces the idea of planning for an adventure motorcycling trip. Not one of our most exciting videos but informative none the less and it covers essential feedback from our trip along with top tips ahead of your trip should you go away in future. The image we have selected for this post is a bridge crossing in Patagonia with friends Kevin, Markus and Glenn; a fantastic part of the trip and really defining the term adventure motorcycling.

Why and when are you going on your adventure motorcycling trip?

Is it a sabbatical trip, are you doing it for charity or are you looking to escape your current world? When are you going to make the trip, have you thought about the variety of seasons you may be passing through, how many miles in total will it be and what sort of money will you be taking?

Where will you go off on your adventure motorcycling tour?

Have you got time to go through Asia, what are the visa requirements. Did you know that it was relatively easy for a Brit to pass through North and South America?

Adventure Motorcycling Top Tips.

Here we tell you why the SPOT, the tent, different wallets, learning to pick your bike up and a Sat Nav are gadgets and pieces of kit that we highly recommend.

Here is our planning guide to adventure motorcycling.

Welcome to Mexico

Welcome to Mexico

This week has been a total change to the trip and I am really enjoying it.

Earlier in the week we left the States and headed for a very early border crossing at Tijuana, a busy border crossing entering the Pacific side of Mexico, taking us onto the Baja Peninsula. We started at 4am and got there just after 6.30am. A border town we had read extensively about and had received lots of different views on;  from American citizens, the media, the British Consulate,  BBC websites or fellow bikers. We were nervous, we were prepared and all in all it was really easy – best to be prepared right!

There were border Police everywhere, cars were being checked left right and centre and the authorities just waved us through. So we just followed their directions then, before we knew it, we were in Mexico.

There was a dramatic change in everything! Buildings, people, signage, quality of road and we were there for rush hour Mexico-style…shit! Hitting rush hour anywhere on a fully loaded bike has its challenges but, before we knew it, we had passed straight through the town and we were on our way to Ensenada which is the largest city south of Tijuana just a couple of hours drive away.

Ensenada is twice the size of Brighton in population so it has 500,000 people. It is a busy Mexican tourist town though recently it has suffered with lack of tourist visitors because of the perception of Mexico to the neighbouring Americans. So here you have it, a large tourist area ready to deal with all the visiting tourists but the town is a little quiet in our opinion. The tourist strip is a bit like Benidorm and most days there is a massive cruise ship which arrives in port and keeps all the bars and restaurants busier.

We are here to start a Spanish course and we are staying with a very nice Mexican family/couple called Diana and Roberto. They are our host family as we attend school, enjoy the city and they are looking after us with 3 dishes per day. I think we are eating more than we need to so we are burning excess calories off through Yoga, lots of walking around town – plus we are combining this with lots of siestas… a nice pace I think! I also met Josh in Orange County recently and he introduced me to his ‘Bucket list;’ these are basically the things that he wishes to do in life whether ambitions, targets, personal challenges and he has been doing 100 press ups a day for about 11 months. This is something I am now doing to keep me strong on the trip. The rules are basically you do 100 press ups a day before midnight each day and you can do them anywhere and anytime. Most days I do them when i get up but I have also done them in a lift and in a car park! Thanks Josh and good to meet you!

Yesterday we met a couple of Australian bikers called Maggie and Mark. We met them through a motorcycle forum called Horizons Unlimited as I basically posted that we are traveling through the whole of Mexico on this website and wondered if there were any other fellow bikers out there?
After an initial rendez vous in a coffee shop, then five beers in the afternoon we agreed that we would catch up with each other further south in La Paz, then hopefully we will be able to travel through the mainland part of Mexico together. This will be great because there is always safety in numbers, it sounds like Mark is a very handy chef and it is good to hang out with others. Mark and Maggie have been on the road since December 2008 and they have travelled from Sydney to Singapore, Laos to Nepal, plus they have also managed a ski season in Switzerland. We look forward to getting to know them better.

Today is Sunday and we meet our language school for a ‘test’ so they can see how well we understand Spanish. For the following 5 days we will be intensively learning from 8am to 2pm each day.

All is going well. The bike is off the road until next Saturday and then we head south in search for some idyllic beaches and sunshine.   Southern Mexico is very rainy at the moment so we need to take our time.

The beard is getting to a nice stroking length.

Transporting Motorbike to Anchorage in Alaska

Transporting Motorbike to Anchorage in Alaska

Sending the Motorbike to Alaska by Air Freight.

At last the moment has come!

23rd May 2011 –  The first leg of the journey begins as we take the BMW GS Adventure to James Cargo in Slough.

This weekend has all been about triple checking all the gear:

  • Camping gear, spares, clothing, gadgets, bike check, loading and unloading the bike, intercom testing…
  • Plus – Is  there still space in the panniers so we can insert our day to day clothing onto the bike as we will be taking this with us on the flight?

Leaving the motorbike with James Cargo Air Freight. Heathrow to Anchorage

Today’s experience has been quite a straight forward one really.

James Cargo specialise in motorcycle transportation and we met Giles, Steve and Roddy on our arrival at their depot in Slough. Giles was the details man and sorted out all the admin stuff and payment. Steve was responsible for warehousing and packaging – then Roddy was just super informative and had lots of handy travel tips.

All in all a good couple of days. Here is a short video we filmed yesterday which shows you round the bike.

Taking some time out by the sea

Taking some time out by the sea

On 19th March Ivanka and I will be getting married and I cannot wait.

Here are some really great photos from a day we spent together planning our special day. It was a beautiful sunny day that we took off together where we put together those final touches to the wedding day and we had a lot of fun doing it…

First it was the registry office to fill in all the paper work and answer a few questions. Next, we met Trevor Love from the Brighton registry office and we had a look at the venue from which we will make our vows to eachother.

Next we visited the gorgeous Due South on Brighton seafront where we will be having our wedding breakfast. Here we spoke with Michael Bremner the head chef and we put together a menu for our wedding lunch with all the trimmings. A big thank you to Rob and Adam from the venue for looking after us and for making this day a very special one! Rib Eye Steak, Champagne, and chocolate deserts are all on the menu!

The photos you see are courtesy of Paul Fletcher from Paul Fletcher Photography. Paul is a great Brighton event and wedding photographer and he has supported me with a number of different work related photo shoots to date. The photos look great and will make our site look fantastic! Thanks again Paul.

After the photo shoot we were off to Bar 106 where we met Katja from their events team as we planned our party night at the Hilton Brighton Metropole. We have a Brighton Breeze cocktail for our guests on arrival followed by a bit of partying, fish and chips to soak up a bit of alcohol, then dancing late into the night.

As I sit here and write this it is two weeks today until the wedding.. then about 2 months 25 days until we depart for the Top to the Bottom of the World.

Life is really good. :)

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.

Division of labour

We are taking one bike. I like being the pillion passenger and, apart from a brief spell when I was about 18 I have never wanted to ride a motorbike. Riding pillion is incredibly relaxing. For someone like me who is always doing something sitting still for long periods of time watching the world go by has been a revelation. I find it wonderfully meditative and I love the thinking time that it gives me.

Nick is in charge of the bike. The driving, the mending, the making sure we have the mechanics in order.

I am in charge of navigation. The route, where we sleep, where we eat. Nick gets to veto any decision based on what he feels comfortable with as the driver. If he is tired, we stop. If the road looks dodgy, we look for a new route.

I am also in charge of tech. Navigation tech and communication tech.

Entertainment tech also falls into my area of responsibility. Because we want to be able to be pretty independent I have been looking at cooking devices – including fuel – and how to stay connected to the Internet no matter where we are.

Arguing

Arguing

It is all good and well to decide one evening that what we really want to do is take 6 months off and go traveling round the world on a motorbike, it is a very different thing to agree how and when that should be done!

Nick came home from a ‘night out with the lads’ one evening last spring: “do you fancy going round the world on the motorbike?”

“When?”

“May.”

I looked at him for a couple of seconds. We release our product in April, I will have done two years at work and, if I leave in May I will be able to leave things in good order for the next cycle.

“Yes. Sound like a brilliant idea. Can we do South America? I haven’t been there yet.”

Six months later, we are in my family home in Herzegovina (of Bosnia and Herzegovina) and there are raised voices. Nick wants to explore options for sponsorship, I just want to walk into work quietly one day, see if they will give me a sabbatical and, if they don’t,  I can wish them well and go on my adventure. Now, if I can blog my way round in a way that makes the site useful to someone then great but I really am not sure about the idea of having to blog about some gear just because someone gave it to me for free. I do want the gear though. I love tech gear.

Tech gear gives us even more things to argue about. My current wish list: small laptop, external hard drive, kindle (x2), phone, gps, iPad. For clarity, it really doesn’t have to be an iPad but I do want something I can read maps on. I will be navigator and carrying enough maps for this trip will be hard. I need to find out if I can get electronic maps for the whole journey and it would be brilliant if I could view them on a touch device and that touch device will need to be bigger than a phone.

I also want to take a camera, video camera, a helmet cam would be super-cool for capturing those things I get to see as pillion passenger and then I am going to need some sort of charging devices.

It may be becoming clear why there are some arguments.

One motorbike, one topbox, two pannier boxes. I haven’t even mentioned the tent, the cooker, water, some tools and we will need some clothes.

I wonder if I can tech myself up with open-source only? I won’t be willing to sacrifice the Kindle (if you have one you will agree with me, if you don’t you should get one) but the rest might be possible.

The other thing about sponsorship is that I have no issue seeking it out if it is for charity. Would I feel better if all sponsorship went to Oxfam?

So here is my list of current outstanding questions:

  1. Do I want to go from Alaska to Ushaia? I definitely want to do South America. As long as I get to visit my friend in Vancouver and have good enough maps to find some nice routes through North America then yes.
  2. How long do I want to go for? I think 6 months is enough. Nick started at 6 but keeps pushing it up and it is currently sitting at 10 months. This change is partly my fault for pointing out that coming home to the UK in December would be a bit of a drag so he took that to mean that we should return in February but hasn’t shifted the departure date.
  3. When do I want to leave? See above. We could leave end of July and have Alaska at its most summery. 6 months from then will have us returning in February.
  4. What navigation gear do I want to bring with me? I love maps. I also love using my fingers to zoom. I need to make that happen.
  5. What recording devices do I need? I need to be able to take photos and video – do I? – it would be nice to be able to take photos when Nick pretends not to notice that I asked him to stop. I wonder if I could rig up some sort of helmet cam with a trigger I can hold in my hand.
  6. One kindle or two? Maybe one kindle, one actual book which gets swapped and one kindle app on the laptop.
  7. Will we need a laptop? I think so. Maybe we don’t.
  8. Oh, and I keep forgetting – are we going to take those helmet microphone things?
  9. Can we do this trip so that it raises money for Oxfam? Should we?

I am going to stop now. I need to actually go and do some research.

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