Janet

Janet

I am in the library in Fairbanks Alaska using a borrowed eee PC running some flavour of Linux (am still paying attention, but not that much!)

Janet and Rob gave us a lift here and lent us the computers. We have been staying with them for the last two nights, just outside of Fairbanks in a beautiful log cabin hand built by Robert. It is a perfect spot to rest up and recover from the trip to the top of the Dalton Highway (and back down again!).

Snow. Mud. Wind. Bears. Caribou. Rain. Mosquitoes. Lynx. Gravel. Gumbo.

The first stop we made along the highway was at the hot spot cafe for a burger. Mile post 60. We pitched our tent in the campsite and were sitting at a picnic bench swatting mosquitos (who will get their own post) and chatting to the site hosts when a car pulled up and a lady got out.

“Have you seen a Spanish cyclist called Salvo?”

“No, and we have been here for a little while”.

“Oh, I thought he would be this far south by now, I brought him some dinner. Fancy a glass of wine?”

The three of us sat down and polished off best part of a bottle of delicious red and exchanged a few stories. Janet wrote out directions to her house and left to go home.

Salva came by the next day so we fed him and made him some coffee (no wine by then). He has some good stories too. He has been travelling round the world by bicycle since 2006!

So, after a hard yet spectacular journey, here we are.

Thanks Janet! And Salva who brought her up the highway! And warmshowers.org who put them together.

Deadhorse in Alaska. Through the Arctic Circle and along the Dalton Highway

Deadhorse in Alaska. Through the Arctic Circle and along the Dalton Highway

What a journey the first few weeks has been and probably the most challenging motorcycling I have ever done. For 8 days Ivanka and I had to negotiate thick mud, blizzards, gravel, bears, oncoming trucks and this was about a 1,000 mile round trip… It feels great to get back on the tarmac I must say!

As I sit and write this post we are in a library in Fairbanks where we have been kindly looked after by Janet and Rob. They offered us a place to stay when we bumped into them on the road and so we are now crashing in their lovely camper van just outside of Fairbanks.

To date we managed to get the bike out of customs rather swiftly with no problems whatsoever.. then after this we headed north through Eagle River outside of Anchorage and we headed for the Chena Hot Springs outside of Fairbanks. Here we had a couple of days to get used to the 24 hr daylight hours, we hung out in the hot baths and then we hit the road up to the Artic Circle.

Our first two weeks has been incredible. For ‘out of towners’ even camping in the artic wilderness where you know bears are roaming is a challenge. There was the night when Ivanka made me go out side and push the bike away from the tent because we had food in it.. and there was the rustling of the tent and she thought there was a predator outside. All was ok – I fought the bear off and we then went back to bed..

People have been amazing and generous too.. Everyone is super friendly.

This is all for now as I am running out of time. When I get back to the computer I want to give you more information about what the road on the Dalton Highway was actually like – one of the best things I have done for a while!!

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.

The anticipation is just too much!

The anticipation is just too much!

1 week today the motorbike flies out on its own to Alaska.

The last couple of weeks have been rather busy to say the least:

  • Moved out of our home and moved in with Pete, Jules and Tom – Thank you so much for looking after us – what would we do without you!
  • Had a leaving do in Brighton on Saturday night – bit messy but have seen worse. Still, the hangover lingered on all day yesterday. Great news about Claire and MJ – baby on the way!
  • Performed in a dance competition for a ‘Spring Ball‘ charity fund raiser – raised £29,000 by dancing the Argentine Tango for the Argus Appeal. Well done to everyone involved and a big thank you to my dance partner Carola at Brighton Dancing.
  • Ivanka spent two weeks with work in Budapest. Just arrived back on Friday.
  • Spent Monday and Tuesday on a motorcycle mechanics course – Thanks to Pete at Bike Smart – Haywards Heath I can now perform a major service and fix a puncture on my bike. Twas a very funny experience drilling a hole into my tubeless tire to give it a puncture.
  • Hosted the last Brighton Business Curry club at the Lansdowne Place Hotel. A great send off and a great turn out. I look forward to seeing you all when I get back and Lisa will do a superb job while I’m away!
  • Intercoms are now working and tested.
  • Multi fuel burner is now dismantled and Ivanka is great at reassembling. Love the fact that my wife is more technical than me!

This week will be entirely different.

  • Finally preparations for our adventure motorcycling trip – travel and bike insurance.
  • Re packing the panniers – over and over – making sure we have the right items to take with us.
  • Final bike tune at BMW motorcycles Brighton. Tick over and balance is slightly out at the moment and it needs to be perfect before I go away!
  • 10 more working days left!!

Ivanka and I will be flying to Alaska 2 week on Wednesday.

Camping with Chefs – A sign of things to come?

Camping with Chefs

Eating like Kings and Queens – Motorcycle Indulgence.

Last week we were very very lucky because Ivanka and I went camping with friends and we were treated to one of the best BBQ’s possibly ever…! It was a busy bank holiday weekend in East Sussex, close to Bodian near to Camber Sands. It was a sun kissed weekend and just what we needed… A break from work and a chance to try out all of our kit!

Equipped with our new Trangia stove, a fully loaded GS Adventure and everything we would be taking on the Alaska trip, we sat as spectators as our ‘chef friends’ entertained us with some culinary delights as we picked up camp fire cooking ‘top tips’ from one of the leading restaurants on the South Coast.

A big thank you to Rob and Vic Shenton from Due South and Chris Williams from Brighton City College and Brighton’s Pop Up Restaurant. Here is what was on the menu – very different to the usual sausages!

Day 1

Black Sea Breem, Lobster cocktail, garlic bread

Day 2

Shoulder of lamb and baked Camembert.

Now we feel totally prepared for camping on an open fire, improvising with the ingredients we have available and making more of all the different types of ingredients we will come across along the way.

This weekend was also a landmark one for Nick as he picked his motorbike up off the ground for the first time.

In the past there was always the can I/ can’t i lift my bike up off the ground as it is 250kg without luggage? Anyway, having listened to a few opinions and watched a few You Tube videos I managed to lift it up unassisted – which means that should I need to on the big trip then I am fully prepared.

Much easier than I thought – Phew!

Watch this space as we look to talk about all the food we will be eating along the way and posting them on this Brighton website – RestaurantsBrighton.co.uk

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. :)

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.

First Video – Starting a Motorbike trip

First Video

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