TRAVEL STORIES PART 2
Bike readers love an adventure. Every month you send us your travel stories and some incredible pictures of your motorcycling trips around the world. Here we publish just a few of them. If you'd like to be included, email your story along with high quality pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re riding Yamaha WR250Rs. We wanted the lightest and most capable bike we could get to ensure we could go anywhere we wanted. Having the same bikes has advantages when it comes to spares, diagnosing strange noises and having an identical machine to compare to. But mostly it means neither of us has an excuse for falling off when the other guy hasn’t!
In 1948 Brian Adams turned 21. For his birthday his father offered him the choice of a slap-up party or a motorcycle. Brian chose the motorcycle – a 500cc Matchless G80. It cost £112. Brian added the option of a pillion seat, which brought the price up to £120. During the war the Ministry of Supply sent Brian to university. He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. Had the war persisted Brian was destined to be a boffin at Farnborough, but with the outbreak of peace he had two weeks to kill before starting a career in industry. What to do...?
Filtering is illegal in New York – it’s a ‘moving violation’ apparently – so I sit obediently in the morning traffic heading to Manhattan, peering down a tantalising gap bisecting the queue crawling along Interstate 495. Beneath me the Busa cooks my thighs while the sun bakes my back – it’s 26°C already and it’s only 7.30am. I look at the sat nav again: still eight miles to Wall Street, time to complete: 51 minutes. Sweat trickles down my back. Feck this.
We’ve been discussing this trip for two and a half years since we met, and planning for the last year. Our route covers 15 Central and South America countries including Cancun, Mexico and Brazil. We want to prove you don’t have to have a big, modern adventure bike to do a trip like this, and also that you don’t have to be of a certain age to appreciate and ride classic bikes. We’re lucky enough to have no time limit and we reckon it’ll take six months.
After 32 years in the NHS as a nurse and nurse manage I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to retire at 55. I was still young and fit enough to hoist my short legs over a motorbike. For a long time I have loved lighthouses and the serenity and seclusion they offer (a bit like a motorcycle). I have worked closely with people all of my life but I am an introvert by nature and people sap my energy. I need restoration hence my love of motorcycles and lighthouses.
If by 'crashes' you mean leave the road, slide into a ditch and get back on again, there’s probably 10-20 of those a day on a busy Saturday,’ says Killboy, who’s been photographing at the Tail of the Dragon for 16 years. ‘The sportsbike guys fall off at higher speeds, but they tend to be wearing more gear, the bikes are lighter and they’re fitter. The cruiser people tend to wear less gear, the bikes are heavy and they’re maybe not as in shape to take the beating. Those guys tend to get hurt more.
I’ve been travelling for six months so far, starting in Barcelona, Spain. Then I rode to Andorra, France, Belgium, England, Scotland, Wales, Holland, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. I am now flying to South East Asia, landing in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam where I will buy a small motorcycle and start a whole new adventure. A Suzuki Marauder is unusual for a long ride.
To spend two and a half months exploring Arunachal Pradesh, a wild and inaccessible region between Tibet, Burma and Bhutan at the eastern edge of the Himalayas. It was closed to foreigners from 1950 up until the late 1990s and is still subject to permits and military restrictions. It’s an incredibly remote region and is probably one of the least explored corners of the planet. My journey is taking me about 3000 miles from the dense tiger-riddled rainforests and opium clad hills of the east, to the snowy peaks of Tawang in the west. At times it’ll be shivering cold, at others sweatingly hot.
Roger is now semi-retired and lives in Leicestershire. He shares his enthusiasm between a Honda NC700X, five grandkids and a garden railway. He once bought one of the first MZs in the UK, but he’s feeling much better now.
On 16th December, just over five months and 30,000km after its departure on 4 July, Ducati’s Globetrotter project Multistrada Enduro made it back to Bologna. The route went from Italy to Scandinavia, then Russia, Siberia and Japan. Across the USA then back to Europe. There were seven different riders, picked from 3000 applicants and each rider rode one leg of the journey. I was lucky enough to be one of them.
We left London 14 August, 2016 from the Adventure Travel Film Festival. So far our journey has taken us across Europe, into Turkey, then Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia and South Korea. Now we are in the United States, probably the last country before we head home.
Rider Hugo Wilson Bike 1981 Moto Morini Camel Destination: Oliana, Spain Crossing: Portsmouth-St. Malo High on a Pyrenean mountainside Mike and I are in discussion. He thinks that we’re about to find the marker that we’re looking for, I’m not convinced. Maps are unfurled and magnifying glasses utilized. There’s even a compass.
Sometimes life can feel like one big mechanical fault. I’d been readying my 26-year-old Honda VT400SP for months for this overseas adventure with my dad, Mick, who would be riding his bike – a 1996 Harley-Davidson Sportster. But his was the first machine to blip. Our father/son convoy left for the Eurotunnel at Folkestone with the sky a smudge of cloud and our unprofessional touring baggage – a few holdalls bungeed to our bikes – wrapped in bin bags, to protect from rain.
I’d always assumed this adventure, any big adventure, would start when I got on the bike. Now, as I slump on cool white bed sheets in Casa Buena Vista, I realise the transit days are part and parcel... It starts, of course, with the long haul flight – a battle for sanity with nothing but movies about transgender choirboys for company, followed by the opportunity to say, ‘I didn’t pack that myself,’ to a suspicious, bubble wrapped package at customs.
Could have, should have, would have, if, buts and maybes. I could have written that book, taken that trip...if only. I’m sure I’m not the only 40-something male who’s looked back on his life and thought: Christ, I’ve blinked and it’s another five years down the line. I’d also wager I’m not the only Bike reader who’s perused a Dan Walsh article and thought: that jammy fecker. You can spend your life beating yourself up about lost opportunities, but to stay sane you need to accept your part in the play. Life is a stage they say. A bike trip allows me to tread the boards, be a player, a hero. Be part of the story, not looking in from the outside.
Three things become more popular as I ride south: barbeque dinners, heat-induced delirium and God. Let's start with the most important of the three. Barbeque food outlets start appearing as the Busa and I leave Georgia and enter Mississippi. We’re heading west for 1500 miles to Albuquerque where we have an appointment with some muscle cars at a drag strip. And until now, food has been something of an issue. Because I’m travelling on major roads and have a schedule to keep, fast food outlets are my prime source of dinners.
For those of you who didn’t read part one of my story (Bike, November 2016) I am an ex-NHS mental health manager who was lucky enough to retire at 55 after 32 years – I prefer to scrape by paying off my mortgage and spend my time enjoying the rest of my life. Enjoyment for me is combining my hobbies of photography, motorbikes and British lighthouses. In the first article I visited lighthouses from Northumberland to Little Hampton on the South Coast. This time it is lighthouses from Aberdeen to Northumberland...
Ever wondered who buys the exotica that occasionally grace the pages of this very magazine? According to our research, the sad truth is that a huge number of Desmosedicis, H2s and MV Agusta F4s are squirreled away in immaculate garages, their tyres going slightly soft as they sit under dust covers awaiting the annual trip to get the service book stamped. At best they’re pieces of sculpture to be admired by mates from the merchant bank, at worst mere investments. But there are exceptions.
After twenty-four hours drinking Three Horses Beer, getting my camera stolen, sitting over twelve hours on a minibus, exploding in some of the scariest toilets on the planet – and explaining to the Madagascan hire shop that I intended to ride their Honda round the island – they withdrew their offer and told me to bugger off. Their excuse? It was the rainy season and most of the roads were impassable.
Iceland is wild. It’s the first place we’ve ridden abroad where we’ve had to stop and stare at the scenery. The island is ringed by Route 1’s tarmac, but turn inland at Grafarkirkja and you’re met by river crossings and tracks galore. The liquid-cooled BMW R1200GS copes well with deep river crossings – the air intakes are positioned high so that the engine can breathe when water is running well over the tops of the cylinder heads.
It all began with an email, subject line: Your next adventure? It came from a group called the Adventurists (theadventurists.com), an adventure travel company with a big difference. 12 weeks later I was boarding a flight to Peru. 30 hours after that I walked into Ayacucho’s Viavia hotel and sat down to a welcome breakfast.
What’s it like to ride these West Coast desert trails? Navigating Southern California’s tracks and trails is easier than you think and it is certainly less complex than the United Kingdom. Where you can and can’t ride is regulated and mapped. They are follow- your-nose sort of trails and because they are relatively well used they are also usually clearly defined and signed when riding isn’t allowed.
In case no one told you Canada is a big place, a really big place. In fact the province of British Columbia (BC) is four times the size of Great Britain. Our six day route takes us from the plains of Alberta, through the Rockies, and on to south central British Columbia. From there it’s north into central BC and the Coast Mountains – northern Washington is on the cards for the return trip, but reality dictates a different route.
Bloody weather. It's meant to be May, time for spring rides under blue skies. Instead i'm standing on Hartlepool sea front, drinking a McDonald's coffee and shivering in an icy blast that’s apparently blowing in from the Arctic. Still, at least it’s not snowing. Yet. Last week, before the unseasonal return of winter, this seemed like a good idea. A quick mini adventure on Suzuki’s muscle bound missile.
I wanted to prove that riding electric motorcycles over long distances is possible now and to be the first electric motorcycle rider to travel the Pan American route. So I headed out from Philadelphia and rode through 14 countries to Cape Froward, Chile – the very tip of South America. This 17,325-mile journey is the longest ride on an electric motorcycle in history and has more than doubled the record.
It's 24 hours until the drag race in Albuquerque, New Mexico and the Busa and I are 400 miles away but I’m not bothered. We’ll knock that off this afternoon. Over the last two weeks I’ve learned that racking up miles in America is so, so much easier than doing the same distance in the UK. The roads are deserted unless you hit a city, so whether you’re on an interstate or a twisty back road you don’t need that fraught level of concentration required to make progress in Britain. Instead of being mentally exhausted after a couple of hours in the saddle, I feel weirdly fresh. It’s odd.
On the face of it, it's not so very different to Cameroon here. Rolling hills, exotic sounding and lounge-twisting place names, road signs in a language I don't really understand and ribbons of misting, twisting tarmac stretching into the gloom. Over-zealous Old Bill will book you for the slightest infraction, while genial local folk stop by to chew the fat. It’s raining, natch. Then again, it couldn’t be more different here.
Iran: What do you want to go there for? This was the standard response upon announcing my plan to ride around the Islamic Republic. Once a highlight of the classic overland route to Asia, Iran had become a no-go zone for travellers in recent years, following the 2011 attack on the British embassy in Tehran. The relationship between the two nations had sunk to an all-time low, diplomatic relations had been suspended and the UK Foreign Office had issued hysterical travel warnings, colouring the whole of Iran in ‘red for danger’.
Dirt Penetrates Every inch of our clothes. Jason's BMW F800GS is battered from a big fall that mashes the rim and rips the front tyre and tube to shreds. My F650GS is running strong. We nurse the 800 to the nearest civilisation fully expecting the trip to continue by pick-up. But no. Dean at the nearest motel produces a 21-inch front tyre. New tube, a bit of rough truing and we’re back in business.