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Thread: And in the end..... (Looking back on our Adventures).

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    And in the end..... (Looking back on our Adventures).

    And in the end........(A look back on our adventures.)

    In just under 3 years on the road I‘d ridden around 100,000km‘s across 25 or so countries. John and I had often been frozen in the Americas and then cooked in East Africa & India, I was then re-frozen and re-heated again in Australia and New Zealand with Sylvia.(Just as well I’m not a chicken !)

    Whilst away, John and I’d were grateful for so many opportunities where we could learn to dive, go white shark cage diving, fly in a hot air balloon, ride elephants-once with Sylvia whilst tracking tigers, caught and ate Pirahana, trekked in the Peruvian Jungle and to Matchu Pitchu, fly in a Huey helicopter, Safari in The Serengeti & Ngorongoro. We’d trekked to, and John summited Kilimanjo. Sylvia and I trekked to Everest’s base camp, rode most of the perimeter of Australia and the Red Centre and rode from the top to the bottom of New Zealand where we saw whales, sharks and dolphins and took a ride in a jet boat. I also flew in a micro light, went caving, took a flying lesson in a light-weight aircraft, swam with seals, white water sledged and rafted down the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world.

    I only had 3 punctures in the whole journey with John having only two, one not long after we left Tofu in Mozambique and one on Utila, an Island famous for diving off Honduras in the Caribbean (where he'd ridden a total of 1 mile !). Two of mine simultaneously being as a result of nails and glass being put on the street in a protest in Ecuador and one where the valve separated from the inner tube in Peru. I only broke down twice, John never at all. Once where the centre stand switch came un-mounted and shorted out on my exhaust & one where the inlet manifold collapsed in India.

    I can’t remember how many times we fell off. At a rough guess I’d say no more than 6 or 7 times each and most of them were all at sub-15mph so most just gave us bruises, with the exception of John’s accident in Honduras where he broke his leg. The most painful injury I sustained was with Sylvia where we’d slid on some deep gravel on a camp-site in Australia and my leg was stuck under the bike-even after getting it free I couldn’t move it for a further 15-20 seconds because of the pain. The most frightening was with Phil when travelling on a muddy/wet mountain pass in Peru and I slid sideways towards a 2-3000ft shear drop.

    My favourite time for being on an adventure in the whole trip was still the ride from Potessi in Bolivia across the salt lake at Uyuni down to Chile with Rolf & Katrin, and Phil & John. It was the most wilderness I/we rode anywhere in the world and I loved it ! For John, his favourire rides stand as the Denali highway in Alaska, the Altiplano in Bolivia and a few other rides we took in Central America.

    The biggest pains were the amount of paperwork (and nerve) required for each border crossing and still the failure of expensive equipment, namely BMW’s non-waterproofing of their riding suits, Garmin’s 2610 GPS and MSR ’multi-fuel-but we don’t recommend you use petrol or diesel !!’ stoves.

    I won’t go into detail here of what we learnt from our trip as most of it has already been covered in ’The best of and worst of 2005-2007’ thread. I would add though that if you’re up for this sort of an adventure, and you want to sustain it for as long as you can, I recommend you plan well and travel slowly. By travelling slowly it will give you the choice of the cheaper/est accommodation or camping, time to find the more interesting routes and sights and the option to cook for yourself, something you can’t do if you’re chasing time. The travelling slowly recommendation is also endorsed by Grant Johnson, owner/maintainer of the Horizons Unlimited web-site and long-term world traveller.

    We both spent far more than we budgeted for which was partly as a result of the last point above.

    Was it worth it ? We both think so even though we both returned to England with little money left. Would I go again tomorrow if I could afford it ? Yes, so if there are any willing sponsors tuning in, please let me know !!

    I’ve collected one or two shots from each country visited as a review of our journey. I hope you enjoy them.



    On top of the world almost literally. John and I‘s toes in the Arctic Ocean at Prudoe Bay in Alaska very near the beginning of our Trip in July/August 2005. Others there were far bolder and went for a swim and got the title of 'Polar Bears' from our coach driver. We left Fairbanks badly prepared, initially understanding Prudoe Bay to be around 250 miles/a days ride. We were shocked about 100 or so miles in to learn that it was closer to 600 miles each way. Undeterred we carried on with not enough cash to get us there and back, no idea where we would stay, how we would get sufficient petrol for the journey and just one nights change of clothing. We found somewhere to stay on the way up at a place called Wiseman in a wooden Igloo owned by an interesting German guy called Bernie, who kindly sold us some of his petrol (which had to have delivered himself) and one of his own Pizzas as John & I had nothing. He and his wife had moved there some 22 years previous and he was counting the days until the Moose hunting season began as that is what they ate during the winter. We finally managed to get some cash from an ATM at Prudoe Bay ( Home to the begining of the Alaskan Pipeline) and get a room for the night at one of the 'Motel-type' buildings set up for the oil workers before our return journey.



    Still at Prudoe Bay, the most northerly accessible point by road in Alaska and the photo that inadvertently became our 'Trademark'. (Paul used it here and we used in on our panniers and some T-Shirts we had printed later.)



    John repairing his fork seal at Haines Junction in Canada during August. Note the Bavarian influence even infiltrates his choice of axle stand ! We stayed here for around 10 days but each night seemed to be getting colder and colder to the degree that our faces got so cold that it was waking us up. John noticed towards the end of our time there that the snow line was creeping down the mountain range behind pretty well every morning.....we moved on not long after that.

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    John took a rear-ender from a 4x4 in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA in the September/October. I took this and some other photos after he'd been taken to Hospital in case there were any fact 'alterations' after the incident. The driver of the 4x4 was a 16 year old lad who'd said he'd been looking for some CD's at the time. (We'd all also suffered an eye-piercing sun-set as we approached a set of traffic lights where John and I stopped but he didn't ! ) John, after being fully examined, was lucky to escape a bit stiff and with a few bruises. One amusing point amidst this disaster was some concern the Police had over a white substance all over the impact area of the front of the 4x4 and on the road. It stumped me for a moment too. (Was my long term friend really a Cocaine dealer ? ) but then it dawned on me that the impact had set off a fire extinguisher that John had on the outside of one of his panniers. The hassle John went through to get his bike repaired afterwards was a nightmare. BMW Colorado were nominated as the repairer for John's bike as they had the correct equipment for checking out his frames straightness etc, but they were very unprofessional and made John and my lives a real and unnecessary pain as they needed watching at every stage of the process, and even then they still made some bodges & mistakes. After an initial consultation John's bike was deemed safe to drive (for the time being) but BMW had to order in some parts and John had to get Ernie at Overland solutions to make him a whole new pannier/frame arrangement to be shipped over. We returned 6 weeks later in November to get everything back to normal.

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    Our first Christmas away on this trip….This one was in Mazatlan, Mexico, where we spent Christmas & New Year (2006). As the Hotel had obliged us by putting our bikes in a very visible place for their security and our peace of mind, we duly obliged them by decorating them with Christmas decorations so as not to be an eye-sore.

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    We entered Guetamala in Januray 2006 after a lot of hassle as we'd somehow managed to avoid getting ANY paperwork for our time in Mexico ( ), which freaked out the customs officials at the Mexican/Guetamalan border a bit. Once in, Guetamala was mainly bumpy and very dusty. This shot was taken of John when we‘d stopped for a coke served by a young girl from what looked like a small century box. She treated it that way as well and refused to come out so we could photo her. Must have been John who put her off !

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    We’d decided to learn to dive on the Island of Utila whilst in Honduras in February. Originally, we were going to leave the bikes at La Ceiba on the mainland, but at the last minute I suggested we took them with us which we did. Loading them on to the boat was hysterical and scary as the boat was in the process of leaving the harbour as we started to put our bikes on. They didn’t stop to let us tie them down and so we had them moving around on the deck whilst we, and some of the crew, frantically tied as many ropes on them as we could find. I think we only ever rode them to the dive school and back to the pier in the end and John somehow managed to get a puncture on the first mile ! . (The round trip came to around 2 miles in total !)

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    The site of John’s accident just outside La Ceiba in Honduras where he broke his leg. It was very unfortunate and happened just as he had almost come to a stand-still. The gravel/mud combination here was awful to ride on as they'd put quite a thick layer of sandy/gravel over wet mud.

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    This was taken in Nicaragua during March after John had flown home to get his leg checked out by an English Doctor and to recover. After a bit of thinking I decided to continue with the riding/visiting plan that John and I had been formulating and as part of that opted to take a guide and walk up one of the two Volcanoes that make up the Island of Ometepe. The guide though however had no transport so we squeezed on to the Dakar (as I had an auxiliary fuel tank covering most of the passenger seat. ) and rode about 6km’s to the start point. The photo shows the bike was parked on the mud "forecourt" of a local café. Here you can see my guide, Eric, enjoying a coke.

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    In the middle of nowhere on a crazy dirt ride in March which I’d opted to take towards Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica, I found this booth selling bits and pieces. As I was alone, the owner, his dog and I shared a packet of biscuits I bought for lunch. It was actually quite nice, if a little bizzare at the time. This track turned out to be one of my most frightening rides anywhere in the World as I was riding in fog and drizzle on a mud & rock track with very few other drivers and virtually no sign posts and a GPS which showed me I was in Costa Rica and heading (generally) towards the coast. Yet further into the middle of nowhere I came across a serious accident which somehow an Ambulance had been summoned to. ( I couldn't believe that they could actually get there.) It didn't look good and added to my already heightened fears for the day. I spent about 4 hours descending this track and started to sigh some relief when it started to bottom out. It was premature though as I had to cross a stream/steep muddy bank where I saw a 4x4 stall and then 2 rivers afterwards of approximately 70ft across each. I was applauded by some guys in the back of a lorry when I managed to cross the first one which took my mind off my shaking legs long enough to start on the second !

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    This was a shot taken by a (then) new friend Phil whilst I was crossing the Panama river later in March on a modern bridge. Phil is from Nottingham and we’d met up in the hills of Boquete where coffee is grown and is the only cool place to hide in Panama with Europen-style cooking.

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    Phil and I flew to Ecuador together late March, after sending the bikes over on a plane from Panama. We ageed to ride on the Quilotoa loop together, which is a 200km ride on gravel, mud & dust through the Cloud forest. We had a great ride except a mysterious and very painful illness I picked up on the last morning. Before that though we'd met some of the local boys en-route who were excited by the bikes and so I gave them a taste of 'a' Dakar. ......my original caption read:…….."and another boy tries to embrace the Cinderalla principle....it fits !, it fits !.."

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    Finally we got to this pass after a frightening ride up the side of a mountain in the dark shorlty after arriving in Peru early April on the way to Huarez the night before. It shook my confidence as I had a few moments, one of which was finding myself driving half way across a mountain river without any warning of its existence (remember it is pitch black ) and another which almost had me over the edge of a 2000ft drop. In the end we camped by the side of a mud track for safety, unfortunately the local drivers felt duty-bound to sound their horns in the middle of the night to say 'Hello'-we think that's why they were doing it anyway. At the point of this photo though, normal riding had been resumed and Phil and I caught our second but major glimpse of the Andes, and spend an hour or so just trying to take it in.

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    Subtilty has never been my strong point, here you see me crashing through a frozen river in Bolivia during July as it seemed the most obvious route across. You may wonder what happened between April & now. John had returned on the trip mid-April to Peru where we then spent a very painful 6 weeks waiting to get his bike & 'personal effects' through Customs near Lima, the Capital of Peru. We used some of the time to visit various sites/landmarks on my bike, none-the-less John still had to get up around 6:30 am every morning for the last 2 weeks and go down to the Customs offices just to keep on their backs in the end.

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    A very special morning for John and I on the Salar in Bolivia during July. We'd slept there the night before, seen the moon rise in the evening and the sun rise in the morning. It was truly spectacular. We even had Dark side of the Moon playing on the laptop whilst drinking a few Pisco Sours I'd knocked up. It was so cold that the fresh lemon I'd cut up for the cocktail froze on my knife blade in less than a minute. We'd also celebrated our first year on the road with our new freinds, Phil, and Rolf & Katrin from Germany with a Pizza a few night before in Uyuni on 12th July.

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    One of the too many occasions of having to use a cooker to get the bikes started in the cold during July. This became a way of life in Peru & Bolivia. It wouldn't have been too bad if our MSR stove hadn't kept blocking up. They were a real pain.(We'd bought two but gave one away as it was worse than the one we were using.) This shot was taken the morning after we'd camped on the Salar in Bolivia. Fortunately, the MSR worked on this occasion, which, if I remember correctly was the last time we got it to work at all.

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    John re-united with tarmac in Chile after too-many km’s on gravel for him in Bolivia still in July. He really was that pleased !

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    We got a thread from from Simon & Lisa Thomas (still on this site) to see if we could meet up with them in Salta, Argentina in late July as they were there and we were headed towards them. We did. Apparently we were one of the only other bikers they'd seen in about 2 years. After a quick check with the manager of the camp-site we were all stayed at (there were more !), we and the other over-landers got the bikes in their now dry swimming Pool and had a photo session. We were all dead chuffed and took a lot of photo’s to capture the time. It looked like something from a Bike magazine article.

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    We'd arrived in South Africa in the first week of August 2006. Shortly afterwards, we visited the The Cape of Good Hope in South Africa where we had this photograph taken by a couple of Italian tourists with my Camera. Quite a land-mark for me and one of a few very special moments of the whole trip. The views from here were breathtaking, literally, with really fresh air and beautiful light, an invigorating experience especially when watching the waves crashing off the rock faces.

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    Our "Pad" in Tofu, Mozambique, for two weeks of diving at the end of September/begining of October. It was ok if it wasn‘t windy - If it was, the grass door used to tap on my feet and wake me up. I’m sure there was a solution…… We'd had to ride about a mile or two on horrible sand to get to our Pad. Later whilst there I used the sand to work on my riding technique-it did actually improve a bit.



    Dave, an American friend John and I made, visited Livingstonia in Malawi in October where there was a Christian orphanage. The children loved my digital camera and we had some nice moments with them. The village was named after Livingstone, the great explorer of Africa, (originally from Scotland), although he never actually visited this area.

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    John made it to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in the November. I’d stopped about 300-400m short as I felt awful, totally exhausted and just couldn’t see the point of continuing. Even though John had a tough night getting there, he still managed a smile at the summit point.

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    Without our bikes in Egypt for a number of reasons in December, we opted to try out four legs and became The Lone Ranger and Tonto for a few hours. As it turned out, I loved it and got to gallop a few times in the sand. We’d actually taken them to see the pyramids of Giza but the ride overshadowed them for me.

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    Dirty faces on the way to Hospet in India in March 2007....taken not long after Sylvia and I had been forced into a detour made up of a deep rut with a number of large bone-breaking rocks at its end, and just before a cold coke !

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    John, having decided he’d had enough of living on the road, decided to go back to England in the June. This shot captures him leaving from the safety of the car park of our favourite Hotel in Kathmandu, the Shresta, at the start of his journey home.

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    A change of continents and countries in August 2007 led to a change of bike. I purchased this 1150GSA with around 1000 miles on the clock from a Policeman in Sydney. We named it Skippy and here you see her with Uluru (formerly Ayres rock of the Red Centre in Australia) in the background.

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    One of the few shots of Sylvia and I both on the bike - This was taken outside a backpackers we’d taken refuge in after a torrential rain storm in Hanmer Springs, New Zealand during February 2008.

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    This was one of a number of river crossings Sylvia and I made on the Rainbow Pass in New Zealand still in the February.

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    An opportunity to ride on Oreti Beach during February in New Zealand where Burt Munro (of Fastest Indian fame with Anthony Hopkins) used to speed trail his various designs...illegally.

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    Sylvia & I at Bluff point still in February. This is New Zealand’s most Southerly point accessible by road of the main two islands.

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    This was a shot to book-end John & I's photo back up in Alaska at the begining of the trip and taken at Bluff point as well.

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    A special moment for me right near the end of the trip on the way to the Snowy Mountains in Australia. Taken in April 2008.



    We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our trip and reflecting on some of the more significant momets in the above pictures.

    We'd like to take this opportunity to thank those of you who‘ve shown an interest along the way.

    Perhaps you’ll see us on the road some day…..we’ll be the ones with an out of tune guitar and shaggy dog tied up with a bit of string.

    Mike.

  2. #2
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    I am completely in awe of your trip - 100k miles, 25 countries, 3yrs. Now that will take some serious convincing the missus.

    My question is how you adapt back to what I think of as normal life when you've experienced what you have. Perhaps you'll have the maps out on the first night home.

    Well done, an inspiration to many of us.
    Jeremy

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    Re-joining the working world.

    Cheers Jeremy,

    It's not easy is the answer !

    I'm about to start looking for work shortly but am not enthused...so to speak.

    I got an e-mail from John last week and he said he was still finding the hardest thing not just being able to do his own thing when he wanted to.(Not necessarily missing the travelling though.) He's actually been back in the UK since June 2007 and the more likely of the two of us to 'blend' back into society........

    Regards,

    Mike

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    Thanks, Mike.....It made great reading

  5. #5
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    ....Feck me ... You have lived and seen more in that short time than most people do in their lifetime.

    Wonderful stuff - thanks for sharing it

  6. #6
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    Just awesome!

    Thanks so much for sharing.



    Cheers,

    Neil.

  7. #7
    Nice but unfortunate husband.
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    Incredible. Life at home now, whilst nice, must be something of an anti-climax?
    There are two opinions of the GS. There are those who have ridden one who think its fantastic and there are those who haven't who know its crap.

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    Respect indeed
    I've gone orange 1290 SA

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    Cheers Guys !

    Glad you enjoyed it.

    Regards,

    Mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aidan1150 View Post
    Incredible. Life at home now, whilst nice, must be something of an anti-climax?
    Your pretty well spot on Aidan.

    Near the end I was getting tired of moving on, pitching & unpitching the tent etc. This Summer Sylvia and I have had a bit of wind down whilst we work out what's next. Living under the same roof (albeit a caravan roof !), with a TV & cooker etc has been a luxury for us. However, in truth, if we had the money , we'd probably be off again tomorrow.

    Regards,

    Mike

  11. #11
    moosejoose
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    From a new gser whose spent the last five days reading this. Thanks for a great story about a great adventure, a real inspiration for budding RTW'ers. Best wishes, Mike, John and Sylvia.

    Ken

  12. #12
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    When's the book out?

    Having read your reports and seen the photo's, you have the ingredients and the ability to write the definitive motorcycle adventure book.

    I'll order a signed copy now.

    Thanks for the reports, they've kept me enthralled for years and I'll miss looking forward to the next episode.


  13. #13
    Fantastic
    KEA

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    If somebody dreamed of doing a long trip, say a year, how much would you have recommended they budget?

    Where do you even start budgeting..... its such a conundrem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeP View Post
    When's the book out?

    Having read your reports and seen the photo's, you have the ingredients and the ability to write the definitive motorcycle adventure book.

    I'll order a signed copy now.

    Thanks for the reports, they've kept me enthralled for years and I'll miss looking forward to the next episode.

    Cheers Mike I'm glad you enjoyed the reports and thanks for your compliments on the writing/photos. I have thought about writing a book but I'm not sure there will be enough interest and it is likely to take about a year to write/edit etc. On the other hand I do have about 35,000 + photos

    Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year

    Mike

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    Thanks!! You have my Total respect to be able to do that trip,its what a lot of us would like to do,but you've done it!! Must have been Humbling yet Awesome Many thanks for sharing
    You Soft Southern Jessy

    My Glass is half Full

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