Well, it’s about 60 days until I leave for the trip up the East Coast, after which I’ll head to Europe, and then Asia. With 2 months to go, I’ve made a great deal of progress, but there is still paperwork that needs to get done, and which is becoming urgent.
Progress so far
I was unable to convince BMW Finance to let me take the bike out of the country when under lien, so I had to submit the full payoff amount to BMW Finance, wait for two weeks, wait for the paperwork, and then visit the SC DMV to have a new title drawn up in my name. But now, I own the bike, and have a clear title.
The registration for my bike was set to expire in October, which would or could have caused massive problems when trying to leave china, enter Laos or Thailand, or simply ship the bike back to the US in a container ship. So, once again, I made the trip to SC DMV, to see about getting my registration extended. Unfortunately, I was told that DMV could not extend the registration, due to the fact that I was not allowed to prepay motor vehicle taxes for 2019/2020. So, I had to cancel the current registration, and completely re-register the bike, so now it has a 1 year expiration. I should now be safe for all border crossings.
What paperwork is still needed
The two most important bits of paperwork for this trip are the visas that allow me to enter Russia and China. None of the other countries require a visa, and these two countries have fairly strict visa requirements. For example, I must provide a complete list of places where I’ll stay, in conjunction with a letter that invites me into these two countries. This type of document is to be provided by the partner organizations that Edelweiss uses as we travel the 10,000 miles of this tour.
These partner organizations have not yet provided these critical documents, and because I’m starting my trip 35 days before the tour starts, I’ve lost a month’s worth of time to obtain the visas. So, in my case, the sense of urgency is greater than it perhaps is for others. In any case, I’ve asked that I have these documents in my hands ASAP, so that I can submit all paperwork to the various consulates, through a visa processing service. I expect all of this to be sorted out this coming week, so I should be able to initiate this process within 7 days.
I’ve been thinking…
As I write these blog posts, I’m trying to convey as many of the details of the trip as are possible. The 1st and second sections (US East Coast to Toronto, Loop around Europe) are easily understood, and easily controlled by me. I’m doing all the planning, and so I have a really good feel for what the terrain will be like.
But, the portion of the tour that starts in Estonia, and heads East to Russia and beyond, is full of unknowns. So, I decided to get inspiration for my trip by watching the 2005 film “Long Way ‘Round”, starring Ewen and Charley. Many years have come and gone since they took this trip, and there are things that we know have changed, and things that we suspect have changed since then.
For example, the bikes are now much more sophisticated than they were in 2005. My bike has a sophisticated GPS, fully adjustable and bulletproof suspension, and my communications gear now features a fully-integrated, all-in-one helmet from Sena, which is called the Momentum INC Pro. The bikes are much more powerful, smoother, and tolerate heat better than the bikes that Ewen and Charley rode.
But, watching the film, and trying to compare their route with mine is difficult, if not impossible. You see, while they traveled through Kazakhstan and Russia, the entered Kazakhstan near the Caspian sea, on the Western Border. The western section of Kazakhstan is the most brutal, least improved section of the country. And so, while Ewen and Charley suffered through very difficult and technical terrain, I do not expect to face any level of difficulty, such as they did. But, how sure am I about this.
Anxiety means that it’s getting real
All of the details that I have for this trip have come from the information that the tour operator (Edelweiss) has provided to me. Gerhard, the director of these tours has been excellent, and he’s very detail oriented, so I assume that he’s accurately described everything to me, but trips like this one are full of variables, and in order to keep my mind right for a trip like this, I’ll need to wake up each day, expecting the unexpected.
Last night, as I sat watching Ewen and Charley ride through Mongolia, seeing them bury the bikes in a foot of mud, ride through bogs, sand and gravel, and deal with several, deep, unpassable rivers, I began to get nervous. In fact, I had a few minutes of an anxiety attack as I contemplated how I would fair, riding these remote areas, perhaps by myself. I sat there, feeling a sense of overwhelm, thinking about all that can go wrong, and how I will need to rely on my wits, strength, endurance, and communication skills to get through each day.
I’m reminded how to think about days like this from a famous quote by Yogi Berra. So, while the details are not known, the choices are limited.
So, what should I really expect?
I’m trying to figure out whether I’m writing a narrative of danger and difficulty that I’ll face every day, or whether riding the roads of Russia, China and the ‘Stans will be a walk in the park.
If you’re reading this ‘Blog, you’re witnessing my thought process as I try to prepare for everything, while not stressing about anything. It’s a very delicate balance that requires that I vacillate between uber-confidence, and fearing the worst on a given day.
So, please bear with me as I work through this, and get myself ready for a trip that will be awesome, but will cause me to deal with the unknown each and every day. For certain, most of what is required is mental, but physical strength is also necessary…
And so, as I think about what’s ahead, and try to be sure that I’m always seeing the best on any given day, I once again make note that after Charley Boorman described to his wife what they were dealing with, she said the following…
“When its really bad, don’t forget that you’re on this really great adventure. Its probably the one great adventure that you’ll ever have in your life.”