It’s been a while
It’s been quite a while since I took my last trip across a faraway land, and it’s been over two years since I rode a little more than 8000 miles across the US, en-route to my new home in Indian Land, SC. Having completed an amazing trip across Patagonia in 2014, followed by the trip to SC in 2016, some people would likely be satisfied that they’ve had enough of an adventure to last a lifetime. Others might think that at age 60, they would need to be concerned for their health, not being sure that they could tolerate the stress and physical abuse that a motorcycle trip can put upon you. And yet still, there are others that continually long for Adventures. Thinking that life isn’t over until we’ve yielded our last breath, and taken our last step. I guess I fall into this last category…
The decision has been made
And so, as of Sept 1st, 2018, I’ve made the decision to embark upon another epic journey. This time, the risks will be greater, the distance longer, the 3rd party support lesser, and the location even more remote. This trip will be quite taxing, and the tour operator shows it as a level 5 of 5 on the difficulty scale.
Preparation is king
One should not embark on a trip like this without getting themselves properly prepared, and so I’ve made a commitment to get myself into proper shape for a long trip, full of memories, beautiful landscapes, and hardship. Yes, hardship is to be expected on a trip like this. But, we can limit the hardship by being prepared, and that’s my plan.
I’ve already begun a weekly regimen of cross-fit classes, taking either 3 or 4 classes each week, building strength, developing the explosive muscle reactions that will be key to enjoying the trip, and building endurance. Endurance for long days; Endurance for difficult and technical riding; Endurance to deal with the cases where I might drop the bike, and need to pick it up, perhaps even tens of times, one after the next. This type of endurance has to be earned, and developed over time, and so, the work begins.
Selecting the right trip and tour company
As you’ve been reading, you’re no doubt thinking that there are many places on Earth where a trip like this might be possible, and of course, you’d be right. But the global, Geo-political climate of today has numerous, negative implications for Americans if they wish to travel to far-away, remote places. So, I’ve searched for a ride that is more of a tour, than it is a Round The World (RTW) trip that I’d do on my own. I looked for a tour that would be in excess of 50 days, and which would cross remote lands, visit extraordinary cities, share in world cultures, and push the boundaries of what is safe and what is not.
There are many tour companies that offer this type of tour, but of all of the Motorcycle Tour Companies operating today, there are two that have always struck me as the leaders. These world class companies know how to get it done, have a history and a great track record of getting their folks to their desired destinations safely, and roughly on time. These two companies are Compass Expeditions, and Edelweiss Motorcycle Tours. Both are world class, but I rode with Compass Expeditions for my Patagonia trip, and I found them to be a really excellent company, so I started my research with them.
I thought about a tour of Australia, and although Compass has numerous tours of Australia, they did not have a way to put together 3 or 4 tours, so that I could see the whole country, in a time-efficient manner. So, continuing to talk to Compass, I looked at all of their other tours, and they simply didn’t have any tours that would be long enough, or remote enough to satisfy my Adventure Jones. And so, I looked to Edelweiss.
Most of Edelweiss’s tours are 14 – 45 days, and they cover a defined area, such as Eastern Europe, or Southern Africa, or Patagonia, etc. These tours would simply not do, as I was looking for a trip that was more than 50 days, and was truly epic and awesome. And so, as I looked through the Edelweiss website, I discovered a tour that they call “The World Tour”. The World Tour is misnamed, as it’s not a single tour, its actually a series of about 8 different tours, each sequenced so that an intrepid traveler could sign up for all of them, and travel a lap of the Earth, visiting some pretty amazing places. I focused on three of their tours, which struck me as the most appealing, and that most closely matched my selection criteria.
There was a tour of Southern Africa, which was 46 days, and a two tours of Eastern Europe and Asia. One of these tours crossed the border into Iran, which sounded a bit of a risk, so I checked the US State Department’s website, and discovered that Iran is considered to be a level 4 risk. Level 4 is the highest level of risk, and according to the State Department, The warning message was crystal clear. “Iran – Level 4: Do Not Travel”.
I’ve always been a bit of a rule breaker, but a warning such as this should not be overlooked, and so this trip was taken off the short list. Which left me with the Africa tour, and also a trip across Nor East Asia, which started in Tallinn, and ended in Bangkok, Thailand. The trip is 73 days in duration, and it travels from Tallinn, Estonia, into Russia, across Russia into Kazakhstan, south into Kyrgyzstan, and then into China, following across China for many days, finally entering Laos, and then ending the trip in Bangkok, Thailand.
This was it. This was to be my adventure. This was to be my mid-life crisis. This was to be my 2019.
Done and dusted
And so, I’ve registered for the trip, and planning has begun. The trip is scheduled to leave Tallinn, Estonia on August 15, 2019, and arrive in Bangkok, Thailand on Oct 26, 2019. I’ll be riding my own bike, so I’ll need to get it shipped to the starting point, and I need to be sure that it clears customs properly, so my trip will likely start on or about Aug 10th, 2019.
Over the next 11 months, if you’ve signed up for the newsletter, you’ll be receiving periodic emails that contain a link to a Blog Post. The posts over the next 11 months will be how I prepare for this trip, so you’ll get a chance to see the hundreds of little things that need to be taken care of, if I’m going to have a trip that is both fun, rewarding, safe, and laced with just enough adventure to get me into trouble.
So, won’t you come along?
When I took the trip across Patagonia I found that many friends and family were living vicariously through me, as I progressed. It seems that there’s a little adventure in all of us, and it’s the curiosity that we all share, which caused so many people to send me emails wondering why I failed to publish on any given day. They had become hooked, and they needed to find out how I was making out. I likened this mindset to my thoughts as a young man, always wanting to know what would happen to “Moose and Squirrel”.
So, if you are so inclined, please let me know if you’ve got a friend who would also like to receive the newsletter, and I’ll add them.
And for reference, one of the things that I have to do to prepare for the trip, is to update my Blog S/W. In fact, the module that publishes the newsletters needs to be updated so that the registration section on the home page is pointing to the new Newsletter, not the old one. And so, until I get this work done, I’ll need to add people manually. But, being a techie has it’s advantages, and I expect to start the upgrade process very shortly, expecting to be done within 10 days. But, for now, we’re going to have to register manually.
Thanks for coming along
OK, that’s about it for now.
I’m really excited about all of this, and I hope that all of you are, once again, eager to hear about traveling across 3rd world countries, on a motorcycle, with limited support, and while facing weather and storms of the caliber that you’d expect to see in a place like Kazakhstan, or Kyrgyzstan.
I am a UK based motorcyclist and schoolfriend of Graham Gyatt. I’ve done the odd longish trip ( eg Dakar to Spain ) and Graham gave me the info on your Patagonia trip. I’d be interested in receiving your blog so please sign me up. Also if you need any specific route information in SSA do let me know ..I might be able to help ( I did a self drive around Zim/Bots in Feb but more likely my Daughter might be able to find answers ..she works for a travel company that specialises in Africa..although she operates at the luxury end her team have plenty of knowledge ). Anyway, have fun and I look forward to hearing of your preparation and then trip!
Well Hello Mark,
I have to admit that I miss Graham. I’ve been living in South Carolina for two years, and I always look back fondly on our meetings for coffee in the morning, etc.
It seems that your timing is perfect, as I’m about to embark on another epic adventure. This time, I’ll spend about 75 – 90 days, travelling across Russia, China, and a few more out of the way places, ending in Bangkok Thailand, where I’ll likely visit Vietnam and Cambodia, if that’s a possibility.
I’m in the process of making some big updates to the Blog, and so as it turns out, you’ll be the first subscriber to the new list, which I call “World Tour”. Let me get things started, and then I’ll reach out, and maybe we can talk.
All the best…