Leaving home

Photos linked to previous post.





Blasting through Europe at 55mph!

Tuesday 22d April – 274 miles

So we packed up and got ready to go, justas  the rain started. Typical! I could have bet weeks ago it would rain on on departure day!
We got to the eurotunnel in good time, it was fairly quite.
On the other side we started having problems with the automated road tolls…. The sensors don’t always detect a bike, or the second one!

At 7 pm we finally arrived, under more rain, to our destination for the day: the beautiful house of my school friend Christine, in Normandy. We had a quiet evening.

Weds. 23rd April – 147 miles
We got up early to say goodbye to Christine who was leaving early and left soon after her. Our second planned stop in France was in Angers, at my brother house. Once again the weather was wet and cold.
We arrived early afternoon and went shopping at the local outdoor shop, for some additional thermal layers with Mimi, my sister in law.
After an evening of too much food an drinks we went to bed late a a bit tipsy!

Thurs 24th April – 361 miles
So far our little bikes have been going incredibly well. The only issue we had was the slow speed,e specially of Alistair’s bike. He could barely push up beyond 55 mph, until we devised a new plan!
Tagging behind a lorry would protect us from the wind and keep up at 55 to 60 mph, sometime even peeking at 65 or 70! Result. So we kept picking trucks to follow!
Despite this game we had a long tiring day, punctuated by fuel stops and rest stops every 60 to 70 miles.

It is also becoming urgent to buy some sheepskins as we end up with very sore bottoms!

We kept having problems with the automated tolls.
By 7 pm we  got off the motorway and found a   nice and cheap hotel. We got the bikes locked in the patio restaurant,and after a quick meal went straight to sleep, exhausted.

Friday 25th april – 300 miles

After a massive breakfast we left alter than planned.
We set off to go round Lyon, but with bad signals and stupid Gps,we  ended up going straight across the town centre, losing over an hour!

After unwillingly visiting Lyon, we got back on the motorway and climbed into the Alps. Beautiful views but very low clouds! We went through the tunnel du Frejus, at 28€ per bike for the pleasure!

We were then in Italy! We passed turin and by end of the day, despite wasting lots of time in Lyon we got near piacenza where we got off the motorway to find a hotel. We found a hotel by a petrol station but the place look deserted. Alistair went to  investigate but it was locked. As we started putting back our helmets an old lady came out. We parked the bikes in an enclosed yard, guarded by 2 very savage looking dogs!

After a quick shower we went to investigate the area and found a pizzeria! Dinner!

Saturday 26th April – 292 miles

We got up early, packed and left.we  rode about a mile before we saw a bakery / coffeeshop and   we stopped for breakfast.

We continued then on the motorway, with the same annoying tolls problems! We saw some other local bikers having the same problems…

As it was saturday, and for once the weather was actually rather sunny, there were lots of stylish italian bikers out for a ride. A big gang of Harley riders passed us. The last one had an open face helmet  and was smoking a huge cigar! Italians!

During one of our stops we discussed wether to get a ferry from Ancona to Patras, or ride further south and   catch a ferry from brindisi. That would mean a further 600 km to do… The choice was simple and we got to Ancona.

We arrived mid afternoon and went straight to the ferry terminal to buy our tickets for the next day.
After that we decided to find a nice little hotel in village by the coast. Without a map that did not go down well and ended up lost in various shopping or industrial zones! After an hour we gave up,cam e back to the town centre and just picked a hotel with garage!

To be continued…..

starting the paper work

Before moving to Brazil, in June 2011, we had been planning to motorcycle from London to Sydney via northern Asia.

Brazil (and work!) got on the way.

As part of my trip preparation, I had been learning Russian for 1 1/2 year. Very tough!
But as we came back to the UK late last year, I had to revive our plan. At least ride to Mongolia.

So I am taking lessons again. Across all of central Asia, and even in Mongolia, speaking a bit of Russian will come very useful. No one speak much English on those parts of the world!

This time, as I have little time, I am having one to one sessions with a great teacher! She is designing the course for my specific needs on the road. So I can ask my way round, find the border, find where and how to ask about buying local insurance for the bikes, food, shelter, we will cover all that.

Of course the hardest part is to understand the answer! 🙂

I have bought all the maps we need from Stanfords, in Covent Garden, I love that bookshop! I could spend hours looking at their maps and guides. These maps will help me with my planning. You see, I deal with all the logistic, while Alistair deals with the mechanic and bikes preparations, as well as the GPS (OSM maps to loads and lots of way-points to add). That will be essential in Mongolia, where there are virtually no roads.

Tomorrow I am sending my bike’s seat to get customised (lowered!). In January the bikes are going to the workshop to get checked, serviced, lots of parts replaced ….

That’s all for now on our preparations! добрый вечер!

our travel bikes (well mine, but the other is similar!)


The road to Mongolia

We bought our travel bikes. A couple of Hondas XR125. Small bikes, ideal for off road, which we have a lot of, once we leave Europe!

Preparations piling up, visas, vaccinations, routing, prepping up the bikes… We bought them on eBay!
My routing is not totally fixed but rough idea is Southern Europe, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, Kazakhstan North to Russia, then into Mongolia. Then up to Irkutsz and trans Siberian to Moscow. And ride back home….
Of course the elephant in the room is getting a multiple entry business visa with Russia!
I will apply in the next few weeks! Finger crossed!

Mongolia trip

I have been investigating routing and visas.
The most important visa for us is to get a multi-entry business Russian visa as we will be in and out of Russia 3 times. It won’t be easy and some agency already sent me packing.

However, I know, from various motorcycle adventure contacts that it is possible to obtain… just need to pick the correct agency to help me on that!

Anyway, the route is more or less set by now. We will cross Europe via Ukraine, then into Russia.
Then we plan to ride south into Kazakhstan, and continue south East into Uzbekistan (another visa required!).
Then we will continue East into Tajikistan and we will ride the Pamir highway. That should be one of the highlights of the trip. Then into Kyrgyzstan and we will then turn North into Kazakhstan.
From Almaty, we will cross Kazakhstan from south to North into Russia, before getting finally in Mongolia.
We will cross Mongolia.

From UlaanBaatar, we would plan to get the bikes and ourselves into the Trans-Siberian to Moscow and ride back home.

Departure date is the 22d of April. We have 4 months in total and would like to be back home end of August.
Choice of bikes: 2 hondas XR125L. Small but will be ideal once we get into the Stans and Mongolia.