Perfect Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance was advice given to me by an ex-army squaddie, fond of beer as well as alliteration, and ever generous in dispensing his pearls of wisdom, especially when ‘over-refreshed’ on a winter’s evening.
There is indeed a lot to prepare for the China trip – a route plan, visas, letters of invitation, bike and travel insurance, bike shipping, a carnet (the “passport” for the bike) and shrink-fit camping equipment – tents and bedding that roll up the size of a thong. Then there’s the suitably kitted out touring steeds – a few years old, with authentic dents, dirt from exotic places and a lived-in battle-hardened look. The BMW R1150GS – the Teutonic tank – will be the unimaginative but essentially practical choice. Some modifications will be necessary – they are designed for the TMAs (Two Metres Arians), rather than SAWs (Short-Arsed Welshmen). There is apparently a conversion available from Touratech to lower the seat – an infinitely better solution for street-cred than stabilisers. You can even get a gel version to prevent the dreaded SAW condition (Sore-Arsed Welshmen) developing.
Next come the essential man-gadgets – two-way communication for the helmets with blue tooth connection to IPhones, GPS, helmet-cams, camera, notebook, back-up devices, memory cards and all the spaghetti connectors, chargers and adapters to plug it all together. Some means of charging things from the motorbike seems like a good idea, or possibly take with us the generator left over from powering the Take That tour.
A bit of elementary research with the world-wide etch-o-sketch revealed www.horizonsunlimited.com – a group of like-minded, friendly and slightly unbalanced people. They had a big meeting in Ripley, Derbyshire for the weekend of 24th June 2011. We duly made the pilgrimage through the drizzle and rain on the bikes arriving on the Saturday. We wanted to get informed and, above all, inspired. It worked. We learnt some top tips on riding to the north pole (studs in the tyres), riding a bike through desserts (don’t), saw a demonstration of skinning a deer with a motorbike and sidecar (Indian headdress essential), how to obtain a carnet (give a shed-load of money to the RAC) and how to ship a motorbike back from Asia (give a shed-load of money to James Cargo).
Road kill (allegedly) – How to skin a deer with a motorbike and sidecar
This guy demonstrated cooking “roadkill” – gutting, skinning and cooking a variety God’s little creatures. Hapless pheasants, poor little bunnies – even Cray fish and trout – all allegedly killed by colliding with motorcycles. His skinning a deer technique was his party piece. Tie the poor little bugger to a tree and rope the hide to the motorbike and sidecar. Select first gear, wind on a few thousand revs, drop the clutch and Robert’s you father’s sibling (Bob’s your uncle). The hunter/gatherer gene remains as strong as ever in bikers. His kids are still in therapy.
Streuth Bruce – from Sydney to London on this!
I came across this ‘little beaut’– a postal delivery bike (about 150cc) from Sydney, Australia. The guy rode it to London. You gotta hand it to the Australian postal service for dedication. Sadly I missed his talk but he was pointed out to me. A youngish guy with a beard, who looked fairly normal. You never can tell.
We also came across an excellent charity Motorcycle Outreach -www.motorcycleoutreach.org. They provide medical outreach services in Indonesia. This seems like a really great charity and as it’s in keeping with our motorbikes in Asia theme we have decided to raise money for them as part of the trip. My nephew, Ben Drewett, has already volunteered to do a sponsored skydive to get the ball-rolling. We will put together some more fund-raising activities in the autumn, probably themed around adventure-drinking in pubs. Who knows – with poor navigation and questionable riding techniques we may just need the services of the motorcycle outreach people .