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Old 03-11-2009, 03:03 PM   #1
niklasbackman OP
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My first solo trip: Helsinki - Iran - Helsinki

Hi forum,
I'd like to share some pictures and stories from my last autumns trip from Finland to Iran, and back. This was my 2nd motorcycle trip (first being Route 66 with 3 buddies in 2007), and first trip solo on my own bike (BMW R1100GS).

Short background: I'm a Finnish visual designer, 31, live in Helsinki. I've always traveled a lot, mainly backpacking in South-East Asia and some in Northern Africa. I enjoy traveling on my own and heading to lesser visited areas, where I feel I can still meet the "true" people. Might sound a bit silly, but I try to avoid western world and culture on my journeys. I find it uninteresting and too ..familiar.


I have a blog too, but it's in Finnish.. :) Www.chef.fi/iran


No driver's license:
For some reason, I got my (car and motorcycle) license just before I turned 30(!). The next weekend I bought my first bike, had never driven a motorcycle before. I knew exactly which bike I wanted, so it was an easy deal. The same summer I drove the classical Route 66 on Harleys with 3 friends of mine. Next time, I knew I'd travel on my own. Had a note on my diary "Next trip solo to Morocco or Norther Libanon".


I dropped the bike in front of the shop.. it was heavy! But boy I was a happy owner!

Learning the mechanics: I had no experience with cars or motors, so I had to learn to fix and service my bike, too. Thanks to active motorcycle communities, I got help and learned the basics fast. It turned out to be a simple bike to service.


My girlfriends brother welded a wider foot, and I did some (pretty ugly, but functioning) electrics for GPS and battery recharger + extra lights.



Before and after :) Not that big difference for the driver, but I guess I was much more visible for others (mainly on the crazy roads of Russia..).



I practiced tire change with just the basic tools I would have on the road too. Also got myself a pair of used, plastic cases too (and in red color, oh boy!). Plastic turned out to be a good choise, since I did drop the bike a few times in the mountains and rocky roads.. They are flexible :)



I practiced a few hours driving on loose(r) sand. It was short, but I think I learned something. At least I got jammed in the sand..



On the same trip I test slept my tent, checked my Trangia gas-cooker and learned to use my gps. Also, had just bought new boots from Alpinestars. The boots were way too hot and awkward to walk in. Not recommended for hot climates.



KTM Finland organized a 1 day motocross day. Of course I was there too! It was fun, and scary too. I never though I could jump that high, drive so fast in mud and not break any bones during that day. I fell countless times.



I also tried to read much, Chris Scotts' Adventure Motorcycling Handbook I had bough some years before.



For information, maps, software, fantastic stories, these were some of the most useful websites I crawled. For maps of Turkey and Iran (for garmin 60csx), Cloudmade.com was perfect. I had searched and searched for months, but this found a few weeks before the trip. They have free maps of *all* countries and they are good quality.



This was my rough route plan. I never reached Tehran, and on my way back I had to take the faster European (through Germany) route (and not Ukraine).



And here I was, a few minutes before I left for Iran. My leather pants and jacket were great for the hot climate.


To be continued tomorrow..


Thanks for reading!
Niklas
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niklasbackman screwed with this post 03-12-2009 at 02:07 PM Reason: title image was missing
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Old 03-11-2009, 03:16 PM   #2
Dave-in-Turkey
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Hi Niklas...looks like the start of a great adventure


Cheers

Dave..
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Old 03-11-2009, 03:16 PM   #3
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This looks like it will be good. Keep it coming.
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Old 03-11-2009, 03:37 PM   #4
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Fantastic adventure!! Thanks for the intro.. looking forward to all the details

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Old 03-11-2009, 03:42 PM   #5
picoda
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I fell it will be good RR Iran is beautiful.
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Old 03-11-2009, 04:10 PM   #6
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looking forward to reading this one. do we have riders in Iran? we need them on tent space.
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Old 03-11-2009, 07:43 PM   #7
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Old 03-11-2009, 08:00 PM   #8
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Old 03-12-2009, 03:15 AM   #9
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Perkele, now I'm hooked to this one too
A good intro Niklas, keep up the writing!


Let's see if it's goin to be the finn style...

/Mattias
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Old 03-12-2009, 03:46 AM   #10
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Old 03-12-2009, 05:24 AM   #11
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Hej Niklas,

Great start. I look forward to the "riding" part of your report.
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Old 03-12-2009, 07:22 AM   #12
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Old 03-12-2009, 03:27 PM   #13
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A promising start
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Old 03-12-2009, 03:40 PM   #14
niklasbackman OP
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Helsinki-Iran-Helsinki: #2 Clothing & gear

(Are the images loading slowly? Let me know, I just changed them from Google's Picasa to my own domain www.chef.fi. Picasa seemed to be missing an image or two occasionally). PS. You guys really love those animated smilies ;)

Clothing, gear, and all that:
Like many others, I was really wondering what sort of clothing I should wear. It was going to be hot and sunny in Turkey and Iran, but I also needed protection, mainly from wind and dehydrating sun. I've ridden the first year in a so-so cordura jacket, but it's horrible when the weather gets hot. One day I noticed a stopped motorcycle police and asked him for a good hot weather clothing, and the answer was "Leather! Nothing but leather! These gore-tex clothes just suck!".

So, I chose leather. I had bought a biker style leather jacket some years back but never really used it. I felt it fit a bit strangely, long arms and short waist line.. But hey, it was perfect for riding a motorcycle! After talking to the police, I drove back home and found the jacket in the attic. Quickly changed, and the leather just felt wonderful! It was cool, even in the sunshine, the sweat was gone, I didn't feel like in a plastic bag anymore.

I would be a leather biker! Forever :)



- For the legs I chose jeans style Dainese Panama Pelle, which were very good on the trip.
- Helmet was Schuberth C2, silver colored
. I was very pissed at first with it, since my beemer has an awful windscreen. I got very strong turbulence and noise with the original windscreen (I'm 195, 6'4"). I had to replace it with a new one (will add name later).
- And for the seat I stole mom's 30 year old sheepskin :) Well, changed it to an IKEA version.. which, by the way, was too.. washed and cleaned, so it was too smooth and flat. The old one was much better.
- The GPS, Garmin 60CSX, was a good buy. I had to wire a plug for it on the bike, but it was functioning quite nicely. And finally I also found (free!) maps from www.cloudmade.com. Excellent service!
- For water, I bought a small Katadyn ceramic water filter, which was also a very good buy. I used it mainly in Russia and when drinking from rivers in Iran. Recommended!


Those boots.. from outer space!:
I have big feet (eu 49, us 14), so shoes are always hard to find. I wanted good protection, but to be able to see the sights and walk somehow normally. My mistake was to buy Alpinestars Vector 2007 (though they look okay..). They were probably better than many other off-road boots (in terms of walking), but walking in those monsters was not fun. And the least I could think of was waterproof, but no, the water came in just above 15cm height. I was so disappointed to the shoes. Maybe ok for a weekend off-road trip, but not for a long journey. Although, you can't imagine the expression on old Iranian old ladies' faces, when I walked into a bazaar.. They just couldn't imagine in a million years that someone was walking in that kind of shoes.. crazy western fashion!


Update: two days ago I received my new, all leather trial boots from Gaerne (Balance Oiled). I've walked a bit in those, and yes, they are much, much more comfortable (and less protecting) than my "old" ones. And these look very, very nice! :) Quality materials, quality work, like many italian shoes.

These Gaerne Balance Oiled (2007 version, without the waterproof lining = better in hot climate) are for my next trip.. :) Just don't know yet where I'm heading.


To be continued tomorrow..


Thanks for reading the second part :) I will get to the point too..
Niklas

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Old 03-16-2009, 04:44 PM   #15
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