In Which We Ride... A Scot and South African go Long Haul

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by SuperSonicRocketship, Aug 20, 2016.

  1. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    672
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Hey folks.

    Here's the general idea:

    received_658590897612273.jpeg
    Ambitious indeed...

    I debated for a while as to whether to keep an ADV Ride Report or not. I didn't want to be one of the hundreds of guys who starts a thread with great intentions, and promise of keeping it up, only to abandon them when the going gets tough. I will try my absolute best to keep this thread alive. [Update: 100 , 200 , 300 , 400 Days in and i'm still here!]

    It's important for me to document this trip for a variety of reasons. The main one being as a memoir to myself for years to come. I have traveled quite extensively in my youth. At the tender age of just 17 I backpacked across Mediterranean Europe. At 19 I went again, this time around Central/Alpine Europe. At 21, with just 9 days of motorcycle experience, I went on a 8 month motorcycle tour around 29 Countries. Although I had the time of my life, I didn't think to document or record a single day of those trips. Looking back at it now, some of the finer points have blurred from memory... Did that happen in Poland or Hungary? Was that guys name Piotr or Paulo?

    I wish more than anything that I wrote down my encounters, if not online in a grand journal, then at least had packed a pen and diary.

    This time I hope to keep a personal and detailed report of this journey. I have always loved to write, much more than I have taking photos. I earn my keep as a Powerlifting/Strength Coach, and within this field I have dabbled in amateur journalism, and had a few articles published in various papers and websites. I have never tried my hand at any kind of travel or adventure writing before, my world has always been very scientific, number oriented, and open to factual scrutiny.

    I hope it makes for at least some kind of enjoyable reading.


    Backstory:

    I'm a 27 year old Scottish boy and she's a 22 year old South African gal. Life changing news in May of 2015 led me to have a good long look at my life and ask some pretty big questions. The answers were clear; I don't need all this stuff, I didn't need financial success, and I certainly didn't need to spend all my time on this earth at work. So I closed shop on both of my businesses, got rid of the house, sold my cars, my truck and anything else that ensnared me. It took 12 months to tie up loose ends and fulfill all outstanding obligations. Every penny was saved and every purchase was skimmed. We purchased 2 motorcycles and hit the road.

    For the long version of this story, should anyone care, you can refer to the 37 page long, 12 month saga, in the Trip Planning section of the forum. Here I have documented every single detail of my motivations, finances, expectations and struggles that have pushed this idea into reality.

    http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/the-planning-of-a-monster.1087167/


    FB_IMG_1471722017604.jpg


    On top of the ADV Thread I have also tried to keep up with the times and run a FaceBook Page and Instagram too. Admittedly I can't see much point in Instagram, FaceBook, however others may view it, I feel is a nice platform to share this story too.

    Facebook: In Which We Ride
    Instagram: @in.which.we.ride

    Love,
    Brucie

    Attached Files:

    #1
  2. akaDigger

    akaDigger Amateur Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
    1,004
    Location:
    Evansville, Indiana
    Sounds like a plan.
    #2
  3. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,255
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    :lurk
    #3
  4. Ruud109

    Ruud109 Dutch in Barcelona

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Oddometer:
    363
    Location:
    Barcelona, Spain
    Finally a ride report on this :) Been following you guys since the start, but happy to see you now also started a ride report!
    Curious about how you got the WR's and how you managed to set them up so quickly (or are they bone stock? Considering the time and money you spent on getting the Beemers ready).

    Always welcome in Barcelona, though it doesn't seem on route for a while!!

    Ruud
    #4
  5. AllSeasonRider

    AllSeasonRider Wandering, maybe a little lost...

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,251
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    So glad you guys decided to do a report here. I tried following on Facebook, but the format is not the greatest and I log in so infrequently, I wouldn't get updates enough. Good to hear your back at it after the Kyla's visa issue.
    #5
  6. juno

    juno Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Oddometer:
    1,924
    Location:
    Jupiter
    Awesome to see the RR on here!
    You two already own the most exstensive planning thread ever!
    Greatly appreciated BTW!
    I am looking forward to hearing the stories!!!!
    #6
  7. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    672
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    ***MAJOR EDIT***

    PREFACE - At Day 361 it was finally time to come clean about a few facts and feelings about this trip that had never made the light of day. The following entry is a retold version of events concerning Days 1 - 41. Admittedly the first few pages of this RR are of to a slow and awkward start. This entry will explain exactly why.

    - - -

    Days 1 - 42
    The Story Retold

    ***Warning - Extremely Long Post - As Promised the Truth Behind the first 6 weeks***

    I'm really just venting for my own benefit here. I re-read some of the first blog entries and i'd never live with myself if I didn't put the facts and feelings in my own diary straight. After all, this is my own journal to look back on one day.

    I never did get a chance to fully vent my feelings in those first 6 weeks. There was turmoil and a lot of deep thought that I never wrote down. Partly due to the sheer excitement of what we were embarking upon, but also because I felt I was at war with myself over a lot of the decisions that we had made.

    We had set off from Dundee on Day 1 in an impossibly privileged position. We were about to travel around the planet on 2 motorcycles, and due to Kylas age, just 21, she qualified for an official attempt to break the standing Guinness World Record for Youngest Female to Circumnavigate the World by Motorcycle. Actually at the time it was an attempt for 'Youngest Person', but there was a group of young guys jostling for that top spot as of 2016. We switched the attempt to 'Youngest Female' and found ourselves in a much stronger position to secure sponsorship opportunities.

    For me, a 27 year old white male, I was perhaps the most unremarkable specimen on Earth to embark on such an adventure. After all when was the last time you saw anyone other than a white male go around the world by motorcycle? Exactly, anything other is a rare sight. The demographic is not exactly a cultural melting pot. Kyla however was an anomaly. A 21 year old girl who didn't fit the adventure motorcycling mold. We approached various companies about the prospect of such a venture. Global expeditions, world records, girl power... I told them everything they wanted to hear. They gobbled it all up. They could not care less about me, but the mere mention of Kyla set off a spark in their corporate minds.

    Over a period of around 3 months we had accumulated a pile of gear that had been sent to us, naturally in return for sticker space on the bikes plus a solid review and hearty mention on the website. We had a laundry list of co-promotional offers. Some small companies, some large. It was unbelievably exciting.

    By the winter before we had left we had even managed to catch the eye of BMW. At one point even exchanging emails with HQ in Germany, they had referred back us to local dealers and BMW Network Scotland (BMW North). Their interest in our story was instrumental in our selection of the bikes. If we settled for BMW they would take care of all our pre-trip prep and help us with servicing and recovery on the road if it all went wrong. It was a dream come true.

    With such an offer on the table the decision essentially made itself. We bought a pair of barely run in F800GS's and got to work. BMW done all the health checks, various installations, cast a second eye over my own modifications, namely suspension and electrical, and done some fuel remapping work for us. Work which would have costs thousands, all done for free, with the nod of approval from the big wigs in BMW PR dept. It was all too good.

    By spring we were neck deep in the trip preperation. I was caught between two worlds, trying to close my life down in Dundee to begin a new life on the road. I was working up to 65 hours a week and had barely told a soul as to what was looming. All of this stress detracted my attention from a few important points. In the push to secure as much sponsorship and promotional opportunities as possible, I was slowly losing control of some aspects of the trip. Most notably the kit we taking and route we were selecting. Yeh, pretty much the only two components that actually matter.

    Doubts began to sprout in my mind before we had even left.

    I remember standing in the garage one day looking at the bikes. I was planning to familiarise myself with a few service procedures on the bike so I didn't get any nasty surprises on the road. The plan was to pull a spark plug, complete a wheel bearing inspection, change the springs on the rear shock, change the fork oil, and run a multimeter across a few components. I didn't know where to start. The bike was sat in the space where my previous bike had lived; a nimble KTM 450ECX, a bike which I would regularly pull apart and rebuild at the weekends just for fun. The BMW looked like a family car in the KTM parking spot.

    This BMW looked enormous. Complicated. Advanced. Heavy. Wide... It was completely unapproachable. Cables, computers, sensors... I was used to peeling apart my KTM with a 10mm spanner. Now I had a wealth of printed online guides, downloaded video tutorials and special BMW tools. My workshop is located at my mum's house and i'm pretty sure my parents could detect the stress in me. I remember my dad coming out to the garage one night after 11pm "You should call it a night, start again in the morning." He remarked. He was right, but I just couldn't. I was panicking.

    It's fine though right? I mean BMW's got my back? Nothing will go wrong. After all I had the perfect machine for the job, and the perfect kit to assure it's place as the true king of 2 wheeled adventure. I put all my stresses to the back of my mind. We were due to leave in 4 weeks.

    Day 1. Two kids on two gigantic motorcycles. We had let the whole thing get out of control. I must have had 40 corporate stickers on my bike. I had parts from Candian companies, Americans, German suppliers, English media outlets, and god knows what else. I could barely remember who had given us what. The bikes were draped in gear. Everything you could possibly need, want or wish for was on those bikes that day. We teetered off on the first few miles of our trip only now realising how far from perfection the setup was. We were fully committed. Signed up and soul purchased by the Devil. The bikes weighed a tonne. Those of you who were present at the send off will remember Kyla dropping the bike there at the Tay Bridge viewpoint, barely 3 miles from the starting line. I later asked her that night what had happened. "Once that thing starts to go... it's gone!" She replied.

    She wasn't kidding.

    Roll forward 2 weeks. We were started to settle into the graves we had dug ourselves. The adventure broken up by regularly checking emails and worrying that everyone was getting their fill. We were slowly starting to adapt to the behemoths in Scandinavia, but it was never easy. Kyla had dropped the bike 3 times, and never once was it funny. When that thing went to the ground it truly shook the Earth. 275kg of metal is a serious problem in the wet, slimy mud down by a Norwegian riverbank. The third time she dropped it, one of our sponsor stickers had come off, from memory a North Face one. Never for one second in your life should be worried about the implications of a sticker losing it's adhesion to the front of your motorcycle, nor any surface for that matter. Something was surely wrong. Here I was in the stunning Norwegian Fjords I was concerned about the financial and corporate repercussions of the stickers coming off the bikes. "Kyla, we really have to be careful not to drop the bikes." - Splendid advice for sure, but entirely unreasonable. I was starting to doubt my own capabilities. Is it us? Can we not ride these things? BMW assured us these were the bikes for the job. The photos, the videos, the actions shots.. It must be me. I'm not good enough. How can a measly riverbank defeat such mighty steed.

    ...but I was fine with my other bikes. I could get that KTM just about anywhere I pleased, and my feet couldn't even touch the floor on that. Now I couldn't get my bike over a obstructive tree branch over the road. I can tell you that getting out of the saddle to move a log from the road is shameful on the ultimate adventure machine. If i'm honest, I felt quite useless in those initial weeks.

    When the opportunity arose, one gentle May afternoon by Swedish lake I stripped the luggage from the bike and put the machine to the test. I thrashed it about the perimeter of the lake in hopes to prove to myself that I can ride this thing. Maybe it was just all the luggage? Or the accessories? Anything but me, please... There was sand, mud, water, a tributary river to splash about in, there was some rocks, a gravel car park, a steep bank... Everything you could ever require to test your limits.

    Except I didn't test my limits.

    I couldn't. The bike immediately got suck in the sand. Once eventually freed, I tried to climb the steep bank by the lakeside and again got stuck. After multiple episodes of digging the bike free I made for the safety of the car park. After a few minutes of slithering about the gravel I hit a dip in the access path back down to the water which bottomed out the rear shock. Enough was enough. I walked back to Kyla and exclaimed quite certainly; "We have a problem." In my mind, the bike was not up to the task. My suspicions later confirmed when my bike didn't have the ground clearance to scramble over a fairly pathetic rock among some Swedish Tundra. This is the Ultimate Adventure Machine. How the Hell did I make such a catastrophic error? Did I watch too much Long Way Round? Was I ensnared by the flashy brochures?... Wait a second... Long Way Round..? Come to think of it didn't they have to bail out of Mongolia because the roads were too bad? And then on the Road of Bones they had to put the bikes on a truck to complete the way to Magadan. What the hell?!? Aaaagh. My ability to rationalise was coming undone. Why didn't I foresee any of this?

    Another week had passed and we had arrived at the Swedish slice of Arctic circle, trying to reach our first checkpoint of Nordkapp. It was here that I truly lost all confidence in our machines. First Kyla developed a water pump seal leak. Then my bike wasn't charging optimally which indicated a stator issue. Unbelievably just 2 days later Kyla's bike also started to display poor voltage figures. I had developed a creaking noise from my front end and Kyla suspected her rear bearings were on the way out after just 2,200 miles... But BMW had our backs right?

    "Can you get the bikes to Umea?" - The response from BMW

    Umea was the closest city to where our location who had a BMW dealership. We could rock into there and they would look it over and put our minds to rest.

    Not good enough.

    We were approaching 4 weeks into our trip and already experienced multiple issues that I couldn't fix by the roadside. Sure, we could probably ride back to Umea, all 330 miles in the wrong direction, and have it fixed, but I shouldn't need to. I should know this bike back to front and inside out. I should be able to cast my eyes and ears over it every morning and know exactly what needed my attention. Instead I was stuck in the Arctic Circle with a big lump of metal that couldn't even get over a log without denting it's sump guard, a sump guard which was send to us by one of the firms in our patchwork of stickers. What a mess.

    Being plucky Brits, we ploughed on. We never made it any further into the Arctic Circle, and nowhere near Nordkapp, In the blog I can't remember what pathetic excuse I had written but it was definitely a massive deflection from the real issues. Huh, now I couldn't even write what I wanted. Hell, I felt I couldn't even dare think what I wanted. This was all my idea after all. Sweden came and went. Next was our crossing of the Baltic Sea, and then a week in Finland. It was in Finland that I really started to wonder just how exactly I was ever gonna get the bike through Asia. But never mind me, what about Kyla? Through all this turmoil she had to wrestle a machine that was nearly 6 times her bodyweight across all of Northern Europe. A 51kg girl on a 280kg motorcycle. Just think about that for a minute.

    From Helsinki we popped into Russia for a 3 day break from the bikes to visit St Petersburg. It was probably the best 3 days we had since setting off. We weren't to know it but disaster awaited us when exiting. Followers of the blog will remember the saga of our Russian exit. Contradictions on Kylas Visa versus what we had written on the immigration card upon entry were not compatible. Kyla is a South African Citizen who wrangled a British Passport because one of her parents was born in Scotland. When applying for the Visa, due to vastly different requirements for South Africans and Brits to enter Russia at the time, we had told some porky pies in order to smooth the process. We had forgotten this and the stories didn't match. Kyla's Double Entry Russian Tourist Visa was flagged, cancelled, and rendered useless.

    Oh my god.

    We went back to the bikes in Helsinki in shock. No Russian visa means no crossing of Asia. It means no Eastbound route. It means no trip. No nothing. Russia was integral to every aspect of our plans.

    It took a week for us to explore every avenue to fix the problem. In this time we had moved from Finland down to Lithuania, by which time it became obvious to us that we needed to get back to the UK and talk to our issuing embassy in Edinburgh. We booked the flight and went public with the bad news. I've told this part of the story before. Mandatory 45 day activity suspension from the Russian, new applications, start the whole process again, don't tell lies in the application yada yada yada.

    Whilst home I had time to reflect. I spoke to others about their experiences with supposed quarter tonne adventure machines. I spoke to other folks who knew the burden of sponsorship. I asked every question that could be asked about the ups and downs of committing your adventure of a lifetime to third party corporations. The truth was it was stressful, it was hard work, and aside from the financial benefit, it was rarely worth the hassle.

    And what about these bloated beasts we had sat up waiting for us in Lithuania? The reports were mixed. Some people loved them, and swore by them. Others hated the very thought of it. The BMW R1200GS Adventure was the best selling bike that year in almost all of Europe. All 250kg of it. The F800GS wasn't far behind at 210kg. Were these people smashing over logs with huge smiles on their faces? Where they tearing up sandbanks by lakes? Were they exploring to their hearts content up every path, track, and half trodden goat trail, just I had envisaged myself doing? Well... No actually. regardless of what BMW had told us, these machines were for nothing of the sort. I had stumbled upon an exceptionally well written and thought out article by a man called Walter Colebatch, who detailed and answered every one of my questions in regards to why I was having such a bad time on my enormous machine, and why Kyla was perhaps trying to do the impossible. Where was the inner 7 year old boy? Where was the endless fun and free spirit? As far as I could tell, it was all stuck in the sand.

    We took a huge decision. When the Russians re-issue the Visa, we were to head back out on something new. Something I can drop in mud and take a photo of. Something Kyla can pick up without two helpers. Something I can strip apart with a spanner and put back together again on a campsite in the forest. Something I can park outside a hotel and not stay up all night worrying if a 10 grand of machine will still be there in the morning. Something I can take anywhere... maybe not quickly, maybe not look the best, maybe not make me famous... but take me absolutely anywhere my little heart desires.

    The difference was stark. We turned our backs on a heavily sponsored and subsidised BMW, and opted for a pair of battered 8 year old Yamaha dirt bikes. I cable tied a hand held torch to the front for extra lighting and fashioned a wind deflector from, and i'm not kidding, a 4mm plastic section cut from the side of a office bin. The panniers we had took from the BMW's and used as flight luggage were thrown on the back, turned edgeways, and used as a rudimentary topbox. We packed a tool kit into a £1 kids pencil case from Tesco and hit the road 3 days after the Visa arrived in the post.

    Since that day we left again I have never stopped smiling. Never for one second, through all the rain, the storms, the punctures, the snapped chains, the detonated bearings. Nothing can kill the mood. Our measly bikes have taken us up every winding path and every rutted trail we have sought to explore. This time, when we are defeated it's because of us, not the machines. And i'm happy in the knowledge that I get better every single day, for all the practice in the world won't make a heavy bike lighter. Mountains, lakes, rivers, cities, traffic, ferries, potholes, broken bridges, sand traps, mud... you name it, we try it, in the knowledge that no matter what, it will be an adventure. Just like it should have been on Day 1.

    This is what freedom tastes like.

    My little Yamaha will take me around the planet at it's own pace. If it breaks, i'll fix it with my pencil case toolkit, if it really breaks i'll just bodge it together with a bottlecap, or a paperclip, or whatever is handy. Because this bike I can know inside out and back to front without a guidebook, or 3 part video tutorial. The stickers are there because I want them there. When they fall off, i laugh at the time I stressed at the lake in Sweden 16 month ago.

    It has been a major turnaroud since those first 40 days. You can even see it in how I write. My early blog entries were robotic, awkward, and forced. Now I barely require any effort to spill my thoughts onto the page.

    I want to take a moment to say that not all of the companies who helped us were bad. And in the true nature of this blog entry I wan't to be open about the ones who are absolutely worth my time to mention.

    - BMW - John Clark, Scotland (Local dealer) were genuinely as helpful as could be when prepping the big BM's. The mechanics are knowledgeable and seemed happy to help us, even though we hadn't paid them a dime.
    - Roadstercycle USA helped us with Shindengen R/R Units and heavily discounted the cost. Also provided extrmely detailed installation instructions in their out of hours time.
    - MuscleXcess, Scotland, a company who are not involved in motorcycling at all, who supported us fom the outset and provide a unbeatable product range in the Health and Fitness Industry. Their contribution was one of the largest that went to the charity arm of the project. Major thanks.
    - ScotRiders, Scotland, gave us a Advanced Rider Course and delivered so in impeccable fashion. The courses later helped us with Insurance costs too.
    - Energie Fitness, Scotland, who assisted my charity fundraisers in the weeks before leaving.
    - Cambrian Tyres, England, gave us tyres at Cost Price and got them to us in 24 hours of picking up the phone.
    - DM Tyres, Scotland, fitted them and always provided a reliable service.

    I will, and always will, absolutely stand by a company or firm who offer a good product or service. There was also a horde of people who privately, and some even anonymously, donated to our charity efforts. We love you all.

    To this day we don't regret a single decision we ever made. I guess I just wish I could have stayed more focused on what was important in those preparation phases, and certainly not allow things to spiral away out of control as they did. In the brief 2 weeks we spent at home chasing the Mongolian Visa, after our Indian/South Asian chapter of the trip, we used the time to sell off the BMW's and put that cash back into the bank. We shall not be returning to them anywhere in this story.

    We are still collecting money for charity when we can, and in fact I plan to do another fundraiser in the coming weeks, so anyone who wished to throw a penny our way is more than welcome. I of course do not expect any of you to feel obligated to actually do so, and please feel free to enjoy my content (drivvel) pressure free. Honestly, i'd still write this blog even if no-one read it.

    And that my friends, is what didn't make the director's cut in the first 40 days.

    Now, where were we... Ah yes... recovering from a mystery sickness deep in Outer Mongolia... Jeeez. You really couldn't make this stuff up.

    Love,
    Brucie

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #7
  8. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    672
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 1

    The morning you leave for a big trip like this is never the poignant and elegant send off you imagine it to be. Rather a cumbersome and panicked scramble to crush the last pieces of kit into places that you convince yourself you "will re-organise later"

    I felt it was important to not spend my final moments looming over a set of panniers, so instead I chose to chat with my parents as much as I could in hopes to settle their nerves, and to roll about the floor with our much loved family dog Sandy. He is 15 years old, and the prospect of him not being here upon my return is very real. We got him when I was just 11 years old, and he has surely seen me through all the challenges a boy must face as he enters adulthood. Going on this trip was perhaps my biggest stunt yet, and it was important to me that I shared it intimately with my immediate family. Since losing my brother just a year ago, the spark that ignited this whole idea, that means it was just Mum, Dad, and little Sandy.

    It was the perfect send off from the Family home.

    From there we rode out to my old motorcycle training school. It's a family run place headed by Alan and Heather, a husband and wife, the very guys who helped me get my bike licence almost a decade ago. It was the same guys who got Kyla her papers just a few months past. It's always interesting to see how much more complicated and in-depth the motorcycle test has become in that short space of time.

    From there at the test centre we met up with extended family and a bunch of friends who wished to join us on a ride out of the city.

    Over a hundred people came to see us off. About 40 of those on motorcycles.

    It was amazing morning.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    #8
  9. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    672
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 2:

    As we sit on this 16 hour ferry crossing to Holland, it really starts to sink in... We gave up everything to do this. Every item that we own in this world, we are either wearing, or carrying on the bikes. Yesterday we said goodbye to Dundee; it's faces, it's streets, it's shops and buildings, to take the opportunity to explore new ones.

    Our ride South from Dundee over the 2 bridges, the Tay and Forth, was surreal. I've been down that route a hundred times in my life, but it's never felt like this. I noticed every beam and bump on the bridges like I was going to miss them like an old friend. It's strange riding away from home not knowing when you'll see it again.

    I'd like to take a moment to thank everyone who came to see us off, and to the hundreds of you who wrote a message of well wishes.

    Now the Trip Report;

    We camped last night just North of the English border to ensure we spent our first night in Scotland. The sunset was unbelievable and, as sunsets often do, transforms you into a gushing poetic mess; "We really are leaving home." -The magnitude of the whole scenario somehow amplified by a pinkish/orange sunset.

    We woke up to good weather and short 50 mile bolt to the English city of Newcastle to catch the Amsterdam ferry.

    I won't get a chance to update every day, but I'll do it when I can.

    Love,
    Brucie
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    View North over the Forth Road Bridge, by Edinburgh, Scotland

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The Sunset over the Scottish Borders.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The Border Rock, on the A68, our first border crossing of many.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Our departing view from the Island we call home.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Restraining the whale.
    #9
  10. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    672
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 3

    Ferries are strange. No matter how many times I have been on long sea crossing I always follow the same routine; Board the boat, find the Cafe, eat your fill, then pace about the deck looking at the sea for hours until it's dark, and then hide in your cramped cabin til morning. Just like magic, when the sun rises you are approaching new land. There is always someone on the deck, usually an older gentleman who cracks the same joke; "Land Ahoy! - Hey we're gonna crash into Holland!".

    We had awoke in the Dutch port of Ijmuiden, about 15 miles from Amsterdam itself

    Most people make the pilgrimage to Amsterdam to indulge in the darkest of tabboos and desires. Drugs, Music and Red Lights spring to mind. A whole mental catalog of sordid fantasies can brought to life in this city. Not for us however, not because we are a pair of old prunes, but rather because we have been to Amsterdam before and spent many days here exploring the it's surreal concentric street pattern.

    For us it was just a day at the local lakeside campsite, where Kyla fed the local ducks, and an evening spent looking over some maps. Where to go? What roads to take? It was all real now.

    We were off the island, and onto the continent.

    But then we got bored of the maps and headed into town to indulge... [No photos of aforementioned indulgence in an attempt to maintain dignity]

    Oh Amsterdam.

    Love, Brucie

    [​IMG]
    Hardcore Amsterdam Action.
    #10
    Combatscoot likes this.
  11. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    672
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    EQUIPMENT TEST

    Just want to see how the different devices handle uploads and photo cropping etc. Some of the photos are very high quality, I think FaceBook, Instagram etc convert them for upload.

    We have some decent photo/media equipment here, so I want to get up to speed on hows best to use it. GoPro Hero 4 Silver, Canon 1000S DSLR + 18-55mm General purpose compact lens, Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Smartphones and a Lenovo Yoga 700 Hybrid.

    All I need now is the storage space!

    - Brucie

    [​IMG]
    Textured bark tree by campsite in Scotland

    [​IMG]
    Fairytale looking forest in Scottish Borders

    [​IMG]
    Dew on a Web by Camp Spot in Scotland

    [​IMG]
    Creepy Fence, Scotland


    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Ha! Quirky
    #11
    Combatscoot likes this.
  12. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    672
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 6

    "It's Friday the 13th today" - Kyla announces with glee immediately upon waking.

    You can tell we are still at that phase where we pounce out of bed full of life and energy. From previous experience I know that wears off after a week or so and you cherish every second in your sleeping bag or hotel bed.

    We escaped any great misfortune on this Friday the 13th, but much to my dismay a huge moth made it's way into my helmet and started flapping about in the extremely private space located between the inside of my visor and my face. Superstition.

    All a part of motorcycle travel I suppose... It has its perks too tho. Like cutting up the middle of 2+ hour traffic jam by Hamburg. We had been sat on open highway since Amsterdam and we're planning to make our way North East as quickly as possible... and here's why. In the summers of 2013 & 2014 we already done a couple of mini tours of Northern Europe. So we have been sat on these long stretches of boring highways so we can get to a new unexplored region.

    For us, the real adventure starts once we get passed Olso, Norway. That is most likely 2 days away still. Til then I'm afraid it will be more uninspiring highways.

    Oh well, only 400(ish) miles to go until we can ditch these immaculate Central European arterial roads and get lost in the Fjords of Norway.

    Onwards and Upwards (Northwards)

    Love,
    Brucie

    Bonus: I had the pleasure of being overtaken by a 700hp 'Autobahn Taxi' Mercedes AMG in Germany. I was sitting at about 90mph and it must have passed at twice my pace. Woooooow. Really puts the boy racers back home to shame ;)

    [​IMG]
    Here's a crappy map, ruined further by a pink worm


    [​IMG]
    Mo Money, Mo Problems

    [​IMG]
    Border No 4, Country No 5
    #12
  13. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    672
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Week 1 In Photos.

    Getting lost in the Red Light District, only to meet some Nuns with the same problem. Who'd have thought it...

    Camping at the CityCamp Amsterdam, ploughing through Germany via the Autobahn, catching the ferry to Robdyhavn to say hello to Denmark and Country no. 5!

    Love,
    Brucie
    [​IMG]
    Cobbled Street, Amsterdam

    [​IMG]
    Micro-photography? Nope! Accidental photo

    [​IMG]
    Some people who helped us :)

    [​IMG]
    I'll get the bike pics out my system now

    [​IMG]
    Amsterdam Canal

    [​IMG]
    More Lost Nuns?

    [​IMG]
    Denmark on the Horizon

    [​IMG]
    Baltic Battered Flag
    #13
  14. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    672
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    We will finally get a chance to script a full update tomorrow, but in the mean time, here's a brief view of what we've been up to since we left Denmark.

    Snowstorms, Trolls, Campfires and Frozen Fjords.

    Talk about jumping straight in the deep end... This adventure has got off to a flying start.

    Love,
    Brucie

    [​IMG]
    7-8 feet of snow?

    [​IMG]
    A solid purchase!

    [​IMG]
    Adventure-ess

    [​IMG]
    Mountain Pass toward Geiranger
    #14
  15. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    672
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 11

    "A river cuts through rock not by it's power, but by it's persistence."

    That's a rather fitting quote to describe our crossing of Sweden and Norway. Week 1 saw us sat on depressing highways to make up some initial distance from home. When we took the turn off from Oslo on to the back roads, heading North, we were met with some incredible scenery, roads and weather.

    Sweden and Norway, to me at least, seem to be punctuated by the most amazing lakes, rivers, waterfalls and of course Fjords. Every bend exposes a new postcard quality view. We stayed 3 nights in the very serene Swedish Lakelands in the South/Central region before continuing North to Norway. We chose to bypass Oslo as we visited there in 2014, instead opting for a road that pointed North.

    There was no method behind choosing this road. We simply looked at a map, thought North seemed like a good idea, and chose a path that pointed the right direction.

    It might end up being one of the best decisions we ever made. We met two local bikers on the road who told us that if we kept on that path we would be met with mountains, lakes, fjords and pristine roads.

    He forgot to mention the possibility of 10 foot high snowdrifts by the roadside, sub zero temperatures and snowstorms. Luckily we were up for the challenge. After investing in a Sheepskin to fashion some insulated seat covers we headed North into the frozen mountains.

    The next 3 days took us through some of the most unbelievable scenery I have ever laid eyes upon. With every mile that passed we got closer to the Polar regions and the landscape just looked more and more like something from an Arctic Nature documentary. I could almost hear Sir David Attenboroughs voice. It's never fails to amaze me how quickly you can leave the bane of overpopulation behind in Europe by simply moving North. As a general rule, with Murmansk as an exception, there are no large populations anywhere above Oslo.

    After leaving the town of Beitostølen we crossed over 2 mountain passes that I would seriously recommend to any overland traveler, car, motorcycle, bicycle... ANYTHING, just go. I might recommend that you leave it 'til a little later than May to avoid the snowstorm we got caught in.

    The bikes have built in thermometers that immediately bottomed out to zero degrees once climbed the first pass, as to how low temperature actually got, we can only guess.

    We finally made it to the tiny town of Geiranger, where we decided to stay 2 nights to rest and recover. We have been riding pretty hard for 10 days straight and we always reckoned we'd not allow out ride to rest ratio to go much past 10:1

    A real mish-mash of photos to view from the last 5 days!

    Love,
    Brucie

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #15
    Combatscoot likes this.
  16. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    672
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    [EDIT - POST REMOVED]

    Why? Because I plan to retell the entire first 6 weeks of this adventure all over again, including some of the not so pretty details of Sponsored motorcycle travel.
    #16
    Combatscoot likes this.
  17. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    672
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Panoramic shots of Norway Western Mountain Region

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #17
  18. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    672
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 15

    A whole week since i've had a real chance to update. Not in part to laziness, but rather and inability to harness a decent wifi source.

    Last time I wrote we were nestled in a small town deep in the cracks of the Norwegian Fjords. Since then we continued North, deeper into Norway as it were, to be met with more picture perfect waterfalls, mountains and landscapes like you just wouldn't believe.

    Come to think of it Norway is quite dangerous... How I didn't crash the bike with all the scenery to view I don't know. We passed the famous Atlantic Highway, The islands by Kristiansund and then moved back inland towards Trondheim, where we were met with a decision.

    Do we continue North, further into Norway to get to the elusive Nordkapp? Or do we cut loose and make East for Finland?

    The problem for us was the reports from the people we had met on the road. You see Northern Norway is surely an incredible place, and the roads to reach it are too... if you take the coast. But the coast roads are slow, punctuated by ferry crossings and mountain passes, meaning it could take us another 2 weeks to make it to Nordkapp. Our other option was to use the E6 Highway, but as a rule on motorcycles; Highways are horrible. We came to the conclusion that Norway is so very close to home that we could return to tackle Nordkapp another time.

    So we headed East. Our route to Finland however, was of course blocked by Sweden. We plotted a course towards The Swedish port city of Umea, via Swedens central lakelands. A great days ride through a strange snowy tundra-esque landscape. The following day saw us catch the 4 hour ferry to Vasaa, Finland. Since then we have been meandering South through Finland to our current destination, about 15 miles North of the capital Helsinki.

    We have heard great things about Helsinki so we plan to spend a good few days here. Plus we could with a rest... Maybe the bikes too, the last 3 days have saw them do around 1,400km. That's big mileage by anyone's books.

    On to Helsinki!

    Love,
    Brucie

    P.S Look out for Week 2 in Photos soon.

    [​IMG]
    Route to Date

    [​IMG]
    Cliffs at Geiranger

    [​IMG]
    Exposure + Water = Delight

    [​IMG]
    Exposure + Movement = Blur
    #18
  19. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    672
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Week 2 in Photos.

    From true wilderness in Scandanavia, to a being welcomed by a man with a teddy bear at a petrol station in Finland; Week 2 has been an eventful one.

    It's easy to lump the Scandanavian states all into one, but we must not. There are distinct differences between Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. Having concurrently explored the four nations, even just over these 15 days, I can already see how as you travel East, unsurprisingly, you slowly get a more Eastern feel. Finland is like Sweden with a dash of Russia, Norway is like Scotland with a dollop of Sweden. If that makes sense?

    It does to me...

    Here are some pretty photo from days 8-14!

    Love,
    Brucie

    [​IMG]
    Today's Kitchen

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Drop no. 3

    [​IMG]
    Motorcycle World Deadlift Championships 2016

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    Fin, the Bear
    #19
    ACR likes this.
  20. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    672
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Odd Shots

    [​IMG]
    A Photo taken by our new friends on the Atlantic Road

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Actual Swedish Meatballs in Sweden?

    [​IMG]
    An Excellent name for a Quarry

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Our view from camp
    #20