Hi everyone, So, I'm currently stuck in Sa Pa, Vietnam for a few days while I wait for my passport to return to its faithful master. I've been riding through the cold north for the past few weeks and met some ADVRiders on the way. I checked out the site and have been loving the ride reports. I like to ride, I like to write and I like to take pictures so this website is absolutely perfect to keep my lazy ass doing all three. This is my second, long motorcycle trip so I'll start with the first and try to catch up before I hit the road again. My current ride, a '?? Indonesian copy of a Honda Win aka The Mad Mosquito I started riding in Sep ’12 after a lifetime of paranoia and fear of motorcycles. I was ridiculously afraid of everything until I was about 15 and didn't even leave the house some days for fear of...well, everything. My Dad rode since he was about 15 but then my Mom put a ban on any motorcycles after he lowsided coming off the freeway. We then moved to Costa Rica where motorcycle casualties seemed to be in the newspaper every other day and my Mom's idea of them being equal-to-or-worse than heroin passed on to me. Then I became pretty reckless and a terrible kid until I went off to college (UCONN!) and started to mellow out. That's when I started getting the itch to ride but I never bit the bullet. I smoked and drank my way through college (something I regret doing, there were so many opportunities, clubs and other things I could've done with my time there besides trying to get laid, play video games and get high) and then moved out to Las Vegas. I'd spent the last three summers working there and I really love that city. My roommate was fearful and high all the time and I started falling back into that couch potato, do-nothing stoner slump. Then I got kicked out of the house, sold my car, bought a motorcycle and decided to ride to Washington DC for election night. When I heard I was getting kicked out I was gonna get a horrible 9-5 job and try to find my own place since I was freelancing at the time and my roommate was barely charging me rent. (The house owner kicked me out, not the roommate) Then a Facebook post changed everything. A friend posted something about Burning Man and it looked cool. I checked out videos and found out it was about 8 hours north of Vegas. The festival started in a few days and tickets were sold out. I gave up before I even tried. Then I said "Fuck it" found some tickets on Craigslist, hitchhiked my way up, spent an amazing week and hitchhiked back. The guy who picked me was in his mid-60s and told me how when he was my age he travelled across the US with friends on cruisers, camping, eating beans and enjoying life. The Small Red Guppy needed a new rack and pinion and wouldn't make it to Burning Man on his own I told him I wanted to do that, he told me I should, so I did. I got back to Vegas and saw that an MSF course spot had opened up for the weekend. It was incredibly informative and the teachers were great and spent time helping me out. I was the first person to drop the bike and also the last, but I didn't care. I was riding a motorcycle. (I'd highly recommend the MSF course in Henderson Harley-Davidson, they do try to hawk some HD stuff but instructors rode different brands, were very helpful and seemed to be really dedicated to teaching rather than selling). I was pretty bad with the figure-8s but then I was taught the importance of turning your nose and chin to where you want to go. It blew my mind how much of a difference that made. The hard stops and swerve drills were also helpful and they helped point out bad riding techniques before they became habit. I started looking at dealerships the day I got my endorsement and started buying gear. I sold the faithful '91 Toyota Corolla, the Guppy, and upgraded to a '09 Ninja 500R, The Cracked-Out Dolphin. A significant improvement I got a little too happy and bought the first motorcycle I saw and got royally fucked over at the dealership. The bike was amazing, the saleslady was nice and the accessory guy was really helpful but the finance guy switched my loan rate from 5.4 percent (what the salespeople quoted after they ran my credit) to 21.99 percent during the signing process and conveniently lost the paper where I was at 5.4 percent. I didn't discover this until I was in Chicago. I would not recommend RideNow PowerSports on Boulder, I saw a recent google review with that same complaint. It was an expensive lesson. I gave my books to my roommate, donated some clothes and got some camping equipment. I'd never camped before. I got comfortable on the Dolphin and a week later I was ready to go. The night before I was gonna start the trip I took the bike out fully-loaded and dropped it coming out of the driveway. I couldn't pick it up. My roommate had to help me and asked if the trip was a good idea. I told him he worried too much, but I was also a bit nervous myself. I set out the morning to try and avoid Vegas traffic hour but failed. I was nervous, excited and a bit too distracted. I almost lost control of the bike before I left the city. I was slowing down at a red light and shifted down to first. Then the light turned green and I released the clutch without thinking how fast I was going. My back fishtailed pretty hard, my butthole puckered up and I somehow kept control. Riding lesson #1 learned. I did make it out of Vegas though but I'd forgotten my camera battery and charger plugged into the wall. I didn't want to turn back though, my roommate mailed it out and I kept going.