Once upon a time, a bum found a motorcycle...

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Neon Black, Apr 20, 2013.

  1. Neon Black

    Neon Black Supertramp

    Joined:
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    Greetings Adventure Riders!

    My name is Neon Black and I am 22 years old, I have spent the last four years of my life traveling the world. To be clear, when I say I am a traveler I do not mean that I've been spending the last four years hopping from one hostel to another with a brand new Kelty my parents bought me, calling myself a "backpacker". I like to think of myself as a minimalist adventurer, a self-taught cultural anthropologist of sorts, a "supertramp" as some of my friends would say. Everything I've ever done with my life after leaving my parents house in Norther California at the age of 18 has been earned by the sweat of my brow and genuine hard work (but not without the unconditional love and mental support of a SOLID group of friends and family around the world and back at home). I would like to share a bit of story, and more of my current adventure here with other fellow adventurers and bloggers because as any tramp, traveler, backpacker, bum, busker, and adventurer will admit; we love living vicariously through one another and we love telling our tales!

    Now, as a courtesy to everyone not wishing to spend the next 48 hours reading a blog post, I will attempt to summarize a very, very, long four-year story in a few paragraphs:


    2008-2010
    I graduated high school in 2008, got accepted to Chico State University in California and spent my first year out in the "real world" (and my family's entire college savings for my college career) partying, doing drugs, and getting completely hammered. I failed out of college and at the last minute took out a student loan for $2,000 dollars, part of which I used to buy a one-way plane ticket to Sydney, Australia. I spent a year in Australia, half of it doing work-trade on farms, the other half living in the city working as a carnie at the infamous Luna Park amusement park in Sydney. En route back to California I organized a week-long layover in New Zealand which I spent hitch-hiking around the Coromandel peninsula with my best friend, sleeping on beaches and eating nothing but rice and cayenne pepper.

    2011-2012
    After a week of being back in California I slipped back into my old bad habits and quickly started planning a new trip to get myself out again. I spent three long months delivering 317 newspapers every single day from 1am to 7am to save money. When I had saved enough to get back on the road I bought a one-way ticket to Bangkok, Thailand. There I spent a month (and $1,200) taking a course to get certified to teach English as a second language (ESL). I found a job at a high school in the rice plains and spent eleven months teaching 6th and 7th grade English in Nakonsawan, Thailand. I got robbed at gunpoint in Bangkok and had my Thai bank account emptied (t'was no fun) and I had to beg my family to pay for my flight home.

    2012-Present
    Back at home again I got back together with my high school sweetheart. That lasted a few months, then I was reminded how much of a self-centered cunt she is, and we broke it off giving me every reason in the world to get back on the road again. So after going to Burning Man for my first time and having my mind fucking blown for a week straight (in a good way!) I sold my self-built gaming PC for $1,300 and packed up my backpack.
    --

    There! That wasn't so bad, was it? Needless to say I've left out a few details, but now you've got the gist of it. With my backpack packed I hit the road starting in Northern California (Healdsburg to be exact) with my thumb out. I set out to see my dad's side of the family in Tennessee, and I would do it with nothing but hitch-hiking and camping along the way. Well, I got picked up outside of Los Angeles in a yellow drop-top Mustang convertible which took me all the way to El Paso, TX. From there I made my way east past Dallas to spend some time with my dad's brother "Buster". He got me a job as a ranch hand and now I'm sitting at his computer typing this up. It's been almost two months now.

    Buster is a mechanic. Really, the man is THE Jack-of-all-Trades if I've ever seen one, but at the core he's a mechanic. Well he had a few bikes sitting in his garage, and after making some good money working my ass off (wrangling cows, patching barn roofs, pulling boar traps out of riverbeds, real hick shit) I bought one of them flat out for $700 bucks. Say hello to my new love affair:

    [​IMG]

    She is a 1983 Honda VT500 Ascot. You can check out my first Advrider post about it here: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=661405&page=12

    This picture was taken yesterday after a long day prior giving her a good hand-cleaning. Everything strapped to the back there is literally every single thing I own. By Tuesday of this week everything will be legal and road worthy and I will be continuing my trip east to see my family in Tennessee. NO MORE THUMBING-IT FOR THIS TRAVELING MAN!!!

    Needless to say I am ridiculously excited to have found this bike, and I will be riding her long and hard until the bitter fucking end. Check out my original post if you'd like to see more about her, but all-in-all she's ready to go and running like a dream. I would like to share my travels with her from here on out on these forums, and I would appreciate any and all feedback, advice, thoughts, and ideas. I hope this forum will be a good place to share and grow and learn and I wish you all the best in your travels as well. You can call me Neon, it is my pleasure to meet you all and I look forward to becoming a part of this online Adventure Rider community!

    -Neon Black
    Commander
    Trident Capital Manufacturing Group

    --

    P.S. If you're interested in reading a bit about my current escapades in our beautiful United States, you're welcome to follow my blog at www.hipgeo.com/riley
    #1
  2. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    Welcome Neon,
    I'm in the neighborhood in San Rafael. Glad you're getting out there on the road. I did a similar thing ... dropping out of UCLA at 24 and headed to Latin America for 8 years. ( 1972 to 1979). I'm still traveling down there whenever I can scrape together a few bucks. Back then I traveled on bikes, on buses and trains. Honda 50 in Central America, Jawa 350 in Mexico, Vespa 150 in Bolivia and lots of others since.

    The Ascot is a GREAT bike. Super reliable. Take care of her needs and she will never let you down. Good you are onto the Ascot thread ... those guys can help you with her care and feeding. Pay attention.

    Have you ever ridden motorcycles before? If not ... would be good to get some real training to get you started. Get some decent gear if you can afford it. Or use the Good Karma threads here on ADV to score FREE gear!

    You've made a great start! Keep working in the USA for a while, pile up that dough. It will take you far down South or where ever you end up.
    Safe Riding!

    !Que le via muy bien! :freaky
    #2
  3. kitesurfer

    kitesurfer Long timer

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    north florida
    Welcome Neon! Looking forward to reading of your adventure.
    #3
  4. Witold

    Witold Been here awhile

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    Can you share your story? This seems very unusual and I wonder how and where it happened.
    #4
  5. DSM8

    DSM8 Where fun goes to die....

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    Awesome story so far, only piece of advice I would share is dont count on bungies being the best means of securing your load to the bike.

    Cant tell you how many times I have seen setups like your in the picture make their way off the bike and the rider never knows it.

    Might be worth the effort to secure one of those larger egg crates mechanically to the bike and put your stuff in there or something along those lines that is functional and economical as well.

    Also get some cinch straps for securing the load in addition to the bungees.

    Nothing worse than getting to your destination and finding your tent is long gone or worse, melted against the exhaust or such.

    Good luck.
    #5
  6. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    Good advice against Bungee cords ... and too many people have lost eyes messing with them.

    Much better are Rok-Straps:
    http://www.rokstraps.com/

    Shop around for best deals. If used properly they are worth it. They last and are strong and versatile.

    As time on the road goes by, your knowledge of what luggage works and how to attach it will evolve. You're back packing experience will really help here.
    Keep it light and functional. :beer
    #6
  7. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    You must have had some good English teachers in grade school, because your writing skills are excellent. It sounds like you take after the "jack of all trades" side of your family. You sound like a true adventurer, and a welcome addition to the asylum.

    I love the Ascot. It is a perfect choice for what you're doing.

    Like the others have said: ditch those bungees pronto. They will get wrapped around your hub, and possibly even damage the final drive seals at the hub. You're better off with a backpack. Just get yourself some cheap ratchet straps that can't move until you release the mechanism. You can find them at Big Lots or other discount stores.
    #7
  8. Neon Black

    Neon Black Supertramp

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    Malkuth
    Yesterday I left Texas and rode a hundred miles into Louisiana to spend time with my sister, whom I haven't seen in nearly six years. It was a great ride, the first of many more to come, and my Ascot handled it like a dream. Friday I will continue my journey to Tennessee. I will try to keep this thread updated as my trip progresses.

    To Witold: That is a very long, albeit interesting story for another day. But if you really care to know, I will tell it..
    #8
  9. patmo

    patmo Been here awhile

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    Hey man, what part of Tenn you headed toward?
    #9
  10. Neon Black

    Neon Black Supertramp

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    Chattanooga, then on to Kingsport.
    #10
  11. Witold

    Witold Been here awhile

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    Yes, write it up on your blog or wherever.

    I always felt pretty safe in Bangkok and there are very few big cities where one can feel that way. Tourists are usually targets of petty crime only. Rarely more than that... That's my impression anyway. It would be interesting to read your story.
    #11
  12. Neon Black

    Neon Black Supertramp

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    I made it to my grandma's in Kingsport without spending more than an hour on any interstate! I spent some time with my sister in Louisiana, rode the entire Natchez Trace through Mississippi and up into Tennessee, slept strictly in national and state parks along the way, and arrived on my fifth day on the road. My odo/spedometer broke half-way up the Trace, which made things interesting, and I took a wrong turn somewhere around Knoxville and ended up in Kentucky, but other than that the trip was solid! I met tons of other bikers along the Trace and had plenty of compliments on my Ascot!

    Yesterday, my cousin and I went fishing ALL DAY and caught nothing but a couple of bluegill, but we had a blast anyway. Now I need to find some work to pay for the next 3,000+ miles home to California... Professional fisherman is likely out of the question, maybe Waffle House needs someone to wash dishes... Oh the perils of life as a tramp! I'll keep y'all posted!

    -Neon Black
    #12
  13. Neon Black

    Neon Black Supertramp

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    Oh yeah, I'm trying to find some solid work for the summer. I was thinking about trying my hand at dock-stomping on the East coast (working out at sea on fishing boats). One of my brothers does this every summer to pay for college and apparently it's damn good money and seriously hard labor (If my whimpy-ass little brother can do it, I can too). If any of you have any experience with that sort of thing, or know of any good places to go stomping, I would appreciate any and all help!
    #13
  14. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    Sounds like my hunting trips lately. When we don't get anything, my friend calls it "hiking with guns".

    That same friend used to work crab boats in Alaska. His little brother was getting into lots of trouble, so he signed him up as well. It got him straightened out, alright, but little bro is still pissed about how hard it was. :lol3

    I know another guy who worked a tug moving barges up and down the Mississippi. Also very hard work.

    I've done my share of hard labor (though not on the water), and can say there is a certain satisfaction after a solid day's work. :deal
    #14
  15. Neon Black

    Neon Black Supertramp

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    Looks like I'm going to Boston now. A friend told me about some work opportunities there and apparently his couch is free to surf!
    #15
  16. Stan Dalone

    Stan Dalone Gotta get me somma dat

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    Wo says ya cant get thair from hair?

    We here call it Bawstin! :lol3
    #16
  17. Neon Black

    Neon Black Supertramp

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    I was thinking about writing all about what happened to me in Thailand. I started to write. I found the recorded phone conversations where my employer threatened to have people come to my apartment and kill me. Listening to those recordings put a feeling in my stomach that I hven't felt since the days I dropped everything I worked so hard for and left my home in Nakhonsawan, just to find a gun in my stomach in an alley in Siam, and having every bit of my savings, the rest of what I had EARNED, taken from me in a matter of seconds. I don't want to go through that again, not the thought, not the emotions, none of it. I refuse to make myself re-live that ordeal again.

    The bottom line is it happened. I don't care if anyone believes that or not. Truthfully, what anyone else believes is none of my business anyways. I'm here to share my current escapades. And to be honest, I've had to re-live that story with my family and friends enough as it is. I don't mean to come off being rude or anything, but if you've ever had a gun pointed at you in angst, you know it's the most humbling experience imaginable AND, as I'm realizing now, it's nothing like one of those "close-call motorcycle crash" stories. (I do have one of those, however! A girlfriend from Cali came out to Thailand about 6 month into my stay there. We were riding through some rice fields, her on the back of my scooter, we hit a dog that ran out in front of us going about 40mph and slid a good 20 feet down the pavement! Talk about some slow-healing road rash and some dented pride on my part... The dog of course got up and walked away unscathed.)

    Anyways, sorry to disappoint. But damn... now I need a smoke...

    -Neon
    #17
  18. Neon Black

    Neon Black Supertramp

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    Thank you! That means a lot to me for you to say that, assuming you weren't being sarcastic, heh. I like to read. A lot. And I would like to write something that someone else might enjoy reading someday. :D
    #18
  19. patmo

    patmo Been here awhile

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    I can relate.......seems I'm only really content when I am in the midst of reading a couple of books. I usually start one, read it for a bit, leave it downstairs, and then pick up another one that I leave by the bed. Always like to have a book within easy reach.

    Never have had the desire to write the "next great American novel", but even as a kid liked writing song lyrics, and now as an adult will sometimes write some poetry......usually about riding and traveling....that I have shared with no one but my wife.

    I enjoy reading your posts.
    #19
  20. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    Yes, you write well but "high country" might be off the mark a bit when attributing literary skills to the jack of all trades people. Not to make this about me but I'm one of those (a relatively rare species mind you) that's been on both sides of campus. Having worked for many years in tech ed(before that I paid my dues via skilled training & work) as both a hands on, greasy guy & as the other end of the building counselor/admin guy(with degrees to match the job) I can tell you that almost never do the "two ends of the building" meet in that way.
    Back to you, Neon. As one that's really been around the block I find you an interesting guy. Your intellectual curiosity,willingness to do the "dirty fingernail jobs" & knack for writing make for a nice combination with the travel lust side of you. A latter day Jack London?:D When the time comes(I hope you find this part) that you are finally able to set long range goals I wish you much happiness. I always told my 3 sons you pay your dues now and reap the benefits later. Those dues can sometimes mean boring sessions in the classroom- that can be part of the dues. Find what works for you.
    Maybe save some more $$$ & find an interesting writers workshop(there are several around) and test that water? Also, if the "greasy side of life" holds appeal, don't be afraid to "go there" and being able to write is ok in many fields of work. I've told lots of "smart young people" that were searching direction (as a career counselor for many years) that we don't need dumb asses building our houses or fixing our stuff! I'll avoid what I might say about the drugs & boozing but find a way to own your destiny...
    enjoy the ride...
    Reading: I'll have a National Geo magazine in the library, a book by my bed & a Smithsonian magazine & a MC magazine by my chair to fill in the crappy commercials on non DVR TV...
    #20