Welcome to my wee adventure ride report, I enjoy writing so apologies up front if its a bit wordy. Hopefully you'll enjoy a bit of a back story and the ponderings of a travelling Kiwi with Dutch heritage, then come along on my first big cross-continent adventure journey starting in LA in a couple of weeks. In a way, this adventure started around 7 or 8 years ago, when the Auckland city council (in their infinite wisdom, ahem) decided it would be a good idea to install bus lanes on all the main routes into and out of Auckland city, effectively halving the amount of road space available. This meant that my daily cage commute to work went from 20 minutes to 45 minutes each way, most of which was standing still in a row of cages sitting next to an empty bus lane, which occasionally had an empty bus in it, and interestingly – motorbikes, as these were allowed to use the new bus lanes. So after a few months of getting up early and watching motorbikes whizz past me, the obvious thing to do was to get on one and make use of this magic empty lane on our otherwise extremely busy Auckland roads. Having not ridden a motorbike before other than a 49cc 1970’s Piaggio Puch moped whilst I lived in Europe for a few years, I got my provisional bike license and went down the bike shop and tried all the bikes they let me try, from cruisers to choppers, and from death defying street racers to the more gentle café style racers, none of which felt comfortable for my large frame at 196cm (around 6’5”), until I got on a dual purpose adventure bike, which felt good. I went on to buy a Honda XR250 tornado, which was a great bike to learn on and I eventually graduated to a ’08 KLR a couple of years later. It turns out that once I got started on riding – I totally loved it, and especially to get off-road and explore the Auckland region. Having always loved to travel, it was a natural progression to farkle the hell out of my KLR, get some panniers and hit the road, exploring our beautiful country, which I also loved. Then came years of lurking on ADVrider, “The long way around/down” etc etc. I was hooked and the dream started, the dream which is about to become reality. In between my burgeoning love affair with adventure biking I had some pretty serious issues with my lower back after a workplace injury caused a couple of disks to blow, this led to years of pain and struggle and eventually to a two level spinal fusion and a second spinal surgery about a year and a half ago……. All in all, it was about 5 years of struggle with on and off riding ability and all the while with this dream building to do a “big ride” once my back got sorted. Well it turns out that my back is not going to get sorted and it is probably about as good as it’s going to get, and it’s manageable. I went for a test ride around NZ this last summer doing around 10,000kms in 70 days, camping 80% of the time and it went pretty well and gave me more confidence to do this. Below are a couple of pics from that journey of some of my favourite wild campsites. So I left my job with an amicable separation (woohoo), bought a well farkled ’08 KLR sight-unseen on Craigslist in Las Vegas and the good guy I bought it off (thanks Dave) dropped it off to our close friends in LA (thanks Randy and Mary!) where it sits now waiting for me to get there – and my girlfriend and I leave on Sunday!! I’m thinking to call the bike Lucy, after Hunter S Thompson’s “Savage Lucy” from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a fav movie of mine and also describing a dame from Vegas (thanks Pete). Once I actually meet Lucy next week I will update on exactly what kind of farkles she will finally travel with. The plan is to spend 3 or so weeks visiting our friends and exploring the California region, after which my wonderful and super supportive partner Lisa goes home and I get on the KLR and head South. My rough target destination is Tierra Del Fuego (TDF) after which I aim to return to the States via a big loop. I guessed that this may take around 8 months, but I could be sick of it and home in 2 or loving it and not see change out of a year on the road . It's all about the journey and the adventure, I'm not putting any pressure on myself to make it to TDF per se, but it's nice to have something to aim at rather than just 'South'. Crossing the Darrien Gap between Panama and Columbia is a big and expensive deal and may also be a good turn around point - I will just see how it all goes. My route is pretty much ad-hoc with my only thoughts to start at a language school in Baja and get some Spanish under my belt to help with the journey. So welcome to my ride report and please feel free to chime in and give advice, support and especially to recommend cool must-ride routes along the way.