Thursday, 17 November 2011

9 months out

Not sure how I'm supposed to feel 9 months away from the biggest adventure of my life, but I do feel that everything at this stage is under control. I think about it every single day, which does drive me nuts, but it gives me the opportunity to constantly review things and plan for the simplest of things like having dustbin liners in the bottom of the Ortlieb bag to temporarily put my bike clothes in when they're soaked.

Apart from a service just before departure, the bike is ready. After my initial reluctance to use anything other than maps & compass for navigation, I've now decided to take a GPS that I'll be able to use through parts of Indonesia and South East Asia should I wish to, but I'm taking it with Central Europe in mind, believing that the roads will be more intense over there, especially around the cities. I still have the 'ships compass' mounted just behind the screen which will assure me that I'm heading in the right direction when flying by the seat of my pants, which will be my preferred method of travel.

I have decided against the iPad and opted to go with an 11" MacBook Air instead. This fits nicely into the top of my left hand pannier, to which I've installed a power port so that I can have it on charge pretty much all of the time. The more I looked at the iPad and the Macbook Air, the more I thought that the iPad was still a bit gimmicky and wouldn't really do what I need it to do, like run Photoshop, run TomTom Home, and I also much prefer a proper full size keyboard.

I've tested the electrical accessory charging ports in the tank bag and pannier under load on both long and short rides and everything charges well while having no detremental effect on the bikes own charging system. It still bursts into life with the slightest stroke of the starter button.

I have slightly adjusted my packing methods so that when I'm separated from the bike and panniers during transportation between Australia and Timor Leste and also between Malaysia and Nepal, I will be able to live out of just my Ortlieb bag and Tank Bag. Hopefully in these two bags I will be able to carry the necessary clothes, equipment and paperwork to carry on without the bike, especially in Timor Leste where I'll be without the bike for 5 days or more.


Leaving on the chosen date, I should be able to travel in fair weather most of the time. If all goes to plan, and if it doesn't I'm sure I'll be reminded of this post, I should be able to clear Australia without seeing wet weather at all. Timor Leste and Indonesia should also be fairly dry apart from the odd seasonal shower. Most of South East Asia is going to be hit and miss regarding rain and humidity as parts have regular rainfall throughout the year. I'd like to be in Nepal by November/December so that I can experience the clearer skies of early winter. And I plan to be in Iran around April so that I don't have to endure stinking hot weather. So this gives me approximately three months to travel India and Pakistan which will be through their cooler winter months. Turkey and beyond I will just take as it comes as I believe by then I'll feel a certain amount of relief to have made it that far. I plan on taking between nine and twelve months to complete the journey, but who knows what will happen?

It is with relief that I have found a number of insurance companies who will provide overland motorcycle travel insurance despite the fact that I am an insulin dependant diabetic. They all have different levels of cover for specific items like evacuation, possessions, death etc. but it's good to know that there are insurance companies prepared to insure without prejudice. I've yet to select which one I consider the best but it won't be World Nomad.

 

I have read many blogs about similar journeys, these two for me are standouts as they have travelled through the countries that I plan to, and they're well written entertaining blogs, I've got these to beat!
JMac and Jane
Gypsy Biker, Ronnie Borr
Ronnie does tend to move too quick for my liking, my plan is to spend a bit more time at a destination and not make judgement by first impressions. For example, I have read so many conflicting reports about Timor Leste, some love it, some hate it! Obviously it's subjective but I'd like to figure it out for myself and not wholly rely on the advice of others.

Mentally am I prepared? Some days I get so excited about leaving and can't wait for the departure date to arrive. Other days, because of some reason or another, I wonder whether I'm doing the right thing and have an absolute feeling of fear and trepidation. I'm hoping this is normal, not that I've ever been considered normal. I believe the perceived enormity of it all gets the better of me, mainly because I'm thinking about the whole thing, every step of the way. Perhaps the best way to approach it is week by week or month by month. I hope that once the trip is underway, I will be able to concentrate on just the next few days or so, and enjoy each day as it comes.

I've even started polyfillering and painting around the house, getting it ready for sale day!

I am enjoying the communication and warmth of my followers on Twitter, and hope they will help me along the way with their company and encouragement.


Friday, 29 July 2011

12 months out

At this moment in time, I'm reasonably calm about my planned trip, but fairly sure that in 12 months time I'll be a nervous wreck, worried about a million irrelevant and inconsequential things, wobbling my way up the Great Northern Highway towards the top end.

I firmly believe that I've chosen a great route (19 countries in total), that I have the right bike, the right equipment and that I will be suitably clothed for most eventualities apart from formal dinner parties and severe cold, the latter of which I have no plans to experience until the UK. The trick is to try and get the whole trip to go like clockwork, but I'm at the point of giving up doing that because I have no idea of what is really ahead of me. Sun, sand, sea, jungle & motorcycling yes, but I have never ridden a motorcycle from one country to another, I have never dealt with border crossings, other than European, and I have never had to find a different place to sleep every night for an extended period of time, so a lot of what I am planning to do is rather foreign.

View Australia in a larger map

View Indonesia & Timor in a larger map

View Malaysia & Thailand in a larger map

View Laos & Cambodia in a larger map

View Nepal to Turkey in a larger map

View Turkey & Greece in a larger map

View Italy to UK in a larger map

I've read blogs, websites, articles but nothing has given me any idea of what it's going to be like to say goodbye to Lynne here at home and head off into unfamiliar territory all alone. I'm not even familiar with being alone, for as long as I can remember I've always had someone there to share my experiences as they unfold. An entry in Matthew Cashmore's Journey to Morocco blog summed up his feelings about travelling solo rather well, but I hope I don't feel quite so desolate, a very good read nevertheless, he does pen a good story.

I suppose I'll be relying on that interweb thingy quite a bit when things are bleak and I'm in need of a cheery hi. I can only imagine what it was like for someone like Ted Simon all those years ago, travelling the world alone with little or no means of communication. Recently I've been following the exploits of a young lad from England named James Heaney, currently circumnavigating the world on a similar route to those larrikins from The Long Way Round, only James is doing it alone and sorting things out for himself. James is quite an inspiration as he always appears upbeat and very positive no matter what is thrown at him. I really don't know how I'm going to feel when things go pear shaped and I have to face the consequences all alone. As a part of my preparation I've told myself that this is going to be the adventure of a lifetime and every day I must smile, laugh and enjoy it because after all, that's the reason I'm doing it, and I don't think I'll ever do it on such a scale again. I'm sure most days I'll be like a kid in a candy store, in a state of total fascination with many amazing and tempting things all around me.

As I mentioned in 'When and where', my greatest fear is the import/export of the bike and visa acquisition especially for India, Pakistan and Iran. I'm struggling to come to terms with having to wait until I'm in one place before I can apply for a visa for another, It's not like applying for something when at home, where everything you need is at hand, and everyone you deal with speaks your language. Again through the internet, specifically Twitter, I have connected with Pascal & Arja, a couple of intrepid travellers, and from them I have received some solid advice regarding visas and timings, and I'm hoping likeminded people will be available with help on my trip should I need it. I suppose my concerns have much to do with my nature as I have little patience and like everything planned to the smallest detail. I'm hoping my trip will make me less impetuous and more easy going. I'm sure that I will have to learn to be more tolerant, especially with foreign officialdom.

Another concern, again related to my nature, is that I will find myself going along at a million miles an hour and before I know it I'll be in the UK. Once I've made my mind up where it is I'm going I usually want to get there as soon as possible, whether by bike, car or even at work, I'm always in a hurry. I'm going to have to learn to slow down, relax more and take in the scenery, I may never pass this way again!

I still have things to test or put through their paces, like wet weather clothing, charging stuff, efficiencies around unpacking/packing and one-off transfer of kit into accommodation or bike transportation, but this will all be done during the following months. I'm sure that planning can be 'done to death', there comes a time when it's just a matter of 'getting on with it'. I just hope I'm a bit more organised than The London Biker when it comes to leaving, good onya Matthew!

I feel that I'm ready for this trip, and would dearly like to set off now, unfortunately that wouldn't fit in with other plans so I have to wait. I have all the information needed to get my pre-trip visas for Timor Leste and Indonesia and feel reasonably confident around the acquisition of the subsequent visas. I have put things in place with my GP around managing my diabetic needs and vaccinations but this can wait until 2 months out. So... come on!

I call upon all readers of this blog to offer their thoughts and experiences regarding what is ahead of me. I am extremely spongelike at the moment, I crave information...

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The race to India

The power of the Interweb!

As most of you know, I've had to become more acquainted with technology lately, more specifically the internet. I'm learning how to create and manage a blogsite (you're here!), I've set up TwitterFlickrPicasa, & Vimeo accounts and a Google maps page. All of this has been quite trying and at times frustrating, but I think I'm starting to get the hang of things and my plans are taking shape.

"Where's he going with this?" I hear you ask. Well, a short while ago while using Twitter, I discovered @2_LivetheDream, another twitterer, back then known as @MyAdventours, and found that we had similar interests and quite a bit in common. Initially, because I was unfamiliar with the name Heike, I didn't know whether I was corresponding with a guy or a gal. But it turns out that Heike is a gal, and she plans to do pretty much the same as me, but in the opposite direction.


Heike plans to ride her motorcycle, a BMW F650, from Switzerland to New Zealand. The trip will involve riding through Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan (possibly), Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Timor-Leste and Australia. Heike's plans are very similar to mine only she's going in opposite direction. Her departure date is scheduled for around April, 2012 so she'll be leaving 5 months before me.

It will be so exciting to follow her progress as she leaves Europe and heads through the Middle East towards India. Obviously we have the details of each other's trip, and we estimate that we should be able to meet up in either India or Malaysia. This would be such a fantastic thing to do after bumping into each other while wandering around on the Interweb!

I recommend visiting Heike's website (don't worry, there is a translation button for those that don't read German) as it is full of interesting details around her trip and also her plans and preparations. She's been lucky enough to recently attend the Horizons Unlimited Traveller Meeting in both Germany and the UK, as well as the Adventure Travel Film Festival in Devon. It's still a long while before my departure date, but Heike's seems just around the corner, so the anticipation is building!

Good luck Heike, see you soon, hopefully!

Friday, 27 May 2011

What I'm taking, and where I'm packing it!

It's been a matter of reviewing what other people have done and said, personal preference, trial and error, and practicing with the resulting contents that leads me to believe that I have all that I need for my trip. As I have mentioned in a previous posting, my luggage will consist of a tank bag, an Ortlieb bag and aluminium panniers, just the standard BMW Adventure ones, all loaded onto my BMW R1200GSA.

The tank bag was bought with the plan to use it for carrying and charging electrical devices, so I fitted it with an electrical port to get power inside the bag. I do have many items to charge, I'd like to know if other travellers have this many. I have a phone, SRC headset, iPod, camera (which as yet I have not sourced a charging cable), video camera, I will be getting an iPad3, I have a charger to charge AAA batteries for head torches and an electric pump to inflate tyres. I'm hoping to get a heated vest which is another item that will depend on power when needed. So the tank bag will carry the cables for these devices along with most of the devices themselves. In here there will also be a head torch, a knife and a load of cable ties 'cos these things are always needed. I reckon I'll probably carry most of my paperwork in here as it is a bag that is easy to remove and carry - and the plan is never to leave it unattended. I believe the bag is reasonably waterproof but I have a siliconised cover that I can stretch over it for when it pours down.

Tank bag

The Ortlieb bag is a brilliantly waterproof and dustproof bag with a large roll seal opening. I will be using this bag to carry most large clothing like a bodywarmer, fleece top, trainers and the heated vest when I get it. I will not be riding in full motorcycle clothing all of the time, so when I'm not it'll be safely stowed in here. That consists of Rev'it Defender jacket and pants, boots and big socks. The big socks are packed inside a Thermarest pillow sack, which is a bag until it's turned inside out, then it becomes a soft feel pillow stuffed with big socks and stuff!. In here will also be the Pacsafe Exomesh that fits over the Ortlieb bag and locks it to the bike nice and secure.


The left pannier, which is the smaller of the two, will essentially carry the camping and cooking equipment. I will be taking an MSR Mutha Hubba tent, which is a three man tent so plenty of room for me and my gear, along with a footprint to protect the groundsheet from damage. The stove is an MSR Dragonfly which runs off unleaded petrol, a commodity I'm hoping I will always have! I have a siphoning hose in here, a down sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, Thermarest Neo Air mattress and my cooking and eating utensils. I even have a pair of stainless steel and rosewood chopsticks that I will be showing off with in Southeast Asia. The little side pocket holds another head torch, a multitool/knife and spare fuses for the bike. On the outside of the pannier I carry the MSR fuel bottle for the stove.


The right pannier carries mostly personal daily stuff like socks, jocks, t-shirts, pants, shorts etc. They are all packed into dry sacks just in case. I also have a spare large dry sack to be used as a laundry bag. My toiletry bag is in here, with all the essentials including a rubber sink plug and nail clippers, who would've thought a guy would think of nail clippers? My Frio cooling wallets for Insulin are in here but they may well end up in the tank bag if there's room. Down the bottom of this pannier are tools and spares, although at this stage the only spares I've got are brake pads. The tools include a Stop and Go Tyre Plugger kit, this is one of my favorite finds, I've used it on a worn out tyre which I purposely punctured and I can fix a tubeless motorcycle tyre faster than I can fix a puncture on my mountain bike. If I get a puncture or I need to run lower tyre pressures I've got a 12v pump in here. I have a tube of steel/metal putty, a Pacsafe Lidsafe so that I can tether my helmet to my bike safe from theft and weather and finally a bike cover, unfortunately it's not as effective as Harry Potters Cloak but I'm hoping it will help the bike partially disappear when left unattended. On the outside of this pannier I have a 2 litre container to carry engine oil. There is still plenty of room left inside this pannier but that will change I've no doubt. Although this pannier is the heaviest of the two by far.


That's it! I'm hoping that's all I'll need and that I am not carrying too much. Anyone who has read this that has been on similar trips may have their own view and I would welcome their feedback as I'd rather do the fine tuning now than later.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Carnet de Passage

Been looking into, and trying to get a better understanding of the dreaded Carnet de Passage today. A Carnet de Passage is a customs document for your vehicle which enables you to enter and exit countries more easily. A Carnet is an internationally recognised customs document entitling the holder to temporarily import a vehicle into countries. Wikipedia has the following description for a Carnet.

The Carnet allows travellers to temporarily import their vehicles without having to leave a cash deposit at the border. It is, in essence, an international guarantee for payment of customs duties and taxes to a government should the vehicle not be re-exported from that country. Persons who temporarily import their vehicles into countries where the Carnet is required must agree to obey the laws and regulations of that country and particularly the conditions of temporary importation.

The Carnet contains relevant information about the vehicle – make, model, colour, engine capacity, seating capacity, registration number, owner and value. In order to obtain a Carnet, the owner of a vehicle is required to provide a security based on the age and market value of the vehicle. Generally three types of security are acceptable from motoring organisations.

       • Cash bond
       • Banker's letter of indemnity
       • Insurance policy


        I spoke with the Carnet de Passage expert at the AAA regarding my planned trip, giving the necessary details which are essentially the bikes value and countries to be crossed. Fwarrrrr! I was certainly a little surprised at the expense of this item even though I had a reasonable idea of the costs involved. The big problem is that my trip includes Iran. The security required to cross Iran is 470% of the value of the bike. A conservative estimation of my bikes value at the start of my trip will be around $20,000, this means that the security figure required would be $98,000! There is also the $400 cost of the carnet and a $250 refundable bond to outlay.

        The current cost for Indemnity Insurance based on the above figures would be $1880. If I do take out Indemnity Insurance, it would NOT relieve me from paying the necessary duties should the necessity arise. The Underwriters are entitled under the Indemnity to recover from me the amount of duty paid. This Insurance merely enables me to take the vehicle out of Australia without having to freeze a considerable lump of money. So if the bike was stolen, being mindful of the fact that the bike will be uninsured pretty much all of the way to the UK, I would not only be up for the value of the bike but would also be up for the duties and taxes demanded by the relevant country for failing to export the vehicle, chuffin' hell!

        The Carnet is a little like a passport for your vehicle, it's purpose is to stop you from selling your vehicle while en route and messing up that country's import/export system for vehicles. When you enter a country that requires a Carnet you get it completed and stamped on both the removable page and the stub by customs, who then make a claim for payment for importation. When you leave that country you get it completed and stamped again and the country keep the page from the Carnet book leaving you with the completed and stamped stub as proof that the successful import and export of the vehicle took place and the claim for any payment is cancelled. If for any reason your vehicle doesn't get stamped out of a country, their claim for payment comes from your security bond. A list of countries requiring a Carnet is available at Wikipedia, but you would probably get the most up to date information from your Automobile Association such as the AA in the UK, AAA in Australia, or the CAA in Canada etc.

        A Carnet lasts for a period of 12 months, and when you have finished with it, you return it to the issuing Association, to enable the safe return of your bonds or release of your funds from the bank. Not all countries have the same requirements for security, Iran being the highest, the most up to date information again would be available from your Automobile Association.

        I now believe I am armed with the knowledge of what is required regarding the Carnet de Passage, and how to use it during my trip, but it doesn't make it any easier to justify the expense, Ouch!!

        The following is a list of Indemnity Amounts for the various countries that require them:
        Country Motor VehiclesMotor Cycles
        Australia 100%30%
        Egypt 200%150%
        Europe 100%50%
        India/Pakistan/Sri Lanka 400%400%
        Iran 470%470%
        Japan 100%100%
        Middle East 150%100%
        New Zealand 50%25%
        Singapore/Malaysia/Indonesia 200%150%
        South America (Trans) 300%200%
        South Africa 150%100%
        Syria 400%400%
        Trans Africa 200%150%

        The above list of indemnities was correct at the time of posting this blog. Please do your best to ensure they are still relevant before getting into a serious argument with anyone.

        Saturday, 26 March 2011

        Getting Ready

        Bike Loaded 2

        There's a hell of a lot of work and preparation to do before you even feel like being ready for any kind of trip let alone a trip across the world! Here's a brief run through of some of the things I've done, bought, bodged and worked on to try and get to a point where I feel a bit more comfortable with what I'm doing.

        One of the first things I wanted to get sorted out on the bike was power for charging things like iPod, phone, camera, computer etc. I originally thought that everything may have to go through an inverter, that's how stupid I am. It turns out that just about every single device has a cigarette socket charger available, so it was just a case of fitting a cigarette lighter socket for such devices to plug into. The standard socket on a BMW is the smaller socket commonly known as a Powerlet socket, my beemer has one of those, but in the southern hemisphere the Powerlet plugs aren't that common. The BMW has a C-bus electrical system which doesn't have fuses, if any part of the system overloads it simply shuts that part of the system down until the ignition is reset, then the computer will check the system and if all is OK it will supply power to the previously affected circuit. I wanted to run my cabling through a fuse box so that should I have any problems it would not affect the C-Bus electrical system at all. So I bought a Centech fuse box and set about fitting it. This wasn't that easy as there is not a lot of available space, but with a bit of modification to the fuse box and a fair bit of fiddling, I managed to get it mounted perfectly below the tool tray under the seat. This is a well protected area which isn't subjected to much moisture.

        Wiring to fusebox

        The above image shows how the tool tray looks from the top with the cigarette lighter socket laying in wait. The power supply for the fuse box comes from the battery but is fed through the relay, the relay is powered from the tail light power supply which is switched on by the ignition, so the fuse box is not powered until the ignition is switched on. The wiring runs down the left hand frame rail with enough cable not tied to the frame to allow the tool tray to be lifted out, as shown in the next image, to allow access to connect other items like the front powerlet socket. The next image shows the fuse box which is fastened directly underneath the tool tray, with not the slightest margin for error, otherwise the tool tray will not sit down on the frame rails correctly. As you can probably tell, I'm quite chuffed with the way all this turned out, I even sourced cloth tape similar to what BMW use to bind the cables.

        Fusebox

        The next thing I needed to do was provide a power supply to the front of the bike, so that I could get power into the tank bag to run or charge other items. This was a lot easier now that the fuse box was done, it was just a matter of running cable and connecting it to the fuse box. I intended the front power socket to be a normal sized cigarette socket, which is the size of hole I cut through the body work. But when I came to feed the socket through the bodywork and the chassis rail below, I found that I couldn't get the bloody nut on the back of it because of the chassis rail, bollocks! So I had to settle for the smaller powerlet socket, but this turned out to be a more suitable solution. I sourced the powerlet port for the tank bag from www.bluerim.com.au, who supply all kinds of useful powerlet items. The smaller angled powerlet plug and cable that feeds the tank bag port has a lower profile so stays well below the handlebars when on full lock. It turned out to be a blessing that the cigarette lighter socket wouldn't fit and I had to use the powerlet stuff.

        Tank Bag Electrics 2
        Front Powerlet feed to tankbag port

        But as you will see from the next image, the power sockets the other side of the tank bag port are cigarette lighter sockets, allowing all of my charging devices to work. All of the cables can be unplugged from the tank bag port and replaced with different fittings should it be necessary, but this configuration worked out perfectly for me. 

        Tank Bag Sockets

        So that's about it for the electrics, apart from running a lighting cable to the compass, but I only did that because the compass has a light, I have no plans to ride at night unless it's absolutely necessary.

        The following images show the ridiculously expensive, but sometimes well made, Touratech protection equipment that I purchased in the hope that should the need arise, the equipment will be there to save the day. The images are labelled with what the product is, but this first image shows one of my favourite bits simply because it is so well made, and if you need to take it off because the country doesn't allow headlight covers of any kind, you simply pull the front grille out of the rubber mounts!

        Touratech Headlight Guard
        Removable headlight protector

        Drive Shaft Bobbin
        Drive shaft bobbin

        ESA Guard Rear
        ESA guard, rear

        ESA Guard Front
        ESA guard, front

        I'm pretty sure that an absolutely bog standard bike would make it back to the UK without spending money on protective equipment, but you're always thinking "what if"? But if I get it all back to the UK in pristine condition, it can go on eBay for someone else to use on their trip.

        And then there's the luggage. While researching for this trip, I have read and heard all kinds of comments about what to take and how to carry it, and nearly everyone says they take too much stuff and end up dumping it or sending it back home. So I've tried to be very selective about what I'm taking with me. I've done a couple of practice runs, and there will be more I'm sure, but I feel reasonably confident that I have all that I need and can carry it comfortably. As you can see in the top picture, I am using BMW aluminium panniers, Touratech tank bag and an XL Ortlieb waterproof holdall. At present all the camping gear, including tent, air matress, sleeping bag, stove etc. and tools fit in the left hand pannier, which is the smaller of the panniers because of the exhaust cut-out. Clothes, toiletries, insulin etc. are in the right hand pannier and at this stage there's plenty of spare room. The Ortlieb bag will be used hold the riding gear when not in use, riding jacket, pants, boots, gloves etc., I'll be the first to admit that I will not be riding in full riding gear all the time, especially when it's bloody hot. In the tank bag will be computer, paperwork, passports, visas etc. etc. I have a PacSafe helmet holder that will keep my helmet secure on the bike, and I have a PacSafe mesh that will keep the Ortlieb bag safe on the bike. So all being well, the only piece of luggage that I will have to take off the bike and keep with me is the tank bag and I don't mind that considering the contents!

        The panniers have RKA pannier liner bags, which are fantastically made items, fitting the panniers absolutely perfectly. These allow the contents of the panniers to be lifted straight out and carried, with a shoulder strap should it be necessary, into the tent or B&B. They also stop the contents of the panniers rubbing against the aluminium and turning black, as the aluminium panniers are not anodised, tut tut BMW!

        RKA Bag Liner
        RKA pannier liner, LHS

        Compass/GPS
        My GPS

        And then, of course, there's the all important compass. I've chosen to go down the map and compass route rather than GPS, so I'll let you know how I get on. As Doug Wothke said on one of the Horizons Unlimited DVDs, "I see the best things getting lost"

        Wednesday, 9 March 2011

        Southwest

        In preparation for riding from Perth, Western Australia where I live, back to the UK where I plan to live, I went on a relatively short road trip in the southwest corner of Western Australia to practice and try out my equipment, especially the recently purchased BMW R1200GSA. I'm used to the 1200GS as I have owned one for a number of years, but the Adventure model is very new to me.


        Long rides and camping is something I haven't done for more years than I care to remember, but it's something I miss. Over many months I've spent a lot of my hard earned on all kinds of things that I feel necessary for this trip, things like tent, sleeping bag, mattress, security devices etc. I have made modifications to the bike and added expensive and possibly unnecessary Touratech equipment. I've also had to figure out how to carry all the things needed to assist my round the world trip, but armed with the advice "figure out what you need to take and halve it" I've managed to get everything comfortably into aluminium panniers, tank bag and one large Ortlieb bag.

        My ride through the southwest started by heading for the Margaret River region, the first destination being Augusta just south of Margaret River. After one night in Augusta, the following morning I headed further south to Denmark on the south coast. The ride from Augusta to Denmark is always a memorable one as it takes in the South Western Highway which is a fantastic twisty road with crest top bends through gorgeous karri forests. After a night in Denmark I headed east to Esperance, which unfortunately is a destination popular with many West Australians and at this time of the year, the place was packed. The area around Esperance is one of immense beauty, especially Cape le Grand, which is where I spent the remainder of the day. The next morning I headed home to Perth, a ride of 706kms which the bike gobbled up with absolutely no discomfort whatsoever. The bike performed superbly, on this trip I had the original knobbly tyres which offered plenty of grip but were noisy and sensitive to hard cornering, for future mainly road trips I would use the same faultless tyres I've been using on my old GS, Metzeler Tourance XPs.

        I had a great little practice trip away, riding through lovely countryside which ranged from lush green forest to bone dry wheatbelt, It's a great little practice ground for the big one, and I'm sure I'll be back again soon.

        Planned departure August 1, 2012.