ADVICE, TIPS, and
If you are planning your own trip, then I hope this small advice section will help.Hopefully some questions will have been answered by this story. The most comprehensive advice site for international moto-touring is at www.horizonsunlimited.com - AKA "The Bible".Horizons Unlimited has a widely used bulletin board with up to date commentaries on what borders are open, what roads are passable and good lively debate about what bike does the job best. Also housed on a branch of that side iswww.horizonsunlimited.com/forwood/.When it comes to exotic motorcycle travel, Peter Forwood is the daddy.He has compiled an index of motorcycle travel experience by country and has 177 countries under his belt, from every continent.Whereever you wonder if its possible to go on a motorcycle, Pete has been there, done that ... on a Harley.Peter's journeys everywhere from Afghanistan to Zambia are well documented and make for good reading.Worth a visit is Eric Haws' site at http://rio.com/~tynda/.Eric has put together a useful though sometimes hard to follow site that provides links to all sorts of moto-touring adventures.
Another essential site is www.adventure-motorcycling.com.The Adventure Motorcycle Handbook is full of tips on bikes to take, clothes to take, documentation to carry....all the technical details, and is of particular use if your destination is Africa.The author, Chris Scott, is a desert biking / Africa specialist. A good read (especially for the financial minded biker) is Jim Rogers' book, Investment Biker.Jim packed up his New York hedge fund life, spent 18 months starting in 1991 and rode pretty much everywhere.From Ireland to Japan via Turkey and Central Asia; then back to Ireland via Siberia and Russia; down across the Sahara and through Zaire to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand; finally from Tierra del Fuego in South America to Alaska and back to the US.Two people, on two bikes.Jim's girlfriend who accompanied him on the trip had never even ridden before they decided to make the trip, so that in itself should wipe out a whole bunch of excuses not to make a trip for yourself. Of course, there is the guy who started it all, Ted Simon, and his book "Jupiters Travels". Ted travelled around the world over 3-4 years 1973-1977, and has recently repeated the trip almost 30 years later, aged 70+. His book began the adventure by motorcycle craze and he even was bizarrely whisked in to Mongolia to make a guest appearance for Ewan McGregor's documentary (see below), rode down the main street of UB and then got sent home. I can only assume the producers thought that would add 'street cred'. At least it boosted the sales of Ted's book.
Also of interest and more recent is Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman's 2004 ride from London to
New York, via Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Siberia and Alaska. While a lot of other adventure bikers criticise them for enjoying the luxury of a support crew (yes, it is much easier when you have half a dozen people planning it for you and 2 four wheel drives to carry all the crappy luggage like spares and tyres),
have 3 trucks and a cohort of locals escort you all the way from Yakutsk to
Magadan, not to mention their bizarre
decision to put their bikes on the train to Skovorodino when President Putin
made such a huge fuss just a few months previous of declaring the Trans Siberian
Highway finally "complete". Adventure biking is still short of
'on the ground' video footage and is mostly documented by photographs and text. LWR thus builds on the pioneering work done by the British "Mondo Enduro"
expedition of 1995/96 (see below) in bringing adventure motorcycling to the
small screen. Whether you like the Long Way Round or
not, one thing it has undeniably done is to boost the profile of adventure
Thanks to the Long Way Round, people who know nothing about motorcycles get the concept of the long ride across the world. I would estimate at least 1000 people cross Siberia on a motorcycle annually now, between May and September (only a pair of halfwits would be still trying to cross it in October). It is however unfortunate that the LWR producers edited out all the meetings with other motorcycle travellers they met along the way, but if they showed how easy it was and how many people do it these days, then it would hardly make it look like a challenging adventure now would it?
Probably the most interesting, genuine and original documentaries I have seen in recent years are 'Mondo Enduro' and 'Terra Circa', by Austin Vince and the Mill Hill gang. In Mondo Enduro, (click for video link) a group of 7 guys sets out from London in April 1995 (4 months after we arrived in the UK, and just 2 months before the first instalment of our story hit the UK motorcycle press) to ride around the world.Over a year later, 3 of the original guys made it back into London. This is followed up by Terra Circa, (click for video link) a 2001 venture that sets off with 6 guys to go from London to New York via Kazakhstan, and Magadan in Siberia .... basically the template for Long Way Round 3 years later. The contrast in styles with Long Way Round could hardly be more different though, as the Mill Hill crew ride tiny 350 cc Suzuki bikes and run strict cost reduction policies such as always camping out, and self catering. They eschew sponsorship - or at least purport to. During preparation they "pooh pooh" the over-prepared "German" notion of $1000 custom fabricated aluminium panniers for the more "authentic" approach of strapping a £6 steel surplus British Army ammunition box to the back of each bike. Excellent entertainment and a load of fun. These DVDs are the templates that Long Way Round purchased during their preparations and unashamedly copied, but unfortunately (or unpleasantly) failed to acknowledge. A more modern, funky and Polish tribute to Mondo Enduro came out recently, called MotoSyberia (available at www.MotoSyberia.com), and documents a journey from Poland to Magadan. It's more like Mondo Enduro meets MTV with snazzier, modern editing.
For reference sake, as at 2011 it still appears that China is difficult (or near impossible) to get permission to travel through under your own steam and without a guide. As we found out 16 years ago, it is possible, but you have to be patient and try every door you can as many times as you can.If you don't have the patience, either pay up for a guide the whole way or skip China altogether. All the information I can give on that subject is on already on here.
Finally, if motorcycle adventures in Mongolia and Siberia float your boat, then you may want to take a look at more recent website, documenting 3 crossings of The Eurasian landmass, via Siberia and Mongolia, in 2009 and 2010 - Siberian Extreme - www.SibirskyExtreme.com