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"To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower; Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour." William Blake

End of December 2005 – Learning about Bikes

December 30th, 2005 by sunflowers

I have now spent countless hours on the internet looking it information about the various bikes suitable for over-landing (most of it came from the horizons unlimited website) and I found a brilliant site for information on buying your first bike at http://www.motorcycle-training.f2s.com/guide.html.

I have also researched the bike seat heights, weights of the models (this is apparently important if you are a female) and the fuel tank capacities. So far there are two contenders in front:- the Honda Transalp (because I really wanted to get a Honda due to their environmental programme, but it is quite an expensive bike even second hand) and the BMW F650 (because this seems to be the bike of choice for an overland trip).

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Bike Riding!

December 18th, 2005 by sunflowers

I have to buy a bike but as the memory of the joy of getting my licence fades and the memories of being incredibly cold and nervous during my training grow stronger the last thing I want to do is get on a bike.

A total fear of getting on the bike makes me nervous about test riding anything as well as the fact that I know nothing about motorbikes or even engines in general are pretty big obstacles to the purchasing of a bike.

I am hoping here that once I actually get one that the fear of being on a motorbike will go as I felt a bit the same way when I started push biking in London and now I wouldn’t get around the city any other way and absolutely adore my peewee herman lookalike bike.

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What am I doing!

December 10th, 2005 by sunflowers

I started researching the countries that I am going to go through on lonelyplant.com. The warnings of violence against tourists made me wonder if this was such a great idea after all so I did a web search on motor bike trips from Alaska to Argentina and found out that heaps of people do it – but mostly with someone else. Then I found a website of a British female who has done it solo www.loisontheloose.com. She even has a book coming out about it. I must admit that I feel much better that someone else has done it and lived to tell the tale.

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Got it!

November 26th, 2005 by sunflowers

Managed to pass my bike course and get my motorbike licence. I can’t believe I could now go out and ride the biggest motorcycle out there.

I did find the riding course a bit traumatic at times due to my lack of experience on the road in general (I have my car licence but have only ever owned my own car for a year) and the cold! But the friendliness of the instructors helped, in particular Alex and Steve.

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All the Help Along the Way

November 12th, 2005 by sunflowers

In this section I would like to thank those that pointed me to bike web sites, made recommendations on bikes and gear:

Pete – Iain who had a change of circumstances hooked me up with another person who had contacted and would be in South America at about the same time. Pete, was the person that told me that I could do it by myself and pointed me to www.horizonsunlimited.com “the” website for long distance motorbike travellers. And made bike recommendations.
Mark, for writing an essay on type of gear to buy.

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Why not do it for ChanceUK!

November 6th, 2005 by sunflowers

Two things came out of Iain not going. Firstly I realised that I was going to have to do a lot more research and preparation for this trip as I would just be relying on myself now. Secondly, as finding out about Iain’s inability to come coincided with the end of my supervision with the children’s charity for whom I had been mentoring (Chance UK: www.chanceuk.com) and having already raised money when I originally joined Chance by asking for sponsorship for climbing the three peaks (in a weekend, not twenty four hours) I decided that maybe people would keep track of me if I did it for charity and had a website with blog etc. I also thought that maybe as I am going through countries where there are children in abysmal conditions that I could remind people that there are still children that need help in our own country.

Also I felt guilty that I would be leaving the band that I started to manage a year ago for nine months – so thought that I could have their music playing on the website.

A couple more ideas I have are:-

– linking to a lot of environment sites and trying to do the trip as environmentally friendly as possible, I don’t know if this is possible due to flying and riding a motorbike not being very environmentally friendly but you can donate to Climate Care to repair the damage from flight emissions www.climatecare.org
– raising money for chance by betting on the trip eg. How many tire punctures, how many times I fall off? That sort of thing.

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Getting a Motorbike License

October 30th, 2005 by sunflowers

When I got back the UK I signed up for the five day direct access course that you can do in order to obtain your full ride any size of bike you want (www.dvla.gov.uk/drivers/rdmcycle.htm). After talking to Chewy and Csaba (the two people I knew had gotten motorbike licences since I have known them) they recommended two schools; Kickstart in Bethnal Green (www.cbt.me.uk/index.htm) and metropolis in Vauxhall (www.metrop.co.uk/vauxhall.html). I ended up choosing Kickstart as it was closer to home, I could do the course other than the tests on the weekends, and the deciding factor is they have had a 92% pass rate for those on the direct access course.

So I popped along and booked it all in and was going to get my motorbike license by end of November!

Meanwhile I got an email from Iain who had originally inspired me had already ridden from London to India that he could no longer go. Which slightly scared me as I had already told all my family and close friends this is what I wanted to do. Plus once I get an idea in my head I don’t like to give it up.

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Growing the Dream

October 23rd, 2005 by sunflowers

After New Zealand I was spending a week and half in Malaysia sightseeing and meeting all the Europeans that are out travelling through South East Asia for a six months to a year. I reconcile myself that even though I will be at work on Monday that in nine months time I would be doing my own road trip. It also ties in nicely with work as I will have just been there five years and according to our employee terms and conditions may have a career break after being with them for that amount of time. I will let you know in six months or so when I request it whether that is true or not.

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Turning the Dream into Action

October 16th, 2005 by sunflowers

When I was home in New Zealand for a couple of weeks I realised that even though I had scoffed at my friend Ian when he said that he was going to take a year off to travel roughly every ten years as being too long a time period between, I realised that I haven’t had more than the three months off (when I had moved from Australia to the UK) in the eleven years that I have been working. So I decided to do it.

My family thought this was a grand idea. These are the parents that met in New Zealand when my Canadian mother was travelling the world and when I was the 13 (the eldest of four girls) sold their house in Grande Prairie (Northern Alberta, Canada), bought a motorhome, took us out of school and travelled around the US and Mexico for a year before moving back to New Zealand. Though my mother then proceeded to tell me about everyone she has ever know that has had a motorbike accident and ended up with pins in their legs etc etc (I think this may have been her form of reverse psychology).

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The Birth of an Idea

October 1st, 2005 by sunflowers

I saw an advert on gumtree website from a bloke who was looking for people to motorbike from Alaska to Argentina with him. I have long wanted to take six months off work and travel around South America but I have been extremely fortunate to work in a job where I have travelled a fair bit around Europe already. I am also allowed to take between one and four weeks of unpaid leave on top of my four weeks of paid leave so I have done a fair amount of travel in the last six years I have been in the UK. So I had become slightly bored of travelling, especially on my own.

But I replied just in case something happened even knowing that I didn’t really have the finances to do the trip in the middle of 2006. And even though a little bit of me has always wanted to be a motorbike chick, being hit four times on my scooter whilst at university had made me slightly scared of riding (it was never my fault btw). But being quite goal orientated and the alliteration of Alaska to Argentina did really appeal.

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