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Another disaster – another change

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No battleplan survives the first enemy contact.
No businessplan ever survived the first market rollout.
Very few dreams survive the harsh meeting with reality.

This post is about a dream and that meeting.

We spent 4 weeks in Spain (Sheesh, time flies) chasing down transport-agencies. 29 days sending emails, making long distance calls to shipping companies, agents and other helpy-helpers. How hard can it be to wring a straigt answer out of someone? Right?
Hard. Very very hard.

«Hello it’s me again. Have you heard anything form your Argentinian agent?»
«Ah, hello Sir, ehr no. But I am sure I will know something tomorrow»

«Hello again. You never called back yesterday like you promised. Any news?»
«Ehr hello Mr Bernstieen (really, my surname is that hard?) no, but we have this under control, you can count on me!»

«Hello, it’s Mr BERENTSEN again..»
«Aherhellosirsorrysirnonews»

This went on and on and on. Being pragmatic, I (justly so) feared the worst..

Why did this turn into a problem after the trip had started? Well, first of all the original trip was planned as a motorcycle journey. And so transport was arranged accordingly by a reputable shipping agency. We had solid reasurances that this was not a problem.

Then, as you may have read in the major changes to just about everything post, we had to change our plan from two BMW F800GS to a Mitsubishi Pajero Dakar. Still all good, route stayed the same and we imediatly got a written quote for container fare from Spain to Argentina.

«Just contact us four weeks before your expected departure». (…so we can do nothing…)

Time passed and we hit the road leaving Stavanger September 9th 2014. Blissfully we traveled on for about three weeks before we, acording to the agreement, contacted our shipping agent. The very same agent who claimed to be able to to deliver, but apparently did nothing exept murder the pronunciation for my surname.

By now I started feeling uneasy about the whole process, and contacted a few other shipping-agencies. As one, they all gave us a solid «Sorry, but no. We do not handle private shipments anywhere, least of all South America».

Now I was really worried, and, reached out to friends, friends of friends and just about anyone through facebook, email and textmessages asking for help and hints. This generated quite a few leads as to how we could proceed. One company then suggested using their company as the sending party on our behalf. That hopefully would eliminate the problem connected to us being a private party sending and recieving the car in Spain and Argentina. Further investigation proved this solution to be no good..

A Norwegian company  spent a lot of time getting specified customs papers, clarifying fees and unearthing any potential problems. One of these potential problems turned out to be disasterous:

Argentinian customs declared that in order to process the car we had to drive it back to Norway, to have the vehicle documents processed and verified by the Argentinian consulate in Oslo. A 7000 km roundtrip for a piece of paper, whose existence had never come up earlier…

In adition we had to expect «unexpected additional handling fees» (that trancelates into bribes, bogus-fees and broad-daylight-robbery-by-Clerc..)

Tempers started flaring a bit at Lostbiker.net mobile HQ.
Translated, I started loosing it a bit. Two imediate options came to mind:
1) Express my anger and start throwing stuff around, releasing the pent up angry gorilla that resides inside.
Or 2) internalize my frustration and think. That made me very quiet. And sad. And angry. And fun for no one.

The evening progressed and we had to face the very much unwanted truth:
Argentina, and all of south and central america, is a bust!

We now know that many others have had the same problem traveling by car, and the only realistic way is to enter Central-America via USA, and drive south. Problem is that our window of opportunity is within the next 10 months. Due to our USA- and Canada-plans it’s just not possible.

So what now?

Plans for USA and Canada are still standing firm. Shipping, handling and temporary import/export papers are in the works. However, the seasons and their inevitable change forces the issue, so our planned landfall in Florida, USA, is march 1st 2015.

That leaves us four months to do something fun with. Four months that where supposed to be spent in South and Central America learning spanish and avoiding malaria and monster-spiders. Yes, it just so happens we now have a small fortune worth of malaria-medication that will not se any use..

At the moment, we are back in Norway for a week to attend a funeral. This came on top of our other challenges, the same night even. But naturally, trip-related problems must take the backseat to more immediate family concerns.

Later this week, we will regroup, and start to figuring things out. On the wishlist is a week in the Spanish highlands, on dusty roads between tiny villages that may or may not have seen a car since Franco sat at the end of the table.

Next, a few days in Venice, Italy. It may be to late to propose to her in a gondola in the waterways of Venice (because we’re already married) but it sure would be romantic. Other places of interest is Athens (Greece) Istanbul (Turkey)

Lost adventures

I find myself grieving over lost adventures and shattered dreams. Childish perhaps. But feelings are what they are. It still is hard to wright about, and even harder if not impossible to actually talk about. I feel like the world throws me new hurdles. Just because I have the audacity.

To dream.

My somewhat non-square previous experiences has tought me time and time again; when you get beat to the ground, you don’t curl up to a ball and cower. It’s so easy to give in, to give up. But the angry, quiet gorilla inside won’t let me whimper, when I should roar. You roll with the impact, pick yourself up, and try again. Change the angle of attack. Change the plan.

So that is what we will do.

Learn. Grow. Dream.

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Open waters..

Transport is still an issue. These things take quite a bit more time than anyone (me) could forsee. Good thing is we have a lot of time available.. But idle-hands are up to no good, so we decided to complicate our days here a litte.

I kind of belong in the water, and the subject of scubadiving has come up earlier during the trip. The thought of learning how to dive properly, mastering my fear of being shark-bait, and not drowning where all imensly compelling reasons to forge ahead. Anyways, so we sat by the pool (yes, I know – not easy being me..) and the subject came up again. I imediately grabbed that idea and ran with it like a hungy Labrador making away with the family dinner. The key is to rush on with total abandon! What can possibly go wrong, right? Before Tonje really knew what happened, I had made an apointment for our first PADI Open Water class at the local scuba-center in Benalmádena, Spain.

Two days later we met up at the local dive center. We had a quick-ish briefing and dive-theory session, gathered all the gear, learned how to assemble and do a pre-check, before we packed the van and headed for a confined waters dive.

A confined waters dive is basically a pool-dive. I can understand why PADI chose to label it differently. This confined waters dive, or pool-dive as it where, would take place in a hotel-pool nearby. A hotel-pool full of screeching children, old pink tourists and leathery sun-worshippers. Imagine us two norwegians and the DiveMaster walkin up to the pool, getting into wetsuits and scuba-gear, doing a buddy-check and then waddeling into the shallow end. Trust me, there where a lot of conflicting feelings. Are we as Norwegians such pussies that they need wetsuits in a hotel-pool? Maybe they all think theres something wrong with the pool? Should I present myself as Sweedish if someone ask? It the water really supposed to be so very very cold? Why is the lifeguard playing Bob Marley on the stereo? 

A lot of information where conveyed at the surface. I learned that with the hood of the wetsuit on, you really can’t hear anything. So some of the information was lost. We prepared to decend (at about 1 meter 20 cm depth) I defalted my BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) and decended. Had I heard all the neccesary information, I probably would have replaced my snorkle with my regulator. The regulator is a breathing doo-daah that you shove into your mouth, that lets you breathe and therefore not drown.. If you try to breathe through the snorkle at any deapth that is not surface, you get a lot of water. In the seconds it took me to realize this and grab the regulator, I swallowed a good portion of the pool. Then followed a lot of wheesing and coughing in the regulator and trying to control my initial near panic: Your fine! Wheeeze. Your fine! Cough! Your not drowning.. Breathing under water in very counter-intuitive. It takes a while for your brain to accept the fact that though you are well submerged you can breathe and thus not drown. All the while we did a lot of training drills to prepare us for the open waters. And if I where cold,- Tonje had it worse: she where practically blue after 90 minutes of not drowning.

The next day, we had our first salt-water dives. Tonje where padded with extra layers of insulation. Due to the relatively cold tempratures in the ocean – a brisk 17 degrees C on the surface – Tonjes extra insulation layer had an extra insulation layer. We had to walk to the house-reef all kitted up. It’s about 300 meters to te shoreline where we could wade in. Being mindful of Tonjes back-condition, I carried my own kit on my back, and then hers in front. It’s a lot of weight. And let us not forget the 12 kilos in the weight belt around my hips. Or the fact that a wetsuit is supposed to keep you warm. A black wetsuit in the sun = sky-rocketing temprature inside the suit. The chill of the ocean was a blessing!

Visibility at the housereef was not the best. My logbook says 1 meter. I kept loosing the others all the time. However, the DiveMaster and Tonje managed not to loose anyone but me.. Later Tonje claims that I got lost trying to keep up with this or that little fish-thingy. She claims I acted like a hound with my nose to the ground following a hot trail, ears flapping. We agree to disagree on this. But safe to say, the fear of drowning as a result of breathing under water is gone.. My mask kept leaking and filling with water, prompting me to empty it every 5 minutes. Imagine emptying a mask of the water inside it, under water. It’s a tricky prospect of wich I am now something of an expert..

Third dive-day we got stuffed into the dive-mobile to travel up the coast to Nerja. The plan was to go down to 18 meters. Getting there, we kitted up and headed to the water.

divemobile

The Divemobile

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Happy campers on our way to our fourth and fifth dive.

divemobile equipment

These boxes in the back of the Divemobile; all that’s needed in order to help six people to not drown while breating 15 meters below the surface…

Liam the driver diver

Liam, our British-Spanish driver-diver. And sort of navigator.

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Dive site

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Divesite close to Nerja, Spain.

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Kitting up. Getting more familiar with it all

The last dive took us down to 15 meters. I wondered about my own reactions to this. Some people feel it’s claustrophobic or get stressed. Or so we where told. I just felt free. Diving may be one of the most liberating experiences I’ve had. Also, communication is clearly a lot more difficult under water,- and so they teach you some hand signals for the most basic needs. Tonje and I expanded that a little, and I am proud and amazed how an alread very good level of communication could expand and get even better. It may sound like a cliché (probably because it is), but we as a team grows stronger every time we challenge ourselfs, together.

When the fifth and last dive was over, I really just wanted to jump right back in. Tonje, with her multitude of layers looked me dead in the eyes and said “We are getting dry-suits!” shivering all the way.. Also, leaving the shoreline after the final dive, Tonje carried her own kit like it was nothing! It made me wonder about the real reason I carried all the gear the 4 previous dives.. 😉

post dive mod 1

Post dive. Clearly not drowned. And really eager to get back into it..

Before we could complete our course and take the exam, there where a lot of theory and informational DVDs to go through, Nothing spells excelent study conditions like Vino Tinto..

study time

Last night before the exam. Trying to cram the difference between all the fun acronyms like RDP, RNT, ABT etc..

As of wednesday this week, we are both PADI-certified for open water dives. Wohoo!

Cant wait to do it again..

Time is relative

The great Einstein proved that time is relative. To me this has always been a basic fact to be believed even if not understood. We all accept that 2+3 equals 5. Every time. And we accept that Einstein was right, probably because no one is clever enough to prove him wrong.

We spent so much time to prepare for the trip that was supposed to happen soon, some time next year, next quarter, next month, It never rally felt like it would be next week anytime. Or tomorrow, or maybe ETD (estimated time of departure) would be in 5 minutes..

The time of departure is always so far away that there are certain things that you just have to postpone, because there is always something that is very pressing in the immediate right now. Some near and present catastrophy that needs to be handled. And in the middle of all this, we realized 15 days prior to our prefered ETD that we never actually applied for our 6 month VISA for the USA. A very helpful friend was kind enough to inform us that once upon a time way back in the day he tried the same thing and it took somehthing like 90 days for the process to be completed. There where a surprising lack of faith and encouragement regarding the neccesary paperwork. And yet, this was a much easier process than expected. A total of 21 days from start to VISA arrival.

Then followed goodbye-happening after goodbye-happening over several days. Parents, close friends, siblings and others. Everyone waranted a proper hug and a drink or a cup of coffee. Yet with family situations and work and vacation in the mix, there where a few that could not make any of the numerous goodby settings. You’re all missed but not forgotten.
The last day we drank more coffee than any liver should be forced to endure. Feeling the love from all those that care, and those that we care for – was actually quite exhausting. Greatly appreciated ofcourse, but from an introverted thinkers point of view it took it all out of me. So much so that we never told anyone when the final date of departure was pushed yet one more day due to critical papers to be delivered by mail. It was the only way we could hope to finish packing for the next day..

There's just no way all this is going to be ready and in the car tomorroe morning..

There’s just no way all this is going to be ready and in the car tomorrow morning..

Luggage, like time, is relative..

Luggage, like time, is relative..

And then suddenly the big day was here.
We where finally in the car, leaving Stavanger, Norway, in the rearview and heading towards our great adventure. First to Stord for a proper change of tires and more sencible rims. Now our Pajero proudly sports TOYO AllTerrain tires on 16” rims. Hopefully this will get us where we want to go. The next level of upgrade will probably be some kind of tracked behemoth.

This will be a lot easier if the car actually had wheels.

This will be a lot easier if the car actually had wheels.

Ah.. Much better. All Terrain tires to take us all the way

Ah.. Much better. All Terrain tires to take us all the way

Then we headed towards Drammen where we had an appointment with a well profiled 4×4 outfitter that where supposed to help us out with a few corrections and equipment issues. Before we got halfway we called them just to confirm our appointment once again. What I got in return was a calrificationt that there where no appointment scheduled after all (despite my written email confiramtion 1 week prior), there where no parts available and that they could not give us a price for any parts before after we had ordered them. Safe to say we did not, and will never, deal with this particular company ever again.

In Oslo we spent 2 days with our good friends Marthe & Espen, sleeping in the best RUM-bar in Oslo, right next to the sugarcanebased greatness. Incidently this is also Marthe and Espens apartment.

Driving form Oslo, everyone, including the GPS, boldly stated that it would take five and a half hours from Oslo to Malmø. Knowing this we decided to spend 1 our for lunch at my Uncle Gustav and aunt Evas summer retreat in Sweeden. How foolish where we? Travel time in total: 10 hours and some change. Dear Einstein. It is now proven yet again that there is no connection, relative or othervise, between assumed travel time and real travel time.

Arriving in Malmø late at night, something that we really tried to avoid, we just colapsed on our beds. The next few days just flew by. Malmø, Hamburg, Beverungen (west of Göttingen), Munchen, Ruhpolding and now Salzburg. After our would-be 4×4 suplier fell through, we where suddenly in need of a new supplier in a part of Europe where most people find the thought of speaking english something between scary and offensive. So the kilometers flew by through Denmark and on the german Autobahn. Not wanting to kill our newly aquired car I always let the engine warm properly up, and never pressed it past 120 km/h. Diesel engiene with a turbo made for proper offroad use gave me a choice between fast and short, or all the way and slow. I chose the latter. But offcource that made the Autobahn quite different from my earlier motorcycle trips in Germany. Being passed by cars doing well in excess of 250 kmph made me want to go out and push… Days of traveling between hotels on high speed highways makes you loose sence of anything but the next turn, trying not to get sanwiched and squashed between fast-movers and heavy-haulers.

Bridge from Sweeden to Denmark. Sweeden had a pretty good day.

Bridge from Sweeden to Denmark. Sweeden had a pretty good day.

Denmark, not so much. 4 Hours of heavy rain. It's like we never left home..

Denmark, not so much. 4 Hours of heavy rain. It’s like we never left home..

Denmark / German border

Northern germany, on our way to Hamburg

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German country side close to Hamburg. Looking for a place to sleep.

Hotel ion the outskirts of Hamburg. "The Shining" all over again. We stayed for Wifi and coffee, than ran for our lifes

Hotel on the outskirts of Hamburg. “The Shining” all over again. We stayed for Wifi and coffee, than ran for our lifes

Yesterday and today we got all day and night in Salzburg. Being tourists. Thursday night we found this fantastic little restaurant that could seat 16 people, where the kitchen was part of the main room and all the food is prepared by the cook just a fef meters from our table. What a wonderful and surprising experience. We’ll be sure to revisit in the years to come.

Salzburg. Very nice, and quite pricy

Salzburg. Very nice, and quite pricy

Our new favourite restaurant. What a treat!

Our new favourite restaurant. What a treat!

Salzburg by night

Salzburg by night

Friday morning we have an appointment with Taubenreuther, a 4×4 supplier in Anthering, Austria. Then after that the new Gordigear roof tent will be mounted on the car, and we’ll head for the hills. Litteraly. We’ll take the long way to Italy over the alps. Life is good. Our collective puls and sence of urgency is coming down. Any day now Tonje, my wife and copilot, will realize that we are actually on our way and have very close to 12 months worth of adventure ahead of us..

Chaos, ducks and loose ends.

So many loose ends.

There are just too many of them.  So many conciderations to make. Plans to change, and the impact of those changes to concider.

I complained to my lovely wife about all the chaos (in my head, mostly), and how it kinda kills my creativity. “I want to wright” I told her. “But I can’t. There’s too much low-flying debree in my mind. Too much chaos..”. I was complaining over not being in total control of the rapid change of our project. I didn’t explain that, but the pretty girl with the maching ring gets me.

She sipped a little white wine, looked out over the waves and gives me the simplest, most inspiering advise I’ve had in a long time.

“Wright about that” she says.
“Huh” (mentally I had just bobbed-and-weaved out of the way of a train of thoughts whose intentions where to clarify imminent failiure)
“Chaos” she says.

Kapow…

We spent the last week together at Crete, enjoying the beach and very hot days and nights. We have both worked so hard, so many hours the last couple of years. We’ve been preparing for our 13 month trip, and our wedding, and in order to make it we just had to put our collective shoulders to it and heaved-to for what seems like a very long time. We (I) where (was) bone tired and in need of a break. When Tonje came back from her final backspecialist with a final diagnose (check out the post “Major changes to pretty much everything” for more details) she needed to do some “because screw it” shopping, and so she informed me that we where going to Crete. (Airfare plus hotel for two was cheaper than the last 25 minute back-specialist consultation, so screw it!) (also bonus points for Tonje who bought us a short vacation, rather than new shoes and a dress and what not..)

So, there we where. I was sitting on the beach,  next to my love, focusing so hard on all the things I had to think about that I forgot to actually think. I spent so much time worrying about every little detail that I  forgot to breathe, enjoy the view and just spend time with my wife, just being us. I lost track of all the little things, like the local beach salesman announcing “ffRRRREESH FRUITT!” WATTTERMELLONPLEASE!?”. Or the wonderful dinners we enjoyed after the sun had set and the temperature came close to 28 degreed C and the Norwegians had stopped melting.

I spend so much time trying to cover all the bases. Getting all my ducks in a row. Selling the bikes. Finding and buying a new car (everything now points towards a Pajero), packing down all our stuff into two piles; one pile for the trip, and one pile for storage. Renting out our apartment. Getting a USA 6 month tourist visa. Research. So much research. And so I worry. Tonje tells me not to worry but I do. She tells me it’s all going to work out, and I kinda know she is right, but yet I worry. All the chaos and all the loose ends paint a mental map explaining all the ways it’ll not work out, why we won’t make the deadlines, why I should just quit while I’m, if not ahead,- then at least not too far behind. I’ve always been a light sleeper, and if my ducks are especially unruly and just won’t get in a row, then I tend to wake up at night, head full of lowflying debree, chaos and loose ends. If I do wake up without waking the wife, I always scramble (quietly) for my trusty Kindle and read about something so far away from reality that it drowns out the background noise, the chaos. If me waking stirrs the wife, she talks me down, tucks me inn and I drift off again. And that’s pretty neat too.

Working as a Coach, I profess that “Never complain about what you can’t change; Instead either change yourself, change you goal, or accept the new reality and move on”.

It is also a well known fact that it is often easier to give advice to others, than to follow them yourself.

I truly don’t oppose change. I find it exciting. But just like with a rollercoster ride,- it’s great afterwards! However while underway, racing down a barrelloop while your mind is screaming about the near certainty that it’s all coming off the rails and the day is going to end badly,- then it’s not so much fun at all. You know for a fact that at the other end of the barrelroll going off the rails,- there will be ducks scattered everywhere, and not a single one alligned up to anyhting else. Loose ends,- or ducks. Chaos.  But then, once you are out of the barrelroll-of-doom and most of your ducks are aligned (not all ’cause that will never happen), then it’s all kicks and giggles.

…Kapow

I breathe through my nose, smelling the salt and the sea and the sun, Tonje, my love and companion, made friends with Tony, the local beach restaurant wachdog, and did so with such ease that my ducks got confused and forgot to scatter about in a chaotic manner.

Tonje and Tony

Tonje and Tony

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Ahhh. The nice peace and quiet after the ducks have gone home to sleep…

That night we took the bus with the locals into Platanyas, for dinner and drinks. Oh how it seemed like a good idea to get fruity umbrella-style drinks. It’s not. Ever.

Umbrella-style drinks. Sounds like a good idea, but it's not.

Umbrella-style drinks. Sounds like a good idea, but it’s not.

We finally settled on a nice corner restaurant, enjoying a little red and a little white, watching people shuffle by and marveling at the Crete driving culture. Or lack there of.

A little red and a little white

A little red and a little white

2 BMW F800GS for sale..!

As promised, our F800GS where put up for sale through Finn.no today.

Click here for the ad.

It’s kinda sad to let them go, but a 13 month 4×4 adventure will be fantastic and awsome either way 🙂

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Major changes to pretty much everything…

The last month, and the last 2 weeks in particular have been taxing. My wife Tonje and I have been planning to  go on our 13 month adventure for about 18 months. An adventure riding around the world on two motorcycles. All the planning and all the gear was in place. Tonje took her license in october 2013, we bought two BMW F800GS, planned, prepared, researched, rince and repeat.. Departure where set to end of july 2014 at the latest. Click on this link for more information on our route and timelines..

DISASTER NUMBER ONE
Then in April 2014, around easter, Tonje fell of a horse-horse and busted her ankle. And people think riding a iron horse is dangerous? Right..
Let me also use this opportunity to mention that Tonje has extencive horse-horse riding experience. She was one of those girls that spent more time in the stables grooming and riding horses than she spent time at home, and that includes sleep-time. Or so I’m told.
Due to our adventure she introduced me to riding horse-horses so that we could expand our adventure in Argentina, Texas and other places. Also, I intoduced her to iron-horse riding, and she unflinchingly joined my adventure dream, so there where not really any way I could decline to at least try out horse-horse riding.
Did I mention that it turned out that I’m a Natural? And yet the pro (Tonje) fell off her horse. Jeesh..

Emergency Room, busted ankle

Emergency Room, busted ankle

BigFoot

BigFoot

At the emergency room it was determined that she had completely torn off 4 out of 5 ligaments in her right ankle, and rupturing the 5th along the length of the ligament. Also, she completely tore up her pants on the inseam form knee to knee. This made for a few awkward moments while I carried her in to the ER. The stuff you worry most about may very well not really matter in the long run…

The busted ankle in it self was no showstopper,- but it put us back a bit regarding training and preparations.

 

DISASTER NUMBER TWO

Tonje has a history with back-problems, spesifically spinal disc herniation. She had surgery for this 2007. The last six months Tonje has experienced increased back pain, and we both suspected a new spinal disc herniation. We have spent the last two months chasing doctors, MRI’s, specialists in Stavanger and Bergen and we even came as far as booking a new round of surgey. Due to this the departure date was pushed one month to septemer 1st 2014. Two weeks prior to the scheduled surgery, a new specialist apointment provided us with a new diagnose; MODIC CHANGES TYPE 1.

This is actually many micro fractures in two opposing vertebraes, that causes inflamation and quite a bit of pain. Some movements and angles has proved so painful that Tonje has had a few blackouts. The biggest problem is that there is no cure as of today. There is an experimentational treatment in Denmark based on large amounts of strong antibiotics over a 90 day period combined with laser-treatment, but its a coin-toss. It was clear to me that this is not a safe foundation for riding a motorcycle for 13 months over difficult terrain…

 

THE NEW PLAN

Dwight D. Eisenhower said: “Plans are nothing, planning is everything”.

I pressed this to heart and decided to suggest a big change in our plan. I still wanted to go on our adventure, but we had to do some serious re-thinking.
Irony has it so that I was worried about her safety and security, and she on the other hand was worried about ruining the trip. She is a fighter no doubt, but I had to draw the line in the sand. First I suggested, then I insisted, and finally I had to make the call for the both of us. The trip will happen, but instead of 2+2 wheels, we needed to go on 4×4.

Then followed two intense days of talks, discussing alternatives and hashing up a new plan.

The two BMW F800GS that I spent 12 months modifying and preparing will be sold ASAP. Click here for the sales ad. Instead we will purchase a Land Rover Defender some time within the next two weeks.

If any car can do the trip we have planned, that should be it. We’ll buy a used Defender, preferably with green plates (2 seater) and then kit it properly in Germany, on the road.

I am still super stoked, and we’re both looking forward to seeing Europe and all of Americas from Ushuaia in South Chile, to Inuvik in Northern Canada. It’s still going to be a marvelous adventure, 13 months on the road (or off the road) with my love. Tonje is having some trouble hiding her delight over a somewhat increased luggage-space. I know she’ll bring more shoes and summer dresses, because after all she`s a woman. And I know there is just no way I can stop her.

On the other hand there will be a lot more room for tools, so I’m not complaining 🙂

We will still atempt to make the planned departure date september 1st 2014.

 

That being said; they say that God gives you no more challenges in you life than you can handle. Apparently God thinks I’m a Bad Ass.

Marriage – how very unexpected..

Early on after I started this blog, I wrote a small piece called «Going it alone, og going with you?»

I stated some prerequisites for going:

  1. Motorcycle license, valid internationally.
  2. ur own MC capable of going offroad, as there will be something of a road-shortage where I / we are going
  3. Completely self sufficient in terms of equipment and funds. Motorcycle riding is all about freedom to go your own way.
  4. Necessary training: first aid, some mechanical skills, MC-offroad skills.

Granted, I was thinking about a possible riding companion for parts or maybe even the entire trip. At that point, however, I really didn’t imagine that I would find a riding companion. I also didn’t imagine that I would be married before I left on this trip. I firmly held onto the plan of not getting involved with anyone before the big trip. And yet it was not to be avoided. About 4 months after we first met, both working as bouncers at a local nightclub, we ended up on a date. I still believe that neither of us realized that this was a date before it was over.

We’ve be inseparable ever since.

Four and a half months after that unexpected date, I stammered out a garbled proposal, greatly helped by body language and the very indicative one knee on the concrete. Tonje said yes, and suddenly we where planning a trip, AND a wedding. Nice. I do well when I get stressed over details…

Anyone who have done this know that preparations for a wedding is a grueling trial. Earlier I’ve mentioned that lesson learned from others (Scott and Julie),- tasks need to be separated into blue jobs, and pink jobs. Planning and preparing for a wedding is a typical pink-job, while planning and preparing for our 13 month trip is a typical blue-job…

Tonje kept her cool, enough cool for both of us. she kept us on track and kept me from freaking out  over all the little details.. (thanx baby).

On the big day, as the bride-to-be went to the hairdresser for a multi-hour appointment to do hair and what not in order to get ready for the wedding, I enjoyed some alone-time in the garage, mounting the bash-plate to her ride. The garage is one of very few places where I find my ZEN, and once this was done, my only problem was to scrub down in time to suit up and walk to church.. Believe when I tell you the stress-level rose somewhat when I couldn’t find the oil-removal-soap..

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THE major milestone in my life. Saturday june 14th, the LostBiker got married to HotStuff, aka Tonje Strand, now Tonje Berentsen.

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The ceremony was perfect,- I can hardly remember any of it. I just felt I did a pretty good job not gawking slack-jawed at this beauty walking up the isle.

The pride and joy that I felt, and feel, that this fierce beauty is my wife, is difficult to accurately describe. All I know is that together, as a team, we can do, can accomplish, anything.

 

She stole my heart, and took my name, and together we will embark on this great adventure that is life.

 

Together we will ride to old and new places.

 

Together

 

I love you, baby

 

 

Just a little ride

The last few days have been great for riding. Even though I’ve enjoyed riding my F800GS most of this wet windy miserable winter, Tonje has had waay less practice. So now that opportunity called we ponced on it.

Yesterdays ride was Tonjes 2nd ride of 2014.  Concidering that it’s only 146 days till we leave on our adventure, we’ll have to use every chance we get.

Great and fun ride with my girl, even though it was a bit nippy. Clear skies and 5 Celcius (41 Farenheig) is about as cold as I will endure on the bike.

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End of shakedown – lessons learned

Alright. So after the thing with the horse-horse vs the iron-horse, we went to my dad & stepmoms cabin in Ålo, near Mandal. The shakedown was coming to an end and we just needed a short pitstop on our way home. At the cabin we got to meet Scott and Julie, a couple that became friends with my dad and Vigdis as they all crossed the Atlantic last november in the ARC regatta. Great people and full of adventure traveling experiences. Amongst the advices where “blue” and “pink” jobs,- a kinda pre-trip agreed work distribution.

The next day we headed towards Bersagel, and got trapped in the most ridiculous rain storm, spiced with wind and a LOT of thunder and lightening. A few things  where learned about our Touratech Companero suits: they are GREAT. The amount of water that came down would have soked through any other suit I’ve tried. 3 hours of this with no adittional protection and we still where nice and dry. HotStuff used the expression “it’s so nice and cosy in here” about the Companero suit in that horrible weather. Very happy about it.

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We also got to test the “blue job / pink job” principle, when we on our way to Bersagel stopped at Ålgård for groceries in another epic rushour extravaganza. (it’s the time of the year when everyone looses their minds and run to the hils to participate in the anual “gather the sheep event”. The following video represents my feelings on this subject..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlYlNF30bVg

As we tried to weave our way through this trial-armageddon Tonje decided to park her bike, horisontally, in the middle of the road. Then, with the attitude that clearly signaled “what the hell are you looking at?!?” she just walked off towards the store. Via our scala helmet intercom she curtly told me: “YOU. DEAL. WITH. THIS!”

So, this is a “blue job”.

Later that night, Tonje poured beer and helped my soon to be mother-in-law to cook dinner. This is a “pink job”, apparently.
I’ll get the hang of it. I’m sure. Not to worry. Do I seem worried?

Saturday came along as day 16 of our shakedown, and we returned home. Our giant apartment where turned into a place of wet tents, tarps, sleepingbags and riding gear..

So much fabric. so little space. Spent 30 minutes looking for my bed

So much fabric. so little space. Spent 30 minutes looking for my bed

A technical control of our rides showed 1 dented panier (Tonjes left side), the heel protector on my bike, left side, broke off. New part has already ordered, both for me and Tonje.

This is what the heat Shield looks like now..

This is what the heat Shield looks like now..

This is what the heat shield should look like...

This is what the heat shield should look like…

Also, one of the bolts that held my crashbars on the bike where just gone. The same bolt on Tonjes bike where a little loose, so I took that to a specialist, “Skrue Gården”, and got the right one to mach. Then ad som threadlock and we’re golden.

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Finally, we discovered that we brought a few very heavy items. Like the Security chain that weighs more that all the tools I brought and where never used. And the tools, that where used, and is just what is needed, but WAY to heavy. Gotta find a way this winter to cut that weight without loosing the tools. The termos that holds 1 liter, will be replaced with one half the size. And finally our sleeping mats will be severely upgraded.

But all in all the shakedown was a success.

 

Now focus is shifting a bit and we both dive into wedding planning. 😉

 

Day 5 – Back country Telemark. And gravel-surprise!

Wow! What a day!

Today we again packed everything (it’s a LOT) and left the company of good friends. (We needed to get new earplugs for Tonje and went to Alna senter for the Clas Ohlson there.  This was the only item we forgot at Alna 😉  )

We had a vague plan of going to Bø, Telemark today but didn’t want to drive on the major roads more than we had to and so zipped to Drammen first and then plotted a proper scenic route.

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This way I got real familiar with the GPS, a Garmin Zumo 660. We agreed on and I plotted a route that would take us the long way from Drammen to Notodden and then on to Bø, Telemark. We avoided all major roads and almost drained the Scala Rider intercom system due to HotStuff happily chirping along the lines “I LOVE THIS PLACE”,- THIS IS AWESOME”,- and other indicators that she was enjoying herself 🙂

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Once we rolled into Notodden, the GPS battery died. So the time had finally come to figure out how to hook up the GPS to the CanBus. Woho! Tool-time!

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While I played mechanic, Tonje, the Extremely Lost Biker, took care of grocery shopping and made sure we had proper dinner, breakfast and lunch.

Rolling out again, bad roads became worse and at some point HotStuff thought her ride was broken. Turns out Telemark still has a long way to go regarding road-maintenance.          This became even more obvious when the poor tarmack became a 9-10 km of loose gravel. There was a bit of cursing and  borderline panic, but it all soon passed. In May 2013 I went on a 2 day gravel/offroad course by Touratech Nordic Offroad School. This came very handy and was passed on as we rode to Tonje. Soon she was riding standing up on the steep curvy gravel roads and chirping happily away.

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I was, and still am, so proud I have a hard time containing my self 🙂

Especially since she don’t have a license yet, and riding standing up on gravel is very counter intuitive. Yet once you’ve done it there is no going back.

Later we found a quiet camping site, had our first camping night together with all the bells and wistles.

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Last thing in the agenda was attemping to fit the panier locks on one of 8 clasps. Success, but a bit of work.

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Today, day 6, I blog while charging my cell and the intercoms with a solar panel. Good times!

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Our chosen picture of the day 🙂

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Day 13 – Swapping the Iron-Horse for a Horse-Horse

Day 12 came around and we left Kragerø and headed towards a campsite near Arendal, right on the riverfront at Nidelven. Very nice, and very vacant due to september being out of season.

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First night was very cold, and HotStuff and I had to break out a lot of wool to keep warm. The morning greeted us with a lot of morning dew, and some condensation between the tents standard bathtub-groundsheet and the extra one we brought to avoid condensation on the standard ground sheet… ugh.. Some adjustnemt was made to the tightness of the tent, the number of tentpegs, etc. We also discovered that the place we decided to pitch our tent was the only one where the sun would not shine until after 11 am. Inconvenient that.

Day 13 morning, and due to the brilliant tent-placement we decided to have breakfast by the riverside.

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As I enjoyed my morning coffee Tonje made a few phonecalls and before I knew what had happened “we” had decided to go to a a rather large local stable where we could rent horses. HotStuff has spent her youth around horses, so second nature to her. Me,- not so much. My only previous experience was 30 years ago, 30 minutes on an old mare who knew the way and kinda just took me along.

Yet, how could I say no? HotStuff said yes to the world-trip, then to my proposal. So.. horsies here we come..

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HotStuff getting my horse-monster..

The endeavour was started by grooming and befrending the horse-beast. I’d like to think that equal distrust turned into mutual lack of unease. I imagine the horse-beast thought “oh great, another noob!”

But as they say; who dares wins!

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I'm here for your 12:30 grooming. No need to be alarmed..

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Lift. Foot. Higher..

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Woho. Cooperation..

Next HotStuff swung into her saddle, and I crawled into mine. We got underway into the gravely trails and I tried to figure out how to control this horse-beast.

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Where are the controls? Handlebars?

Tonje gave me a crashcource in how to hold the reins, how to sit, how to start, how to stop, backing up, right and left turns, rythm, and how to park it (the horse horse).

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HotStuff comes back to collect me and the beast

I had to readjust from riding an enduro bike, and Iron-Horse to a Horse-Horse. Really a lot more fun then I expected 🙂

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River-crossing pro

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River-crossing intermediate

Turns out that riding a Horse-Horse is a lot about cooperation, while riding an Iron-Horse is just physics.

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Boy got skillz, now at least

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Horse-Horse vs Iron-Horse

We had a great time, so much that I’d easily do it again.
Next year we’ll be in Mongolia in July. Major horse-country. Should get another chance there 🙂

And I’m sure we’ll get an extended similar vacation in the future. Vague plans are already on the drawing board.. 🙂

Day 10 & 11 – Farm life

Day 10 HotStuff and I saddled our trusty iron horses and rode towards Sigdal, to my godfathers farm. We took the scenic route once again. A bit more scenic than planned,- as I couldn’t find the adress, but still found it on google maps. Less yay where the accuracy of google maps gps coordinates… So we took the long road less traveled by anyone who knows what they’re doing..

Even through its been 15 years or more I kinda found the way. Ay least we could see where we where supposed to be,- kinda over there.. In order to get to the right place we had to make a u-turn on top of a hill on a real narrow piece of tarmac. Just to let me practice picking up a fully loaded bike, Tonje gently put hers down on the paniers and crashbars. Test was a great success! Thanx honey 😉

We spent the evening catching up with Knut & Karin, and I got to introduce my fiance. Then the cityslickers got a tour of the farm. Very beautiful farmhouses, impressive animals, and machinery (of wich I ofcource only managed to get a picture of the smales tractor on the lot… )

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Great licenceplate on a farm 🙂

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"Can I keep him?"

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Day 11 we again saddled up after a great breakfast, and said our goodbyes and headed towards Skien.

After about 4 minutes we stopped to get a final look at the beautiful countryside 🙂 This is yet again a place where Tonje was chirping exitedly “I wanna move here. Can we move here? I wanna live RIGHT HERE! … ”

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The road, weather and traffic was great. We even had a record length of 360.1 km on a full tank, and could probably squeeze out 10-15 km more on the fumes. That gives an average of 0,248 liters per 10 km on this tank alone. Good to know that 🙂

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Skien was not a great success.. Warm, stuffy, hilly, and when we decided to head out of town towards our planned camping site we waded straight into rushour traffic.  Again!
Our ability to find rushour in just about any city is quite spectacular.. Once we found the site, it seemed tiny, flimsy and almost on the road, so we kept going to Kragerø.

Now we’re set up quite snuggly, and tomorrow we invade Jomfruland, a nice little Island close by. We plan to spend 1-2 nights there, but who knows..

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Again with the solar panels...

A special thanx to Onkel Knut & Tante Karin for taking us in, feeding us and in general making us feel very very welcome.
(P.S. Tonje wants to move to Kolsrud.. )

Day 7 – Welding awsomeness Hamar

HotStuf aka Tonje aka the Extremely Lost Biker had her ride lowered at Touratech in Lidkøping a few days ago. Day 6 made it clear that her sidestand was waay to long after the lowering of the suspension. At a gas station in Notodden on our RnR day her ride tipped into the pump due to the awkward angel of the bike. The panier took a bit of a beating, but it was obvious that an adjustment was needed. We rolled back into camp and I started researching our possibilities.

Meanwhile the camping life was further enjoyed 🙂

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The wonders of solar power! Great investmet!

Day 7, thursday, we got in touch with a very accomodating guy at MC Huset Nydalen in Hamar.  He explaned that the sidestand needed to be cut and welded, had the knowhow and experience and could squeeze us in the next morning! Great! So we broke camp, spent some time balancing HotStuff’s paniers (did NOT want a repeat of day 3 where she wanted to sell the bike, and me, and quit the project….), plotted another scenic route to Hamar via just about every back road I could find, and rode off.. Resting at closed down diners, crossing airstrips (!) and just cruising thought a great and varied landscape 🙂

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Bear in mind that Tonje still don’t have her licence. The roads less traveled that we chose give us constant challenges with regards to road quality. At least gravel roads are unasuming with regards to quality and maintenance.
At one point we crossed under a railway and the tunnel was so narrow that we barely made it thought. Also, the tarmack was so worne that it looked and felt like driving in paralell bathtubs (don’t ask me how I know 😉  )

It’s at these places that I realize the enormouz skill increase in HotStuff’s riding abilities. I know many who would struggle a lot more here! Very proud and impressed! I no longer worry about, and plan, both my and her riding style, speed, chosen line etc. I’m just enjoying the ride. Life is great 🙂

Day 8, just before 9am we rolled into the parkinglot outside MC Huset, Nydalen.  The mechanic gave a very reassuring 60sec talk through of the job and how they wanted to solve it.

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We just relaxed, kicked back and abused the offer of free coffee and wifi.

90 minutes later the bike was ready! Perfect!

Before :

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After:

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After, 4 cm shorter

The man with the skills! Thanx! :

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Thanx to all the people at MC Huset Nydalen. Great work, great service, very accomodating and very friendly.

Before we rolled out we spent a little time talking to other bikers at the lot. Tonje was introduced to the upside of meeting other bikers on the road. All is friendly and easy to talk to 😉

We even got our picture taken by a professional photographer from NRK; Bjørn Anders Sørli. Thanx for the picture and the chat 🙂

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The rest of the day was spent riding back to Oslo, again checking into Hotel Marte&Espen for the weekend.

Life is good. Ride on.

Day 4 – Lidkøping – Touratech

So day 2 was largely spent catching and later eating crabs at the cabin, and the rest was spent in the pool. 🙂

Day 3 was a long ride from the cabin to Marthe and Espen in Oslo. Waaay later then planned (sorry to our gracious hosts). We where batteling high winds, long rig road trains, poorly balanced packing on the Tonjes bike (my bad) and and wrongly adjusted rear suspension same bike (again, my bad)..
Tonje was NOT impressed and wanted to sell the bike, and me, at some point. After proper adjustment however all was a little better. I think she’ll keep the bike (and quite possibly me aswell)

Today, day 4, we left my bike snuggly at M&E’s garage and both got on Tonjes bike riding to Lidkøping to get Tonjes bike lowered. (Hope it’ll be a little higher than your standard gocart.. )

Due to great weather yesterday we packed and dressed for the same weather today. Yes its warm now, but we almost froze to death with temperatures around 10 deg C the first hour. But great roads, no traffic and a rising temperature turned it into a great ride! Tonje is happy and yet again purrs.

We also picked up all the little pieces that didn’t make it on the first Touratech shipment. Most importantly my new Companero jacket. Very exited for the road home.

A special thanx to the guys at Touratech Nordic for hooking us up with great prices and service on what is the majority of our equipment 🙂

While waiting for the mechanic to finish (a little later than planned,- therefore we again will arrive a little later than planned at M&E’s…) – we enjoyed Lidkøping the touristy way, and got our first panier-stikkers. Yay!

Seeing the housing prices here I seriously wanna move. Just gotta find a job here. After the world tour,- ofcourse. …

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And, because the GPS is mounted on my bike, I chose all the extra and special and wrong little streets gettibg home. But finally here! 🙂

Day 1 – Shakedown

So day one of the shakedown has been completed.

Me on my bike and the future Mrs Berentsen, aka HotStuff, aka the Extremely Lost Biker,- on hers.
Yes it is true that she dont have a license.
No, it’s not a problem. Turns out that we can practice on separate bikes as long as both have a huge L on our backs 😉

First leg was from Stavanger to my dads cabin at Ålo close to Kristiansand.
Halfway there we stopped for a coffee and to strech our backs a little.
Before we got underway again local partygoers where stumbling by. It turnes out that one nice lady had a unplanned encounter with the ground and needed some firstaid and a proper bandaid. See pictures further down

Last strech was done in the dark, with food, beer and good company waiting at the cabin 🙂

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New rider – the extremely lost biker…

16th August 2012 i wrote a post on the merits on going alone versus going with someone. It was pretty early in the planning stage of this oh so great adventure. For new readers and those with shoddy memory, please check out the original post => http://lostbiker.net/2012/08/16/going-it-alone-or-going-with-you/

Last october I started working as a doorman. Being single and sick and tired of the hassels of my grown-up job, I happily traded daytime for nighttime and assumed the position (and posture) of a Gorilla.

I read alot of other peoples experiences regarding such and similar adventures, and the advice was: “Tell everyone or it will never happen!” So that’s what I did.  I would tell everyone I met about the big plan. I would talk to colleagues and friends and family until their ears where red and warm..

One of my colleagues became a good friend, untill suddenly one day in february she was more. A lot more. I had blabbered on about how I was going on the trip of a lifetime and that it was the perfect time to do it, me being single and liking my solitude and yada yada.

So much for the Perfect plan, huh? Well I tried to hold on to both the dream and the girl. But oh the pain! 15 months on the road alone, just aking to be home? Damn it, it’s exactly what I didn’t want!

The dame started floating the possibility of visiting here and there on my trip around the world, and I clung to it.  Then when time came for me to get my new ride, she got on board and bought a twin ride for herself. Only problem is she didn’t have a license yet. Still don’t but we’re working on that.

Summer comes around and this fantastic girl decides to join me on the trip. It’s clear that she has no idea what she’s getting her into. None. Whatsoever.

Imagine the guts. To boldly go where no, or very few, sane people have gone before. For fun. Bacause it’s there.

What can I say? What a keeper. And keep her I will. I took a knee, and babbled out a proposal. Some of the neighbours thought I stumbeled, but swear that’s not at all what happened!

What did happen though is that she said yes! Holy crap! 😀

So together we plan a marrige, and keep planning the trip. Now it’s going to be a 14 month honeymoon 😉

The blog is called LostBiker based on my proven lack of navigationskills on a MC ride to Denmark (I ended up in Italy..). But if I have a nickname, so should she, right? Well, she picked “the Extremely Lost Biker”.

However, the ScalaRider on her helmet calls her “HotStuff” everytime she turns it on. I like that nickname much better…

On the blog-post I referred to at the very top, I listed a few things that that neede to be in place.

  1. Motorcycle licence, valid internationally. => well clearly this is not up to speed. But we’re working on it. 😉
  2. Your own MC capable of going off road, as there will be something of a road-shortage where I´m / we´re going. => Check 🙂
  3. Be completely self-sufficient in terms of equipment and funds. Motorcycle riding is all about freedom, and that also entail the freedom to go your own way. => Check, but I’m not letting the extremely lost biker aka HotStuff out of my sight..
  4. Necessary training (before departure at least); first aid, some mechanical skills, MC-offroad skills. => Well her mechanical skills are not so great (although rumor has it she changed the front breaks on her first car all by her lonesome), but she brings other skills to the table. It’ll work out GREAT! 🙂
The LostBike & HotStuff

The LostBike & HotStuff

What´s with all the links..?

You´ve got to understand that this blog serves three purposes at this stage:

1) It´s my diary in this process of planning and preparation

2) It´s my medium for talking on and on and on about the thing I´m really interested in , the big trip!

3) It´s my planning tool. And as a planning tool I use it to store all of the information that I find at least semi-important to the project. So all the links are for me in order to get equipment, documents or training that I need for the trip. They are also for you, if you are planning anything similar.

Go nuts! Klick `em all! They are there for a reason 😉

Christer
Lost Biker