One of the nicest things about being on the road is meeting people. Here is a collection of some of the questions we get asked the most or which we spend the most time explaining to our new found friends:
(The questions are not in any particular order.)
24) Have you taken part in the Paris Dakar?
No! This is something that I was asked a lot in Brazil, I have to explain that the Paris Dakar emblem on the bike is the model of the bike, and not a sign of having particiapted in the rally.
23) Where are you from?
This is such an obvious question that it had slipped my mind until someone asked me if anyone ever asked that (somebody actually read this faq). Yes, we are always asked this. The answer is Switzerland!
22) Why are your Journal entries so long.
Are you complaining?
21) No really why does it take so long.
Because we are really lazy, and if we find an excuse to do something else we will usually take it, for example laundry, clean the bike (just kidding, that is something we rarely do), a moonlight walk on the beach, hiking up a mountain, take your pick. Our web site always seem to come last. But we ARE working on it, you know, collecting info, making pictures etc.
20) Why does it take so long to update your web pages?
Because we are lazy!
19) Have you ever had an accident?
Yes, and no, if we are talking about hitting something or being hit, and not just falling down, then yes and no. In Cecilia's case she was the passenger on the bike, and got off without a scratch (the driver had a broken leg). I have fell once in a turn doing nearly 15miles! an hour, so it wasn't exactly a big deal. Otherwise until now we have been lucky (careful). Lets hope our luck holds out.
- In France, Cecilia went off the road and the bike hit a tree, which necessitated, new forks, handlebar, rear-view mirror and a few other parts. She wasn't hurt so no big deal.
- In Pakistan, Cecilia lost control of the bike when a truck came around a corner on the wrong side, and consequently broadsided the truck. Again pretty much the same repair as previously. Forks, handlebar, triple-tree, and some miscellaneous parts. She wasn't hurt (other than her pride), so no big problem. We were able to temporarily fix most things in Islamabad, and in Goa we then replaced the parts required.
18) How long have you been riding?
Cecilia, since 1985 so 21 years, and I since 1972 so 34 years so far.
17) Have you had any problems with the bikes (troubles, breakdowns)?
Yes, although this is always a relative question. The "major" problems have been the drive train (drive shaft, final drive), starters, and some electrical issues (cable harness fire). Even these issue were no problem, as we had the time and the means to fix them.
As an example, on the 5th of March, 2006, Cecilia's bike wouldn't start after riding from Marrakech to Rabat. So I pushed it to the camping spot, put up the tent and had a look. The battery wasn't turning over the engine, so I kicked started it. The bike ran fine, but the voltmeter was telling me that the system was generating 16-17volts, maximum should be around 13.8/14.2v!! So I changed the regulator which is the normal solution for this, no joy. There was still too much power going through the system, so I changed the diode board, that solved the problem. Now the system had the correct voltage, but of course the battery was "toast". It held no charge, measuring the battery showed 12.4v which is normal, but as soon as there was a load on it, it dropped to 3v!! So the race was on to find a battery (it was Saturday evening 18:30). I went into Rabat just before it started to rain, found an open scooter/bike shop and asked for the "largest" battery they had. Wonder of wonders, they showed up with a 12v 30amp battery which fit in the bike perfectly. Problem solved. This could have been a major problem, but only because we were booked on a ferry 300km away in Tangiers on Monday morning.
Many people are under the misconception that "problems" regulate our travels, after all something as simple as a flat can be very serious if not prepared for it, but with the right attitude these "problems" become "challenges", and in our case we have some experience with what can go wrong, and therefore have the requisite spare parts etc. In the worst case we sit tight somewhere until the parts or solution can be found or sent for. No Problem!
16) How old are the bikes / how many km do they have?
The bikes are 1989 models that makes them 17 years old, and they currently (March 2006) have 270,000km (Strider), 245,000km (Stybba)
15) How much fuel do they use?
They bikes are averaging around 5.8 liters/100km (Strider) and 6.4 liters/100km (Stybba). For some reason, Cecilia's bike is getting worse gas mileage than mine, even though mine is quite a bit heavier.
14) How much do they weigh?
A lot, fully loaded, they weigh around 320 to 360 kg without rider. The weight is not much of an issue unless you are riding through sand and loose dirt, or mud. The fact of the matter is that when we move, they are very comfortable and stable at the speeds we travel. The few times it is necessary to "drag" them through the dirt doesn't negate their value in the long haul, which is why we have them.
13) How fast do (can) they go (pointing at the bikes)?
Everyone only seems interested in high performance bikes, oh, well. I am sorry to disappoint them but our bikes will "only" do around 150km/h. The fastest we will ride though is around 130km/h and only if the conditions are appropriate (autobahn). Of course, 150km/h is very fast when you look at the little scooters you see everywhere (Spain, Morocco, Tunisia). The "normal" speed for us is around 80km/h, which is very relaxing, and easy on the bikes.
12) - Do you really ride that bike yourself (to Cecilia)?
Yes, and she can even pick it up by herself if it falls over (this is a requirement!!). In some places, it is a lot of fun just watching the peoples' jaw drop when they realize that it is a woman riding that "huge" monster.
11) - Married?
Yes, some people like to take Cecilia's hand and check if she is wearing a wedding band!!
10) - Any children?
No. This questions is one of the most often asked of Cecilia when we travel.
9) - What do you do on the road?
The mechanics of traveling as we do is fairly simple.
- Pick a general direction or a particular goal.
- Create a route that seems interesting.
- Get there
- Find accommodations. Setup.
- Find something to eat.
- Check out the area, do chores and/or both.
In broad strokes this is what we "do". There are a lot of things hidden under "chores". For example if the next goal or the general direction takes us across borders, we have to research the information necessary to travel in the next country which we will find ourselves in. Sometime this means for example getting visas, an ordeal which can take from a few days to a few weeks. So we just hang out until we have the required information and documentation.
To make it even more fluid, if we encounter something interesting on the route that we are taking, we usually stop to check it out, and maybe even go some place totally different.
One of my favorite anecdotes regarding flexible planning took place somewhere in Australia north of Adelaide. After spending a week or so in the bush, we ran into a T intersection, south was Adelaide, north Coober Pedy, we had an ice cream at the roadhouse and flipped a coin. Heads = south, Tails = north. Heads it was and the next stop was Adelaide, and we never did make it to Coober Pedy.
8) - Goals, or why do you travel?
This is usually answered in a flippant manner depending on who is asking. Anything from "it is better than working" to "there is a lot of things out there to see". The truth is a little of both. We travel because we enjoy it. We are curious about the world around us and always wonder what the next turn will bring. To a large extent it is a "lifestyle", something which we actively choose to do because we enjoy it, and don't spend too much time contemplating the meaning of it (all).
7) - Sponsors?
No, we are not sponsored by anyone. Nor do we actively court or seek sponsors. The basic reason is that we have no real agenda or goal and we do not enjoy taking something without being able to return something. As we do not actively publish anything, nor do we do travel shows or any other activity which might be of interest to sponsors it is a bit difficult to come up with a sellable concept, so we just skip it. To put it bluntly, our travels are not dependent on anyone other than ourselves. This does not mean of course that we are against sponsorship, we just haven't ran into anyone willing to give us something for nothing.
Additionally, please note that where practical I have included links to those companies whose products we use as a courtesy to the reader and not as a consideration to the company involved. The products have all been purchased and any comment good or bad are to be viewed as editorial comments.
6) - Cooking or eating out?
We usually cook. The reason is again one of economy. It has the additional advantage of insuring (for the most part) that we know what it is we are eating. We do occasionally sample the local delicacies (usually, by eating out twice a week, the chefs day off), but as a rule we take the local raw materials and make something ourselves.
5) - Where do you stay?
Accommodations usually depends on where we are. In most "developed" countries we camp. In other countries we usually stay in cheap hostels, where the bikes can be parked inside or somewhere protected. The reason is simple, economics! We do not do a lot of "wild camping". This is reserved for when there is no other choice and comes up relatively infrequently For our tastes this is simply a last resort and we do not do it to save money, if we can't afford a camping spot or hotel, we don't bother going.
4) - How long have you been/are you going to be traveling?
As long as we A) can afford it (see no.1 and no.3 above), and B) still enjoy it. We think that unless we have some serious problems, we should manage 2-3 years, depending on how many distractions we run into.
3) - How much does it cost?
A lot. Our budget is the same as it was on the first trip, and we do not necessarily travel the absolutely cheapest way possible. We tend to enjoy some of the things that are available locally, whether it be scuba diving or a good museum, or a good bottle of Port (see the journal).
2) - Why BMW?
For the first trip, they were the dream bike. We were traveling through central america in 1988/89 on a Yamaha XT550J and a Kawasaki KLR 650, and from somewhere I found an article on the newly released BMW R100GS PD. So sitting on the beach in Costa Rica, I planned upgrades to the bike (BMW) based on my 5 years of experience at the Road Knights, where I met over a 100 long distance motorcycle riders and their bikes. Including a number of the G/S and other brands, so I already knew what I wanted. The sketches and notes became the bikes we have today.
For the second trip (this one), we still had the bikes, and rather than spend a fortune on getting new ones, we decided to go with what we knew. I did spend some time looking around at possible alternatives, as our bikes are no longer made, and the consensus was that the new bikes are too heavy on electronics, fuel injection etc. Basically they have become too complicated for the type of travel and the type of problems which I expect to face to want to deal with. Don't get me wrong any of the new bikes will manage a trip to the moon and back, but they are no longer fix-it-yourself, now if something breaks you have to replace the part. Additionally, the frame of the new bikes has changed in such ways that I find them more difficult to protect and load down with the type of boxes I want.
If someone gave me new bikes, I would probably take them (only probably), if I had to buy new bikes, the chances are I would probably go with something like the KTM 950 Adventure, as being the best alternative to the old GS's.
1) - Do you work on the road?
No, not really. We do not travel with the intention or requirement of working anywhere. Nevertheless, if the right opportunity comes along we certainly do not have anything against it. Basically we travel as long as we have money, when it runs out we go home. The basic issue is that working on the road is not usually very profitable in comparison to working at home.
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