We’ve decided to follow a young British couple, Jenny O’Grady and Dave Logan, as they set off to go global, riding East. Leaving shortly, we’ll stay in touch during their planned two-year ride.
On the 31st March 2018 my partner and I will be setting off to travel around the world together on our motorbikes. We both have good jobs, a nice house, close family and friends. Life is really good, so why would we just set off into the unknown?
Dave and I have always loved travelling; in the past we have backpacked around South America and done many trips in the car around Europe. We had both wanted our bike licences for years, but Dave was first to actually get his, in summer 2015. A couple of months after that we set off on our first motorcycle trip to Italy, me as pillion. We didn’t book anything, just took our tent and pitched up wherever the nearest campsite was. We loved the constant thrill of getting up each day, packing up and then setting off to a new destination. Then the time came to start heading back to the UK, and we were gutted. We wanted so badly to carry on with this free way of life but holiday allowance was used up. On the long ride home we had both been complaining that the holiday was just too short. We felt too young to work 50 weeks out a year and only have 2 weeks to adventure together.
We had been home a couple of months but couldn’t stop researching motorcycle travel; reading blogs and watching people on Youtube on their bikes. We stumbled across the now legendary Races2Places with Lyndon Poskitt, and then it clicked for both of us! A quick calculation of money and it was settled that in 2.5 years we would in fact set off on our own crazy off road adventure. We decided we wanted to travel the world together by motorcycle. It was a light bulb moment and we both knew we had to go after this dream. The day after, I booked my CBT and started the fast track course for my full licence, by December 2015 I had it.
It wasn’t all plain sailing though; we had to sort out our debt first and then start saving. We both took on another 3 jobs doing freelance digital marketing, working evenings and weekends which nearly killed us! It was at this point we realised we still wouldn’t have enough money to just travel; we would need to work as we went. We started building our freelance clients and getting everyone on board with the idea that we could work nomadically, from anywhere in the world.
Our plotting went on for 2.5 years and now here we are, ready to go! Departure date is set for 31st March and our Eurotunnel is booked for 16:30. We’re finally doing it, and it’s terrifying. Leaving everything you have is hard. We have a comfortable, nice life here. But we know if we don’t take the risk now, we’ll spend the rest of our lives wondering about what could have been.
Motorcycle Travel: Where to Start?
When it comes to motorcycle travel I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to do it. We have done masses of research when deciding our route, visa options and camping gear. Below are the main categories we’ve been focusing on recently:
We are taking quite a large tent, the Lone Rider Tent MotoTent. We figured this is our little house for 2 years so we wanted some space to live, sleep, a porch to eat dinner when its raining and so on. For cooking duties we opted to use the MST Firefly, a liquid fuel stove popular for its ability to burn nearly any fuel such as petrol or diesel without the need for hard to get propane bottles.
Carnets de Passages
Carnets wise, we don’t actually need the documents until we reach Japan so we are going to pay for them when we reach Russia and have them posted out to us. We have already completed all the paperwork (sending of passport copies and bike documents) so it’s just the payment that is needed and the address to post them too. If you’re looking into Carnets yourself, this is the website to head to: https://www.carseurope.net
We have just started applying for our visas this week, so far we’ve completed Turkey, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan – all have been fairly straight forward, short, online forms. The Russian visa however, takes more effort! We need to pay for a letter of invitation and go to Manchester to have our fingerprints taken.
Armed with Google Earth Data we began creating my own off road route trying to identify tracks on the ground and stitch them into a cohesive route. A great rider and adventurer Walter Colebatch, was good enough to help us fill in the blanks with his own archive of crazy tracks and we now have a working plan. So stage one is just a case of getting out of Europe in the warmest way possible! By heading down to Greece we avoid the chill that may still be present in Poland and the Ukraine, should give us a bit of time to get our sea legs on some of the TET trail before the real expedition begins when we enter Kazakhstan! The main tracks which will really test us are:
• The BAM (Baikal Amur Mainline) which was built as a strategic alternative route to the Trans-Siberian Railway, especially along the vulnerable sections close to the border with China.
• The Old Summer Road in Yakutia, which tested Ewan and Charley to their limit in Long Way Round.
• The Baikal 110 or ‘Zimnik 110’. In Russian Zimnik means ‘Winter Road’ and the 110 was built in a warm winter in the mid 1970’s to fuel the transportation of raw materials and building supplies to the BAM railway. Hastily built and only used for a couple of years, it has fallen into the worst state of decay of all three roads and has been completed by only a handful of people on motorcycles.
These tracks and ‘roads’ will take us to Magadan. In terms of route planning that’s as far as we’ve got, but we know the countries we’d like to go to next include; Japan, South East Asia, Australia, NZ and then to the Americas. Full route breakdown here.
The BMW G650x is a 650cc single cylinder dual sport. It was available in a few guises and our bikes happen to be models known as the X Challenge and X Country. With a wet weight of around 155kg and 53hp these bikes are still nearly unbeatable today for a dual sport bike in this category.
We have been modifying these bikes for over 12 months now. Dave has crafted a system of auxiliary aluminium fuel tanks for each bike increasing the the total fuel load to a whopping 27 litres each, compared to the stock capacity of 9.5 litre fuel tanks. The bikes have had extensive front end upgrades with proper MX forks and we rebuilt the front XCountry wheel with an excel 21″ rim, which then meant the need for a tall F800GS front mudguard. XChallange has a full KTM WP 48mm front end that just uses a KTM front wheel.
With the trip taking up to two years we would require a fair amount of luggage to be carried at all times and due to the enduro nature of the single cylinder bikes the rear subframes had to be significantly reinforced as well as building custom tubular steel luggage racks to carry our soft pannier bags. More on the bikes here.
Our timeline and routes are set for two years of travelling. We know problems might arise which cut that short, but there’s only so much planning you can do and the rest is up to chance. Roll on the 31st March, when we’ll be having our friends and family over for breakfast to say Bon Voyage. We’ll then start our ride South to the Eurotunnel and beyond…