Only three and a half weeks before I leave for my Ireland to Madigan (east coast of Siberia) 25,000km motorbike trip and I don’t think I have felt so nervous in my life!.
When I was heading off on a mountaineering expedition, at least I had confidence in my climbing ability, not so with motorcycling. I’m wondering if 18 months in the game is enough?
To compensate for my lack of riding and mechanical skills I am trying to be as absolutely, one hundred per cent, no holds barred, prepared as I can possibly be.
I have tools, spare parts, backup spare parts, a dealer set up to send me even more spare parts if I need them, the right tyres, tubes, good clothing, new helmet, my old boots [ will have to do] camping gear sorted, paper work kind of sorted, valid passport, insurance, some visas…….the list goes on!
I must admit I am a stickler for detail- comes with organising nearly 20 climbing expeditions in the last 20 years.
There are several obstacles in my way: 1) my obvious lack of riding mileage 2) my lack of mechanical skills: and 3) getting the requisite visas and permits for the countries I will be travelling through.
Its one think taking yourself over multiple borders, its another taking a vehicle with you.
But I still don’t have a visa for Turkmenistan and I have tried every embassy on Google. My last chance will be the Turkmen embassy in Istanbul once I am on-route. If it doesn’t happen I will have to re-route from Iran through Azerbaijan, then take a cargo ferry across the Caspian Sea to Uzbekistan. The whole thing does my head in!
Riding experience… I’m not confident in my ability to ride the terrain (especially Mongolia, Afghanistan and the Kolma Highway in Siberia) despite having done 35,000km on a bike in the last 18 months. Luckily I have found a companion (thankyou Didier Martin) to ride up the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan with me, and this I am really looking forward to, a chance to see the peaks I have climbed in the region. I would love to find someone to ride the Kolma Highway with which apparently turns to 4000km mud if it rains.
Mechanical skills…I have few but did manage to replace the fuel pump on my Yamaha WR last weekend, a major milestone for me. I have the tools and I have a Haynes guide- that’s the best I can do.
I am employing a bit of technology. A Spot Tracker, so friends and family can follow me. A TomTom Rider GPS unit so I can find my way through Europe, and Russia, and a tablet to use as a GPS with MapsMe for the Central Asia leg. The only bug-bear is that the TomTom GPS is more complicated than my brain can deal with!
My route is Europe-turkey-Georgia-Armenia- Iran -Turkmenistan (or if I don’t get a Turkmen visa , Azerbaijan. Uzbekistan) if I do from Turkmen into Uzbekistan- Tajikistan- Afghanistan-Tajikistan- Kirgizstan- Kazakhstan- Russia- Mongolia- Siberia- finish at the coast/
So this time next month I should have arrived in Ireland, sorted the bike and be about to leave for France. Yikes!