Had the opportunity to attend a presentation by Rene Cormier at Hermy’s BMW in Port Clinton this past Saturday. What a great opportunity to chat with someone who has actually done what many of us dream about. Rene presented on his 5 yr adventure around the world on his BMW F650 of about 100,000 miles. I had the opportunity to chat with Rene and Colette (Rene’s wife) about his adventures and how he is trying to offer a taste of the same through his motorcycle tours in Africa. Hard not to get excited about…
Bullet Hole In the Gas Tank
Interesting how cavalier Rene is about all of the “hazards” described by so many adventure riders – maybe all of the risks of international motorcycle travel are a bit hyped by unsubstantiated ride reports? However, a closer inspection of the bullet hole in he 650’s gas tank gives me pause. With a little more discussion, I found that this incident occurred here in the good ‘ol US, before the trip even started…
Check out Rene’s book “University of Gravel Roads” and all about the tours in Africa on his website Renedian Adventures. I kind of like the looks of the Victoria Falls to Cape Town tour, but any of them look to be a trip of a lifetime.
Well, pulled the trigger on a “new” 2012 BMW Sertao from Max’s in CT. Has about 4 miles on it and got it at a pretty good discount. Pick it up on Tuesday. Heading to Hermy’s today to take advantage of their “Black Friday Sale” and pick-up some needed parts to modify he bike a bit including:
- High Seat – adds about an inch to the height to facilitate the long inseams. Also, reported to be a little more comfortable
- Oil and air filter
- GPS Mount – hope to use the same GPS from the 1200 GSA
- High windshield (maybe)
- Engine crash bars (maybe)
Other items I’ll need to add (other sources) include:
- Handle bar risers
- Bash plate to protect engine
- Racks and saddle bags – probably soft (Wolfman)
- Tank bag – bolero use my old RKA from the GSA
- Center stand – aids in servicing the bike and changing tires
- Various protection – headlight, master brake cylinder, ABS and radiator
Probably other things, but no real rush. Need to get a few thousand miles on the bike before going too crazy
Anyway, the ride to Hermy’s was a bit chilly. Thermometer showed 15 degrees F when I left the house. Met up with my son Ben on his Versys for breakfast a the Sunflower Cafe. A balmy 22 degrees by the time I got there.
Ashes Before Dust
Ran across a great video that does a great job capturing the sense of adventure experienced on the ride to Alaska last year. If you have an hour to spend, check out the video put together by some folks making the ride to Alaska from Seattle. Check it out HERE! Hope I can figure out how to post i ton the blog.
Looks like I am “on” for the Trans America Trail in 2014! About 5000 miles of off-road motorcycle riding from eastern Tennessee to Oregon. I am not sure that I can take the time to do the whole thing – minimum of 22 days, but will at least get a few weeks in this year. Pretty much decided on a BMW Sertao for the ride – about 150 lbs lighter than the GSA I rode to Alaska and much more manageable off-road. Some say this bike is still too large, but I think it is a compromise between the highway miles to get to the start and the single track stuff I may encounter.
Can’t wait to find and outfit the bike. As I said above, much lighter and simpler than the big GSA. One cylinder and fuel injected which means about 65 mpg. Just need to find one at a reasonable price – might be a challenge. Then the outfitting starts… Soft luggage and a few minor modifications and I should be ready to go! This trip I am planning on taking the time to enjoy the outdoors and scenery. Have invited my son, Ben along – hope he can make it…
With the recent medical issues behind me, I am gearing up for the Pine Barrens Adventure Camp in about 2 weeks. Although a bit out of shape from the recovery from the melanoma surgery, I am looking forward to the camp and getting the GSA off the road. My last real training on the big bike (1200 GS) was over 3 years ago when I took the Rawhyde course in Pittsburgh. I have done very little off road riding, except for about 600 miles of gravel enroute to Prudhoe Bay last summer. Currently back to a couple of miles a day and some light weight training, so should be good to go in about 10 days.
Promises to be fun and certainly will push the skills envelope and this tired, nearly 60-yr old body. Hope to get the bike prepared this week-end by removing the accessory lights, removing the mud guard (always falls off anyway), adding the TKC 80 tires and a couple of more items. Have to dig out the BMW Rallye riding gear. A summary of the course can be found in my previous post of February 2. Stay tuned for the gory details!
I to admit that I am a bit of a junkie for any book describing international adventures on motorcycle. Ever since 1st stumbling onto “A Long Way Round” with Ewan and Charley a few years ago, I can’t seem to get enough of this stuff.
However, The University of Gravel Roads goes beyond many of the typical stories of adventure motorcycle travel. As Rene writes about his 4-yr, 95,000 mile trip and its challenges of the road (or lack thereof), I was pulled into the trip, sharing the rider’s worries and fears; feeling great relief when the border guards or locals didn’t take him hostage or throw him in jail.
This is a great tale of courage and resourcefulness, by a guy who was essentially solo around the world on a limited budget and undefined challenges of weather, governmental roadblocks (real and administrative), mechanical issues, and just about anything else you could think of on such a trip. I couldn’t help but empathize with the feelings of regret about initially inviting a companion, then realizing that much of the romance of the trip began to ebb with the burden of dealing with someone else’s needs in such a rugged and uncertain undertaking.
I found myself absorbed in the sometimes clunky, journalistic portrayal of the adventure and the personal challenges; but all with a sense of adventure from a guy who seems to be an adventurer 1st and a writer second. Great photos and overall great read. If you have any inclination to this type of journey, get a copy if you can find one and settle in for an armchair adventure that I am sure you will enjoy. Think it is about $35-$40 on Amazon or directly from the book’s web site (above).