|As submitted by Erin to "Sprockets" - - The
Chain Gang Newsletter
In the Beginning...
Where do I begin? Well, the first question most people ask
is "How did you decide to do this?" The answer is both simple and difficult. The
hardest part about deciding to do this is simply saying "okay, were going to do
this." After that, things just fall into place and you begin to lay out what needs to
My husband, Chris, and I are two (basically) normal
30-something people living and working in New York City. I have a 1997 F650 and Chris has
a 1994 R100GS/PD. Chris has been riding since college and I have been riding for the past
3 years. Each year we take a 2-week trip (sometimes abroad) and several shorter trips on
our motorcycles. We love to camp out and experience the world through our motorcycle
journeys. In the past, we have ridden through Europe (the Alps and Dolomites), the
Canadian Rockies and across the U.S. Everywhere we go, we meet wonderful people and see
the real wonders this world has to offer!
Last May while we were having dinner (including several
beers) with some friends we got into a discussion about traveling throughout the world and
the many people we know who have done it. From there the conversation continued. Over the
next few days Chris and I talked about how feasible (and fantastic!) it would be for us.
We discussed how much money we would need and whether or not we could afford to quit our
jobs for a year or so. What would we do with our apartment? This kind of talk can be
exhausting and discouraging as one thinks of all of the details en masse. Then, Chris said
"Why dont we just say to everyone we know that we are going to do this? This
will make it harder for us to back out, and we will figure out how to do it one step at a
He was right. We started telling all of our friends that we
were going to do this in the year 2000. We figured it would take that long to save up the
money we needed and hey, the year 2000 would be very symbolic. Last Summer, we took a two
week trip through Washington, Idaho, the Canadian Rockies, and down into Montana for the
BMW rally in Missoula. (This is where I first heard about the Chain Gang!) There we met
fellow riders who shared with us their past and present journeys. Many of them regularly
take off several months a year or every few years to travel and see the world. Some are
school teachers with summers off and some just quit their job every time the travel bug
bites them. This just helped to reinforce our motivation to take this (really big!) trip.
After we returned home from Missoula, we discovered that our
apartment value had almost doubled since we purchased it two years earlier! We did the
calculations and discovered that if we sold our apartment it would provide us with the
funds for the trip. Not wanting to miss this opportunity to finance our trip combined with
the inspiring, adventurous people we had just met convinced us that we should not wait.
Rather, we should start our trip in the Spring of 1999! We would still be on the road in
the year 2000.
Now, a little more about the people who have provided us
with the inspiration to do this. The rally in Missoula is also where we met Helge
Pedersen, world traveler, photo journalist and author of "Ten Years on Two Wheels". Since that time, we
have gained an enormous amount of advice and encouragement from him. We owe him a lot for
his generosity. Other current RTW (round-the-world) travelers like Benka Pulko and Gordon Chase have inspired us as well. I
read their updates religiously in Sprockets and on their web sites. I hope to be as
diligent and prolific as they are in my writing. I also hope to be able to meet them
somewhere along the way, to share stories and have a few laughs.
So, thats how it began. Now it is mid-March and we are
2 months away from setting sail. We have researched everything from personal travel
insurance to bash plates, and electronic gadgets to visas for this trip. We still have a
lot to read about and purchase, of course! A trip like this is obviously very expensive. I
think thats why weve waited until now to purchase much of the equipment. We
just put the mounts and Jesse Luggage
on both of our bikes. I have also just installed the Jesse radiator guard and bash plate.
Al Jesse makes superb products that seem tailor made for these bikes. Still to be
purchased are a laptop computer, digital camera with a zoom, 4-season tent, cooking gear,
fork gaitors for my bike, and the larger Acerbis fuel tank. Yikes!
One of the really wonderful aspects of the preparations,
besides hearing all of the encouragement and gasps from our friends and family, is the
wonderful support of our sponsors. These terrific people have contributed products,
advice, and service in some form or another to help defray our costs and help make this
trip possible. These include The Chain Gang, Lindner Cycle Shop, Blue Moon Cycles, Trans-Atlantic Bikeshare, Broadway Computer, Aerostich/Rider Wearhouse and J.C. Wunderlich. Please show your support by
giving them a try the next time you need products, services, or just good ol plain
The real estate market remained high, and we went to
contract on the sale of our one bedroom apartment in early March. We will close the deal
the beginning of May and hopefully have enough money in the bank to help support us for at
least the next year and a half. We are selling most of our furniture and worldly
possessions. We also sold two of our other motorcycles, an R90/6 and my R100RS. I am
beginning to feel like a real minimalist.
Aside from Helge, we have talked to several renowned
"experts" for advise on this trip. Court Fisher, Al Jesse, and Frank Campbell
(to name a few) have all been extremely generous with their time and knowledge, and
obviously love talking about this subject. We have also read Chris Scotts book
"The Adventure Motorcycle Handbook"
cover-to-cover as it is the premier "how to" guide for such a journey. Perhaps
Chris (my husband) and I will be able to offer such bits of wisdom when we return.
Finally, communication is a key piece of this trip. We want
to share our adventures with all of you as they happen. So, special thanks goes out to my
wonderful husband Chris, who has spent so many long nights (and shall I dare to say
work-hours!) conceptualizing, creating, and revising our web page. He started from
scratch, learned how to program a web site using the Angelfire web site (highly recommend
it for the first time web designer, and its FREE), and picking up useful techniques from
various web-proficient friends. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for you, the
reader, to follow along with us by viewing our pictures and reading our travel journal.
Please feel free to check out our web site now and send us email with suggestions of how
we might make it more user-friendly.
If you have particular questions about our trip, or would
like to meet us along the way, send me an email
message or send it to Sprockets.
Until next time....keep the rubber side down.