BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

A weekend with like minded souls at Horizons Unlimited Traveler's Meeting Perth.

16 to 18/9/16

What is Horizons Unlimited?




Well, according the the web site "Horizons Unlimited has been THE premier source for information on motorcycle and adventure travel since 1997". I don't think you can argue with that. Take a look at the website and you find pretty much EVERYTHING you'll need to know about travelling the world on a motorcycle.

Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meetings are held all over the world and they are an inspiring get together of like minded motorcycle travellers who are more than happy to share information, knowledge, and experience and offer help, advice, and suggestions. The weekend consists of a whole lot of presentations from people who have hands on experience relating to motorcycle travel, and covering a wide range of topics...and of course a little bit of socialising.☺


If you're keen on motorcycle travel and can make it to a meet, then make the effort. I guarantee you'll go away energised and knowing a whole lot more than you did when you arrived. I'm also prepared to bet that you'll leave with a few new friends.


Friday 16/9/16

Finding all the various bits and pieces we needed for the weekend and packing was planned for Thursday night, but it was too bloody cold to even think about going outside to get my camping gear out of the garage, so it was left 'til this morning.

It was the usual pre-ride bike packing scene at home. I'm ultra organised, have a huge spread sheet listing everything we could possibly need, but I still stress out when packing. Once we lay out exactly what we need to take with us, the game of Tetris starts and we try to squeeze everything into the limited space on the bike. When you tour on a bike, the luggage is a living thing. Items get moved around depending on where you are going, what you are doing, what the weather is like, and what you need access to during the day. It does my head in.

Now, you have to remember that we are travelling to an event that is only an hour away from home and just for a few days, but apart from a few clothes we need all the same stuff we need for a six week trip 'round Australia, or a twelve month trip around the world. Once everything was squeezed into the boxes and bags on the bike I was left wondering why I had so much trouble fitting it all in. it all became obvious later on that day.

Our dog Vader looked very sad as we put on our riding gear on in preparation for departure. Unfortunately there is a no pets policy at Fairbridge Village. Maybe a change of venue is in order.

After a short ride we wobbled into he car park at Fairbridge and I was surprised to see so many bikes there on a Friday afternoon. It was going to be a good weekend.

The first thing that struck me is the variety of bikes that were there. I love the fact that there are so many answers to the same question of "What bike should I ride for my trip" The only answer is...there is no wrong answer. Ride anything...




What bike should I get? Take your pick.

This little Kawasaki Super Sherpa 250 reminds me of a Canadian couple we met in Greece, Taz and Joel, who were traveling Europe on these. 


Tam's Suzuki DR250 has been across the Nullabor..
...and back.


Tam's Suzuki DR 250.

Suzuki's DR-Z400 and DR650 are popular. With very little outlay, and a few mods, you can easily tour the world on one.

Yamaha's 660 Tenere. I still love 'em.

Much modified KTM. For those who are keen on getting off the beaten track.

A really nice EML sidecar bolted to a BM.
Vader would love this.

Of course, you have to have a few BMW R1200GS Adventures in attendance.

So after we had finished drooling over all the bikes we set about making camp. The tent went up, the gear unpacked, the sleeping mats inflated, and the chairs assembled. We were ready. It was time to mingle. It was now I realised why I had soooooo much trouble fitting everything in. There were three reasons really:
  1. Four bottle of wine take up a lot of room Suzanne.
  2. The Guzzi panniers are much smaller that the BM's
  3. We don't have a bag on top of the top box like we carried on our trip. I also noticed that there are no tie down points for me to put a bag on top. That needs to be addressed.
Within a few minutes I'd caught up with an old enduro riding mate Mark and we learned that another old enduro rider Dave was on his way as well. If past history is anything to go by, it could be a big night.

Suzanne fell in love with an orange Volkswagen camper that was near us, so we soon befriended Will and Jenny, who are a couple of crazy cyclists, but will be fully converted to motorcycles soon.

With all the socialising in the afternoon I only managed to squeeze in one presentation and that was Aaron's talk on New Zealand. Did you know that they have hedgehogs in New Zealand? I didn't. New Zealand is now on my list of places to go, just because of the hedgehogs.

The evening finished up with Mark, Dave, Will, Jenny, Arron, Suzanne, and I having our own little party as the sun dipped below the horizon, and the freezing cold night set in. We were having so much fun we didn't even make it to the bonfire.




Saturday 17/9/16

It was bloody cold overnight. The forecast low was four degrees, but I reckon it was colder. A LOT colder. Brrrrr!

The first presentation I made it to was Xander Kabat talking about Packing light. If we riders need to know anything, this is it. I was happy as Xander pulled item after item out of his pannier, explaining why he had it and the advantages that particular item has. Why was I happy? Because I have nearly all the same gear.

I've said for ages, that day I don't learn something is the day I should be put in the big box and disposed of. I've been camping for over four decades, and what I learned next was a bombshell. Xander explained that when using a down sleeping bag, YOU SHOULDN'T WEAR TOO MANY LAYERS OF CLOTHING, one or two is enough. Any more than that and the sleeping bag's efficiency is diminished. Why didn't I know this. I'll definitely be trying less layers tonight, however I think trying to convince Suzanne she should get naked to keep warm won't get me very far.


Xander and his wife Tamara own Overlander Adventure Equipment in Midvale, Western Australia. They carry great gear, have done a lot of long distance riding, and are very knowledgeable. If you're nearby, check them out.


Next up I sat in on Duncan Cartwright's talk about South America. South America is right at the top of my list so I was really interested to gather some pearls of wisdom from Duncan. He also provided a few laughs as well. All I'll say is that every time I see a bear, I'll think of Duncan.

Tony Friday then gave a bit of a talk on getting lost which included the use of maps.me, an off line map source that looks like it could be pretty useful at times. I haven't checked it out yet, but I will be on my phone very soon.

Now Tanzania isn't on my must see list, or should I say wasn't? Alpha Twaleeb Malinda from Karanga Adventures presentation made me want to visit. The crunch point was a video of guy riding along with a giraffe running next to him. Sign me up, I'm in.


Alpha Twaleeb Malinda, by far the coolest guy at the event.

Photo stolen from Tamara Kabat.


I finished off the day with Steve Fraser's Capturing The Journey talk. Photography isn't my strong point so I need all the help I can get. Thanks Steve, I picked up some valuable tips.

Time for more socialising. I was about to jump on my bike and head into town for some supplies when I met Mil. Mil also has a Guzzi and was telling me about this guy that rode a BMW in Europe for a year, but is now back in Australia and has a Moto Guzzi just like mine. Um, that would be me. We had a bit of a laugh and hopefully I'll see Mill om a Stelvio sometime in the near future.

Right, off to town get supplies...

Just because you're camping doesn't mean you have to rough it. Prosecco and dark chocolate. Yum!

We wound the night up by sitting around the fire and swapping stories. It was a perfect end to a great day.




Sunday 18/9/16



The calm before the storm Sunday morning.

I was wide awake at 5:30, and after trying the less clothing theory last night I was toasty warm inside my sleeping bag. A HUGE thank you to Xander. You are a legend.


I found this outside the tent.
I'm guessing I won't see Suzanne for a while.
(I blame Will).

I got up, made myself a coffee, and listened to the birds while I checked out the bikes again. It was cold, but a hot cup of coffee or two took the chill off.

After a while people started stirring and climbing out of tents. It was then that I met Ariel who was giving a presentation later on budgeting. I need that even more that I need photography help so it was already on my list for today.

With another coffee in hand I made my way into the hall to listen to Damian Roper from Nevermind give a presentation on their tours of India. They look like whole lot of fun. 


Photo stolen from Nevermnd Adventures Adventures website.


My last presentation was Ariel's budgeting presentation. Once again I learned a few new things that will be useful and will be put into practice on our next trip. Thanks Ariel.

It was time for the only down part of the weekend. Packing up and going home. I don't mind packing up, but I always feel a bit sad when leaving a group of old and new friends.
Hopefully we'll catch up again soon.

I heard a rumour that next year's Horizon's Unlimited Travellers meeting might be at a different location. If it happens where I was told, it will be a ripper.

See you there?

Thursday, 8 September 2016

There is a Horizons Unlimited Traveller's Meeting in Perth this month, and it's got me reminiscing...



8/9/16

Woohoo! It look like we'll finally make it to the Perth Horizons Unlimited get together this month.

In 2012 Suzanne and I attended our first Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meeting at Mount Tzoumerka in Greece. (Check out the blog for 1 August 2012 for the full story on Mount Tzoumerka). It was a brilliant weekend. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, learned a hell of a lot, and made some life long friends as well.

Our camp in the background.

Alex and Milla...
...and our camp in the background.
Not a bad spot eh?

The bar was excellent,
The beer and wine was cold...

...which was lucky because we ran out of refreshments.

We decided there and then that we must run a HU meet in Perth when we got back home. Well, someone beat us two it and organised one before we even got home. I missed the first one due to a date clash with a previously arranged ride, and last year I ended up in hospital, so we couldn't make it.

Hopefully this year the stars will align and see us spending the weekend camping at Fairbridge Village, listening to some great presentations, and meeting some fantastic new people.

We might see you there?


A few more random photos from the Mount Tzoumerka weekend:

Suzanne broke out her
traveling body paint kit...

...and gave Joel his own, custom
Horizons Unlimited T Shirt.
Take a look at the backdrop.

Alex's presentation was both enlightening,
and moving.

There had to be a dog photo.
Zara was the camp dog, and as you can see,
she was pretty mellow.

No matter what you ride,
you can explore the world.
Stergios's Vespa.

Yikes! HU travellers power board.

Did Suzanne have fun?
Dennis looks serious in the background.

Off road rider skills training.

A huge downpour didn't dampen anyone's enthusiasm at the presentations. Jen looks particularly amused.

You meet the best people riding a bike.
Taz, Christos, Angel, Roger, and Jen.

For a few bucks extra we didn't have to be self sufficient. This was lunch for
Suzanne and I.

Thodoris, my partner in crime one night.
Way, way to many Mythos were consumed.
This is then next morning.

Polytimi has logged 48,000 kilometers in twelve months on her BMW R800GS.

Deb, a real crack up, and Simon, who is 80 odd and still riding around the world.

Part of the Greek crew enjoying their Tsipouro
(home distilled firewater).
That large bottle in the middle of the table was full
at the start of the night.

Everyone was all ears at the presentations.

Wonderful location for the meet.

Leaving our weekend home.

It was a huge weekend, so I took a little nap.

We were tired, but happy.

If you ever get the chance to attend a Horizons Unlimited Traveller's Meeting, I strongly recommend you grab it with both hands and go.

You'll have a ball.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

It's always not all about me.

Some moto visitors from Kuwait in Perth.


17/8/16

One of the best things about travelling on a motorcycle is that you get to meet so many different people. You can be anywhere in the world, and if you meet up with another motorcyclist you instantly have a friend.

I met Sherri-Jo Wilkins through one of the motorcycle travel websites, and then in person on a trip through Adelaide a few years ago. Sherri-Jo spent a few years travelling the world on her KTM690 and is currently in Iceland on another moto adventure. She recently contacted me and told me about three guys from Kuwait who she had met at the Argentinian border crossing. They were soon heading to Perth to start their trip across Australia. Would I meet up with them and help them out if they needed anything? Of course I would.


You'll find Sherri-Jo's world trip blog here:

Ali, Muhanad, and Hussain were staying in a Perth hotel while they waited for their bikes to clear customs and quarantine. They were getting a little bit anxious as they'd been waiting for a few days already, and still had no ETA for their bike's release. I met up with them at the hotel and we chatted about their trip and their plans. Hopefully I was able to give them some good local advice.



Ali, Hussain, Muhanad, and little old me. 


Here's the plan.

If you see the boys on the road, stop them and buy them a cuppa. I guarantee you'll have a laugh.

As usual with overseas visitors I was asked the familiar questions:

"What about snakes?" I've probably seen a total of two or three in the bush.


Since I was about fourteen I've spent a lot of time in the bush, travelling, camping, racing enduros, in the Army, hiking, and I've seen bugger all. I think snakes are more scared of us than we are of them.

"What about spiders?" OK, you'll see a few spiders, but unless you touch them they'll leave you alone. Most of them are harmless. Just remember to check your boots in the morning before you put them on.

"What about scorpions?" I've seen one!

"What about dingoes?" I've seen two, one a few weeks ago, and one twenty years ago.

For some reason people from overseas think that Australia is crawling with things that desperately want to kill you. This is not the case, and if you see anything like the above beasts, just leave them alone. I don't ever remember reading about a herd of scorpions chasing down a motorcycle traveler and tearing him apart. People are more dangerous than any of our animals.

I must be getting soft on my old age because I didn't tell they guys about our "Drop Bears".






...and here.

With all the horror stories out of the way we found a little restaurant and enjoyed a few more laughs over diner.

The crew had aimed at reaching Southern Cross on their first day on the road. Southern Cross is only 420 kilometers so I suggested Kalgoorlie as a first stop because it's only an easy 600 kilometer ride.

They had also allowed a lot of time to cover the Great Central Road, an eleven hundred kilometer dirt road between Laverton and Uluru, working on the theory that they would travel at 50 kph. I've been down that road, and another mate went a few weeks ago so I checked with him, and we both reckon that 120 kph is a comfortable speed to sit on.

I was thinking that the boys now had three or four extra days up their sleeves which will make up for the hold up with our Australian bureaucracy and waiting for bikes.

We called it a night and as I made my way home I must admit that I was thinking about telling the guys about Drop Bears before they left. ☺

On Thursday the bikes finally arrived at the hotel.

The bikes have arrived. 

The boys look happy. 

A plan was formulated and departure time was set for ten on Saturday morning. My mate Andrew is always up for a ride, so even with the threat of a huge downpour we met up and planned to ride to Toodyay, have a coffee, and send the boys on their way.

Andrew and I just spent two weeks together and we think along very similar lines. Generally, if we plan to leave somewhere at seven a.m. we are both ready before seven, and in the road at seven.

At ten, we were sitting in hotel reception waiting for the guys to pack their bikes. Hussain was the last to get ready as he had to find some way to strap a very large box (that contained a drone he had just bought) to the back of his bike. By eleven we were ready to roll.

Except...

Hissain's bike wouldn't start. The battery was dead flat, but it was OK because he had one of those little auxiliary batteries you see advertised on TV. They'll start anything.

Except...

When they are flat.

Luckily Andrew had a good, fully charged, auxiliary battery.

Except...

It was at home.

Andrew's Harley rumbled up Hay Street on a mission of mercy to retrieve his battery from home. Now I have my doubts about starting a BMW R1200 GS Adventure with one of these batteries. I flattened the battery on mine once, and a car battery wouldn't turn it over, so what chance did a little, pocket sized battery have?

Andrew returned and in a few minutes Hussian's BM was purring away in the car park. Thanks Andrew.

Muhanad and I waiting for Hussain. 

Our next problem was that the boys required fuel. Not usually a big issue, but will Hussain's bike start after he turns it off to fill it up?

Everybody was pretty happy when Hussain's bike fired up and happily idled away after the refuel.

The clock was ticking and it was now after twelve. Andrew and I decided that Toodyay was a no go as it was about forty five minutes out of the way, and Kalgoorlie was still six hours away. We'd make Northam our coffee stop as it's on the direct route to Kalgoorlie.

After a coffee in Northam, and a few more laughs, we parted ways and the boys were off on their big Aussie Adventure.

Andrew, Mahanad, Ali, me, and Hussian. 

I've since found out that the team made Merredin on the first night. That's just 300 k from Perth. Andrew and I covered 200 ks just to have a coffee. It could be a long trip.

We'll see how happy the guys are with road trains after a few weeks in Australia. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again. If motorcyclists ruled the world it would be a much, much better place. It was a pleasure to meet you guys, and a whole lot of fun. Enjoy your adventure, and if you're ever in Perth again, make sure you catch up.


Safe travels.


You can follow the guy's antics on their webpage:


Our Shared Planet Motorcycle Adventures:

...and their Facebook page:

"Our Shared Planet Motorcycle Adventures" 

All photos here were stolen from the guys webs site and Facebook pages.