21 January, 2015

Pining for the Philippines

In October/November 2014, Kimie and I were fortunate to be able to spend 2.5 weeks in the Philippines riding around the Northern island of Luzon. We rented a small 125cm Suzuki Hayate scooter in Angeles City and were able to travel all the way up North along the West coast before returning South and heading inland (and uphill to the capital of Baguio) and then south through Manila to Pasangan.

I have to admit that riding through Manila was one of the greatest motoring challenges I have experienced since riding through China, and I'm still not entirely sure how we managed to navigate, whilst simultaneously dodging the scores of Jeepneys, trucks, buses, cars, tricycle taxis and other vehicles. Suffice to say, it is not something either of us look forward to repeating.

The final leg of our tour included a ride 3/4 of the way up Mt Pinatubu - the Philippines notorious volcano.

To be continued......

12 June, 2014

Thailand and Laos - February 2014.

As a follow up to our Indo-China Cambodia and Vietnam ride in late 2011, Kimie and I elected to head to Laos this time. Tried and true little scooters took us up hill, and down dale during the times when we weren't travelling by train or river boat, and a great time was had by all - particularly in Northern Laos which is a beautiful country and fortunately little changed from when I first visited there almost 40 years ago. More to come.........

A further addition to the family - as one door closes, another one opens.

Well, in November 2013 with the summer coming up it was time to reconsider my riding options again. As much as I enjoyed the KiLleR it had its failings - namely atrocious brakes, not a whole lot of power and it was big, heavy and bulky for a mid-range off-road bike. After reviewing the options and vacillating whether to upgrade to a DL650 Wee Strom, I took the plunge and went European. A white and blue brand new Sertao now sits in my garage and has been off on a few adventures of its own as well, which I will hopefully get to tell you all about in the near future. More to come........

Crossing the Simpson - June 2013

Well, in early 2013 I prepped the KiLleR with Dunlop D606s, a Ventura luggage rack and backpack, crashbars, Madstad screen, tank panniers and a set of saddlebags before taking off in June for the wilds of the Simpson for an attempted solo crossing. I had earlier tested the fully set up KiLleR on a couple of rides up through Lake Mungo, Menindee and White Cliffs and it all worked quite well As it turned out, however, once I left the Oodnadatta track, the addition of many extra kilograms of fuel, water, food, tools, clothing and camping equipment meant that the KiLleR struggled in the soft sands of the Simpson. After a frustrating day of bogging the bike many times on the uphill slopes of the dunes I was fortunate enough to be "rescued" by a group of 4WDers on the Rig Road. They kindly offered to carry my luggage in their vehicles so I was free to ride unburdened, and suddenly what had become a chore became a source of great fun. Well, that was up until the time I realised I had very low tyre pressure up front - zero to be precise - as I had torn the valve stem out of the front Heavy Duty tube by lowering my tyre pressure too much. However, with 300kms to go I decided to push it on and surprisingly I was amazed at how little this affected the overall bike performance and handling - even made it up Big red without too much difficulty! After repairing my spare tube in Birdsville I did the run down the Birdsville track to Leigh Creek effortlessly in one day, and followed this with an epic 1,300km one day journey home the next day in pouring rain, crossing flooded creeks and in freezing temperatures. More to come....

24 January, 2013

A new addition to the family - a dirty little beast!

Well, it has finally happened, I'm now back on an offroad bike. It has been 13 years since I sold the venerable DR250 single and I have now upgraded to a big brother equivalent from Kawasaki - the Killer 650. A big benefit of this beast, compared withe DR, is its electric leg. Since my arthroscopy in July my right knee has deteriorated and is most definitely not up to the strain of kickstarting a big single. So the question, why a Killer? Well the journey to reach this point was quite a long and arduous one. Over a period of a year I sampled a range of offroad oriented machines - some far more offroad oriented than other. These included Suzukis (DR and DL 650s), BMWs (GSes - 1100/1200, 800 and 650 varieties), Triumphs (Tiger 1050 and 800 triples) and Kawasakis (Versys, KLE500 and KLR). Ultimately, the decision came down to buying a multicylinder (more road oriented) or single (more offroad oriented). Given that the reason for buying an offroad bike is so that I could run a reconnaisance mission across the Simpson desert before I attempt it on B1, it makes more sense that I choose a bike more at home riding on sand and this meant a 21" front wheel was mandatory. Thus in one fell swoop I had eliminated the multicylinder bikes and it became a choice between the KLR, DR and GS Sertao. More to come.