On a motorcycle trip not
everything goes according to plan. Most trip reports like to skip this
fact and only few write about technical problems, misserable weather,
and other problems. Everything is supposed to sound so nice, even if it
doesn't always reflect reality. Problems of all sorts are just part of
a motorcycle trip, especially abroad where one may not speak the local
language. Therefore here a list of situations from my trips that were
not planned that way.
trip through Baja
We arrived in Loreto and stopped to
discuss which hotel to go to. When we then wanted to ride to the hotel
Jayne's bike wouldn't start anymore. We changed plans and got a room in
the nearest hotel and pushed the bike there. We had stopped in front of
a car rental place and their mechanic knew a motorcycle mechanic in
town and called him to come to our hotel.
Omar showed up half an hour later and picked up the bike to transport
it to his shop, just a few blocks away.
After several test we called it a night. Omar determined the next day
it was a dead battery and a rubbed through wire, which caused the
battery to fry. So we got a new battery, he fixed the wire and we
picked up the bike that night. I insisted of staying another night and
going for a long test ride before heading back out into the largely
unpopulated areas again the day after that.
The breakdown could not have happened
in any better place. The mechanic was good and cheap, and we got back
the road with just a little delay. The bike worked for the rest of the
trip with no further problems.
trip through Nevada
After I had my
first flat motorcycle tire ever in 2016, we had two on this trip. First
Jayne picked up a nail on a gravel road in the middle of nowhere. First
I tried a can of Fix-a-Flat, which of course didn't work at all. I
really didn't want to change the inner tube in the burning sun, as I
often pinch the tube in the process, and if I did, what would we do
then without another spare tube? We cleaned out the mess from the spray
can and the tube change went surprisingly well, even though we ran out
of drinking water in the heat. Two hours later we were on the road
The two days later
I picked up a nail a few miles outside of Ely, NV. There was no
shoulder on the highway to safely fix it, and since we have roadside
assistance we called Progressive Insurance, what a nightmare that was.
The lady on the phone was only reading from a script that didn't apply
to motorcycles and then wanted to tow me to Salt Lake City or Las
Vegas, both 250 miles away. Eventually we got a tow truck to a motel in
Ely, where I changed the tube in the last daylight and finished by the
shine of my head lamp. We had bought the tube the day before in
Winnemucca, at the only motorcycle store we've seen since then, and it
was the very last inner tube in our size they had. To get another spare
tube we had to make a 200 mile detour to Las Vegas, but after two flats
we didn't want to chance it and ride without a spare in very remote
trip through Washington
State in 2017
We never plan a
motorcycle trip in August, but this year, due to work, it was either
August or not at all. So August it was.
Usually we don't manage to get out until noon for a trip, but the
forcast was 106F, so we hit the road by 10 a.m. to be in shady forest
when the highest temperature hit.The incredible heat would stay with us
for nearly the entire trip, which took quite a toll on us. We ride
ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time), and one day we were just absolutey
done by 3 p.m., so we decided to get a motel with an outdoor pool
instead of camping, and we did and enjoyed it very much.
Another issue with
a trip in August, as we had to find out, is the HUGE ammount of
mosquitos in the woods. Our tent has, of course, mosquito netting, but
I had seldom taken our hat-nets on a trip. Even on our Alaska trip we
didn't need them, but wow, how we needed them on this trip. Good bug
repellant helps a little, and I always bring my bug repellant No-squito
shirt and pants, which unfortunately have to be long sleve and are
quite warm, but help. The hat-nets pack small and are light weight, I
highly recommend them for any summer trip.
trip through Idaho
During our Idaho
motorcycle trip I finally had my first flat tire. It was bound to
happen at some point, and of course it would happen in a ghost town in
the middle of nowhere. But still, first flat after 225,000 km (140,000
miles), I can't complain.
It was a relatively slow leak, and since I'm not good at changing tires
(I usually puncture the tube), I decided to use a can of "Fix-a-flat".
It seemed to work, so we rode back to civilisation, and got a new tube
put in at a Honda shop.
a ranger station we met a guy from California on his KLR. He highly
recommended visiting the ghost town of Custer, just a bit down the
road. We would likely not have seen the tiny sign pointing to it, if we
hadn't been looking for it. So we took yet another lonely gravel road
to a ghost town. It was getting late and the ranger was just closing up
in Custer, but she told us about the campground that is just a few
miles past the ghost town up in the woods, so we decided to camp there
and visit the town in the morning. At night it got smoky and in the
morning there was a lot of smoke in the woods. We were a bit nervous,
because we knew about several wildfires in the area. So we finished
breakfast quickly, packed up, and rode back down to the ghost town.
trip through Canada
and Alaska in 2015
On our way to
Hyder, Alaska we camped at Meziadin Provincial Park. It is only about
60 miles from Steward, BC, but it was getting late and we decided to
stay the night. It's a very nice camp site at a lake, but be aware of
bears. Jayne went to the bathroom at night and apparently didn't notice
the Grizzly behind her, at least that's what another camper told us in
During our motorcycle trip we saw several bears along the roads, and
then two grizzlys at the bear
watching platform in Hyder, Alaska.
trip through Utah
and Nevada in 2014
We rode from Moab,
UT along the Potash Road into Canyonlands National Park. The Potash
Road is in parts a quite rough trail, and for sure not passable in a
car without 4WD and high clearance.
At the bottom of Canyonlands National Park we came to the Shafer
Switchbacks, a dirt, gravel, and rock road up a 1300 feet tall cliff.
As the name indicates, the road has several switchbacks, and is
altogether quite steep.
I stopped at the bottom of the road to take a couple of photos, while
Jayne continued uphill. When I came to the third switchback I nearly
heart attack. I saw Jayne pinned under her bike in the ditch next to
the rock wall.
I lifted the bike a little so that she could crawl out, her aluminum
panniers prevented the bike from crushing her leg. She had an altered
mental status, which I assotiated with a shock, but it turned out to be
a concussion from hitting the rock wall with her helmet. After about
1/2 hour later, with Rangers and EMS on scene, she slowly came back to
being herself. She was taken by a 4WD ambulance to Moab Hospital for a
CT scan to make sure she didn't have brain bleeding or similar, which
she didn't. Read her side of the story here.
After three days of relaxing and healing at a Moab Motel we continued
on our trip.
California and Nevada in 2012
September 2012 we rode from Oregon to California where we visited
friends. Then on to Nevada, from where we had wanted to headed back to
Oregon. We had perfect weather on our trip through California and the
first part of Nevada. One day we had planned to get to Tonopah in
Nevada in the evening. We were about one hour ride away from reaching
Tonopah when a black wall appeared in front of us, a bad thunderstorm.
We stopped to see if the storm with heavy rain and lots of lightning
would pass. That was not the case, and because of all the lightning we
didn't want to ride on through the wide open plains and be the highest
points on the bikes. Looking at the map we saw that the closest town
away from the storm was about 60 miles north, so on to Mina, NV. By the
time we got there it was already dark, and we noticed that this town
hadn't much to offer, a bar and several nailed shut houses. We went
into the bar to ask for a possible camping site. The bar was run down
and there were guys playing poker at a tabel, one of them had an eye
patch. The bartender said that there was no camping site near by and
offered us to camp on his stage outside or to sleep on the floor of his
trailer. When we declined both, he said we could put up our tent in the
park across the street. We had a look at the park, it was a small
gravel patch with a few trees and two grills, right next to the
highway. In lieu of other options we set up camp in the "City Park" and
listened to semi truck passing all night long. Next morning we packed
up, quite tired, and continued to Tonopah.
trip to Yellowstone
Mid June 2011 we
rode from Oregon to Yellowstone. It was nice weather and
sometimes quite hot. Of course we had read that Yellowstone is rather
high, and that there had been a lot of snow in the past winter. We had
also heard that there should be some rest snow left, which was hard to
believe while riding in temperatures of more than 30°C (90°F) on our
way there, but whatever. When we arrived at the camp site we were a
little shocked, not only did my GPS show an altitude of over 2600m
(8600 feet), but they had just cleared some more camping spots, the
snow was in parts still more than 1m high. They gave us a talk to
absolutely use the bear boxes, which turned out to be hidden somewhere
under the snow. The camping spot they gave us was a nearly 2m (9 feet)
high wall of snow and the road in front of it. We looked for a better
available spot and demanded to change spots, which was granted. The new
spot was still only a cleared, paved parking spot, but at least we were
off the road. We borrowed a shovel from a neighbor and started to look
for our camping table and fire pit. After a few "exploratory holes" we
found them and began with the excavation, shoveling snow in June is
something different. The first two nights were cold but not too bad,
during the third night it snowed and the temperatures dropped far below
freezing, so we were happy to move on the next day. It was a cold, but
interesting experience to tent camp in the snow, especially in mid June.
trip through Eastern
Europe in 2008
are used in Bulgaria, Macedonia and in the Serbian part of Bosnia. It
not only makes reading traffic signs a challenge, but also makes
reading a restaurant menu impossible, especially in the countryside,
where English or German doesn't help.
In Shumen in Bulgaria we found then a
restaurant where we could at least somewhat communicate with the
waiter. We ordered what he recommended, chicken in tomato sauce, it
tasted great. Since it was so good we had the waiter write the name of
the dish down in cyrilic and used it to order in other restaurants.
the Adriatic Sea in 2006
In the morning I
crossed the border from Greece to Albania. Then, at around noon, I
stopped at this tiny restaurant in southern Albania for lunch. The
cook, which was also the waiter, brought me a hand written menu, which
of course I couldn't read. After a short language tangle (me in German
and English, he in Albanian and something else) we noticed that we
couldn't find a common language. Then the cook took me into the kitchen
and opened all pots. Everything looked good and smelled good too, but I
still didn't really know what everything was. So the cook pointed to
one pot and said "Baaah", then pointed to another one and said "Mooo".
Then we both had a good laugh, and I ordered the "Mooo" with rice -- it
was really good!
trip through the Southwester
USA in 2005
I had shipped my
motorcycle from Germany to Los Angeles for a 6-week motorcycle trip
through the western states. After about a week, in mid May, I was in
Las Vegas in Nevada at 100ºF. It wasn't only hot, but I was also stuck
in traffic for hours in the city. I realized that the oil temperature
of the air cooled engine rose further and further. I switched the
engine off whenever I wasn't moving to prevent further overheating.
This didn't entirely work, because of the constant starting of the
engine the battery got weak. When I finally came to a side street with
less traffic and turned off there the oil temperature was at an
estimated 160ºC/320ºF (the display ends at 140ºC/184ºF and there is a
red line at 120ºC/248ºF). Now you ask why I didn't stop earlier.
Unfortunately this was not possible due to very high side walks, or
even fenced in side walks, and stopping on the side of a four lane road
is just not an option. After I stopped in the side street and waited
for the engine to cool off, I took side streets out of the city. Two
days later I was just before Flagstaff in Arizona when I heard the
worst noise from the engine that I have ever heard. About 20 km later I
was in the town and quickly found a Honda dealership, which was even
open on that Sunday. Since the Honda NX650 Dominator was sold in the
USA for only two years in the 80th nobody had ever seen such a bike,
until a older mechanic came. He knew the bike and after diagnosing a
cracked cylinder head he also knew where to get a new one by expedited
mail. Three days later I was on the road again, Thank you very much!
The awful noise was actually caused by a valve seat slipping out in the
cracked cylinder head, and then by the valve pushing it back in.
trip to Iceland
While I was
somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Iceland it started to rain (well,
it happens). So, I stopped to put on my rain gear. Since I can't reach
my wallet in the one piece rain suit and I needed gas soon, I took the
wallet out of my pants to place it in my small handle bar bag. After
about one hour of riding it stopped raining, so I stopped again to take
of my rain gear. I nearly got a heart attack when I realized that my
wallet wasn't in the handle bar bag. I had put it on the luggage roll
while I put on the rain gear to put it in the bag later, which I
obviously had forgotten to do. I searched in panic in every possible
and impossible place on the bike, the luggage, and my clothes, but my
wallet wasn't there. The wallet had to have fallen down while I was
riding, and it contained all my cash, my credit cards, my ID card, and
my drivers license! After I yelled "Shit!" several times I got back on
the bike and rode the same way back, this time in first gear with my
eyes pinned to the dirt road and its banks. When I came close to the
area where I had put on the rain gear I had nearly given up on finding
my wallet. But I decide to ride up and down the road until I would run
out of gas, and then camp there until the next person would come by.
Then suddenly I noticed a flat, square stone in the mud. I stopped and
lifted it up - and it really was my wallet! Never before or since have
I performed such a happy dance, and I'm glad nobody was around to film
trip to Sweden
and Finland in 2002
My motorcycle trip
in May was planned to go from Germany trough Sweden up past the arctic
circle and then trough Finland back home. In Sweden the weather was
perfect, even just before the arctic circle it was still 15ºC/60ºF.
Then the weather changed over night and suddenly it was rainy with high
temperatures of 2ºC/35ºF. This wasn't pleasant, but I was prepared for
this kind of weather, so I rode on further north. Two days later, I had
just crossed the border to Finland, when it got even colder. The high
temperature was now far below freezing and it snowed sometime heavily.
After just one hour of riding I was so cold that I couldn't feel my
fingers anymore. So, I decided to head south as quickly as possible,
but after three hours I just couldn't go any further. Then I noticed a
sign for a camping cabin and decided to take it whatever the price
might be. It turned out to be a real luxury cabin, which I got
(probably because of pity) for a acceptable price. The cabin didn't
only have heating, but also a sauna! I fired up the sauna and got in
until I came back to an acceptable body temperature. Then I went to bed
and slept for nearly 12 hours. The next two days I rode further south
like on the run, and stayed in warm hotels at night. Finally the
temperatures became a little warmer and I could continue my way home a
little more relaxed.
trip to the North
Cape in Norway in 2001
On the way to the
North Cape in Norway I decided on short notice to take the ferry from
Bodo to the Lofoten. It turns out the ferry runs only twice a week and
of course not the day I was there. But by chance a old mail ship of the
Hurtigruten was there and ready to depart in a few minutes. So I
hurried to find out where to buy a ticket, and if they take motorcycle
at all. They take motorcycles and even cars as long as there is space
on deck. When I asked where I should ride the bike on board they just
pointed to the crane on deck. The captain came down to inspect the bike
for damages and noted a few scratches. After unloading at the Lofoten
he inspected the bike again, and I signed that they didn't damage my
motorcycle. The normal ferry is a little cheaper, but I didn't want to
wait for days, and the show with the crane was worth the price.
trip to Ireland
My Ireland trip
was the first big trip with my new luggage. I liked the large bag,
because one could unzip and then flip down two small side bag to reduce
the width of the bike. With a second zipper one could take off the side
bags. I had identified this as a possible problem and sewed the second
zipper shut, so that it wouldn't open while riding. On the quite bad
roads in Ireland and especially on the passes one of the zippers must
have opened anyway and I lost one of the side bags. When I notice the
missing bag I turned around and searched for it, but I couldn't find
it. I hadn't only lost the side bag, but also a pullover, a jeans, and
my rain suit. Surprisingly it didn't rain on the entire rest of the
trip, until I nearly reached the ferry in England. I was quite lucky
under the circumstances.
aluminum panniers and top cases
by an experienced motorcycle traveller.
Panniers available in 40l and 33l
Top boxs available in 20l and 36l
Silver/Grey or Black
is essential, not only on a RTW tour.