Tag Archives: Motorcycle Gear

PPP – Preparation Period for our Pan-American Trip

Suddenly the time is rushing. In three-month already we have an appointment with some grizzlies and caribou somewhere in Alaska – WOW! A number of our tasks we accomplished, some are ongoing and others are still to do or rather we have to find a solution for.

Last year in October Kerstin did a Spanish course in Alicante and both we are learning vocabularies on a daily base since then. Vaccinations we did not have to do much and meanwhile we have new passports, the international driving licenses and as well motorcycle documentation. Kerstin resigned her job and is counting her last working days. Status of today: 23, wowowowoooo!!! 

The parents of our landlord kindly provided us their garage to store our bikes for the winter months as well to do the required maintenance there. When we started to do so in January we had a moment of shock: one of the spark plugs of Sascha’s AT was broken in the cylinder head and Sascha came home with the message: `My bike is fu..ed!´ Thanks to the help of the great AT community and a mechanic in our neighborhood Sascha was able to fix it. It took a full weekend al lot of sweat and tricky moments, several evenings after work but finally the AT was running again!!! 

Now we could continue the normal maintenance. All this evenings and weekends in the cold garage resulted in a bad cold and later on we both caught a flu virus additional. This compulsory break of 3 weeks was not really what we needed and made us a little nervous. But hey – back on the track! Today Sascha went back to the garage to finalize some electrical issues and Kerstin is sitting at the sewing machine to finish some additional mash-bags for the top of the cases to store wet clothes/sandals, groceries and coffee cups. Also she is sewing some secret-pockets where we can fit some papers.

On Tuesday we have an appointment at the US embassy in Berlin to apply for our 6 month visa – we will go there with the first train in the early morning; cross fingers they will award it to us!

Beside several small things we have to resolve some elementary things: to find a tenant of our flat for this one year period, we need to find somebody who would like to drive our car or sell it and of course we need to arrange the transport of our bikes to Anchorage and build an appropriate box for them. And least but not last we have to book our flights…   

Of course we do spent some time as well about the route – the Pan-American is legend and it is quite a distance to Terra del Fuego. Many options where to stop what to see and where to drive in or not…  Shortly we received a note of some friends we made in New Zealand 2011, Chris an Marty, who are planning to come in June to Vancouver and spend some time cruising. We are really looking forward meeting them and hopefully we can work out a couple of days together. As well we want to visit Junichi, a Japanese guy whom we met 2013 in Tasmania and who owns a vineyard now somewhere close to Portland. And we are excited to all new people we are going to meet along this loooong way J If you have any hints, tips or “must see” please feel free to let us know.


A short update from our preparations for the upcoming tour

Went to the garage (which our landlord made possible for us because he and his wife went to the canaries islands for the winter) and wanted to do the usual maintenance, chain and sprockets, oil, tires, brakes, fluid changes, and spark plugs etc… First the Africa Twin.
Tank off, Spark plug one: done, Spark plug two: Hmmm, doesn´t feel right, hmmmm doesn´t sound right, ARRRRHHHHGGGG I had it in my hand ….. Together with the thread!
OK, don’t panic…

A quick post in the forum (www.africatwin.de) checking possibilities, none of them is promising, except a complete overhaul…and within 24 hours I got a new cylinder head and various offers to help… What a great forum that is!

Now I have to remove the whole engine, about 1.999 screws, change the cylinder head, put it all back together again. There was another option, a “quick and dirty” one, just use a Helicoil and leave the engine mounted while installing it (this is the dirty part NOT the Helicoil itself, I heard only good things about it!). But then you never know if some of the aluminum went into the cylinder and if so it will burn the whole thing soon or later and if this “later” happens somewhere in the Andes we are screwed. So I will do a complete overhaul of the cylinder… must be around 100-1500 hours of work (Ok others may do it in 24h or so – but I can´t). On the other site I have seen the whole bike then from inside out!  

Never done that before – so wish me luck! And if some motorcycle mechanic is around Hamburg on the weekend and knows about such things pass by, have a beer and let me know how that works!

I will start meanwhile…

Video – The Theth Round

Dont forget to set to HD

Glad we took the blue pill ;) What a day that was – incredible!

Albania blog entry two will com this weekend…

Transalp Transformation

So what happens here? We had a normal Transalp with the normal tank, someone we met in the endless Internet had an Africa Twin Tank installed but she didn´t really need it and on top of it her legs have been a bit toooooo long so she touched the tank with her knees, we decided to swop everything… A super Win/Win situation, everybody is happy! Life can be so easy sometimes!


Romania – II. Land of Dracula, Mountain Passes and Danube´s Boilers

_img_1660_dxoAfter the Black Sea we were heading back inland. Still some of the most spectacular Mountain Passes were waiting for us but before we wanted to visit Gavin and his wife Andrea living next to Brasov, who invited us to stay with them. On the way to them we stopped at the Mud Volcanos at Buzau County which were formed from the eruption of gases; an unreal lunar-like landscape. The gas pushes the water and the clay to the surface and creating small cones. Gavin is British and living since many years in Romania and was travelling with his motorcycle diverse countries. We had some real nice evenings together while we were exploring the surroundings of Brasov on day trips such as Transbucegi or the area of Bran Castle.

About our next destination we heard and read a lot already and it is probably a must for any motorcyclist visiting Romania: The passes of the Carpathian Mountains Transfagasrasan and Transalpina. We ready ourselves and reckon with a lot of traffic. Not sure if we were just lucky or if it was because of the time of the year but it wasn’t much traffic at all and we really enjoyed the riding and had several stops to relish the beautiful views. The Transfagarasan is 91km long and passes through the highest mountain group of Romania, the Fagaras Mountains. At the initiative of Nicolae Ceaucescu this road was built while using 6520 tons of dynamite and 40 workers died during the construction. The highest road is the Transalpina which reaches the attitude of 2145m at the Udele Pass; both mountain routes have a charm of its own and are closed during the winter.  Apropos weather – we had sunny days only so far and even up here still around 25°C.

One more destination we really did not want to miss: The Danube´s Boilers; located south west of Romania at the Serbian border. Gavin highly recommended driving along the Danube on the Serbian side. But for some reason the decision was to stay in Romania (we need a reason to come back and travel Serbia as well :) One of the first attractions from the banks of the Danube River is the Statue of Decebal, the last King of the Dacians. The route is really scenic, fantastic landscape with caves and stone carved shapes and again we were surprised how little traffic we had, often it was just us on the road.

One day of rain: on the way towards north again we had a grey sky and stormy wind. But we continued. Partially it was pretty uncomfortable but nearly as a return we caught a sight of a curious looking house in the middle of nowhere and we stopped. An old man and a dog were coming out, talking to us and making inviting gesticulates. His name is Achim Emilian and he founded his private museum. A collection of incredible many things lovingly displayed relicts of several centuries and each single piece accompanied with a story by Achim.  About 2 hours we spend with him, listening to each other and laughing together. A MUST TO SEE and TO MEET! Don’t be shy: Achim Emilian, Loc. Almasu Mare Nr. 109, COD: 517030, Jud. Alba

As a closure of the journey we wanted to visit the Turda Saltmine close to Cluj-Napoce. The mine being first mentioned in 1075 and it was renovated and it reopened its doors in 2010 and is now a history museum of salt mining. Clearly it was time to go direction Vienna and for the way back we chose little roads winding along the north of the Apuseni Mountains close to where we started about 3 weeks ago. That was where “our muddy dog story” happened which you might have heard about already (it was posted on Facebook, RTWbyBIKE.com).

Romania is a real beautiful multifaceted country and it is not easy to recommend any specific place as there are so many – and probably still many places nobody talks about. Just follow your nose and take time for stops and chats. There are wild dogs, yes. They are not pleasant towards motorbikes and you should pay attention – but it is definitely not a reason not to go.

On the way back to Vienna we thought it could be nice to have a stop at the famous Balaton, Hungary just for the sunset a jump into the water and a nice dinner. But hey, EVERYTHING was closed, the camps and the pensions. For an hour we were looking around and if they offered us a room it was completely overpriced and a muggy stinky place. It turned dark and so we decided to continue north direction Vienna and looking for anything along the road. In the end we stayed in a Hotel which was not cheap but as well not run-down and therefore worth the money. Our last day was reserved for BigTom who travelled 4 years with on his bike and settled now again close to Vienna. We were pleased to see him again and spend a wonderful relaxed time together.

Thanks to everybody we met along this trip. Again we met only friendly open people who made our little journey to another great experience!