Saturday, 25 October 2014

Follw me on Facebook or Twitter

To blog or not to blog.

I've been too busy enjoying the ride, filming most of it, I find it difficult to find the creative energy left to write an up to date blog. In this day and age, most people seem to prefer using social media, either Twitter or Facebook and the like.

The problem with blogging is the need to use a computer, sit down with internet connection and post pages of stuff, whereas a Facebook or Twitter post is instant. So, the long and short of it, I've decided that I'll put all stuff on the Perth to Peru Facebook page and occasional Twitter feed too.

There's a load off my mind :)

Please follow me on Facebook or Twitter

I'll still be putting short videos and other goodies in here but will announce on the Facebook page.


Thursday, 23 October 2014

Why did you go to Nebraska?

I remember watching Jim Carey in the movie 'Yes Man' where he booked flights to Lincoln Nebraska and they made out that this was not exactly most exciting place to visit in all of USA. Well I found myself on a similar quest, thanks to my road trip buddy Donna for organising a meeting with a dear old lady I was keen to see.
Arelene Liska
Arlene Liska still works and lives in a small town Niobrara. She is now in her 80's and is to some extent a pioneer of motorcycle travel. In the 60's she wandered off with then husband Danny to cross the Arctic circle on a BMW. With two leather saddle bags and  a suitcase across the top, they left in 1959 and believe it or not took "The Long Way Round" so in fact were the first to use the title or so I believe.

I turn west at last and the delights of Colorado and California, Yosemite where I'm meeting lots of other motorcycle adventurers at the Horizons unlimited event. This is meeting for all sorts but as I'm doing a presentation on the last trip - Perth to Perth I'd better get there before its too late.

California is lovely and warm. The ride down the Route 1 one the West coast is a dream, lots of turns and lovely scenery.


Next: To Blog or not to Blog

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Highway of Tears

OK the first scary road completed I head across to see a mate in Nikiski, south West Alaska. I met Greg on a ride in New Zealand a few years ago, he managed to drop by Perth earlier this year and I promised to drop by on this trip. Greg has more toys than you can poke a stick at. Bikes, Planes, Cars, Ski mobiles, tractors, diggers, boats, 4wd's.... You name it. He's got it. But I have to say the private runway won the prize. Just imagine walking out your house across to your own hanger and pondering which aeroplane to take out today, Yes he has several of them too.

No sooner am I there than he's firing up the Piper Cub and we're running down the runway to lift off above his neighbours, which so happens to sit by the lake which is also used to land on ... or is it sail on?

With video camera's in hand we set off across to see some amazing mountain ranges just north west of our position. We fly between lovely peaks, glaciers, lakes and all that kinda stuff. All is going good until he's slowing down above this rock strewn valley, I'm sure he's too low but realise at last minute he's actually going to land on that random pile of boulders. Now I'm fairly ok flying as I've done this kind of stuff before, usually on flat runways, but I'm rather distressed that we'll hit the unkept pretend runway in Greg's head and we'll flip over breaking all bones. If we don't die initially, the remote location and weather will finish us off. As it turns out on bouncing the first time, the giant 30" wheels soak up the boulders as we sail over them at 60mph. Greg completes the landing with a prompt 180 deg turn any rally driver would be proud of, enabling some means on getting back off this mountain. I'm still gob-smacked when I hear over the headset, " I need to take a leak"!
Greg 'can land anywhere' Neisen

15 mins later we aim to take off, he tells me to lean forward as much as possible otherwise we wont get the tail of the ground and end up a mangled mess in the boulders at the end of the non existent runway. So the chances of death are still looming it seems. However, all goes to plan and we're off skirting the peaks and valleys. No sooner am I over this random toilet break than we're doing the same gain, slowing and descending. But there's no runway, no line of boulders in front. Yes there's a sort of beach looking thing on a lake in front but with vertical mountain faces at each end, there is no way you can turn a plane so tight at last minute skimming the water in a steep turn at this speed and land. But that's exactly what happens. No room for error here and I still have images of being spat out of a glacier in 100 years because it all went wrong. However, now landed, and still trying to pretend I'm not nervous, we get out for a pee. My turn this time. Purely as a precaution because we're taking off into a cliff face! With the same confidence as before,  Greg lifts the air-plane into the air and turns before we smack into the face of a ever closing mountain. What an amazing experience I thought, how can I beat that!

Matt and Gary
I head back to Fairbanks and collect my thoughts before turning East to Canada and the mountain ranges of the rockies. This is going to be fairly easy although pretty cold at times. I run into some new friends in Whitehorse where we all sit around the fire, drinking beer, talking complete bollocks and setting the world to rights. The best thing! The point of this at times. Good mental health therapy we all agree.
Gary is from Northern Ireland heading same way as me.  Matt is a NYPD cop heading home,who,  as I find out at the Canadian border, is also armed with a shotgun. Despite my feeble amusing  "make my day! Bear" Dirty Harry impersonations with my small tin of bear spray, my weapon is no match for a 12 bore.  I bid good bye for now Gary and Matt.

Doesn't sound like fun but the road or Highway of Tears was so named after several young girls disappeared hitch hiking here. This is the strctch of tarmac between Prince George and Prince Rupert. The weird thing is, this has been happening since 1969 and 2011. A total of 20 young girls have disapeared or been found murdered. Still no one has been caught for the crimes.

The suspects have been believed to originate in Prince George and it's here I wish I'd kept going. At night, out fending for refreshments the place has an eerie feel, with no one on the streets, similar to a horror movie where everyone lurks in the shadows and zombies are the only night life. Deciding to catch a quick beer I experience the pleasures of street life. A guy, obviously mentally ill tells me what he thinks of me and the world, two minutes later a drunk wants to pick a fight. But its all good, a scantily clad street girl asking for some loose change gives me a hug all because I spared her $5 to "get home"

So in effect I hired the services of a prostitute. Felt OK to me.

Next: "Why did you go to Nebraska"?

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Dangerous Road No. 1

Dalton Highway
OK I was basically shitting myself. I've managed lots of riding bikes in sand, mud, rain even snow (long time ago in Scotland) but my
nerves were getting the better of me. What if I crash on the first part? That would totally screw the whole trip. The brand spanking shiny new bike would be wasted and so would most of my funds.
The ride would take 4 days. Aiming for the most northerly part of my trip, Dead Horse and in the middle, Coldfoot for over night stop.

So I leave Fairbanks Alaska and reach the start of the Dalton.

mud on a dry and sunny day
So all is going good until I reached my first Dalton Highway roadworks, nothing new there perhaps but here is how it goes. Dig up perfectly compacted although bumpy dirt road, make the surface all nice and fluffy. Its a bit flaky but manageable at normal speeds most of the time. But that's too easy, Next bring along a water truck and spread the love all over that flaky surface. Result is a lovely concoction of sloppy mud which I recommend you do not ride onto at 70 mph thinking you are a Dakar legend. As it turns out I'm a leg end and nearly lose it. When i finally slow to a stop and check there is no mud inside my pants I decide to ride like a beginner with feet out for a short distance, just in case the bike wanders. This is not dignified and I regret not changing both tyres to suit. I may as well have had slicks on the rear as this and the weight of the luggage was all over the place. At one point the bike was actually crabbing along a slope and I was crapping myself at the same time.

Is that it? Nope. lets add some more challenge. How about rain then fog. add some big trucks that cannot stop and cannot see you until they notice your arse going under the front bumper because you are moving too slow wading through the mud. Ah and the best bit, a fast moving truck in the opposite direction sprays you with road diarrhoea which renders you blind. All good fun.

Yes happy to be finished that one. To be fair, the majority of this road is really easy, long section of tarmac or gravel, (oh how pleased I was to see gravel) with the majority of the dirt sections really easy.

I'm sure the guy in the water truck has small motorcycle logo's with a diagonal red line across it to signify another rider who went on his/her arse.

 So as the first hurdle is completed, i can relax, drink beer, eat and be merry until the next one.

Next: The Road of Tears

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Arrived in USA

After days, weeks, months of planning I'm here! Yay.
Got the new bike, so new and clean it even smells nice. That wont be for long though as it's raining today and anyway, can't go around with a clean bike.

Got all my stuff packed, going to head south to test everything then return for first service in a few days.

Big thanks to Don and Andrew at the Motorcycle shop for getting everything done on time :)

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Need bike luggage yesterday!

Touratech panniers
5 Sleeps to go until I leave for USA and it looks like the standard Triumph panniers aren't going to arrive in time. Trivial really and fine if I don't take any clothes or gear :) I could use just bags but the bike would resemble a block of flats.

Plan B is Mr Touratech.

still working on plan C

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Blatant plug!

Fancy watching something great on TV?

Great reviews .. here is one from Amazon..
"Posted promptly arriving from Australia (to the UK) in around a week and sent directly by Steven Kirk himself. For those that enjoy adventure motorcycling documentaries this is an absolute winner. Self filmed with occasional help from people and riders met along the way the finished six part three hour result is really very surprising. Far from being an amateur effort it comes across as really very professional. There is the obvious comparison with other shall we say "big budget sponsor supported" films and Perth to Perth matches up fair and square and for the man or biker in the street I would suggest betters them. The filming is excellent and does not feel staged, the emotion is honestly presented and the bit part characters that feature are given an important forward part in the series. I had planned to break up my viewing but got through the complete DVD in one sitting which I hope is a recommendation in itself. Finally, thank you Steven for sharing your adventure, really enjoyed your trip and much respect for producing such a polished, atmospheric and cohesive piece of work. Brilliant"

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Mixed emotions & fears

It took me around 6 weeks on the last trip to really get into the trip, the adventure, the escape. Everyone thinks I'm a hardened traveller and take it as matter of fact. The fact of the matter is, I have same nerves as last time, perhaps more.

With 3 weeks left before I fly over to USA, the excitement has gone to some extent and now I feel slightly worried. The same worry and anxiety I had on the last one.

Will this all be ok?
Will my family be ok?
Will my business be ok?
Will my wife leave me ?
Will I crash and die ?
Will lone travel make me weird?

I remember feeling similar before but there was the gentle introduction to the departing phase from my family. They would see me off in UK at a couple of places, meet in Paris and so on but this time I'm leaving from the airport never to see anyone again for months. Quite daunting really!

Added to this I know that when I come back to real life, it is really difficult to get back to normal so there's another worry. (Yes I worry)

Yet I'm counting the days until I can finally put my leg over my bike, put the key in, see the lights and dials come to life and float away onto another wonderful adventure and a different life.

Truth be told, I'm actually nervous about making big statements about "Dangerous roads"
I've said it, so must now do it.

I've also got to get my filming responsibilities together, this has to be better than the last one!

You look at this and think .. you spoiled bastard! What on earth .. "if I was in your shoes" etc.

OK its just my thoughts at the moment. If I didn't write em down then they'd be forgotten. Maybe good idea but I think it's best to be totally honest about all of this. The pictures show the glamour perhaps. The thoughts show the reality.

The motorcycle traveller legend that is Ted Simon did this wonderfully in his book, Jupiters Travels. Nathan Millward was totally honest in his book about a postie bike from Sydney to London. Its not all champagne and caviar apparently.

Waffle? Yeah probably. Just my thoughts at moment.

Friday, 27 June 2014

The bike is going to be ....

my new baby
A Triumph Tiger 800XC

Probably best compromise between on road and off road. I've heard some say this is still too big and heavy to pick up. I disagree. I need something with a bit of power but also the ability to go anywhere. 

As I've been a good advert for the product, Triumph USA have kindly helped out with excellent discount on supply of a new one.

It's currently somewhere between UK and Alaska at the moment in a box. 

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Some moans, fears and worries.

Up to this point its all been numbers and schedules. Like work and normal life, we all work to numbers, money, costs and schedules. Dates and times. Go to work. Come home. Live to the clock and earn money to survive ... fuck so boring!

The magic of Perth to Perth has been lost. I had changed my view of the world, changed my thinking and attitude. How come, so soon after, I'm pummelled into submission of conforming to the so called  'normal' 9-5. Thats wee boy returning from an adventure isn't so young anymore in his head.

I haven't really been engrossed on this trip so far. Something has definitely been missing. I assumed that, since I'd done a similar trip before and had ridden a lot of places,  that I could deal with everything, plan everything at last minute and just sail on through.

But this isn't right! What's missing?

Previously I'd felt a sense of excitement and  fear from going through scary places, the apprehension and sense of danger, sense of achievement. This time, I've got a smug bastard way of thinking that is annoying me. This robs me of the excitement of innocence, or ignorance, learning of new places etc.

The whole idea of adventure, in whatever way you do it is to feel new stuff, new experience, scary maybe, exciting, smell new smells, see new places, come across wonderful or bad peoples and customs. I've suddenly forgotten all that in the scheme of things. I didn't realise this was missing till now.

I know why

The last couple of months I've been trying to get support from suppliers, manufacturers, get free stuff, free bike, free clothes, luggage etc. My head has been in business mode.

Why was I so hell bent on doing this? In my quest and using my business head, it all made sense. Yeah, would be nice to get stuff but how much energy must I put into it. I understand others have fought long and hard to get some support. Good for them. I haven't had the time or the energy to do this. I have a business to run amongst other things.

People keep asking me, " are you getting support, sponsorship"? "are they giving you free stuff, after all you have promoted their product well"? and so on which makes me feel lacking, yeah, "why shouldn't I get some support"?

I can afford to fund my own trip but it still pains me when I see people being given a brand new bike to take a wee run to the shops. A person who seems to have convinced someone in the marketing department they are worthy of a freebie despite having no credibility. I've been making jokes about needing bigger tits or nicer legs to obtain such aforementioned freebies and despite being true, this isn't helping my mental state at all. I made the mistake of thinking street cred gets you freebies. No it doesnt. David Beckham is a squillionaire yet gets free stuff all the time. Why is that? Well we all know why of course.

Here is the smug bastard bit, since I've been ... here and there and proved myself etc .. why shouldn't they lavish me with free bikes, gear ... ?

Enough Steven !

Its sapping my positive energy and I need to move on.

I need to lose this way of thinking and although I will be getting some help from some manufacturers on this one, I'm not going to be selling my soul for it. That means you don't get to see my tits OK?

My business head has taken me too far down this path and it doesn't make me happy.

So this moan and grumble must be used to change some thinking. I need to get back to wide eyed enthusiasm, adventure is exciting, keep it at that and try to avoid the mundane organisation of flights, costs and deadlines. Many would give their right arm to do this although that would render them useless on a bike mostly.

So the morale of the story is .. as one of my mates has told me in one way or the other ..."fund it yourself, its easier on the heart and soul"