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Week "0" Chapter: Preparations - Anywhere. Anytime (Before Departure)

"Let this be understood, then, at starting; that the patient conquest of difficulties which rise in the regular and legitimate channels of business and enterprise is not only essential in securing the success which you seek but it is essential to that preparation of your mind, requisite for the enjoyment of your successes, and for retaining them when gained. So, day by day, and week by week; so month after month, and year after year, work on, and in that progress gain in strength and symmetry, and nerve and knowledge, that when success, patiently and bravely worked for, shall come, it may find you prepared to receive it and keep it." - Josiah Gilbert Holland

"You better live your best and act your best and think your best today, for today is the sure preparation for tomorrow and all the other tomorrows that follow." - Harriet Martineau (1802 - 1876)

"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." - Seneca (5 BC - 65 AD)

"In China, anything is possible. Nothing is easy." - First heard from Kin One, Director, Roader Motorcycles Ltd., BMW Motorcycle Importer

There's more than a bit of irony in the fact that, as I author the "first" chapter of this year's World Tour Live!Journal, the Pre-Departure Chapter (dedicated to stories and pictures from participants about all the myriad errands, "to-do"lists and thoughts BEFORE leaving home), I am already in Beijing, have created this Live!Journal's home page and all the related templates for the next ten weeks, given the website an overall revision to bring it up to date for the tour, and along with rest of the group, anxiously await our 175 kilometer bus ride tomorrow to the port city of Tianjin, where we will clear our bikes through customs.

After all the months of planning and anticipation, I'm writing the "preparations" chapter AFTER we've already arrived in China for the start of the tour.

Prepared indeed!

If my hoped-for pre-authoring of the website fell by the wayside, it was not due to procrastination. This year's World Tour has been the most logistically complex of any we have done. With riders from Canada, Holland, Japan, Norway and the USA, deposits and payments were made by international wire transfer, not only by personal check. Visas had to be secured from Embassies and Consulates around the globe. One container of bikes shipped by sea from Seattle, to Tokyo, Japan; another from Seattle to Tianjin, China. Helge's new BMW R1200GS Adventure was first air-shipped from Germany to Seattle, then air-lifted again to China. Another bike was air-freighted direct from Holland to Beijing.

But, as you'll see in the forthcoming chapters, it all worked out.  Everyone, and every bike, arrived in China.  Good thing, else the title of Helge's next book would have to be - "10 Weeks on 2 Soles."

Onward to Munich!

Mike M. Paull - Guide/Webmeister

24 MAR 2006 - World Cargo I - Tukwila, Washington USA

Since Japan was on the way, World Tourer Andy Upjohn and I decided that it would be fun to take a two-week tour there during the Cherry Blossom season or "Hanami" festivals - after all, it's on the way to Beijing (in a ship the container, board a plane, transit the Pacific Ocean sort of way). Since Andy was busily preparing for departure by sailing somewhere on blue waters of the Bahamas, Helge came down to World Cargo to help load our private 20-foot container, bound for Tokyo.

Because we had my sidecar posed for a "photo op" before rolling it into the container, we decided to back it in. Even with the relatively minor slope of the loading ramp, a 1,000+ pound rig takes a lot of energy to roll uphill. We didn't make it on the first try. No worries, just get a longer run at it next time, which we did. Unfortunately, we forgot how wide the rig really was with it's still mounted panniers, which resulted in yet a third attempt, as the second was rudely halted as the pannier hit the edge of the container.

Let it be noted, for the record, of all the bikes we have ever shipped overseas, the only one we've ever damaged was my very own.

On the other hand, we proved once again, that Touratech makes very strong panniers indeed!


Andy Upjohn (whose new R1200GS is already loaded) and yours truly first shipped his bike and my sidecar in a private 20-foot container to Japan.

A familiar picture, different bikes.  The first of the World Tour 2006 rider's motorbikes are loaded and secured.  For the first time, BMW R1200GS's predominate.

Fully loaded now, the last bike in was Wim Daalderop's, which was first shipped across the Atlantic by sea, then trucked across America to make it to Seattle (our other Dutch rider, Eef Peederman, had to ship directly to Beijing by air).

This year's loading crew, from left to right: Helge Pedersen - GlobeRiders Founder, Jeff Roberg, 2nd-time World Tourer, Herb Gaudreau - NW_GSer, Ann Roberg (kneeling) - 2nd-time World Tourer, Dane Perry - NW_GSer, Vince Cummings - World Tourer, Elliot Schulman - World Tourer.

Bob Erion, our ever-affable agent at freight partner World Cargo International, does the final honors, securing the container with a serialized tamper-proof seal.  The next time the bikes are started, the air of Tianjin, China will be added to the charge.

03 APR 2006 - World Cargo II - Tukwila, Washington USA

It was a bittersweet experience to pack the container with 13 bikes and send it to China. Two days earlier I had received my brand new BMW R1200GS Adventure. We had plenty of room in the container, but my new bike had come right off of the assembly line in Berlin before being shipped directly to Seattle.

With 0 miles on the clock it would have been stupid to head out on a major journey without some testing. With a brand new engine, one should never start out on any long journey without having done the first major service after 600 miles of riding. She was left outside the container, and in the coming weeks I did what I needed to do in preparations for the upcoming journey.

Three weeks later she was all wrapped-up back in the wood/cardboard box that she had arrived in, and was flown again, only this time, to Beijing, China.

But back to World Cargo International in Seattle and the day of the packing of the container.

It was good to see all the bikes being packed and as we tied them down one by one I could see that many an owner had spent hours outfitting and customizing their bikes. This is one of the major reasons that I like to travel with people that own the bikes they ride on the tour. Much love and care is usually put in to preparing for the journey and careful maintenance is usually conducted during the journey.

To pack a container and prepare it for a voyage across the ocean is by no means a small task. Lucky for me, I had good help from several members of the group that had come from far and near to help out with this task, in addition to a couple of very helpful members of the NW_GS-Riders, a great group of local GS enthusiasts from the Pacific Northwestern United States.

Tasks were divided into: lifting bikes in to position, nailing down boards around the wheels, strapping the bikes to the floor and so on. We were in no particular rush to get the job done so we took our time and made sure that each and one of the 13 bikes were solid mounted and could not move an inch.

The first times that I did this job I remember walking away from the job with aching muscles and pain everywhere. It still happens that I pull a muscle, but over the years, with experience, I have learned better techniques so that I do not compromise myself too much packing the bikes.

Four to five hours later we could all sit back and look at a line of beautiful shiny bikes all lined up like sardines in a can ready to start the journey.

The container door was sealed as we dove in to some “healthy” pizzas discussing the journey ahead. Having packed the container and sent the container to Customs made the journey so much more real. Perhaps a reality check for many that this was “the real thing” when they saw the bikes leave the warehouse in a sealed container.

Helge P.

05 MAY 2006 - Hiroshima, Japan

Today, World Tourers Tamotsu Enoki, Yasuaki Sasamoto, Andy Upjohn, and I, boarded the China Express passenger/container ferry Yanjing at the Port of Kobe, Japan. Andy, my wife Aillene and I had just wrapped up an all-too-short 12 day, 4,355 kilometer riding tour of Japan.

The map image above shows our route.  We started out in Yokohama on the main island of Honshu, then over-nighted in Yokohama, Sakata, and Hirosaki.  From Hirosaki, we rode to Aomori, and boarded a car/passenger ferry to the northern island of Hokkaido. There, we stayed in Sapporo, Wakannai, Kushiro and Hakodate. Another ferry ride back to the island of Honshu allowed us to press on to Matsushima, Kinugawa, Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hiroshima. We left Japan by ferry from Kobe (Seattle's Sister City), for a 3-day boat ride to the Chinese port of Tianjin, the closest major seaport to Beijing.

Japan is almost too easy.  The roads are excellent, the people truly gracious and helpful. Although there isn't much in the way of GS riding terrain, the gorgeous vistas are endless, and the snowy passes of Hokkaido were an unexpected bonus.

A few unusual highlights:

- We visited an Shinto temple in Sakata. Hundreds of year ago, two of the priests dedicated their lives to becoming living gods. In their late years, they began to eat a diet of nothing but dried nuts and fruit, with minimal water intake. As their body fat decreased, they were placed into wooden caskets sized just large enough for them to sit upright in a cross-legged seating position. They were then buried, with nothing but a bamboo tube leading to the surface.  Through this they breathed, and spent their days in prayer.  When their fellow priests could no longer hear them, they were exhumed, and enshrined, and even today, their remarkably well-preserved bodies may be viewed and honored on special occasions.  It is claimed no other means of preservation were used.

- Even as little as three years ago, the rage in cell phones here was miniaturization. I'm sure you all saw pictures and news articles of the new "text message" generation, young people madly text-messaging each other on tiny thumb-operated keypads.  Today, the pendulum has swung the other way, and cell phones are large, colorful, and packed with insane features, like real-time graphically-based GPS/navigation systems, real-time videophone capability, and a built-in TV tuners with 100+ channels so that you never have to miss an episode of your favorite show, even during lunch break at work.

-  The ferry ride from Aomori, Honshu, to Hakodate, Hokkaido, was on a modern roll-on/roll-off car/passenger ferry.  As is true in Washington State, motorcycles got to board first, and we were directed to with a dedicated area just for motobikes, with plenty of tie-down points, straps, and padding provided to protect the seat and painted surfaces when the bikes were strapped down. However, although there are private staterooms available, there are very few seats.  Instead, there are large common areas, separated by low walls, and covered in tatami mats. You simply choose which area you'd like to share with your passengers, TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES, and claim your space. It's all kind of fun, and a certain way to make a few new friends.

- Ready to out and party?  Want to let the world know what mood you're in, or what sort of person you are? Buy a bottle of Beer Bands, don the one that suits your mood, and party on! In case you can't read them, from top to bottom, they read: Desperate, Slut, Total Bitch, Tease, Anti-Social, Bed-Wetter, Alcomaniac, High-Maintenance, Snob, Control Freak, Sex Addict, Wimp.

Well, I could ramble on for a long time about Japan, but this was only a side-trip on the way to Beijing, so, back to our main story....

MikeP - Guide/Webmeister

Marker at Soya-Misaki on the island of Hokkaido, the nothernmost point of the Japanese islands.  Beyond are the Sakhalin Islands, claimed by Russia. On this chilly and cloudy day, left to right, myself, my wife Aillene, and Andy Upjohn.

The roads leading in and out of Chuzenji-ko, considered to be one of Japan's most beautiful lakes, are a tight as any in the Alps. Even better, they're all one way!

We were met by members of the Japan Sidecar Community as we traveled.  This German-made Krauser can hit speeds of 120KPH, and cost over USD$80,000.00 in Japan!

The somber Hiroshima Genbaku Dome (also known as the A-Bomb Dome), the only structure standing at Ground Zero after the bomb detonated, viewed through the memorial to those who perished. Now an eternal memorial to peace, and a World Heritage Site.

The intricate craftsmanship and serene beauty of Miyajima, the Itsukushima Shinto Shrine, one of Japan's most photographed temples, also a World Heritage Site.


Tom and Helge in front of the new "still under construction" Touratech-USA headquarters on Airport Way in Seattle, Washington, USA.


Prepping the bike for air-shipment at World Cargo International, Tukwila, Washington, USA, the freight forwarder for all GlobeRiders tours.

05 MAY 2006 - Seattle, Washington USA

The prospect of being able to Ride the all-new BMW R1200GS Adventure on this upcoming GlobeRiders World Tour 2006 made me very excited. Last time I had such a feeling was when I traded in my trusty Olga, a BMW R80G/S, for a BMW R1100 GS. Olga went to the BMW museum in Munich, Germany, and I went for a ride with my brand new shiny R1100GS.

Having ridden an air-cooled boxer engine for so many years, it took some getting used to this brand new oil-cooled engine. At the beginning I was quite skeptical of all this modern technology, like fuel injection and ABS brakes. But as time has gone by, I have ridden many miles and met many bikers with the same technology, proving over and over again that change can be a good thing.

So here I am in my little garage, sitting next to what might be the best adventure touring bike in the world, the BMW R1200GS Adventure. I am impressed with the workmanship as I start to take in the details of the front suspension, the massive fuel tank that is wrapped around the oil cooled and fuel injected boxer engine. I am excited to see that the saddle is actually two seats. By leaving the rear seat at home the space will fit my new camera back pack perfectly. I just love the panniers and the rigid frame that they are mounted onto.

But it is not all perfect yet; I have some modifications that need to be taken care of before the bike is shipped to China. After meeting with Tom Myers at Touratech-USA I am given a few tips on what I should consider for upgrades and/or modifications. Tom and his crew are super-busy these days getting ready to move in to a new facility in Seattle. For them this is their new adventure and I feel very excited on their behalf.

I hardwire to the battery two electrical outlets using the Touratech cockpit kit and a simple plug at the rear for the second outlet. The headlight needs protection and so does the radiator, once again Touratech parts are used. A Touratech GPS mount is installed on the crossbar. This is where my brand-new Garmin GPSMAP 376C GPS unit will sit and guide me around the world.

One of my major quests in the preparations for this bike is to expand on the original tool kit. As I am working doing my , mark every tool that I use in the process with blue electrical tape. By doing so, I slowly, but surely, build-up a new kit of tools that will meet my needs for the journey. I also add in the BMW tire irons so that I am prepared for a potential tire repair.

Last on the agenda was to get 600 miles on the clock before Ride West BMW in Seattle did the first major service on the bike.

China next!


09 MAY 2006 - Somewhere over the Eurasian Continent

Here we are !

Cruising at 850 km/hr to Beijing at the limit of this plane's range. Sardined among its human cargo who, it must be said, are a very civil group. The plane feels empty, filled with Asian-sized statures reminding me of a "driverless" car.

I am unsure when the reality of leaving, especially family for such an extended period, will make its way home.

It has been such a long process preparing for this journey that the execution seems somehow anti-climactic. I suppose, sharing a room with my brother, a feat not managed since our teens, should start to bring this reality home!

Preparing for this trip proved far more involved and time consuming than one could possibly envision. You must be either a participant or be an unfortunate consort, to appreciate all the details one must attend to. Decisions everywhere, choices in profusion: bikes, accessories, electronics, spares, tools, games, papers, clothing, gear, hygiene, first aid, well, you get the picture. Finally you have made all the selections only to discover the item does not work - too heavy, too large, so you eliminate, change, modify.

The preparatory phase is complete now, time too keep body, soul and the bike on the long and winding road ahead.

Matthew D.

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