Friday 30 November 2012

Happy St Andrews Day

Yesterday was another hot day, another day in Buenos Aires or Bs As as we like to say (ha ha) , a look around a different part of town, very modern very new but with the same issues as any big town, amongst the corporate face of the city people still sleeping in cardboard boxes on the streets, no worse than Edinburgh I don’t suppose and a lot warmer but it still annoys to see that people have to live like that. Funny of the day was at the Theatre Colon  , the show is Wagners opera Rng, so Wagners ring at the Colon, very apt!! Funnily enough the woman next to us on the flight is married to one of the opera  singers appearing in Wagners Ring at the Colon, British toilet humour, I’m sorry!

Spent the evening listening to and watching Billy Connoly & the proclaimers on You Tube, its great to be Scottish, nobody seems to understand  word of my English never mind my very limited shit Spanish!!
I hope you all have a great St Andrews day, I'll be celebrating with a wee dram later but nae haggis I'm afraid.


Man on a horse

Doubles as somebody's bedroom

At least its a warmer place to be a dosser

The Colon theatre, impressive

Colon Ring, well I thought it was funny

Big pole, was too busy trying to avoid being run down to find out what it was!

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Buenos Aires

Another Sunny warm day and into town to get a "green card" to extend our insurance coverage to the neighbouring countries (Chile & Peru being the relevant ones) a walk to the train station and 4 Argentinian pesos to get the train into town (around 50p for both of us) Job creation seems to be the order of the day which is good. There have been a few accidents recently on the train network and after travelling on it I can see why casualties are high, they are very busy and the rolling stock is old but they provide cheap transport so who can say which system is right?
Train arriving
Into the town and through the nice park just outside the station and quite quickly found our Insurance company office, I have to say despite my poor or non existent Spanish (and even poorer English) we had no problems and walked out with the documents in under 10 minutes, a great result.
 We then had to find Sim cards for our mobiles, after the first shop (Telefonica) where the staff basically took the piss we left and found another where despite the guys not understanding a word we said managed to suss out the phones we brought didn't work in Argentina so he sold us basic Nokias and Sim cards at a good price. The system here is that the vendor doesn't do credit for the phone so we now have phones that work and no credit!! Thanks to Sandra (again) for getting the sims activated, we would never have managed, the system here seems complicated. A nice baguette at a cafe and some coffee refreshed our tired feet. A picture below of a obviously failed Harrods store.
Also an interesting "theme pub"

 After buying tickets for the wrong train home we finally got the right ones and got the right train which was a bonus. Just taken the empties back to the supermarket  (chinese owned) which saves you a few pence on the beer, just like a few years ago in the UK.  The boss guy is now saying hello and knows we are from Scotland so it is quite funny, I guess tomorrow he'll try another English word with us.  
And finally we saw loads of these tickets all over town, not sure if its for a back massage or a place to park your bike, interesting!!

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Bikes Liberated

An early start this morning after a great sleep (needed it after the previous 24 hours) Taxi with Sandra to the Airport to get our bikes out of Customs and importation. Monday was a holiday so the place was very busy. Lots of offices visited, lots of paperwork, lots of stamps and lots of hanging around waiting, things go slowly in Buenos Aires so luckily we had Sandra to keep us right and do most of the waiting. If it had been the UK I'd have been going mad but its South America so its the way it is. A graet moment when we saw the crated bikes but that was only half way through the process, still lots of waiting, customs etc etc.
Woo Hoo our bikes!!
By the way for those of you in Europe it was at this point around 32 - 35 Degrees C , can you remember temperatures like this?
Eventually after much bill paying, and forms that was it, ready to roll, while the customs guy and Sandra were doing their thing we put the mirrors back on and blew the tyres up again (they let air out for the flight) Thanks to Sandra it was not the stressful experience it could have been and I'd recommend using her, money well spent, especially for me with my tendency to explode quickly!
Sandra and our bikes in Dakar Motos
We set off through the traffic to the first petrol station to fill up, we must have taken half an hour, great to see good employment schemes, a person for each set of pumps and still 5 times slower than in the UK but hey, the weathers nice, we're not in a hurry, whats the rush. I took a wrong turn and headed towards the city centre, oops, not a great idea, managed to get back on track but not before experiencing the traffic from hell, we ended up at a paybooth in the midst of chaos horns tooting everywhere, and then the barriers were lifted and we were all through for free, Javier later told me that in Argentina if there are more than 10 cars waiting they are entitled to protest by blowing their horns and have the barriers lifted and get through for free. I thought it was a great idea, can't see it happening in Europe though.
We made it back to Dakar Motos, around 40 miles with the detour!, our first miles in a new continent. Tomorrow we plan to chill, visit the centre (by train) extend our insurance for the neighbouring countries (a green card type of scheme) and see what there is to see. The only other thing of note is that the Argentinian mosquitos are enjoying my blood, more lumps on my body than elephant mans head!!
Relaxing in our Kitchen/ Bedroom/ Lounge/ Garage


Monday 26 November 2012

Buenos Aires

After a crap night on the plane and a very cramped and uncomfortable 15 hour flight from Frankfurt (thanks to the fat guy next to me who I dug in the ribs a few times) we arrived in a sunny 22 Deg C and warm Buenos Aires. Two hours to clear customs and immigration and thats without the bikes. Tomorrow we set off early to see if they have arrived and to try to extricate them from Customs. Got a taxi to the famous Dakar Motos to meet Sandra and Javier who'll we be staying with for the next few days while we sort stuff out and get acclimitised to the weather and customs. All good so far!
Just passing by Rio de Janiro this morning (as you do) seen on the planes whereabouts panel

And during the boredom in the Airport waiting for officialdom to take over we spotted this, "Newcastle disease" Does that mean the streets will not be filled with almost naked revellers on a winter night?

Sunday 25 November 2012


So the journey's started and we're at Frankfurt airport. Not the efficient German machine i'd imagined. Took us ages and sore feet to find food. Waiting now for food having a beer , life is good.

Saturday 24 November 2012

Waiting now

Well  that’s  us almost ready, most of our goodbyes done, all packed (but there's not much to pack anyway) No idea where the bikes are at the moment. Looking forward to the start of the adventure and hopefully escaping the freezing weather for a while at least. Final checks on the hibernating bikes done. Next blog hopefully from Argentina (unless we have anything interesting happen en route)
Missing the Condom Rally at Glenshee with Norrie and the rest of the team, sorry guys (and girls) Hope its not to rough for the ride home tomorrow!!

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Clearing out

The fact I'm off on the bike for a while means I'm having a bit of a clear out, still feel it hard to throw anything out though, perhaps a year on the road will change that? Only five days untill the adventure starts for real so quite exciting now. Found this (as I was clearing SD cards!!) Its a pic of my Dommie taken a couple of months ago when we were changing the head bearings (ended up they just needed greased) So I thought I'd share for the Brit lovers out there. The Dommie like most of my other bikes will be having a year off while I wear the BMW out!!

Saturday 17 November 2012

Probably my last run on a Norton for a Year!

Out today for a last run on my Norton Commando, its always satisfying, even on a cold (and occasionally wet) day like today. I've said it before and I'll say it again, there is no other British Classic which is as good to ride, its quick enough for modern traffic, smooth and is just a brilliant bike. Why am I not using it for the Americas trip I hear you all saying, it requires plenty TLC & maintenance to keep it going and even though I've got a year, to do the same journey on the Commando might take longer or would certainly involve more "maintenance days".
I'll keep a note of the "glad I'm not on the Commando" days, that may be interesting.

Thursday 15 November 2012

Engine resource

So a change from preparing for the off and up in Dundee to visit Derek at engine resource to get him to put new seats, guides and a re bore on alex's Norton. Picture of derek with the serdi 4 head machine. Very sexy (the machine) if you like that sort of thing. Good to be doing Norton stuff for a change.


I've mentioned these guys before on the Blog but thought it was worth another mention. Stu & Chris Marshall, two brothers cycling from Derby to Hanoi , Vietnam. They have now made it to China! Take some time to read their blog, real hardcore, temperatures of - 20 Deg C at night and -5 During the day. I'll never moan about going out on my motorcycle in the cold again!!

Monday 12 November 2012

Major Milestone

Early start today (6am) to meet Alex so we could take the bikes down to the shipping agent in Manchester.  We got there around 10.30 which was great and then had the crack with Julie, our very efficient export person, it all seemed pretty laid back, we paid the money, signed to agree the bikes are in good order (for insurance purposes) and then that was it, back home again. I'm  not sure what I expected but it seemed a bit easy, a bit "normal".
We loaded the bikes up with the luggage (they fly packed onto a pallet just as you'd ride them away) and that was it. So the next time we see them will be in Buenos Aires in 2 weeks time, our bikes are going via Qatar seemingly so they'll have a wee holiday in the sun first!
Countdown time for sure now.

Sunday 11 November 2012

Bikes loaded!

Another step forward, bikes in the van ready for the journey to the warehouse in Manchester tomorrow, and then their onward flight to Buenos Aires,  all exciting stuff.

Friday 9 November 2012

Packing finished

Right thats it, finished, panniers packed, tankbags fitted, mirrors removed, sheep fitted (seat cover!!)  so all ready for the trip to the warehouse Monday. Stupid story of the day is that for some reason I tried to fix the handle on my travel mug, with superglue, ended up that I now have two fingers with a thick coating of superglue like a second skin (not pleasant) The cup is now in the bucket and I managed to re claim an old one. Anything to save a pound eh!
I'll be glad to get these out of the livingroom soon!! Meanwhile we've parties all weekend, oh no, I cannae dae it any mair!!

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Life for two for a year in four panniers!

Almost finished packing the gear, its amazing how you can pack for a year in 4 not very large aluminium boxes. As I've said before the bulk of space is taken up with bike stuff, electronics and cooking stuff. Of course seperately there's a bag with the sleeping stuff and of course the tent. If I'm being honest there's less stuff than we took to the Ukraine recently and that was just a two and a bit week trip.
Of course its South America we start in and to be fair the whole trip will be going through populated countries where there will be shops (and hopefully cheaper than here) I've left room for food as we will be passing through large deserted areas also and will need to keep stocked up for these days when wild camping is the only option, can't wait now, the packing is quite frankly boring me now, just want to get on my bike and go!!
Test load tomorrow with the bikes and gear in Alex's van ahead of taking them down to the warehouse in Manchester on Monday where they'll be crated up and start their journey. I'm sure those of you dipping in will also be looking forward to tales from the road rather than tales from my livingroom!!!

Saturday 3 November 2012

Sunny but nae bike

Sorry to say despite the sunny weather I didn't take the bike out today, I've got a appointment with some friends in a bar later so just went out for a walk and brunch. Thought I'd share this photo (another one) of this iconic bridge, there's a memorial to the guys who were killed in the construction of the bridge nearby now, makes sobering reading, the youngest was just 13! If you look at photos of the history of the construction you'll see that health and safety consisted of a bowler hat and a pair of stout braces to hold trousers up, no wonder the cost of structures built then were paid for not just by money but human life.
On a cheerier note, plenty bikes out today although I noticed the roads have salt on them now and are retaining that dampness more, make sure to clean it when you get back or the next time you go out it'll just be a rusting seized heap! 

Friday 2 November 2012

Testing times......

This morning I had an MOT test booked for Fiona's Kawasaki (MOT = annual roadworthy test in the UK) I checked it out this week and all was well. Now I've said it before, the ride to the MOT station for me is quite nerve wrecking, I'm hyper sensitive to the bike and the feedback from it, today I convinced myself that the head bearings weren't 100% or was it the wet, greasy pot holed roads that was fooling me? To me an MOT is like being summoned to the headmasters study for wrongdoing, (I've had plenty experience of that!) You arrive almost apologetic, wondering what the outcome of the meeting will be. The mechanic (who is a first class guy) takes your bike away (its the same as the school secretary taking your details and telling you to wait) You wait, reading pointless news in pointless newspapers left on the table, the wait seems endless (although I did grab myself an egg roll and cuppa from the burger van outside, something I couldn't do at school)  finally Mike the service guy says "Gino, that's your bike ready, it passed, couple of advisories  to look at" YES!!, inwardly relieved I'm not getting thrashed with the metaphorical belt (which was the punishment when I was a lad, talk to the kids now about abuse, we were thrashed mercilessly by sadistic teachers for such heinous crimes as laughing at the wrong time or worse for daring to have an opinion which differed from the teachers)
The head bearings are a little notchy, so I was right, not bad enough to notice normally though, on the road home the bike felt great, obviously my hyper sensitive brain had switched off and I was back to dumb mode!
I don't know why I'm like this, when my car is done I drop it off, say fix it and MOT it and don't worry about it, I suppose the bike is such a personal thing and thats what makes it stressful for me, a failure is a failure of my ability, an example of laziness to prepare properly and very personal, or maybe I'm just weird? 
Oh well a year of no MOT stress will be a welcome relief, only thing is ALL the bikes will need tested when I come back, oh no, that visit to the headmaster might be painful!!