So what do I do when I'm not travelling on my motorcycle?
I talk about my motorcycle, I tinker with my motorcycle and I watch, read and listen to others who have a similar interest.
I'll try and share my thoughts about what I watch/read/hear in this section.
I will also try to give some thoughts about the gear I buy.

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in Books
Created: 30 April 2019
Cover

 

Title: Lone Rider
Tagline: The First British Woman to Motorcycle Around the World
Author: Elspeth Beard
Website: https://www.elspethbeard.com/
ISBN: 9781782439622
Review copy: Amazon
Published: 5 April 2018
Language: English
Country/Region: 
RTW
Rating: moose solidmoose solidmoose solidmoose solidmoose solidmoose solidmoose solidmoose solidmoose solidmoose solid


At 23 Elspeth had finally saved up enough money to set out on a journey that would finally be 56000kms and span the globe.
She saved up money by amongst other things, living in a garage, living on a diet that wouldn't even be served to prisoners and spending almost all of her free time working extra at a pub all the while studying as an architect despite being dyslectic.
That this is one determined lady is pretty clear from the outset.
A determination that would serve her well as she sets out in 1982, a very different world from today, especially when it comes to female emancipation.
She tells her story in excruciating and brutally honest detail.
Every tightening of a screw on the bike, every bodged repair, every thought of despair and every joyous moment. It's all there out in the open, nothing is held back.
Some things I'm glad I'm never going to have to experience, like eyes peeking through holes in the walls or a line of men (or women for that matter) lining up in the corridor outside the hotel room hoping to steal a glance through the keyhole.
Or getting continuously mobbed down in India by people wanting to have a look at the marvellous selfie start, double engine BMW R60.
The budget of this whole adventure and the things she does to keep going is at the same time admirable and utter madness.
Cutting her hair to save on shampoo is just one thing, in Nepal she hires a pair of boots to trekk Annapurna.
But the most insane thing must be when she falsifies a Carnet to get into Iran, as a woman, as a westerner just a few years after the Islamic revolution.
The book absorbs you right from the first page and never lets go, turning the last page page left me in a dizzying sense of loss, like loosing a good friend.
The fact that it wasn't written until about thirty years after the journey I think makes a huge difference, she's had plenty of time to ruminate on the travels and we also get to know what happened after she got back and had to adjust to "normal" life (as normal as it gets for an extraordinary woman).
This is not your run of the mill travel tale, it's an epic adventure in every sense of the term.
It deserves far more than being compartmentalized in the adventure travel niche, I believe this has something for everyone with just the slightest adventurous spirit or wanderlust.
Deeply inspirational not just when it comes to overlanding but also on a personal level. A solid 10/10, the best thing I've ever read.

 
in Audiobooks
Created: 18 March 2019
Cover

 

Title: In Search of Greener Grass
Tagline Riding from Reality towards Dreams and Finding Fulfillment
Author: Graham Field
Narrator: Graham Field
Website: https://grahamfield.co.uk/
Length: 15hrs 24mins
Feature: Unabridged
Review copy: Audible
Published: 23 February 2018
Language: English
Country/Region: 
Europe/Asia
Rating: moose solidmoose solidmoose solidmoose solidmoose solidmoose lightmoose lightmoose lightmoose lightmoose light

 

Graham is what you would call a minimalist rider.
He has a tooltube made out of a toilet brush holder on his KLR650 and despises technology to the point where minimalism borders on luddism.
But I think when you've done an epic trip like he's done your logic becomes a bit flawed in regards to how it could have been done.
I remember reading Touching the world where Bernard Smith sings the praise of their BMW and boldly states that there is no other machine that could have done their trip, completely disregarding the fact that it was broken down for one whole month out of the twelve they traveled.
Along the same lines Graham discards satnavs as some kind of utterly useless yuppie-paraphernalia early with no practical use whatsoever and states that using them makes you completely oblivious to where you are in the world.
Thanks to the fact that he to his credit doesn't hold back on any information in the book despite how it makes him look we learn that on his day by day account of his travels he makes navigational errors every day for at least the first month including riding around in circles for two hours and going in the complete opposite direction of what he intended.
If that is what its like having a sense of where you are in the world we'll just have to agree to disagree on the satnav issue.
The book starts out good enough with trip preparations and heading of to the Sweden Rock Festival and he seems very joyus traversing Europe.
That all changes when he gets to Kazakhstan though.
I think Graham really is a solo traveler at heart but he can't resist the comfort of  teaming up with others when the opportunity arises which leads to endless conflicts.
Halfway into the book there is so much criticism of other riders, route choices, stops, hotels. Pretty much everything you can think of.
Some of it is really petty like when he states when one of his "pet hates" is when someone takes the lead and don't know where they're going.
Following that debacle Graham himself takes the lead and immediately goes the wrong way himself.
By this point I'm really feeling that I'm listening to the overlanding version of "An idiot abroad" and it got so depressing that I actually switched over and listened to another book before taking this up again.
It does eventually get better just to get worse again as he reenters Russia as it's blatantly obvious that the Russian way is not to his liking at all.
One thing I do like about the book is that Field gives day by day commentary which really immerses you in the travel and makes it easy to follow along where he is in the world.
I also like the fact that he mentions absolutely everything going on with the bike, every tire change and every top up of oil.
I also love the fact that he after such a long trip still considers the bike to be just a machine, he doesn't name it and he doesn't consider it a close and personal friend.
It's simply a tool to get the job done and it's very refreshing that for once it isn't a Beemer.
Graham mentions in the afterword of the audiobook which he himself narrated 8 years after the trip that now that he's reading it all again he's not sure if he really likes the person he was when he wrote this.
I'm really glad he wrote that because I'm not sure I do either but that kind of self awareness means he's changed since then and peaked my interest in his next book, Eureka which I most likely would have skipped otherwise.

 
 
in Gear
Created: 19 June 2018
forcefield base layer pants frontforcefield base layer pants back

 

Product: Forcefield Body Armour Base Layer Pants
Manufacturer: Forcefield Body Armour
Bought: eBay
Purchase date: 
19 June 2018
Rating: moose solidmoose solidmoose lightmoose lightmoose lightmoose lightmoose lightmoose lightmoose lightmoose light

 

I bought these as a base layer for warm weather riding as the Klim Badland pants tend to chafe my legs in long days in the saddle, especially around the knee protector.
First impressions out of the box is that I don't really understand what kind of body these pants are made for.
I bought them size small (like most things) and they fit reasonably well around the waist but they are impossibly tight around the ankles and are ridiculously long.
There is probably a couple of decimetres excess length on the leg and as I pull all this up every time I wear them I can hear the seems starting to tear, if they survive this full season I'd be surprised.
Forcefield uses a fibre called BeCool which supposedly is "the first polyamide fibre with integrated airflow control a function that maintains body temperature during sports and leisure activities. Through a four channeled thread BeCool has a greater diffusive area than standard thread, up to three times greater than cotton, which allows it to act like a fan forcing the skins hot and humid air towards the outer layer of the fabric while allowing cool and dry air to circulate from the outside into the surface of the skin."
Sounds great right?
Wouldn't it be great if it worked?
Yes it would but unfortunately it doesn't.
I bought this for the trip to Russia and had temperatures just below 30ºC throughout almost the entire trip.
I suffered through for most of the trip as it did relieve the chafing of the pants but eventually I couldn't take it any longer and started riding without them.
After a full day of riding with the FF Base Layer my legs where completely soaked with sweat, I would not have been worse off even if I'd just pissed myself right before peeling these off.
This is not how breathable fabric is supposed to behave.
I did not wash them before taking off on the trip so there is nothing I could have done to ruin the functionality of the FF pants.
For all intents and purposes it was like riding in Long Johns and that is pretty much how I'll continue to use them from now on.
I will continue to look for a base layer for hot weather riding as this is obviously not it.

in Audiobooks
Created: 09 April 2018
Cover

 

Title: Extreme Frontiers
Tagline Racing Across Canada from Newfoundland to the Rockies
Author: Charley Boorman
Narrator: David John
Website: http://www.charleyboorman.com/
Length: 6hrs 53mins
Feature: Unabridged
Review copy: Audible
Published: 1 March 2013
Language: English
Country/Region: 
Canada
Rating: moose solidmoose solidmoose solidmoose solidmoose solidmoose solidmoose solidmoose lightmoose lightmoose light

 

As I've previously written Ewan and Charley gets a lot of hate from the community and Charley probably more so than Ewan.
When I read between the lines it seems that some people seem to consider Boorman some sort of failure as his acting career didn't really take off.
The way I see it he used his contacts to make one of the most watched travel documentaries of all time and has since been able to make a living off of travelling, writing, presenting travel shows and as more or less a factory rider for first BMW and now Triumph.
If that's a failed career then sign me the hell up right now.

This book is from a trip travelling (mostly) by motorbike through Canada, the second largest country in the world and was the first of a series of travel documentaries made for UK:s Channel 5.
I have to admit that my expectations weren't high as I had no previous experience of Boorman as an author (as I just assume the Long way round book was ghostwritten).
Turns out the guy really can write.
I've seen the show but this gives a whole new perspective to the trip with thoughts and insights that there just wasn't time for in the show.

Although the motorcycle aspect wasn't very prevalent I enjoyed this immensely as I got to follow Boorman through the "extremes" of Canada even though the things he does is obviously thought out to cater to a television audience with dirt biking, extreme cold diving, horseback riding and ice hockey (obviously, he is in Canada after all). 

This will definitely make me check out some of the other books he's written.

 
 
 
 
in Audiobooks
Created: 13 February 2018
Cover

 

Title: Into Africa
Tagline Africa by Motorcycle - Every Day an Adventure
Author: Sam Manicom
Narrator: Sam Manicom
Website: http://www.sam-manicom.com/
Length: 10hrs 47mins
Feature: Unabridged
Review copy: Audible
Published: 14 August 2012
Language: English
Country/Region: 
Africa
Rating: moose solidmoose solidmoose solidmoose solidmoose solidmoose solidmoose solidmoose solidmoose solidmoose light

 

Sam quits his job as a shoe-salesman and starts travelling the world going through Europe and taking the ferry over to Africa.
He puts himself in places and situations with an equal measure of humour, warmth and fearlessness.
He's pretty much a cross between Al Bundy and Indiana Jones (he even has the hat).
Unlike many other travellers who have done this Sam has no fixed agenda as he has time-limit for his return which I think make all the difference.
He really has the time to completely immerse himself in the culture as he dedicates a whole year and 22000 miles to do what others might do in four to six months and a lot less mileage.
At one point he even hides the bike and treks for more than a day to spend a week with a tribe that's pretty much devoid of outside contact.
Sam calls things as he sees them in a journalistic kind of way without overanalyzing or spiritualizing it at all which might sound boring but most definitely is quite the opposite.
He is an amazing storyteller, this is the kind of guy you'd buy beers for all night just to hear him talk and he paints a picture that makes you feel like you're right there in the moment with him.
The only reason this doesn't get a solid ten is because: 1. Sam is a better writer than he is a narrator and 2. he like many others develop the Wilson-syndrome along the way giving his bike a persona and a naming it.
Naming your bike and/or refering to it by its gender pronoun makes for pretty confusing reading when there are more than two people mentioned in the story.
I also don't really understand the decision to screw up the chronology by having the first chapter take place in Uganda, it's no doubt the "juiciest" chapter of the book but you don't really need to hook me in, I've already bought the book.
But those are really minor details and overall this is one of, if not the best adventure motorcycle book I've ever read (heard) and since this is just the first of a series of four books I can't wait to read the rest of the series.