Don’t tell my Mom I rode 17,000kms from China to her house in Normandy, France with a stolen Yamaha XT250X prototype crossing the middle east on the way.
Episode 0: Introduction
Ok folks, here is the thing, one year ago, I went from China to France on a Japanese imported Yamaha XT250X and never got to make a report on that! I did this journey for the challenge, the pleasure, the experience and following my instinct.
Now, on a sleepless night in Buenos Aires, 4th September 2010 ; I decided to start the report of that trip which started the 1st of July 2009.
It was a very very very (very?) special trip for me. Before starting long sentences and stuff I’ll just tell you some facts about the journey:
- Distance: 17,000 kms
- Duration: 3 months
- Countries crossed: China, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Italy and France.
- Bike: Yamaha XT250X Prototype/concept bike (that’s how they call it in Wikipedia)
What made this trip so particular for me? Well, I had only 3 months “holidays” and I was working in China, in a city called Qingdao and after riding in India and Cambodia a few years before, I fell in love with bike travels.
So, the plan was to make a big trip for those 3 months.
What could be better than going home from my work in China to my house in France?
Laws in China are very restrictive and this is why very few foreigners can ride through China and if they do, they most of the time have guides with them. The trick was to buy the bike there.
So I decided to take a big jump forward and make it happen, it was not easy to prepare a trip like this while being in China with not too much money and a very tight schedule.
Some intense moments of the trip in a random order:
- Crossing one meter high floods in remote parts of China with a 90kilos Canadian, Max Le Gros, (in the back of the bike (total load approx: (Me: 67) + (Canada: 90) + (Luggage: 40) = 195Kgs load for a 130Kgs bike!)
- Flying trough shit roads on the side of highways with a Chinese friend in the back of the bike. Sights: on the right the Great Wall of China; under us: bumps which made my rear tire explode.
- Hanging out with Russian bikers in Kazakhstan, including a 15 years old riding a Kawasaki Ninja and others showing off their guns.
- Riding through Chinese streets at high speed sounding horn and flashing lights, looking like scenes out of the GTA video game.
- Getting escorted by the Jordan army on the way to the Israeli border.
- Buying the brand new Yamaha in a small shop in China, which came parted in several wooden boxes!
- Coming to my father’s apartment in Paris, flashing through the crazy traffic in Paris with my Chinese plates and a great feeling of victory!
- Crossing Turkish mountains full of snow while wearing all the clothes I could find.
- Getting from Italy to France in the middle of December without proper protection against the cold. Crossing the Alps. Had to buy any kind of clothes, put gardening gloves to be less cold, stop every 30 minutes to warm my hands on the exhaust. Tougher than you think.
- Saving the bike from being stolen just a few days before the trip started. Including: moving two vans with a French friend (Matthieu) by pushing them (lucky the ground was a little wet); punching their tires with the decorative Katanas of my apartment; a lot of laughing while thinking at the robbers’ face when they discover all that.
- Apparently being the first motorcycle with Chinese plates to enter Israel -please tell me if it is not the case-. (And almost having an orgasm after going through Israel immigration but maybe you do not really appreciate knowing that)
- Riding a Chinese highway on the wrong side to find some gas for a Chinese friend who stalled on the highway (oh yeah and he was also a policeman).
- Hiding behind trucks to pass the highway tolls in China (forbidden for motorcycles)
- Arriving at my mom’s country house in the western part of France with a brand new looking bike and Chinese plates on it, epic.
- Discovering that the Chassis number written on the bike was not the same than the one in the Chinese papers, all this while talking to the customs officer of Azerbaijan and trying to look cool. Huh.
- Doing the whole trip with only a fake Chinese driving license bought for 20euros (sorry Mom).
And well for people who might say that it was crazy to do it without a proper driving license, without insurance, with fake papers, etc. I will say: TRUE but this adventure would never have happened if I had not decided to do that (and well, I didn’t know it was a stolen bike until I got out of China J
). I was going to write everything without telling about all these details but I finally realized it was part of it and decided to tell all the truth mom, and well this was the greatest journey of my very long and experienced life of 24 years so it was risky but worth it!
The next episodes are coming soon, I decided to write one every week to report on the whole trip.
Oh and if you are doing any similar trip and need some precise advise feel very free to e-mail me, it will be a pleasure to help you.
Here are a few introduction shots made with the pocket camera I had for the trip. The shots are not of great quality because I suck at photography and my good Canon G7 camera sunk after a few water crossing in China so I more or less bought a cheap and small camera with the money I got from robbing a Chinese grandma not.
4th of September 2010.
PS: Here is a link to a video I made of the loading of the bike, while still on the road in China, with a Chinese friend on the back for 2 weeks!