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Old 04-11-2010, 10:13 AM   #1
ProfTom OP
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Central Asia 2010: The Rocking Chair Tour

Twenty countries, 18,500 miles, three bikes, no jobs. Join three geezers as they search the globe for the very best rocking chair to enjoy retirement. Our route - leave Heidelberg May 5 and turn east. At Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia turn back and return to Germany on September 1. One picture is worth a thousand words…



Here’s the Colorado team:

The Lost Dutchman
: Karst mounted his first motorcycle when he jumped the border crossing in Tijuana with INS in hot pursuit. He has since added a blue passport to his Dutch one. He is leaving his beloved ‘02 1150GS at home to sulk and is taking his ‘07 Dakar instead. Oops, leaving wife and last kid at home as well. He added a new shock in the back, a new chain and a couple of way too large Happy Trail panniers to keep all this stuff in. He will join the ranks of the unemployed to do this trip (something to do with bucket something or another).


The Philosopher
: Shu rode motorcycles for nearly a decade before he figured out that there was a four-wheeled option that didn't fall over in the snow. He took his first motorcycle trip (across the US and Canada) on his brand new BMW R75/5 in 1972. He claims he once had hair on his head, but it's hard to imagine.
No, really, it's true...."

His rocking chair: a DR650 with new springs and shock, IMS tank, skid plate, handguards, Sargeant seat, etc.


The Noob
: Tom first swung his leg over a moto in December 2008, and he hasn’t looked back since. He figures his two-week run on the western TransAmerica Trail and RawHyde Adventure’s off-road class will give him the chops to make it through the wilds of Kyrgyzstan (or at least claim the bonus points if that word comes up in Scrabble). He’s riding a 2003 BMW F650 Dakar loaded up with an obscene amount of stuff. The bike mods are pretty minor except for an improved suspension and photon-torpedo driving lights. Prior to enjoying the life of the rocking chair he was teaching chemical engineering at the Colorado School of Mines.



We’ll be posting to ADV along the way when we can find Internet access and the energy to use a keyboard. Pull up a rocking chair and enjoy!

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Old 04-11-2010, 11:26 AM   #2
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Wow!! That's some tour... if you're able to update us along the way, I'll have to sticky this thread to give it a bigger audience
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Old 04-11-2010, 01:30 PM   #3
Dessert Storm
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Fantastic. More, much more please!
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Old 04-13-2010, 11:38 AM   #4
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Visa’s:

All 3 of us applied on US passports, so with other passports YMMV. It took a lot of research, reading a lot of RR's and the help from many others. Horizons Unlimited is an incredible resource. Requirements change frequently so be wary of posting that are more than a year or two old, things have probably changed since then. We needed visas for the following countries: Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Russia. Turkey will give you a visa at the border and Mongolia / Georgia do not require a visa for US citizens.

There is lots of information available on the internet from the various embassies and the state department. Keep in mind that the posted information even on the embassy sites can be outdated. Start as early as possible with a good schedule of when you expect to be where and pay real attention to all the detailed requirements. For standard processing start at elast 4 months early, but keep in mind that for instance Russia has limitations on how early you can apply. Research - plan - research - plan!! For some countries you can also get visa’s as you go along if you are willing to put up with the uncertainty. You can also do it a lot quicker if you are willing to throw a lot of money towards expediting fees.

Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan are pretty routine to obtain and did not require a LOI (letter of introduction). You can go standard application time or expedited, so count on 1 – 4 weeks for a turn around each.
For Azerbaijan we got a reservation for a hotel and added it to our visa application. Not sure if it was really required, but cheap insurance.

Due to our itinerary we could not get by with a 30 day, single entry visa for Russia, so instead we paid an outfit in Virginia (PVS International) to get us a 6 month business, multiple entry visa. There is a LOI to deal with and other rules and regulations. It was by far the most expensive visa to get at $450, the other ones were anywhere between $60 and $150 for standard application time.

Turkmenistan is the hardest to deal with. You have two options, a transit visa with fixed entry and exit dates, limited to something like 7 days. The other option is a regular visa, but you are required to be accompanied by a guide. That of course crimps your style touring on a motorcycle. It is complicated to come up with what is your best solution. I will not get in all the gory details here. In the end we contracted with Stantours to get us a regular visa with the LOI involved. His guide will meet us is Turkmenbasi when we get of the boat from Azerbaijan and handle all the paperwork for us. Our “tour” will be for 5 days thru Turkmenistan and cost us a fair amount of money. Although far from optimal we decided to go this route because we are already short in time and did not want to risk getting stuck in Baku waiting for a transit visa for who knows how long. You can also travel north of the Caspian Sea and go around Turkmenistan. That is time and money consuming. You may make a different decision based on your itinerary, schedule and preferences.

Anyway, this is the VERY abbreviated version. It seemed daunting at times, but persistence paid off. We are all set with our visa’s.


While I am it, this may be also the place to mention some of those who have helped us in getting this trip figured out. In no particular order:
· Horizons Unlimited website and all of its contributors, an enormous resource
· ADVRider and all of its contributors, the many RR are very helpful and keep you inspired. The guys in Greece and Turkey really helped us out with local information.
· The Chaingang. With two Dakar’s on this trip, thanks guys in helping us preparing our bikes, tools and spare parts.
· Alexander at Rally Adventure Shop in Holland (rallyadventureshop.nl). A true advrider himself. He has shipped tires for us to Turkey.
· Sambor and Walter (Colebatch); Getting us all kinds of information. Even more so with their RR providing us with the inspiration. We can’t touch what you guys have done, but you have shown us what is possible and that next to nothing is impossible.
· David at Stantours, tirelessly answering all of our unending questions and for organizing our Turkmenistan visa’s
· Denis at http://www.motorezina.ru: he will ship us 3 sets of tires in Novosibirsk
· Jean at PVS International for getting us our Russian visa’s.
· BMW of Denver (Jessie, Chris and Tim), ordering all of our Dakar spare parts and promising to save us if our bikes need help.
· And most all: our wives Mary, Susan and Shawna who have been so supportive of our determination to do this thing. Thanks!!

We will add a few more of these generic writups on the preparations as we go along.


KP

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Old 04-13-2010, 11:51 AM   #5
simon thomas
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hope this helps

Hi Guys,

it sounds like your well on your way.

Hope this helps. Lisa and I have just completed pretty much the same ride via the Stans, Russia and Mongolia and are posting the ride report here on adv.

Here's the thread http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=568229

We've included all the waypoints for the home-stays, guest houses, hostels, hotel and even wild camp spots. So i hope that may be of use to you. Thinking about it we also waypointed the various embassies and consulates where we obtained our visas.

There's a ton of more info on our site http://www.2ridetheworld.com

If you need anything else please just drop us an email our address can be found on our site.

The stans are fantastic to ride and Tajikistan simply blew us away...incredible. You are going to have a wonderful time...enjoy.

All the best
Simon
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Old 04-13-2010, 12:08 PM   #6
khpossum
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Hello Simon and Lisa,

I have been reading your reports. I hope we will have half the energy you have to keep up a blog. I don't know how you do it. I tried to keep some records on one of my Mexico trip and it all fell apart after two days. We are going to try better this trip.

I only yesterday noticed the GPS information on your website, so I am going thru it as we speak.

Thanks!

KP
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Old 04-13-2010, 02:52 PM   #7
Colebatch
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProfTom
Our route - leave Heidelberg May 5 and turn east.
Keep in touch ... I will be heading west from Moscow soon after that date. Might see u on the road.

PS ... love the digital 3D globe ... where did you find that??
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Old 04-13-2010, 08:07 PM   #8
TigerInTheNight
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I'm going to be highly disappointed if you guys don't keep us up to date with the goings on on the trip. Remember I'm living this vicariously through you 3.

Milton S.
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Old 04-13-2010, 08:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simon thomas
Hi Guys,

it sounds like your well on your way.
Ahhhh, I wish we were on our way right now. This waiting around to get started is getting on my nerves. I just want to settle in on my bike and start riding. Two weeks to go, then we fly out.

ProfTom is in Boston, Karst and I are in the Denver, Colorado area. We'll fly out separately; Karst will go to Holland to visit family first. Tom and I will meet up in Frankfurt and ride east and south. Then we'll meet up with Karst in Italy and begin our travels eastward into Greece and Turkey.

Our bikes were shipped totally packed up and we have our Visas, so there's really nothing left to do but practice our Russian and wait to leave. We're sitting at home just champing at the bit right now.

..........shu
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Old 04-14-2010, 01:54 AM   #10
Laurus
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I am planning to do this trip in 2012 so I am quite curious to yours!
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Old 04-15-2010, 06:34 AM   #11
ProfTom OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colebatch
PS ... love the digital 3D globe ... where did you find that??
Walter,
The "digital" globe actually lives in the analog world. I shot the photo of a wonderful exaggerated-relief globe in my daughter's office at Harvard and then drew the lines in using Photoshop.
Regards,
Tom
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Old 04-15-2010, 09:43 AM   #12
RedWolf
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Looks awesome guys! Can't wait to see more moto-porn from this part of the world.

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Old 04-15-2010, 09:51 AM   #13
Colebatch
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProfTom
Walter,
The "digital" globe actually lives in the analog world. I shot the photo of a wonderful exaggerated-relief globe in my daughter's office at Harvard and then drew the lines in using Photoshop.
Regards,
Tom
Ha ... it was too good to be true
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Old 04-15-2010, 09:59 AM   #14
TallRob
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This is goingto be so cool!.....Im in!
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Old 04-17-2010, 08:13 AM   #15
khpossum
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tires for the trip

Tires:
This is one the major issues to deal with on such a trip. All 3 bikes have the same tire sizes, so that helped. There are many tires available, but not all suitable for this trip. We wanted knobbies or semi-knobbies. That makes it a bit easier to deal with some of the terrain we will encounter. TKC’s are nice, I have used them in the past, but they do not get the required mileage. We settled on Mefo Explorers. They come with an excellent reputation and should do the mileage. Shu has used them in the past as well and has been very happy with them.

The total trip length is 18,500 miles. Two sets is maybe possible but tight. We did not want to drag each a set of tires on the back. We already have too much stuff as is. Instead we opted to have 3 sets of tires shipped to Trabzon in the North East of Turkey; that leaves about 13,000 miles from there on out, which can be done on 2 sets of tires.

I send out numerous inquiries to Turkey, but could not quit get there with a good solution for tire availability for what we were looking for. I also asked the question on the Dutch GS website (http://www.bmwgsclub.nl) and somebody there suggested I contact Alexander at Rally Adventure Shop in Holland (]www.rallyadventureshop.nl[) . He has been very helpfull in figuring things out and is sending us the Mefo tires to Turkey for all 3 bikes. The tires are on the way as we speak. They will be waiting for us at an aquintance of my sister in Trabzon.

That was the “easy” part once we figured it out. The next leg of the trip was a bit more involved. The next 6000 – 8000 miles puts us in Alamaty – Novosibirsk. DHL could have shipped us tires to Alamaty, but we wanted really to be bit further down the road. There are also those who say they shopped around Alamaty and found tires locally. We did not want to mess around for days looking for tires and find who knows what. Colebatch send us in the direction of Denis Panverof in Russia (http://www.motorezina.ru). He sells tires and can ship them to most major places in Russia. He now also sells Mefo tires. Good deal!! We are in the process of making final arrangemenst to have tires shipped to Novosibirsk. That will get us thru Mongolia on fresh rubber and back to Europe.
Lastly, there is always the possibility of a catastrophic tire failure. This is where common tire sizes come in handy. Current plan is to take one front and one back tire with us between the 3 of us. They will be the best tires that come of the bikes when we change tires in Trabzon. Not sure if this is really needed, but it is our plan, right, wrong or indifferent and we are sticking to it, …… maybe.

Latest news, as you all have heard air travel to Europe is a huge mess. I still have 10 days to go before my plane is scheduled to leave. I hope that by that time them Icelanders get some control over their vulcanoes. (iceland has been on my list to visit for 30 years, one of these days)

We also found a campground near Ancona where we will meet. I will be coming from Holland and Tom / Shu will have come their way thru Germany and Austria. The problem with all these travel plans is that the more you travel the more you realize how much else is there that remains to be explored. I would love to take more time and bike around the central Italy area. It looks great. Oh well, next year.

I believe all 3 of us are now really getting antsy to get on our bikes.

KP

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