Archive for the ‘UK’ Category

Well, I guess you can call it the last border … that is the UK border, getting my bike back into the country and what a mission !

First of all, the scheduled departure has been delayed from South Africa several times. First of all, they had too many passengers and they couldn’t load the bike. Then obviously the dreaded snow in the UK and with Heathrow closed it meant another few days delay … but eventually it arrived in the UK on the 23rd of this month.

Eager to get back on the bike, I went straight to Heathrow’s Cargo section. On arrival I was told that the bike needs to clear customs first … no problem, done it about 15 times before. “Where is customs?”, I asked … “Their are no customs here” … what ? Heathrow that doesn’t have customs ? It’s all up in Manchester or somewhere apparently.

I was then told, I will need to use an agent and then and only then customs clearance may take about 2 days. The worst border in Africa, which is probably Egypt took about 4 hours … now they are telling me the UK customs take 2 days. Also, I can’t do it myself like I always did, I have to pay someone to do it …. just a way of making money I think.

Anyway, with no choice, I had to use an agent which charges £40 just to pick up some documents and another £45 for customs clearance. I was also told not to hang around as it wouldn’t happen on the same day, so very disappointed I went back to London again.

Luckily the next morning I got a call from the agent to tell me customs have cleared the bike and I am now free to go pick it up. Total charges were about £190 which makes this officially the most expensive border of the whole trip. For that price, luckily the staff at Virgin Atlantic cargo did uncrate it for me and disposed of all the packaging material (as seen in the photo above) …

Was good, but bloody freezing to be back on the bike again !

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Well, it almost feels like it. Back in London, UK and I am absolutely freezing. The bike is still in sunny South Africa due to board a Virgin Atlantic flight on Monday night, so should have my wheels back my next week. I also ordered some handlebar muffs, I do not care if it looks stupid, I am not going to have freezing fingers again this year !!!

I still don’t have a place to stay in London, living with friends at the moment, but as soon as I find something, I will start editing videos of the trip. I have in the meantime, uploaded all the photos which can be found here: http://bit.ly/fFoGVB

I have also uploaded some “unedited” clips to Youtube …

for more … check out my Youtube channel : http://www.youtube.com/user/andreels

Was a bit of a rush this morning as I almost overslept, that is the 2 hours that I did sleep. Packed up this morning and headed off around 5am … weird photo I know 🙂

I hate the ride the Folkestone and this morning it was cold and foggy … at times I could barely see a thing. Made it just in time for the train and in no time we were in Calais.

Much better than to UK, or so I thought, a few miles out of Calais, exactly the same. Cold …. and lots of fog.

Stopped off at a petrol station for something to drink and a bus load of people arrived and looks like it was the first time they have seen a bike before, everyone stared at me and smiled. One french guy was really concerned that my shocks will give in .. not sure why he was so obsessed about it .. 🙂

As soon as I left, the sky opened and was sunshine all day around 21 degrees, lovely day, just a shame I was so tired !

Headed mostly motorway which is damn expensive by the way and now sleeping in Strasbourg. I plan to leave tomorrow morning early, heading to Italy.

The battery on the laptop is running low, so I better make this post quick ….

Will do a better post when the laptop is charged … going to bed now !

Countdown is on, only 2 and a half days left ….. early Tuesday morning I am on my way 🙂

Been cleaning, de-greasing, polishing and chain lubing today … the bike looks nice and clean now, dont you think ?

Sitting in my room, staring at all the things I have to pack .. especially now that I  have a spare rear tyre as well … will it all fit ? How heavy is it going to be ? … planning it in my head already. I think I should at least pack most of the stuff today or maybe tomorrow and see how it feels and how the bike handles.

As I said, I have ordered a TKC80 rear spare tyre since I do not want to struggle in Africa sourcing a suitable tyre, so I will just have to strap it on somewhere and ride with it all the way. It will be easier and I think I will be glad I did when the time comes to change tyres. I am sure the front tyre will see my all the way to Cape Town.

I also bought loads of instant “dry foods” … like noodles, soups, pastas, breakfast bars, instant 3-in-1 coffee sachets, Horlicks, Hot Choch and Smash (instant potato mash for those who don’t know). I think I actually bought too much, but it will be for those days when we find nothing to eat and nothing better than waking up, putting on the stove and having a nice cup of coffee in the morning 🙂

Anyway, speaking of which, very hungry now, so I am off to the take-away … not long now, can’t wait. Remember, follow me on twitter for the latest … laters !

Only a few more days to go … a surreal feeling that something you planned and dreamt about for a long time is now happening. I think it’s going to be so much fun, but at the same time difficult. “What have you got yourself into …?” will probably cross my mind every now and again 🙂

Anyway, recently I discovered that when BMW Park Lane/Battersea did the last service on my motorcycle, they either used loctite or over-tightened the bolts on the front of my bash plate so much, it was impossible to loosen them with the tools in my possession.

I phoned them up, but they were not very helpful, claiming that they fasten it by hand and to the correct torque settings as per BMW. It is not even a BMW bash plate, how would they know what torque settings to use … I gave up in the end, but I need to get these bolts out to access the oil filter to do my own oil changes during the trip … so I had to get some help !

I took my motorcycle to Mark Holden Motorcycles in Bromley, Kent. Awesome guys .. they too had to struggle, couldn’t believe BMW would tighten the bolts so much, but eventually got them out and replaced them for me with normal hex bolts, all this basically for free … great guys, well recommended and they are BMW specialists !

… and yeah, I know it is dirty, but I have not yet had the chance to wash the bike since the off road riding this weekend, will wash it before I depart on Tuesday though …

Tuesday morning early I am setting off on my African adventure, twitter will be my main form of updates, so be sure to follow me

That is it ! I do not think I can do any more or prepare anything else. Only packing left to do now.

Bought a few stuff this week, shorts, trousers, medicines, toiletries … you name it ! Pretty much done on the shopping front.

We also did some byway riding this past weekend down near Guildford, was good fun, dropped the bike on some heavy sand, so I am not looking forward to any sand (I hate riding in sand …)

In a week, the 21st of Sept, I am setting off around 4am heading as far into France as I can in one day … follow my adventures for the next few months by following me on twitter or checking this blog …

2 weeks today, I will already be halfway through France heading for the Italian border.

Today, I have received my last spares, Clutch cable, front sprocket, oil filter, brake pads, rear shock upper bolt, etc ..so that can be checked off my list. Thanks Motorworks

I have also went to the post office to get some cash (euros and dollars) as well as my International Driving Permit.

Tomorrow morning I am going for the Schengen visa (for France and Italy) and then all my visas are done.

Only 2 more weeks, can’t wait, need to sort out the last stuff, pack the panniers and what doesn’t go with me, needs to go to storage. Also need my final visit to the doctor for the last HepB vaccination, then I am all set and ready to go …

Follow me on twitter, this will be the main means of updates during the trip and this blog will be updated whenever we get near to some form of internet access.

3 weeks today, I will be in Strasbourg, France on my way to Italy to embark on our London to Cape Town adventure.

Most of the stuff is now in storage, we moved everything yesterday, so now with an emptier, but messy room, I started sorting out my panniers for the trip.

Packing panniers is kinda fun, I am now starting to get a better idea how it all will fit although I do not have everything yet … things still on my list is my spares from Motorworks, but it should all be small stuff.

I also need to go buy some food, stuff like instant mash potato, noodles, cereal bars, etc .. but I guess they can all be scattered around the panniers.

Lindsay and Delilah is already leaving tomorrow spending 3 weeks in Europe after which I will join them somewhere near Milan, Italy on the 23rd of September.

All this stuff is making me excited, I just want to go now …. can’t wait, this is going to be a long 3 weeks !

3 weeks tomorrow, I will be somewhere in France already making my way towards Italy. Today I have been packing some of the last stuff I won’t need to go into storage. I hate packing .. it’s an awful job, but it’s slightly better than moving at least,  as I don’t have to go unpack it somewhere now.

This past weekend, I have fitted new tyres, MITAS off road tyres and new heavy duty tubes. I have to say, it was really scary riding on these off road tyres on tarmac for the first time. It almost feels like you are riding on marbles, but it is getting better and I am sure I will get used to it … Good thing I fitted them now I think, this way I can bed them in a little and also gives me some time  to adjust my riding style .. no more knee down round a bend – not like I did it before, but anyway 😉

We also have all our visas, except for me, I still need a schengen visa which I will get next week.

I’ve purchased an external 500GB compact Samsung HDD to make backups of photos/video while on the trip and to clean my SD cards to go back into my digital camera and GoPro video cameras.  I have also ordered my spares from Motorworks which will probably arrive this week, then I am done as far as buying goes .. I hope !

On the top left, you will see my Twitter, Youtube and Facebook links, please follow, subscribe and join. The best is twitter as I will be using twitter as my primary source of updates while on this trip … so make sure you follow me ..

It’s now less than a month before I set off on our London to Cape Town motorcycling adventure. It is somewhat surreal as it’s always something I wanted to do since I got into the motorcycling scene and now it’s happening. I’m leaving the morning early on the 21st of September 2010 to catch my ferry over from the UK mainland to France … and then heading straight towards Italy.

You just got to do it, otherwise it will never happen, put a date to it, tell everyone and then you can’t back out without feeling stupid .. hehe

Anyway, I just ordered some new riding gear for this trip. I was looking at something comfortable and also waterproof as in some parts we will probably hit the rainy season in Africa. My search came down to 2 contenders, the Thor Ride gear and the Fox All Weather gear and since I have found more info on the web about the Thor gear, having Thor boots already, I decided to go with them.

I got a nice deal, jacket, pants and free gloves for the same price as only a Fox jacket and pants. Obviously it also matches my colour scheme of black and white and Thor gear overall are very good, I like Thor stuff.

I have also done a small test using my old GoPro Hero Wide camera and my new GoPro HERO HD camera. I am testing possible camera setups to record the action from the trip:

Update on the other stuff, we pretty much have all our visas. We only need to apply for our Tanzania visas, then we are done. We received the Carnet du Passage for the bikes from RAC and also our International Certificate of Motor Vehicles or something like that.

My friends, Lindsay and Delilah who I am doing this trip with, are leaving in about 10 days already .. they will be doing a 3 week trip of Europe before I meet them in Venice, Italy for our Visemar One ferry to Egypt. You can read their blog here ..

I will be using twitter to update everyone on our whereabouts and adventures, so follow me on twitter to get the latest .. promise, I won’t spam, just maybe 1 or 2 updates per day … it’s £0.50 a txt to twitter from overseas 🙂

For those of you who are interested in the Thor Ride gear …. check these videos: