All the gear all the time…Brazilian style

Honda XRE 300I had the pleasure to spend a week in the Brazilian city of Recife for work recently. The weather was warm and the streets full of bikes. Every day during my taxi commute to the convention centre where I was working I observed the cool bikes we do not get on our roads, like the Honda XRE 300. I wondered if it would be a good light adventure bike. At a time when adventure motorcyclists are realising that bigger is not necessarily better, and CCM is trying to sell it’s (overpriced) 450 Adventure, maybe Honda would be wise to start importing the XRE 300 into the European market. With good suspension and a solid rack it would probably make a good, economic and reliable light touring bike.

As my taxi got stuck into the dense traffic, I also had the time to contemplate a disturbing Brazilian biker habit; riding with NO SHOES ON! That’s right, you read this correctly; most bikers in Recife decide that it is more comfortable to ride bare foot! Now, even though I’m an avid promoter of ATGATT (all the gear all the time), I can understand how in hot countries, where safety campaigns are non-existent, riders decide to ride in T-shirt. But no shoes…really!? Even the thickest, least educated person in the world must realise how dangerous that is! Brazilians are no less intelligent than the rest of us so I cannot understand why they do this.  I have ridden in many countries and it’s the only place I’ve seen this. I’ll leave it to you to imagine the damage caused by a crash, or even having to put the foot down while in motion to regain balance…

In their defence, they probably think that it is safer than to ride in flip-flops as many of them hang their sandals on their mirrors or foot-pegs while riding…safety first.

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A Precious Cargo

Saturday morning saw us up a little earlier than usual on a weekend morning. We had an appointment at Hampton Court Palace for the launch of a project dear to us. Motorcycle Outreach was launching their “Precious Cargo” around the UK and it was with great pleasure that TwoWheelExploring saddled up to see it on it’s way.

Motorcycle Outreach (MoR) is a charity which, in a nut-shell, puts healthcare workers on motorcycles in developing countries to increase their access to people who need their care. They thus provide reliable, economical and efficient transport of healthcare services in regions where they are needed. It is a brilliant charity, one whose aim is so simple yet so well executed and which delivers tangible results. MoR trains the health workers and provides a trained local mechanic to look after the pool of light trail bikes they use. This is a sustainable project which resonated with our values and has gained our full backing!

In order to raise some funds MoR has launched their “Precious Cargo” initiative. They are sending  scroll around UK hospitals where it is used as a fund raising tool by student midwives who are partners in this project. The scroll is then transported between hospitals by members of the National Association of Blood Bikes.

The scroll started its journey in Hampton Court Palace where we were allowed to ride our bikes into a sun-lit inner court; a great photo opportunity! The circumnavigation of the UK will last about 8 weeks. MoR has plans to develop on this next year when the scroll witll be sent on a global journey around the world

If you would like to support this project, please visit http://precious-cargo.org/getinvolved

A Night of Adventure – London 16 September 2013

IMG_5995Intrepid adventurers, a great charity and Austin Vince without his trademark overalls on a school night? That sounded exactly like what we needed to lift our spirits and inspire us now that summer is gone and pullovers have been dug out of the wardrobe.

A Night of Adventure, organised by the charity Hope and Homes for Children, brought together a panoply of inspiring adventurers to address a sold-out cinema room full of punters in search of their escapism fix. The format is well planned and brilliantly executed; each speaker presented a Pecha Kucha of their adventures; 20 slides, each 20 seconds.

Now multiple this by 14 and you have all the inspiration you’ll need to see you thought the winter! The lineup was impressive; to name only a few: Austin Vince who’s presentation was done in prose; Phoebe Smith, the editor of Wanderlust Magazine who has the dream job of being paid to go on adventures; Alastair Humphreys, creator of the event and National Geographic Adventurer of the year in 2012 and Debra Searle who, at the age of 35 has rowed solo across the Atlantic and was awarded an MBE. I must also mention Dick Willis who gave a brilliant presentation about his career in speleology, including exploring the “Great Crack”. All this talent was host by one of our favourite adventurer; Dave Cornthwaite, whom amongst other things has skate-boarded across Australia and swam 1001 miles along the Missouri River.

Here are a few of our favourite take-aways from the evening:
– take a photo tomorrow and tweet it to @davecorn using the hashtag #1000photos
– ‘adventure is just a decision to do something different’ @Leonmccarron
– the Duke Of Edinburgh award is a great way to inspire youngsters to go on adventures – Debra Searle
– Help other travellers you meet along the way – @mattonabike1
– You’ll come back remembering the good and bad times.  It’s not until you’re on the adventure that you can understand what it means to experience claw hand, sleep deprevation and busy shipping lanes – @explorerstweet
– ‘Do one thing a day that scares you’ Richard Harpham
– Extreme sleeping is all about finding the most remote places to wild camp. The only things in the UK that you need to worry about are cute sheep, ramblers and midges – Phoebe Smith
– write a bucket list of challenges you want to complete. Don’t think about what you haven’t done – Paula Reid

We recommend looking at the tweets from the evening using the hashtag #nightofadventure

All this on Leicester Square for only £20? Yes!

And it’s all for a great charity too. Hope and Homes for Children works with governments to close their orphanages through a process called Deinstitutionalisation by enabling children to return home to their families or into alternative, family-based services. This is a brilliant way to ensure better lives for children whose families have broken down based on the principle that institutionalising a child isn’t a solution; helping families keep their children is.

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A Night of Adventure is a yearly event, held in a few different UK cities so don’t miss the next one!

 

Blogging on the Road workshop

This post was created as part of a live demo during the Adventure Travel Film Festival 2013 ‘blogging on the road’ workshop we gave. We had some really interesting questions at the end of the workshop and have chosen three of them to update with full responses below! If anyone who attended the workshop (or anyone that reads this post) wants to ask more questions, please feel free to add a comment to the post and we will reply.

1. Can you set up any kind of email account with a WordPress blog?
Yes you can but this is not a straight forward wordpress.com service. We recommend clicking on the WordPress Support page for more information but what they offer is a means of connecting your email to your blog domain. You will need to create an email host through a provider and link it to your blog:

‘On WordPress.com we don’t provide email hosting, but you can connect email hosting from another provider to your custom domain.’

2. If you set up WordPress for free, can you add videos to your blog?
Yes you can, however you will need to upload them to a video platform first. WordPress.com offer video uploading but they will charge for this service. We recommend uploading your videos to YouTube and ‘embedding the link‘ in your blog post. The embedding link, which can be found on the YouTube page will appear as a video window in your post:

‘The VideoPress upgrade allows you to host and play videos right from your blog. VideoPress is priced per year and per blog. You can purchase it from the Store panel of your dashboard.

We currently support embedding videos from YouTube, Vimeo, HuluFlickr, DailyMotion, Viddler, Blip.tv, TED Talks, Educreations, Instagram, Vine, and Videolog.’

Having the video on YouTube creates another means of being found on the web.

3. Do you use iCloud to upload and save images?
David makes sure that all of his photos are backed up on iCloud but you need to be connected to wifi to access them.

iCloud is an Apple service and will therefore only work on Apple products (iphone/ipad). Using the ‘internet cloud’ as a means of storing photos is useful when you don’t want to carry a hard drive back up with you but if you don’t have internet access you won’t always be able to view/access them. If you want a non Apple service for storing photos (or data in general) online, we recommend using DropBox or check out the Top10 online storage options recommended online.

Demo of a live video: Hello from the ‘blogging on the road’ workshop (filmed on an iPad and uploaded via YouTube)

Wind protection R1150GS

The BMW R1150GS is a brilliant motorcycle but it suffers from an annoying oversight by its German manufacturer; the wind protection is awful. It’s untypical of BMW, especially for such a practical motorcycle. The GS is designed to cross continents on all terrain and its form has followed function; that’s why it looks weird.

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The stock screen is too narrow and the turbulence at head level is abominable. The GS may be able to carry you hundreds of miles in a single day on all type of terrains, but the rider will want to get off it sooner only because of the buffeting. Which defies the point of this motorcycle and is one of its few downsides.

I have spent hours looking for a solution and there doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer or an agreed compromise amongst bloggers. But here is my experience and what has worked for me.

The first thing I did after riding the 1150GS was to go straight to eBay and buy a second hand Adventure screen. These are wider and taller and, although it did provide more wind protection on my torso, the buffeting on the helmet was not diminished. I then bought a pair of Tobinators, to be able to angle the screen in just the right position so as to create a smoother airflow. This didn’t work; and I spent way too much time trying the infinite number of settings offered by the Tobinators. I then decided to go back to the original screen and to add a wind deflector on the top. These flaps are built by a number of different companies but I chose the PUIG brand because it was cheaper and looked very similar to the competition. It worked very well indeed, increasing the height of the screen, but also giving it a sharper angle at the top, thus guiding the airflow above my helmet. The torso and arms protection was still bad though and I therefore re-installed the Adventure screen, on Tobinators and with the deflector attached. I am very happy with the result and I feel that I have finally found the wind protection which the GS, a bike designed for overlanding, should have provided as stock.

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