My last post was on May 5, 2020. Now, in the days before Christmas, I thought I would catch up on this crazy year. Recently, I read a newspaper article that encouraged people to document what they did during the year of the Covid pandemic for historical perspective. I like that. In fact, I often refer back to my own blog posts when revisiting places we’ve been or when offering advice to others about their trips. So, I hope you don’t mind if I re-create our journeys in 2020 over the next few posts. This will be fun, and hopefully a diversion for the winter months.
The plan was to ship our motorcycles to Japan and start on April 19, 2020 riding through Japan, a ferry to Russia and then east to Germany where we would arrive close to the 4th of July. We needed to put the motorcycles in a container to be shipped by the end of February to ensure arrival on time. By that time the virus was spreading around the world and we received news that Japan would be restricting travel for tourism purposes. At the time nobody knew what to expect with the pandemic and many optimistically thought it would run it’s course over a few weeks and we could move on with our plans. Of course, we were wrong.
This would be a different kind of trip for us, we were going with a group called GlobeRiders. GlobeRiders has been around for years and is based out of the Seattle area and run by an acquaintance, Helge Pedersen. We found out about the trip because one of Deby’s long time artist friends started dating a guy who, “was into motorcycles.” That could mean anything so I didn’t think much of it until some months later when we actually met Dan in person. To say he was into motorcycles was such an understatement that I felt like I was just a beginner on my Sears Allstate motorcycle compared to his extensive history of global motorcycle travel and adventure.
Dan worked closely with GlobeRiders over the years as a guide and assisting on trips and was well experienced in global motorcycle travel.
In July of 2019, Deby and I met Dan and Jill at an art event where he told me about the upcoming Great World Tour that GlobeRiders was planning. They were going with Dan on his big BMW GS and Jill riding along in a sidecar. Would we like to go along? Hmmm, now that was tempting. On one hand, we are used to travelling alone or maybe with a few friends. We recently were on a motorcycle tour in Portugal and while we had fun, we felt a little stifled in our riding style. On the other hand, wow… Mongolia? Russia? Would we ever get to those places? Would I be able to figure out the logistics by myself? Deby and I went back and forth for a few days and finally decided to go for it.
It turns out that GlobeRiders requires people who haven’t ridden with them before to apply to be on one of their tours. I hadn’t thought of that before but it makes total sense and I felt relieved that company has some assurances that riders in the group are qualified before travelling together. Deby and I completed the lengthy questionnaires and sent them in hoping we qualified! Maybe our friend Dan pulled some strings but on August 7, 2019 I received word from Helge that were in. Now was the time for the planning to begin.
Deby and I decided that since the trip ended in Germany we would ride our older BMW motorcycles and store them in Germany for use on future trips. I still had my trustworthy 2011 BMW F800GS with 60,000 miles on the odometer and Deby would ride her 2012 BMW F650GS with 68,000 miles showing.
Of course both bikes needed extensive preparation to get ready for such a journey. Suspension, chains, tires, oil, valve adjustments, and various other maintenance items. It was a busy time in my shop.
By December the plans were coming together, dates were finalized and we were getting close. Deby and I hosted a meet and greet event at our house for the group where we could meet our fellow travelers for the first time.
In February with Japan cancelling tourism, we decided to skip the Japan part of the trip and ship the motorcycles directly to Vladivostok, Russia, in the far east of the country. This required changing hotel plans in Japan and booking last minute flights on Aeroflot to Vladivostok. We were enthused about the journey and eagerly got the changes done. On February 25th we all met at South Sound BMW near Seattle to load the motorcycles into two containers bound for Russia.
I will say the guy driving the truck had the best mullet I’ve seen in a long time.
We said goodbye to the motorcycles and were looking forward to a long planned trip to Baja Mexico scheduled for the next few weeks with some friends from the Northwest Norton Owners club. Just one problem…. Deby’s motorcycle was heading to Russia!
Not to worry. While we were at South Sound BMW we noticed a beautiful 2020 F750GS just Deby’s size. It would be a perfect motorcycle to break in on a 3000, mile trip into Mexico.
I posted about that trip HERE.
By the time we returned from Mexico the news about the pandemic was getting worse and we all suspected the trip would be called off. It was.
On March 13 I received an e-mail from Helge that read in part: “……..After a long conversation we both realize that there is little hope that we will be able to go ahead with our journey as planned.”
Now the tasks involved cancelling airfare, dealing with getting a refund from Aeroflot and getting the bikes back. GlobeRiders did an excellent job taking care of the details on their end and even refunded all funds except for any direct expenses he had for shipping the bikes. A real class act. The container with our bikes made it to Russia where they were put on another ship to be returned to the US.
It was the middle of May when the bikes returned and we gathered at the warehouse of the shipping company to retrieve our motorcycles.
So that was the end of the 2020 Great World Tour. My motorcycle went to Russia and all I got was a T-Shirt…. really! Helge sent us all these cool shirts!
So, that’s it. Our motorcycles travelled halfway around the world without us. All we got a shirt, a good story and some new friends. 2020 was off to a weird start…..
Next: We catch spring fever and blast off for some great riding in our own part of the country. Thanks for following us and as always we love to hear from everyone in the comments section or emails.
More to come.
Donn and Deby