Monday, 13 October 2014


The time of rest is over… After spending few weeks with my family in Montreal, it was time for me to head on the road again.  Winter is approaching Canada fast and I didn’t want to be caught in the Great lakes region when the snow starts so, in a sunny day at the end of September I left Montreal heading South to New York state.
I was apprehensive about crossing the border into US because I haven’t been to America in few years and now I was coming on a bike registered in Africa and alone.  As I came into the US Immigration booth, the officer look at my passport and when he found out I was coming from Africa, he called few of his fellow officers and they all became very curious about my trip.  They gave me no problems whatsoever, but were inquisitive about my itinerary from Africa and my adventures.  They told me they have never seen an African bike making it into US before, which made me quite proud of my Namibian, beautiful bike!
I decided to head straight West from New York, through Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, towards the Rockies.  The Mid-US states were kind of flat and uninteresting, but as I approached Denver, the landscape became increasingly beautiful and exciting.  The Rocky Mountains were looming ahead and I felt like the settlers of Old going West in search of adventure.
A day before I arrived in Denver I heard a clanking sound at the rear wheel and I got worried I screwed up something there.  As I stopped for the night, I noticed that the shield for the shaft was cracked and a piece of metal was sticking out.  I was sure this was the cause of the sound and I removed the shield.  In the morning, however, the sound was still there.  I rode to Denver in slow speed and I pulled into the Yamaha dealer.  When the mechanic came out he moved the rear wheel  and immediately he realized that it was my wheel bearings and took the bike in for service. 
Once fixd, the bike ran smoothly again and she was purring happy across the Colorado Rockies, not even noticing the increase in altitude.  I camped wild that night in the mountains, on the shore of a lake and it felt good to be in the wild again, but it was so cold I hardly slept that night.  In the morning the tent and the bike were covered in ice and the thermometer showed -4 degrees Celsius.  I packed my stuff while shaking like a leaf.  I was heading to Moab, Utah to see the Arches National Park, but before I reached there, I had to cross the Rockies through the Independence Pass, 4000 m high.  It was the coldest day of my entire riding to date, even colder than Norway and when I arrived in Aspen, Colorado I was stiff as a board.  By contrast, 1 hour later when I reached Utah, it was 28 degrees outside!
From here on, even though I rode through beautiful scenery, like Arches, Monuments Valley in Arizona and eventually Grand Canyon Park, my mental state was not right: I received some bad news from home and I also felt more alone than ever before.  I knew that in an expedition like this you will have low moments, but mine came all together and from different angles and caught me unprepared.  This made the rest of the ride to Las Vegas and California seem more like a chore than a pleasure and serious doubts haunted me for days.  I struggled with the idea of quitting and returning home in Canada and forget about everything.
I stopped in Malibu, California in camp by the sea and for three days I debated whether I should go on or not.  There were more cons than pros…  However, somehow I pushed myself to continue in spite of myself and my insecurities and forced myself to finish this expedition.  I have come now 51.000 km from Africa to this point and I have 25.000 more to go.  It seemed that these last ones would be harder to manage…
I left that Sunday morning to the South, towards San Diego, stopping first at a major biker hotspot in the mountains, called the Rock Store.  It was a great start to my journey to the South; hundreds of bikers meet here because of the beautiful Canyon ride that leads to this Café.  When the bikers saw me, they were very friendly and interested in my journey from Africa and I got to know a few of them.
I then rode towards San Diego and then Yuma Arizona from where I decided to enter Mexico. 
America was a swift affair, but I loved riding my bike from the East to the West.  I have been to US many times, I traveled to all states except Alaska, but now I saw America on my bike and this, for me, is a big milestone.

The leaves in New York State were just beginning their majestic Fall show
 The magnificent Rocky Mountains of Colorado

 Ice on my bike in the morning
 Crossing the Rockies

 My camp in the woods

 Arches National Park, Utah

 Monuments Valley, Arizona

 My camp at the Grand Canyon
 The spectacular Grand Canyon: 1.6 km deep

 Sunset on the way to Las Vegas
 Crazy Las Vegas

 My camp in Malibu California
 The famous Rock Store

 Glen Du Pont, Adventure Rider on KTM 1190, preparing for his ride to the Arctic!!!

Friday, 22 August 2014


I am sitting in Shizuoka Train Station waiting for my Shinkansen Bullet train to Tokyo.  My adventure in Japan is coming to an end, I am bikeless and extremely sad to leave behind this amazing country and its people.  Japan will remain in my heart and memory the greatest experience I have had so far…
The Eva Air takes me to Taipei and after 7 hour layover I board the plane to Vancouver.  I haven’t been to Canada in 3 years and upon landing in Vancouver, strange feelings gnaw at my heart… We used to live not far from here, in Victoria (more than 12 years ago) and I know these places well. 
The Immigration process is a breeze, it takes 2 minutes and I am out.  The next day I call the Nippon Express agent to inquire about my bike: it is safe and sound in the warehouse, he informs me.  I go to Canada Customs in downtown Vancouver and in less than a minute the officer stamps the customs entry, without inquiring about anything.  I am shocked, and so is my agent; usually, they have to inspect the crate, but the officer was very nice and didn’t give me any trouble.
We unpack the bike quickly, I put the key on and the baby starts purring again!  It is incredible how much I missed her, even for few days!  I have so many memories with this bike that I cannot see myself traveling without her anymore, it makes no sense.
I spent 2 days roaming Vancouver, getting reacquainted with this city that I haven’t seen since 2006.  Then, I am off to the East, I want to see my wife and my daughter and I cannot wait any longer.
The road takes me through the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia and Alberta and then the prairies into Eastern Manitoba, Ontario with the thousands of lakes to North Bay, then Ottawa and into Montreal.  4800 km in 4 days and few hours!  I am fried, my ass is covered with blisters after riding 13 hours a day like a maniac. 
I had great difficulty finding accommodation on the road, not from the lack of hotels and camping, but because most hotels these days in Canada want a credit card.  You cannot check in paying cash, you have to have a credit card.  Mine expired at the end of July and the new one was waiting at home in Montreal.  9 hotels kicked me out in the street at 12:00 at night in Calgary, talking offensive to me as if I was a nobody without a credit card.  Eventually, I found a crappy motel that took cash but charged 90 dollars for a stinky room and a 50 dollar deposit, just in case I was inclined to steal their amazing furniture.  I couldn’t believe it when I saw the high prices these people charge: in Saskatchewan, in a tiny village, they had a Motel 6, which by any standard is a no star motel.  Here, it was 129.99 plus tax.  The girl told me: “High Standard, High Price”…  I wanted to slap her… “High standard?”  I just came from Japan, where the standard is higher than anywhere and I paid for hotels in amazing cities only 45 dollars, including an amazing Japanese buffet breakfast that deserved 2 Michelin Stars, with a service that was fit for a Caesar and cleanliness and hygiene that cannot be compared with anything else.  I got a stale muffin and a bucket of cheap coffee for breakfast here, the blanket had cigarette burns on it and the room stunk like a brothel room.  That is one of the reasons I pushed riding so long, so I don’t have to spend a week in these “high standard hotels”.  Of course you can find decent hotels, but the price will easily be over 200 dollars a night and for that money I live 5 days on my bike anywhere else in the world (except Norway and my home country).
I arrived home exhausted and bruised, but very excited to see my girls and to take a break for few weeks before Carmen and I head South for our last 2 continents. 
I am domestic for the time being, spending time with my daughter, visiting family and friends in Montreal and reflecting on my past trips.  44.000 km from Namibia, where I bought the bike, 9 months and 2 weeks since departure from Livingstone, Zambia.
30.000 km to go!  :)

Rainy, cloudy Vancouver, typical weather for this city.  It is beautiful nevertheless!

 My bike, in a box from Japan
 Professionally packed
 Rainy, again, on the way East.  This is outside Hope, BC, on Trans Canada Highway

 Beautiful Lake Louise, Alberta.  Pity it was so much rain

 The endless prairies

 Storms in the prairies are spectacular... you can see them coming from far away.

Saturday, 9 August 2014


When I left Mt. Fuji on Sunday, there were mixed feelings running through my heart: I thoroughly enjoyed Lake Yamanaka and the time there.  I rested and got my batteries charged for the next leg.  I was apprehensive of my last destination in Japan: Yamaha Factory, the place where my bike was born!  I was in contact with Kenji Takizawa San (Sir) for a while, but I had no idea what he had planned for my visit. 
The day was humid again and as I woke up I somehow pinched a nerve in my spine and I could hardly walk.  It was a painful packing experience and the climbing on the bike was accompanied by shrills of pain.  I rode very slowly, taking in every landscape of this fantastic country, because I knew soon I will leave Japan and I felt very sad.  This place enchanted me with its culture, places and people and I didn’t want it to end.
39.000 km from Swakopmund, Namibia, 23 countries and a lot of sweat, cold, dust and rain, I reached Yamaha Factory in Iwata Japan, thus bringing my bike back to her birthplace.  It was a day to remember: Mr. Kenji Takizawa arranged in advance for my welcome, starting with a surreal Oguni Shrine ceremony where the monks had special welcome and well wishes for my expedition and my project.  The atmosphere at the Temple was magical: I was asked to wait in a beautiful room with sliding rice paper doors, I was served hot tea by a lady dressed in an amazing kimono and the music and movements during the ceremony were incredible.  The sound of the Japanese drum was accompanied by soft, gentle flute music.  I couldn’t believe that it was me who was experiencing this!
Then a fantastic Kobe beef dinner, Japanese style (drinks and all) and then we headed to Kenji San’ home, where I spend the night in a true Japanese place.  His family (Saori, Kenji’s wife, Yudai and Tomo, their two sons), embraced me as one of their own and I felt extremely welcomed there. This brought me closer to understand the Japanese culture and it only opened my appetite for more.
In the morning I arrived at the Communications Plaza at Yamaha where dozens of employees were waiting for me with flowers and gifts.  After a photo session and a short introduction of my itinerary and project, I visited the Showroom (where I felt like on a Star Trek film) and then the tour of 2 factories, where I saw the assembly line where my bike was born in October 2010.  The factory is spotless, the technology mind blowing and the cleanliness, discipline and organization unreal.  Robots were moving everywhere, carrying parts and spares to the appropriate places, and I saw bikes coming out of the boxes in pieces and few minutes later, completed at the other end of the line, where they were sent for packing.  I could read the stickers where these bikers were sent: Peru, Dubai, Durban, US, Canada, etc.  The logistics behind all this are immense, and yet, everything was working perfectly. 
What shocked me the most was the unassuming attitude of the Yamaha executives... even though this is a work of genius, they were acting as normal as the everyday guy, as if this is the norm here and no one feels special.  I beg to differ... I have been in many places in my life, but I have never experienced the level of professionalism and perfection I have seen here.
I want to specially thank my friends and my dealers from Swakopmund: Jan Soderlund, Anja Soderlund and Mario Prinsloo, who, not only for being my fantastic Yamaha people in Namibia, but who became close friends.  I want to thank Yamaha South Africa for connecting me with Yamaha Japan and last but not least, Mr. Kenji Takizawa San, Mr. Ueguchi San and Mr. Fuji San, who have treated me royally while in Japan and are currently helping me with contacts in Colombia and Chile with the Yamaha People there.
I have always loved the Yamaha products and I am in love with the Super Tenere.  The clock on the bike shows 67.000 km, done through some of the worst terrain on the planet and I changed no parts, I had no broken pieces, and I still ride on my original brakes. 
I know very well that there are good bikes out there, but I stand by my Yamaha, because the durability and quality of this machine saved my life in many instances and took more than half of this planet. 
My bike now is packed in a crate and shipped out to Vancouver where a new adventure awaits. The shipping process is such an involved process, that without the help of Kenji San and Ueguchi San, I would have been buried in paperwork that I didn’t understand and I would have probably never see my bike leave this place.  It was their dedication again that saw me complete this process.
 My last night in Japan was spent with the Takizawa’s again and a friend’s family watching a spectacular 2 hour fireworks show, the biggest in Japan, while sitting in a beautiful Traditional Japanese home, eating Ramen noodles and sipping tea.  Everything in Japan is deeply rooted in my heart and it will never go away.  I am in awe of this nation which managed to stand on top of everything else and to find a balance between modern and ancient, between stress and peace and to produce things that help the lives of the entire world, from machines to music and everything in between.
I am now spending the last few hours before the flight writing this blog and eating my last spectacular meal here: a French Creperie (if you can believe that) run by a young Japanese family in the little village of Makinohara, who spent some time in Paris and opened this shop here.  The crepes they make are not only authentic, but incredibly tasty, fresh and full of imagination. You will see some photos below.
I am closing this post with great admiration in my heart for the Japanese people and for my new friends in Japan... Thank you everyone at Yamaha for your warm welcome and your friendship, thank you Takizawa family for your hospitality and kindness, none of which will ever be forgotten.
I am watching the remainder of Typhoon Halong sweeping the beach with high winds and powerful rain, and I know that on the other side of this ocean lies Canada, my country, where my family is and I have new challenges ahead.  I look back to my experience here and I take a bow to my favorite country in the world. 

On the way to Iwata

 National Triathlon competition

 Amazing bamboo forests
 Oguni Temple

 This is the rock where the first Shogun, Okigawa, sat over 500 years ago when he established this Temple
 Wooden boards with Well Wishes
 The beautiful waiting room
 Oguni Monk blessing my bike for a safe ride
 Amazing bridge by the Temple
 The Takizawa home, where I felt very welcome

 Tomo, the 10 year son of Kenji and Saori, a master of Nintendo!
 Yudai, the 14 year old son, the future No1 Tennis player of the world
 The crazy dinner I had with the Takizawa family
 Kenji San (on the left), Saori, the mother on the right and the 2 boys at Red Orchid Restaurant
Mmmmmmm! the meat...

 This is an amazing Korean dish that I loved very much

 Meg (after Meg Ryan) the pure Japanese Shiba breed, a gentle and intelligent dog belonging to the Takizawa's
 Fireworks in front of the house to welcome me.
 This little girl was also part of the fireworks display, a daughter of the neighbors.  I chased her everywhere to take a photo of her beautiful face, but she was too smart for me.
 Arriving at Yamaha

 Kenji San, on his V Max Yamaha, explaining to me how I would ride into the Communication Plaza.

 They put up the Canadian flag (on the left) to welcome me.  It felt very special!
 Some of the people that welcomed me from Yamaha.
 The Yamaha Showroom: Welcome to Star Trek Future!

 The first Yamaha, built in 1955... a beauty

 The Welcome sign for the Yamaha Factory Tour
 In  my little village of Makinohara, a lovely place

 Japanese cemetery, a place of silence and respect
 My hotel was 100 m from the beach
 The french Creperie, a Zen place to have amazing food and coffee and spend some time with a great, young Japanese family
 Incredible crepes served in the middle of Japan!
 The owner's little boy, very shy and I couldn't get a better photo of him.
 Impeccable tea and rice plantations in Kanaya/Sagara Region

 Temple in Fukuroi
 The traditional Japanese home of Mikio Hirano San and his family, where we spent the night watching the fireworks
 The delicious Ramen noodles
 Tomo and his friend playing the Mummies of Egypt