Discovering the world on $20 per day ......................

Post: 14 'Navigation for Beginners and Dyslexics'

'And today's subliminal message is

By my calculations we have 8 weeks until the departure date of 23rd April 2008. As you can imagine, Poor Circulation HQ is a hive of activity, though not much of this activity is actually 'Trip' related. So many people have done this journey before us that all of the information that we could possibly need is already out there. The only skill is in deciding which information is accurate, ...... and which is total fabrication. (Not unlike reading this Blog really) We still have lots of things that we need to do, .... but the order in which we do them depends on what 'Free Products' arrive at our door. Once we know what we don't have, .. we can distribute our substantial budget accordingly. Until then, ... we're just cocking about, trying to look busy and spending as little of our precious money as possible. Our latest dodgy acquisition is a Sony DVD Camcorder with lots of buttons and a rather large instruction book. As our designated Technical Officer, Alan will no doubt be inducting me in the skills of movie making over the coming days. All I have to do it charge the battery and buy some 8cm DVD's. With a little luck, we should be able to have some video footage on here within the next few week, ...... or so.

So far I've left Alan to do most of the worrying whilst I've concentrated on the happier elements of Poor Circulation. It's quite easy for me really,.... I discover a problem, .. I tell Alan about it and it then magically becomes his problem and no longer mine. I guess it's still a 'Problem', but so long as it vanishes for a few days I'm happy with that. Apart from our lack of budget: we are currently about £2,000 short of half of what we need, which is about as good as it's going to get, so there's little point in worrying about it. My only other concern is that we get hopelessly lost along the way. It's not that getting lost is a big problem, we'll always find the right road eventually ... for me it's more of an 'ego' thing. Sometimes arrogance and cockiness can be mistaken for what is actually self-confidence, ..... except in my case, ... 'Cocky' is much closer to the truth. As a courier I just hate the idea of getting lost, so much so that I've spent many hours with my head buried in our massive map of Russia. Now, I'm a 'proper dyslexic', I find it hard to differentiate between certain letters unless they form words that I can immediately recognise. In English this is quite easy to overcome, ...... but trying to come to terms with the Cyrillic alphabet is pretty much a total non-starter. To compensate for this I've tried to memorise both the 'Map' and the 'Look' of the names of the towns and cities along our route. I know how to use a compass and so combining these two skills, ..... we should be able to navigate to Vladivostok without too many headaches. If the 'Map' is an accurate reflection of the road system/topography and the compass remains in working order, .... then the only possible variable is our interpretation of the two, ... simple. At the end of the day, even though we are men, we could always stop and ask for directions. Between us we are fluent in the universal languages of Geordie and Estuary, .... so we shouldn't have too many linguistics problems.

However, today I've been reliably informed that at a point in time between now and 2012, the Magnetic North and South Poles will change ends. I'm not sure if this means that I've got to listen out for a 'half-time whistle', but my informant; an expert physicist driving a blue and white van in London E14, was insistent that this event would happen. As my eager informant looked to be more of an expert in domestic fluid dynamics than a rival for the chair of Stephen Hawkins, I took this devastating information with a huge pinch of salt. Anyway, for reasons of fiscal prudence, we're using Map and Compass as opposed to Satnav, so I guess if 'Pole Reversal' does happen in 2008, ... we simply write a new 'N' and 'S' in green crayon on the plastic dome of the £4.99 compass, .... problem solved.

Hey, .... I'm a bloke,... of course I checked out what Plumber Boy had told me. Tonight, after my third or forth beer I visited the font of all wisdom, the reliable sayer of truths that is Wikipedia.

'A geomagnetic reversal is a change in the orientation of the Earth's magnetic field such that the positions of magnetic North and magnetic South become interchanged. The last geomagnetic reversal was the Brunhes-Matuyama Reversal approximately 780,000 years ago'.

I figure that if 'Geomagnetic Reversal' raises its ugly head while we're crossing Russia, ..... then after 780,000 years of waiting, ... that's got to be the crappiest stroke of luck I've ever encountered. On the other hand,... it's got to be the best excuse yet for getting a little lost on route. So, for a third and final opinion on the matter, I went to You Tube. Thoughtfully, several people had posted videos to explain the meaning of Pole Reversal. Let me just say that if you believe JFK was killed by anybody other than Lee Harvey Oswald, ... or that Diana Princess of Wales was killed by anybody other than a drunken french bloke with a striking resemblance to Hercule Poirot, .... then on the subject of 'Geomagnetic Reversal', stay well clear of You Tube. The only real fact that I have discovered is that for every subject or event, there is somebody out there who is willing to scare the living daylights out of you for no apparent reason. Oh, ... and maybe you also want to avoid putting anything in your diary beyond 21st December 2012.

I honestly can't believe that there are so many people with so much time and so few friends that they dedicate their lives to spreading this kind of tosh. Hey, ... Life isn't always easy, ... get over it. Besides, ... if I thought that the end of the world was so imminent, ...... I'd find something a heck of a lot better to do with my time than discussing potential theoretical endings. In fact, ... I'd probably bugger off around the world on a motorbike.

Post: 13 'Do our bums look big in these?'

'To almost 11010% of people, the Binary System is a complete mystery'

I will admit that in the past, I have scoffed at tales of travellers who have cut the handles from toothbrushes in order to save weight. However, I've been doing some maths and things really don't add up, ... and this time I don't mean the budget, Poor Circulation needs to loose some weight. In the past 10 years, the longest time I've spent away from home on a bike trip is 3 weeks. Even then, I suspect I was never more than an hours ride from the nearest McDonald's or Pizza Hut. For that particular trip the bike was heavy with all of the luggage that it carried, ... but at least it all stayed on and I eventually got used to the handling. Poor Circulation means that the Triumph Tigers will be our transport, homes and pack-mules for months on end. In western Europe and America this really isn't going to be a problem as we can 'Replenish' as we go. Our biggest concern is crossing Russia where 'Western Essentials' will be A: Hard to find, ... and B: Impossible to have delivered. We're not going to starve to death, or run out of fuel, ...... but the things that we take for granted here in England, we need to 'Plan' for through Siberia. Between the cities of Irkutsk and Vladivostok, everything we need we will have to carry with us on the bikes. It doesn't sound like to harsh a task if you say it quickly, ...... but Irkutsk is as far from Vladivostok as London is from Irkutsk, ...... and that's a bugger of a long way.

It's alright though, it can't be a major problem because we already have a 'List'. The only hassle is in making the 'Essentials' on our list actually fit onto the bikes. We've got Panniers, Top Boxes and Vetura Tail Packs, ... the sleeping bags and mats will sit on top of the panniers, ..... which works fine for Western Europe. On the advice of a Security Adviser (complete with 'Pixelated Face'), we've also decided to take a pair of tents. Apparently, it can get quite chilly in Siberia and hypothermia is not like cholera, .... we can't just have a 'Jab' before we leave home. Anyway, from Irkutsk to Vladivostok, ... we need to add a further 20L of fuel and 10L of water. My maths is not great, .... but those liquids add up to a total of 25Kg (without containers), ... which exceeds the 'Recommended Capacity' of the racks on which they sit. Add in a few clothes, food, stove, pots, plates, tools, spares, cameras, laptop, spare tyres, stuffed toy and feather pillow, ..... and we might be a few ounces over the weight limit. There is however a plus side to all of this extra weight, ..... because at least with the suspension fully compressed, using my tiptoes, I should be able to touch the ground at last.

Somehow, we will fit everything that we need onto the bikes. Other people have done it before us, ... and lots more will do so in the future. We've got as much carrying capacity as anybody, ...... so I guess that along the way we'll just work out how to squeeze the quart into the pint pot. (Those titanium trinkets from Touratech are beginning to make much more sense to me now).

Post: 12 'Different Perspectives'

'If you're not riding through New Zealand, .. then you can't call it 'Around The World'' .... Anonymous @ Work

At first, ... I thought he was joking. It was only later in the day when I realized that everybody must have their own opinion on the meaning of 'Around The World'. I considered returning to the office with a Globe and seeking further explanation, .... but as usual, making money got the better of me. One of the most frequently asked questions is 'How long will it take you?'. At first I answered this question with a vague timetable of events, usually amounting to a period of around 3 months. Now, I just return the question , ... 'how long do you think it will take?'. The responses so far range between 1 Month to 3 Years. All I can say is that in the fullness of time, one of those guesstimated responses will prove to be more accurate than the other.
Another frequently asked question is based upon the projected mileage of Poor Circulation. '25,000 Miles, .... how far is that?'. Well, .... it's approximately one lap of the earth with a couple of detours to see places of special interest and a built in margin to account for our map reading skills. To be honest, I could tell some people that it was approximately the distance form London to Kiev and they would still take my word for it. Because we're heading off on what seems like a big adventure, people automatically assume that we know what we're doing. The sad truth is that at this moment in time we've got most of the gear but absolutely no idea. The only thing that we have got, ...... is the 'front' to seek the advice of others who know a hell of a lot more about it than we do. So far, ... our master plan appears to be working.
I've lost count of the times that somebody has sighed and said, 'It's a small world these days', or words to that effect. I've read the first two pages of 'A Brief History of Time', so I'm as much an expert as anybody, so I can tell them with some authority that the 'World' is about the same size as it was back in the days when Triumph's used to leak oil, ..... it's just the choice of vehicle that has changed. A Boeing 747 will get you to New York and back in time for tea, ...... but going by canoe, you'll be struggling to make it back for breakfast. We've chosen to use Motorbikes, ... cycles would have been slightly slower,.. but in turn pedal power would have reduced our Carbon Footprint. Having said that, ... in any 'element' you choose to mention, my footprint will always be smaller than Big Al's.
Talking of 'Time & Space', (I think), I mentioned in an earlier post that I had sacrificed my bed in order to make room in my apartment for Poor Circulation essentials. Considering that we are traveling on Triumph Tigers, it seems improbable that all of these essentials will fit into the available luggage space. Our panniers, top boxes and Ventura Tail-packs are large, ... but they are still some way short of qualifying for independent post codes. I just hope that much of what we consider to be 'Essential' has actually been delivered in excessively bulky packaging. If not, .... then we will have another major problem.

Post: 11 'Expecting the Unexpected'

'Climate is what we expect, .... Weather is what we get', ...... Mark Twain

In the week since my last post it feels as if somebody has turned the world on it's head. An email from the people at MotoHaus has resulted in a veritable feast of free and essential goodies making their way to the doors of Poor Circulation. 'Airhawk Seat', .... 'Ventura Soft Luggage', ... 'Headlight Protectors', .. and more. It's amazing really, I can't admit to earning too many 'Frequent Shopper Points' with MotoHaus in the past, but they understood what we were trying to do and decided to throw their hat, .. and a few tasty products, into the Poor Circulation ring. (At least with an 'AirHawk Seat', .. the poor circulation Ring will now be well taken care of ;-)). On the other hand, the company that has in the past benefited the most from my normal consumables budget has declined to help. Don't get me wrong, I don't 'expect' to receive things when I approach these companies, but it does seem that the generosity of strangers can be greater than that of friends.

Adding to the generosity of MotoHaus, Triumph On-Line have also offered their support. The extent of which is still somewhat in the balance, .... but with our budget heading south at an alarming rate, .. help of any kind has become essential to Poor Circulation.

Another unexpected result seems to be the attitude of the Russian authorities towards overland travelling. To be honest, Alan and I really expected a huge headache when trying to get a multiple entry 'Business Visa' for Russia. This next comment may come back to haunt me, .... but it appears that the process might actually be quite painless. Perhaps the fact that we have a 'Business Invitation' makes us look more like a credible professional outfit as opposed to the two old giffer's cocking about on the edge of stupidity that we actually are, .... but I'll keep you posted on the progress. On the other hand, Alan is now worried about entry into the USA. He says that he heard George 'Dubya' Bush announce a crackdown on the evils of 'International Tourism' and no matter what I say to reassure him, ..... he insists that he heard it straight from the horses mouth. Alan is panicking about not getting our Visa's in time for our April 23rd departure, .. but it would help if he actually applied for his bloody passport first. (Alan Kelly, ... If your reading this,.. pull your finger out, .. Passports are not 'Optional Extras')

On Monday, ... much excitement was generated when we found out that the new Airline operating from Vladivostok to Alaska was now up and running. Following the demise of 'Magadan Airlines', this was the news we were hoping for. However, ...... the Air Vladivostok website seems to be slightly more functional than their actual aircraft schedule. I guess it is progress, .. we can now 'Virtually' get from Russia to America.

If anybody has any accurate information on this, ... then we'd love to hear from you. .... ....

Post: 10 'Money; Hard to get, Easy to lose'

'Wealth is better than poverty, .... if only for financial reasons' .... Woody Allen

Just when you think that things are coming together quite nicely, .. a kick in the financial gonads is waiting just around the corner.

'Bus Lane Violation, .. pay fine of £120, ... or take a Chance', ..... Bollocks. Poor Circulation were looking for a photographer to capture some shots of our departure, ... we look no further. Transport for London (TfL) provided me with an excellent example of their detailed camera work. They captured my bike and number plate amazingly well, clear as day, ... the only thing missing from the 'Shot', was a bloody bus. Possibly because there was no bus in close proximity to my bike at the time the photo was taken, .. but then, .. there seldom is. £120, ... that's 6 days of budget for Poor Circulation. Thanks Ken.
On the bright side, ... while I'm certain that my £120 will be used to re-fill several potholes in London's deteriorating road network, ... it has motivated me to get out of this City as soon as possible. (Memo to Ken: Please forward any further TfL Penalty Charge Notices to Vladivostok and marked for my urgent attention).
On the even brighter side, a package arrived from ..., ...... 6 sets of Brake Pads at a Poor Circulation kind of price, ... FREE. A big thanks for their support and the fast delivery service. Clearly,.. they didn't dispatch them using 'Blue88'.
Beyond the £120 donation to TfL, this week has seen further sacrifices made in the name of Poor Circulation, .. notably, .. my comfy bed. Unfortunately, our budget doesn't stretch to a nice lock-up office and garage suite in Bulwer Street W12, ... so one simply has to 'make do'. The bed had to go, .. my 'Hard to Let' in the village of Great Saling is on the small side of bijou and with all of the travel essentials we've collected over the past month, I just ran out of living/sleeping space. Thankfully, there is no current 'Mrs Blue88' to kick up a fuss, .. but then if there was, ...... I wouldn't be buggering off on this adventure anyway. I'm sure that sleep will become a lot more comfortable when 'Blacks, The Outdoor Experts' open my begging letter and forward a lovely 'Therma-Rest' travel mat to my welcoming door.
Further news on the Bike 2 Bike Coms. mentioned in my last post, .... we have an offer of a single NADY unit and the possibility of a Scala System, .. previously enjoyed, .... but at Poor Circulation prices.
Still no news on a supply of free Petrol, .. but with the condition of my lungs, I won't be holding my breath for very much longer.

Post: 9 'MCN Motorcycle Show'

'Bugger, .... I can't think of anything remotely pretentious to say' .... Blue88

I knew it was a mistake to take myself off to the evil halls of temptation down in London E16, otherwise known as the Motorcycle News Bike Show. On the bright side, .. it was at least 'Bright'. Every year I convince myself that I'll find the ultimate in bargain basement kit, ... and every year I've returned home disappointed. Product wise, apart from the Triumph Clothing stand, this year was no exception. Unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, I arrived either 2 days too late,.. or 3 'X's too small, to benefit from Triumph's 'End of Season' generosity.
We had a 'List' of things that we needed to investigate, the first being some sort of 'Bike 2 Bike' radio system. It seems that we have a problem with interpretation of our hand signals, ... a fact highlighted when I suggested that we stop for Coffee en route to the show. I gave Alan the universal 'Coffee Signal' and pulled over for a much needed caffeine fix. I watched bemused as Alan rode straight past me offering the 'V's, ..... later insisting that I had been calling him a 'Tosser'. As he knows London like the back of a strangers hand, I soon caught him again and took us directly down to the Excel Centre. He might insist on his own blog that I took the wrong route, .... but as I pointed out, ... there is no 'Wrong Route', .... only 'Alternate' and 'Faster Routes', .. just ask any 'Cabbie'. Anyway, .... Bike 2 Bike Radios, .. great idea, .. fantastic technology, ... too bloody expensive, ... so now off the Poor Circulation 'Wish List'.
Just to add insult to the price of Excel Coffee, .. we took a trip to the Touratech stand, ... Wow. Oh to be famous, .. to flick through their catalogue, .. call in your order and await the express delivery of your dreams. Their 'Kit' is amazing and I guess their prices might be realistic, ..... but walking amongst the 'Bling' of their billet titanium and polished aluminium trinkets with a wallet filled only with dreams, ... I felt like a total fraud. Ironically, as we walked away from the Touratech stand, a girl in too-tight-shorts from the MCN exhibition slipped a promotional DVD into my hand, ..... 'The Long Way Down', ... arrrrgh. Don't get me wrong, .... given the resources and the opportunity, ... I'd go 'Rich Circulation' every time, .. I might be slow,.. but I'm not stupid.
Around the corner we found the stand of a travel company specialising in Bike tours around Normandy. As we're landing in Calais on May 1st, we hoped to get a few useful tips on some of the less well known but 'well worth a visit' places in northern France. We explained thus: 'We're buggering off around the world raising money for charity on a budget of £20 a day', .. and the simple response was 'Move along, ... nothing to see here'. He probably thought that we were after a free nights lodgings at his lovely chalet, ..... which of course we were.
A little later we bumped into our old mate Nick Sanders. He suggested it would be better if we joined one of his 'Guided World Tours'. Nick uses the term 'Guided' in the loosest possible sense, .. which I guess in a way is part of Nicks unique appeal. If anyone reading this has ever 'Toured' with Nick, ... then I guess they'll know where I'm coming from.
Three hours later, having executed a full and poor circulation of the main exhibition hall, we were making our way to the exit past the last 2 stands: 'Trail & Dirt Trading', .. no thanks, .. and the final stand 'Traveldri-Plus'. Behind us, ..... and almost within touching distance stood a real hero of adventure motorcycling, .. a guy who has bought the tee shirt not once,.. but twice. It was Austin Vince, .. unmistakeable in his Mondo Enduro Overalls. We chatted for a while and his advice to Poor Circulation was, .... 'Just do it chaps, .. it's so easy'. He gave us a pair of 'Terra Circa' pin badges that he had taken around the world with him on his second bike journey where he conquered the Zilov Gap. Those little tin badges mean as much to us as, .... well, .. as free airfreight of Bikes and Bodies from Tokyo to Anchorage/Vancouver would, ...HINT. Anybody who has seen the Terra Circa or Mondo Enduro DVD's or read the Mondo Enduro Diaries will understand, ...... and as for the rest of you, ........ well, .... you just had to be there.