Right, continent number two, we've both landed safe and sound in Seoul and by doing so have gone against the one piece of advice that was noted in every source we looked at during the research: don't ever leave without your bikes.
It really is common sense but as it transpired it was easier said than done. So, as I sit on the floor in some strange and splendid Korean home my bike sits across the pacific in a warehouse monitored by a pervert. Ok, he may not be a pervert, but he did look like one so I'm taking the liberty of joining the dots. Despite our fairly loose plan in Vancouver regarding crating and accommodation we had confirmed a space on Tuesday for our bikes to fly. This meant they would arrive in Seoul with us on Wednesday afternoon with ample time to clear them from customs (2 working days) un-crate, assemble and drive across South Korea in time to catch our Ferry to Russia on Sunday evening. Now, what we hadn't accounted for was 'cherry season', rookie mistake for sure. After an enormous effort from a huge number of exceptionally helpful and kind people over the weekend we delivered the bikes to the warehouse on Monday morning to find they were in fact not confirmed on the flight on Tuesday but rather a box of cherries was to go instead. From that point to now an enormous amount of over and back has ensued, it got to the point that we had drawn straws in Vancouver airport to see who would stay behind to satisfy an inspection of the crates only to be told 2 minutes before the gate closed that this wasn't required. As I sit and write it is 14.50 on Friday afternoon in Seoul and I've just discovered that our bikes weren't loaded onto Thursday's flight as planned but we have been promised they will fly this evening instead. This means that unless our fixer in Korea (the wonderful Wendy Choi) can clear customs in a matter of hours we are in Korea until Sunday the 22nd of July when the next ferry goes to Vladivostok. No small amount of layers make up this exceptionally awful situation and being quite honest I think it's best I don't reflect on it too deeply right now, hopefully the broad outline above will suffice until next time.
Anyway, focusing on something a little more successful we made it safe and sound across Canada to the Pacific ocean having driven 15,000km up and across a continent. We arrived in Vancouver late on Thursday evening after a long few days on the road with a few aforementioned obstacles to overcome before flying out on Tuesday. We had to find or build a crate, rent a van and deliver the bikes to the airport for shipping, none of which seemed too difficult to achieve given the time frame. We split up on Friday morning to half our load, Kieran went for repairs and I went to try and source a crate in a local dealer. As is the way with such things I wasn't off on my own 5 minutes before things went belly up. For some reason the pioneering folk in BMW decided to put a wet battery in the bike and after a few day rough driving the battery had run dry causing the bike to do some very funny things. I knew there were only a few more miles to be done before we got them prepped for crating and the plan was to give them a full service as we took them apart for shipping. As I pulled out of the motel my bike died as I clutched in. I restarted the bike with some difficulty and watched it die again, it seemed the revs weren't holding at idle. I knew if I kept the throttle open it would hold up, I started it once more and revved it hard before setting out across the city in busy rush hour traffic. The plan was working until I got to a climb on Knight street, forgetting about the problem completely I clutched in and rolled off the throttle as I went down a gear, the bike instantly died leaving me without power in the inside lane next to the concrete divide. I tried the starter and watched the voltmeter plummet, I tried it again but there was nothing but silence. I was losing momentum fast on the upward facing hill so began to move across the lanes into a narrow hard shoulder no more than 3-4 feet wide. I shut the bike off and tried again. Nothing.
I considered my options for a few minutes, I had no number for breakdown assistance and no real interest in paying for it even if I did, Kieran's bike was on a mechanic's ramp with no front wheel so he wasn't going to be much use. The only plausible option was to get the bike going and sort the battery later on. I turned the bike around in the narrow shoulder and pointed it down the hill into the oncoming traffic. I clutched in and let the bike begin to build speed, the compression rate on these bikes makes it impossible to bump start in 1st or 2nd gear, the back wheel just locks and the bike skids to a halt so I knew I needed a good run before trying to start it. I waited, ignoring the symphony of beeps coming from the passing traffic, and let the speed build. The bike accelerated slowly. It hit 25kmph just a few meters before the shoulder ended as a slip road joined Knight Street. I put it into third gear and let the clutch out instantly feeling the engine kick in below me. I brought the bike to a halt and revved it wildly by the side of the road waiting for a gap to rejoin the traffic.
With the exception of the above shipping nightmare Vancouver passed off without incident after that and our final days in Canada were nice and relaxing with the added luxury of 2 home cooked meals. At this point, the terminus of the North American leg, I would have hoped to have some form of montage or a slow motion sequences of me and Kieran being tremendous, laughing as we take off helmets and crafted shots of passing hills. Having discovered about three weeks ago that I don't have the right temperament to thoroughly record or document our journey this montage, if produced, would consist of two clips, one of which is of the inside of my tank bag, the other of me humping the arctic circle. As such, there will be no montage, but trust me, we were tremendous and we did laugh when we took off our helmets.
I’m loving the blog, it seems all the more exotic because of the constant rain and misery we are getting here in Birmingham. good luck with the rest of the trip, I have a feeling its about to get more challenging!
Lots of love from myself and the girls
Superb stuff lads, really enjoying your travels so far.
Spending a day on my own in Shanghai here catching up on your travels. Great stuff and very entertaining, sounds like the best Craic, keep it up.
I don’t get it
, they’re perfect for arnoud-town kid-hauling/grocery-getting, etc. I put some platform-BMX-type pedals on, though the Madsen’s stock pedals are also quite wide and a great platform pedal, I just thought I’d put these on. I may move to the SKS grip king, but we’ll see. And the grips are just some I had lying arnoud and like the look of . It’s a great ride. Can’t wait to get back to Seattle and borrow it back from Car Free Days. In terms of the Madsen’s stock saddle/bars/pedals, it really is just a matter of personal preference. I like the wider Brooks B67 saddle, which I use on some other cargo bikes, so I went with that here. The standard saddle may be preferred by some, it just depends what you’re used to and what you like to ride. Because I went for the more upright riding position, I like the wider saddle. If I were using this bike as a bike messenger, for example, and racing arnoud town a little more, and/or preferred a narrower saddle, the stock one would be just fine. I think Madsen’s designers were wise to spec the bike with the saddle, bars, and pedals they did: they’re good choices, but easily swapped out if someone prefers.
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