The same theme – continues – “One Man | Two Wheels | Endless Destinations”
The commitment to myself to seek what I have left behind in the time and be myself is back. I want to do what I love and live doing what I love. There will always be challenging along the way but that is what we all have in our lives. We love to live these challenges and challenge ourselves to the goals we want to achieve.
As in my last blog post, I mentioned the about the XC Adv. The story begins – I don’t know how far, how exciting and how boring this will get but this has begun. My long wish to prepare a motorcycle meant for my needs has started its beginning. It has been long search to get started with it in first place. I am athletic build with 1.78m and 70kgs that needs something light to take me across places fast, light and easy to handle. My choice between the motorcycles has been based on lots of help from Walter Colebatch and the likes of other adventure motorcyclist including the rally and world touring peeps.
A very interesting point of view was what I used to have in my life about a decade ago – the lighter you go – the faster you will be. This is not just applicable in one respect of weight but overall planning of your trip. Everything adds up from one to another to the next. The weight of the bike should be something that is reasonably manageable by you in any or most of the conditions you are in without the help of anyone in miles of no human reach. The big adventure bikes never were in my league with pure reason being they are not manageable at any extent in a solo long ride if the terrain is more than rough surface. I wanted a bike to meet my demands that fulfill my needs in terms of weight, reliability and capability of going beyond European tarmac. The list was pretty neat with what my options are – 650cc or 690cc.
The reliability being a big concern with travelling to the far away regions becomes a big issue if your motorcycle is little more than simple and more complicated with advanced technology. They do not make life easier rather hellish if you are stuck in middle of nowhere. KTM690 is an ideal bike but the reliability and few other concerns puts me off where as BMW 650 is tested for its reliability and comparably lot lighter than 690 in long run solo terminology of adventure travels. Although BMW 650 strikes each to each variants available. You can get the F650Gs, Sertao, Fundro 650 and the limited few which were produced as X-series. In the very obvious between the 650cc – the search has been for the lightest and that was none other than G650 Cross Country rather the name came up as XC. With a dry weight of just around 150kgs I know it would be ideal as pointed out the expert Walter himself.
It was not an easy one to begin with. On the first search that is the end of December 2014, I found no XC available in whole of UK be it a dealer or be it a private seller. The search moved on to the next available market – the EU Continent. The search was not an easier one as most common online platforms returned nothing and then few local searches from a help of Austrian friend and Belgian friend pointed me to German\Austria\NL market with few to look at. They all wanted an excess of £3000/- which sure was not my range to begin with. I was looking for a bike that is probably as old as 2007 and not a whole lot of mileage in between all these 7years. None to the point that would interest me as most were over in excess of 30,000kms. I found one in north of Italy with a private seller asking about 3800Eu. with 500kms but he never responded back to the emails or the calls hence it was over.
Two weeks in the hunt, 2015 has clocked itself in the new dates. Happy New Year, the search is still on and not a single one selling in UK. The limited production of these bikes was an interesting point that BMW never focussed on the sales of X series as these were not the market sellers for BMW potential adventure aimed buyers. BMW has made its name for selling the big boxers and not really the low spec 650’s. 650’s have been there since long time and have made its market in lower numbers compared to the 1200’s of big twin boxers. Rather I call them big boobs of BMW in the bike porno language. The first week went on and I was closing on the European market but kept myself on the hold. Not to jump the gun of crossing into the Continent as it would mean more expenses – bringing the bike, changing the currency, transporting the bike and all the paperwork to follow.
Second week on – the casual search back on online platforms – Ebay – None, Gumtree – Hey Hey (someone is selling one). I have located the first BMW G650 X Country in the UK. The seller was asking about the price I was looking for and it was 12000miles on the odometer so it would have equated to the lowest kind of mileage I was able to get compared to EU sellers. I weighed in my options to compare the other and I was well in my reach to find the bike I wanted. This just was the beginning of the whole XC Adv Story now.
I contacted the seller, tried to see if we can reach a lower price than the asking but it was more or less the same as I would have not realised it until late that I ended up buying a bike which added a nearly £450 in terms of the van hire, diesel and simple transfer from A to B. I found the bike in South Devon, Somerset. I gave in the deposit to the guy to ensure that it was already locked to my name before anyone else points a finger on it. It was a long journey to begin with and added to that was the 100mph+ winds. I decided to stop in at Bristol to use it as split stop instead of doing a long 500miles in a single day.
10.01.15 – Hiring an Enterprise Van was not big deal but I must advice every one of checking the windscreen as I feel I have cheated. Anyways more on that later. I hired the van as they offered to pick me up from the home. It was nearly 10.30am by the time I reached home from sorting out all the paperwork at van hire and I had to take a small bicycle to be offered to a little girl who I knew would love it in her coming years.
It was nearly 1100hrs by the time I could hit the road and the scare of 100mph+ winds was slowly calming down. I was all set ready to leave and resetting the trip meter on the van was the first thing that was on my mind to keep the distance tracked.
A boring drive basically between A1M, M25, M4 upto Bristol where my first stop came as I have some family so I could have used it to my advantage. Driving a van is no wonder lot more relaxed than riding a small car for longer distances. The sitting posture really defines your change of comfort and alertness level at all times. 140miles – 2hour15mins. Not too bad considering that driving a van is lot relaxed.
Destination was still another 110miles or so miles away. The weather was bit calm and the long empty stretches of M5 was like driving into the endless road that won’t come to an end. It was boring as well which eventually led us to A38 and into the South Brent from where the first glimpse of the XC was becoming more and more visible in my mind.
Finally, we reached the destination and the first view of the XC was captured. It wasn’t a clear first view but there was not much to it. It has been in the garage for a while and something to do with battery was mentioned. I didn’t took a big note on it but it started so I counted on it at that time.
It was a very kind and a warm welcome from Peter, who has kept the bike since number of years and was not very first owner. He had some very interesting bikes for anyone keen on the history of two strokes. I have not seen so many two strokes in the same garage as many he had to share. There was an enthusiasm and the wonderful biker brotherhood going on. He was eager to know what all I am planning to do with the bike. The idea of knowing that an XC can go lot more farther is just a spark for the excitement.
There were few that I would have liked to share here a quick note and it was just amazing fun to see them in full working conditions. Impressed is just a small word but the interest that we had in common was a good factor for making this XC story even more exciting – the story from the beginning is a fun if it was more than just a buy and sell deal.
Few more wonderful bikes to look at. There is another amazing Yamaha 125 LC two-stroke which was a gem in its wonderful condition. Although I loved the small 50cc Honda which was used by his son when he was learning two wheels.
I did find myself excited meeting Peter and no wonder it has a perfect recipe for the excitement. A lot of time spent in talks and sharing what XC is capable of with its power range. Ah well we shall get loading the bike into the van and strapping it down. Peter was really kind in his welcome and his passion is reflected in his love for his wheels.
At 12226miles, it has had a new life embedded into its new making. XC that shall see the light of the world from the shades of the garage. This should move itself into a new category among the few others known for what they are.
All strapped and ready to go.
I was glad to have not attempted this within a day as it would have been a good 24hours through the day making it back to base. Tonight it is a halt in Bristol with a last 140miles to base next morning.
11.01.15 Making it to the base, I rested long as I slept like a baby last night. Morning was an easy one and still lazy to do get back on the road but I knew it was to be done before it gets dark as I rather should make the most of the daylight. Days aren’t long in January added with the bad weather not a good idea. In all this while, I have been in contact with Erik(Expert at its trade) from NL -to update that I have been on my way.
The interesting long journey with few stops has finally come to the rest. It was now time to make the face to face introduction between the Fz6 Chini and XC Adv on the outside while the Fz6 waits and watches the unloading of the XC Adv.
The power of single 650 vs the inline fours of 600 is pretty much incomparable. The 650 shall set an example of unseen and unknown while the 600 has been ruling the roads for the last 63000miles of European smooth terrains.
This marks the base to base journey of making the XC Adv limelight of the stories ahead.
Interestingly, as I previously mentioned about the van rentals – I was quite stunned when a chap at the rental mentioned about the chip. It was barely 2cms with a slight 2cm line appearing near the base of the windshield. It just took me by surprise because I am quite sure when the van was given to me – the lady who let it rent to me didn’t check the screen and neither did I – so validly I was at the fault but gobsmacked me doesn’t believe it was me. It became a well in excess of £400 for the van hire and the fuel in total amounting to lot more than expected. There was no fun part in the end as it left me bitter!
Just a learning, that rentals should be more carefully sought out in future if you are to take one. It just was no fun that you return it as you got it and took the hit of more than you expected it to be. Rant over.
Story continues …..
2015 : The first post and something not like a resolution but rather like a need to change. I have been stuck in the customs of being the usual which is not me and I should get back to what I am used to be in my own skin. I know I am not one of the many who revel their lives in comfort of 9-5, luxuries of high profiles, endless followers and enjoying their fames of whatever they can mould their followers into.
The time to be who I am and where I belong is here and is right now running through my head, my blood and my body – CHANGE. I need this time for myself to get back to what I have loved doing over the years – Travel – Click – Be Happy – Be the Hippy Happy Nomad adventurer. The theme of life needs to come back to life. I have been stuck in the comforts of western life for too long. I need that to change to accept and respect what life has to offer. The comforts have made me become weak and nimble. I need to reconvene myself with the nature to be in sync with myself.
The project XC has taken over. I know I have this urge to go and travel so let this be NOW. This moment of now has been initiated. Last two weeks I have been digging around looking at where can I find this XC – the one that Walter Colebatch has been inspiring me about. I need this to happen and I want it to there. So for those who don’t have an idea what I am talking about – It is to do with searching a right motorcycle, in this case a BMW G650 Cross Country also known as XC. Once I have the right one, preparing it over period of time and then planning to go where my heart belongs – the real world away from the civilisation of masses and arrogant people which the cities turn them into.
I have been riding up and down the Indian Himalayas over the period of years that I spent in India in my earlier life. Since year 2000 till 2008 I have racked up several thousands of kilometers riding solo, with a friend, doing a two-up as well as doing endless longest rides of more than 24hours. Age does catch up and body does start to make you feel that you don’t have the same youth but the power of mind can take you anywhere again. So this is the moment to bring this change in life and do what I love. Prepare a motorcycle that can handle the Adventures, the rough terrains, those water crossings, the language barrier and the cultural clash over the years. I need to see these people with a difference – where life, culture and aspects of life make you feel the importance of your life. Riding in UK\EU over the last 6.5yrs is a cream that anyone who wants to do it can do it. The last 75,000miles in Europe has been an ease which didn’t include seeing the happiness, the adventure and the real friendly world – I don’t deny of some exceptions but generally – the world is not same when you live in the western perimeters of modern life. Everyone is connected but more disconnected than ever. The advent of technology has not connected but rather disconnected us from each other in a way bigger than anything else ever did in the past history of our existence.
Note to self :
XC secured on 08.01.15
XC Collection on 10.01.15
Yes, I am on the adrenalin rush as soon as I am away from the routine of my life. Happiness is not a quantity of what I achieve – it naturally fills me up for the reason that there is no better reason to be away from the regular routines of life to explore and find the hidden self. The real true self of me that fears no one and loves everything around be it the tiny ant or a huge elephant(though I didn’t meet any of them) yet the feeling is constantly ringing inside me from the moment I am up for exploring this Adventure.
This very adventure was already lit from the last night experience of first time seeing a real folklore play in the real traditional way in a small town of Lochinver Pub, followed by a beautifully starry milky way so much to see that eyes can’t believe in its beauty, the sparkling water of Achmelvich (Yeah, I mean it). These five brilliant student from the University of Glasgow, invited me to join in – Jump along, we are going to see the real sparkles in the water (Yes, it does sparkle when you step inside the water). At 2am, we jump on the beach in total darkness, and hey hey… the minute we scratch our feet in the cold water – it wasn’t as cold as it initially felt although the air factor was chillier than water. I have never seen something this amazing ever – the water does glitter if you put your feet in it and go further ashore. Some of them decided to strip and jump in water while the scene was too unreal – half skies rain – half skies milky way – the waves of the sea and everything seemed to be nothing more amazing than a dream – Was a reality instead.
View it in Large here
I have packed myself up for a road trip aiming for real sense of adventure beyond a ordinary scraps of travel and motorcycling. I have taken a step beyond and loaded my car(first ever personal life-time adventure that involves the car) with the bicycle to explore the Sandwood Bay – not much that I could find on the internet about cycling terrain and whether it was suitable. There were traces of unconfirmed information but that was enough to put the strings together for a unknown experience. You can possibly get a glimpse of the track on the Google maps(Satelite view). The day so far has been Amazing, Sunny, partially rainy and quite windy – if that sums up, it was good as long as Sun was out there. So After my little explore and walk around The Old Man of Stoer I was headed now to Blairmore, Sutherland.
The jouney from Stoer to Blairmore can be described as seen below :
When I reached there, it was just the passing cloud which didn’t dampen the spirits to go on and push myself. The first quick act to put the bike together as I had the wheels apart. The rain started to get heavier and my helmet goPro mount gave up. Hence no videos from the move and I did miss the action because my face fall was left unseen, several small water crossings, the water gullies that made me flip over one with face down, a slide through the sand while coming down rushing in full adrenalin but that is all for my personal memories now.
So the first stop coming through the rain shower covering some distance and after the first fall, it was time to share this moment to all the people out there.
& the surface becomes even more smooth – the second fall, a gentle one managing to get our big boulders and trying over balancing act on a non-MTB.
The time to hit the sand tracks and yeah, you just can’t get through the tracks – they are proper challenge to get through on a hybrid :) bike.
Time to give up the bike, and walk the end bit.
& the moment Finally. The emotions, the peace, the calm and the surreal beauty in nature. It can’t be better although no complaints about the weather, I enjoyed it pretty much, made me feel like 13 riding through the amazing rough terrain to the bay.
The last and the final bit before the return. I ran wild through the dunes, rolled, jumped and even had sand in my mouth – that is power of kid inside you.
For those more keen on breakdown of the ride .. Nothing really compared to everyday 20mile per hour ride but the obstacles slow you down pretty hard towards the end of the ride. The last 4 to 6 kms is where you will have to get off the bike everytime you see the water gullies made between uneven boulders.
The Last bit of the graph above shows the points where the falls happened and in the last 40th minute flip(Ass up, face down moment).
The last of the series, is the Cape Wrath. The last Northwest Frontier of the Mainland UK. The area used by Ministry of Defence(MOD) for good part of the year. Watch out this space.
Capturing life when you move – you realise nothing is still. Everything around us is moving and if we are still – this nature is forever moving.
Crossing the Scotland’s famous Forth Bridge Road leading to the City of Edinburgh and then back out heading down south from the Edinburgh.