The cycle of trip preparation, itinerary planing, and tracking events in neighbouring Middle-East and north Africa has stepped up notch over the past month. Pascal’s passport needed renewal and the fact that the uncertainty of the entire region has put into jeopardy our plans to visit Egypt, Syria and Jordan. Given the volatility of the Middle-East and North Africa, we have once again changed our plans. Being on the road means having to be flexible. It means changing plans at the last minute and adapting to the situation as it occurs. Just one year ago the region was fine, safe and enjoyed thousands of tourists per day. Now it’s a different story and as determined as Pascal is to go to Jordan, Egypt and Syria several other factors have also come into play that mean we are change plans. But one loss is another’s gain, in this instance we will spend more time in Greece, Southern Italy, and Tunisia. Paper work permitting we may also duck into Algeria and further… So our two month tour two up is not without it’s adventure, in fact it’s a race now for us to organise everything what with many unexpected setbacks we are now very much excited to be taking off again, even if it’s only^ for two months.

Maps Sprawled on the floor

Maps Sprawled on the floor Arja is trip planning once again

In a lot of ways the whole process of trip planning, preparation and paperwork feels a lot like when we first left Australia in 2008. Although there are the obvious differences, Pascal is not leaving work (but Arja is), we’re keeping our place and we don’t have to fly Francois anywhere. Nevertheless all the time constraints, pressures, paperwork, insurance, bike servicing is there.

Planning for the unexpected

What we didn’t plan on was the complete failure of the ABS system on Francois. The budget has been completely blown and we’re still a month from departure. When Francois failed we turned to BMW and got the help we needed along with two recalls. It’s not the most heart warming thing to hear when the mechanic tells you that your bike has recalls (fuel pump controller and brake lines) pending and the ABS doesn’t work. The biggest issue I have with this bike, now that we have 70,000kms on the clock is that when the ABS failed, it caused three critical issues:

  1. Rear bake light and tail light both failed,
  2. Speedo stopped working, we had no idea of our speed,
  3. Odometer didn’t register any passing kms.

Fellow riders° just as baffled as I was to find out that all these issues were related to the ABS unit failure. With all the incredibly complex engineering and systems onboard why on earth would BMW make these three things dependent on the ABS unit. The only possible answer is that the ABS unit is so heavily integrated that the bike can’t function properly without it. Perhaps a more cynical view would be that BMW create the dependency to ensure users of the vehicle spend the money to have the bike repaired, as without the costly repair the bike is not road legal. Whatever the reason, it has left a bitter taste and just before we set out on our big Mediterranean tour. Don’t misinterpret my concerns, I’m incredibly happy with the GS, in fact I have never felt so confident and in control as I do on Francois. And it’s much better that the issues occur before we set out rather than the alternative, leaving us stranded by the roadside in the Saharan Desert!

The world map certainly helps with the planning and puts the distances into perspective

The servicing issues don’t end there, we also had a wheel sensor failure, a dead battery and a failed fuel pump controller and all that in the past month. But enough on Francois’ woes we’re leaving in exactly one month and we’re extremely excited even if our excitement has been dampened a little by recent events and the fact that we are so busy in the lead up to our departure nonetheless we can’t wait to see something else than green mountains, lakes, cows and all the cheese! Funny thing is not that long a go we were craving all those things, now it’s the opposite…

Same same but different

Even though the basics aren’t changing, we are making small albeit important changes to adapt for the changing environments and the extremes in temperature. Between when we leave to when we return we expect a difference in over 30°C in temperature travelling through the different climatic regions. Did you know that in November that the temperature in the Sahara can reach 30°C during the day and fall below 0°C at night? The challenges of fuel, water and food also pose a problem, especially when we are so limited for space and storage room. We’ll be sharing our solutions right here on our blog so keep an eye on this space as we turn up the volume and speed through Europe in search of a new adventure in North Africa.

Footnotes

^ There are many people colleagues and friends included that are entirely envious of our 8 weeks vacation. To all of you we say this, don’t be envious, if you want something enough then you’ll make it happen. Upon arriving in Turkey in 2009 we made a promise to ourselves, it was to visit the region again. In fact we originally wanted to do the whole tour of the Mediterranean Sea. We’ve had to fight, jostle and badger people, especially the bank manager to make this trip possible, now it’s becoming a reality we are faced with jealousy. If you knew someone who made their dream come true, knowing what they had sacrificed and what it meant to them then you would be happy. To all those people that don’t know us as well as you deserve, know this: Our actions speak louder than our words, with a little sacrifice everyday, like living apart for a year, we have been realising our dream, riding 2up around the world, piecemeal.

° Responses from online forums HUBB and Hexcode of which we are members provided vital feedback and assistance when diagnosing motorcycle problems.

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