Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Single Greatest Resource

The secret to planning a proper trip is to formulate it when you're drunk, tell everyone straight away and then execute it when you're sober. I can remember during one particularly long post-work drinks session in London, that by the end of the night, I was utterly convinced that we were all going to travel the length of Africa in a Humvee with a trailer full of dirt bikes - "in case the shit goes down and we need to get the fuck out of there". Luckily when I woke up the next morning it was all forgotten. That terrible taste in my mouth must have been because I bit off more than I could chew.

Like the roads of Easternmost Europe, the planning of a grand tour is bumpy - always keep your head while you ride the ecstatic highs and the overwhelming lows. It will map out with an initial high as your pen moves freely over the map and you sound out strange placenames. It feels great. Enjoy it. After this expect a low - this is the moment you realise the amount of planning that is involved and, depending on how obscure the places that you want to go to are, how difficult it is to get information. That fear that is rising up in your gut - that's good, it means your alive and is a direct response to the immensity of the task that you've chosen and the fear of you have of failing to do it.The only way to overcome this lowpoint is research. Information is a security blanket. To this end: a friend of mine pointed me to Horizons Unlimited. It's ok I didn't care for the name the first time I heard it either. Whatever you are planning on doing, there is someone on the forum that has done it before and can give advice about the best way to do it. I'm not going to harp on about it but just finish by listing some of the questions I got answers to to give you an idea of the scope:

  1. The best way to get letters of invitation (required for a visa) to Azerbaijan, Belarus and Russia
  2. Quality of the roads in Ukraine, Caucasus and Iran
  3. A request to buy 2 fully loaded bikes in Berlin in August 2012
  4. Best way to navigate through the Caucasus
  5. Is there any way to overcome the 72 hour restriction when bringing motorbikes into Azerbaijan
  6. What's wrong with the routing for open source maps on my GPS

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