RIDING THE BAEKDUDAEGAN HOW A GROUP OF NEW ZEALANDER’S MOTORCYCLED ACROSS KOREA’S DMZ

bikers-at-dmzFor the past decade, New Zealanders Joanne and Gareth Morgan have been living the semiretired lifestyle of their dreams, traveling around the world on motorcycles alongside a few of their closest friends. They’ve traversed all seven continents on their bikes, with routes as varied as Venice to Beijing, Florida to northern Alaska, and South Africa to London, just to name a few. Gareth funds his own trips, many of which he uses to pursue philanthropic endeavors, particularly in the social-investment space. He is able to do so with money he’s made as an economist and investment manager—one who has earned the reputation for criticizing unethical practices in New Zealand’s financial-services industry.

In late August, the Morgans embarked on their most ambitious journey yet, at least physically. The real journey began years ago, when they decided they wanted to ride the Baekdudaegan, a mountain range that stretches the length of North and South Korea’s shared peninsula. After countless hours of negotiation and coordination with both governments, they were granted permission. It was, the Morgans believe, the first time anyone’s ever traveled through both countries like that since the partitioning of Korea in 1945. By making the trip they hoped to demonstrate how Koreans can come together over what they have in common. To symbolize this, the Morgans took some stones from Paektu, a holy mountain in the North, and brought them to Hallasan, a similarly sacred peak in the South.

Joanne and Gareth shot the entirety of their trip, the footage from which they have graciously allowed us to cut into a short film that will premiere on VICE.com this month. In some ways, the footage makes the Korean coast look alternately like California, China, and Cuba. It’s a beautiful view few foreigners have seen, and even if planning the road trip straight through the Demilitarized Zone required working within parameters set by the highly choreographed and restricted confines of North-South Korean diplomacy, this was a journey worth documenting from start to finish.

See the video and read more on Vice

Neale Bayly in South Africa Day 2

Rode out to Cape Point along the eastern route. Heavy weather set in with rain and cloud for most of the day. The Cape was still spectacular, and still an amazing feeling to literally stand at the end of Africa. We took the obligatory pictures at the Cape of Good Hope and battled torrential rain back into Capetown. Still spectacular and between dodging baboons, and stopping in fascinating small towns to look for Penguins, there were no complaints when made it to our hotel. Hoping for a dry day tomorrow.  See Day One Photos

Neale Bayly In South Africa Day 1

* Note  Neale Bayly is on a 10 day charity ride in South Africa.  He’s sending us photos and notes from the trip.  We’ll post them as we get them.

Day 1.  Arrived in Capetown and picked up the bikes.
Spent the afternoon checking out the sights and enjoying the sights. We are just waiting for HGTV’s Anthony Carrino to join us tomorrow.
We will be heading for Johannusburg  with six of us riding BMWs. Anthony and I are on BMW R1200GS and the rest of the crew are on F800s and F700s. We will end up in Kruger National Park and a visit to a local orphanage before returning home on November 12th.  Neale   Day 2 photos

Three Awesome Indian Summer Motorcycle Road Trips

IMG_7461Before long Mother Nature will blow her frosty kisses on the landscape and in October the leaves will explode in a multitude of reds, oranges and golden yellows. That’s when the mountain roads get thick with tourists paying more attention to the ash, sweetgum and maple trees than the black top.

September in our opinion is one of the best riding months in the year. School is back in session, fewer families are on the highway, the fall color tourists haven’t started their pilgrimage  and the temperatures are, compared to July & August, downright cool. The only real hazard are the hard core tailgating football fans who may have had a few too many celebrating the home teams upset win.

Three Rides You Will Love

1. Beginning in Nashville, the Natchez Trace runs southwesterly for 444 miles, through Alabama and Mississippi and ends in Natchez, one of most charming cities of the old South. For Civil War buffs, few places can rival Natchez for it’s rich history and authentic antebellum homes. Even its ruins are spectacular, as the photo above shows the Ruins of Windsor, near the town of Port Gibson a few miles north of Natchez. Situated on the banks of the Mississippi (which means legal gambling for those who fancy themselves a riverboat dandy

IMG_77292. There is no more enduring icon of the birth of our nation than Plymouth Rock and it is one of the few significant historical attractions that is free to the public. Admittedly this suburb of Boston is pretty congested on the weekends, but mid to late September is less crowded than summer. Besides the actual rock, (or what’s left of it after souvenir hunters have chipped away at it over the centuries) an authentic recreation of the Mayflower sits in the nearby harbor staffed with period actors who stay in character and do a good job of relating what it was like for the pilgrims who landed in 1620. If you need to twist the throttle after soaking up history, take a quick 30 mile loop through nearby Miles Standish State Forest

3. Few people consider Oklahoma when thinking of Route 66, but it’s one of the best kept secrets along the Mother Road. With 400 miles (the longest driveable stretch) there’s enough

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sightseeing for a three or four day cruise. Start in Miami OK at the Vintage Iron Motorcycle Museum where you’ll find Evel Knievel’s helmet from his 1973 world record jump in the LA Coliseum. Continue heading southwest through Tulsa, a few miles off Rt. 66 is the town of Foyil OK where you’ll find Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park home to the largest concrete totem pole in the US. Heading west, US Route 66 generally follows the same route as State Rt. 66 and about 300 miles later you’ll arrive in presidential favorite Elk City, where the Route 66 Museum is located. President Jimmy Carter once said of this town “I visited at least 50 places for town hall meetings when I was president, and the best one I ever had in my life was in Elk City,” Think of how much more he would’ve enjoyed it on a motorcycle.

For more must see motorcycle destinations, pickup a copy of Motorcycle Journey’s Through The American South 

A Brit Returns Home, Day 2

Neale Bayly hails from the United Kingdom and has been living in the USA for the better part of three decades.  His passport is filled with stamps from exotic locations and has a unique perspective on motorcycle travel.  He is also a freelance moto-journalist,  and father.  In this trip, Neale returns to England with his young son to revisit his youth.  To find out more about Neale go to….www.nealebaylyrides.com  If you missed Day One, click here

DSCN2654I awoke early to a stunning morning in West Street, Oxford.

Shelby had been up banging around since 4.a.m so not a lot of sleep. It’s quite nice to be in that semi, jet-lagged, sleep-deprived state sipping coffee and spending the early morning hours talking with Shelby. At 78 years old he’s slowing down a little. Sitting for almost two-hours to chat it’s a rare treat as he is normally hammering on his keyboard, swimming, digging in the allotment or bicycling into Oxford on business.

I’ve been stopping in since 1985 and this is the first visit that Shelby has no mad travels planned. He wanted to hitch hike across the Sahara but fears his age won’t let him. Maybe I should offer to carry his bags? I want to write a book of his life. He has seen so much of this world and today’s story that I will take with me is how he had his money stolen hitchhiking in India, and with ten rupees decided to carry on to Katmandu.

Living off the land, and from assistance he received from the local people, he made it and all the way back to Delhi to re-claim his travelers checks a month later. Cementing a confidence in him as a young man that he could alwaysDSCN2659 survive, he exudes that same confidence today.

He did talk of times during his epic Burma adventures though that he thought he might not make it, and to me this is a story that needs to be a movie, as no one has made that journey and lived to tell the tale.(the book about it is called, “Among Insurgents”)

Finally Patrick and I must get rolling.   It’s the first time Patrick has met Shelby and as we say our goodbyes,  I wonder what he’ll take from his time with the great man.

My sister’s house is about 350 miles north and we have to be there today, so we hit the motorway and ride hard, looking to make up some time.   The traffic is fast and predictable, and while there is a lot of it through the flat, hot industrial middle of England, it keeps moving, and so do we.

Putting in 90-minute stints in the saddle and relaxed breaks, it isn’t long before we see the mountainous landscapes of the Lake District which signals the Scottish border is approaching. From the highway we roll through miles and miles of farmland, and, off in the distance,  the occasional church or historic building.

DSCN2670Old, brick farmhouses dot the landscape and lazy cows and sheep graze the fields. Patrick is doing great, looking around, enjoying the view and is the perfect traveling companion. We have our duties at break times and he is quickly up to speed on his. Everything on a motorcycle has its place and he soon has our organization system down and makes our fuel stops and food breaks quicker and more enjoyable. Plus he has a lot of exciting observations to share.

We cross the border late in the afternoon and surprisingly the temperature rises. In my youth the road to Scotland was a winding two-lane road affair, but now it’s a slick highway so we can’t stop to admire the views. With the BMW rolling comfortably along at 75-80 mph we see it all from the saddle and press on.  My sister will expect us in time for dinner, so we don’t delay.

Glasgow arrives, and we head west to the small village of Houston some 15-20 miles away. It’s been a long time since I drove or rode here so we have a few missed turns finding our way out onto the farm roads that will take us to her house. The sun is still well up in the sky, even at 8.p.m, and we are soon in the garden eating dinner and catching up on the five years that have passed since Patrick and I last visited.

Us old uns look a little more wrinkled, the kids about two feet taller but soon it’s like we’ve never been away. The BMW gets locked up in the garage, and with the jet lag and lack of sleep making themselves felt it’s soon time to put this day into the books and sleep, secure and tucked in.  IMG_7893 IMG_7912

A Brit Returns Home, Day 1

Neale Bayly hails from the United Kingdom and has been living in the USA for the better part of three decades.  His passport is filled with stamps from exotic locations and has a unique perspective on motorcycle travel.  He is also a freelance moto-journalist,  and father.  In this trip, Neale returns to England with his young son to revisit his youth.  To find out more about Neale go to….www.nealebaylyrides.com 

DSCN2613

Day 1:  Patrick and I arrived in London at 10.a.m and headed to the BMW dealer in Guildford. Easy pick up, and we loaded up the new BMW GS1200 and took the back roads to Oxford as it was into the afternoon and I didn’t want to ride too far on the first day. It took a while to get the swing of riding on the left hand side of the road and dealing with the traffic but we were soon spinning through the English countryside. The drivers are all consistent and courteous and very predictable.

Having a cell phone in your hand will get you six points on your license here

 so I immediately feel a lot safer and after an hour of meandering through small villages and towns, we pulled over at the Hare and Hounds for lunch. A leisurely affair in the beer garden, more from the snail pace service than our need to rest, but it was fun chatting about our memories of the last time we traveled together, and Patrick was pretty tired so was not objecting to relaxing in the warm afternoon. By late afternoon we rolled into Oxford, and battled the after work traffic for a while as we made our way to my friend Shelby Tucker’s house.

DSCN2620I met Shelby Tucker traveling in Nicaragua in the early ‘80s and have been a sporadic visitor to his simple, Oxford home ever since. This is the first time he has met Patrick though, and his wife Carole happened to be home, so we enjoyed an evening catching up with an excellent meal in the small garden. Shelby has traveled significantly in over 135 countries in the world, written two best selling travel books about his experiences in Burma and Tanzania, and is working on a third about hitch hiking to India at 25 and then 75 years of age. (Two Roads)

This book is the inspiration for the journey Patrick and I are taking as I recall my life and thoughts from 30-years ago when I first rode motorcycles here, and then left to travel the world. I’m just able to have another perspective from my 12-year-old son who is seeing from the saddle of a motorcycle for the first time. With a bright eyed smile and constant enthusiasm for the journey in some ways it’s new to me again.   DSCN2636

Shelby sleeps early, so I talked late to Carole….not much of a traveler compared to Shelby with  only 65 countries visited, but a great conversationalist nonetheless. Then it’s time to sleep and get some rest for a big ride to Scotland tomorrow.

to ready Day 2 click here

 To find out more about Neale go to….www.nealebaylyrides.com

 

 

It’s Dry Heat: Scenic Rides in AZ for this Summer

IMG_6804A motorcycle trip through Arizona, even in the heat of the summer, can be a wondrous experience. With some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, many riders consider it a must-see destination. And for some people, whether due to vacation limitations or because of a larger trip, summer is the only option. Fortunately, it’s a dry heat, and the breathtaking views may be enough to make you forget the temperature.

Arizona has no shortage of thrilling rides and destinations. Here are three you shouldn’t miss:

The Grand Canyon

According to the National Park Service, more than a million people visit the Grand Canyon National Park each year. Once you visit, you’ll understand why. Viewing the Grand Canyon is an experience that’s almost indescribable, and something that’s impossible to capture in a picture — it’s unforgettable.

For riders, the Grand Canyon offers several options for scenic rides. The majority of visitors only see the South Rim, which measures 7,000 feet above sea level and is easily accessible from the park entrance. For the adventurous, the North Rim, at 8,000 feet above sea level, can be accessed after a 220 mile ride from the South Rim.

Sedona

Sedona is one of Arizona’s main destinations for tourism, and for good reason. It offers not only the stunning scenery of the Sedona-Verde Valley, with multiple state parks, but all of the various attractions you would expect from a tourist destination.

Spas, resorts, championship golf courses, horseback riding and hiking — all are available on your stop over in Sedona. When you aren’t busy riding, you can indulge yourself in Sedona’s world-class recreational offerings.

Long-distance rides, while exciting, can also be tiring. A good rest on your trip can make the rest of your ride more enjoyable, and Sedona is just the place to do it.

Meteor Crater

Meteor Crater offers visitors the world’s most well-preserved meteorite impact site. It may not seem nearly as imposing if you have already viewed the much larger Grand Canyon, but when you consider the impact it took to create such a large crater, it’s quite impressive.

Meteor Crater is only 43 miles east of Flagstaff, making it easy to get to and a worthwhile excursion for those who want to see just what a meteor impact looks like.

Considerations for Your Trip

Plenty of riders make these trips through Arizona yearly, so you should be meticulous when dealing with the heat if you take proper precautions. Of course, if you’re worried about the heat, you always have the option of hauling your bikes with an SUV, such as the VW Touareg.

Using a Volkswagen in Arizona may seem too easy if you consider yourself a hard-core rider, but for long-distance trips, there are plenty of advantages to be found in using an SUV to haul your motorcycles. You can park it at whatever main destination you prefer, such as Sedona or Grand Canyon Village. For the next long-distance haul, you can enjoy air conditioning and protection found in a high-quality SUV.

Don’t Let the Heat Stop You

Arizona has so much to offer to motorcyclists, even in the summer. The scenery of the desert is always remarkable, and some places are only accessible in the warmer months. Don’t hesitate to plan a trip to any of these destinations. Whether you ride the whole way, or use a Volkswagen in Arizona for part of the way, you will not regret your decision to see some of the world’s most remarkable attractions.

Photo by Flickr user U.S. Army Africa

Historical Two-Wheeled Road Trips for 2013

Lonely Motorcycle on the HighwayMotorists aren’t fully experiencing the scenic vistas of the world behind a pane of glass. To fully enjoy the idiosyncratic terrain and climates of earth, one must ride by motorcycle. You’d be doing a disservice to the following routes by driving on any more than two wheels.

Motorcycle Prep

To launch any motorcycle road trip, your bike must be in supreme condition. Follow the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s safety acronym: T-CLOCS.

Tires & Wheels – Check your tire’s air pressure and treads. If the treads are worn down past what’s safe, consider a frugal replacement with discount Michelin tires to guarantee a safe journey. Inspect the spokes, bearings and brakes as well.

Controls – Check levers, switches, cables, hoses and throttle.

Lights & Electronics – Ensure that headlights, brake lights and electrical switches are fully functional.

Oil & Other Fluids – Inspect the oil, coolant and hydraulic fluid. Look for any fuel leaks.

Chassis – Consult the operator’s manual for suspension settings. Check the suspension and drive components and adjust for your load’s weight.

Sidestand – Check the tension spring and replace if need be.

Trail of Tears – Tennessee to Alabama

To honor and remember the Cherokee people, ride on this historic trail on Highway 72 from Chattanooga, TN, to Florence, AL. Every September, motorcyclists congregate to Chattanooga to participate in the only official Trail of Tears Motorcycle Remembrance Ride and honor the Native Americans who were extricated from their homeland after the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The Trail of Tears extends well beyond Florence and through several states  terminating in Oklahoma. There are several museums, parks, cemeteries and forts to visit for a lesson in history while traversing the Trail of Tears.  This year (2013) will mark the 20th anniversary of the ride.  http://www.trailoftears-remembrance.org/

Patagonia Tour – Argentina & Chile

Retrace the 1952 motorcycle journey of Che Guevara as depicted in his book and the movie “The Motorcycle Diaries.” The famed revolutionary began this great South American trip in Buenos Aires atop a 1939 Norton 500cc motorcycle. Once in Chile, head to Chuquicamata copper mine, the world’s largest open-pit mine. Onto Peru, you can view the remnants of the Inca Empire and the Amazon rainforest as Che did. Cross the Amazon river to eventually reach Bogota, Colombia and onto the finale: Caracas, Venezuela.

“Easy Rider” – California to Louisiana

In the iconic 1960s film “Easy Rider,” Wyatt and Billy take a journey across the American Southwest and South on the backs of their motorized steeds. Your first destination on this journey from L.A. to New Orleans is on the outskirts of Death Valley: Ballarat, California. Over the Colorado River and to Needles, Kingman and Flagstaff, you’ll encounter long stretches of arid desert, sandstone formations at Arizona and Utah’s border, mountains and vast American frontier. If you time the trip to coincide with the film’s timeline, you’ll make it to Louisiana just in time for Mardi Gras.

France In America- One Man’s 21,000 Mile Odyssey

France In America Book Cover

FRANCE IN AMERICA is a visually stunning 400-page volume offering a unique mix of Americana, travel, motorcycling and a personal account of male mid-life transition. The book showcases an extraordinary 21,000-mile solo journey by a man leaving behind his professional life and identity to explore America and fulfill a life-long dream.

Gary France is English and lives near London. In a few short years, Gary’s self-description changed from “Project Management Executive” to “Writer, traveller and motorcyclist, who is happiest when combining all three”. That’s quite a shift, but nevertheless an authentic summary.

Riding with just his thoughts for company, Gary’s description of his 4-month trip unfolds through a down-to-earth record of what he saw, who he met and what he felt on the road, backed up with an impressive photographic inventory. As he clicks up the miles from the New England states, through the Midwest and the Rockies, and closing in the desert states of the Pacific coast, his thoughts, language and photographs become increasingly reflective and vivid as the ‘journey’ progresses – revealing more and more of his internal exploration and steady winding down.

The book will resonate with many. Not just those who wish they could make such a once-in-a-lifetime road trip, but also with the many men who have faced the unspoken uncertainties and reassessments of midlife.

This is not only a detailed guide about where to go and what to see in the USA. It is also a personal story of one person seizing the moment – a living testimony to the maxim that travel is not so much about the destination as it is about the journey itself. One man living his dream, and carefully cornering through the opportunities that midlife presents.

You can purchase the book at  www.garysfrance.com after the March 4, 2012 launch.

 

Make Helen Georgia Your 2013 Destination!

Helen Georgia is the destination for motorcyclists from all over the USA for the USRiderNews Reunion Run, May 29-June 2nd

Helen Georgia is the destination for motorcyclists from all over the USA for the USRiderNews Reunion Run, May 29-June 2nd

Helen Georgia is your destination for the biggest and best motorcycle rally May 29,  through June 2nd.  Sponsored by USRiderNews, the 13th annual Reunion Run has grown from a few dozen friends in 2001, to literally thousands of motorcyclists who travel from all across the USA.

Sylvia Cochran, of USRiderNews said Helen Georgia was chosen as the destination for the Reunion Run motorcycle rally because of the areas natural beauty and miles and miles of the best  motorcycle roads anywhere in the Southeast.

“After the first year we knew that Helen Georgia was the premier motorcycle destination our readers enjoyed and it’s grown larger and larger each year.   Our readers tell us they look forward to this event all year long.”

In addition to the Reunion Run, the Helen Balloonfest is also held on the same weekend and features dozens of hot air balloons in a Race to the Atlantic.

The host hotels are the Best Western and the Super 8.   To reserve your room you must call Sylvia at 478-237-3761 or fill out the registration form here.  DO NOT call the hotel directly, they will tell you they are booked.

VIP packages are available and include everything you need to enjoy the weekend (except your lodging) Event T-Shirt, Event Pin, poker run registration, bike show, VIP party Thursday night May 30th (Free Beer and Food) and access to the VIP tent all weekend long with free refreshments.

( $85 value if purchased individually) Price $35 per person, or $60 per couple  until April 1st.  Price increases $10 after that. 

To reserve your VIP registration click here to register online

View Pictures of past events

2010  (opens in Facebook)

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