Set up in 2004 by Double Guinness World Record holders Kevin and Julia Sanders, www.globebusters.com Motorcycle Expeditions & Tours takes riders on amazing journeys to unusual destinations.
After every GlobeBusters expedition, we hold a debrief, a key part of which is to identify any difficulties that riders encountered and when, where and how any accidents or injuries occurred. It’s vital and means we’re able to brief the next group in more detail, and help stop the same things happening again.
Most of what we tell the riders is common sense – and of course, a lot of what causes motorcycle accidents is the same wherever you are in the world – but there are plenty of other dangers that we don’t encounter frequently when in the UK or Europe and have often given serious difficulties to riders. Here of some of those – be warned!
Head-on, wind can knock your concentration, increase fatigue and hammer fuel economy; from behind it gives an eerie, quiet sensation and can goad you into riding much faster than you intended. Crosswinds are the worst, and can easily have you and the bike on the floor. Try to determine which direction it’s coming from and adjust your road position so you’ve space to be blown across the lane. Select a lower gear to give more flexibility and drive, and try counter steering to counteract the force of the wind.
Snow and ice
Fresh, thin snow is easier to ride in: get up on the pegs and use the same technique you would for gravel. Deeper, wetter snow is passable, but it’s slow going and can involve paddling the bike through. In both cases, keep it slow and smooth and be light with the controls. Also if you have ABS, make sure it’s off. Ice is a bigger problem. Be aware of the air temperature to determine the risk of it forming. If you’re on your own, you need to consider turning back, or if you think that the icy area is only for a short distance, get off the bike and walk with it.
The golden rule is to always look before you leap. Watch other vehicles go through and if in doubt, walk it to find out what you’re up against. The condition of the base is crucial, if it’s soft you run the risk of your bike sinking in and going deeper. If the water’s deep enough to go into the air intake or exhaust, it’ll flood the engine, so tape up all the holes and push it across. Remember to always be up-stream of the bike when you do this, so if it goes down, you’ll not go down under it. If you’re riding it, set your line, keep the bike moving at a fast walking pace, and focus on the exit.
Some of the most enjoyable riding is found in mountainous regions, so there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself riding at altitude – that’s anything above 2400 metres. If you climb too high too fast, you risk getting altitude sickness, so go slowly; try to ‘ride high, sleep low’ to acclimatise; stay hydrated and avoid alcohol; and generally don’t rush around. If you’re going higher – 4000 metres plus – you may consider taking anti-altitude sickness drugs, but be aware of side effects.
Although wonderful to see, animals can be a serious hazard. If there are road signs warning you, take note. No signs? Droppings or manure on the road, a fresh road kill, or buzzards circling above all mean that something could dart out of the bushes. Keep your speed down and your eyes moving, especially if you spot a herd split on both sides of the road, or youngsters separated from the main pack. If one animal runs across your path, another is sure to follow.
Congestion is rife in all big cities around the world, but try and apply the rules and regulations of a home in developing countries, and you’ll definitely come unstuck. Are locals stopping at a red light? If not, then think about going with the flow. You need to expect everyone around to do anything, but you can also do the same and a lot of places allow motorcycles much more freedom than at the UK: pavements, grass verges etc. are all open to you. But the more you ride like this, the more you will need to develop razor sharp reactions. Remember the right of way isn’t necessarily a right; don’t insist on them if they are to be your last rites.
Of course one of the main reasons for travel by motorcycle is to see and feel the country you’re riding through. The trouble is you can find yourself looking everywhere except at the road – we’ve had people ride into barriers and end up in ditches, all whilst looking at the breathtaking views. When the scenery is that good, stop, get off your bike, take your helmet off and switch your engine off, and take in the full scale of the surroundings in complete safety.
Kevin and Julia.