Jenny O’Grady has worked as Digital Marketing Manager for bike trader, WeBuyAnyBike for two years now and enjoyed every second. However this awesome time is now coming to an end, she has made the tremendous decision to leave work and travel the world on her bike as RideUnlimited with her partner in crime!
At We Buy Any Bike I’ve been lucky enough to combine my passion with career, which is pretty good going. Writing about something you are actually interested in makes a real difference. Being able to take an afternoon test riding motorbikes is alright too… So why would I possibly leave my dream job? Let me explain.
My partner, Dave and I share our love of travelling. We have done some backpacking around South America and many trips in the car around Europe. We had both spoken about wanting our motorcycle licences for a while. Dave could afford to get his first so in the summer of 2015, he took his test. It was just a couple of months after that we set off on our first motorcycle adventure to Italy, me as pillion. We didn’t book anything, just took our tent and pitched up wherever the nearest campsite was.
We loved the constant thrill of getting up each day, packing up the bike and setting off to a new destination. It was like lots of tiny holidays rolled into one and 2 weeks really felt to us like 2 months. Then it was the dreaded time to start heading back to the UK, 2 weeks wasn’t anywhere near enough but all our holiday allowance was used up.
On the long ride home
We started talking about the fact that we felt life was flying by too fast. It wasn’t filled with enough adventure. We felt too young to just work 50 weeks out a year and only have a couple of weeks to explore together. We joked about what it must be like to travel every day by motorbike. Ride to far and distant lands.
We had been home a couple of months when we realised the dream of travelling together by motorbike wasn’t a passing thought. We were stuck on the idea. There was something about adventuring by bike which was incredible. We felt like we were closer to the elements and experiencing what was around us. Rather than driving through the protective bubble of a car. Once we’d decided we were going there was a massive change in our mindsets. We were then actively searching for opportunities and ways to change our lives.
We started researching routes, bikes, visas and camping equipment.
Looking at our finances, we realised we couldn’t afford to do this amazing adventure for another two and a half years. Even then we’d be cutting it fine. We both took on another 3 jobs doing freelance digital marketing. Working evenings and weekends, which nearly killed us! It was at this point we realised we still wouldn’t have enough money to just travel. We would need to work as we went. We started building our freelance clients and getting everyone on board with the idea that we could work nomadically. We’d have no fixed ‘office’. As long as we had our laptops, we would still produce our work.
Our plotting went on for two and a half years and now here we are, only two months from setting off! Our departure date as RideUnlimited is set for 31st March 2018 and our Eurotunnel’s booked for 16:30. We’re finally doing it, and it’s terrifying! It’s a risk, we know that. Our travels might be cut short due to lack of money or our bikes breaking. On top of that we’ll be coming back to no jobs or house.. but what is life but a grand adventure? We’re at the stage in life when we should really be buying a house and settling down. Shouldn’t we? If we took that route then all we’d have is more limited holiday allowance and routine to face, neither of us wanted that. So there it was, we were going and RideUnlimited was created.
Travelling Around The World By Motorcycle: Prep So Far
An around the world motorcycle adventure is an exciting free concept. However, the reality isn’t quite as liberating (well, at this point!). As we are currently drowning in paperwork. We’ve been sorting out visas, carnets, vaccinations and much more.
Visas and Carnet De Passage
This week we started applying for our visas, so far we’ve completed:
The above have all been quick and easy online forms, Russia, however, has not been. Due to the number of entries and exits we need. It’s pretty expensive. We have contacted a middleman company called StressFreeVisas to help with the mountains of forms. To arrange our Letter of Invitation into the country. Russia requires a formal invitation to enter, we were advised we needed a ‘Business Invitation Letter’. This is costing a combined £450. Once sorting this paperwork, we’ll need to visit the Russian Embassy in Manchester. To have our fingerprints taken and passports checked, which is another combined £500.
That’s about where we are in terms of Visas. Carnets wise, we don’t actually need the documents until we reach Japan. So we are going to pay for them when we reach Russia and have them posted out to us. We have already completed all the paperwork (sending passport copies and bike documents). So, it’s just the payment that is needed and address to post them too. If you’re looking into Carnets yourself, this is the website to head to CARS.
After a lot of research, reading blogs, forums and contacting adventures we highlighted three main roads RideUnlimited wanted to tackle.
The BAM (Baikal Amur Mainline) which was built as a strategic alternative route to the Trans-Siberian Railway. Especially along the vulnerable sections close to the border with China. It was meant to supply strategic resources such as coal and soldiers across the frontier with China. Hailed as the greatest construction project of the 20th century. It stretches for 2687 miles across the width of the former USSR to the China Sea in the East. Next, The Old Summer Road in Yakutia. Which tested Ewan Mcgregor and Charlie Boorman to their limit in Long Way Round.
Lastly The Baikal 110 or ‘Zimnik 110’. In Russian Zimnik means ‘Winter Road’ and the 110 was built in a warm winter in the mid-1970’s. To fuel the transportation of raw materials and building supplies to the BAM railway. That particular winter was so warm that Lake Baikal did not freeze correctly. The support lorries could not drive the length of the frozen lake so the Zimnik was built along the Eastern shore to fix the problem. Hastily built and only used for a couple of years. It has fallen into the worst state of decay of all three roads and has been completed by barely a handful of people on motorcycles.
These tracks and ‘roads’ will take us to Magadan. In terms of route planning that’s as far as we’ve got. We know the countries we’d like to go next as RideUnlimited, including; Japan, South East Asia, Aus, NZ and then to the Americas.
RideUnlimited Motorbike Modifications
After following the adventures of Walter Colebatch, where he travelled deep into the wilds of Siberia. We knew our best option was the venerable BMW G650X. The G650x is a 650cc single cylinder dual sports bike made by BMW from 2007. It was available in a few guises and our bikes happen to be models known as the X challenge and X country. With a wet weight of around 155kg and 53hp. These bikes are still nearly unbeatable today for a dual sports bike in this category.
Both bikes were subjected to 12 months of tear down and upgrades and that’s where we are today. We are still missing a few parts like new rear rims and spokes, rear shock. We only have one shefflemeier oil cooler so far and we need tires, we also need to fit new sprag clutches before we set off. Just to be on the safe side, as well as new batteries.
The modifications can be broken down into these sections:
✓ We set about crafting a system of auxiliary aluminium fuel tanks for each bike. Increasing the total fuel load to a whopping 27 litres each, compared to the stock capacity of 9.5-litre fuel tanks. This should be enough for 350-400 miles on road and 200-250 in the worst off-road sections.
✓ The bike has had extensive front-end upgrades with proper MX forks. We rebuilt the front XCountry wheel with an excel 21″ rim. Which then meant the need for a tall f800gs front mudguard. XChallange has a full KTM WP 48mm front end that just uses a KTM front wheel.
✓ Both lighting systems had to be significantly upgraded. As well as extras such as oil coolers and extended electrical systems. To power all of our navigation and charging requirements.
✓ With the trip taking up to two years, we would require a fair amount of luggage to be carried at all times. Due to the enduro nature of the single-cylinder bikes. The rear subframes had to be significantly reinforced. As well as building custom tubular steel luggage racks to carry our soft pannier bags. Full breakdown: Ride Unlimited Motorcycles
March 31st, 2018
The Date is now fast approaching and nerves are definitely kicking in, as is the realisation of what we’re doing. Our timeline and routes are set for two years of travelling as RideUnlimited. We know problems might arise which cut that short, but there’s only so much planning you can do. I will be sharing our adventure with you on the We Buy Any Bike blog, I hope you enjoy the journey as much as we do!
“Fill your life with adventures, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.”
RideUnlimited Social Media Accounts:
Head on over to Jenny’s first post of her RideUnlimited adventure… here!