|Gregory Frazier and his mount.|
Frazier, described as a "professional motorcycle adventurer," has circumnavigated the globe on two wheels, so he's more than qualified to instruct you in the best way to go.
His is a penny-stretching approach to touring. He skips the fancy equipment, saving his money for travel expenses such as food and lodging, or unexpected ones, such as bike repairs. In one example, he shows a tourer who used an old refrigerator rack rather than paying for an aftermarket luggage rack ("He laughed when I asked him about it, saying he could also use it for a cooking grill over the campfire"), and in another, suggests using pop bottles with duct tape to fashion functional handguards for wind-and rain protection rather than buying the kind manufactured for dirt bikes.
"Forget the looks and remember your budget when considering spending hundreds of dollars when $10 will work as well," he counsels.
Choice of bikes — and even whether you want to take yours at all, or rent one when you get there — and how to pack it for your trip are some of the first things he addresses.
He recommends using an "A," "B" and "C" checklist of necessities, noting your list may differ from his. For instance, he doesn't see the point of a GPS unit, heavy laptop or cell phone. Even with GPS he still needs maps, and he'd rather have his eyes on the road than on a GPS screen, he says. Cell service may fail, and Internet cafes serve him as well as a laptop.
Riding with others is a matter of choice, he says, and having a companion can be a help or a hindrance, as he notes in several examples: You are responsible for your companions, not just yourself, he says, and it will affect your pace and maybe your ability to do what you want in the places you visit.
His book is packed full of tips you might otherwise miss. For example, there's no cotton clothing in touring wardrobe, nor wool, because neither dries quickly, he says. He carries spare parts, such as lightbulbs, inner tubes and electrical components, to save time and money. And as for dangerous roads, he notes that I-405 in Los Angeles frightens him more than many "bad" roads elsewhere.
"I am always surprised at how little time travelers put into planning for the possibility of a crash," he writes. "In part I think it's ego overriding common sense for them to think they might make a riding mistake. ... Of course this is foolishness because it fails to take into account those accidents that ... can't be avoided."
If that happens, do you know how to pick up your own bike? What would you do if you cannot?
And what about the risk of theft? Mainly he avoids that by not carrying anything valuable he cannot afford to lose. He also includes a list of items for a survival kit, a first-aid kit and a number of other books you may consider reading.
His detailed book covers just about anything you'll need to know before you depart. I say "just about," because at a couple of points I wondered, "HOW did he pack all of those tools?" or "Where do I buy medical evacuation insurance?"
Of course, you can ignore his advice. The point is, prior to reading his book, I might never have considered these questions. It's not as simple as jumping on the bike and going. And traveling in foreign countries with little to shelter you but your Visa card is not something you need to learn the hard way.
Need to Know:
by Dr. Gregory
I give it 5 Revs out of 5