I would like to, hopefully, introduce a new term to the English Language Lexicon, “Third-Laning”. This is a term we originally coined after travelling through the ‘Stans’ in 2014 and again in 2017. The term is our definition of the way in which people in this region and other parts of the world use the two lane road to full advantage to overtake slower moving vehicles in the face of continuous “on coming” traffic.

In Australia we are used to traditional overtaking on a normal two lane highway and are familiar with overtaking lanes being created to facilitate passing as traffic volumes increase or one encounters steeper inclines. In many of the regions we travelled through, especially the ‘Stans’  we have found little evidence of overtaking lanes being constructed outside of the major cities. This has led to an innovative approach to overtaking that involves maximising the full width of the road by creating a third temporary lane between the existing two lanes of traffic travelling in opposite directions.

Why we need motorcycle lanes. We are the only ones in this photo going in the right direction on this dual carriage way!! Heading to Siliguri, India In 2014.
Go for the gap in the middle, “Third-Laning” in action in Kazakhstan in 2017.

To work effectively, “Third-Laning” requires the active participation of both lanes of traffic to make a new vehicle-sized lane to allow passage of overtaking vehicles between them, which we found most people helpfully do. This does require a higher level of driver concentration on vehicle positions, road width and surface conditions to ensure this can be undertaken with a reasonable amount of safety. We have noted a couple of times on our travels where this has not worked successfully with devastating consequences, not to us I must add, so be aware this is not a panacea for all overtaking.

One also has to take into account those attempting “Third-Laning” in the opposite direction at the same time, ‘Forth-Laning’ is a lane too far in my view.

Upon returning to Australia at the end of 2017, I was surprised and pleased to see our state government was taking great strides in bringing “Third-Laning” to the motorcyclists of Queensland.  What forward thinkers they are.  I have assumed motorcyclists due to the lane width, although Streak and Storm’s panniers may need to diet to fit! Over the last three years it appears that this program has continued to be rolled out covering more and more roads and signage has been erected. We have bicycle lanes, why not motorcycle lanes.

Motorcycle Lane “Testing” in Central Queensland?
Possible motorcycle lane signage?
It will be much easier for motorcycles to overtake.

As you can see from the photographs motorcycle sized lanes are being implemented around Queensland.  I have not been in touch with the Queensland Department of Transport to confirm this fact, but could the photographs speak for themselves?  

I am sure that in the fullness of time, probably when every road in Queensland has one, we will be told by Queensland Transport we can use them, but please wait for the official announcement before you start using them as “Third Lanes”.

Fanciful you may say this is, but in the future when driverless cars prevail, I suspect such use of third lane roadspace may become commonplace, although I suspect the motorcycles in their current form will no longer be on the roads when we have transitioned fully to driverless vehicles but that is another story.

So please spread the phrase “Third-Laning” in all your motorcycle social media interactions, let us get a new phrase into the English Language.  

– Anthony

Postscript: Anne has asked that I inform our readers that do not understand my sense of humour or flights of fancy that section of this post relating to Queensland Government motorcycle lanes is fiction. Ride Safely and stay out of the middle.

Closing the loop

I would like to start by thanking all those family members, friends and followers who have sent a steady stream of messages wishing me well during the last eight months as the ‘detached retina saga’ has unfolded.  While I am not on social media and therefore unable to respond directly, I have appreciated each and every message that Anne has read out to me. A big thank you to all.

Where am I now?  A little over a month ago at the end of March, I underwent a third operation, this time to remove the oil in my eye and replace it with gas again.  This had always been planned, but became more urgent due to the oil causing my retina to become inflamed.  We had tried steroid drops to control and reduce the inflammation a month prior but as the photo below shows this was not successful, so back under the knife again.

November 2020, February 2021 and April 2021. White is inflammation.
Now where is that parrot?
Laser scaring top and right hand side.
Part of the belt and buckle placed around my eyeball.

After a week face down again, getting used to this now, and wonderfully supported by Anne, I was able to see the progress of the gas dissipating. It was like having a spirit level in the eye which slowly moved to a point where if I leaned forward, I just had a single bubble in the centre of my eye.  One day, probably because I jogged about 50 meters, it split into two bubbles.  I found that if I moved my head in a certain way, I could make the small bubble travel round the big bubble.  The surgeon seems less than impressed with my skills when I mentioned this last week during a checkup! He was however happy with the last operation and apart from a checkup in six months, my surgery days are over, hurrah!!!!!!

I would like to take a moment to thank my surgeon Dr Abhishek Sharma who not only fixed my detached retina but made himself available at any time to promptly answer any questions or concerns we had, such as what looked like a blister was in fact part of the belt and buckle. I was lucky to have him and his team treat me.

So what next?  I will visit a specialist optometrist to get glasses that will help the left eye to work harder which may help my vision.  The laser scarring caused by repairing the 13 tears in the retina and the detachment of the retina and macular means a reduction in vision in my left eye.  As the surgeon said “Think of it as the film/sensor being damaged, even having a Leica lens will not completely compensate for the loss of vision”.

While this whole process has taken some eight months to reach a conclusion, it has not been all pain and discomfort.  After each operation I was able to resume normal activities, which in Australia, has meant pretty much everything we used to do. We have been so lucky in Australia that COVID-19 did not get a foothold.

Anthony on a bodyboard at Main Beach, Gold Coast
Anne and her Honda CB500X at Poona 250km North of Brisbane.
Troy Cassar Daley on stage before Midnight Oil at Sirromet Winery
Out at Canungra Qld for coffee

We have not forgotten that a blog on our African Adventures in 1982/83 was proposed back in February 2021.  Just like the Australian COVID-19 vaccination rollout, we are behind schedule but will get there eventually – just need to get the creative writer juices flowing again.

Thanks again for all the messages and well wishes.

– Anthony

A Retrospective RTW journey?

Thank you to our faithful followers for your encouragement and comments!  So here are our thoughts.

As we slowly worked through our “to do” list in 2020 which was drawn up in Thailand over Christmas 2019, we came across boxes of transparencies/slides taken on previous trips prior to the digital age. From this came an idea: why not try and see if we can retrospectively record our experiences from our first attempt at a RTW adventure over 38 years ago in 1982. 

When we considered how we should record our trip, this blog came to mind. This would give us a permanent, easily accessible, record of our travel from this time, in a format that we are familiar working with. While this is a self indulgent exercise for us, it might fill in for the lack of travel we are all suffering from.  We thought it would be an interesting comparison between that first attempt and our more recent trips.   What was travel like 38 years ago?

So how will this work?  During our cleaning up, we also uncovered old tickets, receipts and maps, dug up a few faded photos plus the transparencies/slides. We received copies of letters we sent en-route to friends and family. We even still have items that travelled with us, I Anthony is more reluctant to throw stuff out than Anne is.  Anthony’s defence is that seeing and handling an item can illicit more memories that just a photo.

To start the process, each of us separately jotted down a high level list of memories, before we looked at the pictures, to see what we could remember unaided. How will writing in the present about long past experiences work? We shall see.

What will be missing? Sadly neither of us kept a detailed diary that we can fall back on to fill in the gaps so our thoughts and musings at the time. Many we met travelling were recording their travels to write a book later,  I am not sure how many ever did. What will also be missing are the names of many wonderful people that we met, which is a pity. I did find a small notebook in which I kept diary notes for the first month of our journey.  A review of my simplistic scribblings confirmed the theory that I had limited literary skills at that time. Anne keeps saying that I have improved immensely since then.

What memories will we dredge up as we go through this process? We have no idea, but this will be an interesting challenge, given what I, Anthony, when asked to remember my childhood, would only fill a couple of A4 pages. How does someone write their memoirs and produce a book?!  

The result we hope will a permanent record of our first and somewhat naive, long term travel adventure. Some of you will actually feature in this journey, a bit like an Alfred Hitchcock film where the director appears in a walk-on role early on in the story.  

Drawing on the structure of the Star Wars movie series, we have numbered the last two RTW trips, Episodes 1 and 2, and so we will title this one “Episode 0 : In the beginning”.

We appreciate our patient followers’ forbearance. So here goes……

– Anne & Anthony

Looking Forward / Looking Back

My dusty Linkedin profile proclaims my occupation, somewhat optimistically, as “Adventure Motorcyclist”. When I reflect on our single motorcycle adventure last year, all of three days through the Bunya Mountains in July, it makes me think I can expect a call from the government regulators for creating a false or misleading impression.

The last twelve months have seen unprecedented changes and challenges to all our lives. Employment terminated, families separated and loved ones lost as the world and the frontline health workers battle with the COVID-19 virus. International travel from Australia for most of us has been banned for the foreseeable future, even Australian interstate travel is risky with sudden interstate border closures having the potential to strand us and the motorbikes at any time, like Western Australia’s five day lockdown from 6pm today only just announced, after a straight 9 months without a single Covid case, a perfect example.

With the start of the rollout of vaccines across the globe, hope is that country borders will start to open up to travel, but realistically, this will not be until late 2021 and probably more likely 2022 so a steady stream of blog entries to keep those lounging on the couch happy will not eventuate. So, looking forward, we do not have a practical adventure in mind at present, but to fill in the time for the couch dwellers, perhaps we need to look back in time. A long way back… Interested?  Any thoughts on how far back we’re going?

– Anthony

Reconnection – on the road to recovery.

Anne has said that my medical episodes come in twos, heart, ankle etc so that the second detached retina operation will be the last.  The power of positive thinking which Anne has always been good for.  Two weeks after the surgery is my first followup and I have a long list of questions, mostly around understanding the recovery process. 

This must be a question that many people ask after surgery.  Is the level of pain, discomfort, weeping etc within acceptable bounds? You do not want to be a hypochondriac but conversely neither do you want to miss something important.  I was provided a checklist of issues to look out for, but what about other symptoms not on the list?

I am very pleased and relieved, as we both are, to report that the recovery is progressing in a timely fashion and all that I am experiencing is normal. While I still have to undergo surgery next year to remove the silicone oil which has some risks of further retinal detachment, we are on track and will be back for a further follow up in early December to look at my other eye.

I thought that those of you who have been brave enough to see the graphic photos from my operating team might be interested to see, some non surgical photos of the retina pre and post surgery to round out your ophthalmic education.

My retina, detached from the back of the eye.
The bottom of this image shows the retina reattached.

Finally I would like to say a big thank you to all of you who have sent messages, prayed and otherwise wished me well, both via the blog and Anne on Facebook, through this eventful journey. 

– Anthony