Air Canada: Fly your bike 2018

The 2018 Air Canada “Fly Your Bike” program has been announced earlier than previous years so you can start planning your adventure now. This program provides an effective and easy way to move motorcycles between Canada and Europe. As a user of the program in 2015 and 2017, we can say we were very happy with the service provided.

Destination changes this year see the removal of Amsterdam, Netherlands with Brussels, Belgium as a nearby alternative. For the African adventurers there is the addition of Casablanca, Morocco. For further indormation read the pdf file and for contact and Q&A information go to Air Canada Cargo icon on our links page.


Air Canada Cargo – Fly Your Bike

Holidays looming, Where to ride this to this summer? The Alps or Rockies again depending on whether you live in Europe or North America, but what about something different? Cross the Atlantic with your motorcycle and ride the other side of the pond. Difficult, costly and time-consuming you may say, but perhaps not. Have you seen Air Canada Cargo’s ‘Fly Your Bike’ offer? This innovative program enables transatlantic travel for motorcycles between May 1 and 30 September 2017 at extremely competitive prices. Below is my understanding of their destinations and pricing for 2017. Note that these prices are for Air Canada ticketed passengers and do not include local customs charges.

While not claiming to be airfreight motorcycle shipping experts, we have some experience as Streak and Storm are being prepared for their sixth flight from Vancouver to Seoul. We have shipped in crates, on pallets, directly with Airlines and through Shipping Agents on four continents. Each experience was different, but we have found that Air Canada’s Cargo’s ‘Fly Your Bike’ program is the easiest, quickest and most cost effective motorcycle shipping process. We have used Air Canada Cargo once each way across the Atlantic but I will not detail their process, best to read the relevant Air Canada documentation then contact Air Canada Cargo directly with any questions. What I will say in our experience is that you can ride to and from Air Canada Cargo at each end without crating and it does not get any better than that.

Streak & Storm, ready to fly

Some may wonder why we have posted what could be considered an ‘infomercial’, but I simply think that the program is excellent value and in my view under publicised. We have not been sponsored by Air Canada in any way. Enjoy your 2017 Biking holiday whatever your destination and if you use the service, tell them the 2slowspeeds sent you!

– Anthony

Preparing for the road

Medical dramas behind us, we can focus on preparing for our departure to Canada on the 13th. This last week has seen us re-united with Streak and Storm in their winter retreat and us ride them up to North Oxford Garage for their preparation for travel. The BMW Motorrad service department led by Matt have been wonderful in dealing with our various ‘needs’ as Streak and Storm were prepared for a RTW journey. We cannot thank Matt enough for helping us with getting Anne’s bike fully fit again. Matt you are a legend!

Matt from BMW Motorrad at North Oxford with a rejuvinated Streak and Storm

We were reminded that we need to be more vigilant in our inspections as ‘Streak’, Anne’s bike, was found to have dirty brown dishwater for coolant. We have no idea how this happened as the coolant system of the BMW F700GS is pressurised and we have not touched it. A mystery. As I was smugly standing back thinking my bike ‘Storm’ was fine, it was pointed out that ‘Storm’ had suffered overheating to the point where the surface coating of the side of the radiator had blistered off! I never got a dashboard warning! Note to selves, check bikes more carefully in future. Luckily neither problem appears to have caused any damage to the engines, which were examined carefully during the valve clearance check.

Fortuitously, it was found that the tyres, chains and sprockets on both ‘Streak’ and ‘Storm’ appear to have enough life remaining to see us across the USA and Canada. We will now replace them in Vancouver before departing for Asia. This should see us through back to Europe on the second set. An earlier replacement would have increased the chance of a remote location change, not our preferred option!

Packing has proved more challenging than I thought, with everything we used last time stored with the bikes, it should have been a breeze. However when we travelled in 2014/5 we had an endless summer as our hemisphere moves synced with the seasons. We are now starting mid April in Montreal, possibly heading to Alaska, so a little warmer clothing is required to be packed, although looking at the temperature, we may be wearing it all at once! We have also noticed the visible wear on panniers and other items that we will need to watch on the journey, which is starting almost three years since the beginning of our first adventure. We and the bikes are a little bit older, greyer and more frayed around the edges.

This reminded me that three years ago, this blog started as a way of communicating with friends and family when we decided to undertake our first long distance motorcycle journey from London down to Singapore. This was meant to be a one off for the duration of our 2014/5 RTW trip. Our desire to travel again in 2016 both on motorbike and in a 4×4 saw the blog revived, recording our experiences travelling in Spain and Southern Africa. Now, as we undertake preparations for our next adventure, I realised that the “2slowspeeds” blog not only celebrated its third birthday, but saw its 250th entry posted around the same time! Who would have thought, especially with my limited English grammar and both our limited motorcycling skills?

Since we left home in Brisbane, we have also enjoyed the opportunity to spend quality time with both family and friends between our bike servicing, visa applications and packing. While we were unable to see everyone in our time here, we enjoyed catching up but we are now ready to go. Panniers and bikes loaded, we leave from Hampshire heading towards Heathrow. We will overnight near Heathrow and deliver ‘Streak’ and ‘Storm’ to Air Canada tomorrow for customs processing so they can join us on the same flight on Thursday 13th to Montreal.

No more planning, we are off. What adventures await?

We have been so busy that we seem to have had little time to think. This morning as I headed for breakfast, I felt the first stirrings of excitement. The adventure is underway…..

– Anthony

The other way around?

March already! While we have been busy planning, drawing up schedules, checking websites, reviewing visa requirements and generally getting more organised, we are get closer to departing from Australia, under four weeks to go and I can hear the ‘tick’ ‘toc’ ‘tick’ ‘toc’ of the clock getting louder. Anne is ahead on the packing front, ready to depart now and I have a vague mental pile of what I need to take. The action list seems to be like the tide, it appears to be retreating, then rushes back in again, higher than before as we identify new tasks. All this activity has been focused on heading out across Europe, through Iran and the ‘Stans’ and onwards to Mongolia. However………

A week ago we suddenly realised that we would be in Iran and the ‘Stans’ during Ramadan which is from the end of May to the end of June this year. The main reason we are returning to this region is to spend time with friends, which would be more difficult for them during Ramadan (when eating and drinking during day light hours is not allowed). We have been so focused on weather, visa and associated timing issues, we missed this additional dimension. At the same time, I had been discussing airfreight options with Air Canada both to and from Canada ahead of the release of their 2017 ‘Fly your Bike’ program.

As we walked last Saturday, for our usual morning constitutional, we both realised that all the issues we had been considering, Ramadan, air freight options, ferry capacity from Vladivostok to South Korea in July, crossing Europe during upcoming elections etc, could be ameliorated by a change of direction!

We are now going round the world (RTW) from East to West instead! Unwinding our previous trip in a directional sense. No more sunrises in our eyes, just sunsets.

So we will ship the motorcycles back to Montreal, where we completed our 2014/15 RTW trip, with Air Canada in mid April. We will then head west across North America to the west coast and then ship Streak and Storm to South Korea, take the ferry to Vladivostok and overland back to Europe via Mongolia, the ‘Stans’ and Iran. All in the same timeframe we hope. The flight to Montreal is booked for the 13th of April and we need to wait until 30 days before departure to book Streak and Storm, a normal air cargo procedure.

It may seem a little strange, so close to our departure to turn everything around, but the ball of visa spaghetti that Anne has so eloquently drawn and written about can be untangled in many different ways one strand at a time.

We have always said that it is easier being on the road dealing with the challenges: visas, shipping, routes etc as they occur than tackling the sometimes overwhelming task list we seem to build before departure. Our change in direction really only affects our sequencing of visas, we will now do more of them on the road. (Pity we had already paid for and obtained our Letters of Introduction for our Iranian visas which are now obsolete due to the change of dates.) The other advantage we have is that having undertaken a similar trip before, we are comfortable in making this decision based on the experience we have already.

We also had my annual medical heart checkup this week. I felt like the proverbial hamster in the wheel while on the treadmill doing the stress test, fast running out of puff as the speed and angle of attack were increased, seems the gradual rate of increase approach of the past has been changed. The good news is that I did not collapse and get flung off the back to become another stain on the wall and the specialist saw no changes that would require action or an adjustment in my medication. A clean bill of health and good for another 12 months. He wished us a good trip and I will see him again next year. Excellent news, always good to tick another box.

How will it all turn out? You will need to stay tuned for further instalments over the next seven months.

– Anthony