We did it!!!

Yes, we did it and it feels great!! Our 2nd round the world trip on the same motorcycles, Streak and Storm, in 6 months this time, from east to west, is now complete: 30,300kms or 19,000 miles plus 2 flights, 5 ferry rides and 2 truck rides, 22 countries visited on this trip, 11 new countries, making it 95 countries in total for us over the years. And we celebrated a couple of milestones on the road: 43 years since we met and my 60th birthday.

We did it!!!

Why did we do this trip again?! Well, it was a choice between painting the house or going on another bike trip. There was no hesitation on our part. After Anthony drew up 3 routes of varying length and duration, we both picked the same one: the longest one, another round the world. There were friends in a number of countries we made on our last round the world trip who we dearly wanted to see again. It was also the most challenging route, for the timeframe – can we go around the world during a northern hemisphere summer? and for the terrain – crossing Mongolia with its renowned stunning scenery but difficult roads. Why so fast? We didn’t want to be away another 15 months – 6 months seemed to be about right and we saw it like an endurance challenge, a marathon, or ultra-marathon if you will, one that would challenge us both physically and mentally. Well, the timeframe challenge ended up forcing two major route changes along the way. Right at the start of the trip, we had to abandon our plan to ride to Alaska due to a long late winter. We spent a couple of months basically seeking less freezing weather and heading further and further south in the US. Then we gave up the indefinite wait in Kazakhstan to hear whether Turkmenistan would grant us a transit visa which meant we could not return to Iran to visit the many friends we made last time. That was gutting. And the terrain proved to be more challenging, hence one pickup ride in Mongolia, and the timeframe too, due to visa constraints, hence the 2nd pickup ride. Yes, the ride was at times physically and mentally tough but also so much fun and so rewarding!!! Renewing friendships and making new ones a huge part of that enjoyment. So we made it around the world from east to west in 6 months as we had hoped!!! And safely!! And we feel good.

Both bikes performed fantastically well overall: Streak’s four problems got fixed in Tajikistan and is still running with a secret ‘Tajik fix’ and both Streak and Storm got a new battery in Turkey. Heidenau Scout K60 tyres were fitted in Vancouver and lasted 20,000 kms.

As for us, we have enjoyed the whole journey, loved the people we met and new friendships made, saw some fantastic places, experienced so many unforgettable moments, discovered places we’d love to return to, supported each other during the tougher parts, learned more about ourselves, and best of all, can confirm once again that based on our experience, the world over, the vast majority of people are good, kind, generous and helpful.

As we close this chapter, we know how we would like to travel next!!! While we had a fantastic trip, we were so often sorry to have to move on. Too often, we ran out of time to spend a couple of more days somewhere to catch up with friends on the road – that was disappointing. 6 months was too short really. But at least we know where we’d love to return to such as the Caucasus. And while we saw stunning scenery and many fabulous ancient sites, as always, it is the time we spent with people that stays with us. We would love to spend longer in one place, wandering the smaller lanes and smaller villages with lesser known sights, at a much slower pace and at a time of the year that isn’t either too boiling hot or freezing to camp – I may have to work on Anthony for the camping part though!! Our pace will change radically. But for now, Streeak and Storm return to their storage place in southern UK.

Feeling good – we have just completed our 2nd Round trip on motorcycles!


Thank you to our numerous Gardian Angels and to all our followers for your comments and private messages and encouragement, it always meant so much to us, our connection back to home, family and friends. It is time we did that painting at home now!

– Anne

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

2017 where next?

The New Year’s champagne has ceased to flow, the last party streamer has fluttered to the ground, and the party music has finally been silenced, now 2017’s pristine calendar waits to be filled with good intentions. While we have only been back for six weeks settling in and our good intentions to paint and redecorate our home, have drifted to the back burner as the lure of the open road once again fills our minds. Yes we are planning another motorcycle trip in 2017.

Before I reveal our plans for 2017, I thought it might be of some interest on how we went about reaching our decision. For those who just want to know the route and not our decision making process, just scroll down past the next paragraph and picture.

We had fairly quickly decided that we wanted to undertake another long distance ride after going to Spain last year. Given the milage on ‘Streak’ & ‘Storm’ we feel there is another long trip before we may need to undertake serious work on them. So out comes the A1 sized paper book we have used over the years for planning purposes and I add a small clutch of coloured markers. Let planning commence! A somewhat inaccurate map of the world is drawn and four possible routes snake our from the motorbikes home in the UK. Pros and cons of each option are discussed and the inevitable action lists are drawn up.

After much discussion we each independently rank the four options and find we both agree on the same first choice. We are drawn to this option for a number of reasons;

1: the chance to revisit some friends made in our 2014/5 RTW trip, no we are not repeating the same route;
2: the attraction of spending more time in sparsely populated regions;
3: visiting new places we have had on our list for some time;
4: returning to a region we last visited in 1985; and
5: the trip to last no more than six months.

How early planning evolves for the 2 slow speeds.

How early planning evolves for the 2 slow speeds.

As you can see, our options included Europe to Cape Town and a circumnavigation of Europe, neither of which we felt was quite what we wanted to do this year, so we have chosen to attempt a Northern Round the World (RTW) in the summer of 2017! Phew there it is out in the open, RTW again, sounds so simple when put this way as I sit on the couch typing away, but based on previous experience, there will be a lot more to do before we start. Motorcycle maintenance, route planning, visa acquisition and a host of others items that I have already forgotten from the last trip and will need to review on the blog for reminders.

Our plan is to travel, subject to getting the appropriate visas, via Turkey, Iran and the ‘Stans’ again, Russia, Mongolia and on to Vladivostok. Ferry to Korea, then plane to Alaska and then ride to east coast of America and then return to the UK. We plan to depart the UK by mid April returning towards the end of September.

This timeline, if adhered to, should allow us to complete the journey in the Northern Hemisphere summer, but it will be tight. Any untoward delays or forced detours could impact our ability to complete the trip before winter’s icy fingers start to reach out. This adds a little extra spice to the challenge we are setting ourselves.

We are now drawing up our ‘to do’ lists and from there start to build an action plan. As we do, we will keep the blog updated on our pre trip progress. Have a great 2017!

– Anthony

A few more gems in Spain

Based on what I had heard and read of the history and architecture, I thought Seville and Cordoba warranted several days’ stopover each for our first visit there. I was not disappointed! But what a treat to discover a couple of other little gems – and these are the ones that make us want to return one day…

Before I tell you about them, let’s go back to Seville and Cordoba. For the last few days, they have predicted a deluge due to a huge band of rain covering the whole of Spain the day of our journey to Seville. Rain itself doesn’t worry us, but it is more the fact that it hasn’t rained in Spain for months and even walking across the road feels incredibly slippery so the roads are going to be absolutely treacherous for the first few hours until the build up of oil and rubber has been washed away. Luck is on our side again. We got up early enough and made it to our hotel in Seville an hour before the downpour.

Seville didn’t disappoint. It is so green! Orange tree lined streets, avenues, squares, orange trees everywhere. The oranges hadn’t turned to orange yet – I can imagine how stunning Seville would be a few weeks later. We take the bus to town as we are staying outside the city centre, always a great way to see a bit more and get a better feel of a place. On our first day in Sevilla, the queues to get into the Alcazar or the Cathedral are so long, I’ll try again another day I thought, but didn’t. We enjoyed the lifestyle of Seville – there is something about this place that makes you want to wander the streets, sit, enjoy the architecture and greenery and watch the world go by. There is an elegance to this city.

Plaza de España, Sevilla

Plaza de España, Sevilla

Sevilla, Spain

Sevilla, Spain

What are those cute smileys on the pavement in Sevilla?

What are those cute smileys on the pavement in Sevilla?

Cycle paths in Sevilla!

Cycle paths in Sevilla!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On day 2, we take the train to Cordoba – that way we don’t have to visit the town in all our riding gear on.

Walking into the Mosque-Cathedral, also known as the Mezquita, in Cordoba was totally awe inspiring.

Very brief background courtesy of wikipedia, the site was originally a small temple of Christian Visigoth origin, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins. When Muslims conquered Spain in 711, the church was first divided into Muslim and Christian halves. This sharing arrangement of the site lasted until 784, when the Christian half was purchased by the Emir ‘Abd al-Rahman I, who then proceeded to demolish the original structure and build the grand mosque of Córdoba on its ground. Córdoba returned to Christian rule in 1236 during the Reconquista, and the building was converted to a Roman Catholic church, culminating in the insertion of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the 16th century.

Once inside the Mezquita, I switch off the audio guide as I find it too distracting – I just want to take in the majestic grace of those columns, alone, without anyone in my head and wait for the various tour groups to move away a little. I first just stand then slowly walk around admiring the elegance, balance and sheer beauty of those pink marble columns topped with sturdy double arches and enjoying the indescribable serenity of this place – until I walk along the outer nave off which there are over 30 small chapels – each small chapel dedicated to a different saint more opulent, sometimes more garish than the other. What a contrast… It feels brutal, to have done that to this once stunning simple mosque, and the cathedral’s baroque choir especially nearly seems grotesque to me in comparison. I do not mean to offend anyone, just my personal feeling. Interestingly, the dual arch system, as seen in Roman aqueducts, enables the distribution of the weight along the many arches, allowing thinner elegant columns. I cannot put in words how stunning the prayer hall is and the feeling that envelops you.

Prayer hall, Mosque-Cathedral, Cordoba, Spain

Prayer hall, Mosque-Cathedral, Cordoba, Spain

Mirhab, Mosque-Cathedral, Cordoba, Spain

Mirhab, Mosque-Cathedral, Cordoba, Spain

Mosque-Cathedral, Cordoba, Spain

Mosque-Cathedral, Cordoba, Spain

Mosque-Cathedral, Cordoba, Spain

Mosque-Cathedral, Cordoba, Spain

What a treat to discover, as I peer down from the top of the Alcazar, that there is an event going on at the Royal Stables next door. I go and investigate: there is an annual equestrian fair at the Royal Stables in Cordoba starting tonight for 3 days. Entry is free today and we are allowed to watch the competition. The horses are stunning and the ‘trainers’ very dapper in their skin tight trousers, and white shirt, waist coat or silk polka dot cumber-band and sombreros. We are mesmerized as the ‘trainer’ shows off his horse’s skills to the judges. Guiding the horse with a very long lead, the horses gallops in circles then figures of 8, at some amazing speed until the horse is brought to a sudden stop. And this second part is what fascinated us: the ‘trainer’ seems to be feathering the short rope he is now holding, as if it were a bow and he were playing the violin. One certain stroke, and the horse moves one step forward, another stroke, it moves one or two ears. We didn’t get to find out what all the competitions were about but what we felt privileged to have been there at this time.

Royal stables, Cordoba, Spain

Royal stables, Cordoba, Spain

Royal stables, Cordoba, Spain

Royal stables, Cordoba, Spain

Royal stables, Cordoba, Spain

Royal stables, Cordoba, Spain

Puente Romano, Cordoba, Spain

Puente Romano, Cordoba, Spain

Torre de la Calahorra, Cordoba, Spain

Torre de la Calahorra, Cordoba, Spain

We could have stayed for a flamenco show that evening, but we decided on rather going to a friend’s favourite local tapas bar in Seville for dinner. Queues again and as I ask Anthony whether we should stay and wait, we get chatting with a couple behind us, Paul and Wendy, and end up sharing a table and the next 3 hours with them!

Our third day in Seville ends up being an ‘admin’ day. Bike maintenance check, tighten the chains, washing and drying, blog update, photo upload, emails.

We have given ourselves 3 days to get from Seville to Santander where we are catching a ferry back to the UK. We decide to make good progress on the first day, about 450kms, to give ourselves enough time in case of breakdown to get to our ferry in Santander in plenty of time. So I look for somewhere around Salamanca, and stumble across Salvatierra de Tormes thanks to rave reviews of a 10 roomed hotel there. This village has a long history as the medieval coats of arms testify but it’s more recent history is very most unusual: most of the houses were bought up by a hydro company building a dam back in the 60s expecting the village to be submerged and forcing all but a few tenacious villagers out. But the dam engineers miscalculated and the village never flooded. Now presumably because the company never wanted to admit their error, they have always refused to resell the houses to the previous owners or to anyone, so only the handful of residents who held out still live there. You arrive in the village and you immediately feel like it could be a movie set. The roads and pavements are immaculate but many houses are crumbling down. There is obviously a lot of pride in this village.

Salvatierra de Tormes, Spain

Salvatierra de Tormes, Spain

Salvatierra de Tormes, Spain

Salvatierra de Tormes, Spain

Salvatierra de Tormes, Spain

Salvatierra de Tormes, Spain

We eventually find our hotel. What an oasis. Beautiful garden out the back, birds are chirping, the internet is working and the most incredible kitchen is awaiting us. For a whole €10 each , we had a 3 course meal, where the entree was the size of a main course, the mains were first class, and the price included a litre of red wine and a litre of bottled water. And that was not all, at the end, we were given a half litre of some type of Baileys and another half litre of a most tasty home made green ‘eau de vie’. It was funny to see the villagers coming to the restaurant with their own barbecue and meat, with the hotel providing salads, drinks, plates etc. The bbq was brought over and left in the garden and restocked with fresh meat half way through their dinner. We were in the heart of the village. One of the gems.

Leaving Salvatierra de Tormes, Spain

Leaving Salvatierra de Tormes, Spain

The ride to and out the village was gorgeous – our kind of country. Our biggest surprise was Cantabria. This part of Spain is so green, hilly, gorgeous riding roads, tiny stone villages. We are heading to San Vicente de la Barquera for the night – great spot chosen by Anthony.

Heading to San vincente de la Barquera, Spain

Heading to San vincente de la Barquera, Spain

San vincente de la Barquera, Spain

San vincente de la Barquera, Spain

Iglesia de Santa Maria de los Angeles, San vincente de la Barquera, Spain

Iglesia de Santa Maria de los Angeles, San vincente de la Barquera, Spain

We have given ourselves an easy ride on our last day to get to Santander where we are scheduled to spend our last night in Spain before catching the ferry back to the UK. The route we have chosen takes us through many tiny villages, past are numerous small sandy coves. We are so pleased we have the time to spend a few hours in Santillana del Mar. Yes, despite the tourists, which we remind ourselves we are part of!!! We admire the many camino pilgrims we see along the way – this region is hilly!!

Early morning, San vincente de la Barquera, Spain

Early morning, San vincente de la Barquera, Spain

Looking back towards San vincente de la Barquera, Spain

Looking back towards San vincente de la Barquera, Spain

Santillana del Mar, Spain

Santillana del Mar, Spain

Claustro de la Colegiata de Santillana del Mar, Spain

Claustro de la Colegiata de Santillana del Mar, Spain


Claustro de la Colegiata de Santillana del Mar, Spain

Claustro de la Colegiata de Santillana del Mar, Spain

Claustro de la Colegiata de Santillana del Mar, Spain

Claustro de la Colegiata de Santillana del Mar, Spain

Cantabria is definitely an area we would like to return to one day. A great way to finish our Spanish trip. We get to our hotel in Santander in plenty of time, having checked the arrival route to the port for tomorrow morning – time to pack for our ferry trip now and relax. Ha, that was until we got a little surprise… I get our ferry tickets out and then ask Anthony why it says that our ferry leaves from Bilbao?!?! Haha, how did that happen? We will never know, but once again on this trip, we have been reminded that we may have been a little too relaxed about our trip ‘preparation’ this time… Oh well, it only means we have to get up extra early tomorrow to do a 100kms journey instead of only 2kms!!

– Anne