Wednesday, 4 February 2009

THE END

So this is it. The end. Flying over and into a beautiful white blighty was the absolute nail in it all. Im home. did that all happen ? yes it did ! and i will never forget any of it. well actually i have forgotten most of it. there is so much to hold in the memory box. Aside from "what now", my mind keeps firing in the odd flash of what was. mostly comical moments and wonderful faces. Lets hope smells, faces, circumstances, music and more, trigger more hidden memories.................................... A few stats : 22000 miles, 15 countries (regarding Alaska as independent), 4 rear tyres, 5 front tyres, 2 batteries, 2 chains, 2 choke cables, 2 clutch cables, 100 stickers, 2 close ones (1 being my falt), 2 TV interviews, 2 radio interviews, 5 national newspaper interviews, 3 magazines, 2 tearful episodes with head in hands, 1 moment with a wolf, 2 moments with cuddly bears, 1 dead snake, 1 dead bird, 1 moment with bandits, 2 moments with the police, 0 military moments, 0 robberys, 0 arguements with the locals, 1000 chicken and rice meals, 10000 empanadas (if ya know where they sell these little rascals in London, do let me know now please), 1000 new friends, 6 offs (small pain), 0 loss of documents, 0 punctures, 1 pair of lost boots, 2 lost cameras, 3 lost silly hats, wouldnt know where to start guessing at how much gasoline used. well then time to go. no more blogs.. some might be glad to hear.. thank you all those who suffered and stuck with the blog. i apologise for all the spelling , grammer and all mistakes. My just giving page is still open, so if you are considering sponsoring me and donating to the fragile x society, now the job is done, please click the JG widget on the right of this page. We have nearly hit the £6000 mark. £10000 being the target. I am amazed at that amount. I thank you once more !!...photos on the right hand side have been updated. "click for simons pics".... . All countries visited gave me nothing but open arms, help and big smiles. the reputation of some of these places is covered in darkness. i found nothing but light. They offer things i dont find in the UK. Would you offer a bed to a complete stranger, mad eyed, covered in oil and mud, splurting out alien language ?.... i will always think on these places and feel warmth. bye bye !! x

Saturday, 24 January 2009

big thank yous !


5 days in ushuaia has given me time to look back on , what has been the most incredible 6 months of my life. i remember touching the arctic ocean up in prudhoe bay and looking south wondering what i would be thinking when i am down south looking north. .....its the people that are in my thoughts. the scenery, riding and all else involved on the trip comes a close second. i miss everyone i have met and long to see them all again. i am still amazed by the genuine interest, help and time all have given me. without this i would have had half the trip i did and would no way have been able to get the publicity i was seeking..... i want to say now a huge heart felt thank you to all the following people and organisations that have bent over backwards for me from when it was just an obsessing idea to right now. .................
THE FRAGILE X SOCIETY IN GREAT DUNMOW. AMANDA , WENDY AND ALL TOOK ME IN WHEN I WAS WIDE EYED AND OBVIOUSLY NAIVE WITH THE PLAN. TAKING ME SERIOUSLY AND HELPING ME WITH ALL MY REQUESTS. AON GROUP LIMITED LONDON. SALLY, REUBEN AND MATTHEW. FOR THE GENEROUS DONATION TO THE FRAGILE X SOCIETY AND ALL THE WORLD WIDE PUBLICITY. TRANSWORLD COURIERS FOR THEIR GENEROUS DONATION AND HELP WITH SHIPPING MY GEAR QUICKLY AND SECURELY, LISTENING TO MY MOANS AND WORRIES ALONG THE WAY. NITE WATCHES FOR THEIR IMMPECABLE HELP WITH PUBLICITY AND LETTING ME PUT TO THE TEST ONE OF THEIR TX10 WATCHES, WHICH I HAVE TO ADD HASNT A SCRATCH ON IT EVEN AFTER ALL THE BATTERINGS I HAVE GIVEN IT ALONG ROUTE. IT HASNT MISSED A SECOND. DAVE GURMAN AT THE RIDERS DIGEST FOR HIS 2 PAGES OF INSIGHTFUL HONEST WRITING ON THE FXPEDITION. BIKE ANIMAL.COM AND DIRT BIKE RIDER MAGAZINE FOR THEIR PUBLICATIONS. A HUGE THANKS TO PHIL FREEMAN AND ALL HIS TOP EMPLOYEES UP THERE AT ALASKA RIDER TOURS. A GREAT BUNCH WHO SORTED OUT THE BIKE PERFECTLY TO HANDLE A NOVICE LIKE ME. I HAD A REAL HAPPY FUN TIME IN THEIR COMPANY AND MISS LIKE MAD SITTING AROUND THE OFFICE WITH BEERS AND LAUGHS. ASH AT A AND Z SPORTS IN GRAVESEND FOR THE STUNNING T-SHIRTS AND KEEPING UP AN ORIGINAL SPORTS SHOP, WHEN ALL AROUND ARE DULL CHAIN SHOPS. COLIN PATTERSON-SMITH AT THE FALKLANDS TOURIST BOARD, WHO HELPED NO END WITH INFO AND THE PERFECT FINISH TO THIS ALL. SALVADOR FOR HIS SPANISH LESSONS AND PATIENCE WITH ME. WITHOUT THOSE GENEROUS LESSONS I WOULD NOT HAVE HAD THE FOUNDATION IN THE LANGUAGE THAT QUICKENED MY LEARNING ON ROUTE. MAILSOURCE FOR UNDERSTANDING AND GIVING ME THE TIME NEEDED TO GO DO THIS..DEANO, DAVE, ALLAN, FABS AND ALL IN THE POSTROOM FOR PUTTING UP WITH TALKING OF NOT MUCH ELSE...TERRY, SPARKSY, MARK, BRI, TREV AND ALL, AT WEEKENDS SECURITY FOR THE LAUGHS AND CHANCE OF EXTRA WORK, U U U U U U ! .....KELLY - VANCOUVER FOR THAT FIRST NIGHTS KIP AND SHOW AROUND THAT BEAUTIL CITY ! GABY, GUIDO AND DALE, WAS A REAL PLEASURE IN THOSE EARLY DAYS !...PETE PIEL FOR JOINING ME AND RIDING SOME OF THE ROUTE. WE HAD A FUN TIME. PETE SHOWED ME THE WAY TO STICK MY NECK OUT WHEN IT COMES TO RAISING AWARENESS, JUST WHEN IT WAS NEEDED. AND THANK YOU PETE FOR THE PERFECT STICKERS AND T-SHIRTS. DEBBIE, PETES SISTER FOR LETTING US ROAM AND SLEEP AT HER PLACE IN PHOENIX. KERRY MOORE, THANK YOU LOADS FOR THE CONTACT IN THE STATES AND THE INTEREST MATE - COME ON THE EAGLES !FXMOM FOR ALL HER ENCOURAGING COMMENTS. PETER SOHM AND ALVARO URIBE WHO WORKS AT AON MEDELLIN FOR THE HELP AND WARMTH. MAKING IT EASY FOR ME TO GET THE PUBLICITY DOWN THERE IN DREAMLAND COLOMBIA. PATRICIO RODRIGUEZ AT AON QUITO AND ALL HIS COLLEAGUES FOR THERE HELP AND WARMTH AGAIN IN TRUE LATIN AMERICAN STYLE. TRUST AND UNDERSTANDING ALWAYS PRESENT. JOSE LUIS CONTRERAS AT AON LA PAZ FOR WELCOMING ME ARMS OPEN. ALL AT THE OTHER AON BRANCHES I VISITED. ALL GIVING ME HELP, TIME AND WARMTH. SIGNE, FRED, JOHN, JO, BRIAN , ROGER AND JAY UP THERE IN PHILIPSBURG. THANKS LOADS FOR MY FIRST TASTE OF GENEROUS HOSPITALILTY AFTER I HAD BEEN ALONE FOR WHAT SEEMED LIKE AGES. ALFREDO AND HIS WONDERFUL FAMILY IN COLIMA MEXICO THANK YOU. THEY FOUND ME SHOUTING AT A NON GIVING CASHPOINT MACHINE IN THE RAIN AND LOOKED AFTER ME FOR 2 DAYS, NOT LETTING ME PUT MY HAND IN MY POCKET AND SHOWING ME THE LOCAL SIGHTS THAT I WOULD HAVE MISSED. ALSO INTRODUCING ME TO FRANCIS FROM KLIENT FM IN HERMASILLO WHO SORTD OUT THE FIRST RADIO INTERVIEW OF THE TRIP. CHEERS LOADS OMER, MY NEXT RIDING BUDDY WHO KEPT ME LAUGHING FOR A MONTH. ALL AT THE CASA CARMEN. TARIQ, HANNAH, CASSY, PJ, I STILL MISS YA ! .. KAREN AND PATRICK FROM JERSEY, ANOTHER BONKERS COUPLE WHO MADE OUR TIME HILARIOUS- MISS YA LIKE MAD TOO ! CANT FORGET KARINA LA RATTA ASWELL ! TODOS RATTAS !!.. VICTOR AND JOSE HELLO AND THANKS FOR THE ENCOURAGING ENTHUSIASM OUT THERE IN THE WILDS OF THOSE RADIANT COLOMBIAN HILLS. JAIRO AND YORSMAN THANKS FOR ALL THE HELP WITH THE OIL CAP AND GIVING UP YOUR DAY TO SHOW ME SIGHTS I WOULD HAVE MISSED. THE CASA KIWI GANG, IN MEDELLIN. ANOTHER HILARIOUS TIME , I MISS YOU ALL !..TODD, WHO DROVE DOWN THE SAME ROUTE AS ME IN A CAR, WHERE ARE YA ? LOST IN ANTARTICA ? ALDO, ROSA MARIA AND THEIR BEAUTIFUL FAMILY, THANK YOU FOR PUTTING UP WITH ME AND THE BOYS FOR THOSE GREAT DAYS IN TRUJILLO. MARTINA AND DIDI, YOU NUT CASES. THANK YOU FOR KEEPING ME ALIVE AND LAUGHING IN BOLIVIA ! CRISTINA, BARBY, ANDRES AND JOSE . YOU ALL REALLY TOUCHED ME. I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO THANK YOU ENOUGH FOR YOUR PATIENCE, WARMTH AND GENEROSITY TO A STRANGER. THE RADIO INTERVIEW WILL ALWAYS BE ONE THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WHOLE TRIP. MAGGIE IN LONDON, CHEERS LOADS MATE FOR ALL THE HELP AND GETTING MY ARSE GOING WHEN I WAS DISORGANISED AND DOZZY. MIRIAM YOU STILL ALIVE ?... THANKS TO ALL THE PEOPLE WHO WROTE TO ME AND ENCOURAGED ME.I NEEDED TO HEAR AND READ IT ALL..NEARLY FORGOT TO SAY THANKS AND SEND MY BEST WISHES TO MIKE AND HIS CLASSIC EMPHATIC STATEMENTS, THE BEST BEING WITH SOURFACED GRIMACES AND VERY VOCAL " I DONT WANNA RIDE WITH THAT PERVERT" AND " I DONT WANNA LISTEN TO ANYONE " CLASSIC MOMENTS OF PAINFUL LAUGHTER ! AND DAN "LETS GET SOME COW, POLLO AND FAT SAUSAGES TO COMPLEMENT THE WINE ", THIS BOY CAN COOK ! - WANNA HEAR WHEN FUEGOS OPENS SON !AND JEFF, THE BOY THATS UP FOR IT ALL ,I.E. THE RED NECKS THAT PUT UPWITH ME LONGER THAN WE THOUGHT, RIDING AND RISKING ALL TOGETHER - IT WAS INCREDIBLE CHAPS AND A RIGHT LAUGH THAT WILL KEEP ME GRINNING FOR YEARS !! STAY ALIVE BOYS !!!! GONNA MISS YA !!.... CHEERS MUM , DAD, SUEZ , IAN, TOM, OUR SIAN AND ALL FAMILY ON BOTH SIDES FOR NOT THINKING IM NUTS TO DO THIS...CHEERS ENCOURAGING MUCKERS : VANGUS the "TERRIBLE", MR.STREETER AND ARIEL MRS STREETER (CONGRATULATIONS ON THE WEDDING (sbout time) , JASON...YASMIN CROWTHER FOR WRITING THE SAFFRON KITCHEN. THE BOOK HONESTLY KEPT ME SANE IN CENTRAL AMERICA. A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO ALL THAT SPONSORED ME. THE DONATIONS HAVE BEEN INCREDIBLE. I NEVER EXPECTED TO SEE SUCH GENEROSITY !! THANK YOU ALLLLLLLLL !! LOVE YA AND GONNA MISS YARRRRRRRRR !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

the end of the world - Ushuaia - job done

That big ridiculous grin above, isnt relief, joy or an outlet of feelings of grand achievement. no, its a ridiculous grin of disbelief with some sort of half acknowledged joy. 10 miles outside my final destination, the end of the road, the end of the trip. the southern most city on earth, ushuaia, my bike completely shut down, with a choking slapping sound of a voice, " NO MORE MILES MAN !". 10 miles left out of 22000 miles. i slowed down to stop for a picture and she just died. its serious im sure. i pushed the bike up a hill surrounded by the incredible tierra del fuego landscape and then hoped to bump start the thing. it worked, i rode out those 10 last miles at 20mph with the engine straining at high revs and making horredous sounds of scraping metal, and the sound of all things inside loose. some might say, im lucky again to have broken down so close, i agree. also an added drama to a story (which i could do without)... the problem now is how to get myself out of argentina, legally with customs stamping the bike out. anyway, enough of all that. southern patagonia is spectacular.

el chalten (above) is a tiny argentine patagonian resort, tucked into the shadows of mount fitzroy. this valley is silent , except for the howling wind and the sound of tapping rain. from here, its south down to the torres del paine, national park on the chilean side of patagonia. this is an area contradicting the rest of northern patagonia. here is where the vast nothing,becomes the rugged jagged mountains , twsiting roads heading higher, turquoise lakes, something. dont get me wrong, i loved riding through nothing , except fields and big skies. but this is where a man can sit in awe for hours,grinning and imagining.



in the shadows of a hidden fitroy. argentina


trees grow at angles everywhere. the relentless wind makes sure of that.


el chalten



the ends of ruta 40. still not a twist in gravel insight. but shapes on the horizon.


entering torres del paine, chile



the famous torres peaks. atmospheric again. waking up to this with no one around is something i can never forget.



patagonian pumas are a ferocious foe. rarely seen by man. this puma i tamed after he knawed on my ear lobe for 10 minutes.




the modern day is everywhere down here, but the old days are also everywhere. it has a 100 year old feel to it inside and out.



gypsy siggs

guanaco adult. big brown eyes and jaws of a camel.





nearing tierra del fuego. the magellan strait became visible. the excitement was gaining on me here. i still cant get over the fact of making it this far. money and time , well with desire also, are all thats needed. anyone can do this. A storm came in as quick as it left on the strait, pulling the clouds into all sorts of original shapes to me. really did seem like the ends of the earth. its cold and the wind gets stronger. on one side of tierra del fuego , to the east - strange rays glowed from the horizon, as clear as day light. at first i thought, "oh it must be the sun", then i dimmly realised the sun was setting on the other side of the world. and the rays were running from thin on the landside to wide on the sky side. ?????


puerto natales, chile



this could be alaska







crossing to tierra del fuego was a small ferry. the whole area hasnt moved in years. small villages just sit there with no inhabitants left. all windows smashed. just the wind left. a lonesome atmosphere. beautiful.



tierra del fuego





ushuaia. its all finished. the only thing left is to find a way home.

ushuaia


tierra del fuego. heading south


ushuaia

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

deeper south into patagonia - fragile x families & new friends - a radio interview - the road to the ends of the earth

Buenos Aires is quiet now. the dakar racers and all the excited koas that the rally brings has gone south. dust trails sucked out of the city into the unknown. the first south american rally. i follow it out. a day later and at a very slower pace. Puerto Madryn is my destination. The famous seaside resort sits on the atlantic coast of patagonia. Cristina, lives there. She contacted me a long time ago, when i was in the early stages of getting my head around the trip. She has 2 children affected by fragile x syndrome. Maggie who has helped me along the way, with ideas and explanation sheets in spanish, back in london is Cristinas niece. Easy getting out of buenos aires. hit the main drag in the centre and fly down that south. half hour and im in the fields. Along Ruta 3. The road is a 100km straight, much like the roads in the north of the country. the wind gets fierce. when the road finaly turns , it turns to the west. a head wind strains the riding down to 4000revs and no more. much like riding at altitude, i cant throttle out anymore speed. concentration is hard here. the horizon doesnt move it stays far off. the fields stay the same. dry vegitation. the sky stays huge and blue. i turn south again, the wind turns to a cross wind. leaning into it becomes the normal riding position, at least a 10 degree drop towards the road surface. until the wind suddenly drops every once in while, dropping the bike to a further angle. all is ok , when you get used to it. 2 nights and a 5 hour tyre change in bahia blanca, to get to puerto madryn. crossing the rio negro i am told is the start of patagonia. patagonia, the land of the people with big feet. Dan is there. we left him to ride his own roads at christmas. its great to see the comical geezer again. he knocks up the best steaks and salads you can imagine. evenings in the hostel gardens, beef sitting over a flame, being watched and tossed by dan , are a perfect end to heavy days wind wrestling riding. I finaly contact Cristina here. i am a month late. originaly i planned to here early december. riding these continents is almost as unpredictable as sailing the seas. Cristina comes to my hostel with Barbara her daughter, who is affected with fragile x syndrome. As soon as we all meet i am filled with warmth and big smiles. we sit there for 2 hours laughing and chatting. my spanish has almost improved , by learning a new word at least once a week. cristinas english i see improve as we speak. barbara picks up the english words very quickly also. I am made so welcome, it couldnt be better.

the next day cristina introduces me to Andres, her son and jose a friend who also has 2 children affected by fragile x syndrome. above in the photo from left to right : cristina, andres, barbara, jose and me. I was taken around the town, to all the best spots. never a dull moment. we are all laughing and joking all day long. the plan is to get a radio interview. cristina has a friend involved in radio. Barbara and andres are brilliant with this stranger from england. Its hard to recognise the FXS affects. I see now that my Sian at home, is so much more affected by this syndrome. My new firends show no signs of autism spectrum disorder that sian does. The more i get to know these lot the more i am warmed. they are all very close and understanding of each other.


Andres is a golf fanatic and judging by all his trophies, a top player.

jose has 2 children also affected by fragile x syndrome. Ignacio who is 15 years old and sabrina who is 25. jose is full of fun. he has me in stiches for the time we meet. he loves his 2 wheels also, dashing and darting about puerto madryn on this nippy machine.


The last nights meal. i much on those perfect argentine steaks. vino tinto and dolce leche. again i dont have to put my hands in my pockets. i miss my new mates.



Irene (in blue) is Cristinas friend. she speaks perfect english. she teaches english and sometimes is a guide down south in patagonia. A radio interview is arranged by Irene. she has a weekly show on this east coast station. the audiance reaches north to Buenos Aires and who knows how far south. Im nervous, as i havent done anything like this since the TV in Trujillo, Peru. Its fine though. the bloke interviewer is full of energy, which rubs off on us all and he quickly understands whats going on with the syndrome. Irene, translates fast and furious, not missing a trick. 15 minutes into the interview, the phone calls start coming in , along with emails. all from listeners interested in FXS. We bring cristina into the interview, to answer the callers questions. A lady caler asks where she can get her kids blood tested for the syndrome. cristina mentions, that Buenos Aires is the only place in argentina that this can be done. The whole thing lasts half hour. a real success. im chuffed, we all are. thank you mr interviewer, irene, for her perfect ability and of course cristina who, deepened the whole expereince. Cristina is travelling to santiago, chile, in weeks to come , because 2 researchers from the USA are talking a conference , regarding recent finds, in medicine, that perhaps will help with altereing affects of the syndrome. apparently adding protein to needy fragile chromosome. fingers crossed !!


This is a bay near puerto madryn, that i was lucky enough to be taken to by cristina and her family. Jose being a photographer took some incredible pics of these huge sea beasts. sea lions in english. lobos in castellano. they made a right racket.


the bull. in crontrol of all things seals



Along the atlantic coast, deeper into patagonia is a penguin colony. these little blokes didnt care about humans, romping through their manor.


man looks at penguin. penguin looks at man. Dan and his new found friend.






these red shrines can be seen all over argentina. it a good luck shrine dedicated to gauchito gil. n argentine hero from the 19th century. give him gifts and you might be lucky.



travelling to the west side of argentina. near the chilean frontier. head south down ruta 40. a road that drift down for 5000kms. top to bottom of argentina. i head south on it at 125kms north of perito moreno. its a famous road amongst overlanders. notorious for its harsh winds and dirt.


staright away, 10kms in, the road splits. no signs. just the sun to give a direction. dan and mike discussing which fork to take. as it happens we take the left fork. the right one.



endless straights, along compact gravel, loose rocks and deep ruts left by trucks using the same lines. the sun goes down leaving this vast expanse, light up like fire.



when the gravel heads west in a falling sun, nothing can be seen. the glare is painful. slow down and push your luck. it works. no one falls.



guanaco. they just blend into their surroundings, dashing out at high speed into the road.



met these 6 or 7 argentines. all cycling a large part of the ruta 40 south.



aproaching the end of that days section of ruta 40, we found this german bloke, leo wandering around infront of an ambulance asking what country he was in. he has wrecked his africa twin 750 honda. he couldnt remember what happened. looks like he was fast across a deep dune of gravel which twitched him into a frenzy. the bike must have sumersalted a few 10s of metres, judging by the wreck.the ambulance left him there with us. we got a tow truck to pick his wreck up and we got him to hospital in la calafatte. dan road with the ambualance all the way. 200kms away. he is ok, just a bit in shock and scatter brained for now.



approaching the bizzare and wonderful mount fitzroy in el chalten, patagonia. the wind was double strong along this stretch. seeing the range come up over the horizon is spectacular. fitz roy is named after the captain of the beagle, the ship Mr darwin sailed the local seas down here in, discovering stuff.



fitz roy, the tallest peak. just like a scene from a dark fantasy.