Nothing like this happens in a vacuum. The early stages of planning were spent in the privacy of the space between my ears. The fewer people who knew, the easier it would be to walk away from the plan, right? But once it started to look as if it could really happen, I told a few close friends, and after a while they realized I might be (a) serious and (b) able to pull it off. The real magic starts to happen when others pitch in to make your plan become real.

First, there’s Randy, who I’ve known for about 8 years.

He’s a retired engineer who has a thing for Norton motorcycles, specifically the “Featherlastic” breed. He’s been designing and perfecting Featherlastic components for years, and has been riding since waaaaay before I was born. I was able to learn a lot from his knowledge of motorcycles, metals, and electrics. We had a lot of brainstorming sessions about luggage and racks, carrying spare fuel, tools and parts, exhausts systems, and nearly every other aspect of moto prep. I can’t emphasize enough the importance to a trip planner of having a “seasoned” engineer and motorcycle gearhead on your side.

Now here’s John B.

Johnny’s a fan of Triumphs and Guzzis, a former racer (road & dirt), and also a retired welder. Without his wizardry, I would have been condemned to a boring-fest of off-the-shelf choices for my bike components. Thanks to him I have durable side racks with elegant and sturdy mounting points, beautiful handmade side covers, a sweet Ducati exhaust, and wider footpegs for the miles and miles of stand-up riding I’ll be doing.

Chris P. (a.k.a. the Chick Magnet):

With his years of experience as a professional moto wrench (as well as a kick-ass rider), Chris has been a veritable fount of knowledge about what spares, tools and repair items I should pack. He also conceived and designed a storage tube that will be located behind the left side luggage rack.

Chris works at ZMW Adventures in Tucson, Arizona. ZMW specializes in leading adventure motorcycle tours in the southwestern US and Mexico, both on-and off-road. The last time I was in Tucson, I visited with the owner, Frank Zabriskie, who was kind enough to take time out of his schedule to share wisdom from being a long-time offroad adventure rider. After hearing some of his stories, I wish I’d taken a weekend off-roading class with ZMW before taking off on my own adventure. Thank you Frank!

Other supporters, too modest for the camera:

  • Forum members at ADVRider have asked good questions, and some of the long riders have shared wisdom. This is gold. ADVers are also stepping up to help me find a new home for my kitty.
  • Former co-workers have wished me nothing but success. (“Or maybe they were just happy to see the back of me”, as Austin Vince said.)
  • Another former colleague spent time teaching me helpful Russian words & phrases. She also sent very helpful information about Georgia, the Altai, and also how to avoid tick-borne encephalitis, for which a vaccine is not available in the USA.
  • One colleague even said, “Call me if you run out of money.”
  • The doctor who administered my vaccines wrote a letter on my behalf to my insurance company when she learned that they were denying reimbursement.
  • My non-motorcycling friends have offered support by being stateside contacts for sending & receiving mail & packages, and dealing with emergencies.
  • Others have stored some of my personal belongings in their spare rooms.

As motorcyclists we tend to be self-sufficient, independent tough guys & gals, but the outpouring of support I’ve experienced has been humbling and (sniffle) a bit touching. From my heart, I say Thank You to everyone who has and continues to help this plan become reality.