October 08, 2004

The Grand Plan

Posted by DaveSmith


I'm going to try to ride round the world on a tiny motorcycle. I've got a 1-way ticket from California to Australia for October 12, 2004. And it's not just any motorcycle, but a 40-year-old Ducati 250cc bike.

I've got a hole in my head, which is a good enough reason for me. Head trauma, brain death and the ensuing epilepsy is pretty motivational.

I can't afford a Vincent Comet, so I was thinking of taking a BSA 350cc, but that's been done. I've always loved Ducati Elites. The Elite replica got changed into a Tartarini replica -- I'm crazy enough to try this on a small bike, but the clip-ons on a cafe racer would surely kill me -- if I can be killed.

Leopoldo Tartarini, 1950s Ducati factory racer, recruited his friend Giorgio Monetti and took Ducati 175's rtw in 1957-58. My bike will borrow from that design. The book written about that trip is impossible to find (not that I can read Italian anyway), so I can't follow their route. There's a widely reprinted map that gives a rough idea where they went. Maybe I'll find out more on the way.

My travel plans are roughly: Australia to New Zealand (possible side trip Bali to extend my Aussie time). Then I'll teach English in Japan for a year. I'd love to ride through China, but they want motorcycle tourists to pay for a police escort and I don't have the money to pay for someone else's vacation. Viet Nam doesn't want bikes bigger than 175cc but I think I can sneak my 250cc through. Then Cambodia to Thailand. From everything I've heard from other people doing this sort of trip, Myanmar/Burma is too chaotic to ride through. That surprises most Americans because they don't know about Middle Eastern hospitality. Then boat from Singapore to India to Pakistan and somehow to Italy for the 2006 Moto d'Italia in May and over to Isle of Man for the 2006 vintage TT in late August.

I'll travel around Europe and will hopefully meet up with a friend in Spain to tour the Middle East. I want to get to Turkey to visit Gallipoli and North Africa to see T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) locations. I've heard there's a spot where you can still see a train he blew up, but that might just be a legend. This next part depends on my finances at the time. If I'm doing okay moneywise, Africa to South America, if not, boat from Morocco to the East Coast of the US.

If I make it to South Africa (not sure which is the best route in Africa), ship over to Brazil through Urugay to Argentina and then back up through the left coast: Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Hondura, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and back to California. Then hopefully another trip around Europe with Tim in his Crosley station wagon. He doesn't know I'm planning on inviting myself along for that trip though. Small bikes, small cars!

(note: comments have been closed for this entry)

Posted by DaveSmith at October 8, 2004 01:48 PM

you crazee!

Posted by: todd at October 8, 2004 03:54 PM

Youz one crazy motha! No seriously, best of luck on this adventure. My advice? Bring enough money to buy another motorcycle along the way. That way you can just strap the Duc to your back and keep ridin no matter what happens. Keep us posted and I expect to see some pictures :o) Just messin with ya. Have a freakin' blast!


Posted by: Nimbus at October 8, 2004 04:26 PM

Hey Monkey, I will be in Brisbane ,Aus. heading south by December. Riding a KTM LC8 with a few tie downs for primate pulling. I have heard great things about Tasmania and Papua New Guinea . Good luck to ya. David
Also ,heres a great map and book publisher for Australian roads of all types.

Posted by: David at October 8, 2004 10:04 PM

Good luck!
When you get around to Holland, give us a call!
Another single fan,
2 x MZ 660

Posted by: Gijs van H. at October 9, 2004 12:45 AM

When you said 'tiny motorcycle'...

Easy Rider on a pocket motorcycle!
Now that'd be somethin' huh?

Posted by: Observer 0 at October 9, 2004 02:14 AM

i do indeed like your stlye, so good luck and looking forwrd to the fotos and silly stories

Posted by: mary at October 9, 2004 07:52 PM

Greetings Dave, from AUSTRALIA,

I would really like to meet you and your bike. When you are in Australia, near Sydney, could you ring me? We might catchup somewhere.

Otherwise, all the best in your travels. This is a great thing that you are doing!

cell 0418683701

Posted by: kyle at October 10, 2004 03:14 PM

Hey, Dave! You really are one crazed Monkey! I will be following your Grand Adventure, and when the snow is up to my knees and the temperature is hovering around 10 degrees here in Western Illinois, I will dream that I am 40 years younger and traveling with you. However, I will be riding my trusty Monkey Wards Mojave 360 with the PVL electronic ignition...Good Luck! Howard

Posted by: Howard Watts at October 11, 2004 06:11 AM

Aw he ain't crazed. Just smart. REAL smart.

Posted by: Dr. Biggles at October 11, 2004 02:29 PM

Alright.... the deeds been done! We dropped Dave off at the international terminal in SF after a crazed day of hunting down a prescription, packing a bunch of boxes and still leaving A TON of crap for his roommate. For those of you wondering... yes, he found the PDA in his backpack so he won't be needing extra donations of pens and pads of paper. Yes, he had one last Super Burrito in the Mission district. Yes, we made it to the hospital to see the busted leg Benelli guy. No, Don the tank guy at IHOP never showed! I'm ready to hear about the first time through Customs! I'm hoping all that crap is still with him... banjo and all! Good luck little Davey! See you in Ireland!

Posted by: cary at October 12, 2004 11:14 PM

Woodhouse sez the recording went fine. So, your musical legacy will remain intact should anything happen to you in your travels.

Kirk out

Posted by: kirk at October 13, 2004 12:21 PM

It's almost 2:00pm here and you should be downunder a couple hours by now....hope you don't run into any wall but if you do, call us......luvya.us

Posted by: The Old Man at October 13, 2004 01:48 PM

well dave has come & picked up his bike & last i saw of him he was heading north. we managed to jam all his gear onto the bike - lucky i scored a set of old police saddlebags & frames from a local swap meeting. i have sent some pics of the bike & dave to steve allens www.bevelheaven.com site where he will keep a page to update daves progress or lack of it.

Posted by: phil at October 15, 2004 12:22 AM


You are a man of your word. I've been folowing you since the first announcement on the Bevelheads. As admirerer of Leopold Tartarinni's journey I think this is very well possible and its great you do it. All the best mate and if you are in Holland or comming to get in touch, the Dutch heads will welcome you.

Cheers, Ron

Posted by: Ron at October 15, 2004 10:05 AM

Holy shit, you made it. I am beyond impressed, Dave!

I am currently living in Mongolia, so when you get here, send me email, and we'll crack this bottle of absinthe open and drink until you no longer suffer from epilepsy, and I do.

Be safe our there!

Posted by: DrMurdock at October 17, 2004 01:20 AM

Em's b'day has come and passed and t'day we have a l'il rain at last to clear out the smoke that has plagued us the last couple days...or maybe you didn't know about the fires that closed down hwys 50 & 88...I spect that's not such a bigdeal down under,,,,,,hope you're having a good time..luvya.us

Posted by: Old Man at October 17, 2004 10:36 AM