The Zongshen China Ride video…

Joe Gresh previously prepared a magnificent video about our ride through China last summer, and now Zongshen posted the video their film crew shot while they accompanied us. It’s awesome!

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Oh yeah, this is going to be good…

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The Muslim Quarter

My stop later today was in Singapore’s Muslim Quarter, which isn’t actually a full quarter of the city, but its size notwithstanding, it sure was a photographer’s dream.   The area is anchored by the Masjid Sultan mosque, which is an elegant house of worship.   Take a look…

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I enjoyed photographing the Masjid Sultan mosque, and I enjoyed walking around the neighborhood.  I was surprised to see a handful of very large ADV bikes, including a GS1200 BMW and a Honda Africa Twin.   I thought the motorcycle parking situation was interesting, too.   Check this out…it’s 65 Singaporean cents per day to park your motorcycle!  That’s got to be chump change to a guy on a GS1200!

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There was a Honda Africa Twin parked across the street from the restaurant where I had lunch.  It got my attention because it was the first Africa Twin I’ve ever seen, other than on the Internet or in magazines.   I think the license plate on the Africa Twin was Singaporean, but I’m not sure.  The bike looks like it has an aftermarket skid plate and crash bars.

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I wanted to talk to the Africa Twin’s owner to see how he liked it (I’m assuming the owner was a guy), but I didn’t get a chance to do so.   I was enjoying my lunch too much, I guess.  I looked up and the bike was gone.  It must be very quiet.  I thought I would hear it start, but I never did.   I’m not interested in buying one; I just wanted to hear what the owner had to say about it.   When I saw the Africa Twin and the BMW, I had the same reaction I always do when seeing these large roadburners.  Who would actually want to ride something that monstrous off road?

There was another aspect of the Muslim Quarter I enjoyed seeing:  The Turkish carpet stores.   I love these things and our home is fully stocked with Turkish carpets.  I bought all of them 25 years ago on a gig in Turkey (my first visit there was to a Turkish carpet manufacturing facility), and I’ve had an interest in these carpets ever since.   The guys who sell them in these little stores are amazing; they could teach Donald Trump how to negotiate (people from the Middle East, and in particular carpet salesmen, are the best negotiators I’ve ever met).   I wasn’t interested in buying a carpet (we don’t have any more floor space in my home), but I always enjoy looking at them.   Some of the carpets have amazing designs.

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You might wonder how you get things like a Turkish carpet home when you buy them overseas.  I did it by rolling up the four carpets I bought in Turkey and checking them as baggage.   One of the carpets I bought was 5 meters long (that’s more than 15 feet!) and you can imagine what it was like lugging it into the airport and checking it as baggage.  On that flight, we flew from Istanbul to Tel Aviv (I had a few days business in Israel), and going through the drill of checking and then reclaiming the carpets at Ben Gurion Airport was something else.   In Israel, getting back on the flight was a serious challenge.  The Israeli security people made me unroll all four of the carpets I was taking home to Los Angeles.  Then when I arrived in Los Angeles, the US Customs dude gave me a hard time because he thought the carpets were textiles.  He wanted to hit me up with a huge import tariff.  I was the first guy off that 747 to get to the Customs point, and I was still arguing with the Customs guy after all of the other passengers had passed through.  I finally told the Customs guy that I basically thought he was stupid and he was abusing his power (I used pretty much those exact words), and I asked him to call for a supervisor.   I could tell that infuriated him, but he did what I asked.   The supervisor listened to the story for all of 60 seconds and allowed me through.   That Customs guy is probably still mad at me (or not; hell, it was 25 years ago and he’s probably retired by now).

So, back to Singapore’s Muslim district and my adventure today.  I picked a Turkish restaurant for lunch and I had a chicken doner plate.   I’m not sure what “doner” means in Turkish, but whenever I’ve had a dish with that word in its name it’s always been great, and today was no exception.

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After lunch, I experienced a special treat when I left the restaurant.   I spotted a very clean mid-1960’s Honda CB160 parked in among all of the other bikes at the curb.  It wasn’t there when I went into the restaurant, so it must have snuck in while I was eating.

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The CB160 holds a special place in my heart.  It’s the first motorcycle my Dad ever owned.   In those days, Honda referred to the CB160 as a baby Super Hawk.  The Super Hawk was a 305cc motorcycle that was ahead of its time; the CB160 was basically a scaled-down version of the larger Super Hawk.  Like the full-sized Super Hawk, it had twin carbs, electric starting, and a host of other features.  Dad’s bike was black, just like the one you see here.   Seeing it today really brought back a lot of memories.  I hung around for a little bit hoping the owner would show up, but he (or she) didn’t.   That’s too bad; I would have really enjoyed a conversation about the bike.

And folks, that’s it for now.   The jet lag is catching up with me.  I’m going to read a bit and then call it a night.

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Singapore!

About those photos I promised earlier…here’s the first batch.  It’s Sunday here and it is a quiet day, so I walked a couple of miles along the river after enjoying the typical morning feast featured in every 5-star Asian hotel…

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There was way more food in the breakfast buffet this morning than what I’m showing you above.   I only shot photos of what I sampled.  I suppose I could have a little fun and tell you that the upper left photo is something exotic like slices of shark intestines.   Nope, they are just onion rings (and they were good).   I had a very early breakfast, I read a bit (I’m on to Jeremy Kroeker’s Motorcycle Messengers book now), and I just kicked back and enjoyed my morning meal.  Like I always say, life’s tough and this is a tough job, but hey, somebody’s gotta do it!

A heads up here, folks:  I didn’t bring my Nikon with me on this trip.  Everything you’ll see on here today is from my iPhone.   I’ve had guys tell me that you can get photos from an iPhone as good as the ones you get from a Nikon.  I’m here to tell you that just ain’t so.  I can see the difference.   I had to try it, though.  On my next trip, it’s back to the Nikon for me!

I shot all of the photos in this post along the Singapore River, except for this one.   Take a look at this, my friends.   It’s a vintage mid-’60s CB160 Honda, and it’s still doing its duty as a daily driver!  It was parked in the Muslim Quarter on Arab Street here in Singapore.  Wow!  I’ll have more photos of it for you in the next blog.

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Okay, so back to the Singapore River.  I grabbed a cab down to Clarke Quay (the Singaporeans pronounce “Quay” as “Key”)…

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As near as I can tell, there are three or four of these “Quay” areas in Singpore, and I think the term means something like “dock area.”   The only boats that hang out there now are tourist river cruise affairs, and the entire area is basically a restaurant river walk sort of arrangement.  I imagine the place really hops at night.

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So, how do you read this sign?  Does it require the folks in Clarke Quay to consume the entire booze inventory by the posted times?

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More photos along the Singapore River…

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This guy was out for a Sunday morning bike ride with his dog…

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Yep.  Mi casa es su casa.  Just like home…

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I even saw a Mexican restaurant that was advertising Taco Tuesday.  In Singapore.  Go figure.  I’m tempted to try one of these places just to see how their Mexican food compares to the real thing.   I’m convinced that the best Mexican food is to be found in a few spots in California and most of Texas.  Mexico has a few good spots, too.  But Tex-Mex is the best.

Here’s a motor officer.   The engine looks like a CG derivative of some sort, similar in design to our TT250.

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There are four languages in Singapore:   Malay, Mandarin, Hindi, and English, mostly reflecting the ethnicities I saw here this morning.   Singapore is a multicultural city.  One of the cab drivers told me the dominant religions also reflect the population (Buddhism, Chistianity, Hindu, and Islam).

In some places the walk along the Singapore River has steps that go right down to the water.   This sign was at the edge of the last step.   I wondered about the story that led to a sign like this.   Maybe some guy fell in the river and told folks he didn’t realize he was on the last step.   It could happen, I suppose.

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Here’s my obligatory selfie.   There were these huge polished domes outside the Museum of Asian Civilizations.  Singapore has a lot of museums.

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The Cavenagh Bridge, and another interesting sign.   The bridge made me think about our good buddy Jim Cavanaugh, a key guy in helping Steve resurrect the old Mustang motorcycle.

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More bright colors.  Singapore is the cleanest city I’ve ever experienced.   You can’t chew gum here, and the sidewalks show that (they’re spotless).   The city has lots of color.   It’s a very green place (I’m not trying to be politically correct here; the place actually is very green with many parks, trees, and other plant life).   Many of the buildings are painted in vivid pastel colors.   There doesn’t appear to be any air pollution, and the sky is a vivid bright blue.  It’s a great place for taking photos.

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A motorcycle with a sidecar used as a food cart.   That little bike was hauling a lot of weight!

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One more photo of one of the many night spots along the river.   I liked it….a P51 Mustang mockup outside a bar…very cool indeed.

img_2374-650After I walked along the river in in the Clarke Quay area for a couple of hours, I grabbed a cab and went to Singapore’s Muslim Quarter.  I wanted Middle Eastern food for lunch, and I got what I wanted.  But that’s a topic for the next blog post (which I’ll get to later today or tomorrow).   As always, stay tuned!

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16 hours…

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16 hours…that’s the time difference between Los Angeles and Singapore.  It’s 5:00 a.m. Sunday morning over here and 1:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon back at the plant.   16 hours.  And it took a little over 19 hours to fly here.   So I’m wondering…does that mean it only took 3 hours to get from LA to Singapore? Or that I flew into the future? It’s all so confusing. I know things will clear up as I continue to savor that cup of instant coffee I just brewed in my Singapore hotel room…my very own version of a Singapore Sling. I’ve got a day to kick around before the serious secret mission stuff starts, and I may visit the actual bar where the Singapore Sling was invented. We’ll see.

covermotocolombia250It certainly has been an interesting 12 months.  Last year at this time I was getting ready to ride in Colombia, and I sure had a fantastic time on that ride with my buddies Juan and Carlos.   Colombia was one hell of a ride, and my RX3 (actually, my loaner bike from AKT Motos) performed magnificently as we rode through Colombia’s Andes Mountains and the coastal lowlands.

It’s amazing how much of the world is out there that I had never heard of, and then once I visit a place, I seem to hear about it on a regular basis.  Sam Manicom, in his excellent book Distant Suns, wrote about his ride through magnificent Colombia and he mentioned the city of Zipaquira (among many other places).  I want to return to Colombia with my wife someday just to explore that city.  Really.  Zipaquira.  It has a magnificent underground cathedral carved out of a salt deposit that I missed on the trip last December, and now I want to return just to see that.  And I had never heard of the cathedral or Zipaquira before my ride with Juan and Carlos.

And yet another Colombian location…Antioquia.   It was another place I never knew existed, but we rode right through it.   There was a special on the TV show 60 Minutes this past weekend about a disease prevalent in Antioquia, and I knew the region when they spoke about it on that show.  I even recognized the architecture and several of the street scenes in the show.  It was indeed amazing.

We had two great Baja rides last year.  One was our normal Spring Break Baja run down to the see the whales.   I think I am either getting used to these tours or I am getting better at organizing them, because that ride was genuinely fun and stress free for me.   We saw and did a lot.  You’ve no doubt seen this video before, but because it is one of my favorites, I’ll show it here just in case you haven’t seen it…

Our second Baja adventure last year was the run through southern California down to Tecate, San Felipe, and Ensenada on the TT250s.   That ride was a hoot and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.   We had a great bunch of guys and we ran a great route on a great new bike…here’s the video from that adventure…

So I’ve got three motorcycles in my garage right now, and the TT250 is the one I am riding the most.  Many of our friends who buy the TT250 own several motorcycles, and I’m hearing the same thing from them…their TT250s are the bike of choice.   There’s something about the TT that makes it special.   I know I love mine, and I’m glad I got the black one (it is the fastest color, you know).  The white ones are fast, too, and I think we are down to less than 10 of them now on our special deal to close out the 2016 models.   I’m guessing by the time I get back to the US they’ll all be gone.

Oh, I can’t forget about the secret mission in Turkey a few months ago when I met with  several Turkish RX3 riders (the “Young Turks,” I call them).   That was a hoot, too.   One of these days we are going to do an RX3 circumnavigation of the Black Sea.   That will be another stellar motorcycle adventure ride.   It’s what owning an RX3 is all about!

ridingchinacover250wdOf course, there was the grand-daddy of them all, the magnificent ride across China last summer.

The China ride was the grandest adventure of my life, and I’ve had more than a few grand adventures in the six and a half decades I’ve been on this planet.  I find myself thinking about the ride across China, the Colombia ride, our Baja rides, and more stuff related to my moto adventures these days when I am not on the motorcycle.  Daydreaming, I guess you’d calling it.

China was just incredible.  It was real Indiana Jones stuff.   The recently-discovered Eighth Wonder of the Ancient World (that would be Xi’an’s Terra Cotta soldiers).   The not-so-Asian-appearing folks from Liqian (where the lost Roman legions settled 2000 years ago).   The mystical town of Seda, high up on the Tibetan Plateau.   The lost Buddhist temples carved into the cliffs at Mo Gao.   Camels in the Gobi Desert.   The food in China…spectacular is not a strong enough adjective to describe it.   And lots more.   Those 6000 miles spread across 37 days covered some of the best riding of my life.

The best part of all of the above?   Hey, that one’s easy to answer:  It’s knowing that there’s a lot more coming.  More Baja rides.  Our ride across the US this summer.   Maybe even Africa this summer.   All of it on CSC motorcycles.   Hey, you!   Yeah, you!   Don’t you want to put yourself in this picture?

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Wheels in the wells, yet again…

I’m off to Singapore on another secret mission tomorrow (don’t tell anyone).  Singapore is an interesting place…it’s kind of like Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.  Fancy stores, exotic cars, fancy hotels, and more.   It’s a quick trip (I’ll be in and out), and hopefully I’ll be out before my body adjusts to Asia time.   Last time after I came back from Asia (after the 6000-mile China ride) I turned right around and flew to Turkey for a few days.   When I returned from those two back-to-back trips, it took a solid 6 weeks for me to adjust to California time.  The insomnia was rough, but I finally got over it.

I’m reading another one of Sam Manicom’s great books (this one is Distant Suns), and I am thoroughly enjoying it.  I’ll finish Distant Suns on the plane tomorrow.  Sam sure tells a great tale.  Part of Sam’s ride was in Colombia (he covered nearly all of South America), and Sam visited many of the same cities I did on my Moto Colombia expedition.   Colombia is an awesome place and Sam’s book is an awesome read.  I recommend you get a copy; I know you will enjoy it.

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I spent a little bit of time on the rifle range shooting my .45 70 Marlin earlier this week, and I have the shoulder to prove it.  Wow, that puppy can kick!  After shooting a few groups to get the sights dialed in (I had not fired this rifle in several years), I shot three more 3-shot groups and I am feeling pretty good about my Marlin.  I love the 1895 Marlin and I am a big fan of the .45 70 cartridge.    The .45 70 is nearly 150 years old (it was originally a US Army round starting in the 1870s) and it’s still a great performer.   The story is that if your gun breaks, you can use the cartridge as a club.  Good times.

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Back to motorcycles for a minute….we’re down to a handful of 2016 RX3s and TT250s, so if you want one with our no shipping/no setup/no doc fee deal, don’t wait.   Oh, one more cool thing:  The test RZ3s will arrive in California while I am in Asia.  I’ll get photos and a video of the RZ3 up on the blog sometime late next week.

That’s all for now, folks.  Watch for the photos from Singapore!

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Good stuff…

Joe Gresh topping his tank prior to riding into the Gobi Desert.

Joe Gresh topping his tank prior to riding into the Gobi Desert.

I like to ride, I like to write, and I like to read.   My favorite reading always involves motorcycles and it’s been that way as long as I can remember.   Videos are okay, photos are cool, but a well-written piece about riding is just what the doctor ordered.   My favorite writers?   I like Dave Barr’s books about his adventure travels (Riding the Edge is easily the best adventure travel story I’ve ever read), my favorite magazine is Motorcycle Classics (a real magazine with lots of high gloss pages and real stories about classic motorcycles), and my favorite columnist is Joe Gresh.  It’s not just that I know Joe or that I’ve traveled with him; the guy is just flat good and his stories are funny as hell.  Consider this line from one of his first pieces about a ride to Alaska, when he and his dad performed major surgery on Joe’s Honda in an Alaskan dealer’s parking lot…

The dealership’s mechanic buoyed our spirits by saying things like, “Last time we ordered a part, it took six weeks” and “Two guys on motorcycles were killed by a grizzly bear a mile from here.”

If you want a free treasure trove, I found a compendium of Joe’s work online and you can get there by clicking this link.   It’s good stuff, my friends.  Enjoy.

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San Francisco, at night, on Black Friday…

…and it was a cool place.  The crowds were jam packed (lots and lots of shoppers), and security was heavy because of the nature of the world we live in.   I was there with my family and my trusty D3300, and I grabbed a few photos for the blog.

One of the more interesting things I saw were the motor officers.  It was a cool night up here, but a good night to be on a motorcycle.  The SFPD uses Harleys and (get this) DRZ-400 Suzukis (“because we can go up and down stairs on them”).  Cool stuff…

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We had a good time, including a dinner in Chinatown.  It wasn’t nearly as good as the dinners in China I enjoyed with my Chinese brothers, but it was pretty good for an American Chinese restaurant.  I bought a new wallet (a Tumi, the best there is) because the humidity did mine in on the China ride last summer.   I had a lot of fun walking around.  I love San Francisco.  I am definitely looking forward getting home, though, and riding my TT250.   I’m not going to ride up and down any stairs, but I’ll bet I could if I had to…

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Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope your day was as nice as mine.  Time with family is always time well spent and I sure enjoyed the day…

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We’re visiting family in northern California and our dinner today was fantastic.  We opened a bottle of Doffo Malbec and it was superb…easily the best Malbec I’ve ever tasted!

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You’ll recall we visited the Doffo Winery recently.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog, the Doffo winery has a superb collection of vintage small displacement Italian (and other) motorcycles.  That visit was a great one.   Sometime in the near future we’ll organize a CSC ride there.

I’m off to Asia early in December (more secret mission stuff) and I’m looking forward to the trip.   There’s lots of great riding coming up, too…our next CSC Baja trip in March, several shorter trips before that, our planned across-the-continent RX3 ride this summer (we’re hoping many of you can join us for portions of that one), and it seems I may get to ride Africa this summer as well.  Wow, that will be an adventure!

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Everything but the bikes…

That’s our Black Friday sale, folks, and it’s underway now.   You know, it’s kind of funny…we sent out an email about our Black Friday sale with pictures of a few of the items that are on sale.   The sale is going fabulously well, but the items we showed in the email are the bulk of the items we’re selling.  The sale is not limited to just those items; it’s everything we have except the bikes. 

Yep, everything but the bikes.   Pick anything you want on our website, and the price will be automatically reduced when you add it to your cart.   Everything but the bikes, folks!  20% to 60% off!

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