[YEAR 7!] Quit our jobs, sold our home, gone riding...

tonyjb72

New member
Hi Gene and Neda...good to hear you are well and enjoying life. Did you ever get much further than South Africa and what prompted the return to Canada?
 
Hi Gene and Neda...good to hear you are well and enjoying life. Did you ever get much further than South Africa and what prompted the return to Canada?
Hi Tony,

yes, we spent about a year and a half in Africa and returned to Canada for a snowboarding vacation.

We were going to hit the road again this summer, but then this COVID stuff hit, so we hunkered down in BC.

We just got new motorcycles and we're slowly kitting them out for when we're allowed to leave the country again. But lots to explore locally in the meantime!
 
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eric.halim

New member
Hi i'm new here. Beautiful journey. I really need to break free and life like this. Please share some tips like how you manage with income and expense during this whole adventure? Liking it....
 
Please share some tips like how you manage with income and expense during this whole adventure? Liking it....
Thanks!

Expedition Portal actually wrote up a good article about income while traveling:

Financing Extended Overland Trips: How Do They Do it?

The Real Story


These are all of our worldly possessions after a few rounds of sell, donate, give away, throw away


We're mentioned in the article under the "The Sell All" group, but really we're a combination of that and "The Saver".

We did sell our home and everything in it to fund the trip, but really, the idea to do this trip came about a long time ago. I'm so glad that we've recorded everything on our blog, because it allows us go back and see what we were thinking and when things actually happened:

from http://www.ridedot.com/euro/081707.html



The train ride back to Munich had us discussing what it would take to do a motorcycle tour for over year, possibly two, that would take us around Europe (properly this time), Eastern-Europe, Africa and Asia, and even back to the Americas (south and central). It probably won't happen for a few years, but I think we're both committed to this idea. Last year, after riding to California and back, the seeds were planted for this Europe trip. Now, at the end of this trip, we've got to up the stakes again. "Ride The World", indeed!
That entry was dated August 2007! 5 years before we left. So we had been saving money all that time since then.

We've been fortunate that our home appreciated quite a lot since we bought it. In Canada, the profit from the sale of your primary residence isn't taxed.

In 2012, we invested a portion of our savings and the proceeds of the sale of our home instead of just leaving it in the bank. We hoped to offset the costs of the trip with interest and dividends. Luck was with us again, as we did this at the beginning of the longest bull market in stock market history, so our initial investment also grew. We thought we would only be on the road for 12-18 months, but the market returns (and living cheaper than we had budgeted) have managed to keep us traveling for close to 8 years now.

So that's our story.

Digital Nomads

One category the ExPo article didn't mention was "The Digital Nomad". We encountered a lot of that in our travels - basically people working the job they used to do, except doing it remotely. It doesn't lend itself to all professions: ie. you can't lay bricks online. But we met a lot of full-time travelers doing SW development, translating documents, digital artists, even a couple of accountants. The idea behind being a Digital Nomad is to cultivate clients who will pay in higher-value currencies, and then live or travel in low-cost-of-living countries.

Basically, make USD or € and then spend Thai baht or Indian rupees. Also, you save in income tax, not being domiciled in North America or Europe, so you get to keep more of your income.



We met and befriended a professional artist who was traveling around the world by scooter. She does all her work on her tablet and computer and submits them to her clients online. She also has a blog and supplements it with drawings of all her travels. The illustration above was when we met up with her in Canada. That's me in the middle, Neda is to my left and Stephanie, the artist, is on the right. You can check out her travels here:


So, there are lots of other ways to make money while on the road, if you have the right skills.

There is a great thread on Horizons Unlimited, where other long-term travelers have shared how they've stayed on the road for months and years:

 
As for expenses, we were very nervous about this for the first year. Especially traveling through North America, because it's one of the more expensive continents to overland through.

There are a ton of resources on the Internet detailing how to live on the cheap. Common sense stuff like buying groceries instead of eating out, wild-camping instead of staying in hotels. So I won't list all the ways you can save money. But here are some other tips on managing expenses that I haven't seen mentioned too often:

Track Your Expenses

We over-budgeted everything and kept track of every penny we spent using an app on our phone. Not sure of the exact one, but there are so many of them now. The one we used has probably been discontinued by now - it was over 8 years ago! You just enter each expense in the app as you go along and it will generate an informative daily, weekly and monthly report, broken down for major categories: food, gas, lodging. As well as give you alerts if you're overspending in one area.

After a while, we found that we actually spent a lot less when we had to account for every penny. We continued to track expenses for about a year and then stopped using the app because by that time we got a pretty good sense of how much we were spending, as well as developed the discipline for staying on budget. Also by that time, we had left North America and entered Central America, which was considerably cheaper and easier on our wallets.


Bogotá, Colombia


Exchange Rates

As Canadians, we were very fortunate that in mid-2012, the US dollar plunged and was basically on-par with the loonie (Canadian dollar). There was a brief moment when the CDN dollar was actually worth more than USD. This occurred right when we entered the US and we spent a few months traveling very cheaply with our strong Canadian dollar. Today the exchange rate is hovering around $1.40! Very expensive for us to tour the US right now.

More fortune struck when we entered the British Isles just after Brexit was announced and the British pound took a beating. Everything was instantly 25-30% cheaper than pre-Brexit.

I guess the lesson learned here was to pay attention to exchange rates and how far your home currency will go wherever you travel. There's a reason why overlanders stay so long in SE Asia and Central America - your travel dollar goes much longer and further.


Chumphon, Thailand


Ask A Local

Another tip we discovered ourselves is not to rely too much on the Internet. There's a whole subsection of the population that are not online or do not have a presence. I remember trying to find a place to sleep in Costa Rica. We had stopped in a tiny town and were in a bar on our smartphones trying to find accommodations online. Absolutely nothing. So we asked the guy at the bar and he pointed us to this place that was super cheap. Local knowledge. Same thing happened in Albania, everything online was so expensive. So we just rode around till we saw a sign for accommodations. It was super cheap because they just opened and they hadn't done any advertising yet.


Albania

Our rear rack on one of the bikes cracked in Cambodia. We were sitting in a bar on our phones trying to find a welder who could fix it. Bar owner comes out to talk to us because he's a rider as well, and then tells us that he knows someone who can help out for cheap. The next day, he sends us out with one of his employees to a construction site around the corner, fixed in half an hour!

Sometimes it's so much more productive and cheaper to talk to a local and ask around. We've found that people around the world are so friendly and eager to help!

Don't Be A Stranger

Which I guess leads to the next point: Keep a blog or running report of your travels, and post it up online.

We've met so many people who have contacted us and offered us a place to stay, a garage to work on our bikes, a guide for a motorcycle tour around their area or even simply a hot, home-cooked meal. And the only thing they want in return is for you to share a few of your stories over a beer or five!


Out on safari with our South African hosts and very good friends, Isak and Nelia, who we met via our blog

Travel is expensive. However, there is a thriving network of travelers and would-be-travelers eager to help each other out with accommodations and garage space. We've been on the receiving of so much kindness over the years, that Neda and I felt strongly about returning this hospitality. Whenever we've been stationed in Canada, we've tried to host travelers from all over the world. We've already had Belgians, New Zealanders, Austrians and Singaporeans visit us in the short time that we've been here.

While there are organized resources like Couchsurfing and TentSpace on ADVRider where you find locals willing to host you, I find the most successful stays are ones where you get a personal invitation from people who have read your blog and already know a bit about who you are and where you've been, so it's not like two strangers meeting for the first time.

You may also end up making making life-long friends in the process!


Adventure blogging in Morocco


It's hard work to maintain a report of your travels, and I do it primarily as a personal record. But we've found that people reaching out to us has been a wholly unintended but amazing side-benefit to having a public record of your journey! Even if they are too far away to stay with them or meet up for a drink, just the amount of people dropping us a line via e-mail or PM, or encouraging us online has been so rewarding!
 

eric.halim

New member
@lightcycle thanks so much for sharing about incomes and expenses during your adventure! really inspire me.
I will be 40 in next year. I guess I cannot put hold any longer otherwise I'll be too old for this right.
My first 20 years is like childhood and study, my last 20 years like I've been in offices, daily routine, work for living.
So I hope I will dare enough to jump out of my comfort zone and going this style. I will have another concerns about this, I will need to arrange condition for my daughters....they are still in school yet I'm single parent. Need some way to take care of this and start my adventure soon.
 

eric.halim

New member
@lightcycle I've visited your blog so inspiring...so many places you've been...which place is your favorite? and do you guys have a feeling like to settle down when you find comfortable place? or is it gonna always be home a place to settle down?
 
How to Enduro the Apocalypse: KTM 500 EXC-F & Husqvarna FE 501

Come Armageddon, Come!
Everyday is like Sunday


-- Morrissey

The global pandemic has put a pause on our travels, and we find ourselves temporarily stalled in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada.

So what to do now?

After much extensive research (ie. watching zombie movies and playing video games), I've come to the conclusion that there are two essential items needed to survive an apocalypse: 1) A chainsaw and 2) a dirt bike.



Normally in those movies, you'd just break into a store and take what you want. I figured with the world's economy going down the tubes, I'd saunter into any motorcycle dealership, walk down the aisles overflowing with surplus inventory and basically name my price. A steal of a deal is pretty close to smashing and grabbing... and legal too.

The plan went awry the moment we walked through the shop's door. My voice echoed through the empty store, as I asked the closest salesguy: "Um... where are all your bikes?"

Turns out, during a stay-at-home apocalypse like the COVID-19 outbreak, *everybody* buys motorcycles. Not just motorcycles, but any kind of recreational product: boats, bicycles, Seadoos, RVs, jetskis... It doesn't matter if they are small, inexpensive purchases or big ticket items, they are all flying off the shelves! And to make matters worse, manufacturers have shut down their factories because of the coronavirus, so inventory isn't replenishing.

World economy be damned, people are getting bored at home and they want to play. The salesman confided in us that a lot of product is being bought on credit. Play now, pay later.

It's looking pretty grim for us enduroing the COVID apocalypse.

And then, a ray of hope. The salesguy tells us: "You know what? One of our customer's credit application just got denied for that bike, like an hour ago". He pointed to a brand-new 2019 Husqvarna FE 501 with a "sold" sign stuck to the front number plate.

"Great! Any discount?"
"No"
"Ok. We'll take it."

So much for smash and grab. The only thing I grabbed was my own ankles. And then the smashing started...


Well, Neda was now the proud owner of a dirt bike. At least one of us would survive the apocalypse

Same story at the KTM store:

"Do you have any 500 EXC-Fs in stock?"
"No, but I think they may have a couple still sitting at a dealership in Prince George and there's a Six-Days model in Vernon. We can call them up and arrange a transfer"
"Great! Any discount?"
"No"
"Ok. We'll take it."

*sigh*


And then there were two!
 
So now we have dirt bikes!

The primary reason for getting the 500 EXC-F and the FE 501 is that they are street-legal.

The thinking was that we'll eventually convert them to touring bikes, replacing the big adventure motos that we've been traveling the world on.

This about-face in sizing is probably due to our time in Africa, tackling tough gravel and rocky roads with what amounted to street bikes made up to look like dirt-bikes. We found the suspension on our faux-ADV bikes lacking, and the weight was daunting when the gravel turned to mud and sand.


Scaling the Sani Pass in Lesotho with our heavy street bikes

Today Husqvarna is well known for their forest and gardening tools. Their motorcycle division was sold off in the late 90s, and has passed through several hands. It was KTM that bought Husqvarna Motorcycles (from BMW) back in 2013, and the FE 501 is essentially a rebadged 500 EXC-F with a few minor differences and a couple of major ones.


I didn't know this was a thing, but apparently some Husky owners don't like being on Team Orange... *shrug*

Both bikes are powered by the same KTM 510cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine, WP Explor 48mm forks. Both weigh around 260 lbs wet. A bunch of other stuff, but these were the most important details for us...


2019 Husqvarna FE 501 - first mod: GPS!

The biggest difference between the two are the rear suspension. The Husky uses a traditional linkage-style, while KTM is using PDS (Progressive Damping System) with no linkage, the only manufacturer to do so. There are tons of articles on what PDS is and many opinions on which is best, but most say that you'll only ever feel the difference between the two in high speed/hard hit applications (linkage is better to smooth them out). This is something that neither of us will probably ever experience.

KTM didn't think so either, because their motocross race bikes still use linkage rears. Only their trail and off-road bikes are available with PDS.


KTM PDS (l), Husqvarna linkage-style rear suspension (r)

Back to back riding on both bikes felt the same to our novice butts. We're just not good enough to push these bikes hard enough to ascertain or appreciate the finer points of rear suspension. Practical differences are that the linkage sticks out from the bottom, so it decreases ground clearance by an inch or two. PDS is lighter by a couple of lbs.

The Husqvarna also has a different subframe, made of "composite carbon fibre", which is 30% carbon fibre and 70% polyamide (plastic). So basically, it's marketing speak for "Too expensive to do the whole thing in carbon fibre"... It weighs 2 lbs lighter and is more rigid. Said to improve handling and comfort. Our butts couldn't tell the difference on that, either.

Cool "composite subframe" sticker on the tail section though. Bragging rights.


2020 KTM Six Days 500 EXC-F

I got the Six Days version of the 500 EXC-F. Six Days is an annual enduro competition held in a different country every year. KTM puts out a commemorative version of their EXC bikes adorned with the colours of the flag of the country hosting last year's Six Days competition. 2019's race was in Portugal, hence the Portuguese flags and colours on this bike.

Just in case you forget what model it is, Six Days is emblazoned on every body panel and part. Including the exhaust and wheels! :)

Other Six Days differences from the base 500 EXC-F are the cool decal set, blingy orange anodized parts like triple clamps (my favorite part of the bike), quick-release front wheel, orange chain guide. No performance benefits.

But it's oh-so-pretty (pretty, witty and bright orange).


Bath time, so the bikes stay pretty

Current mods on both bikes include a Seat Concepts saddle, GPS mounts and hand guards.

Future mods on order include Double-Take Enduro Mirrors to replace those ugly square mirrors on the long bug-antenna stalks. Those are RAM-ball mounted and can easily fold in when you hit the trails, and don't break off if you take a tumble (which is good feature for us!).

When the original rubber is done, we want to change out the stock Continental TKC80s for Dunlop D606s. Not as long-lasting, but a bit softer for the dirt and should provide more grip.

Also P3 pipeguards, but those are back-ordered till forever...
 
Okay, enough speeds and feeds, let's ride these damn things!


Fortunately BC is hands-down the best place in Canada to ride a dirtbike!

The western mountain ranges of the continent are our playground. Social distancing is easy when you're out in the woods and you haven't seen another person on the trails the entire day! Thanks to COVID-19, Every Day Is Like Sunday!


This is what it looks like just a few kms away from our house

BC boasts a network of 60,000 kms of hard-packed gravel Forest Service Roads (FSRs), which branch out to smaller dirt roads, provincial parks and recreation areas dedicated to OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) usage. It is a moto-head's heaven out here!


"Trudging back over pebbles and sand, and a strange dust lands on your hands, and on your face. Everyday Is Like Sunday"

The biggest advantage to having these plated dirt-bikes is that we don't need to trailer our motos to the good roads, we can ride straight to them. Rip it up in the gnarly stuff, and then ride straight home. And if we wanted to hop between rec areas, we can do so without having a trailer or truck bed involved.

We used to have both track bikes and green-plated (non-legal) dirt bikes in Ontario, and the loading and unloading part was the biggest pain in the butt.


What kind of bike am I riding? [looks down] Oh yeah...

Some people have complained that the 500cc 4-strokes are a handful in single-track over something like a 300cc 2T. Maybe we haven't hit the gnarlier trails, but we haven't found that to be a issue yet.

In fact, the availability of endless low-end torque means you can be quite lazy with the shifter. Hill climbs don't need a running start and can be done in any gear you choose. Well, maybe not sixth.

Or fifth... Or even fourth. But you get the idea... :)


But this is the real reason we opted for the 500cc dirt bikes

Neda fell in love with snow biking while we were taking a break here a couple of winters ago. Yet another reason why BC is the best place for dirt bikes! We learned that the heavy tracks on the back of the bike require a beefy engine to overcome the resistance in heavy snow. Nothing below a 450cc 4-stroke will do.


The plan is to convert the motos to snow bikes in the winter and then return them to dirt bikes back in the summer. That way we can ride all year round!

Back to how good these bikes are. I think the best part of the bikes are the suspension. Especially coming from the entry-level BMW F650GSes. I had gotten used to expecting high drama whenever those bikes approached road imperfections. Excessive bouncing on rough terrain meant that the Beemer's wheels spent more time in the air than on the ground. Annoying.

With the dirt bikes, road and trail imperfections are soaked up by the long suspension travel and excellent damping. I admit, I'm still used to the BMWs off-road inadequacies. Every time I'd choose a wrong line and hit a rut or rock, my brain screamed, "Prepare For Drama!!!!"

And then nothing. Wheels stay planted, the bike tracks straight. The suspension eats ruts and rocks for breakfast.

This is exactly what we ordered. Love it!


Sometimes the trails throw up the odd obstacle or two, especially at the beginning of the season

I told you we needed a chainsaw!
 
So, are there any downsides to these motos?

Yes. When you try to tour on a dirt bike, those short service intervals creep up on you fast!

The manual indicates 15-hour oil changes, but we've been monitoring the oil colour and consistency, and the bikes seem to prefer even shorter intervals than that. Right now, we're doing oil changes every 11-12 hours, coinciding with our 5-6 hour rides. Three rides takes us over 18 hours, which is way too long. The oil is midnight black at that point.



Part of the problem is that KTM is on a mission to reduce weight, even doing away with things like the kick-starter. One of the biggest changes that the 500 EXC-F went through was in 2017, when the oil capacity went from 1.5L to 1.2L.

However, the oil change interval remained unchanged at 15 hours. It's common opinion that having that little oil in such a large engine must mean it will need to be changed more often.



When you're used to 10,000 km oil changes (on our BMWs), draining and refilling oil every week is tedious! Thankfully, it's only a little over a litre at a time...

But the biggest drawback is comfort. We are used to the cushy seats of our ADV tourers. In stock form, the dirt bikes come with what feels like a vinyl-covered plank of wood contoured to perpetrate maximum torture to whatever butt comes in contact with it.

We find it difficult to do distance on these seats. Plus the vibrations from the single 500cc cylinder thumper made our feet and hands go numb in an unpleasant and dangerous way.



We both replaced the stockers with Seat Concepts saddles, which flattens and widens the sitting area. This helps with comfort somewhat. But there's only so much you can do on a dirt bike. I don't see any 1000 km days in the future on these bikes. Not without a daily oil change, that is! :(

Thankfully, the tank range is about 180-200kms, which forces us to stop and fill-up quite often. It's not unusual to have to fill up 2-3 times a ride, with our butts dictating the fuel stops, not the tank size...



This realization put us on an entirely different path with respect to mods. Initially, we were going to go the full touring route, replacing the 8.5L fuel tanks with aftermarket Acerbis or IMS 15L tanks, which would have given us the same range as our old BMWs. We also were researching soft luggage for multi-day trips, capable of carrying tents and sleeping bags. We were set on purchasing the Mosko Moto Reckless 40L luggage system.

The inability to do distance on these bikes actually made us appreciate why we got these motos in the first place. Why were we going to indiscriminately add weight to the front and rear, ruining the balance, and transforming such excellent dirt bikes into overloaded and poor-handling pigs again?


Glad I'm not carrying 200 extra lbs I don't need

For the time being, we are carrying all our supplies in our backpacks. Tools, water and food. Enough stuff just to last us for the day, till we return home. But what about overnight trips, or even longer?


So we've had to stweak our touring plan a little...


Problem solved!

So although it seems as if we are nullifying that no-trailer advantage, we still have that choice to trailer or not. We do ride to and from all the trails that are within an hour of where we live, but if we want to ride a different part of the province, country or continent, this gives us more options.

We may still add fuel and luggage options to our dirt bikes in the future. But for the time being, while the COVID apocalypse has quarantined us to Canada and BC, this works out quite well for us. We can pound out the pavement miles in an air-conditioned cabin with a large cooler in the back. Carry a larger tent, with chairs, stove, pots, cutlery. Off-load when we hit the good trails, and still be able to ride legally between rec areas in other parts of the province.

And best of all, no oil changes every other ride!

We just need one last item to complete our Apocalypse Kit. I think I've found exactly the thing:


Hail to the king, baby!

You can follow our travels at http://www.RideDOT.com

If it's slightly behind, it's because we're busy changing our oil...
 

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