Motorcycle Affliction?  Nay, I'd say passion for adventure. Diagnosis - Wanderlust!   How it all began for Kevin Beretta, ABC # 4109, Vancouver B.C., Canada.

When I originally moved to Vancouver, BC, in 1993, I had never given any thought to motorcycling. My main interests were hiking, climbing and lots of sailing. Prior to moving here, I lived in Belgium, hijacked from Montreal by my parents when I was very young. I spent a large part of my life in Belgium, growing up and studying, but never lost the desire to move back to Canada when I was able to do so.

Skip forward about 6 years and the date is May, 1999. Somewhere along the line, I bumped into the idea of getting a motorcycle. Sailing had lost its appeal after the sailing club I was in started to fall apart. Some years prior, I read "Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". The parts that I really liked were the riding descriptions. I'm somewhat partial to European engineering (my car is an old Mercedes) and had heard enough jokes about "Lucas, Prince of Darkness" to eliminate any English motorcycles from the gene pool. The choice of a BMW airhead seemed glaringly clear. Since the BMW airheads have a reputation for robustness, I began to search for a suitable machine. Early in June of 1999, I found a small ad in a local paper for a 1983 R80RT and made a call. A blustery German voice replied and grudgingly coughed up some info on the machine. The price was a bit too much for my liking, but I decided that I would take a look anyway. This was the third BMW I would look at. Arriving in my old Mercedes put a smile on the German's face, and when I saw the BMW as I rolled into the driveway, my thoughts were: "That's it, I'm buying it ...". I was in the middle of completing a motorcycle certification course and knew just enough to get the bike home safely.

Shortly after, I discovered the Airheads Beemer Club, I think by picking up an old copy of Airmail at Shail's, a local airhead BMW shop. Quickly I discovered the benefits of the Airheads e-mail list, and when I needed to set my valves the first time, a willing hand leapt out in the form of Steve CreaghTogether we tackled the daunting task of setting valves. Prior to that day, I owned one screwdriver. Now half my apartment storage space is taken up by tools and assorted motorcycle stuff.

The lure of the open road turned into a full-fledged addiction and those first few months I put on a huge number of miles. Friends would question why I would ride 300 miles to have breakfast with other Airheads sometimes. "Because it's fun", was my answer.

The first two years of riding proved an experience in many ways. The highlights were the rallies. A "Five Corners" rally was the first one I attended, with a loop around Washington state. The next big rally was Death Valley VIII, an experience I want to repeat as often as possible. Then I discovered the Iron Butt Association and completed a Saddle Sore in 2000 and a Bun Burner Gold in 2001. To date, my airhead is 53,000 miles richer in experience since I bought it. In between all that, I attended two or three tech days at Dave Cavanaugh's, which greatly added to the joy of owning my airhead.

The low point in my airhead career was blowing up the engine when I was cruising around Washington state, on the way to a rally. The right cylinder head sucked in an exhaust valve at 70 Mph and did vast amounts of damage to the engine. It was due to a faulty head repair, a problem which lingered until the heads were rebuilt a 3rd time by a more competent mechanic. I went from the one screwdriver in June of 1999 to pulling the engine apart and reassembling it with lots of new pieces in August of 2000. I would not have attempted or succeeded in this without the incredible help from the Airlist. To all who helped, thank you.

Another of my addictions is travel. I travel mostly with one of my best friends, Jan, and together we've tackled a number of places. The first one was Kenya in 1991 and the last big trip was Laos in 2000. While we were in Laos, I started talking to him about my plans for a motorcycle trip around the world. He wasn't adverse to world travel, having taken a year off once to do just that. However, motorcycling was an entirely different concept for him. While on holiday, I finished reading "One Man Caravan" and casually tossed the book in his direction. This started a slow sub-conscious brainwashing cycle, which simmered under the surface throughout our trip in Laos. As time went on, we talked about it more and more. Jan would need to start at the basics, as he did not have a motorcycle license. One dark night, we were walking around Savannakhét and returned to our lodge for a drink prior to dinner. We had just completed an hour or so of talk about this topic and we were sitting on the interior open-air balcony of our lodge. Suddenly, we heard steps lumbering up the old wooden stairs. "Howdy mates", greeted the stranger in motorcycle gear. We peered over the balcony and saw two motorcycles neatly parked below. Chris and Cuan found some very eager listeners in us. By the end of the trip, we had made up our minds.

Since then, Jan has successfully completed a motorcycle course and I tracked down a motorcycle for him in Belgium, which he bought in December 2001. The choice, after much debate and weighing the good and the bad, was to go with two R80G/S's. Jan initially was opposed to going on an old machine, but after looking around at the alternatives, he slowly came around to the idea. Better to have a bike that you completely rebuilt yourself and can fix, than having a new bike fail somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Since I know the R80 now, the better decision was to go with identical bikes and at least one experienced "wrench".

So why do this?  Well, because we love to travel, and doing it this way, we have the ultimate freedom to do as we see fit. We'll make the adequate preparations, of course, but we are notoriously non-planners, leaving the direction of travel up to what we find out talking to the locals or to other travelers. Once we have some info, we make a decision then and there. Whole travel itineraries have been reshuffled in seconds on more than one occasion. As well, with this trip, we will cut all ties, and as such we really have no need to come back to do what we did before. I wouldn't mind helping some small company in Australia experiment with developing gliding cell phone antennas, nor would Jan mind an attempt to emulate the life of Hemmingway, but then instead do it in Santiago versus Paris. Or maybe we'll come back and just continue doing what we did before we left, but with a whole lot more experience behind us.

We can also not go, watch TV, become "armchair travelers" and dream about making this ride, but die fretting over the fact we did not do it when we had the chance. As another good friend of ours said: "There's a 1000 reasons not to do it". That was after he bicycled around the world for 2 years. As well, we are aware that when we complete this ride, we will not have "gained" anything from a social perspective, nor will people fall in awe over what we did, save for a few understanding motorcyclists. Jan more than I has experienced first-hand the fact that people do not relate to what you did, what you saw and why you traveled. If anything, you create, unintentionally, a vacuum between you and the rest of the un-traveled populous. It is a very deceptive phenomenon, and some people return from long trips totally demoralized because they just cannot understand the fact people do not appreciate what they just did. It can take a long time to "get the needle off the left peg" again in terms of experiencing excitement. However, aware of the downsides and how to deal with this, we look forward to experiencing the thrill of different things, talking to lots of people and seeing more of this big blue planet.

We hope to raise sponsorship to help alleviate the financial burden of our plans. We're not sure yet what route to take, but I have a gut feel that BMW would not be terribly inclined to see two 20 year old airheads travel the globe while their shiny new R1150GS Adventure is ignored by us for this quest. But I have been proven wrong. Another alternative would be to get sponsorship from a global cell phone company or a satellite TV operator. Lots of small places we reach will be very receptive to giving us some coverage in their local paper or TV channel, and as such it could be a good deal for either of this type of company. On a previous trip, Jan even got a part in a local movie as a token "white guy". As well, we're wide open for suggestions with regards to sponsorship. My next big quest is to find an R80G/S to rebuild. They're spread thin these days, it seems. Jan got lucky and the bike he got was a very good deal.

As part of this whole adventure, I'll be lugging around a laptop and digital camera to keep the website up to date and to post stories, pictures and events from around the world. I'm not sure taking a laptop on a world trip is the right philosophical thing to do, but after some thought and practical considerations, I've decided to do it anyways.

I can be reached through my website at Here you will also find a lot more info on where we plan to go, what our ideas are in terms of equipment and other relevant things. Any feedback is always welcome.

Kevin Beretta