Posts Tagged With: The New World Ride

My 2012: Year In Review

I’ve looked back over 2012 to see what went right, what could have gone better, and what I might like to do in the year to come. It’s been fun to reflect on the past twelve months. Here’s a brief summary of the path my life has taken:

January

The new year started with lots of preparation and excitement as I set forth to film a motorcycle documentary down in South America. I also built and launched Darien Gap Info A peer review website dedicated to crossing the Darien Gap.

Late in the month, I travelled down to Colombia to meet again with my partner Mike Thomsen of Motolombia. Together with 8 riders, we rode through the heart of Colombia. Filmmaker Andreas Munksgaard and I documented the entire journey. Capturing each days events was hard work but also a great learning experience.

The New World Ride Still Shot

Filming in Colombia for The New World Ride

February

Upon returning to the cold New Hampshire winter, it was time to make sense of the nearly 100 hours of film. I began the pain staking process of cataloging all the footage. This was slow and arduous but laid the necessary foundation for developing the documentary. To keep sane, I played volleyball one night a week with friends.

March

More computer work… During the week I spent 8am – 5pm at my day job (mostly on the computer) and then came home, cooked dinner and spent 6pm – 10pm working on the film (also in front of the computer). I enjoy editing but it was tough to spend all night on the computer after spending my of my day there as well. However, I pushed on, and each day I saw progress.

At the end of the month I took a break from the film and headed to India on another business trip for my day job. I worked with my team of programmers and business analysts to develop custom web and mobile applications to better serve our customers. The work was fun and of course I enjoyed experiencing India. Best of all was renting a Royal Enfield Bullet 350 on the weekend and getting lost in Southern India!

GoPro Motorcycle Photo in India

Riding the crazy streets of Southern India

On the way home, I spent a few days in London where I met up with Andreas. We went over some of the story I had been putting together and he also showed me all around the city. The famous Ace Cafe was high on the list amongst all the numerous historical landmarks. It may be hard to believe, but the English weather was beautiful, sunny and warm!

Ace Cafe in London

Ace Cafe in London, England

April

Back in States once again it was time to finish building the story for the The New World Ride (the name of the soon to be released Colombian Motorcycle documentary). More countless hours spent staring at the computer screen. I also turned 29 years old…

Final Cut Pro Sequence from The New World Ride

Final Cut Pro Sequence from The New World Ride

May

As spring rolled into New Hampshire, I continued building the documentary day by day. By the middle of the month, I was ready for another quick getaway. Setting my compass southwest I headed to the Overland Expo in Flagstaff, Arizona. This was my second expo and I was amazed at how much it had grown. If you want to travel the world on 2 wheels or 4, this is the place for you. With hundreds of vendors and thousands of travelers, there is no shortage of gear and stories. Motorcycle Mexico, my how-to guide for motorcycling south of the border, was on sale and I spoke at several roundtable discussions including “Borders, Bribes and Checkpoints.” It was great to catch up with old friends and make new ones.

Ben Slavin and Carla King at Overland Expo in a Ural Side Car

Riding Monkey for Carla King

June

June was a big month… I gave my 23rd and 24th presentations about my 6 month, 23,000 mile motorcycle ride from New Hampshire to the southernmost city in the world, Ushuia, Argentina. Moreover, I was recruited for and accepted an exciting new job opportunity on the west coast. It was a tough decision to leave my day job that I really enjoyed and to put so much distance between my family. But ultimately it would be a great experience in an exciting and growing industry with many new places to explore during weekend adventures. So, in three weeks, I gave my notice, Amber and I packed up everything we owned and with excitement and exhaustion we jumped on a plane headed for Europe.

Thanks to our friends Bob and Sue at Micatech, we rode all around Western Europe on their 1995 BMW K75 motorcycle. In three short weeks we cruised through France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg. Ya… I’m still working on that blog post :). It was an incredible trip. We camped each night and lived off of fresh bread, cheeses and sausages.

Crossing the Alps from France to Italy

Crossing the Alps from France to Italy

July

And finally after more than 10 years of dreaming, I finally saw the Tour de France! We followed the first few stages of the tour in Belgium and France – wow, what an experience!

Tour de France - Peleton Climb

Tour de France – Peleton Climb

From Europe we scooted back to South America for Amber’s sister’s wedding in Quito, Ecuador. The ceremony was in a tranquil mountain setting just outside the busy city. After the wedding we rented a Suzuki V-Strom from Freedom Bike Rental. Mountain twisties and serene beaches were on the agenda for the quick 5-day ride at the equator. (Yup, still working on that blog post too!)

Lunch on the beach in Ecuador

Lunch on the beach in Ecuador

With Ecuador behind us we were off to California to find a place to live in Silicon Valley. Fortunately, it didn’t take long to find a cute little duplex right in Cupertino (a 7 minute walk from the Apple campus) with a palm tree and lemon tree in the front yard!

Our House in Cupertino

Our House in Cupertino

August

I began work at AAC Technologies were we develop custom micro-speaker, microphone and vibrator solutions that integrate inside today’s smartphones, tablets and mp3 players. By the middle of the month our friend John arrived with all of our belongings. We are so thankful that he drove a 26′ moving truck 3,000 miles across the country just to help us out! For the past 2 weeks we had been “camping” in our new home waiting for all of our furniture to arrive.

House Camping

House Camping

Our motorcycles came in the same truck and we were excited to hit the ground and explore California. At the end of the month we rode through the Sierra Nevada mountains to the Lake Tahoe Adventure Motorcycle Rendezvous. Amber went on road rides with a bunch of new friends and I set out for desert dirt riding with people much more capable than me. After pushing my limits and almost dumping the bike several times we headed over Ebbets Pass on our way back to the bay area. We also hosted our first motorcycle travelers in our new place – a young couple from France.

Amber Motorcycling in Ebbets Pass in California

Amber Motorcycling over Ebbets Pass in California

September

Finally settled into our new life on the west coast, we continued exploring with weekend surfing trips in Santa Cruz, city excursions around San Francisco, road tripping to Fresno to see the Colorado football game and hiking in the Redwood Forests. I also have a bunch of friends from college in the area and it’s been great to reconnect with them too. Additionally, my sister came to live us with. She’s a certified elementary education teacher but there are no jobs to be had in New Hampshire. The hopes of gainful employment lead her to California instead.

September also brought my first trip to China since 2009. I got a custom fit suit in Shanghai before going west and then finally south to Shenzhen. In Changzhou, I climbed to the top of the world’s tallest pagoda. I was amazed at how much Chinese I remembered (still only a few phrases) and was able to pick up a little more along the way. The locals always get a kick out of it when I say something in their language.

Worlds Tallest Pagoda

Worlds Tallest Pagoda

Unfortunately however, a night out at every kids dream (a warehouse filled with trampolines), was the straw the broke the camels back and I was in debilitating back and neck pain.

October

I began physical therapy but still encountered relapses of my injured back. Not fun! I had to give up cycling, running, hiking and any other form of physical fitness. Even simple tasks like putting on my socks or sitting up in bed in the mornings were painful and demotivating.

I slowly progressed as the month went on and with the support of a kidney belt, Amber and I rode 200 miles south along the coastline on Highway 1 to attend the Horizons Unlimited motorcycle travelers meetup in Cambria. New friends like Cliff Danger reminded us of a simpler life with stories of riding Lucy, a small Minsk motorcycle, throughout Cambodia and Vietnam.

Big Sur coastline along California's Highway 1

Big Sur coastline along California’s Highway 1

Putting on my marketing hat, I revamped the Motorcycle Mexico landing page and saw a huge boost in sales conversations. It’s a gold mine of information for aspiring travelers and I get joy out of helping them ride their dreams. We also hosted more motorcycle travelers, this time a couple from Guatemala on their way back from Alaska.

Motorcycle Mexico Landing Page

Motorcycle Mexico Landing Page

And with 48 hours notice, I headed back to China for a quick business trip. At least I got to sleep in a round bed…

Round Bed in Shanghai, China

Round Bed in Shanghai, China

November

Remember that motorcycle documentary? In the summer I handed my work off to Andreas who put on the final touches. Over the following months we released mini-episodes from each day of the trip. The penultimate release was a feature length film – The New World Ride. It was a wild journey and it wouldn’t have been possible without everyone involved – To all of you… ¡MUCHAS GRACIAS!

Two hours a day of back stretching and strengthening exercises finally started to pay off and I slowly began seeing improvements. Amber and I had hoped to ride to Baja, Mexico during the Thanksgiving break but her work schedule and my health had us put it on hold. Nevertheless, we found some fun in hiking and camping in Marin County just north of San Francisco. Aside from an evening spent convinced that we were being stalked by a mountain lion, we had a great time.

Point Bonita Marin County Hiking

Point Bonita Marin County Hiking

December

My work schedule isn’t the typical 8-5. Some days are slow and others are action packed with customer meetings during the day. I’m up most nights until midnight working with my team in China. With the end of the year in sight, we headed east for a much needed vacation, exchanging our computers for the families we hadn’t seen in 6 months. It was the perfect Christmas gift.

What went well in 2012?

The past 12 months have been action packed.

  • I traveled to 12 countries (8 of them for the first time) and spoke 7 languages (granted some of them were only a few words).
  • I gave 6 speeches about my motorcycle travels around the world.
  • I did all sorts of new things like paragliding over Medellin, Colombia, motorcycling around Lake Tahoe, eating congealed pigs blood at a Chinese restaurant and shooting trap with a shotgun in California.
  • I built and released a feature length motorcycle travel documentary.

What did not go well in 2012?

Though 2012 was a good year, not everything was perfect.

For one, my Russian language learning got de-railed. A new job with a shorter commute meant no time for audio CD’s. I got through 45 lessons (the same amount of Spanish before I left on my first big trip) but it quickly faded with lack of use. I still hope to explore the now disolved Soviet Union and it will be great to use the Russian language to connect with people from many countries. I need more practice.

Also, I didn’t do a great job maintaining friendships. I spent a lot of time in front of the computer with interesting but isolating projects, and I didn’t see my family for the entire second half of the year. As I grow older, I realize how important friends and family are. I’m disappointed that I lost my way in strengthening those relationships.

Finally, I’m not happy with how things finished with my physical fitness. I reached a peak level of fitness in early May when I was playing basketball every day at lunch and running on the weekends. But then a combination of injuries, travel, and a new job with many business lunches made me a little soft. I’m carrying an extra five or ten pounds now, and my fitness levels are lower than I want them to be.

Looking Ahead

Though I didn’t set goals for 2012, I do have a few plans for the year to come. Soon, I’ll share some of my goals for the future. I have a lot in mind including travel, technology projects, friends & family, happiness, 2 wheels (without a motor), business, health and more.

What about you? How was your 2012? Are you happier now than you were the same time last year? Have you made progress on your personal goals? What went well for you this year? What could have gone better?

Categories: United States | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

[VIDEO] The New World Ride – Episode 1 & 2

Wow, I’m not doing very well with updating the blog these days! Fear not, for life has still been an incredible adventure and I have lots to share to get caught up to date. For starters, I was back in India on another business trip and had an opportunity to rent a Royal Enfield Bullet 350 for a weekend of touring southern India (photos still to come).

Also, this past January I partnered with Motolombia and took 8 riders down to Colombia for an 8 day motorcycle tour through the heart of the country. Along with me was filmmaker Andreas Munksgaard and together he and I filmed the entire journey. It was one hell of a ride complete with smooth and twisty mountain roads, bumpy and dusty trails, cows covering the road, military checkpoints, coffee plantations, private mansions, exotic fruits, colonial villages, crazy chicken buses and best of all… delicious deep fried arepas!

We set out have an incredible ride through a very controversial country. With this film we hope to show the world how wonderful of a place  Colombia really is. The past decade has brought many changes and the people of Colombia are once again proud of their beautiful country. It’s important to remind ourselves not to get caught up in the fear that is portrayed in mass media…

After the ride it was time to fly back to the US (to get back to my day job) and spend countless hours in front of the computer editing the footage into a documentary. The film is cut into 8 episodes (one for each day of the ride). After months of hard work I’m excited to announce that the first 2 episodes are now live!

Episode 1 is available here.

Episode 2 is available here.

Stay up to date with the latest happenings of The New World Ride episodes by following along on our Facebook page. I must give a BIG thanks to everyone that’s been involved in the project!!! To all the riders (Mike, James, Dave, Brandon, Walt, Al, Sacha), Ken Freund (our rider-journalist from RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring and Travel magazine), Mike Thomsen (owner of Motolombia, Colombia’s premier motorcycle tour and rental company), filmmaker Andreas Munksgaard (who is a wizard of final cut pro), GiantLoop motorcycle saddle bags, Kawasaki of Colombia, Mashtech motorcycle accessories, Luis Puerto (support truck driver), and all the friendly people we met along the way.

THANK YOU!

Stay tuned as the final 6 episodes will be released over the next few months. Until then, here are a few photos from the trip. Enjoy.

Most of the video gear laid on on the kitchen table the day before the flight to Colombia.

Jay and Mike in the Colombian Backcountry.

The tallest palm trees in the world (oddly enough, in the high mountains of Colombia).

Riders at the top of the 4000 meter Cerro Guali mountain pass (we started the day at 100 meters).

Jay and Walt (hidden) posing for a photo at a Colombian military checkpoint.

Mike at a fruit stand in the central square of a small Colombian town.

Me and Juan Valdez. Haha…

Jay LOVES arepas!

Back in Medellin after completing the trip. Having a drink at Al’s real imitation Irish pub.

Lastly, as a brief update of all the other goodness that has been going on over the past few months… In June I said goodbye to everyone at my day job in NH. Amber and I packed up all of our belongings, threw them into storage and hopped on a plane headed for Europe (maybe you’ve heard of it). We spent 3 weeks motorcycling all around Western Europe before jumping on another plane destined for South America. We attended her sister’s wedding in Ecuador, grabbed a motorcycle from Freedom Bike Rental and set off exploring the Andes mountains and the beautiful beaches along the equator. After 2 weeks in the southern hemisphere we jumped on another plane set for California. I’ve been recruited for an exciting opportunity in the tech industry and so we’ve moved out to the Bay Area (Cupertino – an hour south of San Francisco). I’m really excited to begin exploring all that sunny California has to offer. In the coming weeks, I’ll put together a recap of this past summer’s adventure. Until then… Ride and Explore!

Categories: Colombia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Join me in Colombia!

Back in August I shared with you the first two pilot episodes for the upcoming New World Ride – a Colombian motorcycle documentary. Mike and I filmed these episodes back in June as we were preparing for the future film tour. If you haven’t checked out the final two episodes already, do so now. There is a lot of adventure in these two – Avalanches, grave tunnels, Colombian kids, riding single track down the edge of a mountain, nearly crashing while passing trucks, Bike Week with a local biker club, delicious fresh fruit, and a tour of a working colombian coffee finca.

Episode 3 of 4:

Episode 4 of 4:

Mike and I are getting really excited for this journey. We received lots of interest and spots have been filling up fast. We have only two more spots available. Contact me if you’d like to ditch the snow this winter and ride through paradise! Our tour begins on January 15th and runs for 8 days. Spots on the tour are going for $3,500 which covers nearly everything except plane tickets.

I’ll be posting lots more photos and video clips from our tour in January so stay tuned for more adventure!

Oh ya, I found myself in India on a business trip just last week too and decided that I need a 3-wheel tuk tuk taxi! It would be great to ride around Manchester…

Categories: Colombia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The New World Ride – Colombia Motorcycle Documentary

2 months ago I started a new full time job. The new gig has no shortage of engaging challenges and I’m really excited to make a solid dent my student loans debt. After I accepted the offer, the count down to “normal life” began and so with 3 days notice, I hopped on a plane and flew to South America. I visited with my friend Mike from Motolombia. I met Mike in early 2010 when I was passing through Colombia. He also owns the superb Casa Blanca Hostel in Cali where he’s housed more than 1,000 motorcyclists over the past three years! Originally from Denmark, Mike’s been traveling the world on two wheels and four since he was a child. Several years ago he settled in Colombia, married, and started a family and business.

Mike and I kept in touch since I passed through and he was really excited about the Motorcycle Mexico film I put together to get riders educated and inspired to ride in Latin America. Now, we have teamed up to create The New World Ride – A Colombian Motorcycle Travel Documentary. In January 2012 I’ll be headed to back to Colombia to film the ride.

We’re looking to give 6 lucky riders the adventure of a lifetime. To learn more and to join us on tour, check out www.TheNewWorldRide.com. In addition to riding on tour, we also have non-riding spots available in Mike’s SUV as well as opportunities to pre-order the DVD and T-shirts.

A few months ago, Mike and I toured Colombia to research routes. In doing so, we filmed 4 pilot episodes to show you just a little of what to expect in Colombia. Two episodes are now live and the remaining two will be posted in a few weeks.

Episode 1 link: http://youtu.be/XL_eN21pTDA

Episode 2 link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_uMHs7B6rk

Here are a few photos from the recent Colombia ride when we filmed the pilot episodes:

Tour Guide, Mike, ripping it up at a local’s motocross track in southern, Colombia.

The local kids put us to shame when they jumped their Chinese 125s!

A spectacular afternoon of riding at the local “backyard style” motocross track.

Popayan – The White City

Wire bridge with wooden planks…

Drunk locals in Silvia, an indigenous village in the mountains, offered us lots of free whiskey at 10 in the morning.

Muddy road far off the beaten path in Colombia.

Friendly construction worker.

Local kids at the top of a natural pyramid in Tierradentro.

Mike crossing a river in Colombia’s coffee region.

Colombia is a beautiful country with a tainted reputation. Did you know, in Colombia the locals said I was crazy for going to Mexico. Yet, in Mexico the locals told me I was crazy for going to Colombia… However, in New Hampshire they tell me I am crazy for going to Massachusetts – I don’t know what to believe anymore… The truth is, Colombia has spectacular on and off road riding, friendly and interesting people, delicious food and amazing scenery.

I’m really excited about this project. If you or someone you know would like to join us on tour, sign up at www.TheNewWorldRide.com. Even if you can’t get away, you can still join the adventure and support the project by pre-ordering the DVD and T-shirts. Go ahead and share the videos with your Facebook friends, Google+ circles, and Twitter followers. Mike and I really appreciate your support!

Hasta la proxima!

Categories: Colombia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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