Edelweiss Discover Our Earth Expedition, Part 5
story and photography by Werner Wachter, founder/owner of Edelweiss Bike Travel
[Discover Our Earth Expedition is the first-ever around-the-world organized motorcycle tour. It began at Edelweiss Bike Travel‘s headquarters in Austria in November 2010, and concluded there in July 2011.]
This is the fifth report on our motorcycle world tour. We have experienced a rainbow of landscapes, routes, riding experiences cultures and social systems in the last 30 days.
Mexico is a big country, and it’s different in the North than in South. The North is more tense, with many policemen and soldiers along the road openly displaying their machine guns. Drug dealers—narcotraficantes—control some areas. The owner of a hotel we stayed in told us about a friend of his being killed recently by drug dealers. And being chief of police is a notoriously dangerous occupation in Northern Mexico!
Of course there are also many positive impressions from this part of our journey, most notably Copper Canyon, a must-visit destination for off-road riders! Copper Canyon is said to be deeper, wider and longer than the Grand Canyon in Arizona. We were impressed by the view from the upper rim as we rode along the southeastern edge of the canyon. I could not fight the temptation to descend into the canyon for 10 miles or so to explore the rough, steep, rocky trails. Next time I’ll go all the way down.
HOLLYWOOD & MALIBU
After entering the United States, we headed straight for Hollywood, home of the American Dream. We had 10 days to enjoy Southern California while our motorcycles went through customs and were prepped for the flight to Sydney, Australia.
What a difference between Central America and California! Lasting impressions include the seemingly endless start/stop/crawl traffic of Los Angeles, requiring commuters to spend hours in their cars each day. Porsches, Jaguars and Ferraris get stuck in traffic like any other car, but motorcyclists can breeze through since lane-splitting is legal in California. In Hollywood we saw monuments to Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Frank Sinatra and even L. Ron Hubbard. And riding up the coast through Santa Monica and Malibu was a postcard experience.
SOUTHERN AND CENTRAL AUSTRALIA
After 10 days in Los Angeles, we were looking forward to visiting Sydney—after our 14-hour flight! People who do not like Sydney are beyond help. The harbor, the Bay Bridge, the Opera House, the many great beaches, the parks and waterways, the on-time ship and boat connections—everything contributes to the vibrant atmosphere of this attractive, efficient metropolis. Every one of our group was enthusiastic about Sydney, as our group picture in front of the Opera House shows. But after five days in the city, we got restless. We wanted to be in the outback!
Leaving city traffic behind, riding down the coast to Bega is a motorcyclist’s dream. The snowy mountain road leading away from the coast could be in the Alps, with one pleasurable turn after another. In Alpine National Park we discovered a place called Tyrolean Village, which must have been founded by Austrian ski instructors. Australia’s highest mountain, Mt. Kosciuszko, reminded us of Vail or St. Anton, and riding on narrow, snakelike roads raised our pulse rate significantly!
Southeast of Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road is one of the greatest motorcycling experiences on the planet. We continued on to Barossa Valley, home to many excellent vineyards growing grapes for Australia’s best merlots, cabernets, sauvignons, shiraz, chardonnays and Rieslings, which we sampled during our rest day. We rode further inland for several days and visited Ayres Rock, known as Uluru among the aborigines. Long, straight roads through the outback can lull you into a meditative state, but concentration is required to avoid cattle and kangaroos.
THE NEXT REPORT
Our journey continues through Australia to Perth, in the extreme southwest. Then we will fly to Bangkok, Thailand, leaving just 15,000 miles to return home in Austria.