Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Pre-Trip Report: Nevada Backcountry Discovery Route (NVBDR)

2017 is all about adventure motorcycling and to kick off the year, I will be heading to Nevada (in May) to ride the newly established Backcountry Discovery Route.

The Backcountry Discovery Routes aims to establish off-highway routes for adventure motorcycle travel. i.e think of those big adventure touring bikes following cross country trails.
Thanks to BDR for creating Off-Road Routes for Adventure Travel

The big benefit of the BDR is that the team have scoped out some of the best adventure riding across seven states (todate) and have published maps and GPS tracks (which are downloadable) to enable adventure riders to explore off-highway routes.

A post shared by Backcountry Discovery Routes (@ridebdr) on

I first heard about the North American Backcountry Discovery Routes through the Adventure Rider Radio podcast - it was an interesting interview with Paul Guillien (Founding member of BDR).
Jim Martin introduced the podcast with a few thoughts: "Humans crave adventure. We love the idea ; the feeling we get ; but who has the time and how do we manage adventure with our schedule?"
Introducing Backcountry Discovery Routes.
Take a listen to the podcast via Adventure Rider Radio.

One of the interesting conversation points on the interview was the financial contribution the BDR has bought to the remote towns and communities.
"The best way to protect access to these areas is to create economic stimulus for these small towns and communities."
According to Paul Guillien, this has lead to the small towns actively encouraging routes to traverse their towns.  Fantastic commercial viewpiont which I think many small towns could benefit from.

Nevada Backcountry Discovery Route

There are many benefits working for an American company - one of them usually includes trips to the USA for annual sales and technical conferences. The end destination is usually Las Vegas as the city can support a thousand plus employees in a single conference venue. It was my turn to travel from Sydney to Las Vegas for the annual conference so I added a few extra travel days, recruited a few colleagues and hired the adventure bikes.

The plan:  to ride parts of the Nevada Backcountry Discovery Route.

A post shared by Backcountry Discovery Routes (@ridebdr) on

"The NVBDR is a scenic ride across Nevada, beginning in Oatman, AZ, and finishing in Jarbidge, NV. Created for dual-sport and adventure motorcyclists, this 900-mile south-to-north route primarily uses dirt roads to lead riders through Nevada’s expansive deserts, open sagebrush valleys, and seemingly endless mountain ranges.
In rural Nevada, you’ll experience historic saloons and relics from it’s rich mining history. The state’s maverick spirit remains, and you’ll see ghost towns, artifacts, desert sculptures, murals, the world’s largest car forest, jackrabbits, antelope and even wild mustangs." Source:

Pre-trip prep:

Balancing family life, a career, hobbies and sport often means that my overland adventure travels needs to be planned and thought through so as to maximise the time.
Thankfully, I love planning and don't quite enjoy the unpredictable nature of spontaneous travel. I love the research involved - everything from pouring over maps, reviewing budgets, recruiting willing participants and sharing the adventure to willing ears.

Logistics and Route:

Bike Rental: We opted to rent motorcycles from Great Southern Moto Adventures. The company is based in Las Vegas and were part of the volunteer team to establish the Nevada BDR. They offered two types of bikes: The Kawasaki KLR and the new Honda Africa Twin. All the bikes are equipped with soft panniers, and tank bags with optional accessories available like GPS and helmets. Curtis, one of the owners,  was very patient with our many emails and provided insight into alternative routes back to Las Vegas.

Equipment: This has proved a tough decision as many of us are new to adventure motorcycle touring and don't have the clothing or additional equipment like GPS units. We have opted to borrow and purchase 2nd hand equipment. Everything from boots, protective gear and jackets. We have mostly hired helmets.

GPS:  I have opted to test the motorcycle app (iPhone & Android) to plan, track and navigate the route.  One of the benefits is the ability to plan a route on the website and then use your mobile phone or tablet to start and track the route.   More on the app usage later.

The route: Here's a snapshot of the route:

Day 1: Las Vegas to Primm via Searchlight and Nipton.

Day 2: NVBDR: Primm (via Pahrump) to Beatty

Day3: Beatty to Tonopah following the NVBDR. This is a combination of Section 2 and Section 3.

Day4: NVBDR Section 4 to Route 82. Then back to Tonopah.
Tonopah back to Las Vegas via Extraterrestrial highway (and past Area51).

The full #NVBDR route on Google Maps as published by RideBDR.  The downloadable GPX file contains plenty of information and detailed route tracks.

That's it for now.  I will endeavour to provide a daily log... links below:

Additional Reading:

Day 1:
Day 2:
Day 3:
Day 4:

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Consume - Connect - Contribute

I was recently attending a technology meetup in Sydney and one of the keynote speakers mentioned the steps to becoming involved in a local meetup:  Consume, Connect and Contribute.

It struck me that this happens in the overland travel world - and its all about the passion for trans-continental travel.

Here are my thoughts...


Forums, Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and good old travel books!  There is more information available online today than anything published prior to 2010!   Read and digest the information!
The key item about consuming all the information is to make notes - jot down interesting forum comments, blog post snippets and anything relevant.  Keep a record either online or in a simple notebook.  This information comes in use as your knowledge builds up and the excitement for your pending trip looms.  It becomes a foundation for future contributions!


Nothing builds excitement for a trip like meeting like-minded people.  Overlanders love sharing stories - mainly because our co-workers care little for our after-hours day dreams and year-long adventures.
Reach out online, make new friends and connect to others.
There are plenty of group events held annually which bring people together - slightly tougher being bold enough to introduce yourself so ping introductory emails prior to the event.

We managed to get Gareth & Kirsty from Aussie Overlanders to present at the local Sydney Overland Meetup:
"You Create Your World" - Gareth & Kirsty


Now its your turn.  Regurgitate all the info and start sharing.  Write a blog, post to social media.  Share and contribute your experience.  Not only is it very relevant today but it creates an overland history. In decades to come, the next generation will have information to read and ponder on.

That's it - Consume, Connect and Contribute.

Friday, March 3, 2017

BigSky Adventures 2005

Twelve years ago i.e. 2005, the TransAfrica trip from London to Cape Town started. BigSky Adventures started in London and had a clear plan to complete a crossing of the African continent - with many diversions along the way to explore and experience the African continent.

BigSky Adventures will relive that year via Instagram with the aim of posting one (or more) photos daily.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Simpson Desert Bike Challenge

Combining overland adventure travel with remote endurance sports makes for a very exciting trip...

In 2016, I will be riding across the Australian Simpson Desert as part of a charity ride for the Australian Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Read more about the adventure: SDBC2016

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Pioneers, Settlers and Town Planners

Pioneers, Settlers and Town Planners - my light hearted approach to the various roles overlanders have.
Overlanders: Pioneers, Settlers and Town Planners

In the world of independent overland travel we have those that are pioneers, settlers and town planners.

Initially I used the concept of Values Model, which is a tool to group population by values.
This concept then evolved and I have based it on the original concept of Pioneers, Settlers and Town Planners from Simon Wardley (including modifying his diagram. All credit goes to Simon). This version translates the wonderful world of independent overland travel into three categories, namely Pioneers, Settlers and Town Planners.
Pioneers push the boundaries…
Pioneers are able to explore never before discovered trans-continental borders and boundaries for overland travel.  They open new routes, travel fast, share frequently via social media and create buzz and influence dreams.  Often they fade fast once the destination is reached and often don't leave much history for those who follow. Generally always find an overland way regardless of the countries before them.

Settlers commodise those boundaries…
Settlers can turn the half baked thing (that grape vine pioneer border crossing or route) and turn it into something useful for a larger audience.  They build trust from the content they create.  They make the possible future actually happen.  They broaden the routes, travel slower and often longer.  Often share infrequently but indepth, often via books. History is vital. They get to know other settlers often crisscrossing paths multiple times.  Once the primary journey is done, they settle into a life as overlanders often re-living memories and planning future trips.  They contribute to the community.

Town Planners create foundations...
Town Planners build, often in the vehicle & accessory industry. They build a strong brand, leave a legacy and contribute passionately and often build empires focused on them. They find ways to make things faster, better, smaller and good enough. They build the platform that settlers require.
They contribute vocally across diverse media (print and online), organise communities & gatherings and optimise the arm chair traveler.

The overland industry needs brilliant people in each of those roles all contributing to the joys of independent overland travel.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Instagram update: Digidrift (live from the Congo)

Social media has changed the way overlanders communicate and share information... gone are the days of the 'Travel grape vine' - hello realtime updates!

Jason and Liza are currently travelling through the Congo with 'Smokey the Bear', their Land Cruiser Troopy.    Here are a few Instagram updates worth reading and seeing...

Friday, June 19, 2015

The excitement of planning a trip…

How often do we hear the statement that it’s the journey not the destination that counts. Prior to any journey commencing is the planning – this is were the fun begins!
A journey between two locations can be extremely dull and mundane unless planned in advance. The planning – creating a trip budget, researching routes and cross referencing overlanders opinions – extends the journey by adding days, weeks or months of pre-trip planning. The excitement, the anxiety and dealing with the negative soothsayers heightens the senses, evolving the planning into the journey itself.

My excitement for an upcoming trip is brewing. In late September 2015, I will be heading back to the Australian outback to cross the Simpson Desert (West to East) in support of the Simpson Desert Mountain Bike Challenge event. The cycle event, now in its 27th year, is a multi-day stage race for endurance mountain bikers. The route varies each year, with each day divided into two stages. A morning stage, which starts at 6am and an afternoon stage starting at 2pm. The distance covered is roughly 100km per day. A sweeper vehicle ensures that riders make the time cutoff and contributes to the pressure of finishing the stage in the allocated time.
Simpson Desert Bike Challenge - 2015 Route

Friday, June 12, 2015

The evolving rooftop tent... make way for the camper!

Have your thoughts about your overland travel sleeping habits evolved yet?
Camper vs Rooftop Tent?
Ask many seasoned overlanders and a few will start to admit that the idea of a rooftop tent is fading and that the comforts of a permanent bed plus cooking area is very attractive.  The proof point are overlanders on a second extended trans-continental trip... like  Lost World Expedition. Luis & Lacey moved from a Land Cruiser 60 Series to a Mercedes Sprinter van.

I admit, I fall into the latter group.  The rooftop tent was great when it was just the wife and I. Living outside the vehicle, and sleeping on the roof,  in a warm climate made sense.  Years later, my family has grown and my enthusiasm for setting up a dusty rooftop tent and climbing ten ladder rungs has faded.  I want a setup that is quick, self contained and has that extra level of comfort for the family (so as to keep encouraging them to venture to new unknown places).

What I do long for is the ability to use a cabin type arrangement, like a demountable (truck camper), for my family trips and the freedom to use the base vehicle for those remote trips where sometimes the family won't be as interested (i.e. short weekends with lots of driving exploring new routes).

A modified Land Cruiser Troopy makes a lot of sense.  It can comfortably sleep 3 people, and could be used as a daily vehicle.  Aussie Overlanders had a neatly setup interior - perfect for a couple.
Photo Credit: Aussie Overlanders

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Trip Report: A Rant & A Rave...

It was the perfect start to the week. The Hema map was folded open, Memory-Map (an Android GPS app) was loaded with the NSW topographical 25K map and a website loaded highlighting GPS tracks in the area zoned for the upcoming weekend 4x4 trip.

It's winter in the Southern Hemisphere so the enthusiasm by the extended group to head into remote areas camping was rather limited which resulted in only two vehicles (a Jeep Rubicon & a Land Cruiser Prado) departing Friday evening for a remote camping spot in the Jenolan State Forest.

This was to be our third trip to Jenolan having first found the camping spot back in 2012 and again in 2013.

A message to all those who love bushcamping... remember those who follow!