About rallyaroundtheworld

In 2002, as a testicular cancer survivor and in celebration of his 10th anniversary of being cancer-free, Brad made a solo bicycle trek from San Diego, CA to St. Augustine, FL covering 3,000 miles in 35 days raising money for the American Cancer Society. Rally Kids welcome your support for the inaugural Rally Around the World for Childhood Cancer Research, which will take place July – September 2012 as a solo, around-the-world motorcycle ride to support the Rally Foundation's mission of empowering volunteers to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer research. Rally Around the World will mark Brad's upcoming 20th anniversary of being cancer free. The struggles these children endure reach far beyond the personal challenges he faced when fighting cancer and will face on an around-the-world motorcycle ride supporting the Rally Foundation.

London, England – Day 44

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Sunday, 9 September, 2012  London, England (0 miles) Total Trip Miles – 13,092. 0 hrs hours riding

Weather Temperature mostly sunny in the lower 70’s…another beautiful day in London

Today was totally about rest & relaxation…I felt for the first time in several weeks that I may just be getting back to a feeling of normalcy regarding being rested…just so drained up to late this afternoon.

Anyhow, I’m ready to once again get out there and start slaying some dragons by hitting the road. My flight tomorrow is at 12:35 on an Air Transat flight to Montreal arriving around 3 pm local time…excited about get back to North America to say the least.

Still need to pack up my gear tonight…did do some laundry in the room since using the hotel service was going to be quite expensive…one T shirt was like 4 pounds.

Just hoping that I can clear the bike through Canadian customs rather quickly since Korea took a day and Russia 3 days…I am told it shouldn’t take more than an hour or so.

Been following the TN Titans game over ESPN…just wondering if we even have a pro football team this year?…the Patriots were totally dominating the game at the half….oh well, at least my friends at Duracell, Tom & Matt, are happy today with their team’s performance in Nashville.

If you would like to make a donation to give all kids diagnosed with cancer a better chance at living the full life they deserve, please visit Rally Foundation & Rally Around the World or Text “RALLY” to 85944 to give $10 to WIN the fight against childhood cancer. Send this message to 10 of your friends…Be a RALLY 10 to WIN!

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London, England – Day 43

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Saturday, 8 September, 2012  London, England (0 miles) Total Trip Miles – 13,092. 0 hrs hours riding

Weather Temperature mostly sunny in the lower 70’s…a perfect day to visit London

A non-riding day for me and a chance to recharge after a few weeks on the road. One of the servers at the hotel restaurant recommended that I take the 30 minute express train ride to London & tour the city especially since the weather was so unusually terrific…just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

From the hotel I took a short bus ride to the airport to board the train…the ride was comfortable and pulled into the London Victoria Station where I scouted the tour bus companies. Settled on the Big Bus Tour Company which visited all the well-known spots and you could get on/get off anywhere along the route…a double decker bus that was open air on top. My bus had a live tour guide which made the tour much more enjoyable. Made stops at Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, London Tower and many others.

The cleanliness of the city was striking and the city’s history remarkable…ended up having a pint of Stella at a local pub and have found most servers are from other countries with a specific desire to learn English – they are from India, Germany, Spain, Italy, Latvia and other countries from around the world.

Since returning to civilization, I felt it was about time to get a haircut and my server recommended a spot nearby…the shop was owned by a Korean who had been in London for 20 years…just had to clean up a bit before rolling back into Nashville next week!

Decided to catch the train home before dark and get some more rest before making the final leg ride next week home.

If you would like to make a donation to give all kids diagnosed with cancer a better chance at living the full life they deserve, please visit Rally Foundation & Rally Around the World or Text “RALLY” to 85944 to give $10 to WIN the fight against childhood cancer. Send this message to 10 of your friends…Be a RALLY 10 to WIN!

Calais, France to London, England – Day 42

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Friday, 7 September, 2012  Calais, France to London, England (86 miles) Total Trip Miles – 13,092. 2.5 hrs hours riding

Weather Temperature mostly sunny in the upper 60’s…a perfect riding day back to a more civilized world

By the way, I am now just 6 hours ahead of the central time zone which means since leaving Vladivostok a couple of weeks ago, I crossed 10 time zones as I made my way west.

Yesterday evening I met several folks on bikes from the UK doing a fundraising ride for fallen soldiers and I asked about crossing the channel on a ferry and they all emphatically suggested the Eurotunnel.  During some of my trip planning, I had looked into making the crossing on the train, but since it required a reservation I opted to pass on scheduling at that time.  They mentioned to Google the world “chunnel” and that would get to the Eurotunnel website.

To avoid traffic delays, it was also recommended that I schedule my crossing at about 10 am which I did…As I approached the area to catch the Eurotunnel train, I quickly realized this was a highly sophisticated operation that not only moved people, cars and buses, but large trucks with freight going to the UK from all parts of Europe.  I ended up being slotted with other bikers and we were all guided onboard the train…it’s a ride on – ride off system that’s quite efficient.  The trip under the Channel takes just 35 minutes and this gave me time to chat with some of the bikers from the area…most were in my age group and had been touring on their bikes in all parts of Europe.

Almost forgot to mention, that when I was clearing UK customs at the port prior to boarding, the customs official asked about what I was doing and he was genuinely interested in my trip and many of the details…he even wrote down for me all the highways I needed to get to Gatwick Airport.  At that moment I realized that every person I have come in contact during these last several weeks has been very pleasant and helpful…I have not had one bad experience which I find utterly amazing.  Also, there is something so civilized about the British and their accent.  I remember years ago after being in Zimbabwe and other parts of southern Africa for a few weeks, I was returning home to the US on board a British Airways flight to London when the flight attendant asked how I would like my afternoon tea…”with milk & sugar?”  It was at that very moment I realized I was back and just how good I felt to once again return to the more civilized world!!

After departing the train, I immediately got on the M20 heading towards London’s Gatwick Airport and my hotel.  There I unloaded my gear and began preparing my bike to take over to the airport for shipping back to Montreal on Monday…the hostess at the hotel, Alicia, mentioned the rental car agency attached to the hotel might be willing to wash my bike…she also accepted my offer for some free gas or petrol since I had to drain for the flight shipment.

A young man at the rental car agency used a high pressure sprayer to remove the weeks of Siberian dirt and grime from the bike and I gave him 10 pounds for his efforts…

Off to the airport I located the Serviceair air cargo facility and after a brief inspection and a little work on the bike removing the windshield, mirrors and disconnecting the battery, it was ready for x-ray and shipment.

Mike at Serviceair gave me lift back to the terminal so I could catch a bus back to the hotel and after a late lunch and a Jack Daniels on the rocks to help celebrate and commemorate the moment, I found myself dozing off at the table.  After a hot bubble bath…that’s right a bubble bath, I crashed in the bed and slept like never before for about 8 hours – by far the best sleep I’ve had in well over a month…ohhh, how I missed you civilized world!

If you would like to make a donation to give all kids diagnosed with cancer a better chance at living the full life they deserve, please visit Rally Foundation & Rally Around the World or Text “RALLY” to 85944 to give $10 to WIN the fight against childhood cancer. Send this message to 10 of your friends…Be a RALLY 10 to WIN!

Berlin, Germany to Calais, France – Day 41

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Thursday, 6 September, 2012  Berlin, Germany to Calais, France (601 miles) Total Trip Miles – 13,006. 10.5 hrs hours riding

Weather Temperature mostly sunny in the upper 60’s with a mix of sun & clouds…a perfect riding day

Woke up at 5 am and worked on the blog, reviewed some emails and took one of the most civilized showers in quite a few weeks…I was amazed at the amount of Siberian dirt & grime that washed off me this morning.  Over the last few weeks I’ve either gone without a shower, sponged bathed or showered in a very small spot that was difficult at best to wash and rinse.  The Weinmeister Hotel offered a small closet-sized shower completely tiled with a huge shower head…I also shaved for the first time in a couple of weeks – was starting to look a lot like Santa Claus and it just wasn’t working for me.

Getting back to blogging…it takes about an hour per blog since you often have difficulties logging into a hotels wi-fi for various reasons – each have unique login requirements for one.  Sometimes I simply forget to write down my end mileage for the day which means I throw on some clothes and run out to check the bike…many times I’ve simply fallen asleep only to lose what I had written…anyhow, I’ve enjoyed keeping all of you updated on my progress – it’s cool to be connected!

Decided to go ahead and pay for breakfast since it wasn’t included in the price of the room, but it did offer a wide range of options with mostly a more European flair – sliced meats, cheeses, fruits, breads, soft boiled eggs and the like.  It was this morning that I truly realized just how tired I was after being so relaxed listening to the overhead hotel music and enjoying a nice breakfast…riding 12 – 15 hours a day and sleeping on average of about 4 – 5 hours each night had finally caught up to me I guess.  With the morning sun shining on me, I beleive I could have just stayed a few more days in Berlin.

The mass of stainless steel in the pictures is the hotel’s parking garage…by far the most sophisticated system I’ve ever seen.  Once I pushed the button for my ticket to enter, there were a number of security features set into motion.  The first were these metal pylons that retracted into the floor allowing me to proceed followed by another metal garage door.  Once inside the secure garage area, a light began to blink requesting that I scan my ticket which then informed me my bin location and corresponding steel door.
After opening the door, the car that was in my space totally retracted below the surface and an empty surface for my bike appeared.  After pulling my bike into the bin and closing the door, the bike went underground and out of sight….crazy engineering!

Sorry for no pictures of the landscape today, but the entire trip was on super, high speed freeways.  In the Germany, there were no posted speed limits, only a recommended speed of 130 kph which is about 80 mph…beleive me there were cars passing in the left lane at speeds well in excess of 100 mph – they were rocketing by in mostly late model luxury sedans like BMW, Mercedes and the like.

Today’s travel took me through Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France…couldn’t help but think of all the history in the region and how much I’d like to stay longer and see some of the historical sites.

Arrived in Calais at 7:30 pm and found a small hotel that works well for me…offering a restaurant & bar – what else does a fella from NC far from home need.  To further celebrate & commerorate reaching Calais, a Jack Daniels on the rock was in order for the evening…great to have something from so close to home.

Did take a look at the ferry schedule online and it appears one leaves every 15 minutes with 90 or so crossings daily…can’t imagine having any issues getting me and the bike aboard sometime in the morning bound for Folkestone, England.  To assure my bike ships out with me on the plane on Monday to Montreal, I am required to deliver it sometime tomorrow for shipping.

If you would like to make a donation to give all kids diagnosed with cancer a better chance at living the full life they deserve, please visit Rally Foundation & Rally Around the World or Text “RALLY” to 85944 to give $10 to WIN the fight against childhood cancer. Send this message to 10 of your friends…Be a RALLY 10 to WIN!

Kaunas, Lithuania to Berlin, Germany – Day 40

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Wednesday, 5 September, 2012  Kaunas, Lithuania to Berlin, Germany (643 miles) Total Trip Miles – 12,405. 12.5 hrs hours riding

Weather Temperature mostly cloudy in the mid 60’s with a mix of sun & clouds with some brief rain showers especially late.

Truly was looking forward to this day since Piotr with HTL-Strefa had met me the evening before and for the first time during this long journery I had no responsibilities to plan the days route…Piotr was going to take the lead on the trip to Warsaw, Poland – the city he currently lives.  The first picture of the day is of Piotr (left) and Marty (right)…as you may recall we met Marty the evening before looking for the hotel and he’s on holiday in the region on his motorcycle…good luck Marty on the rest of your trip!

Riding conditons were excellent and Piotr started the day with more scenic and winding 2 lane roads…by excellent riding conditions I mean the weather and the actual road conditions.  Since I was delayed in Novosibirsk due to mechancical issues, this was to be a short visit to Warsaw unfortunately.  We arrived in Warsaw early afternoon and the plan was to have lunch in the city.  As we were parking our bikes, we were joined by Jarek Moleda who runs operations for HTL-Strefa in my part of the world out of Atlanta – what a truly wonderful surprise to see him – he typically visits the corporate office in Warsaw about 4 times each year and as luck would have it, he was able to join us for lunch.

I have known Jarek for several years and he always comes to visit with a gift…just about every leather good I have has been a gift from him – the wallet and even the business card carrier I currently carry have come smartly embossed with the HTL-Strefa logo.  Lunch was at a cool spot in the city cal the San Antonio and we chose  the patio area since the weather was so nice.  Jarek recommended the tomato seafood soup as a starter – kind of a light marinara sauce flavor with bufferfly shrimp, oysters, calamari and other spices – it’s great to back in the west!  My main course was a stuffed chicken with ham accompanied with potatoes and grilled zucchini…are you kididng me!

After saying our goodbyes, I was off alone to Berlin, Germany on the A2…I must say the section of that highway in Poland is some of the best in the world.  Speed limits are 140 kph or about 90 mph and the surface conditions are excellent.

Arrived in Berlin about 9 pm and stayed in a small boutique hotel recommended by Piotr…The Weinmeister Hotel – a very trendy spot located in the heart of the city.

I am excited about the ride tomorrow to Calais since I’m only a ferry ride across the English Channel to London marking the start of my final leg of Rally Around the World…I can hardly believe this day has now arrived!!

If you would like to make a donation to give all kids diagnosed with cancer a better chance at living the full life they deserve, please visit Rally Foundation & Rally Around the World or Text “RALLY” to 85944 to give $10 to WIN the fight against childhood cancer. Send this message to 10 of your friends…Be a RALLY 10 to WIN!

Moscow, Russia to Kaunas, Lithuania – Day 39

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Tuesday, 4 September, 2012  Moscow, Russia to Kaunas, Lithuania (752 miles) Total Trip Miles – 11,762. 15 hrs hours riding

Weather Temperature mostly cloudy in the mid 60’s with a mix of sun & clouds with some brief rain showers especially early.

Well the big day had arrived!…on this day I was going to be riding towards the Latvian border and after a couple of long, tough weeks in Russia finally closing this chapter of the ride.  Quite honestly, the Siberian leg had always been the keystone of the entire trip – to me, the success or failure hinged on this 7000 mile ride across some of the most inhospital terrain and land on the planet…this was going to be a big day for me.

The first 4 hours of the ride was hampered by moderate rainfall making the roads a bit treacherous in spots, so I was forced to keep my speeds down.  As time approached late morning, I could see small breaks in the clouds finally ending up with mostly sunny skies as I approached the border.  As I rounded a corner, I could first see nothing but huge trucks, probably 150 or more stopped and lined up with many of the drivers standing outside…I thought to myself this just can’t be good.  As I worked my way to the front of the line, the line of cars was only about a dozen deep and I actually got to the Russian customs side in less than 30 minutes.  My excitment was quickly dashed when I was asked to move to another line and an older, more distinquished agent – he reminded me of George C. Scott, the actor that played Patton took over the process.

There appeared to be quite the confusion with my documents and I ended up with him for over an hour.  I finally got my stamp, stamp and stamp on some paperwork and was motioned to move to the Latvian side.  The experience was very similar with me being motioned to see this person and that – one said my International Driver’s License was invalid and that my Tennesse license did not allow for me to ride a motorcycle in Lativa – anyhow, I felt they were only hassling me a bit and decided to just go along with them – thought it was quite humorous frankly.  I truly believe they finally just got tired of me and finally after some more stamps, stamps and stamps I was on my way into Latvia.

Immediately I noticed a change in the landscape and road conditions…enough that it quickly became very apparent – the roads were much better maintained and the lushness of the farms was stark.  For the first time in several weeks I began to feel a calmness in the air that helped me to relax as I rolled through the countryside.

Earlier in the day I had been in contact with Piotr Mlodecki, business development with HTL-Strefa, and one of NDC’s vendors out of Poland…I had actually met Piotr in Nashville at a brief meeting and we discussed the possibility of riding together during my trip.  That moment had arrived and just having the opportunty for the first time in 40 days to ride with someone I knew was exciting.  Piotr made reservations at a hotel in city center of Kaunas and we planned to meet around 10 pm for drinks and dinner.  As luck would have it, Piotr met and guy on a bike looking for a place to stay for the night and he ended up joining us for dinner – his name is Martin from Germany and we had great converation about riding experiences and all the spots to see in the region…a very nice closure to an already wonderful day!  I was truly able to finally put a check in the box…Siberian Leg – 7000 miles!!

If you would like to make a donation to give all kids diagnosed with cancer a better chance at living the full life they deserve, please visit Rally Foundation & Rally Around the World or Text “RALLY” to 85944 to give $10 to WIN the fight against childhood cancer. Send this message to 10 of your friends…Be a RALLY 10 to WIN!

Samara, Russia to Moscow, Russia – Day 38

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Monday, 3 September, 2012  Samara, Russia to Moscow, Russia (750 miles) Total Trip Miles – 11,010. 14.5 hrs hours riding

Weather Temperature mostly sunny in the mid 60’s with a mix of sun & clouds with some brief rain showers.

After loading up my bike, the Europa Hotel in Samara served up a nice breakfast included in the rate, which is typical for most hotels in Russia – a ham & cheese omelet, coffee, orange juice along with a an assorted meat tray & yogurt.  They were running a bit behind so I ended up getting a later started than anticipated, but starting my day with a good meal has become more & more essential given the long hours on the bike.

Getting out of Samara at 8:30 am took about 45 minutes due to morning traffic and the fact that I had to cross town to get back on the highway.

I only wish the photo above was of a Moscow street!…It’s actually one I took from my apartment window in Novosibirsk.  I had often imagined getting my photo taken on the bike at Red Square; however, this would need to postponed for a later time.  Since having the mechanical delays, I could only get to the outskirts of the city on this day – I talked with several folks that said weekday traffic in downtown Moscow was a problem.

To assure I could make the border crossing the following day at Latvia, I decided to get on Moscow’s outer highway loop around the city to end up on the west side of the city and better poised to make a run for the border the following morning.  Keep in mind it was dark and the highway was nothing more than a 2-lane state road in the US with heavy truck traffic.

With time approaching 11 pm, I decided to look for a hotel to stay the night in the Obinsk area and was unable to find one that I didn’t have to drive a distance.  Well, since I am fully self-contained and decided to pull out the sleeping bag and camp next to the bike at a 24 hours fueling station – sounded like a logical choice.  Ended up sleeping between the bike and curb and with all the trucks, lights and the like I suspect my sleep was something less than optimal, but hey, I as tired from the days ride and it felt quite refreshing to me.  After about 5 hours of sleep, i was awakened by the light taps of rain – that was my wake up call and before daylight I was up and on the road towards the Latvian border.

If you would like to make a donation to give all kids diagnosed with cancer a better chance at living the full life they deserve, please visit Rally Foundation & Rally Around the World or Text “RALLY” to 85944 to give $10 to WIN the fight against childhood cancer. Send this message to 10 of your friends…Be a RALLY 10 to WIN!