Motorcyclists tend to be dreamers, captivated by the desire to explore new places and have new experiences. Perhaps that’s because our two-wheeled machines, extensions of ourselves that glide through space and time with grace, power and promise, are more like magic carpets than just modes of transportation. The masses pile into cars, buses, planes and cruise ships, their comfort assured by conditioned air, their safety ensured by air bags, seat belts and life vests, not to mention drivers, captains and crews. Motorcyclists often travel alone, or in small, self-sufficient groups. We’re exposed and vulnerable. We may be dreamers, but we turn fantasies into reality and blaze our own trails.
Traveling to the next state is simple enough. Just plot a course on a map or GPS, pack some gear and hit the road. Where to eat or sleep may be planned in advance or decided upon spontaneously. With smartphones, credit cards and roadside assistance, problems that arise can, for the most part, be dealt with quickly and easily. But the stakes are much higher when you cross a national border, and I’m not just talking about going to Canada. Central and South America. Asia. Africa. Places where red tape and language barriers can be daunting, and everything from local currency to gasoline and personal safety may be uncertain.
Horizons Unlimited serves as a valuable resource for those who have traveled or want to travel to the far corners of the earth by motorcycle. The organization has a popular website (horizonsunlimited.com) and hosts Travellers Meetings around the world, where veterans of the open road share their experiences and wisdom. Horizons Unlimited also sells DVDs that bring these meetings and the information shared at them into your home (read my review of Road Heroes: Motorcycle Adventure Travel Tales, Part 1), including the five-part, encyclopedic Achievable Dream: The Motorcycle Adventure Guide DVD series.
Spanning more than 18 hours, Achievable Dream covers the following topics: Part 1—Get Ready!; Part 2—Gear Up!; Part 3—On the Road!; Part 4—Ladies on the Loose!; and Part 5—Tire Changing! The exclamation point at the end of each volume title represents the enthusiasm that Horizon Unlimited’s globetrotting motorcyclists have for travel and sharing their accumulated knowledge with others. Even though many folks, such as Tiffany Coates, Dr. Gregory Frazier, Lois Pryce and Ted Simon usually travel alone, they are still humans, and at our core we are all social beings. We sit around the campfire—prehistoric TV, as my buddy Paul Beck calls it—and we share our stories. And when we can’t sit around the campfire, we sit around the coffee table and watch modern TV.
In Part 1—Get Ready! (2 hours, 33 minutes), world-traveling experts, many of whom have made names for themselves with books and DVDs of their own, lay the foundation for a successful, long-distance motorcycle journey. Grant and Susan Johnson, who have spent a total of 11 years riding around the world two-up, are the founders of Horizons Unlimited, and they share many valuable tips, going into great detail about money (budgeting, local currencies, etc.), vehicle and medical insurance, Carnet de Passages (customs documents for motor vehicles), readiness for border crossings and more. Others, such as Ted Simon (Jupiter’s Travels), Sam Manicom, Austin Vince (Mondo Enduro), and Guinness record holders Chris and Erin Ratay provide colorful commentary based on their own experiences.
To help viewers access specific information, Part 1—Get Ready! is organized into chapters: Get Inspired; When and Where to Go; Who to Go With; Money, Money, Money; Paperwork; Health and Medical; Off-Road Riding Basics (since pavement is a rare luxury in many parts of the world); Make a Difference (about giving back to the communities you travel through and charitable work); The World of HU Travellers; and Outro. Each chapter concludes with a summary of key points. Most of the interviews with well-known experts take place “in the field” at Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meetings, with the interviewees sitting with their motorcycle or under a tent at a campground or park. Occasionally, there are clips from seminars given by the experts. They tell it like it is, describing the realities and challenges of adventure riding on a grand scale, but they also provide encouragement, telling us, “I’ve done it; so can you!”
Full disclosure: I haven’t watched all 18 hours of Achievable Dream. (I haven’t read War & Peace either.) I watched all of Part 1—Get Ready! and skimmed the rest. But I found the organization of each DVD to be sensible and the production quality to be good. I’ll continue watching the series over time to stoke the fires of inspiration, and I’ll keep the five-disc set on hand for reference when I plan my own trip to Ushuaia.
If you’re considering a long-distance, international motorcycle voyage, do your homework. The Achievable Dream DVDs are a good place to start. The folks at Horizons Unlimited sent me the Collectors Box Set ($139) edition of Achievable Dream, which includes all five DVDs bundled together. You can buy each DVD individually, which cost either $24.99 (Parts 1, 4 and 5) or $36.99 (Parts 2 and 3). All are available at horizonsunlimited.com/store/dvds.