May 19, 2008

Testing, testing

Well, the Open Days have come and gone and here's yours truly at the wheel of the Polaris RZR. I've got to say I was very impressed, not just with the quality of the thing, but also with the reception I had from Ets Petitpas, who not only let me play with the RZR but also answered all the questions I had, rummaged in their workshop to look at how things could fit together, and gave me a drink. I'm very impressed and if this is a sign of Polaris's quality I think the RZR is the way to go.
So the RZR, it really is a blast to drive, in many ways it's very car like, you're sitting up and you even feel quite high, quite commanding. The steering is a little heavier than a car, but that's because I'm used to power steering, and the RZR has none and also has those off-road tyres. And of course it's noisier than a car, but not unduly so, and it wouldn't give me a headache even after a day at the wheel. The handling's great it feels very surefooted, I know the Euro-Spec RZRs have wider tyres and track so it'd be hard work getting one to fall over (see YouTube for details). You have to remember you're in a very small mid-engined rear-wheel-drive though and drive accordingly, pile into a corner too fast brake sharply and the back will come round, but it's very controllable on the throttle.

Off-road is another story, the RZR really goes, and is amazingly comfortable, you really wouldn't know you're doing 50+ mph over mud, ruts and potholes, the suspension just seems to absorb what you throw at it, and I know we'd be able to step out at the end of the day off-road and not feel shaken to bits. The bodywork keeps you a lot more protected than some of the buggies we've looked at but at the same time you're not insulated from the world like a full 4x4.

I think the RZR is the one for us, now I just have to persuade Cameron.

And speaking of Cameron, you might be wondering where he is? Well he's aboard ship, living it up on a cruise, although he's not a guest he's the entertainment, and it's not a luxury cruise ship it's a sailing ship. So he'll not be sat in front of a computer for a while, but expect to hear all about it when he's back. Meanwhile some of us have to work.

April 23, 2008

Last Post (For The Day)

Always the same isn't it, no blogs for ages and then three come along at once. Don't worry this one's much, much shorter.

Had an e-mail into Paisley-Peking HQ today and thought I'd share the good news

I would love to be kept abreast of your travels.
It sounds like an absolutely idiotic idea - I love it :-)
Let me know when you get going and we can discuss how to get pictures and video to us. I can probably get photos to my friends at UTV & Off Road (used to be Cart Wheelin) as well.
Doug Meyer

Who's Doug Meyer, you ask? Well Doug Meyer is the man behind ATV Television - check them out at . You can watch their shows on the web, or on XONTV if you're in the US. Their shows feature tests on a range of all-terrain vehicles, 4x4s, advice on how to look after and uprate your ATV, and adventures off-road, and Paisley-Peking is really looking forward to keeping their viewers in touch with our "idiotic idea", let's hope they love it as much as Doug does.

So Good I Bought The Company*

The search for suitable vehicles continues, just when I think I've found the perfect one, along comes something new, and today's new vehicle is the Polaris Industries Ranger RZR 800 Efi, complete with high and low ratio 2 and 4 wheel drive.

So why is the RZR in the running? Well for a start Polaris Industries have been making quads and snowmobiles for years, so they know their stuff. The RZR is small enough to get anywhere, and the 4 wheel drive means it should get out again. It's 800cc fuel injected engine should give us all the power we need and that fuel injection means it can cope with the range of altitudes and temperatures we'll experience, along with the dodgy low-grade fuel we're likely to find along the way. There's also a huge range of accesories, from Lock & Ride fuel cans, to luggage boxes, to cab heaters, you name it and they seem to have thought of it.

The web is full of reports of how good these things are and YouTube is full of them flying over sand dunes, crawling over rocks, snorkelling through bogs and even charging through the snow on tracks!

There's also a great owners forum,, so there's plenty of advice to be found, stories to read and contacts to make.

Polaris are holding open days the 16th & 17th of May so check back for our experiences of the RZR, and a report on what we think.

* It's a RZR (razor) get it?

Long Time No See

Well OK, long time no blog actually. I'd love to say it was because we were so ludicrously busy getting ready that we didn't have the time, but that's not the case at all. In fact we've been hanging round waiting.

Waiting for what? Well waiting to hear back from people, the one thing that's really beyond our control. And that's meant that our start date has been pushed further and further back, back till we miss our weather window for the Altai region of Russia, where it borders Mongolia.

It's this part that is probably the most remote, the most adventurous part of our journey, the Altai mountains have heavy snows in winter, and the roads can become impassable, some even say that the Mongolians shut the border crossing when the snows come. Whatever the case is, a winter crossing is likely to be very difficult, very cold and potentially very fatal.

But that doesn't mean a winter trip is completely discounted. I've been reading Tobias's website where he talks about his winter crossing of Siberia, check it out it's well worth a read, and his pictures are stunning. He makes it quite clear that the "Trans-Siberian Highway" is passable all through the winter, so we could still go ahead, we'd just have to make a couple of route changes and instead of crossing Mongolia East-West, we'd drive North-South.

So watch this space.

January 16, 2008


I sent Cameron and Ruth a huge long e-mail today, called it my nag list, it had all the things we ought to be doing. And what did he send me in return? Yup, this picture of him, err, practising.

Makes you wonder hey?

On another note, I went helmet shopping the other day and discovered I've got a supremely big head. I was aiming for a nice combination full face/enduro helmet like the Arai TourX2 and couldn't find any that fitted. I think French people must have small heads.

So if you're reading this and know what I'm talking about, leave me a comment saying where to get them.

January 14, 2008

So This Is Blogging...

I'm delighted to report that I'm much better at adventuring than I am at blogging. Well, at least I've adventured before. So, bear with me as I venture fearlessly where I've never ventured in the past. I hope getting into China is easier than getting into a blog...

January 01, 2008

First Post - The Past

"So Cameron, have you blogged yet?" I said yesterday, knowing full well that I hadn't either. So here goes, the first post.

People keep asking me, why Paisley - Peking? Why go to China? And why go by buggy? So here's why.

For years I've been dreaming of the great overland journey, I've looked at maps, read travel books, and watched Ewan & Charlie's Long Way Round till the DVD's almost worn out. I thought about trying for the first car across the Bering Straits, looked at amphibious vehicles from strange Russian makers, but decided I didn't want to freeze to death somewhere in the Arctic seas. Then one day I spotted China.

China, land of mystery, still hugely unseen by westerners outside the cities, a place of mystery to me. I've seen pictures of the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Terracotta Warriors, but that's almost all. So China became my new dream destination, to unlock just a few of its secrets, and experience its culture, in this period of rapid change.

So the trip began to form. Chatting to my friend Ruth (founder of Sanctuary) she told me about her friend Cameron Stout, well known for being the last sensible winner of Big Brother, but little known as being another crazy traveller. E-mails flew (and bounced), MSN chats popped up, and Paisley - Peking was born.

Why buggies? My fault again, I think. I'd started off planning to use the little Fiat Panda 4x4. I reckoned this was a great combination of silly tiny car and great off road abilities, but then one day I stumbled across the Quadzilla buggy on the web. I just knew we had to use them. With their chunky tires and nippy Piaggio engines they're almost unstoppable off-road, their open design lets you be as much a part of the place as you can be, smelling the air, feeling the wind on your face, and no-one has driven one that far, yet.

And that's it: Paisley - Peking, two blokes, two buggies, to Beijing.