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.


Robert said...

There are a few problems I can see with these buggies:

Do you think those buggies will actually get you all the way to Bejing? If you have a breakdown you'll be a lot more stuck for spare parts than you would be with a Panda. Have they been used over long range before? They probably aren't designed for long range and reliability as the Panda will be.

No weather protection. Sounds cool but when it comes down to it I can see snow (in the mountains?) and heavy rain becoming issues. Will the buggy and yourselves stand up to it?

Security? Can you walk away from the vehicle without it and your luggage going walkies?

Maximum speed of the buggy will vary dependent on model, load and other conditions but may not achieve the minimum motorway speed. In the UK minimum speed is (generally) 50 mph. The one in the video, the oxocart 500, manages 90 kph (55.9 mph) top speed which means it will probably struggle sometimes.

Fuel consumption is likely to be poor so you'll have to carry more.

I don't want to be a spoilsport but I think you guys should consider these things.

Hope you have an amazing trip!

God bless,

Alex said...

Robert, thanks for the comments, and yes I'd thought of some of those too.

Spares: The PGOs actually have dealers in all the countries we're passing through apart from Mongolia, and no-one seems to have dealers there. Admittedly they're not round every corner like Fiat's might be, but then again there's far less to go wrong on the buggy, no computers, no ABS, or ESP or RAC, all you need is a guy with a welder and some spanners. So it's swings and roundabouts, but they should be fine.

Distance: True, no-one's driven one that far before, but as the engine and transmission are straight out of sundry Piaggio scooters, they'll have been well used and abused in other applications, I'm sure.

Speed: The PGOs have a top (restricted speed) of about 55mph, but de-restricted they're up to 75+. That's nt to say we'd EVER de-restrict them in Europe where it's a no-no. Then again, there's really not much in the way of motorway on our itinerary, and part of the journey will be to see things. I reckon as well that once off-road they're actually faster than a Panda, because they're tougher.

Protection: I tend to think of them more as four-wheeled motorbikes, so we'll need to clothe ourselves appropriately and treat our luggage in the same way. They're as secure as a bike, and at least being that much bigger you can't just lift the thing up and take it away.

But yes, it'll be a challenge, but that's part of the adventure at least for me.

Anonymous said...

Little late but I think your trip is awesome. I found about this from your post on another the forum (the PRC).

Last yr a Candian couple rode Polaris ATVs from Qubec to the Baja tip and did quiet well, however remote some of their trip was I don't think it will be as remote as Mongolia.

To me this buggy seems alittle "light" duty, and you may end up fixing it more often then not expecially if the trail gets rocky.

I think your later decision to go the Polaris RZR S is the right Idea.

I remember a few yrs ago a french couple rode Bombardia ATVs on a simialar trip but near the distance or time. If I remember it was a week long trip along the china/mongolia borders. I read about it in a outdoor mag a few yrs ago. I alway thought that would be cool.

Good luck, I'll be watching.


lloyd said...

Dude, good luck.
i did the mongol rally in 2006, it blew my mind, as your adventure will you. JUST DO IT. Just be as best prepared as you can. parts are gonna be your problem, I bust 3 wheels on a fiesta in Kasakstan alone.
Visa's will also all br needed before setting off, all russian boarder crossings take minimum 8hrs, and they arent easy, one document outta place and your and your in the shit.

A good tent and ground sheet, we slept in cafe's most nights in the wilderness, buy the owners a bottle of their own Wodka and they let you do anything.