Well the time has finally come to pack the bikes & ship them off to Valparaiso and to the start of our big adventure. We’d anticipated doing this in mid-late November but a discussion with Kuehne & Nagel (K&N – our shippers) suggested it would be wise to bring the bikes down early for packing & shipping. This threw us into a frenzy as we suddenly realised that time was running out and the bikes were nowhere near ready to go. In fact on the previous weekend, both bikes where propped up in our garage with no wheels & no seats! The wheels weren’t a problem, as they were only away locally to Bob’s Tyres in Stevenage to have knobbly tyres fitted, but the seats had been posted up north to Saddlecraft in South Shields to have silicon gel pads inserted. They’d been gone for over a week and a postal strike in London was threatening to spread nationwide so a mild panic was beginning to set in! The panic was short-lived as the seats duly arrived on the Monday morning, by which time the wheels were back in the bikes resplendent with their new tyres. Both bikes had been serviced and had new brake pads fitted, so we were starting out with everything as new as it could be.
I rode the first bike down to the Kuehne & Nagel Packing depot at Dartford on Monday 3rd November, to be measured up so the packing crates could be prepared for both bikes. There we finally met Paul Fox, who we’d arranged the shipping details with. He was a smashing bloke – he rides a GS 500 Suzuki to work every day and one of his hobbies is restoring old Vespa scooters. He really knew all the ropes about how to pack & ship our bikes and was quick to set our minds at ease with a steady stream of ready answers to all our niggling worries & questions. As to protecting the bikes in transit, John Brown in the K&N packing department offered to vacuum pack the bikes inside their crates. This turned out to be an excellent idea as the bikes were at sea for around 2 months and when the crates were later opened in Chile they were fairly wet inside. Fortunately the plastic vacuum bagging kept our bikes & kit 100% dry. On Tuesday 4th Mags rode her bike down in glorious sunshine to K&N to meet some local press and to see the bikes put into their crates. First up, a lovely drink of petrol as we siphoned off their fuel tanks! With batteries disconnected, the bikes were ready to load onto the pallet bases of their crates. Each bike has it own crate and they sat on the ground sheet of the vacuum bag, where all sharp corners were bubble-wrapped by John’s packing team to prevent puncturing the bag. Our riding & camping kit was stowed around the bikes and we left for home very happy that the bikes were in expert hands.