Meet the Simpsons

Feature image is of large group of riders, two guides, one girlfriend who going back to Germany today and a corporate manger going back to Germany tomorrow.  Complicated, but the seeds of the group that will be traveling for the next two and one half months, ending at the top of October, 2019.

Without any further ado, let’s get to the juicy stiff and meet the Team of riders who will share the experience for the next 73 days and 17,000 km’s through Russia, Kazakhstan, Kirgisistan, China, Laos and finally, Thailand.

Its been a long time waiting and coming — and we’ve all been here stalled to get going for our first day of travel.  Each of the riders have come to meet in Tallinn for our first day, August 15th.  Today is August 17th and were still here after a series of group get-together bonding sessions, training and informational meetings in order for 11 riders and 12 people continue on safely and with much of the information needed to complete the adventure.  I think that I am the only rider to have participated in a previous world tour — but I’m sure most riders have tons of experience within Europe or whatever country the rider hales from.  It’s ok.

Whats more difficult is the amount of riders.  On my last trip to South America, it was a group of 6 riders and it was great.  We were all on the same page and had tons of space to build deep bonds — English was basically the only language spoken through that tour although I was the only native English speaking rider.  Anyway, that was that.  This group is big — probably too big.  I remain positive, but I can see that some of the germans would rather speak to each other in their native language and others maybe not — but its not as bad as that — our meetings are in English and everyone is definitely nice in their own way.

I am confused how I chose to fit in.  I never have had an issue fitting in to a group if I want, but this time I really want to pick my spots and its too early to make that choice.   I have an idea on who may be more difficult to relate to, but that’s ok, we are all adults and can find our easy path to relationships and who fits in better than others.  Seventy-three full days, like 18 hour days together is a lot and if you are not with people that make you bring your guard down and relax, it’s a long stretch.  So lets wait to see how this works out.

One thing for sure, the structure to manage and give freedoms with so many riders is different that the last adventure — and definitely it will not be a fluid or relaxed — thats 100 percent sure — but that does not mean it will be bad — just not as relaxed and easy going.

Here are the personalities:

Ralf: German.  He is definitely an amicable guy.  Not sure of his day job, but he smiles, laughs and seems to enjoy things.  He is relaxed and will be easy going for sure.  He does not say anything contentious.   Thats all for Ralf.

Martin:  Swiss.  Martin is traveling with his buddy of 30 years, Bruno.  I like Martin and he just retired a few months back after a long business career.  He smiles and English is not easy for him but he definitely can communicate well — German is his mother tongue.   Generally Martin speaks to his buddy in German and I did go out for dinner with 3 germans and unfortunately, half the conversation was in German — like I was a 4th party not there — but that was day 1.  I think things will get better.  Martin has just retired a few months ago — I put him at about 60 years old.  He has a spring water business — like a franchise for his region and he tells me that he does well at that.  After this ride, he and Bruno will be going onto Australia, then the United States for a complete year long tour — just the two of them.  Good guys.

Bruno:  Swiss.  The other half of the Swiss duo.  Bruno is also very nice.  He speaks English a bit better than Martin and is a very relaxed guy but certainly type-a like most of the riders.  Bruno funny enough also is in the spring water business with a franchise for his region of Switzerland too.  Again, no issues with Bruno.  He does not say anything contentious and likes to laugh and enjoy himself.

Gerhard:  German.  A huge human being — Maybe 6’7″ and an equally large gut — like weighing in at 275 pounds at least.  He is in his early 60’s and I would say that he will be the most difficult to communicate.  He is quiet and really has never participated in conversations — not sure if its because his lack of confidence in English.  But even with his German participants he is not a talker.  That said, I did see him slip out some sentences and the Germans had a laugh — so he might be funny — I can’t tell.  Gerhard lives on the top of Germany close to Denmark and is in the fish business.  I asked him if he likes fish?  “Yes” he replied.  Do you love fish?  “hahaha Yes”.  That was our deepest conversation so far.  I asked him which is his favorite fish?  “All equal”.  Not easy so far.

Karin Muller:  German.  Karin is a type-a lady rider.  She is traveling on her own bike along with her husband, Stefan.  Karin is very nice, laughs at her own jokes and others I suppose.  She works at a bank in Germany — Her English is perfect and she gets in the middle of things — but in a nice way — not obnoxious or anything.  Karin is louder and confident while her husband Stefan is a cool guy but he is much quieter… She wears the pants in that relationship for sure — but they seem like a good team together.  Time will tell.

Stefan Muller:  German.  Is a mechanical engineer.  He is much, much quieter than his wife but he is a super nice guy.  He loves cars — especially Alfa Romeo, but he really is into vintage cars so we have something in common.  He is tall, thin and German.  His English is perfect — but unlike his wife, he really does not initiate any discussions or conversations — but last night at dinner, he was super passionate talking about vintage cars and bikes.  I am not implying that he is not deep — he may be — but I have not got anywhere with him.  Net of it, I like Stefan.

Feroz Omar:  Sri Lanka.  Ya, from Sri Lanka the small country island next to India.  Feroz has a thick English accent — like molasses.  But I should add, his English is perfect.  Nobody can understand him the first time and I have had to ask him to repeat himself 5 times in some instances.  He is a successful business owner specializing in textile manufacturing.  Like all tales, I have heard that he has 50,000 employees and another said 17,000 and maybe its 100 — I have no clue.  He has a very large motorcycle but his is not a large guy and I am sure its too big for him after watching him get on and leave the parking lot.  Feroz has a very sweet personality — loves to smile and contribute to conversations and definitely knows how to make friends.  Sweet guy who may not be ready for what’s ahead of him when it gets to simple living.  Anyway, I will enjoy Feroz.

Amina Omar:  Sri Lanko.  Amina, wife of Feroz will sit on the back of his bike.  Good luck, this will be fun to watch.  She is not native to bikes and I predict she will leave early — hahaha.  I’ll fill you in later but I just have that feeling of a fish out of water.  She is very thoughtful and does not say anything stupid but she really does not say much important.  During our team meeting, she was rubbing Feroz’s back — the leader was not so happy with that.  Kind of weird to have that dynamic.  Anyway, Amina is not going to tip the scale or anything but will she last when the toilets turn to holes in the ground — or you cant get toilet paper and have to use wet-wipes?  I think she may panic.  Most-fun-to-watch prize goes to Amina.

Martin:  German.  Well, well, Martin is a Capital A-Type personality.  Strong opinionated German — very, very strong opinionated.  I find it a bit off-putting because he is so strong and there is no room for the middle.  He was at dinner the first night and while he speaks perfect English — it was him leading the conversation in German with the two Swiss guys while I sat like a lump and he knew it.  I was not so impressed with that — but I was willing to hold my opinion and patience since its possible that he may not be used to this dynamic.  Martin has just retired recently in the past few months and he thinks he is the king of business with his 50 employees and his worldly view of life.  I sit there holding  back with my discomfort on how I think he relates to the business hierarchy, but I don’t care — its his issue.  It just gets annoying each time he is teaching me about how he is the business teacher and we are all his students.  I hope we can find a middle ground and learn each other — but eh, not sure.

Cliff:  American.  Oh Cliff, gosh Cliff.  Cliff is the guy in the class who asks all of the questions.  He is the one who has to ask a question or he does not understand.  He is the guy who needs to present his plan A and then his plan B and then share his discovery with everyone ….  He is a piece of work.  Standing 6’5″ with a shoe size 14, probably 300 lbs — Cliff is a very large man.  He is kind and always asks his questions with respect and a friendly manner — but there is no mistake, he is a 9.7 on the annoying scale because the questions and comments dont add value to my life.  I dont want to write him off just yet, but the likelihood of me finding his personality interesting is between zero and two out of 10.  The guides tell me that he sent a million emails to them prior to the trip and he just never stops — like never, to the point where I left last night with a headache.  He looks at me and knows that I am uncomfortable with his method of learning, but nothing I can do — I try to smile, but its hard.  I want to make it clear, Cliff is not a bad man at all — but he is the guy who has no filter between his brain and his mouth and he should because nobody cares about his discovery path.  I know, you’ve heard this before — but seriously, Trump looks like a quiet man compared to Cliff.

Charles:  Taiwan.  I like Charles a lot.  He is exactly 50 years old and chose to go on this tour as a gift to himself to celebrate his half-century milestone.  Charles was shipped off to the United States by his parents when he was 21 years old and lived in San Francisco so his university and middle life was American.  He is divorced and a single dad of two boys who are around 15 and 20 — something like that.  One boy just got to Ohio and will be living there as a school swap program for a year or two, I cant remember.  Charles has worked for a San Francisco based company for 21 years and he is an administrator for a school swap placement business to the USA and 2o or 30 other countries.  The US government sponsors kids to come and live with host US families — pays for Charles company to bring the kids.  Charles has a easy smile and definitely is easy going.  He moved back to Taiwan so his kids will have the knowledge of their background — and it seems his family is still there.  We’ve hooked up a few times, but to be honest, right now I am focused on getting things together.  When I get more in the flow, I’ll have more time to mess around and Charles will be on the list of guys whom I will hang with likely — lets see.

Tomorrow we will get to the Russian Border and then into St Petersburg — a very long day.

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