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Vladivostok to London

51st Traverse

maddix park mx

Charity Ride  Epic Challenge

On April 16th, former Tauranga man, Tom Anselmi, leaves for Seoul on the first step of a journey that will take him and 4 mates, all on motorcycles, from Vladivostok to London.  5 blokes. 5 bikes. 18 countries. 25,000km. One epic adventure.

It is a daunting physical challenge they have set themselves. However the challenge is an even greater one as the journey is, at the same time, a Charity Ride. Their target is to raise $25,000 for the Living Hope Charity.

Living Hope is a NZ registered charity based in Vladivostok that works with local street children giving them hope and a future: educating them, loving them and feeding them.  The money raised will build a dormitory that will house 20 such children.  As Tom puts it, “that’s 20 kids who will sleep in a safe, warm, clean environment instead of shivering in doorways or curling up in sewers.  (Winter temperatures in the region can drop as low as -40 degrees C.) That’s 20 children who will be given some dignity instead of being forced to live in inhumane squalor”.

Tom is an aeronautical engineer who grew up in Tauranga and attended Bethlehem College. He had found the Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman documentary series the “Long Way Round” an inspiration so when he heard through friends of friends about this planned trip, he admits he “practically begged on bended knee to be allowed to join the group”.

The group has been amazed and totally grateful for the support they have received and for the gear supplied at cost and bargain deal prices. Research, preparation and purchasing has taken up a lot of the past year. What are the best helmet cams, panniers ? Which is the best shipping solution? The best route ? the best gear ? the best tents? What bike parts might be required? How to cook ? have adequate water and ultra violet water treatment equipment ? How do we fit it all on the bikes? Etc. Etc.  Plus, of course, they have been trying to learn enough Russian to be able to stumble along.

"We have to be prepared to face everything", commented group member, Misha Kravcenko, a PE teacher in South Auckland. "We will be crossing some of the world's worst roads, highest mountains, hottest deserts and most remote areas."

The guys will each be riding a Suzuki - three DR 650s and two DRZ 250s. “I had ridden farm bikes around a bit” laughs Tom, “but for the others, bikes were a totally new experience. It was a steep learning curve for them, not without its incidents”. The Suzukis were chosen because of their robustness, good name, general all round suitability and the simplicity of the motor. “A single cylinder air-cooled is the simplest you can get”, says Tom, who is responsible for the mechanical side of things.

The guys fly to South Korea on Friday, pick up the bikes in Pusan, truck them to the port of Sokcho and then spend a 15 hour ferry trip putting the bikes together so that on arrival on Russian soil they will be able to ride the 150km to Vladivostok. They plan to stay in Vladivostok for 10 days working with the street kids before the journey proper begins.

Tom is relishing the challenge. “I’m looking forward to the Gobi Desert, the Aral Sea, Mongolia, Kazakhstan,” he says. The trip has been dubbed "The 51st Traverse", as the route loosely follows the 51st parallel.

You can find out more about the trip, the Living Hope Charity and follow the progress of the 5 blokes on their website www.51st.co.nz and also make donations to the Living Hope Charity. So far $16,500 has been raised towards the $25,000 target.

 
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