The Roadtrip 2009
This is the story about the travels of Karen Margrethe and Ian on the continent "Over There"…Canada and the United States of America
For about one and a half years ago, Km and I began talking seriously about taking three months off work and travel North America by motorcycle. I thought it would be a great 50th birthday present for myself.
One evening I was surfing the internet looking for cheap airline tickets when I came across British Airways Homepage.
They had tickets from Copenhagen-Heathrow-Toronto return for a mere 6500 danish kroner, approx. 1350 dollars for two tickets. I looked at Karen Margrethe and said, I think we should take them. They were half price. They might not be there tomorrow. Twenty minutes later, our tickets were purchaced.
The next day I contacted Top Danmark and asked them, if I took my own bike to Canada, was I insured.They assured me I was. Off to a good start !!!!
Aftergetting a price for sending our bike over of 7,995 kroner from Albatros Logistics and 495 dollars from Bryant trucking for receiving it over there, plus 200 dollars/day if it needed to be stored if we were´nt there to pick it up.That was enough to make me think, why not buy a bike over there and perhaps sell it when we left. How easy could that be?? Used a lot of hours, perhaps days but most likely months studying the AutoTrader, I became very much interested or was I in love with a Kawasaki VN 1500 Vulcan from 1999The price…a mere 5,900 plus taxes. There was no doubt about it. This was the way to go. If this plan failed, I always had my back up plan with my own bike.
Without any luck, I searched the internet for any information on how and if one can buy and register a vehicle. It did´nt seem to be written anywhere. I decided to phone with the help of "SKYPE" , a motorcycle dealer in Canada.I explained what I wanted to do and asked him if it was possible to buy a motorcycle and get it registered in my name with licence plates.He told me he did´nt think it was a problem but I should try talking to M.O.T. Ministy of Transportation.Started up Skype again and phoned the Ministry of Transportation. At the other end , the man answered the phone.I asked him if it was possible to buy and register the motorcycle in my name. He assured me it was not a problem.Yahoooo !!!! Things are starting to look good.
Once again I was checking out motorcyles in the autotrader.The world was at my feet. This was the chance to buy a motorcycle I might be interested in taking back to Denmark. If I liked the bike, I could take it home and sell my own bike to pay the registration taxes on the new.How simple was that ?
I decided that it might be a good idea to phone the M.O.T. once again , just to make sure that the answer I got the first time was correct.The man answered the phone and the magical question was asked once again. To my surprise, not to mention disapointment, he informedme that it could´nt be done.I told him that I was told just to weeks prior that it was´nt a problem.He asked me to hang on a minute while he consults one of his colleges. When he returned, I was informed that his college says he thinks it can be done. They were´nt quite sure. They called it a grey zone.
So there I was.The score was 1-1-1. One yes, one no and one I think so.
I then phoned Suzanne. I hoped it would be easier if she went directly to the M.O.T. in person. I asked her to make sure whatever answer she got, find out where its written. The written word was the only thing I could use.
Once again there was not much help there. Noone knew for sure. It was not written anywhere. They did however give her a small bit of hope. They told her to contact a lady by the name of Mary up at the Sutton M.O.T.She apparently has been there for centuries. If anyone new the answer, it was Mary.After five minutes with Mary, it was crystal clear.With my Canadian Passport and my birth certificate, it would be possible .If I had my old drivers licence they could use the number and all problems would dissappear.
Suzanne phoned me to tell me the good news.She asked me if I still had my canadian drivers licence.I told her that I had to give it to the danish police in order to recieve a danish drivers licence.That was 25 years ago so I don´t thinkthey have it anymore.Shame she says.Had you have had the drivers licence number, it would have been perfect because this number is never deleted and they could have used that as well.
I remember the number I said.Its R2823-35325-90427. You could have heard a pin drop on the other end of the telephone.And then the silence was broken.
YOUR`RE SICKshe said.Get a life !!!!!!
What a relief that was to know that things were falling into place.Now I just needed to call Michael Gottesman (my insurance agent) and arrange to find out the details about insurance.Mike told me that he does´nt do motorcycle insurance. Wish he would have told me that the first time I spoke with him. He did however give me the number to Jevco Insurance. They specialize in mc insurance.
It did´nt take long before they told me that the company policy was that they only insure people living in Canada. They needed a permenent address. Oh yes. An M-1 licence as well. They then thanked me for calling.
Back to the drawing board.
Searched the internet for Insurance Companies in the Toronto area. Some had online quotes I could try, but as soon as I wrote that my drivers licence was not Canadian, they could not quote me.Tried ringing different companies but they insisted that I had to have an M-1 licence which of course I did not have.It could be taken on a weekend but the M-1 licence had it´s restrictions.It did not allow passengers, speed limit was 80 kms/hr. No highway driving and no driving after dark. Obviously very inconvinient from Km´s point of view.
What I thought would be the easiest thing in the world, turned out to be mission impossible.
I decided to get some outside help. I decided to phone Uncle Omie. He knows a lot of people and perhaps he could help. It did´nt take long before he had a name and number. My problems were solved. I was to contact Joe.Joe the chinaman. Apparently Joe was a member of the Chinese Mafia. If anyone can, Joe can !!!
After speaking with Joe on the phone, heassured me that insurance was not a problem. I will no doubt be tired of the cost but it can be done.I then made it clear to Joe that I only had my danish licence and an International licence. NO PROBLEM was his response. What a Man. My savior.Everything was finally falling into place.
Well , after two weeks I recieved my quote.The tenetive price was 7,200 dollars.He was right. I was tired of the price.Then again, not as tired as I was when he mentioned that to get this insurance, I had to produce an M-1 drivers licence.I knew it was to good to be true. Found out later that Joe was Italian and apparently could`nt get into the chinese mafia.
There it was.Another dead end. s***Happens !!!!
It was a difficult pill to swallow but with the help of a few Rum and Cola´s it seemed to help.Well… I still had my back up plan.
I decided to call Albatros Logistics and confirm that I would like them to ship my bike to Canada. A lady answered the phone and I asked to speak with John Nielsen.
John Nielsen does´nt work here anymore. He´s been fired and the company has been bought out by another company.She asked if she could be of some help. I explained the agreement I had with John and her responce was , So sorry but we do not do that type of shipment anymore. She put me in contact with a man named Jesper. He worked for a shipping company in Odence. Spoke with him on the phone and he promissed to get back to me shortly to resond to my request.
In the mean time I decided to go down to Top Danmark, my insurance company, to arrange my S.O.S. Papers.S.O.S. is a type of roadside help.The young girl was very helpful but after speaking with another co-worker, shewas to inform me that S.O.S. help was unavailablein North America.She hoped I understood.My Liability and Collision insurance were not affected. I said I would need some type of paper I could present over there to prove that my bike was insured by Top Danmark.She printed out a piece of paper with the Top Danmark Logo, my policy number and their telephone number. If there was any problem, they could just call she assured me.
As far as the S.O.S. help, it was not a big problem.I contacted the CAA (Canadian Automobile Association) over the internet and in a matter of a few minutes, I was registered as a new member of their roadside help.
A few days later I was watching an American police program on tv called Speeders. It was a program where police pulled over trafic offenders. The trafic cop with his dark sunglasses and cowboy hat approached the first of many vehicles. Their first spoken words to the offenders was…May I see your drivers licence, registration and insurance papers. I thought, geez, if this happens to me and I show them the paper from Top Danmark, they´re going to laugh and throw me and Karen Margrethe in jail. I decided that I would go down to Top Danmark again and say that I would need some other type of proof of insurance.The paper I had would not do at all. The young girl searched her computer for something appropriate to print out. It just could´nt be found. No doubt because it was not a request they were used to getting. She decided to contact their auto technic department. To my surprise and astonishment , she informed me that they say that my insurance does not cover me over on the continent North America.They were sorrybut they could´nt help me.I became extremely angry.Not because they would´nt insure me but because two times before they said I was insured. Had I not have watched that tv program and returned for another type ofproof of insurance,I would have sent my bike over to Canada, drove around thinking I´m insured. It could very well have been a catastrophy for us if we were involved in an accident. I can see it now. I phone Top Danmark and they say, WHO TOLD YOU , YOUWERE INSURED OVER THERE ????
We could have been totally ruined economically for the rest of our lives because some idiot in their company did´nt take the time to find out the correct answer to our inquiry.I contacted immediatly, the person who was responsible for camplaints against the company. He was very understanding and agreed with me that this is something that MUST NOT happen.He said that his people have every opportunaty to find the correct answers and there was no excuse.I told him about the plane tickets we purchased which we might not be able to use now because we don´t have insurance for our bike. He said that if we are unable to use our tickets, Top Danmark will reinburse us for them.That is what saved us as customers in their company.
In the meantime, I recieved a call from Jesper. The shipper from Odence. He said that his company is not geared for this type of transport but he contacted MøbleTransportand they will be able to help us. They are a furniture mover from the city of Århus. The same day I recieved an e-mail from a Helle Hollman who worked for the company.She was delighted to help me send our bike to Canada and return it safely to Denmark again. Sounded great to me.Then she took the measurements of our bike and she would mail when shehad a price. About 4 days later , her quote arrived.I opened the mail and saw a price of 16,995 danish kroner. Approx. 3500 dollars.My first thoughtwas , Okay, twice the price of the first quote but it was a return ticket. Then I glanced down a little and saw another price of 14,500 danish kroner. Approx. 3000 dollars for the return trip. Grand total of 6500 dollars.Somehow I found myself sitting down.There´s got to be a better way.
I got in touch with both DSV and Blue Water Shipping.The latter was the only one to return my call.After 4 days Bent Refsdorffcame with a quote.6,700 kroner but I had to crate the motorcycle myself and it had to be ISPM-15 special treated wood.He gave me a number of a company in Kolding who would crate my bike for 4000 kroner, approx. 800 dollars.Time was running out so I decided that I´ll just have to pay what it costs and bite the sour apple.
Finally there was unusually good news.After speaking with a neighbor, he asked me why I didn´t try to get a hold of a motorcycle company here in Denmark. All new bikes coming to Denmark are crated and the crates are just thrown out.Contact a company and asked if he could help me out with a crate. No problem he said. How many did I need? I took two crates home because the one was not long enough for my bike. Normally the front tire is removed to save space for shipping. I want my bike in one piece when it arrives over there.On Wednesday the 15th 2009 my friend Sonny and I will lengthen the crate by 27cm.It is a steel crate so welding is not a problem. Then I will take pictures of the crate with the motorcycle in it and send it to Blue Water to see if they will insure my bike under transport. At any rate, I must phone them tomorrow to arrange the final details. Things are looking good.My GPS is up to date with a map on North America. My new motorcycle tires will be installed on the 22 of April.My new motorcycle Hard bags from Hong Kong should be arriving at Suzanne and Bills today. Yes, looking very good. Just 46d. 10hrs.32m.24s until liftoff from Copenhagen Airport.
Well, the bags did arrive and after talking to Suzanne on Skype, she was able to show me all the parts. Everything seemed to be there. Bill was also there and learned all about millimeters and centimeters. Apparently after 40 years on the metric system it still hasn´t kicked in.He has now received the job of finding out if the bolt included for mounting is an 8mm bolt.Lots of luck to him. Poor Bill had tocough up 107 dollars from his own pocket to pay DHL for the delivery. I guess I´ll pay him back.Suzanne says that the saddlebags seem to be quite sturdy.
I guess I´ll sleep a little better tonight.
Got a call from Sonny this morning while I was at work.He said that we could weld the transport crate over at one of our former colleges house. He had a Tig welder which was perfect for the thin steel crate.
Took off work early and we drove out there with the parts. Took about 2hrs to weld the box together. It went really well. Gave Henrik Lund a case of beer as thanks.
The following day I had a trial run. Drove the bike onto the bottom of the crate and tied it down to see if the crate was usable. Was a little leery inthe beginning as some parts ofthe metal crate began to bend and give way a little.Reinforced the crate and made a final few adjustments , bolted the crate together and it seems to be incredibly strong.No worries there anymore.Tomorrow I have to take some pictures of the crate with and without the bike inside so I can send them to Bent Refsgaard so he can see what kind of price for insurance we will have to pay.
It´s Friday now and the weekends here. Still haven´t heard from Bent yet about insurance.Still… not a big concern right now.Last Wednesday, Km and I took off the day to go to Germany to do some shopping. I was getting two whitewall tires put on my bike. He also discovered worn rear brake pads so they were changed as well. While we waited for them to be finished, we went to the upstairs shop and bought us some blue jeans with Kevlar. Kevlar is a protective material in case we fall from the bike. They are sometimes referred to as draggin jeans because you can literally be dragged behind a bike without any damage to yourself. Scrapes that is.
Rained the whole time we were gone. What luck.That only meant 3 to 4 hours of bike polishing to get the bike shining again.If I say so myself, the bike looks real sweet. Can´t wait to get the new saddlebags on. They´re at Suzannes. Guess I´ll have to wait to do that.
Ordered a new Visa card today. Should be here in two weeks.Will first activate the card when the insurance is paid.I think I´ll give them a call to find out when the policy is finished. Other then that, everything still seems to be slowly falling into place.That's the feeling I get so I´ll stick with that.
Well, I must remember that it was only a feeling. Called motorcycle services the next day to ask when the papers would be ready.Gail Goodman wanted to know if I sent the application. I informed her that she sent me a mail to tell me the papers were sent to processing. Took her a half hour to find the missing papers.It was filed under JULY 1st as the start date not June 1st.Good thing I called…again.
Today after work, I met with Marc up at Sonny´s. I drove my bike there because it had to be packed and ready for pick up tomorrow, May 6th .Went quite well. Only took 3 and a half hours. We celebrated with a kabab at Melis pizza and kabab. Tasted great and the heartburn is amazing.It will be nice to see the bike leave tomorrow.Hope it arrives in Toronto on the 29th of May.Now we can soon relax. Once again. That's the feeling I get. The hopeless romantic.
Blue Water did show up at noon hour and after a short while, the bike was loaded onto the truck and I watched it drive away. The next day the bill came in the mail.7395 kroner.
At the moment,May 16th ,I have absolutely no idea where my bike is. Hopefully sailing the Atlantic ocean on its way to the big T.O.