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November 06, 2013

North America/USA   05:37 PM
Buy Allan's New Book, FORKS Online Here & Elsewhere

Though the Kickstarter campaign ended, FORKS can still be pre-ordered here online. With the success of Kickstarter, FORKS. A Quest for Culture, Cuisine, and Connection will be coming to tables all over the world this winter.

There are two ways to pre-order your copy of FORKS. You can go to the FORKS website at and click pre-order FORKS, or you can simply access my shop on the Square Register Marketplace here:

FORKS: A Quest for Culture, Cuisine, amd Connection on Square Market

Here's the original Kickstarter Video that created the excitement and launched FORKS the book!

Allan Karl WorldRider FORKS Book Kickstarter Video from Allan Karl on Vimeo.

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September 27, 2013

North America   11:28 PM
Three Years In The Making: FORKS. A Quest for Culture, Cuisine, and Connection


Three Years. Five Continents. One Motorcycle. WorldRider, Allan Karl turns to crowdfunding to help realize his vision for this book, which lets readers experience the world through inspiring stories, beautiful photography, and delicious food from 35 different countries.

Rather than compromise his vision by using traditional publishers, who wanted to simplify his book, author Allan Karl decided to turn to crowdfunding for the printing of the first-edition. On September 23, 2013, Allan Karl’s book, FORKS. A Quest for Culture, Cuisine, and Connection, became available for pre-order on Kickstarter.

Karl's book brings to life his three-year global adventure in a unique full-color, oversized hardcover book. FORKS— three more years in the making—incorporates more than 500 original color photographs and 40 recipes from all over the world to complement and enhance Karl’s stories of discovery and human connection.

“The best way to experience the world,” says Karl, “is to see it through photos, to feel it through stories of connection and culture, and to taste it in the local food.”

Along with the book, collector-edition postcards, photographic prints, personalized coaching sessions, and keynote speeches are some of the rewards that supporters can expect from pledging on Kickstarter. An intimate dinner party is another of Karl’s rewards. “I would love to travel to your home, help prepare meals from the book, and share more stories of adventure,” adds Karl. Rewards start at $10, and books can be pre-ordered for as little as $45.

For three years Karl rode his BMW GS motorcycle more than 60,000 miles over five continents, through 35 countries. As with any adventure there were highs and lows. While in Bolivia he crashed and broke his leg, in the Colombian jungle he was escorted to a remote waterfall at gunpoint, and the governments of Syria and Sudan had to be pleaded with for passage through their countries.

Brazil_Recipe_Page_FORKStheBook_Allan_Karl FORKStheBook-inside-spread

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August 30, 2013

Middle East/North America/Syria/USA   08:12 AM
Watching Syria's War With Tears In My Eyes

Somehow I question the sincerity of the headline on this billboard, I took this photo in the summer of 2008.

What's happening to Syria? To the people of Syria.

My friends in Syria. I wonder. And I cry.

Why? Because Syria surprised me. Surprised me with thrilling and unexpected  joy—and filled me with wonder and curiosity.

That was then.

Though it seems like yesterday, it was about 4 years ago when I changed my plans, my route and my mind and ventured into Syria. What I thought would be a few day journey through the tiny and controversial country, turned into weeks of exploring back roads, medieval towns, historic mosques and of meeting people who went out of their way to introduce me to their country and whose hospitality, though not unusual to a world traveler, warmed my heart and opened my mind to, what I believed at the time, a world of Syrian possibilities. And opportunity.



My expectations back in 2008 were, at first, tempered, given the challenge and patience testing circumstances I endured at the border. I had no idea what to expect from or in Syria. It took me more than 24 hours of negotiating, commitment, confidence and a helluva lot of persistence at the border between Syria and Jordan, and though the rules were clear, they didn't seem like they'd yield to my tenacity and break them, somehow I convinced Syrian immigration and customs to let me and my motorcycle into Syria.

Yet before I could escape the dusty outpost where truck drivers argue, families gather and women, hiding behind burkas take more than a step away from me when I walk by, curiosity aroused, the chief of the border post invited me to enjoy tea and shared with me, on a map he scribbled with a stick into the earth between his feet, the sites I should not miss while visiting Syria.

I remember that chief inspector, with his silver hair, rough features yet how his kind eyes made me feel welcome and that all the effort at the border was worth it.

And I wonder. I remember the gas station owner who wouldn't let me pay for my gas and insisted I have tea and lunch inside the gas station. The man selling tamarind juice on the square in the new city in Aleppo. "You try, you try," he said over and over again. When my face puckered from the bitter taste, he offered me a sweeter and more approachable alternative. And I wonder. I remember the young boy who latched onto me as I explored the citadel in the old city and wandered through the maze of colorful and aromatic souks, of Aleppo. And I wonder.

I wonder what is happening to a country that I often refer to as one of my favorite of the more than 50 countries I've visited over the years. Just a few short years ago, Syria sucked me in, seduced, satisfied and teased me like playful lover — like no other. Yet I wonder. What's happened to Syria, my Syria; the Syria I remember, the friends.

In Aleppo at the modest restaurant where the staff sent me home with a bottle of Syrian wine and where I was asked to play a lute-like stringed instrument, the one that when I tried to make music just croaked, and that I'm sure grated on the ears and nerves of the other guests dining in the room. Yet they indulged me. And so my love affair with Syria, fresh at this time, barely a week, blossomed and was public.

Smitten and excited by the beauty and history of Aleppo, I opted out of travel to the historic dead cities of the east, only so I could be with the living, and the energy of the people of Aleppo—the people who, in so many ways, trusted me with the key to their city and offered sights, sounds and flavors. Though perhaps I didn't know it at the time, they did this willingly and with intent, I can only guess, to seduce me further.

I wonder. What's happened to Syria. My Syria. The Syria I remember.

Watching the reports from man-in-the-street video in Damascus and elsewhere, the horrific images of the effects of recent chemical weapon attacks, and the posturing of world powers on the global stage fills me we anger and despair.  The all-to-real destruction and humanitarian abuse of the war in Syria, thanks to modern technology and social media, leaves nothing for the imagination. In nearly real time we are at once shocked by what we see, yet we are numbed by the distance of our eyes to screens and the distance of the screens to the actual location where these atrocities are real. There's no way for us to completely understand not only the political posturing, but the suffering and the loss.

Most journalists have abandoned the city, save those that are provided a safe haven and used as political pawns such as Charlie Rose's recent chat with Al-Assad. Others are left to report from afar, with ears to the doors of Syria at the borders of Lebanon and Turkey.

For better or worse, people on both sides of the conflict, armed with video-capable cell phones capture the madness like no other conflict we've ever seen before. These are not the eyes or camera of journalists. So it's difficult to truly know or understand exactly what we're watching. But that doesn't matter. Because what we're seeing is brutal—regardless of who is to blame.

Today, we have word that Russia, with its questionable motives, has negotiated with Al-Assad a handover of chemical weapons. Time will tell if this is real and verifiable. But the other atrocities of the conflict will go on. Why must we settle for chemical weapons? It's likely that the US, and its allies will continue its pressure, and Russia will continue its efforts and the next act will come to the stage. The blood, no doubt, will continue to spill and the super powers and the UN will advance its own agendas while throwing caustic rhetoric at Al-Assad and each other. They will continue to ignore the burning buildings and bodies and, as such, the question fogging my mind will remain unanswered.

What's happening to Syria. My Syria, the Syria I remember. What happened to you, Syria? My Syria.

Hmmm. I also remember visiting Rwanda and Sudan before arriving in Syria.

What's happening?

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August 19, 2013

Egypt/North America/USA   01:41 PM
Countdown and What's With Egypt?

IMG_0002 - Version 2

I've been working more than three years on my new book. It's been a much bigger project than I imagined. You see it's much more than writing. Because I've decided to break the barriers and move past the borders of traditional publishing categories, producing the book has pushed me beyond my limits. Not so much outside my comfort zone, but well beyond my resources. I'm grateful I have such great and immensely talented friends who've been with me along the way, especially Michael Paff, Bonnie and Doug Toth, Tim Amos, Curt and Martha Van Inwegen, Angie Walters and my brother Jonathan. There are so many more, and over time I'll bring each of you to the pages of this blog and in my book.

Status? We hoped that the book would be at the printer this month. But complications and the scope of work has us a tad behind schedule. But I received my first set of color proofs for a few of the chapters, and they look phenomenal. I've also received the final okay from Kickstarter to launch my first-ever Kickstarter campaign. I will probably launch later this week.

Later this week I'll announce the full title of the book and provide you information on pre-ordering your copies through Kickstarter and sharing pages and the book cover.


Shot while I was riding the White Desert, part of the Sahara in Egypt


I feel funny combining the two topics in this post, yet I can't rightly post something here without sharing a few thoughts about the craziness going on in Egypt. I have fond memories of my time in Egypt, and even though I found it frustrating dealing with its bureaucracy (importing the bike, mandatory travel in convoys and more), my travel through the country mark many of the highlights of my journey. I made quite a few friends and acquaintance with police and military. Some I still am in contact via email. I find it disturbing that the country is in chaos and whether you believe the recent takeover by the military is a coup or not, I find that the lack of a democratic process — even the blatant reversal of a supposed democratic process - and the ensuing violence and censorship worries me. Mostly, I'm worried about those friends and wish the best for them and hope they are safe and with family and loved ones.

I watch with curiosity and tears.

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August 17, 2013

North America/USA   10:42 AM
Taking Sides

Wacky behavior: so this lady back into my motorcycle causing it to flex the and break the side-stand before the bike crashes onto the driveway.

No worries. She comes clean, offers to pay and so I take the bike to BMW for service. My friend Al Jesse sends a new side-stand extender because the pitiful stock side-stand on the BMW Dakar is ill-suited for heavy world traveling loads.

BMW installs said extender and new stand, but now when the bike is in neutral and I kick the side-stand down, the bike shuts off. It's supposed to do that if the bike is in gear, but not when it's in neutral.

They're scratching their heads at @BMW Motorcycles of San Diego. So my bike stays there this weekend. Probably better, I've still got work to do on my book.

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August 16, 2013

North America/USA   11:12 AM
If Your Dog Needs To Pee When You Are At The Airport, What Do You Do?

Your Dog Can Pee At San Diego Airport. Freely.

Full disclosure here. I don't have a dog. I love dogs. I love cats a bit more. But I love all animals. No discrimination. Though I always find it funny when I see dog owners sporting a warm bag of recently harvested poop dangling from their fingers as they walk my neighborhood. Good neighbors, proper dog-owning decorum and the right thing. But I chuckle anyway.

san-diego-pet-relief1-smFor the past 3 1/2 years the San Diego International AirportLindbergh Field—has been a mess. Parking lots have been torn out, traffic escalated and enough orange cones to make a driver's ed or DMV motorcycle tester jealous. The promise of San Diego (SAN) Airport management has been a modern terminal, two level access to arrivals and departures and — even better (HA!)—more shopping and retail. In fact, in reviewing the entire project, the best I could figure at its onset is that all this mess was simply to provide travelers with more retail and dining options.

So I was surprised to discover that the newly expanded terminal was nearly open when I headed to my Delta departure gate in late July. Returning almost two weeks later, I discovered more of the new terminal had been unveiled. With nary time to hustle to baggage claim, I had to stop in amazement when I noticed a doggie bathroom: "Pet Relief"

Yes, a place where your dog can piss in the midst of the hustle, bustle and retail and dining madness at the yet to be officially opened, but certainly expanded terminal at San Diego International Airport.

The new doggie bathroom is complete with faux grass — so much for hte green movement — and a faux fire extinguisher. Oh, and for you new puppy owners, no worries, you get a changing table.

I'm not joking.

Some might wish to raise a bag of poo and question the funding source for such extravagant and flagrant use of funds. But since I didn't wander to close inside the pee and poop ridden doggie den, I can only question that just if, just a few miles from SAN, somewhere in the legendary home of the San Diego Padres baseball team, PETCO Park, that baseball fans might be afforded the same opportunity. Where do you let your dog pee when you're at the ballpark? Or, could it be, that even at PETCO park, dogs are not allowed. Is PETCO behind the new doggie doo-doo (hold your nose) pit stop at San Diego Airport?

Do share.

Here's proof of the new improvement, nearly four years in the making, at San Diego International Airport.



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July 12, 2013

North America/USA   01:17 PM
A Gentle Nudge: Time To Write & Post An Update


What’s it take to get a new post on the WorldRider blog website? While my local friends nudge me often, today I received a warm note and email from Rwanda. I met J. Marie while traveling through Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. He helped me sort out the paperwork and details required to visit the legendary Mountain Gorillas that make home in the northern jungles around the volcanos.

He expressed concern that not only had it been awhile since I posted, but that the WorldRider “Tracker” in the right sidebar was out of date. So thanks to J. Marie, I feel it’s time to a quick update and fix the tracker.

As many of your know, for the past three years I’ve been working on a new book. It’s been a project of passion and commitment. For two years I tried to convince traditional literary agents and publishers to take a chance on my book — which is a unique hybrid of a travel adventure memoir, photo book and cookbook. While many of these traditional publishing professionals responded well to my story, most tried to persuade me to abandon the complicated color “coffee table” style book I envisioned and stick to a more traditional book — black and white text with a color cover.

I didn’t want to compromise my vision and dream for a more interactive book that would better capture and share my experience traveling around the world. So I’ve decided to publish it myself.

I happy to say that the book is nearly ready thanks to the help and support of so many. You know who you are and I’m grateful and appreciate each of you, thank you.

Sometime later this month I will launch a Kickstarter campaign to pre-sell copies of the book and to raise funds for printing, publicity and a book tour. If you are unfamiliar with Kickstarter, take a quick look at the site. It’s a crowdfunding website for creative projects.

The tricky part of Kickstarter is setting a goal for funding. That is, I will set a goal of minimum amount of funds that I must raise for my book. People will pledge and have an opportunity to pre-order copies of the book, prints, postcards and other “rewards,” non unlike a PBS fundraising campaign. Except with Kickstarter, if I don’t receive enough “pledges” to meet my funding goal, I will not receive any of the funds/pledges. I must meet my goal or the Kickstarter funding campaign fails.

It will be important for me to get the word out to as many people as possible so I can increase the chance of meeting my funding goal. That’s where I hope you can help: spread the word through email, Facebook, Twitter and other social media. I've got the page set up, will shoot the video next week and go live the week after. I hope. If you want to look at the private preview page for the campaign, shoot me an email and I'll send a link so you can learn more about the book and the campaign.

There will be a launch party, I hope on both the East and West Coasts, and this will be part of my campaign rewards.

I will share more information here and on my other websites as we get close to launching the campaign. I hope I can count on your support as we launch the book.

Once this book hits the "shelves" then maybe I can get away from the computer and back on my bike, which has been collecting more dust than miles these days!

Thank you.


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December 07, 2012

North America/USA   11:54 AM
The Seven Tenets of Success, Prosperity, Happiness and A More Rewarding Life

Chapter I — What you need to do to live a more rewarding life, one with success, happiness and contentment.

Ignore These At Your Own Risk:

Live A More Rewarding, Successful And Happy Life

"How can anyone keep up?"
I hear this or some version of "things move too fast" every day. It's no wonder. Just a scant five or seven years ago we had a choice: to plug in, or to refrain. Today, most feel they don't have a choice. We've grown new appendages in the name of "i" gadgets or other connected devices. The expectation for instant response or engagement whether through social media, texting, email, FaceTime, or whatever the connection-cuvee of the day is, creates intense anxiety. You know. At the same time You are both a victim and an instigator.

Even when you drive, right? Admit it. You've texted, emailed or read something on your device while driving. You've also seen the horrifying ads. You know, the ads that show the very last text message someone sent before they were taken to the hospital or morgue. Sad. Not surprisingly, a study by Car & Driver showed that texting while driving impaired drivers six-times more than those driving under the influence. The National Safety Council found that 28% of automobile accidents today are caused by texting and driving—more than drinking while driving. Where are "mothers against texting while driving?" Awareness is slow, but our addiction grows daily.

Even if you don't text and drive, chances are you've been distracted or experienced separation anxiety from your device—perhaps during a meeting, dinner, conversation or even in bed. Does this make you happy? Increase your chances of greater success? I doubt it. When it comes to achieving a sustainable balance in life and increasing happiness living a successful and more rewarding life, I have some solid ideas and recommendations that I believe are essential for you to take to heart and start practicing today.

Make your choice, ignore them at your own risk. Keep in mind, this isn't a multiple choice list, either. No, you've got to heed, take action and do the things that make up these tenets. This will take you down the path to live a more rewarding life.

What do you need to do to live a more rewarding life?

1) Stay Curious.

Those who know me expected to see this at the top of my list. As a professional speaker this is the subject of one of my most popular keynote speeches. I hope you have a chance to hear me deliver it live some day. In the meantime, you can take this teaser to heart. To be curious isto be open. When we're open we absorb and think more. Look at children, they are the ultimate role models for curiosity. We all started our lives motivated by satisfying our curiosities, but somewhere along the way most of us lost it. Reignite your life, be curious.

It's curiosity that drives and leads transformation and innovation—in our personal lives and in business. Think about it, when we are curious we wonder, ask questions, explore and seek something new or an understanding of the unknown. Great leaders and innovators foster cultures of curiosity. Steve Jobs famously questioned the "normal" way of doing things and sought to transform business models and create innovative products by asking why and why not. I'd say he succeeded quite well.

At Thomson Reuters, the 150 year-old news and information company, CEO Devin Wenig has made curiosity an important part of Reuters' organizational culture. With more than 27,000 employees in 100 countries, Wenig confides that "curiosity is an enormous determinant of organizational and individual success." Wenig encourages his team and leaders to be curious and nimble. Stay curious and each day discover something new.

2) Trust.

Trust yourself and trust others. It's unfortunate that we live in a society where action or inaction is often driven by fear. Whether this is fear of failure, strangers, sickness or disease, rejection or simply being afraid to try something new or different. When you learn to trust yourself and to listen to your gut—your intuition—you will see more possibilities and be open to opportunity.

Some may look at trust as belief or faith, regardless or your view, we also need to be trustworthy. Trust is a relationship and it is, in many ways, a transaction between a trustor and a trustee. As trustor, we need to take chances and accept risks—trust that "it's ok." As trustee, we must be trustworty. Failure to understand and accept these roles will result in a breakdown of the relationship or transaction and the loss of the opportunity to see possibilities.

Don't be afraid. Trust and be trustworthy.

3) Be Kind To Strangers.

Be human and embrace humanity and its diversity. Too often we cocoon ourselves or hide behind virtual screens or walls. A key lesson I've learned after traveling to more than 60 countries and 48 of these United States, is that the beauty of humanity is found in the kindness of strangers. Keep your head up as you walk down a busy street, smile and say hello to strangers. If you notice someone who appears to be lost or confused, ask them if you can help.

Last Sunday while strolling through downtown Santa Barbara I watched an elderly couple, dressed in their Sunday best, walking toward me. The man, with cane in one hand, and in the other he tightly held he's wife's hand and guided her down the street. They weren't moving too fast, but seemed to walking with purpose. Just as we were about to pass each other I said, "Good morning, how are you?" The woman, startled, looked up at me and with brief hesitation said, "Gee— oh, hi—thank you, good morning." This brief encounter touched each of us in our own way. I turned back and watch them continue to walk—with purpose.

Another simple gesture you can do is address people by their name. We all like hearing the sound of our name, even if pronounced poorly. So if you're at the grocery store, coffee shop, or auto service shop, if someone is wearing a name tag, address him or her by their name—and smile. Make someone's day and it will make yours. Be kind to strangers—every day.


4) Embrace Change.

Often life will throw you a curve, upset your balance and push you outside your comfort zone. Most of the time these things come in the form of unexpected or unwanted change. This could be the loss of a job, a new job or position, an end to a relationship, new responsibilities or perhaps unforeseen circumstances affecting some sort of change. Yet, when "change happens" most of us would rather resist or complain about it, rather than face or accept the change.

As hard as it may be to handle for some, change allows us to grow, learn and move forward. There's no benefit in dwelling on the past and looking back. Instead, we must train ourselves to accept change and look at it as an opportunity to take advantage of, rather than a problem to solve.

You can do this simply by embracing change and making it part of your daily life—notice I didn't say "daily routine." You see, routine is our enemy. When routine is upset by change, we tend to tense up, stress and worry while our attitude takes a u-turn south. So choose to change. Take a different route to work. Move the furniture around in your office, home or living room. Try a new restaurant or eat something you've never tried. Mix up your wardrobe or listen to new music. Make change your friend and embrace it with a huge bear hug. The next time you are faced with unexpected change, you'll find opportunity and see the possibilities.


5) Travel.

Explore the world, or your own backyard. Those of us who have diverse and unique perspectives that come with an expanded worldview will find it easier to adapt, communicate and relate when it comes to solving problems, resolving conflict and recognizing opportunity. Travel not only relaxes and rests the soul and the mind, it stimulates thinking and widens our view. It gives us the perspective we need in order to have vision, to innovate and lead and to have compassion.

Sure, traveling abroad to experience and immerse ourselves into new and different cultures is perhaps the best way to expand your worldview, but often time and other constraints get in the way. No problem. Chances are you can experience and immerse yourself in different cultures in your own backyard— you can travel the world in your own city or somewhere nearby. Do it over a long weekend. The key is choosing—with purpose—the decision to wander, explore and discover. Our country is rich in diversity and the melting pot of cultures and people offers immense opportunity to meet people, eat food, hear music and experience art from virtually every country on our planet. So, with just a little effort you can find pockets and neighborhoods all over the country; each rich in culture and populated by hundreds or thousands of people from a a particular country.

For example, this summer I was caught up in the thrill and excitement of the Olympics, the bi-annual sporting event that offers a chance to expand our worldview by watching athletes from all over the world compete and play with each other. So, on a Sunday afternoon I made my way to east San Diego in search of Ethiopian food. My first stop was an Eritrean restaurant and after a delicious lunch, the owner suggested that I could find many of the ingredients needed to cook traditional Ethiopian were available at nearby market. So, at the Awash Ethiopian Restaurant and Market the owner took me in, shared coffee from freshly roasted Ethiopian beans, sweets, snacks and unique spices and products he imports from Ethiopia. The virtual swinging front door brought a cast of characters rich in culture from all over Ethiopia and east Africa. And it was there in that market and restaurant, sitting along side a dozen of Ethiopians, that we all cheered on Tiki Gelana, from Bekoji Ethiopia who took the gold and broke the world record in the women's marathon. I felt like I was in Ethiopia, though I was only 30 miles from home.

Seek, as they say, and you shall find. But you need to choose to seek, to explore and discover. So travel the world or your own backyard and expand your worldview and live a more rewarding life.


6) Take Chances. Accept Risk.

There are no short cuts to success or happiness. Sure, you are in control and can affect your own outcome. But nobody goes anywhere by playing it safe. Whether you're pursuing intellectual, physical, emotional or financial success, experience dictates that you must first fail. To fail means taking a risk and accepting the notion that in order to see and realize possibilities you will have to step outside your comfort zone—take a chance. We all need to push ourselves and we all need to be pushed. When we wallow and whine about our woes, we're pathetic and miserable. When we're bold, confident and accepting, we succeed. Which would you rather do?

What do you really want? Prosperity? To travel the world? To write? Perhaps you would like to go out with a particular man or woman? Not satisfied with your job or career? What will make you happy? So take a chance. Go for it. Be happy. Try. And try again. You will succeed, and you will be happy.

Take Charlie Trotter, the famous Chicago chef that for 25 years has arguably run one of the best restaurants in the country—the kind you need to book a table months in advance, even in this sluggish economy. His name—his brand—is likely worth millions. However, earlier this year he announced he was shutting down his restaurant! Why? Because he wanted to travel the world and then go back to school and pursue a graduate degree in philosophy. A risky move. He did it because that's what he wants to do. Maybe YOU want to open a restaurant. Take a chance. Do what you want to do and be happy and succeed.


7) Smile.

This is the easiest thing on this list you can do right now to be happy and more successful. I hinted at this in #3 above, "be kind to strangers." And though I've written about this before, it always bears repeating. When you smile you feel better and you make those around you feel better, too. When you feel better you have more energy and confidence. This will help and drive you to do good things, those things that will make you happy and successful.

Even better, when we smile we look better. I love watching people and often I will follow my own advice and change my environment by going to the local Starbucks to write, work and watch people. Sometimes I notice people who seemingly have put intense effort into picking out their wardrobe, with each piece and accessory meticuloulsy thought out—except often they seem to have forgotten to wear a smile. These people put in some 90 percent of the effort to try to look good, but without the smile they are not attractive. They seem preoccupied, impatient, pompous or even lost.

While a smile will certainly makes us look and feel better, it has even greater power. Quite often during the Q&A sessions at many of my keynote speeches, I'm asked about my travels around the world alone on a motorcycle, and if I carried a weapon. My answer is simple: yes. I still carry the it. The weapon I carry weighs nothing, costs nothing and can be used without training or ammunition. Let's face it, a smile is the ultimate weapon. It can break down virtually any barrier, especially those of language, culture and political or governmental minutia.

Are you ready?

So there you have it. My seven tenets of a happy, successful and more rewarding life. You can start practicing today. If you prefer, start slow. But go through each of these with purpose and commitment. And get back to me, I'd love to learn and hear about your discoveries and experiences — those that will improve your perspective, expand your worldview, allow you to grow and live a more rewarding life.

This is Chapter I of a series of thoughts, ideas, actions and things we all need to do or be in order to live a more rewarding life. A successful and happy life. Please subscribe to updates to this blog so you don't miss out on future chapters.


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July 31, 2012

Africa/Ethiopia   11:16 PM
Ethiopia Dreaming: Zilzil Alecha—Prime Beef in Green Pepper Sauce

Zilzil Alecha - Ethiopian Flavors Expressed Perfectly!

Though it's been more than three years since I was cruising winding my way through Ethiopia and following the Nile River, exploring the ancient ruins of Lalibela and searching for the remains of Haile Selassie's Lions and the tomb or memorial of Bob Marley.

Though the donkey dealer I whom I tried to purchase one of his finest specimens, strongly talked me out of it by reasoning that the Sudanese border and customs officers wouldn't let me into their country with an Ethiopian donkey. To be sure, I wanted to try.

Though I never found out if I could've brought my new donkey into Sudan, I did have incredible experiences and discoveries while traveling through Ethiopia. As I've been deep into the production and writing of my new book, this evening I had the urge to cook Ethiopian food. So I pulled out my recipe of zizil alecha, a somewhat spicy dish (well, this is Ethiopian after all) of prime beef simmered in a green pepper sauce. So easy it is to prepare and so tasty it is on my palate, the only, and slightly, disappointment is that her in the USA we cannot, without great effort, grow injera, the almost spongy bread like meal accompaniment that the Ethiopians make from the grain "teff". It's ubiquitous in Ethiopia, yet so rare to find outside this part of Africa. I guess some combo of rice and flatbread will suffice as a poor substitute.

The flavors are complex, the spice tamed and the beef tender and rich. You need to try cooking this! Alas, while you can find recipes online, I'm confident, you should wait for the Tasting Adventure cookbook, as we've taken it up a notch and combined the recipe with more stories of donkeys and injera from Ethiopia and great photographs from my journey.

Meanwhile, enjoy a few snaps from my culinary crusade and adventure into Ethi0pia this evening.

core ingredients for zilzil alecha Ethiopia's best flavors

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July 22, 2012

Travelogue   07:24 PM
Recipe testers needed for exciting new global cookbook. Interested?

If you've been wondering why you haven't seen many posts here on the Tavern or my WorldRider site, the explanation is easy: I'm overwhelmed — in a good way. Yet, to be honest, I could use some help. So if you, or someone you know might be able to help me, please let me know or pass this post/email on.

From my cookbook, Jim Porter shot the amazing Brazilian Moqueca — a featured recipe and shown in the style of the photographs that we will feature for recipes in my upcoming book: Tasting Adventure: Around The World With Two Forks & A Knife

What's Happening:

Next month I'm working with Orange County Food Photographer Jim Porter, assistant photographer and digital production legend Erika Stout and Food Stylist Lisa Meredith to shoot the final recipes for my upcoming book.

What I'm Looking For:

  • Recipe Testers - cook and taste recipes from around the world and provide feedback and input on your experience and results.

  • Recipe Tester Project Manager (work with testers and organize the information and feedback)

  • Props (dishes, flatware, accent pieces and textiles) from/representing various countries around the world (the sets for photos need to be as authentic as possible)

  • Prop manager — help me organize and source props — in many cases props will be borrowed and after the shoot returned

  • Kitchen/Studio Assistant/intern to work with Lisa, Jim and me in the kitchen and studio during the photo shoot

What You Get If You Help Me:

  • Your name in lights: as in bright lights in my book as a thank you

  • A hug

  • Wholesale price for cookbook upon publishing (if you want one!)

  • Invitation to the launch party (live music, celebrities and food!!)

  • Gratitude and thanks forever!!

  • There will be one or two special gifts (think door prizes) that will be given to names pulled from (like a hat) of all helpers -- but I'll pull them from a Potjie (a South African traditional cast-iron dutch-style over — which by the way I'm looking to borrow for the photo shoot)

  • Lots of attention on my blogs, Facebook and other social media (if you want)

  • I will give you a reference and recommendation, write a recommendation on linked in, and if it helps in your career pursuit, you can use the experience on your CV, resume or linked in resume and summary.

  • The great feeling that you were instrumental in helping bring this ambitious project to life!

How can you help:

Recipe Testing

I'm look for about 5-10 recipe testers to help out with — recipe testing. The book features some 50 recipes from all over the world. These are typically national dishes, comfort/street food and the dishes the locals eat.

The book will be about 200 pages and feature 30-40 photographs of the recipes combined with my travel photos from around the world and accented by short narratives from my experience in each country. Sometimes these will be about food, other times just about connecting with people and culture. After all, cooking, dining and food usually connects, bonds and brings people together. That's what my book is about, and that's much of what I learned and experienced after three years traveling alone around the world — on a motorcycle.

Recipe testers should have some culinary experience, be addicted to the Food Network, fascinated by ingredients and how things are made or simply be passionate about cooking and tasting. I will provide each tester with 3-6 recipes and ask you to cook them to the "T", take photographs and a bit of rudimentary video (smart phone snaps and video ok) and get your honest opinion of the recipe and any recommendations that might improve it for a global palate — without losing the essence of the recipe's origin, of course.

You'll need time to prepare the recipes and in some cases you might have to buy a special ingredient or two. You should have experience in the kitchen and if you've had culinary training — even better.

I'd like to have the recipes testing completed by the end of August. That gives about 1 1/2 months — though there is some flexibility.

Recipe Tester Manager

I'm looking for someone who can keep in touch with the testers, organize the recipes, comments and provide communication between me and the testers. This would be via email over a two month period.

Props: From Central & South America, Africa, Middle East

I traveled to over 30 countries in North, Central, South America and Africa, Middle East and Europe. We are shooting simple sets accented by dishes, textiles, textures or ingredients/products from these countries. In order to be as authentic as possible I am hoping to find items that could be used for the dish for each country. My photographer has a studio full of dishes, glasses, cups etc., but in some cases there may be something that from one of these countries that can take the authenticity up a notch. I'd like to borrow these items and consider for the set. All items will be returned, or passed on — depending on the original owner.

Prop Manager

Looking for someone who can organize communication between all the people who will offer and provide / loan props for the shoot. If you live in Southern California and can go to the Studio (in Orange County) on occasion to organize props and work with me and photographer, even better and preferred, though not necessary.

Kitchen Assistant

Have you worked as a photographer assistant, sous chef, cook, or just love to be in the kitchen and a photo studio? Great. Maybe you can be an extra hand for us as our shoot schedule is very aggressive and we'll need help pulling props, prepping ingredients, preparing surfaces and pulling ingredients and cleaning up. You would need to be available August 20-30th. The shoot will happen 4 days 21-25 and then another 4 days sometime in the following two weeks.

How Do You Get Started?

Let me know what you would like to do, how you can help and share any experience you have in those areas I'm seeking help. All you need to do is go here and fill out this simple form. Then I'll be in touch with you real soon.

What's Next?

We've already done some of the shots and production for the book. And if you want to see what it's like in the studio of a food photography photo shoot, check out this gallery of snapshots during our recipe tasting and photo shoots.

Next week I will post more information regarding the props needed, so look for another notice coming soon. Meanwhile, I've posted a simple form that you can complete and send me to let me know your interest. I'm moving fast, so don't wait too long!

Thanks again and I look forward to working with some of you and getting back up to date with all of you — through updates and some live streaming even during the photo shoot — we'll see!




PS. Fill out this form if you're interested in helping me get this book through production this summer.

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March 07, 2012

Peru/South America   08:11 PM
Dakar 2012 Highlights Video: Featuring Darkcycd

Dakar 2012 Highlights Video: Featuring Darkcycd

Check out this video clip featuring Robb Rill and the Darkcyd Racing Team in South America for the Dakar 2012 edition. Shot and produced by the Dakar organization and features an interview with Robb prior to the start of the race. Good stuff.

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January 16, 2012

Peru/South America   08:10 PM
Happy or Sad. Dakar Comes To An End. What's next?

For the first time on this nearly 10,000km journey, the Darkcyd Racing Team rose at near sunrise and calmly and collectively packed camp and headed out of the Pisco Bivouac before the last of the cars and the trucks. I’m sure many on the team would confess relief, excitement and express jubilee as the end of this long trip was just a few hundred kilometers away. However, I’m sure that most would hesitate to reveal a certain post-Dakar disappointment or depression settling in. To be sure, no one will miss Bivouac food, gnarly and questionable shower and toilet facilities, wind, biting sand and the roaring and revving of engines all night long. But we’re at the end.

The Dakar competitors still vying for a position on the podium have other things on their minds. For the bikes, I have to admit that it’s over. Despite my finger-crossing, wishing and positive thoughts going out to Marc Coma, Cyril Despres walked away with the #1 spot on the podium Troubles with Coma’s gearbox cost him yet another penalty, this time one-hour. Though I felt a little tingle today as Portuguese rider Helder Rodrigues riding on his Red Bull Yamaha grabbed the top spot on Stage 13 and beat Despres by just :47 seconds. So, maybe I just don’t prefer riders on KTMs, though I was rooting for Coma. By the time we rolled into Lima Despres had it locked in with Coma and Rodriques taking 2nd and 3rd positions accordingly.

While my allegiance to Coma for the bikes met with disappointment , I was more disappointed by the ending results for the cars. I know this is a French-run race and that the French have incredibly capable and professional motorcycle racers and car racers, when will an American walk away with the top spot on the podium for cars? Robby Gordon had set his team’s sites on #1 and #2 for 2012. But he too fell short. Before taking off yesterday morning Gordon was rather vocal that he’d take the (13th) stage away from the ‘sissy’ Minis. But he pushed too hard. After getting stuck in the sand and seeing Peterhansel pull away before he got out, he floored his special-built Hummer and drove it a bit too hard as he tried to talk Peterhansel, he hopped over a small dune and landed a tad cockeyed and flipped his Speed Energy Hummer and landed on the roof. The locals quickly got him on his way, but two flat tires cost him more time and he never caught the Mini’s.

On the podium we watched corks flying and champagne spewing. Flags waving and happy finishers grinning ear to ear. For those who made it this far, now was time for their glory.
But on the final stage, a short 29km run into Lima, Gordon showed once and for all who should be boss and he won the final stage by just 21 seconds ahead of Ricardo Leal Dos Santos, though not enough to make a dent in the standings. So by the time the he rolled into Lima, Gordon ended up with a respectable, but not desirable, 5th place overall position. He guaranteed the Mini’s and the crowd that he’ll be back.

Our Canadian teammate David Bensadoun driving the banana colored Desert Warrior became the first Canadian to ever complete a Dakar and took 40th place, though he was 30 hours behind the winner Stephane Peterhansel. And the only other Americans to finish the race behind Robby Gordon, Darren Skilton in a Revolution VI buggy and Ned Suesse, from Colorado Springs and riding a KTM motorcycle in his first attempt at Dakar finished 53rd overall.

When it comes to Dakar, finishing is winning. And though the Darkcyd Rally Racing Team’s Desert Warrior didn’t finish in the strict rules of the event, it made the journey and logged over 5,000 miles from Mar del Plata, Argentina to Lima, Peru. There was no cheering on the podium and the somber mood that hung over the team earlier in Argentina had dissipated by the time it was greeted with enormous fanfare staring some 100 miles south of Lima where Peruvian fans had lined the roadsides, crowded the overpasses and steps of bridges all the way to Lima. They whistled, the cheered, they raised there fists high and echoed excitement — excitement that lasted for hours as we rolled into Lima in classic celebrity fashion: with a siren blaring and lights chasing Police Escort.

Darkcyd Racing made it to Lima. Our mission was to get to know and reconnaissance the most grueling and difficult race on the planet. As I watched the faces of its teammates, I could see they all were happy to finish and that they all harbor a desire to come back.

The fans lining the bridges/overpasses was a site that can barely be described using words. It warmed our hearts and sparked our imagination. We’d never see anything like this in the United States.

On the podium we watched corks flying and champagne spewing. Flags waving and happy finishers grinning ear to ear.

For the Darkcyd Racing Team, the Bivouac behind them and traded for 5-star digs in upmarket Mira Flores. With a Starbucks walking distance and the golden arches glowing, it does seem we’ve come a long way. But rather than gravitate to an American safe haven, the team opted for the culinary creations of a traditional Peruvian restaurant, Pampas del Amacayaes, just a few blocks from our hotel.

There was still business in Lima, however. The T-5 support vehicle and the Desert Warrior were delivered to the docks at the shipping port near the Lima Airport. A bit of bureaucratic runaround made for just one more exciting South American adventure.

And then there’s the bicycle. Remember the bike Robb purchased in Arica? Well before taking the Desert Warrior to the port, an eager youngster, handicapped with just one hand, had been gawking and eyeing the race cars and support vehicles all morning while details for shipping were ironed out. Robb singled him out and before one more Lima Police Escort to the port, Robb handed the young boy the bicycle. Tears nearly fell from his eyes as he caressed the bike and expressed thanks. It makes all of us wonder and wish we all had bicycles to give the needy. For those things that sometimes seem meaningless or are taken for granted are so much appreciated and coveted here south of the border. Sometimes we fall victim to our own greed or desire for something just a little better. A dose of reality like watching the one handed boy glee and smile brings everything in perspective.

Dakar may be over. But much work needs to be done.

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January 14, 2012

Peru/South America   08:08 PM
Dakar Dunes Up Close. Bistro Bivouac & Peruvian Rations.

I’m sure the last thing Raff and Bill wanted to do last night was to remove the transmission from the Desert Warrior. Sure, if we were still in the race and the clock was ticking, that’d be the norm. As spectators and assistance and mired in our ongoing challenges—remember, the T-5 Chevy 2500 has transmission problems of its own—but considering this would be the third time clutch issues with the Desert Warrior had to be addressed. Robb wondered if we were still in the race, would the clutch issues have hampered and caused further problems and prevent Darkcyd’s likely finish. But that’s just hypothesizing and a waste of mind space.

Fact is, when the Desert Warrior rests on solid ground in the USA, the clutch, brakes and differential issues will be a high priority. And not because the team is planning another race for the Desert Warrior, but because the techs need to get more comfortable and intimate with the vehicles idiosyncrasies. But for now, the Desert Warrior had to make it to Lima—preferably under its own power and not behind the battery and transmission challenged RAFFmobile Chevy 2500 T-5.

I combed the passenger compartment of the Desert Warrior and familiarized myself with the safety equipment and nearest exits, but there was no barf bag in the seat pocket. – Allan KarlWe’re just one day out of Lima. Today would be my last day to log some miles in the Desert Warrior. Though yesterday too many hours under the beating sun and a case of indigestion spurred by Bistro Bivouac, I was feeling a bit worn, tired and under the weather. The prospect of climbing into the passenger seat of a race car while in the driver seat sits a zealous and anxious and certainly frustrated race-car driver, I wondered how I’d fare. I combed the passenger compartment of the Desert Warrior and familiarized myself with the safety equipment and nearest exits, but there was no barf bag in the seat pocket. And the pilot had no initial support on how to adjust the five-point racing harness, but it was clear the prior co-driver was quite a bit larger than moi. After some adjusting and support from Raff, Robb and I took off.

It was the earliest departure time on record for the entire Dakar 2012 for the Darkcyd Racing Team. Why? We were anxious to get to a media/press viewing area so we could see the leaders race deeper on stage than we’d seen before. With GPS coordinates locked and a working yet still temperamental clutch, we set out about 6o kilometers to the turn off that would take us another 10-12 kms off road and along yet another set of dunes. As we raced through the sand the Desert Warrior competently squirreled and swerved in the sand. We climbed small dune-ettes and after about 20 minutes we spotted the viewing area. As we approached we could see a spewing trail of dust approaching us. It was Robby Gordon. The race had started.

At barely 8:30am the sun was already unbearable. Dressed in long sleeves and donning a special sun hat, I was loaded with camera gear. I fitted Robb with my spare “Buff” for sun resistance and we headed out to the dunes to watch Dakar action live and up close in the sand. Rather than explain the adrenalin and excitement from watching the race out in the dunes, check out the photos below for the up close action.

Due to our early start, we actually made our arrival to the Bivouac the earliest of our adventure. With the sun still high in the sky, and the dining hall not yet open, we were able to enjoy culture, appetizers and a taste of Pisco Sour in the host hospitality tent. Each country hosts a hospitality tent where, if you are early enough, Dakar bivouac dwellers can get a hint of what the host country offers from a culture, tourism and culinary perspective. Like the rest of our team, hough I’ve been on the road for about two weeks, I’d never made to a bivouac host tent. After today’s experience, I wish that I had.

For the most part, I feel that yesterday’s sun stroke was compounded by today’s dune dwelling photo session—rather than complain I just hydrated with liters of water and though I felt my appetite had escaped, the Peruvian stuffed potatoes, pork filled empanadas and rice with milk settled nicely. We were treated to music and dance from the locals and overall I could sprawl out on a somewhat comfy sofa that was sand free and under the shade of a massive tent. Yes, it feels we’re getting closer to Lima.

The Peruvian bathrooms in the past bivouacs have been perhaps the cleanest, as well. Several attendants rush to the door once you leave a porta-potty and they clean and sanitize the cozy cubicle before another enters. But unlike other bivouac portable potty boxes, the attendants here were committed to almost a Stalinesque-approach to rationing—toilet paper rationing.

The first time I retreated to porta-potty central in Arequipa, I opened a half-dozen doors only to find each void of toilet paper. After the fifth or sixth I barely heard this meek voice from across the yard, “papel? papel?” It didn’t register at first, but then it fell on me like thunder. I nodded, “si, papel, por favor.” She had a stash of pre-rolled toilet paper sheets, perhaps 10-12, and handed me my thin ration. Geeez, I wondered. I know the dining hall crew can be stingy on the good food nights, but 10 sheets of toilet paper after a dinner at Bistro Bivouac? I grabbed my ration and applied a conservative and sustainable approach to my toilet paper usage.

Back at camp I quickly learned that I wasn’t the only person in camp Darkcyd to have been rationed. I guess to gain a little, as the old marketing adage says, you’ve got to give up something. I know Tara gladly gave up the toilet paper rationing — because she always keeps a secret stash—and always a supply of the legendary Action Wipes — oversized and all natural towels for keeping clean and when the showers are just a little to scary — her savior and certainly a life savior for the rest of us as we brave the harsh conditions of Dakar the Desert and the Bivouac.

There are things to learn here in Peru and on the Dakar trail. Toilet paper strategy has been earmarked for future reference.

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January 13, 2012

Chile/Peru/South America   08:06 PM
The Mystery of Nasca. The Madness of Dunes.

It’s a race to the finish. That is, who will finish.

With the partial results floating in, the German x-Raid team of Mini Coopers and BMW’s are still holding strong with Peterhansel’s nearly 4 minute jump on teammate Coma in Arequipa, the Frenchman sits 22 minutes ahead of his teammate and more than 2 hours ahead of Robby Gordon who has now slipped to 4th place due to problems with his suspension on the 10th stage.

But the motorcycle battle rages strong here at 2012 Dakar With Cyril Despres winning his 4th stage of this year’s rally and gaining even more time over Marc Coma. Despres now holds the magic number of 2 minutes and 22 seconds ahead of Coma.

With Robby Gordon, Darren Skilton and Ned Suesse the only American’s still competing in the Dakar 2012 Edition, our sights and vibes are set on these teams. Skilton’s team showed their raggedy and tired edge in the Bivouac in Nasca. They were out all night, had no sleep and had to jump right back into the race this morning. I’ve wandered the bivouac for days, and while I’ve seen Suesse on stage, I haven’t been able to find his camp in the bivouac. While I’m sure Gordon is upset about his current 5th place showing, and Darren and team are frustrated with the Revolution VI buggy and the problems that have plagued them, they are proving that the race isn’t always about winning, it’s about enduring—and finishing—ervery stage along the way.

But today it’s all about dunes. The motorcycles get a big of a break after their long stage yesterday, but the cars and trucks will have a total of 657km to run including 245km of special stage — most of this through dunes, some topping over a mile high. Our team and convoy of three vehicles continued our crusade up the coast toward Nasca, famous for the Nasca Lines (sometimes spelled Nazca) a series of ancient geoglyphs stretching for miles in the Desert that shares its name. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, the lines are made up of undress of geometric shapes and dozens of zoomorphic designs of animals including a monkey, llamas, condor and more. Discovered in 1927 by a Peruvian archaeologist, they are best seen from air, though they were discovered when the archaeologist was hiking nearby hills.

The Dakar Rally won’t be raging across these mysterious ancient lines, rather they’ll cruise along the cost and then topping those massive dunes. Since Dakar moved to South America four years ago, there have been nothing like these dunes seen by the competitors. Talking with many of the drivers who’d competed in both Africa and South America, it was unanimous that these dunes were closest to what the teams face in Africa — if not even bigger.

The section of massive dunes is continuous for more than 20 kilometers. To negotiate the dunes drivers must carefully perform the “Mauritanian swerve” in order to ascend, crest and descent without incident. The “curve” requires ascending the dunes at an angle and then navigating into an ever so slight decreasing radius, giving driver and co-driver alike a chance to read the opposite side of the dunes. The whipping winds cause these dunes to change in just a moment, so reading the dunes is the most important aspect to successfully navigating without getting stuck, rolling down them or end-overing a vehicle after cresting the opposite side.

We almost had a four-alarm fire when Tara declared an emergency when she discovered her coveted bag of make-up was missing

The route for Dakar changes every year, but the terrain has been fairly consistent. Those who have raced before are well familiar with Argentina and Chile. But this is Peru’s debut, and nobody knows what to expect. While cruising along the cost we passed through the tiny town Tanaka where locals have thrown up an ad-hoc sign stating “Dakar Afraid of Tanaka Dunes.” I decided to stop to learn more about this strategically placed sign that shared a view of the rugged coast and and endless sea of dunes.

It’s possible that A.S.O. considered Tanaka for a dune stage of Dakar, but opted for dunes closer to Nasca. The locals believe that Dakar chose, perhaps, easier and a shorter distance of dues more north. Perhaps feeling stilted or not having the opportunity to host the Dakar competitors, the locals have decided to make a statement. As we gazed out on the dunes, the shapes and windblown geometry reminded me of the Sussevlei dunes in Namibia in southwest Africa.

A rambunctious group of locals, several who’d already had a bit too much to drink this afternoon, were happy to see that we stopped, communicated and inquired. The usually cadre of photographs and autographs followed with a constant reminder that “Dakar is afraid of the Tanaka Dunes.” Harmless and passionate, we bid our friends farewell and cruised up the coast, all along flaking dunes or one type or another. A few hours south of the Bivouac we regrouped with our entire convoy and shared yet another box lunch of questionable “cat” food, chips and more. Peering over the cliff of our lunch spot we noticed a sole shack, a dog and man wandering about. Prime ocean front real-estate we all agreed. But I wondered if raging winter storms wreak havoc on the feeble shack. We waved and cheered and tried to egg the dog to climb the 200 foot cliff to greet us. Didn’t happen.

In the bivouac we had a bit of business to take care. First, Tara determined to make the most of the bivouac and to show up all the women who send in photographs to the editor of Glamour Magazine to share just where some women go with their Galmour Magazine. According to Sara, most contributions are lame and hardly interesting. How many women bring Glamour to Dakar? I can say that last week we almost had a four-alarm fire when Tara declared an emergency when she discovered her coveted bag of make-up had gone temporarily missing. It was an emergency and all hands had to focus on recovering the coveted bag. Turns out the bag wasn’t far at all and this was just a fire drill. But the Glamour Magazine? Always secure and we took advantage of a sunset photo opportunity here in Nasca to capture the essence of Dakar and the contrasting beauty of Glamour.

While we were shooting, I pulled out a bottle of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc that our Chilean Fixer had left me for just such an occasion. We pulled the team together and celebrated the countdown to Lima and a sweet taste of a grassy Sauv Blanc.

It’s true. Just one more day and we’ll be making tracks to Lima. The crew, it seems, is ready. The race is winding down. Attrition continues to take its toll on more cars, bikes, trucks and quads. We share the road with trailers hauling broken, beaten and battered vehicles. Inside I wonder how many will be back to try again.


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January 12, 2012

Chile/South America   11:05 PM
Nail biting Dakar tension marks long wait in Arequipa

While the liaison or transit route for support vehicles and media was a whopping 400km, the competitors had much longer runs. The motorcyclists had perhaps one of their longest days to date at over 700km, whereas the cars and trucks had 598km and 552km respectively. Due to the length of the stage, A.S.O. set up a special service bivouac enroute just for bikers and quads, not their assistance vehicles. Only the bikers and quad riders could help each other.

The liaisons for everyone were short: a quick jaunt to Tacna where we were whisked through immigration and customs like I’d never seen before. If only I had this kinda of speed when traveling around the world on my bike, I’d perhaps would have been able to log more countries. In Peru the roads are narrower and the cost begins to get more rugged. Steep inclines and twitting corners and switchbacks made for a very long cruise to Arequipa. Chugging trucks and lorries created long lines of assistance vehicles and T-5′s, each trying to nose into the oncoming lane hoping for a straightaway just long enough to whir by the diesel spewing slugs.

Relief from the winding and climbing roads was provided by long stretches of straightaways blasting through the desert or along the coast. Our first view of real South American poverty provided a peak at the sobering reality and contrast with million dollar vehicles tearing up the desert while the unfortunate live in brittle shacks of cane and brush, often without roofs and always without running water or electricity.

Back in the Desert Warrior, Robb soon discovered the winding roads, climbs and descents took its toll on its clutch, at one point losing all resistance and not working at all. The front transfer case has been leaking since we nearly started this journey, something surmised by techs that could be a legacy issue from the accident in Baja and perhaps a slightly tweaked axle. We had to pull over roadside to address strange sounds and the clutch.

A quick refueling stop in Boca del Oro gave us a hint of what we could expect from the Peruvian fans. The lined the streets, waved flags, whistled and cheered as the cars and trucks rounded the traffic circles. Police in crisp well starched uniforms waved their arms and directed the racers to the correct route and the assistance vehicles to theirs. The rugged coast is marked by scraggily cliffs and volcanic rocks littered along the coastline. The precipitous cliffs, often dropping 300 feet or more into the pounding surf and rocks below made the drive more exciting. There are very few guard rails. After climbing out of another coastal valley we climbed to the summit to be greeted by a warm and dramatic site: the glorious Andes and its snowcapped volcanoes. We hadn’t seen them since the ride from Fiambala to Copiapó many days ago.

With the wind whipping and blowing the magic mushroom around we started to descend toward the coast. That’s when we spotted the bivouac, tucked into a little canyon and in the shadows of two grand volcanoes. We set up camp and waited word on our fellow Canadian teammate ALDO Racing as well as Darren Skilton. Today’s stage was long and marked by a section of dunes and many kilometers of that nasty silt “fesh-fesh”.

In the Bivouac we were treated to perhaps the best food of the Dakar trail to date. And the Peru hospitality tent treated those fortunate enough o have returned from the tough stage or were in assistance vehicles still awaiting the return of their teammates to a dose of culture and a token gift of a traditional “chullo” hat, hand woven of alpaca.

David and Patrick pulled into the bivouac just after nightfall in the banana colored Desert Warrior—they had been stuck because silt and powdery fesh-fesh had clogged the air filter. But there was no word from Skilton, his co-driver Skyler Gambrell or the whereabouts of his Revolution VI buggy. In their camp set up in the Arequipa bivouac, shared by McMillin Racing Team, who’d been out of the race since the second stage, tension permeated the group. When they finally got word from Darren, it wasn’t good news. Roaring through the dunes, they crested a large dune only to find a French press car stuck —with no flag, warning triangle or anything. Skilton lost momentum and then got stuck.

After several hours and with help from another assistance vehicle, the finally got back on track. But not for long. Soon they were stuck and choked in the silty beds of “fesh-fesh”. In the bivouac Robb struggled to no success to get ahold of Paul and our T-4 assistance vehicle which also had not showed up at the bivouac. The moon raised high in the sky, surf pounded on the rocks and beach nearby and after midnight barely half of the vehicles had made it back to the bivouac. And Darren was stuck in the ‘crap’.

It’s not uncommon for racers to finally abandon hope and leave their vehicles buried in sand. Cars and motorcycles burn up on stage. And parts fall off vehicles making them impossible to drive back to the bivouac. With only Skilton and Robby Gordon the only hope for an American finish to the 2012 Edition of The Dakar, the mood was melancholy at Skilton’s camp. AS the hours clicked on, our teams tried to get to sleep. Seems Darren and Skyler would be trying to get their own sleep deep in the desert.

On stage and in the heat of the night Skyler and Darren replaced the clutch, blew out the air filter of fesh-fesh and finally got back on track. They arrived at the bivouac the next morning just minutes before the last car to leave. With no time to service the vehicle or even take a bathroom break, Skilton entered the bivouac and made a “U” turn, submitted his time card to control and headed back out on course.

The rules in Dakar are clear. You can stay in the race, at risk of time penalty, as long as you show up for the next stage prior to the last car heading out. This is exactly what Darren did. Though he didn’t begin racing. He made another “U” turn and returned to the bivouac where our joint teams worked together to address the mechanical issues that plagued the buggy late last night. Though he lost time and was at risk of penalty, Darren and Skyler hopped back in the buggy and headed out toward Nasca for the 12th stage—without any sleep—or rest.

That’s Dakar. More endurance than anything else, we watched them leave, packed up camp and headed out on the coast.


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That's Funny. You know when I posts the date I used the European and R.o   (.......)
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Thanks for sharing your thoughts on fear, Allan. It is also the question   (.......)
July 27, 2011 11:23 AM

Quentin Johnson on Summertime is Riding Time

Dude... Get your motor runnin'!!! and don't forget to lift your visor t   (.......)
July 11, 2011 05:10 AM

Quentin Johnson on Darkcyd Racing South of the Border - From WRC Rally Mexico to The Baja 500

Rock on Worldrider. Good luck south of the border.

June 2, 2011 03:14 PM
Amr Elbarkouky on Cairo: The Madness of It All.

You are absolutely right in each and every word you said, Mohamed Anwar   (.......)
April 18, 2011 02:38 PM