Admittedly ours were upgraded with Honda 200 4-stroke engines in place of the original archaic 2-stroke but otherwise these bikes with their dubious Russian build quality, doubtful brakes and seemingly undamped suspension only added to the “uncertain outcome” part of the adventure definition. That said, we 8 punters on this trip failed to break the bikes on the varied and sometimes challenging trails we rode; if you forgive a burnt out clutch due to too much clutch work up an hour’s gnarly boulder strewn goat track, and a holed crank case due to smashing into a boulder. Such trail side repairs being seemingly all within the stride of the following mechanic with a workshop in his panniers!
The northern Vietnam-China border region is a mountainous area; in the east of tall limestone outcrops rising vertically hundreds of feet from the flat fertile valley floors to high but more rolling mountains in the west. We rode small local roads most in a relatively poor condition by our road standards but there were also many of what we know as green roads; used by locals to access their fields, houses and communities but which have not had the tarmac treatment. In some cases these rocky dirt roads go on for a hundred miles or so. Think riding Strata Florida for 8 days! For me this trip involved some of the most amazing scenery and people I have come across and it has to be said, the most significant element in any travellers tales is not the where and how but the who. The people on the tour, both punters, tour leader and back up guys and more importantly the various locals we encountered humbled our lifestyles and brought me back a peg or two to what life and adventure means.