A year after the first mention of Expedition 65, the team gathers for a face to face at this years Overland Expo West.
After tossing back and forth dozens of megabytes of emails –if not hundreds– between 15 guys, each with an opinion, comment or addition to the conversation, we finally got the full compliment of riders together for a face to face. Briefly.
With a diverse group like this, getting us together in one place truly was like herding cats. Were it not for the Expo, I don’t know if we’d actually come together again in person. And since I didn’t make the first meeting last fall, I didn’t know everyone involved. With an event like the Expo going on, I was able to meet many, but not all, of the guys involved over the few nights at camps and throughout the show.
All socializing aside, there was a lot of business to get done. And on Saturday we planned to meet after breakfast and run down a very long laundry list of tasks, to-dos, and decisions. And luckily, as sometimes is the case, it takes talking in person to hash out a plan.
Going in, we’d planned to individually get our bikes to Miami somehow, someway, and amidst all the dialog about the shipping containers in Florida, packing them and sorting paperwork did we realize we could do all that in California and ship many, but not all, of the bike together from the west coast. Duh.
Ten days later, that plan came apart again when prices or schedules didn’t work, but it was a stroke of brilliance that wasn’t going to come out of an email thread. Heck, I spend considerable time just sorting, collecting and reading the threads through the rest of my live’s emails. I welcomed that meeting, despite it’s length.
Six hours later, we emerge from our Dakar Bar-gone-Boardroom office at the Expo just in time for happy hour. We missed almost the entire day’s display of vendors. Luckily we had three days to catch all that jazz. This was the real importance to the weekend for E65, and we each came away with our own list of to-dos… and binders filled with maps and information.
How many tools do we carry. How about air compressors and first aid kits? Did we find someone willing to drive the van yet? Who here is medically certified to rescue one of us alongside the road? Which immunizations have you gotten yet? And which do we need? Visas? How about for the Canadians in the group. With each passing hour came more unanswered questions.
Everyone’s group deposits to the bank pool needed to be increase to $5,000. Some initial deposits need to be returned to members that had to drop out of the whole tour. One man took on the challenge of being the secretary and will get us the necessary wiring information as soon as possible for that.
We met with the rep from Motorex and devised a schedule to deliver product at a discount to every member’s bike. And if we’re luck, we might work out a deal to use their companies space in Santiago Chile to perform any en route maintenance we have.. which is almost perfectly in the middle of our journey and due time for an oil change.
We also met with the makers of our custom-built trailer and the team that built up the support vehicle. Thanks again to the functionality and fancy of the Overland Expo, both Schutt Industries and Quigley Motors were on hand to watch us test out the vehicle on the Land Rover Discovery driving course… personally guided by representatives from Land Rover… How awesome is that?
Now for a few more weeks of heady scheduling and then I can get to work on sorting out what bike I’m going to ride!