Over the last two-and-a-half years, Israeli citizen Adam Shani has ridden a BMW motorcycle 90,000 miles in 120-degree heat across African deserts, along thicket trails in Cambodia and across swollen riverbeds in the Amazon.
But his greatest memories focus on the people he has met.
“There is good in everyone,” the 36-year-old diesel mechanic said. “If you treat people right, they will be nice back.”
Shani’s trip began in April 2009 in Nigeria. This week he stopped at Mr. Ed’s Moto motorcycle shop in Albany where owner Don Weber crafted a custom seat, mounted a pair of tires — Shani’s 13th set — and installed a new starter. While in the mid-valley, Shani stayed with fellow motorcycle enthusiast and friend Randy Perkins of Corvallis.
He is now headed south to California and then on to New Zealand and Australia for the final six months and 30,000 miles of his trip.
“When it comes to touring motorcycle riders, it’s a very small world and we keep connected on the Internet,” Shani said. “Don’s shop is very well known internationally.”
Shani began planning his adventure several years ago and decided early on that he was going alone.
“You can’t wait for other people’s schedules to match up,” Shani said. “When the time is right, you have to go.”
Five years ago Shani took a job in Africa to raise money for the trip.
“For two years, I worked seven days a week, basically around the clock to save money,” Shani said.
So far, he has spent about $55,000 and expects the tally will top $70,000 by the time he gets home.
“My goal was to travel the world in one continuous trip and on one motorcycle,” Shani said.
He found a wrecked BMW in Nigeria, Africa, added eight-gallon auxiliary gas tanks — that extend his driving range to more than 500 miles between fill-ups — and replaced its damaged front fork with a heavy-duty unit. He also installed two aluminum travel boxes and a duffel bag.
He carries minimal tools, even though he performs major maintenance every 10,000 miles.
“I kept track of the tools I used on the motorcycle before I left and that’s what I packed,” Shani said. “It’s important on this type of trip to pack as lightly as possible because I ride six to eight hours every day.”
Shani has traveled through 60 countries and four continents. He has shipped his motorcycle and himself both by boat and airplane. He does not plan to visit Antarctica.
Japan is one of his favorite places to ride, “because there is motorcycle culture.The people are very kind and they enjoy traveling, so they understand why I am doing this.”
Shani keeps in touch with his family by sending photos and e-mails from a small laptop computer. He also has a cellular phone, but tries to use it only in emergencies because it costs $4 to $5 per minute. A GPS system is mounted to the motorcycle’s handlebars.
Shani has paid as much as $10 per gallon for gasoline in Brazil and as little as one cent per liter in Venezuela.
His only major break-down has been a driveshaft in Russia and enterprising mechanics helped him fashion repairs with parts from an old car.
“I have never felt threatened,” Shani said. “Traveling by motorcycle, you get a good feeling about things and if it doesn’t seem right, you just get away as quickly as you can.”