I thought I would send some pictures of my first big ride on my
first big bike, a R60/5 BMW. The pictures were taken in
Afghanistan in November of 1973 by Clement Salvadori, a lifelong
friend that I met in Tehran, Iran on a R75/5 BMW.
This picture is of a camel train along the Russian border near Mazar-e-Sharif in Northern Afghanistan.
This is the Khyber Pass - camels one way, vehicles the other.
Notice the 5 litres of avgas hanging off the back of my bike by
the loop of the cap (bottom pic). I still have that license
plate hanging in the shed!
The ride to Mazar-e-Sharif was a side trip from Kabul. Clem and
I had thought about going to Bamian to see the Buddhas carved
out of the mountain (I think the Taliban have destroyed those
now Kenny) but at the turnoff, we decided to stick to the paved
The Russians had built a nice new road and there was zero
traffic since they hadn't invaded yet. It was a steep ride up
into the mountains with first gear switchbacks all the way. The
high altitude caused the engines to run rich and lose power.
We were running out of puff fast when the mouth of the tunnel
came into view. This was the tunnel through the mountains where
all those Russians died of exhaust poisoning when they were on
their way to liberate Kabul. The tunnel was treacherous.
Slippery with oil on the road and thick with fumes. There was no
ventilation or light and the smoke reduced visibility to nil. We
were happy to see that pinpoint of light at the other end. After
that it was downhill to the steppes near Mazar-e-Sharif.
We stopped to take the picture of the camel train and a few
minutes later I saw my first Russian Mig jet skimming low along
the border having a good look at us.
Mazar-e-Sharif was wild in those days so we didn't stay in town
for more than a few minutes. It didn't take long before we got
the message to get out of town fast. They didn't like the cut of
our BMW's! We camped at an old Buddhist monastery near some
ruins of an old silk road fort. It was recommended to us by an
Afghan shepherd walking along the road.
The next day we had a look around, bought a few trinkets from
the guy and blasted back through the tunnel to Kabul.
In Kabul we met a Kiwi, Barry Crump, a BMW rider on a 71 R60/5 who had been trying to catch us since Iran and wanted to ride together. So the three bikes set off for a fantastic ride through the Khyber Pass to the Pakistan border. We made Rawalpindi, Pakistan that night where we celebrated my 21st birthday.