A 25,000-Mile Motorcycle Ride to Change the World

By Sajid Farooq
|  Thursday, Jul 14, 2011  |  Updated 3:37 PM PDT
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25K Motorcycle Ride to Change the World

Moin Khan is traveling from San Francisco to Lahore, Pakistan on a motorcycle to meet as many people as he can and show them that Americans and Pakistanis are overall good people.

Moin Khan has the gift of gab.

Ask the charismatic 24-year-old anything about motorcycles or his adopted homeland and you are sure to hear him talk until he apologizes to you for talking too much -- when in fact he hasn't spoken enough.

Khan has a humble confidence about him. He looks wise beyond his years and he looks like a guy that would love motorcycles -- at least fast ones.

But what does a recent San Francisco State University graduate and part-time swim instructor do when he wants to change the world, or at least a small part of it?

For Khan the answer was easy: Hop on your bike for a ride and make sure to stop along the way and talk to everyone you meet.

Lucky for Khan that he likes to talk. This week, the South Asian immigrant revved up his Honda CBR 600 F4i sport bike near the Golden Gate Bridge and set off on a 25,000-mile journey to Lahore, Pakistan, where he is originally from.

This is a journey more like "The Motorcycle Diaries" than one likely to be taken by the King of Jordan.

There is nothing fancy about the trip. From his bike down to the route, Khan is traveling the road less traveled.

While the Cupertino resident spent 18 months planning, and saving more than $15,000, for his journey, his exact route and his accommodations have not been pre-planned.

He plans on taking little more than his iPhone GPS, his bike, a makeshift luggage rack (because sport bikes are not meant to carry bags), a tent and his tongue.

Where his iPhone GPS won't work, Khan says he will rely on the kindness of strangers to survive and to determine his route.

Already people have learned about his journey -- which he is calling "a different agenda" -- through his Facebook fan page and are inviting him to stay with them when he is in the area.

Despite "overwhelming support" the journey is filled with dangers and challenges. But that's just the way Khan wants it.

Khan chose to ride a sport bike for his back-breaking journey instead of a more comfortable touring bike to get the attention of people.

"The whole thought was I want to do this journey with whatever I have and not have people say, 'Oh he is using that and it's easy," Khan said. "(The bike) is basic…it's 11-years-old. It's the most uncomfortable bike around.

"It's basically the bike you take to a race track, ride it for 45 minutes and ride it hard and put it away."

He plans to ride north from San Francisco along the Pacific Ocean and cross into Canada before heading east. Eventually he will ride down and put his bike on a ship from New York City to Germany and resume his ride from there.

It's fitting that his journey would start at the Golden Gate Bridge, since Khan sees himself as a bridge between his homeland and his adopted land.

And it was the backdrop of the City's most iconic feature that inspired the worldwide journey.

Khan says the journey is not about politics, as much as it is about using his ability to speak with people to change their perceptions of Pakistan and America.

He believes that some people in both countries have misconceptions about the other. By riding his bike across the globe, Khan says he can help change some ideas just by showing people who he is.

"I'm not even going to see 0.1 percent of the people in the world but anything I can do, I would love to do," he said. "Everyday I stop at a gas station four or give times and each stop turns into a 30 minute stop. A small group gathers and starts asking questions. It really is mind boggling at times, how many people don't know anything about Pakistan."

But the journey is not all about being a riding ambassador for the South Asian country. Khan plans to ride his bike, with California plates, and flash his American passport in countries across Europe, Iran and a troubled part of Pakistan.

Khan plans to enter Pakistan along its northern border with Iran border, an area known as Balochistan, and known for trouble.

"I want to tell them, 'Look at these Americans that helped me with my motorcycle as well and they let me stay in their house,' " he said.

While he may have some bike troubles along the way, Khan says he won't let anything stop his quest to reach Pakistan.

"I know for a fact that I will make it to Pakistan," he said. "Maybe it won't be on this bike, maybe it will be on a bicycle, or on foot but I will make it to Pakistan."

The unique choice in bikes, he says, will help draw the attention of his fellow motorcycle enthusiasts.

"The idea with this bike, is it may be interesting for you or someone who hasn't been around motorcycles too much but to get the motorcycle community interested, I have to do it on something that they haven't seen before," he said.

And at the same time, Khan just might get to have a good conversation or two.

Quick Facts -- What it costs to travel the globe on a bike

$4500: 25,000 miles. Fuel prices vary way too much to come up with an accurate estimate.
$1500: Bike preparation before departure (Parts and labor) includes custom rack.
$1500: 3-4 sets of tires while on the road and some regular bike maintenance
$1500: Food (Hopefully something a notch higher than boiled rice, he says)
$1000: Visas and Passport Renewals.
$1000: Air fare from New York to Germany (includes extra baggage fee and other stuff)
$1000: Camera equipment and other electronics and accessories
$1000: Riding gear on the bike (helmet, jacket, boots, rain gear etc.)
$700: Bike transportation from NY to Germany
$500: Camping equipment
$800: Miscellaneous stuff

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