So, what prompted all this? What gave you the idea of jumping on a motorbike and riding off across the world?
I arrived back in London from a solo 7 month backpacking trip of Africa in March 2010. It’s always nice arriving home after being away for so long but I’ve done this enough times to know that the novelty doesn’t last. It was crucial I had something planned to get focused on and keep me on my toes. I landed early doors and was at Jon’s front door no later than 7am on a miserable Saturday morning. He’d not been in bed longer than a couple of hours and looked pretty rough after being out partying all night, but I needed a breakfast that didn’t consist of rice & beans…..the full works. It was over breakfast we discussed my next exit plan.
I knew he’d always wanted to get away himself, and I could never really enjoy telling him tales of my previous trips as I knew, as well as he did, that he should be out there doing it himself. Brookman and I go as far back as I can remember, so I knew all too well that pulling him away from his F1 superstar position (his words) wasn’t going to be a small feat. It needed to be something big, and it needed to involve bikes.
That’s where Austin Vince’s, Mondo Enduro came in to the story. As soon as I managed to get hold of a copy I remember watching it 4 times in the same weekend. I was completely hooked and the thought of travelling around the world on a motorcycle was deeply embedded. It had to be done.
You’re covering a lot of miles on a relatively low powered machine. Does this not concern you?
That’s not necessarily the phrase I would use, but I am aware that we are talking about a serious distance on a dual sport bike here. I know any bike would get us there; it’s just a question of how fast and how comfortably. I have no doubt the DRZ is by far the best bike to be taking onto the dirt roads of countries such as Ukraine, Russia, Mongolia, and then over to Peru, Bolivia and so on; it’s those roads that excite me the most. I’m not so sure it will be so ideal on the motorways of Western Europe, Canada and the States. The choice of bike wasn’t an off the cuff decision, we spent some serious time considering this and spoke to numerous people who have been on similar missions in the past. The one piece of advice they consistently agreed on was that we should take a small bike and pack light.
It will be them I’ll be blaming if it’s the wrong decision!
I don’t know if it’s the right or wrong decision, but I’m guessing it won’t be long before I will have a strong opinion either way. What I do know is that we can ride sports bikes all day long here in the U.K, and I will no doubt be doing this on my return. It’s not every day I get to spin the back end out on a dirt road quite literally in the middle of nowhere with no other vehicle in sight, that for me is what this trip is really all about.
How mechanically minded are you? Are you comfortable you can handle most minor repairs on the side of the road?
Why do you think I roped Brookman in to this trip?
On a serious note, I have a lot of faith in Jon and his mechanical ability, and I’m fairly confident that between us we can address most issues on the side of the road. I’ve tinkered with bikes since I was a teenager, and I’ve invested a lot of time into learning and preparing the DRZ for this trip. I owe a huge amount to my Dad and his mate Paul who have taught me pretty much everything I know about the bike, and I can’t thank them enough for their input on this project. I have upmost respect for their incredible knowledge and experience, and I will forever be in debt to them for all the time and effort they have spent with me over the past 6 months. I don’t think there is a tool out there that you won’t find in my old chaps garage.
Which part of the trip are you most looking forward to and why?
I hear the Russian women are not too shabby.
Have you seen much of the world before now?
I’ve seen a bit, yeah. After graduating I slogged my guts out in a call centre for just short of 12 months with the sole intention of earning enough money to travel for a year. Once I had enough money I spent 8 months in South America, then 4 months over in South East Asia. It was a nice eye opener, but probably caused more harm than good as I’ve not been able to stop travelling since.
When I got back I took on my first ‘proper’ job as a Software Consultant in Winchester, but some time afterwards there were rumors that the company I was working for was offering up voluntary redundancies. Accepting it meant I was back on the road again much sooner than I anticipated. A one way ticket to India was booked. Whilst I was out there I met another British lad, Jack, who was equally as passionate about motorbikes, and we decided to buy a couple of Enfields and explore both India and Nepal. I quickly realised that by motorcycle was the only way that I ever wanted to travel again.
7 months later I returned home and ended up working for the company that had previously made me redundant. I was getting some decent exposure to an industry that I was hoping I would be able to make money in, but at the same time I knew I wasn’t going to be there for long. I didn’t want to live in Winchester, and I still had a strong desire to travel. I needed to either be on the road or living in London. I agreed with management that I would be back long enough only for me to save enough money for my next trip. I got on really well with the guys there and they were kind enough to be flexible and let me stick around until I had sufficient funds in the bank. There was still an entire continent untouched. Queue Africa.
Another 7 months on the road, a rabies scare and a heavy dose of malaria, before I knew it I was back on Brookmans sofa whilst looking for work in London, where I was lucky enough to find a job well suited to me at a company called ToolsGroup. It’s based in the centre of one of the greatest cities this world has to offer, and allowed me to build on the skills I had developed from my previous position. It was exactly what I was looking for. It’s been an excellent couple of years and I wouldn’t change a thing. Although I’m a little sad to be losing the house I have shared since being here, the bank balance is now suitably topped up, and there is only one thing I want to spend it on… Falling off a DRZ 400 for the rest of the year!
This really is the trip of a lifetime. How are you feeling now the departure date is nearing?
This is an interesting question, and people often find my reaction to it strange. I’m being genuine when I say this, it’s hard to get excited about a trip of this nature, not due to my previous exposure to travel, but down to two other reasons.
Firstly, I’m really not a fan of paper work! The amount involved in organising this sort of trip is often enough to make me question why I’m even bothering going away in the first place. I sometimes think it would just be easier to stay at home and write this travelling malarkey off. Secondly, all of my trips have been so different, and I never know what to expect. I’ve never done the same style of trip twice so there is always so many unknown variables in the mix before the departure date. It’s hard to get excited about a trip when I literally have no idea what the hell is about to happen.
All I do know is that I’m looking forward to cracking open a beer after the first days ride, and just mentally confirming that all the preparation work is officially over, and this trip is actually happening.