What made me want to ride all the way to Australia?
If you’ve ever lost your biking mojo, then found it again, you’ll know what’s driving our newest contributor, Dutchie. He’s crossing not just a country or a continent, but the entire Eurasian landmass; with little more than some cash, his passport, a few clothes and a Triple. Join him in his quest to ride a motorbike all the way from the UK back to his native Australia.
Primed for the motorcycle travelling bug
As a child, I spent an inordinate amount of time drawing up treasure maps for fantasy lands. Crossing imaginary grassy plains and climbing up invisible imposing mountains was the everyday thing in my nan’s backyard. However, the most engaging adventures I had throughout my childhood, were on the back of my old man’s thumping 1984 R80.
That R80 was a piece of junk. It reeked of petrol and leaked engine oil. As far as anyone was concerned it was an eyesore and I tended to agree with them. However, when that teal coloured piece of crap kicked to life, it was transformed into a hulking, intimidating beast. The motor thumped heavily as that R80 took off and drowned my eardrums in the roar of a rusty set of exhausts.
I feel I was lucky to be exposed to the world of motorcycles back then – learning what that age old expression “feeling the wind rush through your hair” really meant. I grew accustomed to the occasional pop amidst the whine of a decelerating engine while green forests whizzed by. That was how I came to define what ultimate freedom meant… and I’d never felt anything like it in all the world.
Then ‘life’ intervened
Then being a crotch rocket rider, I could never manage to look past a sweet curve on the black top. I still can’t. That rushing moment of pure ecstasy, when you’ve just slain another corner. Grinding respect into the knee sliders was what I lived for. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – but, dicing every corner did cause me to lose focus on what lay beyond the next s-bend.
As I grew older, childhood dreams of conquering far away lands were traded off for a variety of jobs, plenty of cold beer, and only the occasional weekend ride on my sports bike with a mate or two. A nice shiny bike, footy on the idiot box and a flushing dunny mere steps away. The perfect life right?
Life went on and memories of blunting those razor sharp hairpins became faded and my new knee sliders remained mostly unscarred. I had become distracted from what I loved most and lost sight of the fact there was a new and exciting road just beyond the rose bush. I wanted more than a set of sticky tires and warm tarmac. It was high time to learn how to motorcycle – and get my freedom back.
By the grace of the gods of the road, I travel to Europe and somehow crossed paths with the Hungarian pair of Greg and Viki, who run Wheels of Morocco (WOM).
Now we’re getting somewhere…
As it turned out, Greg and his wife Viki were a bit of alright. After negotiating a small sponsorship deal, I rolled out of the concrete driveway. The clock read six zero’s on the spanking new BMW GS700. My dreams as a child were re-invigorated and memories of that hulking R80 came to mind, as I twisted my wrist on the exit from Casablanca.
Gazing across a thousand red sand dunes in the Sahara desert months after leaving Sydney, I engaged in my morning ritual. As the sun rose, I realised how difficult riding a motorcycle into the Sahara had seemed all those months ago… The thought of escaping the trap of the comfort zone on a motorcycle had never even crossed my mind while being at home – I’d let society dictate my life.
My facial hair grew ever longer, unkempt and dirty, grains of sand from the Andalusian wind were scattered amongst my thick hairy beard. Showering frequencies had been reduced drastically – showers don’t exist in nature unless you’re having a punt in the rain. I didn’t have much, just some cash, a passport, a camera and some dirty underwear. The one real treasure I did possess however, was a motorcycle.
Morocco was where the re-ignition occurred, and was the platform where I learnt to fall in love with my passion all over again. It didn’t matter whether I slept in a four poster bed or at the side of a torn up road in the Atlas Mountains. Riding a motorcycle through a foreign land helped confront the initial scariness of being outside my comfort zone, which encouraged me to freely enjoy the relative unknown.
Eventually, it was time to leave amazing Morocco (and the GS that WOM had now christened ‘Dutchie’) at the end of a two and a half month motorcycle adventure, but what to do next? A few beers into a conversation with Greg, I was greatly inspired by his stories of touring through Europe. After 3 days of sifting through his library of photographic motorcycle travel books, the decision had been made – I was riding back home to Australia.
And a new adventure begins
Enter one Will Wilkins (a lovely bloke who had ridden from Wollongong to Woolwich in 2011 with Kate Macdonell on a DR450 and an XT250). With him came a lovely piece of British engineering, a 2014 Triumph Tiger 800 XC. Being the upfront kind of bloke Will is, he gave me both an honest run down and an honest price.
However, there was only one deciding factor that caused me to choose a Triumph for this trip – the triple cylinder motor. The familiar whine of 3 cylinders brought back memories of a certain Daytona 675 from my early crotch rocket days. Nostalgia does funny things to a person.
3 weeks later, ‘Trumpet’ and I were on the boat to France…
Now, 10 months after the Sahara episode, I’ve ended up in Pakistan, which is where I currently echo my adventures onto an Android device for athehandlebars.com and now Biker & Bike too. I’m riding a triple cylinder motorcycle halfway across the world, having crossed through 23 countries, with many more on the horizon… but riding a motorcycle is much more than a numbers game… at least it is for me anyway.
As the wheels begin to turn and your foot lifts off the ground, you know that this day, like every other day before it, will bring forth a new adventure. Continual exposure to loving people, breathtaking landscapes and new cultures adds a whole new element to motorcycle riding. Being on a motorcycle puts you right in the heart of it all – there is no window to wind down, no manufactured piece of steel between you and the local on the two-stroker next to you.
The innocent joy of riding a motorcycle in such strange and unfamiliar territories has managed to put me more in touch with the world – and understand why our planet is such a wonderful place. An exposure to these new, ‘unexplored’ parts of our planet, tore open my mind and taught me much about myself and humanity. You cannot imagine the emotions and ideas that erupt inside as you’re flying down the road to freedom… unless you’ve already been baptised by the fire of overland travel.
The only way to understand is to pick a direction and go.
Dutchie is currently (Spring ’17) travelling through Pakistan. You can catch up with his latest travails at atthehandlebars.com and he’ll be sharing more of his adventure with Biker & Bike.
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