One of the hardest parts of planning this adventure so far is Has been deciding where I should go, for how long and whether to do it on my own or book myself on a guided group trip. Any one that knows me well will testify to the fact that I’m a chronic procrastinator; although I prefer to think of it as optimised living – I only make decisions and do work when it has to be done. That’s not to say I spend my time doing nothing. On the contrary, a lot of time and effort goes into ensuring the right decision is made.
Taking four months off work to go on an adventure is a big decision for me, so a lot of background work has gone into it. I’ve owned a BMW R1200GS since 2006, and since then my ideas about what a big trip would consist of have changed. When I first got it the biggest I could think of was a ride around Europe, probably as far as going back to the north of Norway, down to Spain or Italy. Back then I hadn’t experienced camping on motorcycles trips and the longest I’d traveled on the bike was a week. Camping wasn’t an alien idea to me, after all I’d been in the scouts, it’s just that I hadn’t put motorcycle travel and camping together.
Not only was my imagination for destinations limited but I was also limited to riding on tarmac. Whilst I’d bought a bike that was technically capable of around the world, I wasn’t. However, all that changed in 2009 when I headed to Wales with a group of friends for some off-road training at Off Road Skill with Simon Pavey and his team – the same people who trained Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman before their round-the-world adventure. That was my first taste of what you could to with a bike like the GS. Most people regard them as lumbering beasts that people only dream of taking off-road but I now had a first hand experience of what they can do if only you open your mind to the possibilities.
It was also during 2009 that I met a group of people in Guernsey that were into trail riding – albeit on smaller bikes – that encouraged me to join them on their rides. The cynical side of me thinks they were pushing me to see when I would break. In fact, on our first outing I managed to flip my GS upside down, but I picked myself back up and carried on. Time and again I picked myself and my bike up and carried on. Over time the crashes diminished and my speed off-road increased.
In 2010, out of the blue, the guys I went off-roading with in Guernsey invited me on a trip they were planning on Morocco. That was a place I’d only dream of visiting. A land of sand, palm trees and legends of the Dakar Rally. In April/May 2011 my dreams became a reality and I found myself in a state of euphoria whilst flying across desert pistes at 60mph. OK, so I had a few off’s and broke my foot (and carried on riding) but now I had a thirst for really adventure.
That trip to Morocco had suddenly expanded my horizons. No longer were my ideas limited to western Europe. From that point on I could take on the world!