Brighton to Cape Town Overland by Motorcycle
Well, mostly because I want to, and largely because I can. Or at least I hope I can.
I have had a passion for motorcycles for years, and am deeply envious of various friends of mine that have done some proper travelling. Whilst they were taking gap years and student vacations in India or China, taking time out after graduation to jet off to Asia, or later spending a year post university working in Australia, I was merrily spending my time benefitting my future career. I spent my gap year and student vacations working in engineering in preparation for what is now my career, not seeing the world, and on leaving Bristol Uni I just got stuck straight in... All very worthy, but perhaps a missed opportunity. Whilst thinking about this early in 2006, the obvious answer came to me.
Go somewhere interesting.
On a motorbike.
It's hardly rocket science, is it? :o)
I'd been on trips on my current bike to the Nurburgring with Biggs and Andy...
...and to the Alps and Pyrenees with Chris...
...and really enjoyed both. I wanted to go further this time, though. As soon as the concept had taken root, it had to be done, and done properly, with enough research and prep to ensure it was actually successful.
Having never travelled outside western Europe or the USA apart from an all too brief but fascinating business trip to Hong Kong...
...the lure of seeing new places, with cultures completely different to anything I'd experienced before was too much to resist. Africa seemed like the obvious destination - accessible overland from home in the UK (with the aid of a couple of ferries...), and with a massive variety of culture, climate, terrain, flora and fauna, all of which are very different to those I'm used to.
With a bare minimum of research, I learnt a great deal in just a few weeks about how such projects can be made to work. Chris Scott's book The Adventure Motorcycling Handbook was the first source I found, that and the Horizons Unlimited web resource are truly inspirational. At the other end of the scale, I guess some of the seeds had been sown by reading the UK's "Bike" magazine as Dan Walsh ranted and rambled his way across the Americas on a BMW thumper.
Now's an excellent time to do it: I'm single so have no particular responsibilities, I can still convince myself I'm young, I'm not quite as physically unfit as I look, and I'm in a good job that is enabling me to put aside a little cash towards the trip. On top of that, my employers are sympathetic to the idea and are willing to give me time off in the form of a sabbatical or extended leave.
The trip will definitely push me out of my comfort zone, it will be hard work, but it will be very rewarding. The last time I decided to do something ridiculous, it was the London Marathon. I made that decision 10yrs ago in April 1997 on the approach to my 20th birthday. In 2007, knocking on 30 years old, it clearly just takes a bit more for me to satisfy myself with what I've achieved...
Dan, March 2007
My presence on this trip is largely due to being in the right "time" and "place". I'm lucky to exist around a fairly adventurous crowd of family and friends. Whether it be mountain climbing, RTW sailing or travelling the length and bredth of every continent, I have turned down more opportunities to travel than I can forgive myself for. Until now that is.
Yes, adventures can tell you things about yourself you didn't know. Yes, meeting new people and seeing their way of life may put you in touch with your spiritual side. For me though I had always left the canvas of my life deliberately clear, plain conventional if you like, and this is an opportunity to put a proper 'heading' on the page under which I intend to construct something more interesting, less materialistic and more open to possibility. Watch this space.
Ed, July 2007