They say you're never too old to ride & I agree. Just over a week ago I set off from Nepal with a goal to reach Belgium in around six months time. My 1910 Fabrique Nationale first originated there & I plan to make it for the FN anniversary in Germany around that time. Our ages (the bikes & mine) combined equal 169 years.
This journey has been 40 years in the making, quite literally, as I rebuilt the FN from scratch with only a frame and part of the engine to start with. I tried two years ago to leave from Bali but officialdom got in the way and I couldn’t get the bike registered in Indonesia, hence no carnet. So I just said screw it and moved back to Australia. And so here I am, finally on my way.
It’s not the first long trip I’ve done, but it’s definitely has a different set of challenges given the bike’s age. Back in the 80’s my wife and I rode from Alaska to Brazil on a Honda Goldwing towing a large camper trailer. A 200,000km ride over 3 years, covering every state & country along the way. No iphones, internet, GPS, digital cameras back then, nada. Only a map & a good sense of direction – and we had a blast. In 3 years we rarely saw another motorcyclist though there were a few out there, Richard & Mopsa English come to mind. The Goldwing wasn’t built for crossing rivers, deserts, boulders but it did an amazing job through everything we encountered and it rarely missed a beat.
The FN is a very different kettle of fish. No gears, hardly any brakes, no GPS - just a whole lot of concentration required. Have to pedal up the hills so need to travel light on this journey, but for an old bloke I’m doing okay. After India it’s Pakistan, Iran, Turkey & Europe. You know the route!
When I set out on this ride I knew the first leg of the journey would probably be the toughest. And as expected, there always the unexpected. Like torrential rain for 8 hours crossing potholed mountain roads, no petrol in Nepal, a burnt out clutch on my first day in the Kathmandu traffic, a blown tube across the border in India, counting eighteen trucks crashed in one day… Living for the past four years in Indonesia has honed my “whoever is in front has the right of way” skills, but it’s still is pretty hairy on a motorcycle of this marque. Still, I’m a tough old bugger, so Belgium here I come!
You can read more on my blog at www.oldblokeonabike.com