The plan has been long in hatching and slow in execution. For the last couple of years we have talked about doing this trip but finally, with Sascha finishing studying and me reaching a point in my job where I was happy to have a change of scene, all has come together.
We are setting off from home with the intention of getting down to South Africa. Once there we'll take a rain check and decide what looks to be the best move next. We've got about 10 months to make it there before Sascha flies home and I continue alone... If all goes to plan the route should take us through Europe, Turkey, Iran, UAE, Oman and Yemen and then into Africa through Djibouti and head South from there.
Having been working recruiting students from overseas to British Universities for the past 6 or so years, I have been lucky enough to have a job that nourishes my passion for travel. My other great passion (apart from Sascha of course!) is for vintage motorcycles. Combining the two is, if logic follows through, the finest thing I can spend my time doing. Previous big trips have included riding a '58 Bullet back from India and taking a '97 Bullet to the Sahara in Morroco. My experience of Africa has so far been quite limited and I'm really looking forward to finding out more...
I came to travelling a bit later than Rich with a trip a few years ago around Asia. Suffice to say I am not the hardy outdoors type so managed a fair few injuries, misshaps, robberies and a lot of moaning. Since meeting Rich I have discovered the joys of sitting pillion on a motorbike but steer well clear of the mechanics. So with all that in mind you may (as I am) be asking why am I doing this trip? I feel that as my experience of Africa has been limited to the news and I want to find out another view of things.
The two of us nearly ready to go...
Is a 1955 Royal Enfield Bullet, made in Redditch and for most of its life an inhabitant of Liverpool. This makes it a scouse bike, what that means in bike terms, I'm not too sure. Time will tell. The first question for many would be, why choose an old bike? I shall spare the cod philosophy I may usually spout forth about this but in simple terms in my mind there are several distinct advantages to travelling with an old bike:
1. It's cheap - parts are cheap, it was cheap to buy and you guys with a new BMW just think how much money you would have saved on your carnet if your bike had a value of 500 quid
2. I know how to fix it. That could turn out to be a rash statement as the trip progresses but suffice to say I can fix it better than I can a new bike with such horrors as electronic engine management sytems
3. It goes slowly. This of course to many would be a major turn-off but I'm travelling to meet people and see places, not to race. And slower is safer..
4. Old bikes open doors. It's pretty amazing how much more interest and hospitality you get with an old junker compared to a modern plastic rocket. Somehow too it blends into the environment more in developing countries. It is still worth way more than many will earn in several years but that's a scale more can relate to than a bike that many wouldn't be able to afford in a lifetime
5. Breakdowns are fun. Yes, really. Thought I'd leave that to last as it may seem the least convincing part of the argument. Some of the best experiences I have had and most I've got to know people travelling have been through breakdowns.
That's pretty much all on the bike. For those wearing vintage bike anoraks it's best to just say that the bike has been very modified and looks like something the cat has dragged in. Mail me if you are interested in it more than that and I'll happily bore you for hours..
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