They say that every journey begins with a single step. The first step on this journey, however, was imperceptibly small. A tiny shift in mind set, a distracted feeling at work and, somewhere, a growing feeling that life was short and precious and, if not to be taken too seriously, certainly to be lived, these were the small beginnings of an adventure.
Jo and I have always loved motorcycles and, if we were not as active in our child rearing years as we would have liked, the passion remained strong. We have always had at least one bike and always harboured the belief that we would get seriously back into the saddle one day.
By the year 2006, with our children grown and moved away (although technically, we moved away from our son when we sold up in Canberra left him behind to move to the Gold Coast the previous year) we started to imagine other possibilities for our future. We had been frugal throughout our life and had some investments set up for retirement. We had our good health. In short, we had options.
Our first discussions were philosophical enough. We made the necessary pact not to go quietly into the next part of our lives, took up dancing and Jo learnt to Scuba dive. All good fun but we were still unsettled. We were also enjoying some longer distance touring on our bike (a Kawasaki GTR 1000) exploring the country within striking distance of the Gold Coast. Slowly throughout this the idea formed that we could venture further afield on our bike.
Our off-spring, as they often are, were well ahead of us. As a family we had enjoyed following the Brumbies, the ACT's champion rugby team, and had agreed to travel to France for the Rugby World Cup in 2007. This would not be much of a stretch for our daughter who by this time had moved to London with her partner and was planning to marry there immediately following the WC final (well trained). When we raised the idea of shipping the bike to Europe and riding around on our Rugby adventure, the kids responded by giving us a copy of Chris Scott's Adventure Motorcycling Handbook and a guide to rides in the Alps!
From there it was all down hill. If we were going for a few months why not longer? If we did stay on, what about the winter? There were a dozen other questions like these. Our determination to go, however, might never have been crystallised except for the unfortunate death of our friend Maureen Waters.
Maureen was a fellow Ulysses Club member, regular ride companion, friend and general good bloke. She was determined and single minded, she knew what she wanted and put some people off side because of this. She had a lovely Suzuki SV 650S and rode it hard. Having come to bikes later in life than many of us, she probably rode it too hard.
One Sunday, on her way back from a motorcycle rally at Tamworth, she slammed into a car and was killed. After the initial shock and anger at her having done such a silly thing, we realised that Maureen had been lucky in many ways. She had lived life on her own terms and died doing what she loved doing most. The lesson for us was clear.
After that, we started to talk more and more about what Maureen's death meant to us and to our future. As these thing happen, there was probably no single point at which we decided to start another adventure but, by the middle of May 2007 we had made the important decisions. We would ship the bike to Europe for the World Cup and keep going. We would try our best to ride around the world. Succeed or fail we would keep the faith.
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