Learning From Others

I’ve just finished watching the television series “The Long Way Round”. It has psyched me up for our trip enormously. Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman may be famous, and they had a lot more support than Phil and I will, but they still rode motorcycles thousands of miles through extremes of terrain and watching them do it was inspirational.

One thing I noticed is that they dropped their bikes (or simply fell over) often. If two men who have been riding bikes since a very young age did that – then I have a lot of picking up my bike off the tarmac ahead of me. They also stand up on the pegs when riding over difficult terrain – must research why they do that.

Another fantastic resource I’ve found is the Adventure Motorcycling Handbook by Chris Scott. I read it cover to cover and it is full of good advice. Also lots of trip reports from riders who have had adventures all over the world. The only part that has negatively stuck in my mind is one report where the female friend of one of the report writers was in a crash of some sort (it gives no detail as to what happened) and ends up with teeth knocked out and broken arm etc. I think it is the lack of details that has made my imagination run wild, but reading that made me feel queasy and a bit fearful. I am very aware that the journey we are undertaking is full of risks, and I just have to do everything I can to prepare and minimise those risks in whatever ways possible. Just reading that one paragraph has swayed me towards buying a full face helmet that doesn’t flip up. Much harder to knock your teeth out in a full face helmet!

It’s increasingly difficult to maintain the status quo here in London. I go to the office every day and I do my job, but my heart is in South America eating empanadas and winding through the Andes. I often find myself thinking about what I’ll need to pack, and worrying that I don’t know enough about motorcycle repair. (This is not an idle worry, I know nothing about motorcycle repair, other than what I learnt by reading the above mentioned handbook.)

In other news I made it home from work in 45 minutes on Monday, and I didn’t get lost once. I only stall Charlie when I’m in a panic (usually because there’s cars/vans/buses/trucks stuck behind me getting angry) and I actually get up into 5th gear on a regular basis. No more falls (touch wood) and I’m getting faster. I’m looking forward to more lessons, even if they end up being informal ones from friends who ride. Might even see if there’s a local riders group that I can go out with – will see how the weather goes.

If anyone has any suggestions for other books/films/blogs that will help, please let me know!