Going Long: taking a bit of a risk for a very desirable reward. In this case the reward is an overland trip from Central Europe to South-East Asia. Being on that trip, experiencing one of the most culturally varied routes you can ride on this planet is one of the most rewarding things I can imagine.
Doing a trip like that has been on my mind for many years and has become much more concrete in the last two years. One by one, the pieces of this major project have fallen into place: deciding to go, deciding where and when to go, finding a suitable bike, Petra getting her motorcycle license, finding her a suitable bike, upgrading my mechanical skills and our medical skills, preparing the bikes, the gear, and the paperwork and getting an unpaid leave.
You might think that a transcontinental trip by motorcycle is something quite unique, but it isn’t. There have been thousands of people who have done this before us, and there will at least as many after us. The pioneers like Ted Simon, Bernd Tesch, Grant and Susan Johnson, Sam Manicom, Chris Scott, the guys from Mondo Enduro and all those others that deserve to be mentioned: they had to figure it out all by themselves as there were almost no examples, no internet fora, no adventure motorcycling industry selling you the latest fancy stuff, almost nothing. They’d pack what they thought they’d need and just go. They figured out all the difficult stuff while on the road. Back then adventure motorcycle travelers were as extraordinary as their adventure.
Today is different. The difficult thing now is to pack what you think you need and just go. That sounds easy but there is an enormous amount of internet fora, books, blogs, courses, web shops and DVD series on the subject of adventure motorcycle travel. I came to this insight after talking to Adrian M, adventure motorcyclist from the earlier days. We discussed everything from acacia thorns to the Zilov Gap in one long evening and he was surprised how I could be so prepared without having the practical experience of being on the road far away from home. He didn’t have that information overload in 1995. He could still make his mistakes himself. Today, we’ll just try not to repeat those of others.
That said, there is one constant in this story that will hopefully never fade: adventure. No matter how many people travel the world by motorcycle these days, and no matter how overloaded they are with information (and the latest anodized aluminium), there will be adventure and it will be unique. All this information and communication has made it possible for ordinary people to experience extraordinary travel. That is one of the major reasons we can do this, and so could you. I could read about everybody’s motorcycle adventures until my eyes are too old to see and my bones too sore to swing a leg over a motorcycle, but I want to experience it myself.
As I’m writing this, two motorcycles are standing in our garage, prepared in the finest detail for use on our trip across Europe and Asia. In our apartment, there are piles of stuff with camping gear, tools, spare parts, packsacks, paperwork, cameras and computers. This is not a post-garage-sale kind of trip. We won’t be riding for years until we’ve figured out how to shape the rest of our lives. We’ve given ourselves about ten months to do this and will then to return to Switzerland.
There are quite a few witnesses that heard me saying that we’ll leave in April 2016. It’s April 63rd now, and it’s time to go long.