There was a time when I firmly believed two things: one, I’d ride around the world. Two, I’d only return home if and when I choose to, rather than have a defined end date to the said RTW. The latter hasn’t changed, but the former had gone wrong… completely.
The big idea was to leave the US, ride south to Argentina, ship the bike to Vladivostok, and carry on riding West until I hit Europe, then turn South and ride around Africa. After that, perhaps Australia or Europe to India; all in all, though, it was to be a circumnavigation with a plan to ride every single continent out there. Adventure travel was the means and the goal, the DR650 the preferred mode of transport, and the plot to ride round the world made perfect sense.
Somewhere along the way, however, it had all changed completely, and while I still live on the road, circumnavigating the world seems completely irrelevant. While I still want to ride all the continents, the exact order of said continents or the general direction has changed, too.
Here is why.
Riding Round the World vs Riding the World
Circumnavigation of the planet by motorcycle is no small feat, and hats off to all the riders who have accomplished this. It takes commitment and determination, and, whether it takes a year, two years, or five, as I’d planned, it’s a big undertaking. The thing I’ve come to realize, though, is that for me, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s literally around the world, diagonally through it, or a zigzag from the Northern Hemisphere to the South and back; equally, it turns out, I’m not that invested in riding every single continent including Antarctica or every single country including Greenland. I’m not that bothered what the entire journey will shape into, how long it’s all going to take, and where I’ll end up. All I know is that I want to ride everywhere for as long as I’m able to, and the rest doesn’t matter. As long as there are roads to ride, places to see, and rallies to race, the exact route isn’t important.
ADV vs Rally
During the first couple of years, ADV travel is exhilarating. Traveling wherever you feel like, riding new countries, and meeting new people is so exciting you can’t ever imagine doing anything else.
By year five or six, however, something of a routine starts to set in. On the road (or off the road), life becomes just life, even if you’re in perpetual motion on two wheels. Countries and borders start to seem more and more alike, the riding itself – even when there’s a lot of dirt – is more or less the same, and the going gets a little monotonous, even when it’s broken up by all sorts of unexpected things. Come to think of it, the unexpected starts to become somewhat expected, too; another rainy season flood forcing a thousand-mile detour, another botched border crossing, another bike breakdown – all becomes the new norm rather than something adrenaline-inducing.
That’s why, having found myself in a bit of a rut traveling South America, I became so fascinated by the Dakar and, later on, amateur rally racing.
Breaking up the travels with some races here and there became the new goal, despite me being a very mediocre rider with no illusions of ever winning a rally or achieving any significant sporting result. Rally racing is a way to spice up the ADV in a different way, and increasingly, it’s becoming a part of the adventure.
After leaving South America and coming to Europe for the amateur races, I hoped to ride here for a year, then head East across Central Asia and into Mongolia. Then, the pandemic hit, and all plans came into nothing; now, as the land borders are opening again, the new big idea is shipping the bike to South Africa and riding back North via the West Coast, hopefully hitting some local races along the way. Come September, though, there may be new pandemic-related restrictions in place, and the plan may change once again sneaking into Turkey and Iran towards India rather than shipping to Cape Town after all. Once again, absolutely nothing is certain, and if I had a strict plan, an exact route, and a defined goal, this would be a problem. As it is, however, it hardly matters at all.
If the contours of a vision are so blurry you can’t quite make out the shape anymore, is it still a vision, or merely a mirage? Time will tell: for now, it’s about making the best out of a European summer with several rally races ahead. Come fall, it may be something completely different altogether.
Either way, the world awaits.