For many trips, inspiration can come from something that has happened in a person’s life such as recovering from an illness, retiring or coming into money in some way. I’ve read many ride reports where something has jolted the author into action as they’ve embarked on the “bucket list” or a “once in a lifetime” trip. For me, it’s not like that: this trip, or something like it, has been at the back of my mind for nearly 30 years when, in my early 20s, a girlfriend and I talked about selling our houses, packing our jobs in, heading over to America to buy a Harley-Davidson Electra Glide and seeing how far around the world we could get.
That was around 1990 when the furthest I had ridden on a motorcycle was over to Duisburg in Germany to see my sister who was studying there. That was me and a mate riding pillion on a Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster with another mate on a Kawasaki GPz550 riding down from Lincoln to Dover to catch the ferry over to Calais and then a quick run through Belgium and over the border into Germany. 500 miles in a day and we were gods! Of course, we were totally unprepared: I was riding a bike with a 2-gallon tank that would only manage 100 miles before needing a refill and, of course, I didn’t take a toolkit… so, by the end of the trip, my chain was so loose that I was having difficulty changing gear.
Over the years, the trips have continued and, as I have explored further into Europe, I have always been restricted by time and money. A two-week trip seems to be the limit when you’re working and, as my work has never really brought in a huge pay cheque, the cost of travel has limited how far I can go before heading back home.
My limit seems to have been reached when, in 2016, I took a wonderful, 5,000-mile journey up to the top of the World: Nordkapp in Norway. The trip took in 10 countries as I did a clockwise loop of the Baltic Sea, heading up through Denmark and Sweden, then back down through Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland into Germany. The problem was, although it was a wonderful trip, I felt like I was always chasing the clock: so much so that, on the north-bound leg, I missed out much of Norway thinking that I wouldn’t have the time to see everything. Then, on the return leg, I rode from Poland to the Netherlands in one day to catch the last ferry at 9pm. It was quite exhausting.
So, the inspiration to do this trip, for me, has been to push further and to take on a challenge that I have been dreaming of for most of my life. The only way that I can do that is to quit the day job and sell the house. Although I love my job, life has become hum-drum and I’m not getting any younger.
We only have one life and I intend to enjoy it while I can!