Chapter and verse on wheels

2012-09-25 08:26

Reading books is one of my favourite pastimes. The other, of course, is motorcycling. Combine the two and it may come as no surprise to find that most of the non-fiction books for which I delight in trawling second-hand bookshops wherever I might be usually feature two and four-wheeled adventure stories.

I’ve just finished reading* a really good yarn called 'Old Man On A Bike', written by Simon Gadolfi, a journalist who as young man spent some years in South Africa. What I found amazing about Gadolfi was that, at the age of 73, he rode from Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico to Tierra del Fuego – a journey that lasted nearly six months.


I was also intrigued to discover his mode of transport was a 125cc Honda delivery bike!

My love of books started at an early age – I’m 64 now – and perhaps quite naturally something of a late learner when it comes to computer matters. In fact, if the truth be known, I’ve come to hate them!

No matter, I’ve learned how to search interesting motorcycling websites and recently came across an interesting article about a software developer in the US who decided to "tour the world" on his Kawasaki KLR (650cc), taking 12 months to work his way through 15 countries  from Arizona to the very bottom of South America.

Apparently, on YouTube – whatever that is – there’s various clips of his adventures taken via his helmet camera but what I found particularly fascinating – albeit a little cynical – was that he offers 10 tips on his website to ensure survival, should you be considering a similar trip right here in Africa.

Tip 1: Ignore those folk who tell you not to go. Regarding the fact that you’ll have a gap in your CV just record the fact that “you went travelling on your motorcycle".

Tip 2: What to do with that long-term relationship… forget it. (I assume he wasn’t married(!)) “After a week or so on the road I had other things to worry about.”

Tip 3: Paranoia tends to set in… What if this or that happens. “One thing I discovered early on is the world is a safe place – or at least not as dangerous as we tell ourselves it is.”

Tip 4: Having said the above, get away from border posts quickly. “Borders are not fun places to hang around anyway.”

Tip 5: Budget. “It’s simple, work out you accommodation/food/and fuel per day based on local prices – and then double it!

Tip 6: Don’t over-prepare. “If you’ve got a bike, a bit of savings, and a couple of panniers, you can do it tomorrow. It’s easy to pack: put everything of vital importance in one big pile – then halve it!”  

Tip 7: Don’t rush. “My worst mistake was aiming to reach such-and-such a place by a certain date. Forget it – if you’re going too fast you can miss it all just trying to get to the next point.”

Tip 8: Wrong is good. “Things are going to go wrong. Running out of petrol; not having the right forms at the border. Running out of local currency. But that’s where the adventure begins!”

Tip 9: Take a helmet camera. “It’s a lipstick camera (GoPro), it films constantly and when you come across something interesting you press a button to make it save the last five minutes.”

Tip 10: Set a deadline. “If you’re constantly putting things off until next year set a date when it’s going to happen – otherwise it probably never will.”

Catch up with Dwyer’s latest travels on his blog.

*Travel books piled up by my bed ready to read include: 'Jupiter’s Travels' by Ted Simon; American president Harry Truman’s 'Excellent Adventure'; 'Slow Roads' by Anthony Burton; 'Our Gumball Rally' by Clement Wilson and Richard Dunwoody; 'Is That Thing Diesel?' by Paul Carter; 'Travelling With Che Guevara' by Alberto Granado and 'Red Car Diaries' by Ashley Dowds.