Where the heck do you start on day one of a 6+ month journey that will see me circumnavigate the globe, explore in depth two of the world’s continents, cross deserts, high mountains and endless plains…..
Maybe best to start yesterday with the best of my last 24 hours with Tricia and Jazz. A very emotional day in glorious weather at Dunbar beech. The scenery was just a wee Scottish reminder of how good we have it at home already. Jazz for one had a fantastic day doing what she loves best, swimming, diving and chasing balls. I am sorely going to miss them both……….
0430 start this morning so we can get all the licks, hugs and kisses done (and get the tears out of the way) before a quick stop at Boots in Edinburgh (yes at 0600 in the morning…many thanks indeed to Izabela at Boots for opening up specially for me) to get my last rabies jab before the off. At Edinburgh airport by 0700, again in glorious weather, for a very emotional goodbye to Tricia…..without her none of this would be happening.
Etihad Airways flight departed on time at 0921 heading out over the North Sea for my last view of Scotland for some while…..my head is all over the place!. Next stop Abdu Dhabi before the onward flight to Brisbane. 23 hours economy class….’bliss’.
How did I get to this point?….long long story but worthy of a few words I guess.
Adventure has been in my blood since I could walk. One of my early childhood memories had me rattling down a local hill to my Aunt Marg’s house on my Raleigh Chopper as fast as I could feasibly travel only to lose control and plough head on into a stone wall. First question was, is my bike ok? (to be repeated on numerous occasions into my adult life, as many of my friends will testify to!). Well unfortunately it wasn’t. There started a passion for more adrenalin in life, almost an addiction.
My adventurous spirit saw me lucky enough to be selected for a commission in the Royal Navy and there followed a 16 year career as a general list seaman officer. I served in the Falklands, the Gulf and Adriatic campaigns to name a few on everything from Minehunters to an Aircraft Carrier. I specialised as a Mine Clearance Diving Officer (MCDO) and ultimately a Principal Warfare Officer Underwater (PWO(U)) before leaving the Navy in 1998. Now that was a culture shock!. Took a while to regain my feet but I was lucky enough to gain a foothold in IT with Fujitsu and BT thereafter. After the Navy filling the adrenalin gap was significantly more of a challenge and hence I rekindled my love for two wheels. Therein started an obsession with superbikes and track days. Buying bikes, stripping them, rebuilding, tweaking, racing (and crashing)! filled my appetite for over 10 years. Since childhood I have also loved to keep fit. Immodestly I was acutely a pretty good athlete as a kid and I followed the same lifestyle to this very day, be it running or more lately as an obsessed cyclist, inspired by my good friends Paul Coats and Neil Aldridge. That obsession has seen my train 4-5 times a week for getting on for the last decade and a half. I’ve raced a bit and climbed in the Alps, Pyrenees and Dolomites. I love nothing better that the achievement and buzz at the end of a hard days ride, and topping up the Kcals! Have to say one downside of this trip is 6 months off the push bike, not quite sure how I am going to cope with that one!.
The only real common themes throughout my life has been a real passion for adventure, wide open spaces, challenge and the need for two wheels. From my humble chopper to a full blown superbike I’ve had the good fortune to experience so man, right up until today and my burgeoning relationship with ‘Katie’. We have only just started out yet for at least the next 6 months she will see me through every day and every mile come rain or shine.
So how and why now?. Despite my fortunate health and fitness I am getting no younger and have dreamed for some time of something more epic, a serious challenge and something that would be more than simply the bike, before health became an obstacle. Never having been a believer in fate the stars recently aligned for me in that I was presented with an opportunity to leave BT. A major career decision obviously but a door that could open the way to wider dreams and aspirations. After much deliberation, and soul searching, and with the amazing support of Tricia I took the leap of faith to leave and that kicked off 3 months of planning to get where I am today…..on a flight out to Oz to re-join Katie ! (more of that planning stuff to came because it’s been no easy slog believe me)
So why Oz, why not simply jump on the bike in the garage and head east? Well first and foremost I wanted this adventure to be much more than a dash to the line. More than at a straight A-B. I’d looked hard at others who had done UK to Chia, or UK to Oz etc. and for me, for the time available, there was way too much focus on getting to the end and far too little on the experience in-between. The push for miles and the stress of meeting a schedule was simply not for me. There are also many really good companies out there selling the whole package, but again, after a lot of thought, not for me, just too organised, far too tarmac focused and not the real spirit of adventure. My key drive/focus is to let my curiosity and sense of adventure lead the way. Yes I have a bucket list (one that I’d also love you to join in on) of places to see, things to do and yes I have an outline plan (as you can see in the Trip Planning page of the website) but the essence of this journey will be the experience. The sights, the sounds, the culture, the people, the food and obviously a bit of adrenalin to boot!. All of that lead me to look to Oz as a great jumping off point. English speaking, a world of serious off-road and to boot I could drop in to see my great friends Nic and Neil Aldridge and their two lovely daughters in Sydney during the trip. Having hopefully upped my confidence level and experience with 2-3 months criss crossing the outback I can then ship out to South America for what will most likely be the most challenging and hopefully most rewarding stage of the journey from Columbia in the north to the very southern tip of the continent, with the major objective of being in Lima for the start of the 2016 Dakar, a lifelong ambition of mine.
So in essence that’s the why and when (probably more deep and meaningful tuff laterJ). The how I will return too when I get time to complete the ‘Trip Planning’ section of the website…..a story in itself!