30 September 2011

As I push further west ever closer to London, entering what should be the final week of this epic Turkey motorcycle tour, it’s a good time for reflection.

I’ve been on the road for more than 9 weeks. I’m accustomed to my own company now – and are used to passing the time absent interaction with others.  Not that the people I’ve met on the way weren’t important. Sharing a meal with another person should not be taken for granted. Certainly my interactions with the locals and fellow travellers were memorable, and the highlights of the journey.

Three rough heads – pity Chris Hunn (aka Kalaharie George) (left) was such a tool

Coffee with Ali in Sinop

Ali joking around in Sinop

But most nights I dine alone and this Blog has become my conversation of the evening – mostly one way – even though the email feedback received along the way has motivated me to keep going.

Writing a Blog after dinner in the hotel restaurant

I didn’t set out to find anything really but just to experience new countries and cultures. I didn’t become a hippie or take illegal substances (none were even offered to me), nor get a tattoo or body piercing (there were plenty of shops en-route offering these services).

Dining alone yet again – cheers!

Maybe I know a little more about me now, and most of all what is not best for me.

This has been a journey of research and experience. Of learning. To find my passion.

Many people never get an opportunity like this. To disregard reality for 10 weeks and to live for the day, tonight’s hotel room, tomorrow’s road. For this opportunity I am grateful and hope I am better for it. Time will tell.

But the longer you do it the scarier it gets to return to reality. To conform to the norms expected of you.

My Romanian policeman buddy who showed interest in the Family Truckster

The next great road to ride continues to be a goal. Even though I’ve now done over 10,000 miles on this trip there are many more roads, countries and places where I’m yet to go.

I now realise I’ve never really been good at anything.

The Family Truckster relaxing in the shade with some locals at Patara

My lack of natural talent has been hidden by loud talking, arrogance, bluff or top quality kit. But deep down there is a lack of confidence, anxiety about acceptance, about not fitting in, not being good enough and hyper-sensitivity to criticism. My self reflection is a burden – but it is me.

The Family Truckster is a great example – I get the best and most powerful touring bike, to compensate for my lack of riding skills.

These young Turkish guys were super impressed by the Family Truckster

But they still pass me on their Massey Fergusons.  But it doesn’t really matter, does it? But to me,  in some ways it does, even though I tell myself it shouldn’t.

Two very experienced Massey Ferguson tourers I met in Istanbul

There have been plenty of other Family Trucksters on the road since I made it to the Dolomites. They are certainly intimidating beasts. When they pass you in the other direction or when they come up behind you. The headlights are most distinctive – and because they are so big, there is simply no other bike with quite the same road presence.

For me a Goldwing just doesn’t have the same authority on the raod as my Family Truckster

One passed me the other day – I couldn’t keep up. And he had a pillion. A much better example of a skilled operator on great kit. Not a pretender trying to be something he isn’t.

There is a movie with Clint Eastwood featuring a line where Clint’s character says ” … a good man knows his limitations …”. I know more about mine now. And I’m not ashamed of them really – they will be what they are.

Even after 9 weeks I don’t tire of climbing aboard the Family Truckster. Even though I’m a little sore at present it is still an absolute pleasure to be in control of such a precise, powerful and highly engineered machine. To make it do what I want it to.

Every day was a pleasure to ride – even with a half closed left eye

Perhaps I am a control freak after all. But it doesn’t hold any grudges about this – the way I simply ask it to do exactly what it was designed and built for.

When all is on song it is such a delight. Being in-sync with the machine and the road it a great experience and everything just flows. It’s like everything happens in slow motion, the next turn is apparent, brakes are hardly touched and the sound of the engine revving is pure. There is hardly a moment when the bike is vertical but it is just so stable.

But even in these moments I am only using about 2/3 of the capability of the machine and I’m not sure why. It’s not due to the speed limits, sometimes the conditions dictate temperance, but mostly I’m tentative, holding back, scared of something.

Roger from country Victoria – top bloke

Perhaps this is why I haven’t come off the bike yet. But riding the Family Truckster has almost become a metaphor of my approach to life. Try and stay in the middle ground and don’t push the limits of what could be possible. Do what is right and what others expect, not necessarily what makes me happy.

The problem is that on those few occasions I have tried to do something different in life or career it has backfired. Sometimes this has just been bad luck, but poor judgement has taken me there on occasions also. Poor judgement on the road could have dire consequences.

I never did end up paying the speeding fines in Turkey – make a token effort though.

Tomorrow is another day. Perhaps I will give the Family Truckster some more gas or see if I can get my knee down in the corner. But perhaps not. Either way I will give it my best and enjoy the experience.

After all, a good man knows his limitations. And while my best may not be better than most others, it’s certainly good enough for me.