I like my routines, I feel good when the start and finish of the day go according to plan.
I start riding early, and in hot countries where the temperature becomes unbearable before midday, very early. I’m currently in Sudan, it’s August, and my alarm goes off at 4.30am. I pack my bag and head to my bike. The majority of my luggage stays locked to my bike overnight (camping gear, bike tools & spares…). I secure my bag on the rear of the seat, and ensure my tank bag has those things I might need in the day: shorts & flip-flops in case I want to stop and walk around or breakdown, sun glasses, disc-lock, water, camera. I keep paperwork and valuables in a small top box. I attach my Garmin GPS , iPhone and GoPro, make sure my charging cables are in place and I’m off. I have a hydration backpack which is essential in extreme temperature.
At the end of the day I like to have everything ready for the morning before I settle into a hotel or pitch my tent. This means filling up with petrol (which here in Sudan is a challenge), getting cash from an ATM if I need it, getting a SIM card (4G) if I’ve just arrived in a country and enough water for the next day (here in Sudan I have a minimum of 8 litres). Lastly, I check if the chain needs lubricating, and generally check the bike over, mainly checking if there are any loose bolts.
If I’m in a hotel, the first thing I do is shower, putting all of the clothes from the day in the bottom of the shower to wash them, if there’s a fridge I fill it up with my water.
I currently set my alarm for 4.30am, get some food and fall asleep early.
I don’t ride everyday, and try to stop every few days for a day, and then stop for a few days every week or so. Not just to rest, but to write, rough-edit films, and upload them to Dropbox, and plan the next few weeks. Where am I going, do I need apply for visas etc.
Every ‘overland traveller’ has their own reason for travelling, how they travel, and what experiences they want. My travel is ‘all about the people’. I sometimes pass nearby to famous places and have felt that ‘I shouldn’t miss these opportunities’, even that I would be foolish to miss them, and at times a pressure to visit places people would expect me to visit! “You can’t go to Cairo and miss the pyramids, you can’t go to India and miss the Taj Mahal”! I didn’t!
What I know about myself and the way I travel, is that I much prefer the countryside to cities. I also much prefer meeting people than seeing yet another ‘waterfall’ another historic building, the oldest, the tallest, the most colourful… I said many years ago that I never want to see a waterfall or cave again! They all look so similar to me now. I want to engage with people, from different cultures, religions and social economic backgrounds. It’s all about the people.
I’m currently in Ethiopia, in a small city on the edge of lake Tana. Everyone takes boat trips on the lake. I’m about 100 metres away and might walk down there and have a look, I might not! I’ve been here 24 hours now and have met some lovely people – Lomiy, who took me to a traditional Ethiopian music club last night. I needed a repair on my motorbike, and for 2 hours I experienced an Ethiopian workshop and talked to the mechanics. I find this so much more enjoyable than meeting tourists, who’ve generally just arrived by airplane with their ‘Lonely Planet’, and only want to see the famous attractions. There’s nothing wrong with traditional tourism, I often travel this way, however, overland adventure travel is very different for me.
I love riding my motorbike in beautiful scenery, I also quite liked visiting the pyramids in and the Taj Mahal. However, I get most enjoyment from meeting people around the world, in their normal environment, not selling me and overpriced coke! It’s all about the people.
That’s how I travel…