Day 147 – Home!

16 Oct


Harrogate, England, Friday October 16th, 2009.

That’s it, done it, finished, all over. 19,000 miles around the world by motorcycle in 147 days. OK, it’s probably actually 146 if you account for the whole international date line thing, but technically I started a day early too, so 147 it is. Feels good to have accomplished a complete circumnavigation after all the effort that went into it, but I wish I was still going. There is something indescribably wonderful about stopping for a rest on a dirt road in the mountains, hundreds of miles from civilisation, with no-one else there, gazing around at a jaw-dropping view, knowing that you’ve come half way round the world and still have half to go, wondering where’ll you be that night, who you’re going to meet next, what drama is going to be thrown at you, and being at once as serene as a Buddhist monk yet as excited as a child. It has been a life-changing experience, in so many different ways.

In May 2007 I signed up to take an exam for a qualification to help me get a better paying job. That was the first concrete action specifically working towards this trip. Two jobs and almost exactly two years later I set off on what I hoped would be great fun. Now I’m back from a trip that turned into something so much more meaningful and memorable than I could ever have hoped.

A thousand thank yous go to the many incredible people who have helped me along the way. If any of you ever happen to be in this neck of the woods, be sure to look me up. There’ll be a beer waiting for you!

So, I hope to do something bigger and better, the sooner the better, but realistically in a couple of years.

In the meantime, does anyone want to employ a Java programmer?

And that’s all. I hope to add many more photos, some video, and various bits of info about bike preparation, route planning, navigation, etc, so check back sometime. For now though, thanks for reading!

Day 140 Toronto, Ontario

12 Oct


I wake to torrential rain. It looks too bad to go anywhere, but I set off anyway, and the rain isn’t too bad, until I get to Canada.

The border crossing is the fastest since Europe, and then I’m into the really heavy rain. I ride slowly, trying not to crash, wondering when the bike will get too wet and cut out, but it doesn’t, and with unexpected ease I navigate to the hotel, and that’s it. Done. The trip is pretty much over. It feels weird.

After a day of such unpleasant conditions, apart from the stunning autumn colour, I’m so glad to be in a surprisingly nice hotel and able to enjoy room service, a bottle of wine and a bath. It’s nearly over. I’ve almost ridden all the way round the world.

I’m pleased with what I’ve achieved but I just wish I wasn’t stopping. I know a couple of guys who are continuing south to Argentina and then up through Africa, and I wish I was doing that too. But I need to return, re-plan, and prepare for the next trip. This will just be a temporary break, and before long I will be back on the road. I think I’m always going to be on the road or just taking a break. I don’t think I could ever stop doing this.

Day 139 Altoona, Pennsylvania

12 Oct


While confirming arrangements for the flight from New York I discover that it will take 10 days to clear the bike through customs before it can fly. From Toronto I can be out in 48 hours. It’s only a bit further to Toronto, so I change tack and head north, through the rain into the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside, rich with fall color (that’s American for “autumn colour”).

Day 138 Harrisonburg, West Virginia

12 Oct


Before setting off I adjust the wheel to tighten the chain, again. It’s pretty bad now. Not long later I stop for gas and notice that the chain is once again very slack. It’s badly stretched and the rear sprocket is almost totally worn away. I do my best to stabilise it, and ask in a petrol station for a bike shop. There’s one 25 miles up the interstate.

Gingerly I ride there, mulling over my options. I have a spare at home, so worst case I’ll be stuck here a few days waiting for it. It’s annoying after thinking I’d pretty much made it to the end. There are some loud noises from the rear as some sprocket teeth meet their demise and I slow even more.

I make it to the dealer, despite being almost eaten by several big rigs as I dawdle along. With the help of advice from Dave Lambeth by phone, we discover they have a suitable sprocket in stock at their wharehouse, so I could be out of here tomorrow. Then, incredibly, they announce that they’ve measured up and found a sprocket in the shop that will fit. I could be out of here today! Even more amazingly, they have a new rear sprocket, my spare front, and a new chain, fitted within the hour, and I’m on my way with almost no delay. Amazing! Suddenly I’m very glad I carried a spare front sprocket almost all the way round the world.

The bike rides perfectly until the sun gets low and I stop at a motel. With 340 miles to go, I’ll be in new york in another one or two days. It’s hard to believe I’m so close! I’m really grateful and impressed by the guys at Mark 4. It was almost as good as the service and desire to help that you find in Russia!