Tag Archives: Biking

Solo But Never Alone

More fuel? Yes, please!

It’s been a little while since my last post – sorry, guys! After getting my new wheels at the beginning of August, I’ve been out riding every spare moment and revelling in my re-discovered freedom. Volty and I have clocked up over 1,000kms this past month, exploring coastal Victoria from the gorgeous wine valleys and beachside villages of the Mornington Peninsula to my favourite local ride, the scenic and wonderfully twisty Great Ocean Road.

The novelty of owning a brand new bike really hasn’t worn off. I know it sounds silly, but my Suzuki TU250X is the first thing I’ve owned since my beloved 1973 VW Beetle (back in London over 10 years ago!) that I’m really rather proud of. And just as happened when I owned the Vee-Dub, everywhere I go on Volty I seem to make friends.

Neighbours who previously never acknowledged me now give me a friendly nod or wave when they see me donning my helmet and gloves as Volty’s engine warms up in the communal garage. At roadside cafés or petrol stations, total strangers come over to chat, admiring the Suzuki’s classic retro-style look or telling me they wish they were on two wheels on “a lovely day like this”. At traffic lights, car drivers wind down their windows to chat to me as we wait for green – and yes, it turns out there are some bike-friendly motorists! (probably closet motorcycle riders…)

“Arty” shot of Volty’s front wheel in the sunshine

On the road, the “biker’s nod” from other motorcyclists still gives me a little boost every time it happens. By getting back on a motorbike, I’ve re-gained my automatic membership to a very special secret society: It doesn’t matter what you ride, it just matters that you ride. I like that. Today, about 20 balaclava-ed Harley riders on bikes five times the size of mine nodded and tooted and thumbs-upped to me, one after the other – quite a sight, I can tell you! As they roared off down the coast in the opposite direction, I gave Volty a quick burst on the throttle for good measure, buoyed up all over again.

By its very nature, motorcycling is a solitary activity – but it’s just about the most sociable thing I’ve ever done in my life.

This sunny Sunday morning, I stopped off at the Sandown Racecourse to say hi to my old Ridetek riding instructors, Mel and Al. Two years ago, they saw me through my heady days as a wobbly scooter rider right through to passing my test on a 250cc motorbike. As we stood talking in the warm sunshine, admiring Volty’s sparkling chrome and gleaming bronze paintwork, I thanked the guys yet again for putting me on a road that now gives me so much happiness and enjoyment.

Before I became a motorcycle rider, I didn’t know what I was missing – but now, I wouldn’t be without it for the world. 

Oh and to any non-riders reading this, wondering what on earth I’m talking about but thinking it sounds damn good – go get yourself a motorbike licence: it will change your life! 🙂

Advertisements

Gearing Up For India

Filming the UNICEF Sahara Trek in 2010

As you’ll know from my last post, I had a great time in London and I’ve returned to Melbourne with lots of excitement about our India Adventure. This has been tempered by the inevitable anecdotes from people about how crazy the roads are in India – not to mention tales of near-misses or crashes in cars and on bikes that seem to be par for the course in that part of the world. So I’m approaching our roadtrip with a healthy mix of anticipation and trepidation – well it is an adventure, after all!

After get-togethers with Charley and UNICEF in the UK, I’ve realised there’s actually quite a lot of prep – not to mention fundraising! – to do in the next few months. So I’m making the most of a long weekend here in Oz to start hatching plans for wrangling gear for the trip and getting support from companies who may be able to help me out with the things that we need.

Right now I’m compiling a kit list – potential equipment, including camera (video and stills), tripods, GoProsⓇ and so on for filming and otherwise documenting the adventure. During my rendezvous with Charley, we compared notes about various filming techniques and ideas – including using Spot Tracker GPS or similar on the trip, so that people can follow our journey as it unfolds on the ground in India.

It’s always a trade-off between taking enough gear to properly cover the event and not getting bogged down with stacks of fancy kit. I’ll be stowing it all in the back of an old Ambassador, which isn’t renowned for its huge luggage space, so I’ll need to be clever about what I end up taking.

Setting up for a shot of Team UNICEF tackling a steep ridge in Morocco (as my trusty porter Mohamed looks on!)

Plus, there are particular challenges on this trip that didn’t come up when I filmed our last UNICEF adventure in the Sahara Desert. On that trip, with everyone trekking on foot within a relatively short distance, it wasn’t too tricky to film – I could see the entire group and catch up with particular individuals and happenings at any given moment. This time, we’ll be a convoy of cars and motorbikes potentially strung out over a fair distance (albeit contained by a leader vehicle, sweepers, support crew etc) – and, of course, moving vehicles always require particular tricks and techniques when it comes to filming. I just need to make sure I’ve got a plan of action and the kit to cover it all, so I don’t miss all the good stuff!

So, lots to plan – but it’s all good. Half the fun of any adventure is the preparation, eh? 🙂

Miss-Adventures On A Motorcycle

Ready for the road!

So this Easter weekend, having postponed a bigger adventure trip overseas until I can save a bit more cash, I decided to make the best of things down home and venture out on a few local mini-adventures on the bike. On a whim, I got up on an overcast Easter morning and headed off down the coast towards the beautiful Otway Forest…

Trouble is, being spontaneous can have its downsides. First up, I didn’t check the weather forecast – which under normal circumstances isn’t so bad, but on this particular day I was barely an hour into the trip when exceptionally gusty winds and hailstones forced me to stop by the side of the road. Sitting in the saddle with no shelter, while the elements gave me a solid drenching, I looked to the heavens cursing my lack of foresight.

As the rain eased, I started off once more but it was turning into the mini-adventure from hell when, rounding a hairpin bend dead slow, unable to see properly through my visor for the rain, I felt the back wheel slip and yup…down I went. It wasn’t a big off but already deflated by the weather, I struggled to get the bike upright, skidding and sliding in some surface mud that seemed to have appeared from nowhere underneath my wheels.

Back on the road, I battled the elements for another couple of hours, following the windy coast road through bend after bend, until – joy of joys – I saw a coffee place at the side of the road and parked up for a vat of hot java and a cake. Warmed and with renewed gusto for my journey, I jumped on the bike, pressed the starter button and – nothing. Really, nothing. Oh shit. Bugger. They say things come in threes – this was the third thing.

But as always on the road, someone appeared out of nowhere to save the day. A guy on a gleaming Ducati spotted my problem (or more accurately, heard me swearing at the bike!) and came over to assist. I’ve no idea what the problem was – I was too sodden with rain to care at that point – but he got me going again and in a flourish of shiny red metal was gone!

Hours later, after a day battling the elements on two wheels, I arrived back home just as the sun started to shine brilliantly over the bay. Of course. Rain-saturated, muddy and over it, I settled on my sofa with a large glass of wine. An episode of Long Way Round (the one with all the mud and shit in Mongolia) was enough to get my day back in perspective. You win some, you lose some, eh?!

Biking The Mediterranean

Jeanie Davison

Motorcycling the Mediterranean coast from Naples round through Italy, France and then into Spain was my first overseas biking trip – and it didn’t disappoint! Whilst trepidatious about riding on the “wrong” side of the road – and whether I’d taken too much stuff to carry on a bike! – my desire to head off on two wheels through Europe for a month propelled me along on an exhilarating journey.

Hiring small 250cc bikes in each country I went through, the only rule of the trip was to follow the Mediterranean coastline as closely as possible. And with the sea breeze in my hair – well ok, whipping through my helmet! – and scenery to die for, a new sense of freedom took hold in the way that only life on two wheels can provide.

Stopping over in small villages and towns along the way, overnighting in hostels and pensions (next time I’ll camp), I could have carried on forever! With nowhere to be at any particular time, this two-wheeled adventure truly cemented the joy of the open road – and in particular, the joy of long-distance motorcycling in foreign lands. Italy, France and then Spain are all countries I’ve travelled through before – but never like this. And I can truly say, two-wheeled touring beats everything else hands down.

By the time I reached Malaga, I’d run out of money. If it hadn’t been for that, I swear I’d still be on the road now, heading perhaps down to Algeciras, Morocco and beyond…

I did the trip on a whim, suddenly yearning for the freedom of the open road. This was my first taste of bigger two-wheeled adventures. So watch this space, there’ll be more to come!