I usually address the whole “exciting” and still relatively new paradigm of adventuring astride a motorcycle each and every time I’m drinking beer in a pub and I see an Adventurer riding past the pub on his way to an adventuresome coffee shop.
Dedicated Adventure bikes is one of the few burgeoning motorcycle markets left to the industry, so it’s not like this is not popular.
I get it and all. But it…well, it just don’t sit right with the dinosaur in me.
This relatively new take on the Adventuring genre is to spend tens of thousands of dollars securing a purpose-built Adventure bike, clothing yourself in several more thousands worth of Goretexevlar Corduranium and setting forth to conquer the already conquered in style and comfort. I’m good with that. I’m of an age, and I love them uber-electronicated Euro-weapons like a shark loves blood. I relish their insane abilities, their “You’ll be right, mate” attitude and their capacity to also be a great on-road bike.
But it’s not real adventuring, is it?
It’s like those two shameful Pom muppets from a few years back – Boorman and Obi-Wan and their yawn-worthy sojourn around the world. This journey, as you’ll recall, was billed as an “Against all odds adventure” despite it being nothing of the sort. There was even a ghost-written book you could get with the 400-episode-long DVD.Of course, I had no idea this was the case until the publicity company sent me the book to review. Which I did. Which then prompted Boorman to call my editor at the time and demand five minutes alone in a room with me – apparently so he could protest my somewhat unfavourable review. The editor, his voice cracking with mirth, called me with this information, whereupon I immediately made my way to where Boorman was waiting (the Sydney Motorcycle Show at Homebush), only to have him clap eyes on me and then bolt out the back door with his producer. So that went relatively well, I thought. He was spared from recounting his tedious tales through a mouth full of surgical hardware that weekend, and I was spared telling Lord knows that kind of terrible lies to a magistrate.
The point here is that very same widely-watched celebrity non-adventure set the tone for what has come to be the adventuring-a-la-mode of today.
Like Charlie and Ewan, you too can go an organised Adventure ride, with back-up vehicles, mechanics, booked accommodation, pre-planned meals and what-not. You pay for it, and it is provided.
And at my age, this is a tempting proposal despite the fact I am not all spiritually aligned with people who love these hyper-organised things. One day, I may give in to temptation and go along on one of these events, but until that happens, my idea of an adventure remains much as it has always been, ie. Me, some stupid motorcycle entirely unsuited for where I have ridden it, some random shit strapped to the back of it, a song in my heart, and a level of terror that can be measured with a voltmeter. As an example, I offer this…
Many years ago, I attended the inaugural Rough Road Rally. On a Yoshi-equipped Suzuki GSX1100EX with clip-ons and a hot girlfriend mounted on the back. Upon arriving at what I thought was the rally-site and beholding a Ducati being winched out of the attendant river, I was pleased we had made it unscathed.
But we had not made it. We had just arrived at the starting checkpoint. The rally-site was still a billion creek-crossings, cliffs, and shale-drops further on.
“You going to the rally?” asked an incredulous organiser as he took my money.
“Yes, I am,” I stated flatly, my mouth already dry with terror.
“Not on that you’re not,” he giggled, pointing to my Suzuki which was idling like a tank on meth.
But on “that” I did indeed go to the rally.
It cost me my fork seals, a burnt-out clutch, most of the bearings in my steering head and swingarm, a cracked sub-frame, a bunch of broken spokes on the most beautiful Akront rims in the world, and a girlfriend who would not agree to sexual congress with me for a month – no matter how much Ben Ean moselle I poured into her. But I made it to the rally-site and I made it home the next day, although the journey was a bit wobbly and fraught.
I had had an adventure. A real one. Not some confected celebrity fool-fest. I had striven against terrifying odds and I had prevailed. No-one had my back. There was no back-up vehicle. Hell, there wasn’t even a tyre-repair kit in those days. Had my Pirelli Phantom Silver Dots exploded, I would have been stuffing them with grass. Or sheep’s wool and Silastic, as a cocky had once advised me during a similar adventure. He did adjure me not to actually murder any of his sheep for the wool, but to gather it from the fence-line where it might have rubbed off the animals.
Or I would have waited for the rescue crews. My girlfriend would have kept me warm. Or I would have eaten her and hiked out.
Adventure righteously, pilgrims. This is not a dress rehearsal.
By Boris Mihailovic