I decided today would be the day I sat down and wrote about my planned recklessness for the next coming while. I don’t know how many people will read these entries, or how many will care. But it gives me an excuse to write, and hopefully something to look back on later in life. Perhaps it might be of help to someone up to a similar task, or perhaps it will put them off for good. Some might appreciate my diligence, some might question my sanity.
The ‘reason for leaving’ field in my resignation letter at my NZ employer shamelessly stated “mid-life crisis induced self-discovery”, and was promptly shared around the office. I don’t suppose it’s far from the truth.
“I am going to buy and rig out a motorcycle, and spend three months circumnavigating Australia on it”
The sentence rolled off my tongue a little easier every time I spoke it. I felt it would be healthy to start planning during my regular daydreaming sessions. My parents have called Brisbane home for over a decade, so it seemed like a logical start/finish point. I submitted my resignation, and started purchasing kit online to have couriered here, while I packed up my life in NZ over six weeks.
I arrived in Brisbane under a glorious blue morning sky, and have spent the last three weeks organising paperwork, grinding through relevant personal admin, and sorting my life out to the best of my ability. I have previously been on quite demanding motorbike rides over multiple days, and while I am an absolutely huge fan of the ‘point bike in any direction, and just ride’ philosophy, I had to account for the humility required for this undertaking. I wanted to be as organised as possible, and used Trello to manage my priorities, processes and lists.
I sorted out a mobile phone account, bank account, licence, motorbike, insurance, motorcycle gear, camping gear, hunting gear, in that order. I took up half the garage to make a mess out of. It’s now been two weeks of rigging out and testing components individually and together, adjusting, retesting, being frustrated, readjusting, and repeating until I’m slightly less grumpy. Extremely fulfilling ‘developing a feel’ for my F800GS and all my kit. The act is the reward: I should remember this over the next three months.
Three months ago, I made a post on a 17-thousand member strong Facebook group called Motorcycle Camping Australia, announcing my plans. The support and advice were warmly overwhelming; I hope to meet some of the members during my travels.
The best way to decide which way around to ride Australia is to split the continent into north and south, and pick what the best time for each is. In my case, I had to pick what the worst time for each isn’t! Given my timing, I want to avoid the wet season in the north from mid-November through to the end of March. So unless I want to wait until at least March next year, it’s only fair to want to be on the east coast by mid-November.
The Plan: Ride counter-clockwise leaving Brisbane no later than start of October
Duration: 2.5 months (averaging 250-300km/day + allowing for rest days), so back home before Xmas
- do it on the cheap
- enjoy but be open to experience discomfort
- learn about the country, people, history, myself
- document it in photo/video+written blog
Two days ago, I loaded up an indicative weight and luggage form factor on the motorbike, and went out on a long ride. Just under 300 odd kms, roughly my rolling daily average. I’m anticipating longer trips, but I’m confident the bike is comfortable for continuous riding over long distances. Along the way, I played with the rear suspension settings, the steering dampener, and the windshield positioning. If you’re ever in the Brisbane area with access to a motorcycle, by the way, do this.
I got back home, and started making minor adjustments while barely out of the textile pants I was cooking in. I wasn’t 100% happy with how the pannier bags sat on the bike. After a lot of trial and error, the velcro straps are now the least load bearing I could get them. I have used clip-in slings from laptop bags, and the smaller bag-straps into the pannier racks to distribute the weight as much as possible. While I’m sure Oxford Products Ltd have designed pannier bags for just such use-cases, I want to minimise the risk of damaging the stitching over time.
Since submitting my resignation two months ago, my life has been a blur. Now that the trip is so close, I find myself increasingly relaxed and reflective about the life-changing journey that lies ahead. I am developing a sense for how the motorcycle and I interact. I am coming to understand how the machine handles with the weight I’ll be travelling with. I am learning what to expect with corner handling. I have become accustomed to the gear I’ll be wearing. I have familiarised myself with all my kit. I have bought what I need to take with me on the trip. The next step is to pack it all as pragmatically as I can. I will do this tomorrow, and document it in another post, hopefully without getting too pedantic, or as wordy as this post turned out.