One of my minor Saturday treats when I lived in Cambridge was to walk up to one of the city’s bookshops and browse through maps of places I planned to or dreamed about travelling to on my motorcycle, opening them out on the floor or struggling with their folds in some other way. Now in London I have the amazing Stanfords map shop. I preferred its old shop but the new place still sells the same maps.
One of those little dreams that won’t go away is of riding to Russia. And to Lake Baikal in particular. Its just north of Mongolia if you don’t know. Basically it is about 10,000k by road from London. Hmmm. Maybe the idea was planted by watching the Long Way Round videos in the days after I passed my motorcycle test but plenty of other motorcycle-riders have been that way both before and after LWR, including the unsung hero Pavlin, a Bulgarian YouTube blogger who rides a Yamaha XT 660, completely fearlessly.
So when will I do this? After I leave my current job for sure as it is a long trip.
In the mean time, I have plans for next summer. Where can I start? Maybe by displaying the maps I bought on Saturday (both for my dream and for 2020).
My riding in Spain back in the summer ignited the joys and frustrations of some riding down gravel roads and other tracks – both by choice and by accident. To cut a long story short, I realised that losing some weight, not from my body, but from the choice of bike and what I carry, was a priority. Pursuing ‘light is right’ on Google leads you quickly to the symbiotic Trans European Trails and AdventureSpec, a supplier of clothing and other trail-type merch. Riding a motorcycle on tracks and trails is not without controversy, even when legal. Walkers, dog owners, horse riders and others don’t like it. And I can completely understand it. Motorcycle riders seems to have forgotten how intimidating and even aggressive, speed and noisy motorbikes can seem to everyone else who is not riding them. Luckily, to fit in with my conflict-avoiding character, I understand that the ‘trails’ across Germany (where I feel at home genetically) are all paved (I know – it seems a contradiction). And there is a route from the Netherlands, across the north of Germany, over to Poland, a country I want to visit out of curiosity and a vague sense that my ancestry on my mother’s side is from there. So that is my plan for Summer 2020. I want to camp again but to slim down so that I can travel without a top box. That’s the first step to much lighter future travel.