Day 512 HOME (England) / motorbike GS Dakar RTW overland adventure traveller

September 15, 2015 • Blog • Views: 6000

  • Left – 1 year, 4 months & 22 days ago.
  • 7th April 2014 – 29th August 2015
  • Miles rode – 32,789 (52,463km)
  • Countries Visited – 37

Arriving home.

I arrived back at my local pub on a Saturday afternoon complete with my ‘dirty washing’, I was greeted by friends and family and the local press turned up. After I calmed down and my adrenaline subsided I had a few pints of ‘real ale’ with the people I love. I’m glad I’m here I thought.

I’ve been home two weeks and it’s been both wonderful meeting so many people and challenging dealing with grey clouds, rain and some negative people. I don’t want to be here I thought.

What about my F650GS Dakar?

I’m not a mechanic or motor electrical guy but I do have heaps of enthusiasm and with the help of a friend we spent many hours checking and replacing parts on my Dakar to prepare for the journey. I left on a 2006 bike with a few essential spares and small tool kit.

 Tyres – 4 sets, (1 x Mitas E-07 / 3 x Heidenau Scout K60’s). No punctures! I’ll shout that – NO PUNCTURES!!!

Services – 5

‘On the Road’ repairs & parts needed – throttle cable / 4 x batteries / pannier frame straightening & welding / 2 x chain tensioning mechanisms / sprockets & 2 x chains / fuel filter / head bearings / 2 x fork seals / side stand repositioned / re-ground front disc / exhaust box welding / clutch spring adjustment / ignition coil.

Whilst I dropped my bike many times and had a few crashes I didn’t have any injuries.

My relationship with my bike was initially based on the practicalities but as time went on we bonded and I’m afraid to say we are now inseparable. We experienced everything together and in the final months of the trip at times I would sit and stare at my Dakar with the biggest smile on my face. Do I need counselling, probably! 

So what was all that about?

I left home riddled with stress having dreamt and planned my trip for years. 3 weeks before I left I was banned from driving for 6 months and 3 days before I left it was my dad’s funeral. On my first day as I headed south away from the security of my friends and family having rented my house out and given my job up, my emotions went into overdrive, the tears were rolling down my face and my smile was a mile wide. Over the next few weeks as Europe flashed past me I reflected on the whole of my life and the stress drifted away as I entered ‘overland adventure’ mode.

I documented my adventure with my blog and magazine articles which initially was a stress in itself. I had a lifetime of knowing I was poor at English, I struggled at school and the prospect of exposing my weaknesses was painful, but as time passed I became more confidant and cared less about what people might think of my errors and found the process of writing very cathartic. Some days I couldn’t wait to tap on the virtual keyboard of my iPad and reflect upon the day.

‘It’s all about the people’. How many times have I used these words, 20, 50, 100, 500? I’ve always loved engaging with people and my travels this time took engaging with people to a new level, I’m sure the motorbike was the main factor. Wherever I pulled up people would come over, engage, smile and often offer some kindness. I didn’t take anything for granted and always loved talking with new people learning about their culture and lifestyles.

Personal achievement.

I have had so many amazing experiences, in addition to the hundreds or thousands of people I met in 37 countries, travelling into Kurdistan Iraq, spending 6 weeks in Pakistan, riding my motorbike over the Himalayas, crossing from India to Thailand through Myanmar, across 9 Indonesian islands and the ‘Outback’ of Australia. The biggest achievement is riding from ‘London to Sydney overland’, I didn’t put my motorbike on any airplanes and only took essential and the shortest sea crossings by boat. The only time I wasn’t overland was;

  • England – France
  • Malaysia – Indonesia 
  • Crossing 9 Indonesian islands without missing one between Sumatra & Timor (Sumatra, Java, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Komodo, Flores, Lembata & Timor)
  • East Timor – Australia 

Everyone has there own journey, I’m very proud of mine.

Blog.

My blog has various sections (tabs);

  • Over 300 blogs detailing my daily journey complete with about 2,000 photos.
  • 200 photos of the ‘Bikes & Bikers’ I met along the way.
  • 400 photos of the wonderful ‘people’ I met.
  • Films & voice recordings.

Costs. 

Throughout my preparation I searched for someone who had detailed their costs but couldn’t find anything. I did what I assume most people do, get a pen & paper out and make a few calculations. My costs below are pretty accurate and the amazing thing is my estimation wasn’t too far out. I spent less than I thought. As you can see I included everything including the cost of the bike, if you already have a bike, laptop & tent you can remove about £9,000 of cost reducing the total to around £25,000 for 512 days of pure heaven, that’s pure heaven for under £50 per day all in.

Sponsorship; a few people have sponsors but like me most don’t. I met two people who had many sponsors and a further 3 who had a few and I got the impression it worked well for them, they wrote positive reports and published on social media and I believe all was good. All of them had an angle, something different about their RTW adventure.

There isn’t a right or wrong way to approach a ‘road trip’, along the way I met people who spent as much on their shinny new BMW 800 / 1200 complete with all of the Touratech ‘add-ons’ as I did on my whole adventure. I also met people with 30 year old bikes who will now be shocked to see how much I spent. The amount of money you spend isn’t important, what is important is that you ‘get out there & feel the wind on your face’. I’ll shout that – FEEL THE WIND ON YOUR FACE!!!

I imagine the most expensive way to do a trip is with a ‘tour company’, I bumped into 15 people on a trip from England to Mongolia and had the pleasure of an evening with them. Whilst great people they are a different breed to the independent travellers and the pace they travel at and miles they do every day wouldn’t be for me. I need to slow down, stop and engage.

Skills.

I met amazing mechanics and riders along the way, at times watched them perform major repairs on the roadside or ride so skilfully it was like watching an dancer ‘on stage’. I tried to learn from these people and hope I’m more competent now.

I thought I was one of the best planners in the world but having spent time in the company of a few ‘dedicated planners’ I realise I’m not. I’m comfortable with my ‘plan some days, roam free other days’ approach.

I took advantage of the IT experts (invariably younger than me) to help me with my iPad, GoPro or Garmin along the way. Why didn’t I read the instruction booklet before I left home?

Upon reflection I see myself as a ‘people person’. – It’s all about the people.

I realise that life is better with a smile. I naturally smile. I love meeting people and hearing about their lifestyle & culture. I love the bond you get, even if only for a few seconds or minutes. Relationships don’t have to be lifelong, I cherish the thousands of moments with thousands of people as much as the new lifelong friends I’ve made along the way. I feel I’m good with people and this helped me everyday.

Looking someone in the eye with a smile says so much.

So, if you want to ride with someone who can help repair your bike when it’s stopped working or tell you which hotel you’ll be staying in a week Thursday I’m probably not your man, however if you want someone to engage with an official or the locals when we don’t speak the same language I just maybe the one.

It’s all about the people.

What type of people ride a motorbike RTW (round the world)?

I estimate I met around 20 RTW bikers throughout the 512 days, not so many really, but they were all very similar. Whilst everyone’s backgrounds were completely different everyone had similar traits; they all smiled far more than the average person, they were all very positive & enthusiastic, engaging and had a ‘can do’ attitude. The butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker – the construction worker, the artist, the high-flying business person, the IT consultant, so very different in career choice but so very similar in their outlook on life. They live life to the full, love people, help people, are caring, good people.

Everyone of them.

It’s all about the people.

Observations.

I realise I’m very trusting compared to most other travellers, I heard the words ‘don’t leave that there’ many times. In 512 days being pretty poor (in other people’s opinion) at security I didn’t have ANYTHING stolen. I’ll shout that – NOTHING STOLEN!!!

Tolerance is a prerequisite to a happy world.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m English but I laugh a lot, and often in situations which might be dangerous. People laugh with me and everything was ALWAYS ok. I didn’t have any negative experiences in 512 days. I’ll shout that – NO NEGATIVE EXPERIENCES!!!

I have a very good sense of direction.

People are good, I know there are a few ‘bad ones’ but I didn’t meet any of them. Smile a genuine smile and people smile back at you, go out of your way to do something good and people respond back. Life can be quite simple really, be positive, do good things for other people and look someone in the eye and smile, life’s good.

What now?

Two weeks at home and contrary to my thoughts I’m doing ok, as night follows day I’m sure I’ll have down days, maybe weeks, but I’m keeping busy and planning a life which doesn’t involve returning to the ‘rat race’. 

I had a dream and the dream came true, I now have another dream, let’s see if that comes true too.

It’s all about the people.

I’ll shout that – ITS ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE!!!  

     
    
 

9 Responses to Day 512 HOME (England) / motorbike GS Dakar RTW overland adventure traveller

  1. Roelof says:

    Congratulations Dan. You did it, never mind the B.S! Hat off, cheers! Roelof NL.

  2. Keith Popplewell says:

    Well done, Dan

  3. John Paul says:

    Well done Dan, it has been a great read all the way and it is great to have a round up now you are back. It sounds like you are settling well and good luck with the future

  4. Dr. Souvik ( Delhi) says:

    you’re an inspiration dan.

  5. garth anton says:

    Hello Dan ! Welcome home my friend. Nice wrap up post , I was watching for it. Its so hard to put thoughts and experiences into words and you summed it very nice. Garth Anton

  6. Johannes and Regina Schmitt says:

    Hi Dan, Mary Christmas , you made it and let us Participate all the Way. With Love and hope to see you again

    Regina andere Johannes (met ishfahan Iran, ktm 950 from nuremberg Germany)

    • Dan skeates says:

      Great to hear from you. It would be good to meet up one day, maybe in Germany when Heiko returns home? Happy Christmas, Dan

  7. Mark Macleod says:

    Hi Dan, I trust you are adjusting well to life back home. It is still nice to see your website as a reminder of all the interesting people and places there are. I hope Olly is doing well. You gave him an interesting view of the world, which by any standards is a great gift.
    May you and yours live long and well,
    Mark & Sue

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