Testing the ‘never giving up’ approach
Wow, what a set of weeks it’s been… and I don’t say that in an awed sense, I say it in a ‘what the hell, why is everything going wrong, wrong, wrong?!’ This write up is primarily about the trials and tribulations so far on my road to Australia, and never giving up.
When it all went wrong, wrong, wrong…
I can’t say I’m surprised, I was expecting some form of complications on such a long journey, but I just didn’t know when they would hit. It’s been a topsy turvy (really riding on the turvy now) two weeks – which then turned into a really shitty 4 weeks. There is much to be said for never giving up, even when every all comes at once.
Where to start…
– crashed bike in Iran
– destroyed clutch in Iran
– denied visa to turkmenistan
– missed out on Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and the wakhan corridor
– lost two weeks fixing bike in Iran and turning back to Georgia
– contacts communicated there was no safe access through Afghanistan as alternative route
– russian visa takes twice the allotted time (losing me yet another week)
– bike electrics fail
– locating the ‘easy to replace spares’ becomes not so easy in Tbilisi
– tour group through China takes a turn for the worse (I’ll get into that later)
Locating spares in Tbilisi has been a whopping pain in the bum – funnily enough I’ve been able to find oil filters to fit my bike as spares, but cannot find a set of sprockets ANYWHERE to fit the old girl. I can find fully synthetic engine oil and air filters but no chain lube. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
Down in the dumps
At the beginning of this week, I really began to question what I was doing with this ‘crossing half the world ride’. I realised the crash and clutch replacement in Iran really shattered my confidence more then I thought. Isn’t it strange how one event can just twist your mindset in such a small amount of time?
Compounding it with missing out on Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and the Wakhan corridor really left me low for a good week – I hadn’t even realised… I’d lost sight of the whole adventure that week, and the reason I decided to commit to such a venture in the first place. This is the adventure man! I needed to wake up.
This adventure was about expanding my boundaries and knowing I had the ability to overcome bullshit obstacles – and never giving up. That’s the core of what makes things great right?
It’s so easy to walk off the pitch when you’re losing. You can go back to the locker room, forget about the game and head on home to your comfort zone. But where is the challenge in that? How are you supposed to grow when you just throw in the towel…. you’re just drying off the water but not stopping the rain.
Where is the faith?
The little information I had gleaned off forums and personal contacts for the ride to Torugart from Tbilisi was looking most promising. It wasn’t going to be easy but it was doable – and that’s all I cared about. I’d run over maps and latest updates and I had the confidence and enthusiasm that I’d knock it out of the park. If it was doable, I’d do it.
Much less can be said for my counterparts at the border – to be frank, they completely doubted my ability to make a journey to our meeting poing in time. This is more annoying then anything. Where’s the faith guys? Instead of encouraging a brother, they planted obstacles in the way of a route they haven’t even travelled. Funnily enough none of the group rode motorcycles, and drove overladen 4×4’s…
The selected group I was to cross the border had so little faith in me that it became a cutthroat arena. Within a day of recieving the ‘I don’t think you’ll make it’ email, two other emails came through in the consecutive days thereafter. The whole group had turned on me just like that – and kicked me off the tour. No more Kazakhstan – Kyrgyzstan – China – Pakistan run. I was shattered.
I tried vainly to save the tour, asking to push dates back which no party really wanted a part of. Even the tour operator turned on me, demanding money to re-submit a new permit application for the ‘new’ group. All of a sudden I was the bad guy, with the whole lot of them nipping at my heels.
With no plan D in sight (yeah that’s right, the first three plans had burnt to the ground) I felt a horrible feeling of hopelessness. It sucked. Questions popped into my head – What the hell am I supposed to do now? How in the frig’ am I going to get home? Is the adventure over already? Shit… I’ve buggered it all up…
The support stays strong
At the other end of the spectrum there’s my friends and fellow motorcyclists. My friends have stepped up to the plate and told me they believe in me. That kind of support really keeps you floating when you are caught in a conundrum. Keeps you focused on never giving up.
The motorcycling community has been absolutely unreal and positive. Every motorcyclist I’ve reached out to has given me the information I need, or a contact who knows what I need to know. It’s all pretty damn confidence inspiring, and makes it tough to fail with that kind of support holding you up.
The thing that gave me the boost back up to the heavens of motorcycle riding, was the support coming in from nearly all angles (except those members of the tour group who decided I could not). When people tell me I can’t do something, it gets me so bloody fired up and I become determined to prove them wrong.
At times like this, when much of the great adventure rides on a tough challenge, an encouraging word and slap on the back is very empowering. Yeah, maybe that sounds lame to some… but being part of a worldwide community that wants to help you, even as strangers, is bloody great. It re-affirms for me, that riding a motorcycle, or motorcycling itself, is alot more then just sitting in the saddle.
Things are looking up
In the spirit of never giving up, as wednesday had rolled in, I had finally sourced a mechanic who had the one tool I lacked for the last OEM triumph oil filter replacement (come to think of it, how dumb was I to not even check I had the correct tool in the first place!). Luckily, I had sourced two new K&N filters which I had the sockets for.
I managed to source two spare oil filters, an air filter, fixed the electrical issues, found fully synthetic oil, spark plugs, chain and will be visiting a large warehouse tomorrow on a hunt for chain lube. Precious, precious chain lube. The protection for my all important drive.
Plan D begins to take shape
I’ve bloody well come this far and I’m not about to have it all taken away from me. This is where my somewhat annoying stubbornness comes in handy. It’s not time to give up just yet, and I don’t intend on giving up anytime soon. As many wise overlanders have told me – “there is always a way around things if you try hard enough to find it”. Never giving up is a good way to put it.
With a Pakistan visa that expires in February next year, this grants me more then enough time to organise a second Iran Visa in as many months. It will take around month to get it all sorted, but I have a plan for the ‘waiting period’ timeslot.
My first thought was to chase roads all the way back to Istanbul and into Thessaloniki to my sponsors at Motoaction. Then I found it much more economical to order my spares and fly over instead to pick up the parts in person and fly them back to Georgia in my carry on bags. This way, I will have all the spares I need for the remainder of the ride home (one would hope anyway).
While I’m doing this, I’m going to go find some sun and get out of this miserable Georgian weather – it’s rained everyday for the last 8 days, it feels like I never left London. Except of course that food is much better, and more affordable in Georgia. This will give me a chance to recharge the humanoid batteries and get me that familiar itch to be riding again.
A sentimental write up?
Some people reading this are wondering why I’ve written about the negative, tough, emotional parts of an adventurous ride. Isn’t it all supposed to be fun and exciting? How does one even get upset on adventure like this? Getting sentimental are we Dutchie?
This is part of the reality of the ride. It’s not all cherry blossoms and chocolate cake. Yeah, there is complete highs (and there is so, so many of them) but with that come the occasional lows. This wouldn’t be a realistic story if I just bullshitted on about how ‘great’ everything was.
Don’t get me wrong, I still wouldn’t change anything that has happened so far. I really wouldn’t. Why? Well, it wouldn’t be a challenge now would it? It’s all part of the adventurous package you sign up for at the beginning.
I’m learning how to be more resourceful and tackle the issues coming straight at me, and especially learning to never give up. It feels a hell of alot more triumphant when I can say ‘yeah #$%& yeah mate, had some ball busting issues, but I smashed them out of the ball park’.
A sentimental write up? Perhaps. What did I take from this banana moshpit of challenges? Never giving up will get you further then you’ve thought possible. Never giving up will get you places.