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Managing Expectations

Blog Date - 21 November 2017

I am still learning to manage my expectations. Even at the age of 46 I still have an awful lot to learn about the reality of this world and the people within it. 

When I was first introduced to the idea of "adventure motorcycling" I saw books with authors atop their mile-weary motorcycles looking windswept and interesting. I saw BMW GSs on dirty roads next to ramshackle lorries and makeshift tin shelters. I saw dirty faces with mountainous backdrops, sunburnt faces in deserts and frosty beards in the snow. Oh yes I fell for the whole "Long Way Round" image of adventure motorcycling.

Ren's 125 has the panels and seat off for repairs in a farmer's barn in Scotland
Does fixing a motorcycle in a barn in The Highlands in winter make me look adventurous?

I yearned to be that worldly wise, well travelled and ruggedly interesting person as seen on books and TV and the internet. I believed that travel would change a person and they would become enlightened, open minded, fascinating and sage like. I expected them to be filled with great stories that would inspire everyday folks to live in harmony and understanding.

Since then I have made my own travels, albeit nothing more than a few holidays on two wheels around the UK and a the odd corners of nearby Europe. I have also met quite a few people who have made "the big trip" all around the globe as well as countless others who have been to places that still sound exotic to myself.

An old Dutch windmill with 2 motorcycles parked in front
I've been allllllllllllllll the way to The Netherlands - go ME!

What I have learned is that I am wrong in my expectations - as usual. 

World travellers do indeed have stories to tell. I've heard engrossing tales of the horrors of riding through India. I've laughed nervously at an anecdote of hillbilly hicks in America warning a traveller "you don't wants to be here boy". I've read about bribes at border crossings in Africa. I've seen endless images of beautiful parts of the world.

All this said, the travellers themselves turn out to be just people. Ordinary, regular human beings. They still have money worries, arguments with their respective partners, neurotic habits, fears, delicate egos and strong political views. If I were to compare their traits both positive and negative against the general population I reckon they'd match up quite well. 

They have stories to tell, stories that I enjoy hearing. Other than that they're just regular folks.

In some ways I feel let down. I had hoped they would all have a certain wisdom they could share with me that would help me grow into a better and wiser person. Some of them do, but then so did my Grandad. In other ways I'm thankful. If the opportunity to travel the globe doesn't come my way that doesn't preclude me from growing as a person. The travels I do make in themselves won't improve me, it's up to me to improve myself. 

Ren is wearing all his motorcycle gear while paddling in the sea at Rhossili
I enjoy my own little adventures much more now because I take them less seriously.

Maybe I should just enjoy the stories I hear and get out there to make my own stories. 

You got a bike? We'd like to share your own personal review of your motorcycle. Drop Ren a line - ren@bikesandtravels.com

Reader's Comments

Ian Soady said :-
The one "adventure traveller" I think it's worth paying attention to is Ted Simon. His Jupiter's Travels* is superb. It is far more about his interactions with the people he met along the way, than boring details about the bike and other riders, and his own responses are very illuminating. Much more so than the long way up/down/round characters who often seem to pass through with the places and people having no effect on them and vice versa. Still less those who seem to be determined to go as fast as possible and break "records".

*BTW I seem to remember I lent/gave you a copy of this (delete as appropriate).....
27/11//2017 12:25:35 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
As you know I'm not a big reader Ian. As such I'll have to leave any comparison to Sharon. Thing is Sharon isn't reading as much as she used to either. Life, paint and motorcycling keeps on getting in the way.

Traveling means different things to different people. For some it is about badges and stickers to show where they've been. For others it's about scenery. Some it's a challenge to overcome.

I started out as a young man with something to prove, isn't that what being a young man is about? That is still within me but age dulls the drive. I'd say these days I'm driven more by curiousity to see a place and explore. I also really enjoy meeting people. This surprises me because I'm not much of a people person.
28/11//2017 7:39:23 AM UTC
Tony W said :-
I like Nathan Millwards books. Sydney to London on a 110cc postie bike!

Ted Simon rode a 500cc Triumph did'nt he?

Never understood the BMW GS thing. Great bikes yes, but I would not like to pick one up on my own.

Whatever floats your boat I suppose :)
29/11//2017 12:59:43 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Sharon enjoyed Bernard Smith and Cathy Birchall's book "Touching The World".

Everyone is different. Everyone travels differently. I understand the attraction of the GS1200, all that power and the ability to haul heavy luggage. But then the C90 attracts far less attention, has far greater parts availability and no-one thinks you're a wealthy westerner. There is no perfect bike.

That Nick Sanders and a few others have used sports bikes. Personally I can't think of anything worse but the fact they've used them to great effect demonstrates suitability. Go figure.
29/11//2017 1:32:10 PM UTC
Henrik said :-
Ren, I like your writing in this article, it reflects some mature wisdom, such as not to worshipping any fellow human beings as god, and not expect much in the first place,...

People you never have meet F2F, IRL, is also not what you think :-)

I also don't read these types of books any longer, my time is to pressures,.

We do it each our own way, at least I try, not to let others define the word "adventure",..

I come to this site every now and then becourse I like the honest, and more humble and realistic articles I find here. You are real people, not something from a ferrytale, or something wanna-be. The shit-days, the thinking, the people, and funny small details from the everyday life got covered also

I admire what tours you manage, given the cards you got to play with,..

Only car trips for us this year, our parents are old, and we used our weeks off to tour with them, while they are still there, next year might be to late

Then that was an adventure as well, something to look back to, and something to say later "I am glad I did it", despite the fact that I will NOT write a book about it :-)

Borgund Stave Church
29/11//2017 11:14:32 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Cheers Henrik. I know our trips are the sort of trips anyone can manage and for some readers that's the appeal. Of course that does not mean we don't still dream of making much larger and longer trips.

Next year we are off to Spain - we've booked the ferry so apart from disasters that's our next big trip. In the meantime I hope to squeeze in as many shorter trips as I can.

I hope everything is well in DK and that picture is one crazy looking place - A church of some kind I'm guessing?
30/11//2017 2:07:08 PM UTC
Borsuk said :-
If your thinking of passing my way Ren let me know.
30/11//2017 4:14:49 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Drop me a line Borsuk - I'll let you know dates and you can give me a rough idea of which area you reside in.
30/11//2017 5:28:22 PM UTC
Henrik said :-
Ren, its borgund stave church in Norway,.. well worth a look

Spain sounds nice, and a little more secure from rain than France, if you choose the right time and place. Spain and Romania, perhaps the Alps,.. is what I could think of in Europe. But I am a "norse-man", prefer being up here ,..

Cool that the ferry is booked, a touring-plan without a deadline, is not a plan ;-)

Look forward to read about it, my sister was there, to study architecture, if you by mistake hit one of the bigger towns make sure to see the buildings made by Antony Gaudi ,.. they are almost alive somehow

2/12//2017 9:15:55 PM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
"Next year we are off to Spain "

I hope you will take the first opportunity to cross to the civilised side of the Pyrenees.......
3/12//2017 1:25:44 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
The church is quite unlike anything I've seen.

Regarding plans - other than the ferry which has to be booked our plans are flexible. We may or may not go to the Pyrenees, we may or may not head south, we may or may not head central. It depends on the weather, our mood and fate.

Ian I know you like France but civilised? Have you seen their toilets?
4/12//2017 8:05:30 AM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
The "Turkish" type of toilets are of course still to be found occasionally but there is usually an alternative - I've never been on a campsite without.

Some people like them although I can't understand why - I'd always be scared of losing my money / keys / passport down the hole......
4/12//2017 11:01:02 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
We had a couple of experiences where there were no "sit" toilets save for the disabled! I don't have a problem but then I can stand for number 1s. I...ahem...I have yet to experience a number 2 in the turkish loo but I'm sure I'll be fine.
4/12//2017 6:50:29 PM UTC
Borsuk said :-
Squatty Potties as the wife called them when we were in China. Murder on the knees and if your a read in the loo type of person a great disappointment.

4/12//2017 9:31:27 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Squatty Potty - I like that Borsuk.

Now there's a thing. As a 46 year old bloke yes I can still squat a little but the knee that was knackered in the crash is not a happy bunny. What I can't imagine is how a 85 year old person with arthritis and weakened muscles goes on?
5/12//2017 10:23:52 AM UTC

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