Welcome to Thoughts from the Road. Here’s Maxime Berberat on the two types of motorcycle travellers and how he changed from one to the other on the road…
A Transition: From Biker to Traveller
Riding gear, camping gear, spare parts, motorcycle-specific undergarments and a few practical clothes, documents, electronics, toiletries – check!
I was ready for my year-long motorcycle trip from Europe to Southeast Asia. Or so I thought…
Having never ridden outside Europe (or for more than two weeks in a row) before leaving on this trip, it made sense to focus on the gear and kit I would need above all else.
After all, I was going to ride all-day, every day for a whole year, wasn’t I? Unsurprisingly, that’s not what happened.
Now, 10 months in, the whole journey feels more like two different trips in one. The first one felt like a five-month marathon from Europe to Nepal with itineraries and solid riding at the centre of everything.
The second one was more like a five-month backpacking with a bike trip through Southeast Asia. In the second half, motorcycling somehow lost its central position and was replaced with cultural discoveries and, most importantly, social encounters and sharing moments with friends on the road.
In my experience, the encounters I had with fellow two-wheel travellers and people doing a similar kind of trip can be classified into two categories.
The first is the biker that travels. For these people, riding is at the centre of what they do and their reason for leaving. Usually they have run out of tarmac in their home country and want to keep riding elsewhere in the world. That, in a nutshell, is the idea I had when I left on my year-long journey. And the second category is the traveller that uses a motorcycle as a means to an end. The centre of their journey lays elsewhere.
Even though riding remains a great interest of mine, I now find my current state of mind in category number two. A die-hard biker accustomed to short trips in the mountainous regions of Europe – it’s no surprise that I didn’t expect such a change of priorities when travelling.
And while in hindsight it feels naive to have thought that only riding for an entire year would be physically possible and mentally fulfilling, I guess many long-term travellers go through the same process during their journey.
The cheesy Instagram quotes and the cliched likes of “on a journey to discover the world, I discovered myself” do seem to hold some truth after all.
Despite the realisation that preparation, road planning and even riding is not always at the centre of a trip, there are still very good reasons to put lots of effort into it, mainly so that you’ll free up space in your mind for all the new experiences you haven’t even considered while planning for your trip…
What do you think? Which category do you fall into? Let us know in the comments below.