Why Riding Around the World is Beautifully Exhausting by Maddi and Oli

Welcome to Thoughts from the Road. Here’s Maddi and Oli from Tilly2Wheels on why riding around the world is so exhausting and how to keep your physical and mental fitness in check….  


Thoughts From the Road is a corner on Mad or Nomad for motorcycle travellers to share short columns from their experiences travelling the world. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments and join the discussion.

Picture of By Maddi and Oli (Tilly2Wheels)

By Maddi and Oli (Tilly2Wheels)

Round the world motorcycle travellers

Maddi and Oli first met in Brisbane, Australia. Oli travelled from Germany to study in Brisbane and when they met they immediately clicked with their shared passion for motorcycles. It wasn’t long until their love story began, and soon after they took the leap to quit their jobs and sell everything they owned to travel around the world on their beloved ‘Tilly’ Triumph Tiger XCA 800. 

Starting in January 2024, so far they have ridden through SE Asia and conquered over 12,000 kms (and the 40C+ heat). They are now in South Asia riding through the Himalayas, Stan countries and into Europe before continuing around the rest of the world through South America up to Alaska and all the way back home to Australia. 

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Why Riding Around the World is Beautifully Exhausting - Dealing with Physical and Mental Fitness on the Road

There are certainly more comfortable ways to travel around the world than on a motorcycle! We’re not going to lie, travelling on motorbikes can be exhausting and requires constant fitness – both physically and mentally. 

Physical fitness..

There are times, especially after a big riding day of eight hours straight, that exercising is the last thing on your mind. It’s a battle between your mind and body. 

We all want to just drop our gear in a hotel room, collapse on a comfy bed with a cold beer and whatever food we’ve picked up on the way in. But instead, first just take just 10 minutes to do some basic stretching. It doesn’t sound like much, but it will make an enormous difference the next day!

Instead of waking up feeling as stiff as a doornail, your back, ass and hips will thank you for it. 

Our rule of thumb is going from the bottom to the top, stretching whatever you feel like and holding for at least 10 seconds. Rainy days of riding may feel different at the end compared to sunny days because your posture on the bike changes. 

We also found some basic workout routines that work well for us. If we’ve managed to find accommodation with a gym, a 30-minute run or power walk gets the blood flowing after sitting stiff on the bike and prevents sore muscles. It’s not about becoming a body builder, it’s just about moving after sitting in a forced position for so long. If a gym isn’t available, jumping around like a couple of idiots in our tiny hotel room with 30-minute YouTube workout video will do the trick instead! 

We admit there are times when our body wins and we do collapse into bed, and on occasion you might see us on the side of the road taking a lie down in the grass, or cracking our backs over a stool to give our bodies some relief. But for the most part, we do take those 10 minutes after a day’s ride, and workout wherever and whenever we can so we can go the distance. Because let’s face it, around the world is a bloody long way! 


Mental fitness..

But it’s not just our bodies that need regular care, mentally everyday our minds are constantly processing new landscapes and languages, changing currencies and cultures, the chaos of border crossings and everyday traffic hazards… plus the little things like searching for accommodation for the night, or finding food that won’t give you the dreaded Delhi belly!

All this can be mentally taxing as your trip goes on and it’s important to “take a break” from travel. Our friends often ask, “why do you need to take a break from travel? You are on a never ending holiday!?” But as amazing as full-time travel is and how lucky we are to be living our dream, travelling is not a holiday – and a holiday mindset doesn’t work for full time travel. 

We learnt this at the beginning of our journey when we were go, go, go for a solid few months trying to see and experience ALL the things a country as to offer until we found ourselves totally burnt out.

We needed to take a break and spend sometime doing “normal” things like watching Netflix, calling our loved ones to reconnect, spending some quality time together, or just having a day to do absolutely nothing and recharge. 

We have learnt to travel much slower. Sounds simple, right? But sometimes it’s hard to force yourself to relax when there are so many new and exciting things at your doorstep to explore! And it never stops, because every new place has something new to explore. It’s constant. So make sure you take time out so you can recharge and really enjoy your experiences. 

But we wouldn’t change it..

Despite the mental burnouts, sore backs, cramped hips and numb bums, we wouldn’t change it! There is something special and unique about travelling on two wheels. 

You are forced to live minimalistic. Our rule is everything must have two uses, and it also makes you value different things than how much or what you own. 

It exposes you to all the elements that you wouldn’t feel from behind a car windshield. It’s an amazing feeling not being protected from the outside world. You feel everything, you feel powerful and yet vulnerable. 

Feeling the temperature change when you ride to the top of a mountain before riding back down into the warm valley. The sun, fresh air, rain, smells and everything in between. Sometimes you smell the fresh mountain air or homemade cooking as you ride through villages, or other times smells that are so pungent (like human feces) that you’ll have to hold your breath for dear life! 

You’re not separated by a barrier and can interact and engage with people differently. Riding through villages giving the kids high fives or experiencing the Boun Pi Mai water festival in Laos the way we did was unreal! 

This way of travel allows you to explore the more remote paths and untouched parts of a country. Yes it does come with a fear of falling on an unpaved slippery road or losing a game of chicken with an oncoming truck. It is sometimes dangerous, but we call it adventurous, and that is what we signed up for. We are two idiots on a bike! 

So keep up with your exercises, spend a few minutes each day stretching your bodies and take time out to reset because travelling around the world is a beautiful thing but exhausting too! And if we can keep ourselves in the best shape we can, both physically and mentally, then we can enjoy it all so much more.   

Maddi & Oli 

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Share your thoughts in the comments…

8 thoughts on “Why Riding Around the World is Beautifully Exhausting by Maddi and Oli”

  1. You’re so right! A little stretch here and there is majorly important after a long day but all I wanna do is pass out lol I’m going to try my best to do those 10 mins a day on my next trip though x

    • Haha don’t worry so do we sometimes! But promise you those 10 minutes will make such a difference in the morning 💪

  2. Interesting to read people talking about the mentality side of things as it’s seldom discussed. I do believe that’s a great philosophy. It’s all rush rush rush these days with big miles and hours spent in the saddle whizzing from A to B and people wonder why they’re so tired and get burnt out. Taking some quality time off the bike for some much needed rest is exactly the right advice. Well done to you both and enjoy your travels!

  3. Lovely article and excellent advice from people out there really doing it. Its stuff like this folks like me often overlook or don’t think about. Great job and thank you


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