In 2004 the TV miniseries Long Way Round
was released and totally changed the world’s perceptions about motorcycle trips. Were people doing insanely long trips before Long Way Round? Of course. But Long Way Round
brought this idea to the whole world, not just motorcycle nuts.
People now imagined their first big motorcycle trip being crossing Asia, or riding all of Africa, instead of just making it to the end of the block safely. And it’s a great show. Tons of great moments, truly dramatic reality TV with great characters, images, story and sound.
But there’s one moment when Ewan McGregor pipes up, somewhere in Mongolia or Kazakhstan, and bemoans all of the things he’ll never see because they were in too much of a rush to get to the next place. And yes, they had it hella tough – Mongolia has about 60km of paved roads, and most of them are in the capital city.
And then he says 'It doesn’t matter – all these places I never got to see – it was the journey and not the destination' or some such blather.
Now, I’m not like the average rider. Most people have to work. Traveling is my work, so I’m privileged. But I’m also someone who has made a habit, even before I had this job, even before I had a
job, to drop everything and head out for monster trips.
So when I heard this, at first I thought, 'Yeah. Yeah! YEAH!' because it helped me accept all the regret I had for the things I had missed from being late, behind, hungover, lost, lonely… or just in a mood to ride without stopping for whatever reason.
But then a few years later, I was riding my first real bike around Lake Superior. A lumbering Yamaha XS750. We got to our campsite around Neys Provincial Park and there was a section of mountains that had some of the best sweepers and scenery, but we were in a rush and I just didn’t get to enjoy it.
When we got to camp and started to set up, I said 'screw it' and got on my bike and went back and redid the whole ride, all the way back to Marathon. Since then I’ve been saying 'screw it – we need to go back' or 'we need to slow down' or flat out 'we need to stop' because I’m done with those regrets.
The point is that only when you have time to digest what is actually happening can you be present in the moment and gain from an experience – gain something deeper than bragging rights, that is.
Here are the 18 lessons I learned from 28 days on the road, mostly riding around Lake Superior
, but also Northwestern Ontario
and the Northeast