At the handlebars - All you need to do is to leave the front door

“When something goes totally different than what you had planned, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. It’s just a change. Embrace it!”

Wise words from Dutchie, a thirty-year-old Australian who did exactly just that. He left for a two month holiday in Europe and ended up quitting his job and embarking on an overland motorcycle trip.

In November 2015 Dutchie left Sydney to backpack around Europe for two months and by January 2016, he had lined up a BMW GS 700 in North Africa, and begun his first foray into overlanding on a motorcycle.

15,000 km later, Dutchie had flown back to London, and had the idea to ride home to Sydney from the English capital. His companion de route was a Triumph Tiger 800 XC ’14.

Lucky for us he set up a blog to share his adventures, mistakes and “on-road” apprenticeship. The blog became a website: atthehandlebars.com,
 a mix of journals, helpful tips, information for fellow travellers and a compilation of inspirational pictures. All of this with one goal: “To make people move their ass!”

Adventures like “Long way down” and the around the world journey of Elspeth Beard back in the early 1980’s were a big inspiration.

“Those stories really stuck to me. I have always known that I would end up doing something like that. I love to ride bikes and I love to travel. I reckoned that since many people have done it before me, it couldn’t be that difficult. When I was in Morocco my friend Greg gave me Jupiter’s Travels (that famous book by Ted Simons) and told me that I should buy a motorcycle in Europe – and then just go for it. I flew to London from Casablanca, and four weeks later I had a motorcycle, and nothing else really. So with that, I left London and tried to get home!”

“Nothing else” means no plans and no experience. Today he is thankful that he was totally unprepared.

“I had a motorbike, boxes and riding gear, that was it. When you plan too much you are bound to focus on the plan. It is more exciting to embrace changes. You just need to adapt. I didn’t have any experience with long motorcycle travels. If I had already known all the stuff I know now, the ride would probably have been a little bit easier, but I wouldn’t have met these amazing people. I would have missed opportunities I guess.”

The only goal he had set was to ride back home. But that changed too. Dutchie visited Pakistan and it was love at first sight. Apparently, Pakistan is not only an amusement park for motorcyclists; it is also a paradise in terms of its landscape and its kind-hearted people. Dutchie ended up staying there for six months.

“Pakistan really has a bad reputation. Supposedly it is a horrible place, but I experienced the opposite: everybody was amazingly nice. I felt very welcome. People were always trying to pay my lunches, offered me food, and invited me for tea or to stay at their places. Even the police and the soldiers were nice. The Northern Pakistani landscape (Gilgit-Baltistan) is stunningly beautiful. I hadn’t seen anything like it before.”

Though Pakistan wins a special place in his heart, Dutchie finished his trip with the certainty that “the whole world is a good place, not a horrible one.” and to preserve this truth, he now avoids subjecting himself to the distorted reality that the media convey.

“You watch the news or read the newspapers and everything is terrible, the world is going to end and everybody is mean. When you actually go out and see the world for yourself, you discover that people are actually good and kind. Almost everyone will do his or her best to try and make you feel comfortable if you’re in their home country,” he says.

It wasn’t only the people who surprised him. Dutchie surprised himself too, by how much he was able to achieve by not quitting…ever. He is glad that he pushed himself hard enough to leave the comfort zone and fear behind.

“Doing this trip made me realise that if there is something you want, all you need to do is try it. Things seldom happen overnight and things are not always that easy, but you can’t give up. I'm really glad I that learned not to give up when things didn’t go perfectly well. I think I used to give up pretty easily in the past. It sounds like a cliché but it’s true. You have to believe in yourself.”

“Once you go for it, you’ll be very happy and relaxed most of the time. It is a pretty nice way to be. It’s really enjoyable. You’ll feel like you’re flying and you’re free – the feelings are really incomparable to anything else I’ve encountered”

After the six months he spent in Pakistan, Dutchie rode through India to Nepal, parked his motorbike and took a flight back home. He’s now in Sydney updating his website with all the latest info and waiting for the best time to restart his journey.

Where next? Asia and South-America, but make sure you follow him at atthehandlebars.com, you know there might be some changes.

“The hardest part of the trip is actually leaving the front door. If you can make that commitment, then you’ll be ok!”

 

www.atthehandlebars.com

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