Tales of a broken motorbike

We all have our own fond memories and great stories to tell, some of us might even be lucky enough to have the odd adventure or two. Well today I’m telling you about one of my best adventures. It’s by no means an epic tale for the ages but it was certainly an enriching and educational experience for me personally. This was in no small part because the whole ordeal was frankly quite terrifying. The story begins with a man and his motorbike, and ends with a lesson in how to manage your money correctly and the virtues of good forward planning. It all began during a beautiful springtime not so very long ago…

I had decided that I was finally going to have ‘my adventure’. I had just graduated from a long slog of education and had emerged with a Masters degree in Architecture. I knew the job market would be very tight so before I threw myself into the rat race I wanted to enjoy the traditional ‘gap year’. My method of choice was motorcycle touring. I’ve been riding 50cc scramblers since back when I couldn’t even spell ‘RPM’. Moving to a larger, sexier motorcycle was always an inevitability that I welcomes with open arms. It seemed that my cosmic stars were aligning when the insurance ran out of my loyal 125 Dragstar during the spring and I decided to sell it on to help bankroll the purchase of my first ‘big boy bike’. The deal was finally done a few months down the line and I was a proud owner of a Suzuki Bandit GSF600S. This wonderful bike came into my possession just around the time I was finishing my course – hence the motorcycle touring brainwave.

Suzuki Bandit GSF600S

The plan was simple. I was going to tour around some of the major scenes in Europe throughout the summer time, whilst slowly making my way down towards Morocco and even further south as the summer drew to a close and the autumn chill rolled in. I’ll spare the glorious details of the European leg of my tour, wonderful people and good food to summarise – at this point my biggest challenge had been adjusting to driving on the right side of the road compared to the United Kingdom. However things started to change as I hit the other continent.

This is where the lesson in money management and planning ahead comes into play. This section of the tour was a lot more ‘open ended’ without any real structure. This was due in part to my short sightedness in not accurately calculating journey times and distances between towns and my naivety in assuming that I would be able to bluff my way around this new place whilst still keeping a general cognition of where the hell I was actually travelling to, but hey this was all part of the adventure right? By the end of my first week in Morocco/Algeria (I’m still not entirely sure which) I was ready to call my adventure quits. It turns out that my second hand bike, while appearing to be the perfect machine on the surface, was found wanting quite severely when subjected to serious touring miles over a couple of months. So here I was stuck a few thousand miles from home, with no mastery of the foreign culture or language, pocket money for a day or two’s B&B and a bike that was so new to me I hadn’t even had to change the oil or check the tyre pressure before it died on me. It’s safe to say I had not prepared for this correctly.

quick money uk

The scariest part about this scenario was the dubious arrangements of my personal finances. I had a seriously difficult time trying to get access to the money in my Northern Irish bank account while I was over seas, so my options were few and far between. In the end (by some luck I guess) I was able to secure myself some credit from the wonga.co.za website. I have no idea why this particular website worked for me but having the receipt for the newly deposited ‘South African Rands’ in my  account was enough to convince an angry looking mechanic that my traveller’s cheque (I know – retro right?) was legitimate. The mechanics absolutely cleaned me out to say the least. I was in no position to barter and I’m pretty sure they could smell my fear and desire to get moving from a mile away. To their credit they were able to fix the bike up in a matter of days and I was out of there like a bat out of hell. I bled my credit card dry on the race to get home and just under a week later I collapsed in my old familiar bed with my tail between my legs, a little wiser and a lot poorer.