Note: I haven't done any editing on this. It's just what I wrote in one sitting. You'll get to see the edited version on Journals Abroad hopefully by the end of the week.
I woke up on the morning of July 25th, 2011 with my head was pounding from one too many glasses of vodka with Darryl the night before. I muscled the energy to pick myself up off the couch, and performed the ritual for curing my hangover. It usually includes some extra-strength Tylenol, a glass of water, and a serious brushing of my teeth. After we cleaned ourselves up, and we prepped our gear for our trip up to Duncan, BC.
It was the getting towards the end of my first European backpacking trip, and I was broke. I didn't want the journey to end, but it was clear it was going to end sooner rather than later. With the knowledge of my impending financial crisis I did what every traveler does in a time of need. I went to visit my family in Coventry, England. That's one of the perks of having family abroad – that and home cooked meals.
When packing for my trip to Europe I grabbed two books to read while on the road. The first being a copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and the second being Ted Simon's Jupiter's Travels. Towards the end of my trip I had finished both books, and at the end of the Jupiter's Travels it mentioned that his bike was now sitting in a motor museum in Coventry. Despite the book being over 30 years old according to my research it was still in the museum. I figured it would be a perfect way to end my trip. By seeing the bike Ted's old Triumph.
As I rounded the corner to the motorcycle area a wave of a tingling feeling washed over me. Not ten feet away from was Charley Boorman's BMW R1150GS that he had ridden around the world with Ewan McGregor. I'm not sure if it was the surprise or the the fact that I was in the presence of something that inspired me to get on the road. I reached out and touched the bike to see if it was really real. It was. Seeing Ted Simon's bike was just as moving for me. It really did signify the end of my trip to me in a lot of ways.
Several months before I went backpacking on a rainy February evening Darryl pointed out the book "The Long Way Round" while we were in a local bookstore. I picked it up, and couldn't put it down until I was done. I've often cited the book as one of my main inspirations to travel.
Here I was on a highway hurtling at 90km/h in the passenger seat of Darryl's car going up to a town I would normally would never be bothered with.
Charley Boorman and his crew were on the last stage of their latest adventure Extreme Frontiers. A cross Canada trip weaving them through the eastern most part of the maritimes to the prairies, territories, and the west coast of Vancouver Island. Today was the final leg. A motorcycle convoy starting at Kickstart Coffee in Duncan and ending in Tofino, BC. There was no way I was going to miss it.
Despite not having motorcycles Darryl and I blended in with the crowd, but I'm quite sure we weren't the only ones up there just to see Charley. We talked with riders, fans, and people excited for the once in a lifetime chance to be in a Convoy with Charley Boorman. We mostly talked about trips we all wanted to take. At one point Charley greeted us all and joked around from the rooftop of Kickstart Coffee. Eventually he made his way out on his bike with the rest of his crew and made a speech with the cameras rolling. He commented on how thankful he was that more than 3 people showed up for the convoy, and humbled by how beautiful a country Canada actually is.
The convoy kicked off shortly after Charley's speech. I left me with a feeling of closure. I might not have gotten to talk to Charley, but I was there part of something bigger than me. A presence of the travelers spirit was in all the people there. It has never been clearer in my eyes that everyone who rides a motorcycle even if only locally carries the adventures spirit. There is no one I can think of better to embody that spirit than Charley Boorman. Someone who is honest, humble, and truly respects the opportunity he has to travel the world like he does.