Good Energy

The guys at Good Energy have been really supportive and excited about the expedition, so much so that they have made a contribution which allows me to keep the blog regularly updated during the expedition, so they and everyone else can follow the journey. Good Energy supplies 100% renewable electricity sourced from wind, water, sun and sustainable biomass. CO2 from coal-fired electricity generation is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Switch your electricity supply to Good Energy using this link and not only will you be supporting the pioneering community of independent green generators, but for every sign up they get they’ll make another donation to help get the bus around the world. It helps you cut your personal CO2 emissions, helps them grow a great business, and helps me get round the world.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Moments or Momentum

For a day the police oblige me to travel together with 4 bikers. Two are an English couple who have been on the road for 6 or 7 years. I’m really keen to spend time chatting with them and find out about the corporate talks they’ve given and some of the places they’ve been to and above all understand the psychology of a couple that have been on the road so long. Unfortunately the bikers are travelling at a different pace and frustrated at having been lumbered with the lumbering bus.

I’m asked to rush on without stopping by the irritating young German Nico. It’s his first overland trip, and he’s read all about how to do them on the internet. He couldn’t believe his luck when he stumbled across his heroes, the veteran Brits, in Iran and they invited him to travel together. I think he’s missing the point of his journey somewhat, I certainly am.

My first overland trip was by motorbike too. It was a Yamaha XT600E. The landrover of the motorbike world at the time. It’s all BMW RGS1150’s now. Utter shit. Heavy and cumbersome, and they look like spaceships. Mine was a bit of a rat bike even then, but it looked like the DT125s that people were familiar with so they didn’t think I was on some Paris Dakar wet dream. To me overland biking is less about the biking and more about the overlanding, but understandably that’s not everyone’s take on it. For some the world is a playground for their lovely bikes.

My biggest regret from that first trip is not stopping enough. On a bike it’s easier to suddenly pull over when you see something that sparks your interest, than it is in a 6 tonne, 7 meter bus. But with any overlanding vehicle there is a mental momentum, and it’s hard to break that momentum in order to stop and experience a moment.

At the start of the day I’d set myself a destination and the whole day was spent working, fighting, overcoming adversity, to get to that point. The journey became a self made challenge, which prevented me from seeing or remembering much of what was on the way, other than the encumbrances and nuisances. Setting a daily destination made the momentum even harder to break, and the day’s success or failure was measured only by how quickly I reached the destination.

I don’t speak to Nico much and when I do I’m resisting the temptation to tell him to fuck himself. I get the impression he thinks I am eco activist and a petrol hater. He tries to taunt me, eulogising about the joys of motorbiking at 160kmh. Much as I dislike him, his arrogance and haste reminds me of my mindset 15 years ago on that first trip, so perhaps there is hope for him.

The bikes look great sweeping around corners on the horizon, silhouetted in the sun’s reflection off the tarmac. But mostly I’m envious of their ability to stop, get off the bikes, look around and talk to people. Experience moments. I don’t see them do much of that, and I’m surprised that even the English couple are pretty focused on the biking rather than their surroundings. They can’t have spent six years maintaining the momentum?

In the end I don’t get a chance to speak to them about their long term journey, other than snatched conversations at police checkpoints. By the end of the day I’m so far behind I stop, and assume they’ll continue rapidly across Pakistan to the border but despite my rest day and slow pace I’m surprised that when I get to borderland a few days later they haven’t been through yet. So maybe I’ve misjudged their momentum. Hopefully our paths will cross again and I’ll get a chance to chat with them without the mutual frustrations of being locked in convoy together.

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