To my parents, without whom I may never have understood the immaculate beauty of this planet.
Some of my earliest memories from around the age of 3 or 4 were set around various locations in Europe, always travelling on the road and quite often by campervan. My parents didn’t have much money, but I never knew it at the time. What they lacked in wealth they made up for with ambition to experience new places. Every summer my sister and I were taken on a new adventure, many times with a couple of their friends and a couple of hundred pounds- that’s 6 people bunged into a rather small and modest campervan with only the bare essentials.
Almost every year until the age of 16 I received the opportunity once again to cross the English Channel and open my eyes to a fascinating change in scenery, this also developed my love for road trips and long-distance driving, I think the first time I went on an airplane I was 16 years of age. It was always exciting to see new parts of France, Spain, and Portugal but my horizons in relation to what the rest of the world had to offer were relatively narrow. I enjoyed travelling with my parents and their friends but everything was always set-out for me, hence it was a somewhat limiting experience as I didn’t have the freedom to dictate the journey or the destination.
Now in 2016, I was 26 years of age. I was finding it increasingly more difficult to stay enthusiastic about my life at home in London. This sprawling megacity with 9 million inhabitants was my only home and I had become used to the fast-paced, unforgiving nature of adult life in such a place – it became a tiresome routine. For a laid-back person like myself who is happiest when surrounded by nature, the city of concrete, glass, and iron was far from a perfect match.
I worked full-time for many years, working in all kinds of jobs and shift patterns, 9-5, 8-7, 6-4. Slowly, the intensity of this dense, chaotic environment seemed hellbent on sending me into the lowest gutters of depression. I recall, even on the most gorgeous days, with the bluest skies and the warmest sunshine, I found it nearly impossible to open the curtains, let alone journey outside for any reason. I began taking days off work to re-evaluate what I was doing with my life and where it was going as I could see a pattern emerging and the things that were affecting me, were only getting worse. It dawned on me that ditching my monotonous routine was becoming more of a case of necessity than desire, I needed a change of scenery, and I needed it fast.
With this idea in mind, all of a sudden I had a focus. I felt like I needed to get away from it all, albeit with a bit of a plan in mind. One afternoon, I began researching travel destinations online that were within reach with a motorcycle and a few weeks of holiday in my pocket. I became so intrigued by so many countries that I came to the conclusion there were too many locations for me to settle on just one; so, I decided to say yes to all and design a route through Europe where I could visit multiple countries and experience something new. The doors of discovery were slowly opening and an escape from the norm finally seemed possible.
At this point, I think it is also useful to mention that I am a very enthusiastic motorcyclist. At the time I had been riding various motorcycles for 8 years but never had it crossed my mind to use it as a means to visit places I had always wanted to see in mainland Europe.
Fast forward a year to 2017 and I still hadn’t taken the plunge and embarked on my own adventure for one reason or another, having just spent another safe summer holiday in Spain with my parents.
A week after returning back to work, in mid-September, I was involved in a motorcycle accident involving a 4×4 on my way to work. I didn’t feel at all like going into work that day, but I certainly didn’t wish to spend it in the hospital instead. I emerged from the accident lucky to be alive, I had lost consciousness, broken my ankle, bruised all of my ribs and exploded some fingertips.
Somewhere between my head impacting the rear windscreen of the 4×4, flying through the air and making a severe impact with my spine on the central reservation barrier I had blacked out for the first time in my life. When I woke, there was a state of nothingness. I was unsure what was real, for 15 or 20 seconds I lay with my face buried the grass seeing feet around me seemingly standing sideways. Nothing was familiar at this point, it was all blurry and full of nausea. It looked just like consciousness but with more vivid colours. My first thought was that I had passed.
After being taken to the hospital with the lights blazing through traffic, I underwent surgery in which a 7-inch titanium plate was attached to my bones with 9 screws to fix the snap. This was followed by 4 months of being bound to the sofa, instead of being at work, which was another new experience for me. During my recovery, I had a lot of time to think, almost too much, about anything and everything. I felt like, had I died that day at the age of 27 I would have been disappointed with myself, not because of what I had done, rather those things I had not. This close shave with death instilled in me a unique desire to get out there into the big wide world and do everything I had not. To see the world for what it truly is and to not take anything for granted.
I had spent the last few weeks of my 4-month recovery learning to walk again and regaining strength in my wasted away left leg. In between physio sessions, I was repairing my motorcycle with crutches by my side and by late January I was finally physically able to mount a motorcycle once more. When I first climbed back on the motorcycle I realized things felt different, my whole mindset towards riding and adventure and the purpose of it all had evolved, it was like I had really learned something and it felt incredible.
A new path
It was the start of a new, exciting time, with the warm feeling of exhilarating moments ahead of me. That April I went on my first solo trip to Catalunya, Spain. I explored the mountains and I rode by the sea. I carved my way through dense forests and went full-throttle on open plains. That baby adventure opened my eyes to everything I was incapable of seeing before. I returned from my adventure 2 weeks later, a changed man. I had completed roughly 3000 miles onboard my Yamaha Fazer and enjoyed every single minute of it with a passion.
Barely a week had passed since my return and I was already deep into planning another trip. In late July I made it happen, once again. This time I took my best friend and together we rode through 10 different countries for a total of 5 weeks, clocking up over 5000 miles and meeting many inspirational people along the way. My whole world was now bigger than ever before, and all I wanted to do was just explore more of it and spend less time at home.
Thinking back to my darker days, I realised this really was the cure for any mental health issues I had been fighting a losing battle with, the spontaneous nature of riding without a plan in mind and only doing what I wanted to do was exactly the kind of wanted to live, not solely for my enjoyment but for my personal well-being.
Since then my passion for travelling the world and learn things from others has only snowballed into something much greater.
Now in 2020, I have visited over 20 countries by motorcycle, travelled more than 15,000 miles and I only intend to keep adding more to the list.
Last August I got as far as Romania and Bulgaria, opening my eyes to a completely different side of Europe.
For August 2020 I will be teaming up with my beautiful partner, Marta, as she embarks on her first cross-country motorcycle adventure where we will travel slower and deeper through the Balkans and eventually land in the historic lands of Greece.
Whatever problems you face in your life, there is always a way to solve them, sometimes it is others that can unknowingly help in this journey, sometimes they are in different countries and terrains just waiting to be met.
On my travels, I have formed friendships that are still strong to this day, because of the circumstances in which we met and because I was willing to escape my comfort zone and debunk any ignorant preconceptions I may have had about the countries that are often so negatively represented in western media.
Not only did my crash changed my perspective of life, but it also gave me a thirst to go out there and truly live, and not just exist.
So, if you haven’t already, create your own adventure and start living the life you were always meant to!