My reasons for doing this trip
by Gerry Tiernan

Gerry Tiernan

I think it was Marie de Vichy Chamrond who said,..."the first step is the hardest." I suspect a great number of us harbour dreams inspired by seminal moments such as when de Brun fell under the spell of the ship from Valparaiso, docked in Dublin port, with its haunting call to far distant lands and indeed it is more often the case than not that there are long gestation periods in our lives before we ever fulfill these desires, if at all.

The genesis for this trip essentially lies in my youth of the early '70' when instead of doing my schoolwork I immersed myself in motorcycle magazines such as 'Motorcycle Illustrated' which chartered the exploits and adventures of inveterate long distance travelers who journeyed all over Europe and every now and again to even more exotic locations as through Africa, to India or Australia. Obviously like any impressionable thirteen year old I vacillated in my loyalty to machine and speed almost on a daily basis as each month's magazine test rode some fabulous new motorcycle that would capture my imagination but invariably I returned to the conclusion that ultimately it was about travel and the fact remains that this early influence of magazine articles on my disposition towards touring and B.M.W's in particular, was very formative in my attitude to what motorbiking was about for me and ultimately efficacious in my dream of going around the world by bike.

As to why I should choose to undertake it at this stage; it wasn't out of any sense of impending doom engendered by the recent activation of eschatological symbolism or the need to see the world before it all changes irreparably that has set me on this path to travel around it at this particular point in time but rather the circumstances of my life which happened to leave me free to pursue it now. I believe all ages and all places hold an eternal fascination that challenges us and while I might harbour a nostalgic preference for a particular period and I do bemoan the globalisation of culture, nonetheless I consider travel even in this present age today as still potentially a great adventure and educator.

Though a tantalising chink of light thru' the closing door on the truly classical days of exploration shuts with Wilfred Thesiger, even so we can each of us yet find our own personal journey of discovery with each individual experience valid in my opinion and the richness of the particular story dependant on our peculiar quality as the filter thru' which the narrative is told.

Had I been going on my own on this trip, as I thought I would be, I don’t believe I would have prepared the bike to the same degree as it is now. John did a lot of serious thinking and research on what would be the best bike for such a trip and the best way to prepare it. It was through our mutual belief that the air cooled boxer was the best bike for the trip that we first happened to contact each other. Having bought them, there was a period of serious soul searching during the summer when we felt that the new oil head 1150 adventurer would be an even better bike. Since buying his R80 basic, John had gone to Alaska on very bad roads using his R1150 GS and found it to be an excellent bike, never giving trouble and dealing with poor surfaces admirably. Having invested in R80’s, however, and as many people felt the 1150 would be too heavy in poor conditions we decided to go with the Basics.

Ten years ago they were undoubtedly the definitive bikes for this trip and perhaps in many ways being robust and simple to work on, they still are. Technology has overtaken them though and certainly with the good road conditions we’ve encountered to date, the 1150s would have been superior for the job. Nonetheless the old air cooled boxer remains an outstanding choice of bike for such a trip and proved itself again and again from our perspective. It is comfortable and especially so on poor conditions e.g corrugation, though again the R80 would be even less troubled here we feel its reliability has so far been impeccable and on the really bad road between Gilomoti and Luzuzu I personally was far happier with its lighter weight than had I been on the 1150. The other side of the coin is that the fuel injected efficiency of the oil head would have given far better fuel consumption. Not having come through Sudan and Northern Kenya has meant we have been or certainly would have been, had we chosen, able to stick to tarred road all the way. Certainly the 1150 is a superior bike in such conditions but this might be a premature judgment at such an early stage in the trip as we might very well encounter roads yet where the lighter weight of the Basic will be better. As it is then we have the basic as well kitted out as can be and having gone to a gathering of world travelers in Derby last July we felt our basics were amongst the best sort there in a gathering dominated by air cooled GS machines.

Have a look at the bike modifications HERE.

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