TEST PHASE COMPLETE.

Trip Start Jul 02, 2013
1
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35
Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Welcome to another episode of EM_TY's travel ramblings. Find our FACEBOOK page here for more photo's and updates. 

TEST PHASE COMPLETE: 

We had been on the road for over two weeks and on the long stretches of riding between stops I found myself pondering many topics and trying desperately hard to convince myself our new daily struggles were all part of this big adventure.

We had allocated this time to do what we called ' The Test Loop'. Through Scotland, Ireland and back to London through Wales. The purpose of ‘The Test Loop’ was to see how the bikes hold up, gauge the gear we have, and test the function of life in a tent on the road. Technically speaking we have done that. Our lives had become primitive, hunter gathering food, water, fuel, shelter, electricity and getting from A to B. We slowly discovered we were testing far more.

First the bikes: Max and Daisy-Su – our DRZ400SM twins - get a lot of attention, they are loud grunters and far from the chunky touring bikes people are used to. The attention has its perks. We get a lot of people come over to talk to us, and after ten minutes of them reminiscing, they often tell us ‘must see places’, most of which have paid off.

The bikes do have their flaws though A) Vibration above 65 miles p/h causing a weird version of sea-legs at pit-stops and sometimes that feeling that your left arm is actually your right and vice versa. I did say to Tracey in the very beginning I felt so high doing this, I wonder now if it was just the bike. And B) The god damn seats. I have now discovered the piercing shape of a coccyx bone. We often jiggle and stretch as we ride in an attempt to minimise the seizing back and bum muscles. I do feel like explaining to passers by, that No, I’m not motorbike dancing, No, I’m not humping my bike; No, I’m not doing the weird Ireland motorbike wave where you stick out your leg instead of a hand or nod. The result is we get off the bikes like an elderly lady get’s out of a deep set arm chair.

The gear: Apart from our inadequate tent (described here), we are very pleased with our gear selection. Our two best investments have been A) The Trangia metho cooker (provided people sell metho, Ireland doesn’t, and sitting at a campsite trying to light a container of white spirit feels dangerously exciting! but doesn’t work) It has put our one-pot cooking abilities to the test. Pasta works, steak and veggies not so much.. unless you gut it all up and call it a stew. And B) Our SENA bluetooth intercoms. A road trip isn’t a road trip without sharing the laughs, confused navigating and a bit of music! They have been our saviour in making last minute exit decisions (rightly or wrongly), and at the touch of a button, fill our helmet with sing-along tunes on the boring motorway stretches. The best part so far has been listening to Trace repeat "Help Me, Help Me" as I watch her in slow motion topple from upright on the bike to horizontally scrambling along the ground (on three occasions now).

The downside to relying on technological gadgets to make our journey simpler is electricity – or lack of. Part of the daily routine of nesting at a campsite is to scout for power outlets. There has been many evenings spent sitting in the laundry block reading crochet magazines left by the last retired oldie, watching the charge percent tick over to 100.

While we are pleased with the functions of our gear, we have come to realise we are still harbouring precious-travellers tendencies and have very limited space to carry our almost excessive amount of things. Most couples niggle about money or working late, we niggle about the size of the gherkin jar just purchased.

Even with all of our devices, they were no help in the ‘lost Emma in Ireland’ incident. 

After a grumpy morning and a long early ride, we stopped for a coffee. A brief blunt discussion about my undesirable smoking habit later, I sent Tracey on her way (to be a rebellious teenager and sneak a smoke) declaring I would meet her in the next town. The town’s we had rode through so far had consisted of a church, a graveyard, a post-office / store and a pub. The next town however could be mistaken for a city, and had three options to enter. And so began the cat and mouse race where I have no phone, no map, no coins, no fuel, leaving ‘guess what the other one might do or where they might be’ as the only option.

Being a girl guide in my previous life, I loosely recalled the cardinal rule of the lost-ee stays put to be found. Tracey chose the advice of a psychic from a session months earlier – just make it to the next place – assuming she was refering to this very moment. We had vaguely discussed trying to make it all the way to the ferry town for the 9am ferry the following morning, so after some circles searching, Tracey went on ahead…. Through the toll booth …. To a little campsite far off the main road…. 150km away.

Me, I waited. I changed spots and waited. I rode 70km to the next town, I rode back to the original town, I waited two more hours, I approached a young lad to beg for his iphone with facebook, (whose mother was not pleased, saying “Dylan, get back here now” like I was a predator!). I saw that Trace had rode on to the ferry town. By 8pm I could not ride any more and followed a little homemade sign to accommodation in the middle of nowhere. When the old lady made me a cup of tea and the old man carried my bag, and their grandson wanted to sit on the bike, I had tears in my eyes. I felt like a lost mountaineer in the Himalayas who was about to be rescued by a medic helicopter.  

An escorted meal at the pub, a tour of their property, a few games in the yard and an early night later, I was back doing 70 mph to make the 9am ferry. I arrived as it pulled away, certain Tracey was on it. I decided to check the nearest campsite (after finding it) and there she was – big smile with arms out stretched. I was ropable!! I demanded to know where the tent was, stormed passed, grabbed my passport - all with intentions of riding off into the sunset by myself. I rode to town, had a coffee and FINALLY I laughed and laughed and went to find Tracey for my hug.

In the span of 20 hours, my hunter gather abilities had been tested like never before. I rode from A to B and back to A then finally B, I found fuel, food, water, accommodation and eventually Tracey.. But really the biggest test was my attitude test. I had teetered between helpless stray dog and a confident island explorer. I slipped in and out of distress and oh well. Part of me just needed Tracey and the other half wanted her as far away as possible. A bit of diva and a bit of resignation. A test of practicality, but much more a test of emotional endurance.

A very good friend of mine said to me last night “Above all, don’t lose the ability to laugh, you are going to need that”… By far the most important outcome of the test phase. 
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Comments

Peter Reefman on

Great blog - as expected.. Onwards!

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