The MCN Motorcycle Show, ExCel Centre, London

Biking has been off for quite some time and without access to my bike I feel cut off from the motorcycle world. When in London I was supposed to contact the local WIMA girls and I had plans to go to the ACE café but all this felt meaningless without my bike. Sure, I have been busy studying and I have been running more often and a lot further than I probably would if I had my bike; I have filled my time so to speak. And honestly, even in Madrid, I didn’t actually ride that much in the winter. The difference was that I had access to my bike, I would pass it every day, use it for commuting a few times a week and I could ride it for leisure if there was a warmish afternoon. Now the bike is inevitably stored away until spring and I do not know when I can bring it out.

Frankly, this is quite depressing but at the motorcycle show yesterday my mind shifted. Visiting the MCN Motorcycle Show marked the beginning of the season and I left feeling like a biker again. We listened to some very inspiring talks in the Adventure section of the show and I decided to work on my camping skills, which are quite insignificant. Nathan Millward shared his experience of travelling, on a postman motorbike, from Sidney to London over 9 months, he had no plan but just took things as they came, one problem at a time. When he told that during his two weeks riding through Russia he didn’t shower or change clothes, I could only admire him for his determination. His book is on my to-read-after-studies-are-finished-list.

"Sydney to London, The Long Ride Home" - Nathan Millward
“Sydney to London, The Long Ride Home” – Nathan Millward

Other inspiring talkers were Nick Sanders and Sam Manicom, representing two opposites within extreme travelling and motorcycling. Sanders is the record breaker on long distance journeys on time and holds a few world records. He is an intense speaker and great inspirer but he has a bit of a crazy air around him: after all, one has to be, to travel from the north to the south of the Americas 8 times, each time trying, but failing, to break the iron butt record – only to end up creating a “north to south to north again” iron butt record, just because he was one hour late to beat the existing record. It takes a special mind to b able to come up with that idea, re-focus and keep pushing. Manicom, on the other hand, seemed a most relaxed guy who started his 8 years travelling after being offered a promotion at a job he didn’t like. They have both written several books… I put them on my to-read list as well.

Although we spent most of our time listening and getting inspiration, we also did some shopping, gloves and jacket for Christopher, the union jack-buffs for me.  There is no plan for buying a new bike just yet but no harm in looking. The new Versys has been updated with vibration dampening for foot pegs and handlebars… I wonder how much difference that really makes, and the windshield can be altered between three positions which sounds great. I really need to do something with the windshield for next season to reduce the buzz. I nearly got custom made earplugs, but then I thought that I have a whole box of single-use ones with the best fit ever according to my own extensive ear plug test 2 years ago, I better finish those off first.

The new Versys - both specifications a looks are updated
The new Versys – both specifications and looks are updated

As usual, there were loads of absolutely amazing custom made bikes, and the more we study them the more little details and features could we find.

Custom made bikes - I could spend the whole afternoon just looking at these
Custom made bikes – I could spend the whole afternoon just looking at these

So, while customising never was something that interested me personally, I find it very interesting looking at the bikes and studying the details. It works the same way as with adventure travelling – I love to hear and read about it, but hey, riding for two weeks without shower and change of clothes, or chasing the record for transcontinental riding, that is nothing for me. So far, camping in the rain is the most adventurous I get, and that includes a hot shower, the cold shower-skills needs improvement.

Ride Ace to Ace
Ride Ace to Ace

So, while GlobeBusters’ talk was inspirational and surely it was interesting to hear about the liberating lack of traffic rules in China and that the pollution is so bad in Beijing that no bikes are allowed within the fourth ring road, I felt that it was not quite what I was after. Quite a fantastic feeling, being content with my student life, no promotions to avoid, no records to break and the only distance  to cover is the North Sea, my aspirations for riding this summer is England, and if I have time and money to spare I might venture up to Scotland!