In 1973 Ted Simon set out on a four year journey on his 500cc Triumph T100-P that took him around the world. Tales of his travels were incredibly inspirational for me personally. The book is not merely an account of what happened when. It seems silly to call this a trip. Traveling for four years qualifies as a complete change of lifestyle.
Ted was a writer for the London Sunday Times. Throughout the book I could sense ways in which this journey has transformed him into something else. Here are some excerpts I found inspirational:
Finally the bike is poised over the water between the two boats. The outstretched arms can only hold it, by they cannot move it, and it is supported, incredibly, by the foot brake pedal, which is caught on the ship’s rail. Muscles are weakening. The pedal is bending and will soon slip, and mt journey will end in the fathomless silt of Mother Nile. At this last moment, a rope descends miraculously from the sky dangling a hook, and the day is saved.
I have just ridden that motorcycle 12,245 miles from London, and absolutely nobody here, watching me, knows it. As I think about it I have a sudden and quite extraordinary flash, something I never had before and am never able to recapture again. I see the whole of Africa in one single vision, as though illuminated by lighting. And that’s it. I’ve done it. I’m at peace.
During the following 24 hours I could conceive of only two possibilities: I would be deported, or I would be tortured and killed. As time passed I became increasingly pessimistic. I could get nobody to talk to me or listen to the simplest request. […] It became impossible then to believe that the way they were treating me was merely through accidental neglect. It had to be deliberate. I could no longer accuse myself of paranoia.
[T]he “motoqueros,” all owned expensive three-cylinder Suzukis, and kept every spoke polished. They gathered in a special place in the evening, like a floating motorcycle showroom, and looked enviously at my scuffed and battered workhorse parked among them. I could not help being saddened that so much fine machinery was so completely underused. It felt almost sinful. If only machines could speak to each other, I thought, that would be a conversation I would to overhear.
Only four of the twenty spokes on one side of the wheel were left, and the rum was a terrible twisted shape. A few seconds more and it would certainly have collapsed. I shuddered to think of mangled mess that would have left. As it was, I spent one of the nastiest hours of the journey rebuilding the wheel in a twilight plagued by squadrons of vicious mosquitoes.
The circle I was describing around the earth might be erratic but the fact remained, it was real circle. The ends would meet and it would enclose the earth. I would have laid my tracks around the surface of this globe and at the end it would belong to me, in a way that it could never belong to anyone else. I trembled a bit at the fates I might be tempting.
If you would like to read more about Mr. Simon you can visit his website at http://www.jupitalia.com/