I wholeheartedly believe that life is all about the journey. And so one of the things I love to do is spend time with those who make the most of their journey by taking things I do as hobbies to the extreme and travelling all over the world for months on end. We had such great and inspiring weekend at the Overland Event last year that we returned again for more in September, taking a friend along too, camping and dreaming with hundreds of other bikers near Oxford.
Organised by Paddy and the team from Overland Magazine, the event is a meetup for those interested in overland travel by motorcycle – especially for those wanting to re-live their own and learn from other people’s adventures. Having dabbled in motorcycle travel over the last few years, we find a natural bond with others who have gone off and done amazing trips on theirs, and this was an opportunity to go away for a couple of days and spend some time listening and dreaming.
It’s worth saying that the meeting of adventures always fills me with mixed emotions. As with Overland Event 2018, I came home inspired and motivated by the stories I heard, but it also ruined me. I am ruined. I am very fortunate that I’ve been able to have adventures over the last few years, and have the opportunity to dream about adventures in the not too distant future. But you know I want more. Hanging around those who have “done it” has a direct correlation with me trying to find ways to grow a real money tree and head off for life on the road, with the freedom to travel anywhere and everywhere and set my own daily agenda. But I know it doesn’t work like that!
One of the things I therefore appreciated this year was the more obvious representation from those who, like me, have to squeeze adventure in small chunks between work and other commitments. Overland trips that lasted two or three weeks, still incredible adventures which provided an experience of a lifetime for the rider, but easier to achieve for those who haven’t got the option at the moment to leave it all behind and head off into the wilderness for months on end. These are the adventures that can truly inspire, because they are much more open and available to us (slightly) more normal folk…
The big lifelong overlanders were there too, of course. Famous names such as Spencer Conway, Ted Simon, Ian Coates (always a pleasure to hear his stories, I don’t think I’d ever get tired of them), Elspeth Beard, Chris Scott and Steph Jeavons to name just a handful. I was also introduced to EmmaLucy Cole, Helen Lloyd, Hayley Bell, Matt and Reece (As Seen From The Sidecar), and various others who helped me spend a couple of days doing nothing but dream of my next motorcycle adventure. There were also workshops about tyres, tool kits, and an opportunity to take part in the Biker Down first aid course during the event.
I particularly enjoyed chatting with Norman and Maggie of Adventures in Yellow. They filled my heart with hope that big and beefy overland travel after the mortgage is paid off is doable and fun. They ride a couple of bright yellow F650GS bikes, an excellent choice if you ask me. In fact, it was Norman who, without realising it, lead me to start my 30-day journal challenge in September – he said writing things down was the best way to collect his thoughts and remember where he went. I thoroughly appreciated their overwhelming relaxed attitude to overland travel; they have a style of travel that is similar to ours – about the bikes, the roads, the journey and the beautiful scenery, as well as the days off for sightseeing and cultural experiences. One day I hope to have as many stickers on my bike as they have on theirs!
The Overland Event 2019 was equally as good as last year’s, an excellent weekend of camping and storytelling. I am genuinely filled with admiration for those who have had book-worthy adventures, and having so many of them in one place at the same time, all willing to sit around and chat about bikes, travel, road tripping, maps, things that have gone a bit wrong, and the rest, is eye opening and inspiring. The fact that it’s a reasonably small event, one that is relaxed and easy going, makes it even better.
I’m not sure if we’ll be at the Overland Event in 2020, it might clash with something else this time around, but if we can be there we will. For more information about it, and to book your tickets, visit: https://overlandevent.com/