When you hear “The Extreme Life”, what does it conjure up for you?
Today we talk with Amelia Darmawan, who wants to take her happiness into her own hands and who believes courage is not about letting go of fear, but instead is about being afraid and doing it anyway. She is at the beginning of a trip from Australia to New York, the long way round, with no planes allowed!
Kris: Tell us a little about your life before this adventure.
Amelia: Based in Sydney, Australia, I spent the last few years working as a director of strategy at a company called Totem, specialising in social/ online video research and strategy. Outside of the daily grind, my passions are painting and dance. As a half Indonesian/Australian, I have dedicated most of my spare time to Indonesian dance, touring Australia and the world as a performer with my group Suara Indonesia Dance. I’m now travelling two-up by motorbike and boat from Sydney to New York with my fiance Steve Crombie.
Kris: What inspired you to start this motorcycle journey? What are your personal goals for this trip? What are your goals as a couple?
Amelia: I am going on this adventure to break out of my comfort zone, and to prove to myself that life can be anything we choose to make it.
I want to push myself and take responsibility for my happiness into my own hands. I want to see the world and open my mind to the different ways people live, and the different lessons every new experience will teach.
Together Steve and I hope that this adventure will weave the fabric of our future lives together, and fill us with stories to share with our kids one day. Our relationship will be tested to its limits on this trip, so anything afterwards will be a piece of cake.
Kris: How did you get into motorcycling? Do you also pilot your own or have you always been a pillion rider?
Ameila: Steve is a seasoned adventure rider who introduced me to this whole new world. I love the unique way motorcycling allows you to see the world but I’ve never learned to ride myself.
We decided on this trip only a couple of months before we left – so it wasn’t enough time for me to learn and feel comfortable enough to take it on on my own two wheels. Even if I did learn in time, he’d leave me in the dust! Having said that, I’ll take whatever chances I get to learn along the way.
Kris: Tell us about Steve!
Amelia: I met Steve at work, we fell for each other after one too many overseas business trips. He had been a professional adventure rider for 10 years before throwing in the motorbike boots and starting up a business 5 years ago. He is one of the most inspiring people on the planet and we always encourage each other to chase our dreams.
Kris: Many people wonder how to finance a “big trip” like this. What is your strategy?
Amelia: We are extremely lucky because as consultants, and with technology these days, we are able to work from anywhere in the world. While we won’t take a plane to further our motorbike journey to New York, we may fly in and out of different cities for projects – which will help sustain our life on the road.
Kris: How long have you been preparing? What have you focused on specifically in preparation?
Amelia: Between deciding to go on this adventure and actually leaving we only gave ourselves a couple of months. It was crazy! We did extensive research to create our new home (ie. the bike and our camping supplies). Adventure Moto helped us prepare the motorbike and all of our gear. Our KTM 1190 Adv R is now rugged and ready for anything (the same bike we used to commute to work in Sydney). Sea to Summit provided awesome camping equipment so we are as comfy as possible despite being extremely limited in what we can carry.
We also trained up with first aid and survival skills as much as we could, but the hardest thing to prepare for is the emotional and mental challenge that I believe this journey will prove to be. I guess we’ll see how tough we really are!
Kris: How do you think this trip will change you?
Amelia: I hope this trip will be a lesson in gratitude, patience and compassion. Gratitude because I will have so few belongings, and we will meet people from all walks of life.
Patience because things don’t always go according to plan, and also because when you’re on the road you have to work for everything.
And compassion because I’m not doing this alone – each decision will be shared and I will spend almost every waking moment with my partner. In order to get through this without biting each others heads off we will need to master compassion and empathy.
Beyond that, I hope to be stronger, more resilient and gain more confidence in myself. It’s exciting because we’re documenting this experience on our YouTube channel, so I’m looking forward to one day looking back and seeing how far we’ve come.
Kris: What different strengths do each of you bring to this journey? What would you say each of your personal challenges are?
Having done this so many times before, Steve comes with a wealth of experience and relevant skills. I on the other hand, have never done an adventure like this, so a lot of this is new to me. But I think a lot of people can relate to my experience – someone who loves adventure but doesn’t really know what she’s in for. The learning curve is steep but I’m a fast learner and I’m determined so I reckon that counts for a lot.
Kris: We are currently doing a self confidence campaign, geared toward women riders. Can you share your perspective on self confidence, what has given you the courage to undertake a journey like this?
Amelia: I think Women ADV Riders’ self confidence campaign is so important as there are too many badass women I know who are riddled with self doubt – myself included.
Finding self confidence is an ongoing journey for me. It is one of the main catalysts for me wanting to take on this adventure. I want to prove to myself that I can endure hardship, that I can be capable and resilient, and that when I set myself a goal – I do it. I know for a fact that the moments when I feel the most confident are the moments when I push myself beyond what I thought I could do, or when I’m doing something I love.
I believe that being courageous isn’t about letting go of fear. It’s about being faced with fear, and doing it anyway. But in this case, I actually wasn’t afraid of this adventure. I realised I was more afraid of going through life without adventure. As they say, life is not a dress rehearsal. We only get one shot at it, we might as well make it count.
Kris: How have your family and friends reacted to this decision?
Amelia: The response we’ve had from people has been incredible. So many people tell us we are doing what they have always wanted to do, but they haven’t had the courage. It’s been really overwhelming and in moments of doubt their words gives me the resolve I need to carry on.
Anyone who has made a significant change in their life will probably face a few naysayers. Chances are those are the ones who gave up on their dreams, so they are afraid to see you chasing yours. So I don’t listen to them!
Kris: How far have you gone, and what are your best stories so far?
Amelia: In 2 months we’ve only travelled 5000kms from Sydney to Noosa (via Thredbo, Victoria), with lots of detours on the way. It’s been amazing just taking it easy, connecting with old friends and and making the final adjustments to our bike and gear. We are now ready to cross the desert between the east coast of Australia and Darwin, Northern Territory, before hopping on a boat to East Timor.
One of the best stories so far was when we rode 8 hours offroad through Kosciuszko National Park to test our bike and equipment in difficult terrain. What started as a beautiful ride gradually became more and more rugged as the day went on. Just as we thought it was about to ease up, the road got even muddier, steeper and less forgiving. And with a bike weighing 460kgs fully loaded, this was no easy challenge.
For Steve as the pilot, it was an arduous physical challenge. For me as a pillion, with Steve’s towering frame obscuring my view (he was standing most of the time), and with unpredictable terrain ahead, it was a massive test in trust and was unlike anything I had done before.
Hours in,the waterlogged road started to resemble a miniature grand canyon, heat was rising off the wet dirt ahead and both of us were frazzled. The bike had already dropped twice, we were still in the middle of the nowhere and the sun was starting to set. Suddenly out of the silence, this “doof doof” noise started to echo in the distance. We thought we must have been that deliriously tired we were starting to hallucinate!
A few kilometers of muddy road later we turn a corner to discover a bush party, in the middle of nowhere – we must have been hours from the nearest town. The partygoers had been going hard for three days straight and we had ridden straight into their messy utopia. After being hugged by several very happy strangers we threw our sweaty, muddy jackets on the ground and joined the fun.
I guess the lesson of that story is to persevere, because you never know what’s around the corner!
Kris: If you are as fascinated by this adventure as we are follow them at the links below! We’ll look forward to talking to Amelia again in a few months to see how things are going!
To follow the adventure:
Love this? Check out Michelle’s story HERE!