BY SANDRA STELIGA Most people dream of a round-the-world motorcycle trip for quite some time before they actually get up and do it. But Fiona and I never quite planned a round-the-world motorcycle adventure. We sort of stumbled into it. Then we fell in love with it. And by the time we truly committed to making it a genuine round-the-world motorcycle trip, Covid made sure to mess it all up for us. Or did it?
The Start of a Round-The-World Motorcycle Trip
It all started with a small dream. We just wanted to ride a motorcycle across the USA for three months. Back then it felt like such an adventure. A trip of a lifetime! Little did we know that those three months would only be the beginning of a much greater adventure.
We didn’t have the slightest idea about what we were getting ourselves into. Completely clueless we bought a bike in the USA from a complete stranger. The next thing we knew was we were the proud owners of an old but well-kept BMW F800 GS. It was blessed with all the fancy off-road accessories one could wish for. Most of which we didn’t think we would need, nor knew to appreciate at the time.
Over the next twelve months, we fell in love with the ADV lifestyle. The freedom of going where we wanted, when we wanted. The ability to explore places off the beaten track. Experiencing more meaningful connections with the locals as we weren’t just hopping from one tourist destination to another. And just how empowering it would feel for two women to ride two-up through rivers, navigate our way through deep volcanic ash and dare to get lost in the most remote places of countries we were always told weren’t safe to visit. By the time we had reached South America, Fiona and I decided that we would ride our motorcycle across the world.
We found ourselves in Bogota when the world seemed to go into lockdown. Fiona was just about to get on a plane back to the UK to attend her best friend’s wedding. She left Colombia exactly one hour before the travel ban came into effect and airports shut down. I, on the other hand, found myself in a tiny Airbnb apartment I had booked some months earlier to wait for Fiona’s return. Except, she wouldn’t be able to return anytime soon. And I was reluctant to return to Europe. Six weeks passed without me stepping foot outside the apartment and without any visibility of when the travel ban would be lifted. I tried to maintain a positive mindset at all costs. But eventually, I too had to give in and boarded one of the last repatriation flights home to Germany. It would take another two months for Fiona to be able to fly over and join me in Germany. Reunited at long last. But our motorcycle, our belongings, and our travel dreams were left behind and locked up in Bogota.
Summer was underway, but despite being reunited, it didn’t take long for us to feel completely lost accepting our new reality. Living with my parents, unemployed and frankly not sure what to do with ourselves. And then, out of the blue, something amazing happened. Triumph Germany allowed us to travel across Germany and Austria on the brand-new Tiger 900 Rally Pro. We couldn’t quite believe it.
Shortly afterward, we discovered that Germany surprisingly has white sand beaches, stunning National Parks, fantastic vineyards, and countless beautiful castles. We also had the opportunity to compete in the Adventure Ride Competition (ARC) which really worked up my appetite to become a better off-road rider. Next, we headed to Austria and explored its many pristine lakes but most importantly its fascinating, panoramic Alpine Roads. Who would have thought that amidst a pandemic we would have such an unforgettable summer?
After returning home we had to admit that not much had changed though. Travel restrictions were still in place, our motorbike was still stuck in Colombia together with the rest of our belongings and neither of us was looking forward to spending winter in Germany. But there wasn’t anything we could change about that. So we buried ourselves in a few good Adventure books, getting lost in travel stories, updating our website, and filtering through thousands of images to start putting videos together of our travels. Everything we had always intended to do, but never quite found the time whilst travelling. It kept us sane and allowed us to relive our travels throughout the winter. Focusing on how lucky we are that we got to travel so much and being grateful for all the unforgettable memories we made. And somehow this put everything into perspective for us and provided us with the patience we needed until we could resume our travels.
In January, Brexit threw another set of complications at us. Fiona would not be able to stay with me in Germany for longer than 3 months. But we were also blessed with new opportunities. Triumph was willing to collaborate with us again and provide us with another Tiger 900 Rally Pro to travel across the UK from March. We are now getting ready for a 13,000 km trip across England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland and hoping to challenge ourselves on the Trans Euro Trail (TET).
So here we are. We should have reached Patagonia by now and be on our way to Brazil. Instead, we spent a very unexciting winter without skiing or Christmas markets in Germany. And yet, we couldn’t be happier at the opportunities that have come along our way and grateful that our travels have been given another lifeline.
Since Covid, we have learned to appreciate the beauty right around us. How many of us are guilty of searching for natural beauty across all other continents but have never taken the time to explore our own country and what it has to offer? We both certainly fall into this category. Has it stopped our desire to go out there and travel places far away from home? Absolutely not! We are still dying to cross every continent on our motorbike. But it has taught us to adapt, to travel slower, and to appreciate what’s around us.