Desperate to reboot herself and explore the world, Adri Potts describes her feelings as a novice motorcycle adventurer preparing for the big thing...
“If you’re going to do something intrepid, do it during midlife and do it big.” These were the words that finally propelled me to seriously consider realising my dream: to travel around my native South America on a motorbike. But, can I actually do this?
I’ve now reached midlife – 51 to be exact – and I do feel passionate about following my dreams. I even have a motorbike already. OK, so it’s a little 1994 Yamaha SR 125 on L plates and the furthest I’ve ridden it so far is 200 miles, but you have to start somewhere, right? However, I also have a daughter in full-time education, a mortgage and I’m self-employed. Maybe I should wait a bit longer. Maybe I should save a bit more, but oh gosh, I also feel time is running out. So, how can I actually do this?
Overland Winter Warmer
I go on overdrive mode with research: I buy books about people who have gone on motorbike adventures all over the world, especially women. I read blogs about people who have made travelling not only their lifestyle but also their job. And I find out about events – live events – with real people who have been there and done it. Maybe I can attend some of these events and meet some of these people, talk to them, ask them how they did it?
This is when I come across The Overland Event Winter Warmer – an offshoot of the main event in the summer.
I immediately register and when the schedule is published, I pore all over it. It’s full of men and women who have been all over the world: from close countries in Europe to remote corners of it. From South East Asia, Africa, North and South America to Russia and Madagascar. They’ve been by themselves, with a partner, with a friend, in groups. And they’ve ridden motorbikes, scooters, motorbike and sidecars, even scooters and sidecars! They’ve ridden on old bikes, new bikes, sport bikes, small bikes, big bikes…you name it. And the workshops that complement the talks: full of information on basic skills and tips that promise to help make my trip smoother, safer and more enjoyable.
This is perfect! How come I never heard of this sort of thing before? So, here I am, during the first weekend of February 2020, at the Overland Event Winter Warmer in a little village somewhere in Northamptonshire. I alternate between inspirational talks and practical workshops. I ask lots of questions. I talk to everyone I can during the workshops, at dinner, in the bar, by the fire pit.
I can’t get enough. Some of the talks and workshops are really valuable in terms of information and detail. But what soon transpires for me is the sense of community there is here. The camaraderie is contagious. Everyone I talk to is happy to share information and they’re very encouraging about my adventure travel dream. Maybe I remind them of when they first decided they wanted to do this sort of thing? I’m just very grateful for their openness, honesty and encouragement.
Am I Tough Enough?
This weekend there’s an amber weather warning for the whole of the UK. Storm Ciara is bringing stormy conditions with strong, potentially damaging winds and heavy rains. For us at the show it truly starts during the early evening of Saturday. And by gosh they are heavy winds – over 90mph in some parts of the country causing flooding and travel disruption.
On Sunday morning, as I watch several bikers battling with the wind while collecting their camping tents and spot that the portable toilets have been blown on their sides in the camping field, I feel relieved that I’ve been sleeping in a camper van, even if it was shaken quite hard by the strong gusts of wind last night.
Then it strikes me: this is nothing in comparison with what I will have to face on a motorcycle trip around South America. I’ve read about the very strong winds in the Patagonia desert in Argentina and how they could nearly blow you off your bike. How about the effects of the high altitude and the extreme cold in the Andes? What about the solitude of the Atacama Desert and when things start playing on your mind? Will I be able to cope with that?
It rapidly dawns on me that if I’m serious about this trip – and I am! – I will have to steel myself and be realistic about the fact that I will not have all the comforts that I’m used to at home. That it will be really tough at times and that I need to learn to cope with this. Am I ready to do that?
Risk & Sacrifice
And how am I going to finance this trip? I have a reasonably comfortable and secure life. I don’t earn much but it is quite enough for the life I lead. I currently work as a fitness instructor teaching Yoga, Pilates, Dance Fitness and a few other things. I also organise fitness and wellness events. Mostly I rent community halls and teach weekly classes so I’m at the whim of the weather, school holidays and people wanting to exercise. I’m fortunate in that I have a loyal following, mostly women, who support me and whatever my latest fitness event is.
This trip will mean taking several months off work to go and pursue my dream. I’ve already started saving but it seems that it would take a long time for me to save a decent amount. What about after I come back? Will my loyal participants still be there waiting for me? People move on to other classes and sessions with other teachers. I know this from experience as I’ve been in the fitness industry for 10 years now. But then, if I want to move on and do things with my life why shouldn’t they do the same?
So, what am I going to do when I come back? I try to avoid the question by saying to myself: “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.” The truth is I need to at least think about what I want. Do I want to pick up where I left off and continue what I’ve been doing? Or will this adventure change my life – as so many speakers at the Winter Warmer said it did for them – and take the opportunity to do something different? Maybe something a bit closer to my heart. I’ve read so much about the need for us midlife women to reinvent ourselves I actually believe in it. We are not done and dusted; we still have a lot to give and a lot to achieve. This is our second act. Maybe here is an opportunity to do so. Where will this adventure lead me? To be completely honest, I don’t know. But goodness me, I can’t wait to find out.
Adriana is planning a motorcycle trip to South America during the first half of 2021 starting in Brazil, travelling down to Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and then up to Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and, if time, money and the political situation allows, visit her native
Venezuela which she left for the UK over 25 years ago. We wish her well and are delighted that the Overland Winter Warmer has further inspired her!