Saturday, June 7, 2014

The week after…

It's been a rollercoaster week for all of us with lots of problems and setbacks. But we have put it in this post as it's all part of the record attempt. So what happened last week? Well, the first thing that hit like a bomb was that motorcycle circumnavigation attempts were not recognised anymore by the organisation where we had filed our application, because there could be speeding involved even though it's not a speed record. Our search for an alternative to recognise the attempt resulted in a series of abusive e-mails from one of the other organisations and even legal threats when we didn't want to pay their 5-figure fee…! Then the insurance company, who had said 'yes' before suddenly came back on that decision and wouldn't insure Mike in Europe anymore as he was deemed too young. Never mind that he just crossed 47.000 km accident free from Alaska to Costa Rica… We contacted some 30-odd insurance companies and they all replied the same way: no!

At that stage we were beginning to wonder if the record attempt could be finished at all and why the hell we had gone to Europe. The reason we had gone to Europe in the first place was to solve some family issues that were deemed very urgent, yet when we arrived they suddenly didn't seem that urgent at all… Spirits were down so far by then that you needed a shovel to find them. For 18 months we had travelled through New Zealand, Canada, Alaska, USA, Mexico and Central America without any serious hiccup and had it been up to us we would have continued to South America. Yet now we ran into a bureaucratic wall build by numbnuts that never go anywhere and have no idea what is going on in the real world. The legal driving age in Europe is 18, foreign licenses are accepted, so why doesn't anyone want to insure a foreigner under 21 years of age? 

Frustration levels ran high too and yet we had to stay calm and positively try to find support for the second part of the trip, while at that stage we were not even sure if we could continue at all. On Wednesday we received official approval that all the evidence we had collected about the record attempt so far was accepted. We were back in business! And it was official! Although we still had no idea how to insure Mike's motorcycle, while we couldn't even release them from customs without insurance!

The relentless search for support continued. Unless you have a serious bank account, events like this simply cannot be done without support. The last two weeks we have been working hard to get people interested into the event, with mixed results. There is no denying that this record attempt will create a lot of media coverage and that potential supporters can create a lot of publicity from it themselves too. Yet quite a lot of companies do not seem to grasp just how much of an impact this can have for them. There are others though that do! They reply enthusiastic and actively work with us to get the best out of it for both them and ourselves, which is great. There is a lot of work involved, we're making 17 hour days here and 7 days a week while we are waiting for our motorbikes to arrive in the harbour, but we love doing it. In the column on the right are at the time of writing 12 companies who believe in Mike and have expressed their support. They not only support us, they have good quality products too. Most of them we have used already and because we found them good, we contacted them for support. 

As Mike is in fact setting a record in a new category, he is also setting the benchmark for others to beat. Some of the requirements to be considered a true circumnavigation are: use your own motorcycle, start and finish at the same location (the Great Ocean Road - Australia in his case), ride over the equator by motorcycle, ride a minimum of the circumference of the world and cross two antipodal points.  

The reason
Why does he still want to continue? There have been times last week when I asked Mike that too. When problems came in from all directions and there seemed no way to solve them I asked him "Do you really want to continue doing this? The riding is not the issue here, but there is so much paperwork involved and so much incomprehensible bureaucracy that you might want to think about setting an unofficial record." His reply was this: "There are so many young people wasting their youth on computer games, drinking and all kinds of stuff that I don't even want to think about. I hope to show them that there is a beautiful world out there. A wonderful world with wonderful people. That is why I want to do this and that is why I want to upkeep this blog, so that others can see and experience a small part of what I'm seeing and experiencing and hopefully get them to go out there as well. When we started this trip there were some scary prospects. Dangerous border crossings and countries where we would die for sure. If you believe half of what the media and the politicians want you to believe about foreign countries then you can't go anywhere. Once you're in those countries the reality is very different. People are basically the same wherever you go. We've met wonderful people in every country we visited so far."
He knows his record will be broken one day, but he would like you to wait until he has set his own record though :-)

All he hopes to achieve personally is that this record will help him to work with world travel organisations and combine his love for travelling, photography and motorcycling.
Then, on Friday, the only still missing piece of paper arrived: We finally received the green cards for the insurance…!!!