Saturday, December 7, 2019

Why it all took so long to finish the blog

Having ridden literally around the world through places like Mexico, Kyrgyzstan, India and with 120,000km of riding experience under conditions most will never see, the Dutch Government has the arrogance to say 'we don't recognise an Australian drivers' license. If you want to ride a bike in The Netherlands then you'll have to go to a driving school, take a stack of lessons and do the full riding test'... The Netherlands at its narrowest. Even the driving instructor couldn't believe the stance taken. 
It’s been over three years since we finished our trip around the world. Keeping a blog with the mode of travel we do, ie not staying in hotels or guesthouses but free camping wherever we can, has been difficult at the best of times but especially so for the last part of the trip. We had no internet connection at all most of the time, and even when we did it was slow and unreliable. Inevitably the blog thus became further and further behind… Just like with a photo file which isn’t sorted and organised, the blog became a bigger and bigger monster for us to do.

In Australia we had 3 internet connections. The first one in Perth, where we stayed with friends and thus wanted too make the most of our time together rather than being totally anti-social stuck behind a screen for days. The second wifi connection was 3000 km further east, at a news agent along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria where we posted the post of setting the record. The third wifi connection was at the airport when we left Australia… The articles were all written along the way but the whole of Australia was done on a paper notebook, as my laptop’s keyboard was no longer working. 

The plan was to get stuck into it as soon as we arrived back at my parents place in The Netherlands. But, as is usually the case with the best laid plans, that didn’t work out. It was a hassle getting the bikes back, which took most of our time. Simply put our finances had run so low at the end that we had to borrow money to pay for the shipment back. So obviously we took the cheapest option we could find. What we didn’t know at the time was that our shipment was a stopgap kind of thing whereby it would only be send when there was a gap left over on a boat… Not only did we want the bikes back, we also needed them back to get our Carnet bonds returned, which we could then use to repay the borrowed shipping funds from.

Humble beginnings and our first project
Pre-production model made by hand just 

for testing purposes
In 2012 we had started this trip against the odds. Barely back we started our own company, again against the odds as we were told by just about everyone. Nomad-ADV was started, literally in a leaky barn, just months after we finished the trip. To make it work we ‘invested’ every single hour we had, 7 days a week and 365 days a year into it. We did that for 3 years in a row… At first simply to get the business off the ground. For the first 9 months we hardly made any money, and what little we did make was put straight back into the business in the form of tools and secondhand machinery. Behind the scenes we were developing a totally new type of navigation tower, luggage racks, skid plates among others which we put on the market in December 2016. We had no idea if there would be a big enough market for it but hoped we could sell at least 10 just to get our material costs back. As it turned out we sold 10 in the first week and went on to 300 in the first year… We had manual machines only, no cnc, were working from underneath tarps and plastic foil to prevent the water leaking through the roof getting into the machines. In the winter a cheap but horribly expensive to run 3kW electric heater barely kept the frost at bay in a 4x4 metre section cordoned off with an old heavy duty curtain. From 2017 onwards we were flat-out trying to keep up with demand. I can vividly remember our first weekend off since May 2016, which was June 2018… Finishing the blog thus wasn’t high on our list of things that needed to be done. It’s hard to explain to customers, some of whom had to wait for 6 weeks or more, that their order would be delayed further as we had a blog to finish…

We've kept investing into machines, which among other things resulted being able to produce more in the same amount of time. Now that things have settled down a little bit, and I have a laptop that can handle my humongous photo file(!), I’ve finally been able to finish the blog. I know it’s been 3 years but after reading the above I hope you’ll understand. Then again, a well known female author took 30 years to write a book about her trip around the world, which is still a good book!