Sunday, 2 March 2014

Explain the Attraction?

There are a huge number of magazines and books out there extolling the virtues of 'adventure travel'. A strange new phenomenon which seems to usually involve a novice rider going somewhere strange on their bike, getting into difficulties and being thoroughly miserable, before coming back home again and writing a book about how brilliant it all was.

The expectation (Ewan & Charlie)
In fact, next time you pass your local BMW dealer I would guess that more than half their stock falls into the 'adventure' category - GS, Paris Dakar etc. Buy the bike, and all of the lovely expensive accessories from Touratech, and you too can be a 'proper' adventurer just like Ewan and Charley, even if you never go further than the café in town. Image, it seems, is everything. Something that Harley-Davidson has known for a good long while.

The very issue mentioned
A good example of this phenomenon is Adventure Bike Rider magazine. A copy of this fine periodical that I read recently included numerous stories of derring-do, some in exciting foreign parts, adverts for the most eye-wateringly expensive kit I’ve ever come across, a number of ‘how-to’ articles on everything from what to wear to where to go and, my personal favourite, survivalist nonsense in case you are ever stranded far from civilisation and need to make a fire or drink something other than your own urine.

How to make fire the boy scout way
For when you run out of Perrier
Seriously, I sometimes think that this sort of thing must actually put off as many folk as it inspires. Who really wants to contract dysentery while riding a broken-down wreck on un-surfaced roads through a war-zone with the very real possibility of being shot at? I'll give it a miss, thank you.

Parked outside a hotel in Dijon, France
For the moment, I’ll stick to travelling in countries which have indoor plumbing and are not currently engaged in a civil war. Places which are not too dissimilar to the UK, except for the fact that it's far away, the food is a mite different and you can't always communicate with the locals. But then again that can be true of going to Yorkshire for the weekend! 


  1. Pure escapism. People who the magazine is aimed at will never do an 'adventure trip' despite owning a BMW GS with Touratech goodies, but it feeds their delusion and the articles about making your own underpants out of leaves in the jungle gives them something to impress their friends down the pub with. It's no different than magazines aimed at sportsbike riders who wear race leathers with humps even thought they only commute to work on them, or custom riders battling through British drizzle in open face helmets and cut-offs as they dream about riding across the US. (Or far that matter men who walk about wearing football jerseys – do they imagine that people see them and think 'that overweight, pasty faced man over there smoking a cigarette and eating a pie must be a professional footballer as he's wearing a jersey'?)
    As for the articles – so you've ridden your bike to somewhere where there is seawater but no ground water? How many places on Earth are there where a desert meets the sea? And having gone there you didn't think about getting water at the last town you passed through? Hope you can't get your fire started and have to drink your own urine!
    And talking of starting fires – you've spent £15,000 on a bike and £5,000 on Touratech goodies, but you haven't brought any matches? Why not connect two bits of wire to your battery, spark them together over a dish of petrol, and hey presto, you've got a fire!
    You're right – there's plenty of the world to explore where there are surfaced roads, running water, and shops that sell matches – why not just go there instead?

  2. 'Novice' yes they think they have to live out the dream that was sold to them along with the BIG adventure bike , and as Norman says the gear, so they fit in. For me I'll just continue using the tarred roads, on sort of normal bikes and enjoy the company I am in or find.... not to forget a nice local beer to end a great day out there.

  3. Dijon, remember it well that's where Stuart Anderson had the adventure of the key breaking off in his security padlock as we were setting off!