Think you don’t have enough experience or ability for a round-the-world ride? Think again. When the allure of the brand’s GS bikes became too hard to resist, self-proclaimed ‘average’ rider Rolf Lange gave up a comfortable job as the boss of BMW Motorrad’s lead digital agency Plan.Net and set off on a globetrotting adventure with his best friend Joe Dannemann. Several months in, their advice to would-be travellers is to stop dreaming and start planning…The pair they left Munich on two water-cooled boxers and headed east, with no idea of the exciting adventures that lay ahead. So far, they have made it to Thailand after 20,000 mesmerising kilometres in the saddle. Their journey has taken them through Europe to Turkey and Iran and then through the ‘Stans’ (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kirgizstan) before heading south through part of China to reach the Himalayas. From there, it’s been a magical ride through Nepal, India and Burma before reaching Thailand.Having left the comforts and familiarity of home and office a long way behind in Bavaria, Rolf’s biggest surprise was how much easier life on the road has been, compared to how he’d imagined it would be when initially planning this ambitious tour.“I had a lot of respect for this project before I left: about the security, how to deal with everyday life on the road, about really being able to do this, both mentally and physically,” he said. “Joe and I are now four months on the road so far, having travelled through 17 countries, and all my worries about these things are gone. Of course I really miss my family, friends and colleagues from my old job, but I have learned that it is a matter of how you deal with homesickness. Appreciate it! The effect is that you will then have a greater appreciation for life at home.”After being involved with the brand for several years professionally, Rolf feels privileged to be able to put his faith in the products he’s helped promote, and to now be using it 100 per cent for its intended purpose.“I really feel part of this GS community now. And I am very happy that we have chosen the R 1200 GS for this trip. You can enjoy all the mountain roads with their twists and turns as well as the gravel roads and dirt tracks. You might think you have to be an athlete and a very talented rider to do a journey like this. Well, I am not at all, and I am losing weight constantly. I feel much stronger. Really, one of my biggest issues right know is to buy new gear because it is way too large! Compared to an office job this trip is a permanent workout, and it is fun. And I am improving my riding capabilities everyday.”Ask any globetrotter and they will tell you that it’s not just the places they pass through which leave everlasting memories, but also the people they come into contact with. This has happened time and time again for Rolf, and has really opened his eyes up to the limitless possibilities that adventure travel offers.“There are so many places and people that I could talk about. The Iranians overwhelmed me every single day. From a material standpoint they are among the poorest in the world, but measured by human values like candidness, hospitality and cordiality the richness of them is second to none. They were waving at us, taking pictures, bringing us water and food at every stop we made – even out of their cars beside us when waiting at traffic lights! We were invited several times each day, and from time to time we followed these invitations. I am still in touch with some of the people I met there – just wonderful people!“As for places, where do I start? In Tibet it was an amazing experience to ride ‘on top of the world’ and see the beauty of the Himalayan range, with passes more than 5,200 metres above sea level. It was both inspiring and spiritual in equal measures. Then there were places like Myanmar (Burma) where although the people are among the poorest in Asia, they always smile. It is not possible to be in a bad mood here, because you will see smiling faces around every corner. There’s a lot we can learn from them…”As for their travel budget, Rolf and Joe are finding that money goes a lot further than it does in Western Europe, especially if you look around for the right places to eat and sleep. Typically, they have been able to find a double room in a guesthouse for between $7-10 USD and in fact, most of their money is being spent on fuel due to the large distances they are travelling. Because they are visiting so many different countries, they do try to keep up with world events because of the possible dangers and risks to travellers.“We use government websites and also the media to stay informed,” says Rolf. “These are good to get a first idea about the risks you might face but the best bet so far has been to ask local people and other adventure riders that have already been to the places we want to visit. They have a much more detailed and realistic opinion about the current situation – and mostly they will tell you that it is less dangerous than you think.”The original plan had been to spend Christmas in New Zealand but Rolf and Joe have discovered that if they try to stay to a rigid schedule, they will miss out on valuable experiences. If they had rushed through certain places they might not have met some of the characters who are making this journey so memorable, such as the petrol station attendant in Eastern Turkey who invited them for tea, the businessman in Iran who talked about why borders should be disposed for travellers like us, the guide in Tibet who was planning his own business farming Yacks, or the shepherd they met in the high plateau of Lake Song Kul in Kyrgyzstan.As a result they have decided to stay in south-east Asia for a while longer and will probably be in Malaysia or Singapore for the festive season, before taking their first flight of the trip – to New Zealand. After exploring this wonderful country, it’ll be back on board another plane, for a rather long flight to South America to begin the South American stage of their journey.That’s all quite a long way down the road though. For now, Rolf and Joe prefer to live in the moment, knowing that they are fortunate to have been able to make this trip happen and to share it with many enthusiasts following their blogs online. Having found the journey a true life-changing experience so far, Rolf is eager to convince all the ‘armchair travellers’ to make their globetrotting dreams a reality and just find a way to, quite literally, Make Life a Ride.“Travelling the world on a motorcycle is a unique way to explore both the planet and yourself,” he says. “You experience things that could never happen on a regular holiday and you are reminded everyday that it is a privilege being able to do this. The problems you had at home before you left become ridiculously small when you see what kind of challenges people are facing in some countries. A journey like this widens your perception of reality too, and you form your own idea of how the world really is. It is so much more than the media tells us - it is not only politics, wars and greed - it is a wonderful world. Get on your bike and find out for yourself.”This World AheadWebsite Facebook
November 2014 | © BMW Motorrad
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