Time flies when your having fun and 23rd April 2009 came as something of a surprise, ..... it marked 365 days since Poor Circulation, with the help of a new battery from White Bros. Honda in Darlington, had departed from St Teresa's Hospice. Unfortunately I didn't have the opportunity to celebrate the 1st Anniversary with the Tiger but shared the day instead with the slightly less charismatic 1050 Sprint ST courtesy of Triumph UK. It's funny how things have changed because a year ago I didn't really like the Tiger at all, I regretted choosing it for the journey and even as we headed into Europe on the 1st of May, I doubted it's ability to complete a full circuit of the world.
Time and tenacity have proved me and a good many other doubters,.... to be wrong. Aside from a snapped clutch cable changed at the side of the road in Siberia, a loose battery terminal in Irkutsk and a blown headlight bulb replaced in Boonville Ca., the Tiger took the entire journey in it's ample stride while many other seemingly more appropriate bikes were disintegrating all around me in Russia. 28,000 miles on a variety of roads and aside from fuel and oil, the Tiger consumed just two tyres, one clutch cable, one headlight bulb, one set of brake pads and a drive chain, ..... which is really not too bad when your working on a very tight budget. It ran perfectly well on 86 Ron fuel in Russia and averaged just over 50 mpg for the whole journey. The £20 tent and £10 sleeping bag lasted the course and £20 spent on the army surplus Gortex jacket and trousers was quite possibly the best investment that I've ever made. The £2 mud-foot stopped the bike from falling over and the £5 auxiliary fuel and water tanks kept the journey moving when populations became scarce. The modifications were more 'Heath Robinson' than 'Touratech', but they seemed to work well and probably saved me a small fortune. The major safety addition to the bike were the engine protection bars donated by Frank at 'Triumph-OnLine.co.uk' and although I tried to avoid crashing too often, they saved me from physical and financial disaster on many occasions. The maps that I took with me could have been more accurate but the £5 compass that was super-glued to the Tiger's screen was always true. It took us East, it kept us away from wars and it brought us back to the Ace Cafe in London, .... £5 well spent.
The original budget that I set was £20 per day with an additional £5,000 for the bike, the kit, the insurances and all flights and sea journeys. People laughed and people looked concerned, they said that it couldn't be done but I had confidence in the generosity of strangers and set off in blind faith. In the final analysis, the budget came out at just under £28 per day, but assuming that the Tiger still has a resale value of around £3,000 -ever the optimist- then the whole journey was completed at a total cost of £7,000, .... which is probably a little less than the more famous ''Long Way'' adventures. If I then account for the financial support that I received, the actual total budget came out at a little less than £20 per day, ..... and so using Alastair Darling's system of accountancy, I guess that I was actually under budget. I'm not sure if I set out to 'Prove' anything, but what I hope I've shown is that with generous help from others, you don't need to have a huge amount of money, experience or skill in order to live your dream, ........ you just have to decide to do it.
I was lucky in that the help from CitySprint and writing for The Riders Digest paid for my fuel and allowed me to stay in motels, and in some cases brothels, for at least 19 of the 197 nights spent on the road. Not taking a credit card was perhaps not the wisest of decisions, but it actually worked in my favour. It meant that I relied upon cash and before departure I changed my budget from GB£ into US$ at a rate of 1 to 2, ... which was accidentally perfect timing.
In the four months since arriving back in the UK I've found it difficult to settle and spending time trying to create a book that is readable has simply reminded me that life on the road is far better than life in a student bedsit. It's been difficult fitting 28 weeks of adventure into the limited space available between two covers of a book but I hope that in the end it all makes entertaining sense. I'm now 75% of the way to raising my target of £5,000 for St Teresa's Hospice and once that target has been reached, I'll be setting out on a second adventure. I'd like to once again say thank you to all of those who donated via my justgiving site and assure you all that every penny is greatly appreciated.
Next week I'll hopefully explain a little more about the future plans for 'Poor Circulation' but in the meantime, ........ I've got a Triumph Tiger that needs a little love.
Riding Tip of The Day: If you love your motorcycle but loath the sight of fresh blood, then always remember to remove the security chain before you ride away. Don't worry, ..... just a minor flesh wound to the knee and a slightly more serious bruise to my credibility.