It is 1am in northern Thailand and I have achieved the impossible: I have outlived a Bic ballpoint pen. Not by the mundane manner of running out all its ink across my journals, but through the mysterious process of having carried it around on a motorcycle for more than four years, across seas and straits and continental borders. I haven’t used it; I’d thought, for some reason long ago, that I might need a red pen. Perhaps I imagined some sort of corrections on immigration forms at a fraught national border; but I have since learnt that the more fraught the border, the less correct the forms must be.

Just smile. Just tell them you are on an adventure, and just let them think that you are lonely and brave and mad. One or all of those things will keep you safe, and keep you rolling, most of the places. Most of the time.

PC: Ride Horizon

It’s been more than a year since I rolled across an international border, though: covid. Seemingly overnight, in April 2020, all the borders of south east slammed shut. They have remained so ever since. I, having traipsed across the Thai border for a week’s visit, gaped in horror as it slowly and painfully dawned on me that I would not be getting back to my KTM in Phnom Penh anytime soon.

No visa, no motorbike, and no machete: what is a girl to do? Carry on, of course.

After all, adventure is a state of mind – and, sometimes, a state of bank account. “When are you going home?” hollered expats of friendly persuasions, while the unfriendly ones simply told me, “You’re finished.” But whereas ‘going home’ implies both resources for the going and a place to go to, I had my eye on something better: the horizon. Or more specifically, the blurriness at the end of my field of vision beyond which lies the unknown and thus theoretically vast potential.

Having a minus 13 optical prescription, as I do, certainly helps make the unknown feel rather more imminent than average.

So, what to do? I made a plan:

1) Try not to die.

2) Get better at riding motorcycles.

So on the second of January 2021 I plunged into the jungle on a diminutive klx150, giddy with excitement or maybe it was just lack of oxygen from all of the blue two-stroke smoke hanging over the track in front of me. Details.

I heard that NANG NANG NANG of two strokes that I hadn’t pinged my eardrums since childhood, and something tingled in the cockles of my heart.

This is it, I thought. This is where I’m meant to be: I’m here to figure out how to ride better, how to ride enduro, how to ride trials, how to throw myself up and down mountains and do stupid things on motorcycles of which I had not yet dreamed. For now, I cannot leave Thailand, but don’t pity me: I’m not dead yet, and the new adventure is here.

PC: Ride Horizon

5 thoughts on “This is the new adventure.

  1. Geoff Shaw says:

    Hi Grace
    Great to hear from you!
    Go nuts on the 2 smokers!! Loads of fun!
    Lockdown 400 in Melbourne and while I can still ride my 690 to work every day I know how bad I’ll be if we ever get back to the bush. All I do is plonk down the same tar road to work. Still better of than most here.
    Where are you riding? With whom?
    Green with envy!!!
    Mate, Beastie will feel huge after the 150’s when you’re back on her.
    Stay safe!

    1. Geoff, I’m so glad to hear that at least you get to ride to work, small mercies eh! Melbourne has taken a real kicking with all the lockdowns; hope it’s not getting you down too much, and that you have a bunch of adventures planned for when it’s over.

      I’m so stoked about the 2 strokes, I never rode one before this year and now it’s the whole new world of fun! You are right that Beastie will feel gargantuan after these light perky bikes, but to be honest I think the thing I’m going to notice the most is the suspension – the 690 is SO STIFF, whereas the Technix suspension on that Gas Gas is just dreamy – I can ride over anything. Whereas the 690 will deflect you off into the bushes as soon as look a rut sideways lol. Overall though, maybe there’s a silver lining to the fact that I’m not a huge person – because it means that even when I ride bikes like the EC300, I can’t get too lazy in my technique, because I still can’t get both feet down, and I still don’t have the physical strength to privilege muscle over technique. So everything I’m learning about balance and clutch control and throttle control will carry over, even though the bikes are so different.

      I’ve been riding with a bunch of awesome Thai riders. I’ve been working on my Thai and although I’ve got a long way to go on the language front, one way or another we all speak motorbike. 😉 I used to habitually ride alone, but riding enduro alone is a different kettle of fish, especially since I’m no Jarvis. I need all the help and tuition I can get! I am also loving the chill vibes. I have much to learn on that front too.

  2. geoffkeys says:

    Great to see you making the best of the shitty hand dealt to you Grace. And it seems like you’re having lots of fun too.

    1. Thank you Geoff. 🙂 Yes it’s working out pretty good, all things considered 😉 Hope you’re keeping well also.

  3. Rob says:

    Catch up with Phil at bamboo bikes Chiang mai
    Good guy
    Lots of contacts

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