Text by Davis Broach
I’m days away from setting out on a motorcycle trip around the world. One could easily ask, what is going on in my mind. The answer is, surprisingly, very little. It’s not such a bad thing if this is what you are going to do – you just put one foot in front of the other, and keep fear at bay. Fortunately, there is a range of technical issues with your bike and the logistics of travel that will consume much of the mind, but the mind also has to be prepared.
Most of my days leading up to this moment have been spent on the technical issues. I bought a 2005 Kawasaki KLR 650 earlier in the year, began learning the basic mechanics for things I might see on the road with the help of the guys at Gaston Motorcycle Werks, ordered the wrong parts, got frustrated, learned some, and got the right parts to update the bike for such an extended trip. After going through the bike I took a trial run along the Carolina Coast and learned I had a lot more learning to do – I needed to lower the weight, shift it to the front, and mainly get more confidence taking things apart and putting them back together again. A basic motorcycle like the KLR is a good start for someone like me – not too complicated and therefore easier to figure out if the problem I currently face is one of air, gas or spark. And then do something about it.
Preparing the mind for the travel hasn’t been an issue, I’ve been fortunate to have traveled extensively and lived abroad a number of years, so I’m not afraid of new places and people – that has been my experience for most of my adult life – sure there’s plenty of frustration when you need something specific and you don’t know the language, but the beauty and experience of this world – both small and large at the same time, has been my bread and butter for some time now. And though you always need to be aware, you cannot underestimate the kindness that exists in ordinary people throughout the world. Again, my thoughts have been centered more on the technical aspects: finance, insurance, inoculations, international documents, etc. One basically needs to be able to move, have and access money, and have something in place in case something goes terribly wrong. All that can be arranged and there are plenty of resources to figure it all out.
My trial run along the Carolina Coast was primarily meant to test out the loaded bike, and secondarily myself. The bike had an abundance to entertain me along the way. I dropped it due to excessive weight a couple times, could barely keep the front wheel down due to unbalanced weight toward the rear – in the rain, flooded the carburetor and produced a 4 gallon leak I couldn’t seem to stop unless I gunned the engine. I unknowingly lost an air filter, which caused the bike to fit and fight – also in the rain. On top of all that I didn’t have the right windscreen which left me feeling like a bobble head while crossing the bridges of Charleston in the rain as big rigs passed by. Individually, nothing too bad, add all of them together on one day and you can imagine the fear add to it the inability to isolate a mechanical problem, address it in a clear mind, and of course try to stay a little dry. There are fixes to all these technical problems: lower the weight and move it forward, new air filter, new windscreen – all of which is now completed. But I was surprised that my mind was still far from ready.
As I said before, the technical issues can be taken care of – in fact, in some ways they are a blessing because it can keep your mind off your own mind. And that was the problem. Despite the time I took to do everything purposeful to ensure it was done right, I had too much time on my hands– my mind took over. In the evenings, it took a couple of hours to set up camp, in the morning about an hour to make a breakfast over a fire. I enjoy running so I would usually run 5-8 miles, could lose a couple more hours on a meal and reading.
Solitude is a fine thing, and I often need it. Up until recently it was something I chose rather than something that was a default way of being. Solitude and loneliness are not the same thing, but too much solitude can produce loneliness. It can also produce internal reflection, a more observant way of being and a better understanding of the world around you. One may have to go through loneliness to get to those more optimal results…I don’t know yet. For now, I admit I fear the solitude and all it can produce.
Instead, I think, “One foot in front of the other, and know that no one is ever really ready for anything in life – it happens and you make yourself ready.”
About the Author: Davis Broach is a Lecturer and Practitioner Affiliate of the Social Enterprise Program at the School of International Studies at American University in Washington, DC with nearly 20 years combined experience in emerging market investment, social enterprise and international development. Davis is in the process of writing, researching and exploring the gap between investors and social entrepreneurs in their needs and expectations, particularly their personal stories and views on bridging this gap. The research will include a motorcycle trip around the world featuring a series of interviews with investors and entrepreneurs on www.gapexplored.com. Davis has traveled, lived and worked in over 65 countries and territories and has served as the director/senior investment officer for three multi-million dollar SME private equity funds in Europe and Central Asia, VP of Social Enterprise at a major international development/humanitarian aid agency and has overseen a portfolio of investment and market development strategies for carbon-financed energy enterprises and micro-finance funds in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. Davis holds an MBA/MS from American University and rides a Kawasaki KLR 650.