The Map – The Commitment

In the grand scheme of things, it feels like our lives are no longer made up of Chapters… just Two Parts divided by the loss of Heidi on Friday 9th September 2011. The world is still round in Part Two except there is a gaping hole in it, which is ultimately what Part Two has been about so far… managing the hole and coming to terms with why it is there.

Right from the outset of Part Two, Laws and I quietly knew we were going to do something radical. It is so easy to slip further into the seemingly bottomless pit of grief… we needed to shift our focus toward something else… an ultimate, all-consuming endeavour… we just had no idea what. A few months later in early 2012, for reasons I can’t remember, I hit Laws up with, “How about we ride our bikes to London?” Travel is in my top three favourite things to do and I can’t make endeavours out of the other two… so I guess this just made sense. Laws took a whole second to reply, “Shichyeah!”… and our dream was established.

The dream was further reinforced following the APC Rally 2012. We were already well hooked on the thrill and freedom of motorbikes… but here we got to experience how meditative longer motorbike trips can be. The first few days can seem intense but then you find… I don’t even know what to call it… a zen state? You are focused on everything around you… lapse for a second and you might wipe out in a rut or line up a suicidal emu’s centre of mass. You become completely PRESENT and the clutter in your head disappears, which is why I used the word meditative… not that we know how to meditate… but this is most likely the closest we’ll ever get.

So the seed was well and truly planted for our endeavour… but nothing had been invested at this point… no time, money or effort. It was still very pie in the sky… and Laws was waiting for me to make the next step. Are we really doing this? … or am I just talking shit? I buried myself into research and knocked out a detailed plan in spreadsheet, which most importantly included a budget… but this dream still needed something to make it more than a dream. It needed something tangible… something you can point at. I customised my little 6m x 3m lockup garage to be our preparation area for when the time came… workbench, shelving, tools, etc. There was only one more thing needed for crappy little garage to evolve into Nerve Centre… a big freakin Map!

Now maps are very expensive… and we wanted a 3m wide x 1.8m high map with Oz and UK kitty corner. No doubt there is a better way but Map making for us went as follows:

  • Find right zoom level in Google Maps to fit said dimensions – this is a suck it and see process
  • Screen capture tiles of Google Maps – we’re talking hundreds of tiles
  • Stitch tiles together in Photoshop – easiest if you cut tiles through text so you can line up pixels of text
  • Plot two 900 x 3000 sheets
  • Contact both sheets including all important join to make one map
  • Use single piece MDF 3000 x 1800 x 6 as backing board
  • Stick 10mm cork board to MDF
  • Attach Map to cork board
  • Dynabolt to garage wall

Key lesson learnt is to be sober for contacting phase… ironic that a few North African countries got a bit crinkled. Bolting that map to my garage wall was the icing on the cake for demonstrating just how bloody serious we were about this trip. Our trip would come up in conversation with someone and they would say, “Awesome!”… but when shown the Map they would say, “Holy moly! You guys are really doing this!” That’s right… we’re COMMITTED.

The Map is a peculiar thing… so many hours have been spent lost in her. Like a good campfire, she draws you in to a trance-like state… you consider the scale of possible travel in the world… or even just the scale of the world… and then even drift to something else entirely! We would watch mates get lost in her almost immediately. Even when the media came round… they would have their moment getting lost in her… then snap out of it and say, “Lets get the boys in front of the map…”

The Map was key to dreaming bigger. I did a strip and assemble of my old DR650, time for which blew out due in part to spending too much time lost in the Map… missing Heidi and thinking how gutted she would be if she knew what she was missing out on. This is where it struck me… in my trance… what happens when we get to the UK? … then what? “Bro! How about we ride our bikes Round the World?!” Whole two seconds this time, “Shichyeah!”… and our dream became bigger. Back into the research… spreadsheet revamped… more saving required. We won’t get the whole way round without working… but we will get round.

Funniest thing is the Map didn’t even get used as intended. We hadn’t mapped the whole world and we didn’t have the time to go through the process again. A red line was drawn from Oz to UK and that was it… no pins, strings, different coloured whiteboard markers or postit notes anywhere… just a big freakin Map in my garage to get lost in.