After a whirlwind week at work, and hardly enough time to do laundry or pack for the trip, I make a mad dash drive to Denver late on a Monday night to catch a Tuesday flight to the U.K. I’m finally going to get to see Brian after more than a year and am looking forward to seeing him and his parents and grandmother.
Unbeknownst to me in my jet-lag stupor, Brian has made plans with a couple we know from our two-year trip through the Americas on motorcycles. Serendipitously, Toby and Chloe happen to be in the U.K. for a week for a wedding and they’re free for lunch the morning after I arrive. Brian tells me we are heading to Beachy Head for a walk, something I need to perk me up, but then pulls into the parking lot of a pub before we get there. I know something’s unusual but am not awake enough to catch on. As I walk past the corner of a row of buildings and onto the green square of the pub, I look left and am blown away to see our friends just casually sitting at a picnic table. If I weren’t so out of it, I would shed happy tears. It’s absolutely wonderful to spend a couple of hours with them, the first time for me since we went our separate ways in Argentina a couple of years ago.
Brian has taken care of gathering and packing all the gear we will need for three days among the overland motorcycle crowd during the Overland Event (put on by Overland Magazine) at Hill End near Oxford. It is a lovely place.
It’s my first time at the event and I’m so excited to see the presentations and meet fellow travelers. I’m also presenting a slide show and have my book available in the author’s tent, a real honor for me.
Paddy Tyson of Overland Magazine and his crew have put together an incredible event. There is a Who’s Who of motorcycling legends here and I’m star struck at every turn. Elspeth Beard is among them and delivers a fantastic presentation about her round-the-world solo motorcycle adventure in the early 80s. I buy a copy of her book and sneak a few moments of conversation with her. She’s incredible. Broken Tooth, whose You Tube video’s are fantastic, and his lovely wife are here. Derek Mansfield has his new book here and I score a signed copy. Jacqui Furneaux is here with her book, and I get a signed copy of it too. Greg and Melanie Turp are here (I already had their book!) and it’s wonderful to catch up with them. I get the chance to meet Paddy Tyson, Steve Stewart, Bruce Smart, Nich Brown, Ian Coates, Will Wilkins, Bernard Smith, Helen Lloyd (whose book I also buy…noticing a theme here?), Iain Harper…and so many others. I’m able to catch up with friends Barbara and Craig, and see friends from the road, Aussies Billy and Trish, whom I haven’t seen since three years ago in Mexico. I even have the great fortune to see Sam Manicom, and witness his being honored for his incredible support of the motorcycling community.
The Overland Event is a “must do” for any motorcycle traveler interested in international adventure riding. Thank you, Paddy, for the fantastic opportunity. And thank you to all the staff, volunteers, presenters, authors and fellow travelers for the fantastic weekend and millions of miles of inspiration.