The plan was simple: ride down to Folkstone, jump on the train then spend the night in Calais. Day two, we'd be looking at the Mont Blanc Massif, day three we'd be in Italy and day four we'd be in Vico Equense - and that's just how it all happened!
As we queued to board the Eurotunnel train, though, I found myself examining the bike ahead of me with some interest. It was a Honda Blackbird bearing the usual "TT" and "Think Bike" stickers, but there were also a few that I'd never seen before. Initially, looking at the registration plate I thought it was an American machine. Then I noticed some "NSW" letters and it struck me that I'd been aware of the rider's origins for quite some time now by virtue of a web-based Honda Blackbird forum. When we'd settled the bikes I tapped him on the shoulder and said "Hi - are you Colin?" "Yes." he grinned as we shook hands, "Yes I am!"
We chatted our way through the crossing and I listened, fascinated, as Colin told me about his mammoth journey and the equally mammoth task of putting everything together. Getting his gear here was his first task, so he'd shipped the bike over and followed later, by air. I've used Colin's words directly from the forum website to summarise his adventures, which make any trip of mine look like a wobble around the local car park!
"About 10,000 km, time in England, Wales, Isle of Man, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland - then back through France and England. 'Bird didn't miss a beat, but will get a little TLC when it gets home in September. [It's] cleaned, scrubbed, prepped and ready to go (or perhaps has already - was either yesterday or today [11 July 2018] it was being loaded on the ship). [I've got] today and tomorrow in London, fly out Thursday night late."
If you haven't guessed already, Colin is a typically laid-back Australian who fancied an extended ride-out - so that's what he did - on his own - and I was tremendously impressed and not a little honoured to meet and speak with the modest, quietly intrepid traveller from Sydney.