Two Aussie blokes riding their BMW R1150GSs from Australia to Europe

Category: Australia

The Blokes are back! Watch “Australia – Episode 1” now

That’s right folks, we’re back – not literally of course; strictly in the digital sense. If there’s only one good thing that’s come about as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown, it’s that we’ve been able to start going through all the footage that we recorded on our journey from Australia to Europe. It’s an incredibly time consuming process so the forced stay at home order has allowed us to be very productive. We hope to get a few more episodes out before we’re back to full time work. But for now enjoy the first leg of our journey from Melbourne up the east coast of Australia to the Sunshine Coast!

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Budapest to Vienna – the end of the road after 26,250kms

Very happy with ourselves as we stepped off the bikes in the heart of Vienna

Very happy with ourselves as we stepped off the bikes in the heart of Vienna

And that’s a wrap folks! For me this epic adventure has finally come to an end, I promised Sophie I would be home for her birthday and although I have missed it by one day I will make her birthday party. I feel naked without my motorcycle, my life as I know it is in a 27kg bag and my bike will eventually make it home by ship, thankfully James and Monica can look after it until then.

What a bike! Brigitta's 17 years old with 170,000kms on her clock and she's taken me 26,250kms across 14 countries without a hitch

What a bike! Brigitta’s 17 years old with 170,000kms on her clock and she’s taken me 26,250kms across 14 countries without a hitch

All 27kgs of my life's possessions for the last 4 months, wrapped up in a $4 gypsy bag

All 27kgs of my life’s possessions for the last 4 months, wrapped up in a $4 gypsy bag

Vienna, Austria (Monica’s home city) was the catalyst for this trip and what a beautiful city it is! Always coming in a very close second to the world’s most liveable city, Melbourne. After spending six wonderful days in Romania I only had three full days to take in Vienna, but with Monica to show me around I feel like I know it and can’t wait to visit again with Sophie. We have many friends and family who now reside in Europe so I can see many trips to come.

The red wine consumed last night has brought on some emotional reflection of our journey. What we accomplished in four months on our motorcycles will only take a jet plane 22 hours. Looking out the window of the plane I can almost pinpoint our journey overland. I’m dressed in my new clothes from Zara in Vienna, upon purchase I noticed it was made in Pakistan and it took me back to the road, riding past huge textile factories producing items for the western world to consume but I’m sure none of the other patrons were thinking what I was…

For us Pakistan has a very different meaning than most

For us Pakistan has a very different meaning than most

Blokes on Spokes was a motorcycle adventure but underneath our desire to ride around the world there was much more to the journey. James and Monica had made a massive decision to leave Melbourne and start anew in Vienna. For myself it was an opportunity to remove myself from our all consuming business and busy life in Melbourne. My business partner Nick and I have been working extremely hard on our business for the past 12 years and I am the first to acknowledge that it has taken a toll on our health and well being. Four months ago I left Melbourne a worn soul: I was searching for something other than the 8-5 slog and have to admit I was concerned that our journey would provoke even further frustration of my work/life balance. In fact it had the opposite effect. The whole experience has been so humbling that I now only feel guilt of how fortunate my life is. I am returning to Australia a new man. I had lost my way in a Western world driven by money and success and forgotten about the most important things in life. Family, love and health come first and everything else second from now on. We left Melbourne in search of good roads, scenery and adventure but I’m returning with no lasting memory of the riding but only of the kindness of people. I am also returning a more focussed businessman; wealth is an absolute privilege in this world and I am lucky enough to have the support and ability to increase it for the future of my children and family.

I cannot thank James enough for the support over the last few years, not only was he my best man at our wedding he was also the brainchild behind our adventure. Months of preparation leading up to our rushed departure proved vital to our success and I will be forever grateful.

Jimmy, on the streets of Malaysia. It takes two to tango, and I wouldn't have made it without his help

Jimmy, on the streets of Malaysia. It takes two to tango, and I wouldn’t have made it without his help

Watch as we crate our BMW R1150GSs ready for air freight to Kuala Lumpur.

After having some fresh rubber put on the bikes at Motolife BMW in Caloundra, we quickly rode them home to begin the boxing process. We didn’t know it at the time, but we happened to do all this work on the hottest day recorded this year on the Sunshine Coast – damn it was hot!

We’d like to thank Nick Kassis from Freightnet International in Melbourne for organising all of the logistics for us – very helpful and professional and we’d highly recommend his services to anybody else needing to freight their bikes out of Australia. We also need to thank Remedia and the Five Plus Art Gallery again, as their kind support has made flying the bikes possible. Many thanks also to Shaun Gardener for letting us use his fine tunes. Check him out on Spotify!

As this message is posted, the bikes are mid air enroute to Bangkok, before they change planes to head to KL, and we’re off at 9am tomorrow morning to meet them – shit’s about to get real!

Loading the empty crates onto the truck, with the two old girls in the foreground

Our bikes sat outside in the direct sunlight after a tyre change, and it was properly toasty to sit on!

Our bikes sat outside in the direct sunlight after a tyre change, and it was properly toasty to sit on!

This is what a bike looks like when it comes out of the crate

This is what a bike looks like when it comes out of the crate

Sydney to The Sunshine Coast – 2830kms

Sydney was a significant stop over for me as my wife Sophie is currently living in Darlinghurst on tour with ‘The Sound of Music’ and I was keen to spend some quality time with her, we are also lucky to have some good friends living up here and what better way to spend Australia Day than on Coogee Beach with a beer and JJJ hottest 100 in 28 degree sun. Dad and my brother Tim flew out to Melbourne late Australia day and I have never seen my dad so happy to be swimming in the ocean.  So that left us with both our partners and Ryan to spend the next 3 days roaming Sydney’s haunts. James and I spent a frustrating day trying to obtain final gear needed for the bikes and luggage in particular a top box for me as I had left Melbourne without one due to a lost key! I ended up organising one in Brisbane to pick-up passing through enabling me to spend the final day with Soph.

We had our worst departure yet out of Sydney, late to see Sophie off and with Ryan off at the doctors to have a sore elbow looked at we didn’t end up getting away until 2:30pm. This coincided with a massive thunder-storm to see us out of the city limits no sooner than 2 hours. Intended destination was Coffs Harbour through the ranges but we ended up with only enough time to make it to Port Macquarie straight up the Pacific Highway a good day to utilise the Sena bike to bike communication gear to keep us from the monotonous straight road and varying speed limit. A good nights sleep in the tent we were away early for a big day Destination Byron Bay and given James’ recent ‘surprise marriage’ I proposed a plan for a belated Buxx Party in the party town on the most Eastern tip of Australia and organised a motel room close to the action.  Turned out to be a massive day of riding in total 601km’s and it was a good example of why not to fall behind, we had a blast but the day wore us down. Ryan was doing exceptionally well to keep up with us given he has only had his licence for 6 months! Upon arrival in Byron it was off to town for a feed, beers and the rest needs to stay with lads – we did however find ourselves at the back of the crowd in the beach hotel acknowledging the fact that we were not quite as young as we feel.

We rose the final day nursing a slight hangover, although I think James was putting on a brave face! A couple of coffee’s and breakfast had us away with a quick stop at the Cape Byron lighthouse for some happy snaps, and a glimpse of a pod of dolphins off the shoreline – a reminder of the beauty of Australia and how lucky we are to call it home.  We left Byron for our final leg through to Minyama on the Sunshine Coast QLD to stay with a very good friend Simon, travelling the long way up and over Mount Tamborine we realised that chasing the sun around the world could be harder than first thought with temperatures rising and humidity you could swim in. A quick detour past a bike shop South of Brisbane put a smile on my dial obtaining my much needed top-box, better than the old one and with working keys! James’ Monica had already arrived from Sydney and we were welcomed to the Sunshine state with a dip in Dave and Simon’s waterside pool and a cold beer.

The following day Ryan flew to Melbourne leaving James and I to get down to business, we had ONE day to create the bikes and get them into Freight Customs and onto a plane. Next stop Malaysia!

 

 

 

Melbourne to Sydney – 1351kms

Well, it was an eventful start to the trip – I took a phone call from a police officer on the way to bike up my bike from the bar we’d had drinks the night before

“Mr. Ashton?”

“Yes”

“This is constable Stevens, are you the owner of a black BMW motorcycle?”

I don’t think my heart has ever sunk so fast so quickly, but it turned out to be a complaint from the cafe owner that I’d parked the bike where they wanted to setup their tables and chairs, and that was easily fixed!

It was a properly miserable day when we left – there were no long goodbyes of photo shoots as everybody was getting too wet. But the weather changed as we headed over the Yarra Ranges and it was set to stay like that for the rest of our trip to Sydney.

We’ll be in Sydney until Friday, spending some quality time with our wives, and doing a little more tinkering with the bikes before we head up to Brisbane where the bikes will be crated to fly!

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