In 2017 I took my 72 year old mother on a 2-week trip in to the Balkans as passenger on motorcycle adventure. It may sound crazy and flat out weird, but there is more to it.
I’d like to share the Backroad Motorcycle Adventure that I took my mother on, back in 2017 with you. There’s a little back ground story, that I think is worth including, that hopefully will add perspective on the decision of having my 72 year older mother as passenger on such a trip. Both hers and mine.
I lost my father in 2011 after a short, but intense fight with lung cancer. He was diagnosed in February, and he passed away in May. I was on a trip to Bali with my family, when he called to tell the news. I knew he was waiting for the results when I left, but the trip was planned months in advance, and already paid for. He didn’t want me to stay home. It wouldn’t change anything, he said. I asked him to call me no matter the result.
He called in the afternoon, Bali time. I remember the call very clear. Looking back now, I think he deep down knew that this was his death sentence. But at the time, we were all instinctively clinging to every hope we could find. We convinced ourselves that with modern technology, and treatment, it would all be OK. He talked about the different treatments that were available. And if one didn’t work, another one would be available. I am thankful for how optimistic the doctors presented his options. I learned later that they never had high hopes. But it made us appreciate the time we had a lot more, instead of sinking in to a depressed hole where nothing mattered.
He lost the battle a few months later. We were all beside him when he finally passed away. He was drugged with medication, and hooked up to a life support machine. It wasn’t the romantic goodbye you sometimes see on television. I can only hope that he felt no pain, but I don’t know. Needless to say, I miss him a lot.
There is no doubt that I was my father’s son. No matter what I did, he was genuinely interested, supportive, and proud. We had a lot of common interests, like photography, and computers. And where he had a passion in cars, mine was in motorcycles. We talked a lot about those things. I loved telling him about my adventures, both carrier and family, and he was very proud of my achievements.
My wife have always been super supportive of my adventures. She has never asked me not ride. And when the girls have been missing me too much, she has always told them that “This is something daddy has got to do”.
As the girls grew older, this got less and less of an issue. My oldest daughter, being in her early teenage years, have lots of other things on her mind.
As much as I love my wife, my daughters, and my mother, it is not the same, sharing my adventures, with them as it were with my father. Maybe it is gender, maybe it is interest. But it isn’t the same – I totally get that, and they do too. And I am in no way complaining. I feel very privileged.
Presenting the world
It’s not easy to get to the interesting sights, that I encounter on my travels. There are no direct flights. No international airports in close vicinity. And certainly no direct routes from Copenhagen. They do not share the same “the journey is the destination” as I (and as most motorcycle riders) do. They want to get there as quick and comfortable as possible. There’s nothing wrong with that – I can appreciate that 100%. It is just a different type of travel.
So the feeling, “wow, I would have loved to be able to show this to the girls” is something that I get quite often in my travels. But then again, I know they wouldn’t appreciate the getting there.
On a ride through some of the Romanian Carpathians, where I had this “wow” feeling, I started contemplating the idea of having my mother ride with me as a pillion passenger on such an adventure. Her being alone – and at times struggling with lonesomeness after the loss of my father – her husband throughout a lifetime, she could experience by herself what magnificent the small part of the world we travel is, and how humble you get to feel. And how much it broadens your horizon. To understand what it means to travel on a motorcycle adventure. What it really means. And what it does to you. Travel teaches tolerance, as Benjamin Disreali supposedly have said.
I thought a lot about what it would be like, being so close to my mother for two weeks. It wasn’t about what others would say. I’m too old to care about that. I actually thought it would make a funny story.
When I asked her, she did not hesitate to say yes. The hesitation came later. Two weeks, on a motorcycle adventure. Being 72 year old, would she be able to do that? As we would be riding with Thonny, would she mess up the dynamics of the duo? How would Thonny feel about it? All those questions, and concerns of being a burden. Obviously I had thought about all those things even before asking her. If I really thought it would be a problem, I would not have asked her in the first place.
I never meant to replace the adventures that my parents would have in their retirement, had my father still been alive. This trip was for me just as much as it was for her.