Nick and Lesley Poole are back from their incredible motorcycle adventure.
PUBLISHED: 16:59 12 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:51 20 February 2013
Riding into the sunset- After riding more than 90,000 miles across the globe, Norfolk adventurers Nick and Lesley Poole are back. But, as they explained to Rachel Buller, they have no intention of putting awat their passports.
Riding into the sunset
After riding more than 90,000 miles across the globe, Norfolk adventurers Nick and Lesley Poole are back from their incredible motorcycle adventure. But, as they explained to Rachel Buller, they have no intention of putting away their passports.
Gap years spent travelling carefree around the world were once the domain of students wanting to experience some adventure before settling down. But in recent years, more and more retirees the so called grey gappers have grabbed a backpack and followed the travellers trail; few though in such challenging style as former police officers Nick and Lesley Poole.
Their incredible journey has taken the 50-somethings across Canada, the United States, Central and South America, New Zealand, Australia and South East Asia.
For three years they have followed their dreams, letting the road take them wherever they fancied.
It was just them and their trusty BMW motorbike, tackling all terrains, from bumpy mountain roads and muddy jungle tracks to some of the craziest, most congested cities in the world.
Now, the couple is finally back home in Norfolk, reflecting on their trip and settling back into normal life for now at least.
They have just moved into a rented house in Old Costessey, near Norwich, and Lesley concedes she is looking forward to lazy Sunday mornings reading the papers in bed with tea and toast, but adds quickly that wont be enough to keep them in one spot for too long.
Having already squeezed in a mini tour of Ireland and Scotland since returning home, they are now planning to explore Europe and Morocco on pedal bike and, most importantly, are beginning to get excited about their ambitious trip to India in 2011 which they are calling the unfinished business tour.
Political unrest, visa issues and ill health combined to stop them undertaking their exciting planned route home from the last trip, which would have taken in India, Iran and finished in Turkey. It still clearly haunts Nick.
At the end of this trip, we ended up in Bangkok at the same time as the civil unrest involving the Peoples Alliance for Democracy, the airport got shut down and I was ill, and needed to have tests.
It was a disappointing time because we were trying to organise shipping the bike from Bangkok to India for our final leg home. Then our visa ran out, so we had to go back to Kuala Lumpur to sort it, then back again to Thailand. It was all a bit difficult and the biggest disappointment, says Nick.
With their elder son getting married in June, the couple knew they had a deadline to get home by, so with great regret they were forced to abandon their ambitious overland travel plans and head straight back to Norfolk.
But we are determined to do it, says Nick excitedly. We will do a summer season through the Stahns, taking in India, Kashmir, China, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, Iran and ending in Turkey.
The couple met more than 30 years ago. Ian was a motorcyclist with
Norfolk Police and Lesley worked for the Suffolk constabulary.
After meeting on a police training course, they realised they shared a mutual love of motorcycling and got engaged less than two weeks later.
But, as Lesley laughs, being happily married for three decades doesnt mean you will see eye to eye for three years on the road, when it is just the two of you.
Spending all that time with someone non-stop is very different to every day life, she admits. But we are best friends and it was no problem.
The couple, both in their early 50s, concedes many people thought they
were a bit mad to embark on such a daunting trip.
I guess we did everything that our generation was expected to do, get a career, get married, buy a house and have children while we were still very young, says Ian. That was the norm then.
But because of that, we are able to travel now. Weve been lucky enough to retire relatively early, rent out our home and take off.
With their sons, Daniel and Ian, now in their 20s, it seemed like the perfect time.
Their trusty BMW motorbike had just 1,000 miles on the clock when Nick bought it for around 8,000 it now reads more than 103,000, with all but a few miles coming from their trip.
There were some mechanical problems along the way, often in awkwardly remote locations like the Malaysian jungle. But once again they were overwhelmed by the generosity of locals, not only helping find someone to fix the bike, but offering food and shelter while they waited.
It is this generosity and kindness, often from the poorest communities, which will be the enduring memory of their trip, says Lesley. We really can learn a lot from the so-called developing world.
Now theyve had time to reflect, which countries really stood out?
There is no hesitation. Colombia was a clear favourite for them both perhaps a little unexpectedly.
It was really word of mouth from other travellers and locals that persuaded us to go to Colombia or else we would have probably been too wary because of our perception of the region, says Lesley, with a genuine twinkle in her eye.
We were there about a month and a half and loved it. It was a great adventure and people were just so wonderful. Mind you, the coffee was awful, she laughs.
Navigation was not always easy in the region as there were no obvious
It was fun, says Nick. You would just see the carts and the villages and would know it must be the main road. It was when you didnt see anyone travelling you would worry.
Since returning, they have found themselves as unwitting travel advisers, with their website becoming a vital tool for travellers wanting practical advice and tips.
But the couple is delighted they know only too well the value of advice from those who have travelled a similar path having relied on tips from those they met along the way.
Total strangers have found our website or read about our journey in the EDP newspaper and have been in contact, asking advice about things like maintenance, transporting the bike, what routes wed recommend. Its great, Im really pleased, says Nick.
This trip has taught us more than we ever could have imagined, and we have met the most incredible people along the way. We dont underestimate how lucky we have been.