With the exception of ten days in South Africa and three days in Italy, John and I had not ridden just the two of us since December 2012. Most of our trip in Africa had been with anywhere between 60 and 90 other folk. Through Italy and France we had been joined by Thijs, a Dutch rider we had met on that Africa trip. While meeting new people is a real joy of travel the addition of new folk to what has, over time, become quite a set dynamic can also be difficult.
In Africa it took me a while to adjust, slowly finding new people to ride with so John could go at his more natural pace, rather than having to wait for me. On our European leg it was noticeable that increasing our group size by 50 percent led to subsequent compromise and adaptation. While there are of course also many bonuses to being joined by others it’s also good to be back to our “routine”.
As Director of Strategy it’s my job to plan overall directions, assess risks and opportunities and propose outline ideas. For example, on our current trip I outlined a general route from Singapore to Bangkok, determine how best to cross through into Thailand (parts of the border are deemed unsafe by the Foreign office and Lonely planet) and read the guidebook to collect suggestions on places to visit along the way. I usually follow this up with plane and hotel bookings, getting insurance cover and acting as tour guide. While travelling I take on the role of accountant – keeping hold of kitty money and a financial tally if needed.
John is much more the do-er… Director of Operations. An expert at bike assembly and dismantling, trained chef, chief maintenance engineer and detailed route planner. Rarely have I needed to put air in my tyres and on arriving and leaving our destinations John will help with luggage as needed. Trust me, while I can be a stubborn and independent soul, this is much appreciated after a long day in the saddle. While travelling John will keep detailed records of distance, locations and places visited. In Africa he was renowned for being up to date in his little black book and I would often need to borrow it, collecting information in a more retrospective fashion.
When it comes to PR we share responsibility. I keep business cards and look after external promotion – John is the photographer. We both keep blogs but while I may look at a press release John is busy sharing photographs and experiences with friends back home.
Other than the fact that I’m a little slower we seem to have made great travel partners despite having met only three times before our journey began. We couldn’t do the trip without each other…or finding someone else and then hoping we both fall into complimentary roles, working to our strengths and doing what we enjoy. Sometimes we have tough days but for now I’m just chuffed that we’re still going and plan to do more.