Most of us know that sobering ‘is this it?’ feeling but for Sam Pelly it was the catalyst for a complete stripping back of his life and the creation of a new business venture.
The idea for Legendary Motorcycle Adventures
– specialists in slow travel - grew from a two year trip with his family, travelling through Mexico, Belize and Guatemala before settling in the hills of Andalucia.
Pelly says: “I’d inherited a big house, we had a young family and with the stresses and strains of keeping it all going we sort of lost each other for a while. I thought, ‘is this what it really is?’
Sam and his wife Susie took the decision to ‘jump out of the box’ home educating their three girls while they were on the road before settling them into a local Spanish school.
“In Guatemala we were living beside a river with the indigenous people and our three blonde kids running around wild, naked and free and so loved by the locals. It was a golden time for my wife and I and we just found each other again.’
While living in Spain a close friend on the verge of a breakdown came to visit. He was at breaking point and had been advised to seek therapy but Sam took him off into the wilds for a five day trip, camping out by a river, ‘swimming, talking, laughing, crying’ and at the end of it his friend was able to reconnect with himself and get perspective, ennabling him to make significant life changes back at home.
And this, in a nutshell, is what Legendary Motorcycle Adventures (LMA) is all about. Reconnect, recalibrate, refresh is the company mantra. In real terms that means getting your motorbike license (if you haven’t already, LMA can help with this) and heading off for adventure. This is pared back travel albeit with just enough luxury to elevate your road trip into something magical – you’ll sleep in custom-made swags from Austraila (a cross between a sleeping bag and a hanging pod) which are so comfortable, vehement anti-campers are sold. Your vector of transport is a Royal Enfield, light enough to be easy for both men and women to handle (LMA is keen for more women to come on the trips and plans a women only venture for 2018) and sufficiently underpowered, Pelly says, to suit ‘pootling, refined journeys rather than big, Fast & Furious stuff.’
This is key. The whole point of the trip is to feel the wind on your face – open-faced helmets and goggles are worn – to be able to smile and wave at locals as you pass through a village, absorb the scenery (staggering backdrops in Morocco, the Sahara, Andalucia), make regular tea stops just to chat and laugh and admire the view. Time – to look, think, dawdle, take stock and reconnect with the natural world – this is the real essence of an LMA trip.
Of course there’s a fair amount of motorcycle maintenance and LMA’s co-founder Ed Talbot Adams – ex special forces, a man with immense survival skills – is a whizz at this. If he can’t fix it there’s always someone in the next village who can and so the broken bike becomes part of the adventure.
The day’s plan is kept as loose as possible – poring over a huge map at breakfast – and with an end destination in sight, either wild camping or staying in a small hotel, chosen to fit the ethos – this is purist, heritage travel, high on experience and not a speck of plastic in sight. LMA partners include Belstaff and Malle London which supplies leather panniers and other motorcycle accessories.
Pelly puts huge emphasis on nights round the campfire where much of the magic happens. He’ll bring out his guitar and a bottle of whisky, there will be stargazing (another of Talbot Adam’s skills) and sharing of stories and singing, an ancient form of celebration which has been lost to the Western world.
Fireside is where much of the bonding happens and is this is why LMA is particularly suited to families (with older children, you need to be 17 for a licence) or couples who have lost that connection.
Pelly tells of a recent trip with a father and son who were struggling to communicate. The son was obsessed with gaming, the father was finding it hard to get through to him.
“One of my best memories is of the father and son, laughing and singing a duet around the fire (there was whisky involved) self consciously at first but then they started enjoying it and to me it was an amazing moment. The campfire represents something we’ve lost.’
The very nature of the trips – riding an Enfield, cooking over fire, camping out under the stars – has already made LMA hugely popular with the stressed-out, mid-lifer looking for more meaning. But they are also well suited to pretty much any combination - worn out mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, anyone and everyone with a yearning for adventure.
Trips start at £1800 for five days and, as mentioned, LMA can help with getting a motorbike licence. Coming up for 2018 trips to Andalusia 21-6 May and 17-22 September. Corsica - Sardinia adventure 1-12 October and wild Sicilian Adventure 20-31 October.
More information on Legendary Motorcyle Adventures here
The ultimate male Christmas present? We think so.