I’ve spoken quite a bit about preparing Sofia for #Canada, and we have some great clearly marked objectives. We may only achieve them in part, but it will still be a big success for her.
Critical to this is going to be me. In the past travelling as been a survival effort for me. The critical aspect being getting her out & about & encouraging her to ‘see’ the wider world, to destress & if she learns a new skill or makes a development step then mission achieved & it was all worth it.
This year is different. This year my own mental attitude is going to be a model for her main goal on this trip which is to find the present moment of ‘doing’.
So in the coming 3 months (eek! It’s a little less now!) I will be pracitising being in my own zen & fortifying it as much as possible. This is not easy after 13 years of constant high stress & being entirely focused on her needs, but possible now she is at residential school so we are both now more independent of each other.
Sofia is very ready right now to develop this scaffolding for self management evidenced by her increasing awareness of her world. This year on the bike she is aware of vulnerability for the first time & expressed nervousness about going down hills. She is also starting to show signs of reflective thought/self talk. She was zero out of 10 at Christmas, she is now 1 out of 10. This is a huge step forward & now there is a crack in the door I want to fill it with the most powerful strategy I know that will protect her from mental illness in the future.
Please donate to help us raise autism awareness (£10 = 100miles)
The most common two questions I am asked at the moment is, How is Sofia doing in her new school? and How am I doing with this big change?
With the first, Sofia is settling in really well. I have to say that all the travelling she has done, has made the transition really easy for her in that she has the confidence to adapt to her new environment and make the best of it. That is not so say that she is not confronting many challenges, but she seems to be happy to embrace the challenges and for the first time in a school environment, has the opportunity and space to process and recognise those challenges and learn something from them. It is a huge step for her and I have to say that she is making me enormously proud.
For my part, it has been a surreal experience. So reconnect to myself, to remember who I was and what my goals were in life and re-evaluate them in the context of today is quite a journey, and one that I feel can’t be rushed. The conclusions I have drawn are that I will ride the motorbike for my own pleasure and will no doubt seek my own adventures where I can, but I may or may not publish them as part of Adventure with Autism, I don’t have a feel for it yet. I will however be organising a ride from Lands End to John O’groats (the LEGO Adventure) next Summer for Sofia, which will no doubt take us via Wales and Ireland.
Adventure with Autism in the mean time will remain relatively quiet, as it seems to do during the winter months. We are just about to leave for a proper holiday (for a change!) tomorrow on a cruise, and it will be an opportunity to recap the last four years since the last time Sofia took a cruise which started off this big travel adventure for her. I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to film/record it, but we will be going through all the photos I have and reminiscing. Hopefully catching as many of Sofia’s memories before she forgets them. The results of this effort will no doubt leak into social media over the winter months so watch this space!
It’s no secret that I am coming into the motorcycling world a complete noob, not to mention no prior deep interest in mechanical terminology like ‘horse power’ or ‘cylinders’. To me if a machine works, use it, if it doesn’t, get a new one.
Suddenly with this project, all this stuff matters, and not only that, advise given is to try out lots of bikes and get experience and build a preference. Erm, with no license, this is hard to do. So I have followed a journey on cold facts, and interestingly, in many respects, I am not sure that preference would have helped me make the right choice, only an emotional one.
The first thing I learnt very quickly was that the bigger the numbers the bigger the bike. I also learnt very quickly that not all motorbikes have chains, like bicycles. This was a fact I latched on to quickly, because I know about chains on a bicycle, and when it comes off, it can be a fiddle to get back on – heaven knows what that must be like on a motorbike! The other type of motorbike has a drive shaft which sounds much simpler to me, safer, and less likely to go wrong.
So looking at bikes with drive shafts, I immediately honed in on two motorbikes that are designed as adventure touring bikes with this configuration – the BMW 1200GS and the Ural (all their bikes have this configuration).
You really couldn’t get to bikes more opposite on the spectrum of what is available. Its like saying that the choice is between a Bentley and Lada car (if Lada’s where still in production) literally. The BMW 1200GS has every comfort and convenience accounted for on those hazardous roads around the world. The Ural is a solid Russian bike that hasn’t changed much since inception in the 1930s, it was built to last. It has only been in the last year or so that they have included fuel injection as standard, a modern technology that now means that ‘software’ has finally made it onto the Ural. Thankfully the Ural, much like Skoda did in the past, has looked outside of its knowledge base for these upgrades, and in this case I believe that the fuel injection has been supplied by Ducati.
So there we have it. Large choice, suddenly diminished to 2 bikes. I chose the Ural.
1- Sidecar fitting on the BMW changes the standard structure of the bike so that it is no longer supported by warranty. This is actually a very important point. I know many say that the BMW will never break down, especially to the degree where BMW would have to get involved. Personally, with my daughter in tow, I’m not sure I want to take that risk and ride into Africa on belief alone.
The Ural on the other hand is specifically designed with the sidecar, and with the fuel injection upgrade, they now provide warranty cover. All thumbs up with Ural.
2 – Fix-ability is a major issue with the BMW. The motorbike has so much technology now that really you need to have diagnosis tools, software programming degree, and 5 years working in BMW to even have a chance of fixing anything more major than a flat tyre on the road.
The Ural, however, is still as simple as it can be. Not as simple as the carburetor version, but you still have a good chance off fixing most problems with the bike on the road, and if you can’t do it yourself, you can probably find someone with a spanner who can. Strike 2 to Ural.
There are other minor graces of the Ural over the BMW, but needless to say, to me, travelling with my daughter in some remoter areas of the planet, my confidence will be much higher with the Ural. Ok, so it isn’t fast, it isn’t sexy, and it doesn’t have 5 suspension options controlled by a panel on the handle bars, but it works, it gets from A to B, is a lot of fun and if it lets me down, there is a real chance of being able to fix it.
Thank you to everyone who has given me advise over the last few months! I really couldn’t have gone through this process with out your input. If the sidecar wasn’t in play, I think the BMW would have been my top choice.