My first organised motorcycle tour has been a raging success and I’d fully recommend it for a couple, particularly in countries where you aren’t confident with the route, customs and language.
We’ve just finished a 19-day tour through Mexico, Guatemala and Belize with Ferris Wheels Motorcycle Safaris (soon to be known as World on Wheels) and it was a breeze, despite language barriers, intricate road systems, almost non-existent signs and complex border crossings.
We usually organise our own tours and it takes a lot of planning. But riding solo in countries such as the USA and New Zealand is a piece of cake compared with places such as Mexico, Guatemala and Belize.
So after our first organised motorcycle tour, I’m keen to take on more tours to exotic locations.
An organised trip takes a lot of the pressure off me as I am usually the one who plans where we will stay and dine. On this trip, all hotels and restaurants were organised. Sometimes, even the meals were chosen for us which takes the pressure off reading a foreign menu.
My favourite part of an organised motorcycle tour with Ferris Wheels Motorcycle Safaris is the support vehicle.
That means I can bring more luggage, so I can have a different outfit every night. Riding solo, we always have to cut down on luggage which means frequent washing and the same outfit each evening.
It also allows me to do some shopping along the way without having to worry about whether it will fit in the bike panniers.
Safety is a big plus on an organised tour. You have the handy safety net of a back-up vehicle, plus the support of other riders and experienced tour organisers.
If you have a breakdown, run out of fuel, have a fall or get into trouble with the law, they are there to pick you up, dust you off and get you on your way again.
And, riding through a country where they don’t speak English, it’s always nice to be able to ring up your local country “fixer” in the support vehicle to help talk you out of a situation such as we had when we were detained at a police roadblock.
It is also very difficult to get lost because you have a corner-marking system to keep you on track.
Most of all I love the mix of people attracted to these adventurous tours. They come from all walks of life. Our trip had millionaires, professionals, tradespeople and retirees. And they are all go-getters with an adventurous spirit and a fascinating story to tell.
As much as I love and enjoy MBW’s company, having other interesting people to talk to provides plenty of stimulating dinner conversation. And the presence of women allows me to talk about more interesting subjects than engines and wheelies.
A good mix of company makes the trip so much more enjoyable and I think we’ve now started some invaluable long-lasting friendships.
There really aren’t many cons to an organised motorcycle tour.
Perhaps the biggest drawback for an overly organised, micro-managing control freak like me is that you can only be as fast as the slowest person in the group.
If someone stops for a mechanical problem, to go to the toilet, to have a smoke or because they are lost, then it holds up everyone. I’ll just have to learn to be more patient.
Not that it worried us, but some people might feel the pressure to forge ahead and not keep people waiting while you stop for a photograph or rest.
There can also be problems with some people not pulling their weight with such issues as corner marking, packing the luggage in the support vehicle or remembering to pay for their drinks at dinner.
For an organised trip to run smoothly, it has to stick to a schedule which doesn’t allow for much flexibility for people with diverse interests, such as shopping! Maybe that’s a good thing for my purse, though.
Finally, most motorcycle trips will probably have more men than women, so the dinner conversation can sometimes be a bit technical and boring. But I enjoy the challenge of diverting the conversation to something more interesting.
The safety, camaraderie and practicality of an organised trip far outweigh any cons.
That doesn’t mean we won’t be doing tours on our own anymore. But when it comes to a destination which could be a bit challenging, I think I’ll opt for an organised tour run by experienced travellers such as Mike and Denise Ferris. Not only are they professional, but they are fun and engaging people who become your friends by the end of the tour.
Now I’ve just go to decide between Turkey and Morocco for our next destination!