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T minus 14% and counting

15 August, 2015

T minus 14% and counting

“I just found out that my friend, Walter Astrada, who I met in Mexico in 2012 at Enric Marti’s home, had a breakdown on his bike. Walter is going around the world for the last three months with “Athena”, the name of his bike, as his only companion and of which its strengths failed Kyrgyzstan.

I read his blog’s last entry where he says that although he has not lost optimism, it’s hard to keep it up. From here I send him strengths so he can finish his journey worthy of a Greek epic through our vast world.

He is the kind of individual that makes you punch the table and think that human beings are capable of doing incredible things. Walter shows that with enough will to fly will one can do anything such as the feat he will achieve. Good Luck”

Diego Sanchez, 17 years old.

This is one of the many ways that people have shown their support and affection in the last 15 days as I tried to resuscitate Athena in Osh, Kyrgyzstan.

I have also received financial support from donations and the sales of photographs on this site. While I have done so individually before, I want to also show my gratitude here as well.

15 days ago, cruising through the road to Pamir, the mythic M41, a stone dragged by the motorcycle’s chain made a 5cm wound in Athena’s engine, creating a severe oil leak. You can read what happened in A Stone on the Way.

To fix the damage made by the stone, we had to weld a section of the engine. This reduced the space where the sprocket fits, a small ninja-star-like piece that moves the chain. I had to wait 8 days until the arrival of a smaller sprocket from Madrid with the uncertainty if it would be effective or not.

To bring back Athena into operation has taken me exactly 14% of the time I have been travelling. However, if I continue, this time will become proportionally smaller and smaller until it becomes just another anecdote.

This is where the biggest difference lies between travelling for an undetermined time and travelling within a finite amount of time. Through Muz Too’s workshop, a motorcycle travel agency where I already have a VIP card and two chickens acting as my assistants, a very varied sort of bike travellers come and go with various breakdowns and other problems.

Some travellers with more severe problems than others had to cancel their trips and go home, because the breakdowns would have cost them too much of the remainder of their journey. Others, like Mike and Brando, have been lucky; a German traveller brought them a suspension piece for one of their bikes and so they can complete their trip to Vladivostok before having to go back to work in 20 days.

In situations like these, where it’s hard to keep up the optimistic attitude as a consequence of the time you spend fixing breakdowns, is when you see different ways of facing problems and different ways of travelling. I have learnt to fix things that in Europe we would likely toss away. I have learnt to think about solutions until the very last resort. A small screw is not thrown away regardless of how small it is. All pieces, of all shapes and sizes, are kept because they may be useful to someone else in a tight situation.

The exchange of information and advice I’ve had with other bikers during this time has been an invaluable fountain of knowledge. I have also met again with other travellers like Chris, with whom I crossed a good chunk of Uzbekistan and never stops making jokes about how infallible his bike is and the rest of us, lesser mortals, can’t stop having problems.

I have learned a lot about myself, on how to keep up a brave face and keep a positive mind-set even after I had to wait 8 days for the spare part to arrive. Even when it did, Athena kept on leaking oil so I had to re-do some of the work already done. The moving of Athena around had opened another leak.

Having a no-return date makes time relative. It allows me to affront problems and issues with another state of mind and attitude. I believe this is one of the key points of this journey.

Now that the bike is fixed, the only thing that worries me is crossing Mongolia and getting to Vladivostok before the winter gets there. For this, time will be implacable.

  1. silvio says:

    Que temple Walter! conocedor de motos (de la viejas, mi época) te sigo y sufro con tus averías y las condiciones en las que viajas. Te mando un abrazón, deseando Athena te permita continuar.
    Las fotos que publicas son para el deleite. Desde el Oeste, deseo no tengas tropiezos y que puedas seguir mostrando. El archivo que me
    enviaste está instalado y voy probando cual se asemeja alque usas. Gracias por todo, es un honor compartir este tramo de tu vida.

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