Back on the road
The last few weeks have been a stressful, hectic but at times, enlightening experience. I have had to remind myself that it wouldn’t be much of an adventure if everything turned out as planned.
After it began to sink in that my bike had been stolen, my sole purpose became doing whatever I could to get it back. To lose my bike so close to the end of this stage threw the whole trip into jeopardy and left me for a brief time, not knowing what to do next.
Whilst I had never named my bike, it’s sudden absence brought home just how much it had come to mean to me. Not only a faultless piece of machinery but one that carried me across three continents, thousands of kilometres and through countless emotions and experiences.
The premeditated theft shattered the illusion of safety and hospitality I had so far enjoyed riding through the developing world, and it was with a combination of rage and grief that motivated me to first get my bike back safely, and then break the knees of whoever had taken it.
I was painfully aware that it would be soon be broken down for parts and that these unlikely goals were just that, but I couldn’t leave without trying.
My visits to the police station were met with a lack of care, thinly veiled by the language barrier. Weeks later, I have yet to see the surveillance footage from the Government building opposite the hostel and I can now sympathise with many Hungarians dissatisfaction with their current establishment.
So I turned to the internet in the hopes of raising the bikes profile so that it may be identified, contacting every biker, club and shop I could find. Not only getting the details out there, it also led to a number of people contacting me with media contacts which came in handy.
One of the many people who offered to help was Ferry, from Ferry’s Custom Bikes. A well known figure in the Hungarian bike community Ferry was instrumental in the search from translating at the police station, inviting me to local Bike Club and doing whatever he could to help. I could not have got as far as I did without him.
Committed to continue at least as far as London, I very nearly bought a bicycle to continue. However then the theft started to get some attention and the response was overwhelming
And thanks to a friend back home it even came to Charley Boormans attention..
Many offers of help came in from Hungary and overseas, with many people offering to lend me a bike and some even offering to start a fund for a new one.
With the DRZ gone I was very fortunate to receive an offer from Honda Europe to lend me their NC750X “Press bike”. They were happy for me to drive it to London and were incredibly supportive of the trip.
I am still hopeful to get my DRZ back but I realise this is unlikely. Undertaking a trip like this has put a lot in perspective. I have always been fortunate to be in a position to travel this way at all, and like all dangerous journeys a lot could have gone wrong. Having more near death experiences than I care to recount and already being locked up once I know that things could be much worse.
Riding away from Budapest I was sad to be leaving without the bike but touched by the generosity I had received from every Hungarian who was outraged that it had been stolen there. My theft was not a particularly special one but the empathy I have received because of it will stay with me.
Whilst a devastating turn to the trip, the experiences and friends made during my extended time in Budapest have ensured that I will remember Hungary for many of the “right” reasons as opposed to just one “wrong” one.