Updated: Jan 18, 2019
I used to joke that it was impossible for me to have a midlife crisis. After all, I rode motorbikes for a living and – intermittently, anyway – played guitar in punk bands. My version of a midlife crisis, I said, would be joining the parish council and getting a Fair Isle sweater. If only I'd realised.
In fact, what I really did was work 60-70 hours a week, then disappear for long trips on motorbikes, ignoring the damage this was doing to my marriage. Eventually I worked it out... but by then it was too late. "There is nothing left to save," my (ex)wife told me.
And that's when I snapped. Quit the job on the spot. Ran away from the family home. Decided to run all the way to Australia. Welcome to my midlife crisis.
Except... nothing's ever that neat and tidy. For a start, there's all the tedious detail (that I won't bore you with) of getting divorced when you're in your late 40s – house to sell, kids to provide for, notice to work, papers to sign and so on. Without doing a complete Reggie Perrin, it's impossible to run off in the middle of the night. You have to get Alexa to schedule it for you, these days.
So that's when things started to get interesting. Because that's when I started asking myself why I was even thinking about getting on a plane. Why would I fly to Australia? I'd never have another opportunity to ride around the world. I'd put myself in the position of having no job, no family, no commitments... no reason not to live-out the boyhood fantasy. There was nothing to stop me embarking on the Big Stupid Trip of a Lifetime.
Except… even that's not so simple. Because what began as the ultimate flouncing-out gesture to finish the argument as my marriage collapsed in a single agonising half hour ("Well, I'm going to emigrate to Australia, then...") began to look a bit foolish when I realised my kids are staying in the UK. That my parents, who are getting older and more likely to need me, are staying in the UK. That my unexpected and brilliant new girlfriend – who feels like a one-in-a-million second chance at actual happiness – is staying in the UK.
But none of them ride bikes. To hell with it... I'm still going! I'll still never have another chance to ride around the world. I'll never get another chance to do the Big Stupid Trip of a Lifetime. I'll just have to come back at the end of it.
And that's what really brings us to this point: leaving the world of magazines and setting up on my own to try doing something different, but still largely based around riding and writing about bikes. And I'll do the Big Stupid Trip of a Lifetime as well. I hope you'll come along for the ride.