RTW Roxy

The Beginning

The beginning

Hi, I’m Roxy and I’m about to set off on a 10 months long motorcycle trip around the world.

But before I set off, I thought I would write a post about where it all started, to form the complete story.

My real name is Roksana and I’m 23 years old at the time of writing (24 in couple of weeks). I was born in Poland but I have been living in Scotland for the past 8 years (since 2011).

When I moved to Scotland I went to college and then uni to study at first general computing, and then took the software development path. I picked up some part time jobs during my studies and started working as a full time software developer couple years ago, when I graduated from university.

My first time on a motorcycle was when I was around 11 or 12. It was a 50cc motocross bike. We were in the garden when my school mate and his dad asked me if I want to have a shot. I sat on it and they started explaining how gears work, throttle, brakes. I didn’t understand a thing but opened the throttle. I had no idea what I was doing. I was getting close to the hedge fence and I knew I had to turn really soon, but I couldn’t. Bike just kept going straight and I ended up riding into the fence.

In the next year or two I went once or twice on the back of the same school mates dads bike (it was a sports bike but no idea what it was, as I had no idea about bikes back then), but I neither liked it or disliked.

Over the next few years there were no bikes in my life at all. My main passion was ballroom and Latin American dancing which was a huge part of my life. But when I moved to Scotland when I was 16, I was struggling to find any ballroom and Latin American dance schools that were at the same level as my dance school back in Poland. All dance schools that I found were just for fun rather than sport and were attended by people of average age 50-70.

After months of checking out different dance schools, I finally found ballroom and Latin American dance classes that were at high enough level at the university of Edinburgh, attended mostly by university students. But to get there by bus it was 1.5 hours each way from Glasgow including getting to and from the bus station, and to get enough practice I would need to travel there at least 3 times a week. Eventually I gave up.

Around that time, when I was 17, I met Simon. I remember my first thought “he looks so cool” when he got off his 400cc cruiser, in leather jacket, combat trousers and combat boots. We started going out and he took me on the back of his bike few times. That’s when I fell in love with bikes. Our relationship only lasted few weeks, but I missed going out on the back of his bike so much that I decided to get my own bike.

I went to do my basic training (CBT in the UK) together with my mum, as she also liked bikes. It was late November 2012 and weather was not great. I was doing not bad, it took me a while to grasp some of the manoeuvres but was making good progress. My mum was a bit more nervous and they told us to come back at a later date to finish the training (normally it takes 1 day). We got it scheduled for another day couple weeks later, but since it was December already it was snowing and had to reschedule it 3 times. Eventually we got a day when it was not snowing and completed the training.

I was still 17 and didn’t have a job yet. My mum said that she would buy us a bike that we could share, also as a present for my 18th birthday. I spent the next 3 months browsing bike adverts, and finally bought (well, my mum paid for it) a Honda CBR 125 2004 in March 2013. My mum wanted something more of cruiser type, but I preferred sporty type of bikes. In the end I ended up going out on in all the time and my mum didn’t get a chance.

For the first week or two I only rode around the city, mainly to college and back, before I got the confidence to ride further. But after couple of weeks I was doing 30-50 miles rides outside the city already. That’s when I also had my first off, at around 30 mph, wearing leather jacket but no proper trousers, just normal jeans. It was sore. I couldn’t sleep for a week because of the pain and was struggling to walk for a month. Still got a hole in my knee, over 6 years later.

The day when it happened my mum was packing to go away for few weeks, so when I got back home I tried to pretend that nothing happened, even though I was screaming from pain on the inside.

But how do I fix the bike if I have no job = no money to fix it? I desperately started looking for a job. Unfortunately job search was going pretty slow and decided to use the money that my mum left me for food and “just in case”, when she went away. I thought I would explain later and pay her back once I get a job.

I had no idea about fixing bikes so went to the mechanic to fix it. It was back on the road before my mum came back (of course I had to explain where the money went). Only a week later the bike got stolen. I felt devastated. I already made some friends through bikes and they all tried to help me with the search and sharing and asking if anyone seen the bike. 3 weeks later I got a letter from the police that the bike was found. I had to pay 180 pounds to get it back from the recovery place and it was in a pretty bad state. But decided to get it fixed once again and put it back on the road.

By this point I managed to find some part time jobs in the mornings before and after my college classes so now I could afford paying for fuel myself and for the repairs.

I started going out further and further, and absolutely loved it. I met a lot new people through bikes that I would have never met if it wasn’t for bikes. By this point I even stopped thinking about going back to dancing, I found my new passion.

I was out on the bike in every spare moment. Was riding all over Scotland, went to Fort William few times, to Oban, Inverness and a lot of other places. One day I decided to ride to Isle of Skye and back in one day. Unfortunately I had a puncture in the morning but luckily I managed to find a garage that would fix it quickly. It was a long run to Skye so it was important to set off early. By the time my puncture was fixed it was 11am but decided to not let it put me off and went anyway. That day I covered 420 miles.

In (just over) a year I covered some 18.000 miles on this small 125, ending up with 33.000 miles when I sold it.

The minimum age to sit restricted bike test (A2) is 19, and to get full unrestricted licence it is two years wait from the day of getting A2 licence (21), or minimum 24 if going straight for a full tested without doing restricted test first.

Of course I couldn’t wait to get bigger bike so few weeks before my 19th birthday I booked my big bike lessons to start them a day after my 19th birthday. I also bought the bike – Suzuki GSX 650f 2008 couple months before my 19th birthday. I got the bike transported straight to the mechanic to fit the tracker, lower the bike and generally prepare it for me so that it’s ready as soon as I pass my test.

End of July 2014, I did all my tests – theory, module 1 and module 2, passed all first time. I was so excited to get on a bigger bike. It felt big at first, but after some 15 minutes or so I noticed that it’s actually easier to control than a 125.

I put my CBR 125 up for sale. I dropped it so many times, a lot of bits were broken, everything was cable tied to hold fairings in place. I put it up for £500 and was bombarded with the messages. It was sold the same day.

Few days after passing my test, one of my mates was going to go to Manchester to buy a new bike. He was going to take the train down, but I said to him to get on the back of my bike and I’ll take him down (it was 3 hours ride each way). It was my first longer trip on the GSX and first time riding with pillion.

September 2015. Just over year since I started riding the GSX, and done well over 20.000 miles on it. I wanted to go to Poland to visit my family as I’ve not been there for 2 years. My obvious choice in the past would be to fly there, but how could I possibly survive a week with no bike? I decided to ride there instead, it was only 1200 miles each way. But what if something goes wrong? I decided to buy European breakdown cover just in case and decided to go for it and see what happens.

There was a funeral of a well known local biker on the day when I was going to set off. I didn’t know him personally but decided to attend it with some of my biking mates who knew him. After the funeral I waved them goodbye, “see you all in a week” and headed south for the Dover-Calais ferry. 500 miles and 1 ferry crossing later, I was in France. I didn’t book any hotel, I thought I will see how tired I am and either find some room along the way or just keep going. I decided to keep going and got to Poland around 6pm, in less than 24 hours since setting off. Spent 5 days there before heading back when I done another 1200 miles also in under 24 hours.

No problems with the bike or anything at all. I wanted more.

May 2016, I was about to set off on my first real European trip (previous one was just riding to Poland there and back). I booked time off work and started packing a night before. Only to realise that my passport has expired! I had to cancel my holidays and ended up going on this trip in June after I got my new passport. Originally one of my mates was going to go with me, but things didn’t quite work out and I went on my own. Didn’t exactly want to go on my own but decided to not let it stop me and went anyway.

I didn’t have any specific routes planned – I wanted to go to Pyreenes. Also wanted to do Alps but didn’t know what sort of daily mileages to expect and how much time I would spend in Pyrenees. I decided to head to Pyrenees and if I’ve got enough time left then maybe Alps. Since I didn’t exactly know where I was going I didn’t have any hotels booked, decided to use some of the hotel booking websites and book rooms each day as I go. I ended up doing both Pyrenees and French and Swiss Alps all the way up to Stelvio on that trip. 4350 miles, 9 days.

After that I wanted more.

August 2016. Two years have passed since I did my A2 restricted bike test (restricted to 47hp). After 2 years of having A2 licence I was able to sit my full unrestricted test. I booked my module 1 test a day after 2 years were up. Passed, all good. My module 2 was booked for few days later. Failed. The silliest mistake ever – during my test while waiting at the red light I noticed other bikes going the other way. I looked at all of them passing by and the light changed to green in the meantime, and I was still sitting there at lights.

Few months earlier I bought a new bike – Honda Fireblade 900rr 1998 for when I pass my full test. It was a bit “beaten up”, written off twice (but it was put back on the road), and it was cheap. I thought I would get it just for now (ended up putting 40.000 miles on it), do a make over (fit new fairings etc) and buy another bike in better condition later.

September 2016. I decided to do another, bigger trip only few months since the previous one. Since I still only had restricted licence I had to take the GSX (that was restricted to 47hp). I wanted to do the Scandinavia and wanted to ride to the furthest northern point in Europe – Nordkapp. I could only get 2 weeks off work so I didn’t know if I would manage to get that far north, I thought I would just go and see how far I get. But I made it to Nordkapp. I decided to camp on this trip and except the first 3 nights that I spent with my family in Poland, I was camping the whole trip. 7000 miles, 15 days. £1500 speeding fine near Tromso (they were “kind enough” to offer me the fine – apparently I should have went to jail).

Back home, 2nd attemp at my full test, fail again. Apparently I was riding too close to parked cars in 20mph zone. 3rd attempt, fail again. I thought I was never going to pass. The worst thing was that the tests that I was doing now were exactly the same as module 1 and 2 that I sat two years ago, with the only difference that this time I was on a 50cc bigger bike. October 2016, 4th attempt, finally passed.

May 2017. I was desperate to do another European trip. When I finally passed my full test I decided to keep the GSX as a winter bike or just in case Fireblade breaks. But I ended up always being out on the Fireblade and stopped using the GSX completely. I decided to take Fireblade on this trip. The only issue was that I couldn’t find cheap enough breakdown cover, since it was almost 20 years old bike. But I thought I will go anyway and see what happens.

On this trip I wanted to do Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, maybe Montenegro and Bosnia, maybe even Albania depending how it goes. Ended up going as far as Montenegro, didn’t do Albania. I was camping for the most of this trip, only took a room a couple of times. I fell in love with Montenegro, met some of the friendliest people there and scenery was just amazing.

Fireblade after the make-over, in Austria.

All was going well, on the way back I did Grossglockner mountain pass in Alps that I was really looking forward to. Spent half a day riding up and down the pass – it was a heaven for bikers.

After I did Grossglocker it was time to ride back home. 10 minutes later I felt something not right in my rear wheel, like a flat tyre. But the tyre wasn’t flat. I didn’t really know what it was. Some people suggested collapsed bearings.

I had to get back home somehow so I had to try and keep going. I thought I would try and ride 500 miles at least to the ferry back to UK and then phone my breakdown cover (I didn’t have European breakdown cover but had the UK one). It was probably the worst ride ever, but made it to the ferry. Once in the UK I thought, I managed to ride 500 miles on collapsed bearings, I can try and keep going another 500 miles to get back home to Glasgow. I ended up riding back 1000 miles in total from Austria back to Glasgow with collapsed wheel bearings and sprocket carrier bearing.

October 2017, although I really liked my 900rr Fireblade I wanted to try faster bikes. 900rr is pretty fast but it was really “beaten up” after being written off 3 times (twice before I bought it and then I wrote it off once more). I wanted to try 1000cc bike and that’s when this 1000cc 2008 Fireblade (with 2012 shape fairings) popped up for sale:

I only had just enough money in my bank account to buy it, leaving me with couple hundred pounds left for the rest of the month, but it was a good deal and I bought it. I wasn’t planning on doing any touring on this bike and actually managed to stay true to my word. It was great for the weekend fast pace kind of ride outs, I loved it. Also did a couple of track days on it but it was raining each time so it was not so fun (I’ve also done a couple of track days on my old 900rr).

I decided to give this bike a make over as well:

Kept my old 900rr Fireblade though for getting to work and back and for touring.

April 2018, almost a year has passed since my last European trip and I couldn’t wait to get away again. I wanted to do another big trip, maybe even bigger than the Scandinavian one. Wanted to ride to Greece as I haven’t been there yet, and then over to Italy. I had 2 weeks for this trip (17 days in total including the weekend, I set off straight from work on Friday). Ended up doing 6500 miles on this trip.

This trip was no less eventful than the other ones, maybe even the most eventful of all of them. I wrote about all of my adventures from this trip and the previous ones on my blog.

It was shortly after this trip when I looked at the map and realised that I ticked off almost all European countries. I was thinking, where do I go next? I really wanted to go further, outside Europe. Maybe China, or Himalayas? But surely I wouldn’t be able to take that much time off work. I also sort of had this idea of going around the world on the bike one day, but this idea seemed very distant – maybe in 2, 3 or 5 years time. I didn’t have any savings and it would take a long time to save up.

But in the coming weeks I couldn’t get rid of this idea of going around the world, it was stuck in my head.

Then I decided – either now or never.

Since then I also did another smaller European trip to Spain and Portugal in September 2018, covering 4200 miles in 6 days.

Miles I’ve done on each of my old bikes:

  • CBR 125 – 18.000 miles done myself ending up with 33.000 miles on the clock in total when I sold it
  • GSX 650F – 51.000 miles, sold with 58.000 on the clock
  • CBR 900RR 1998 – 41.000 miles, sold with over 58.000 on the clock
  • CBR 1000RR 2008 – around 10.000 miles, sold with 16.000 on the clock
  • CBR 900RR 1999 – bought with 24.000 miles, done about 3.000 miles so far and counting! About to do a 40 to 80.000 miles trip around the world on it.

In total I have covered some 123.000 miles across all my bikes so far.

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The Beginning

92 thoughts on “The Beginning

  1. Great stuff and good luck on the around world trip. There’s nothing better than the buzz of going on a motorbike journey. In fact, tomorrow I’m going to ride up to the Lakes and over Hardknott pass. I’ll be looking out your reports. Happy touring!

  2. Wow.! What a great story and you are a real inspiration Roxy.
    I’ve been riding 23 years on and off (mortgage, kids, life has sometimes got in the way of bike ownership!). I’ve never really gone far on the bike but my wife and I are about to take our first trip to France on our 1996 Bandit. Hopefully the first of many.
    Travel safe and if you’re ever in Devon give us a shout.

  3. This is such a great story Roxy, and I’ve said before that you are an inspiration. Really excited for your trip …stay safe and have an amazing trip !

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