Learning to plan less

The downside of not knowing where you’re going before you get there is that you don’t know what to pack.

Yesterday I rode the most wonderful mountain road Ma-2141 to a rather forgettable cove/tourist trap called Port de Sa Calobra. Once there and having parked, I decided I wouldn’t trust my belongings to the mercy of whoever might wander by the parked bikes in an area bustling with people. Since I hadn’t brought my PacSafe (a metal net for securing bags and backpacks) or even a basic cable lock, I had to carry my bag of camera gear as well as my riding gear. Normally I don’t mind leaving my helmet or gloves on the bike, but tourist crowds attract all types and even a badly raised and unsupervised child would be enough to cause plenty of damage to an expensive helmet.

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Thus I humped all my gear, much to the bemusement of mostly shorts or swimsuit-clad tourists. Fortunately there was a breeze and my mesh gear was perfectly comfortable. The place, on the other hand, didn’t feel like an environment for me. There were nearly a dozen small restaurants littered around the small cove, and from what I noticed, they were all serving the same kind of cheap-looking but not cheap (thanks to the secluded location) Mediterranean fast food staples. They had even matched prices, so it really didn’t matter where you went for your pizza or panini.

I found myself a quiet spot of shade on the water’s edge, under a restaurant’s wall. I shed my riding gear and enjoyed the sound of the waves almost masking the noise of the crowds. The only other motorcyclists in the area, a middle-aged couple from Germany, were lounging further along the same wall, enjoying a picnic. I wish I had had the foresight to pack lunch.

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It’s easy to pack everything you could conceivably need when you travel solo on a bike with big panniers and know where you’re going. When you’re riding a baby Ducati with no luggage apart from your backpack and have no idea where you’ll end up that day, things will be more adventurous. Unlearning decades of overplanning and just ‘going with it’ isn’t without the occasional hitch.

I’m not sure when I’ll get around to the lesson of trusting strangers (i.e. leaving stuff unsecured on a bike) I keep hearing I should do.

 

Hello World

This is the first post in the Racing Toward The Light (RTTL for short) blog. It’s also my very first blog post ever.

This hot and sunny Friday finds me in Palma de Mallorca and at the first day of a strange kind of a motorcycle trip/holiday for me. I arrived here yesterday with my girlfriend, who’s attending a two-week yoga teacher training. I, on the other hand, went and picked up a 2016 Ducati Scrambler from a scooter rental company. Usually when I travel somewhere I do a road trip in a car or on a bike and have some kind of a plan and a route in mind, but now I have an island, a baby Ducati and 12 days to get to know them both.

After picking up the bike (I’ve yet to think of a name for her) I had a few hours before the first day of yogic shenanigans came to a close, and instead of stopping to consult a map I just headed out in what I hoped to be a northwesterly direction toward the mountains. I had wanted to take one of the medium-sized roads out and get a feel for things in a simple riding environment, but my navigation yielded me a tiny, twisty road instead, that was fortunately also quite devoid of traffic.

While I didn’t feel brave enough to attack the corners at big lean angles, the little Ducky negotiated them with ease and I found the machine pulling with almost adorable pep from the uphill bends. The 803 cc 55 kW 68 Nm twin is not a muscular thing, though, so you need to be in the right gear for effective progress.

After around 45 minutes from setting off, I finally ran into an intersection with no straight ahead option in a small town, and I allowed myself to park the bike and look at a map. Upon dismounting, I was also reminded that I had asked for a passenger helmet from the rental place, and I had attached the spare lid to the rear seat with a loose-fitting cargo net. Fortunately the helmet was still there, despite the bumps, dips and bends of moments before.

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After figuring out where I was, I plotted a loop a little further west, finally joining the main coastal road for a 120 km/h run back into Palma. I had been worried that riding a bike on the motorway would be risky with indifferent car drivers, but maybe thanks to my full riding gear I and the Duck were afforded adequate space, with cars even pulling in to let us past.

Now the Duck is parked kerbside beneath the living room window, awaiting the first full day of adventuring.

I’ll be posting new stuff as things happen and I gain insight into riding a small bike on a medium-sized Mediterranean island.