Tim Burke is a motorcycle adventurer from Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Being around motorcycles and dirtbikes since a very young age, Tim always longed to one day experience international motorcycle travel. This year in April 2017 he finally decided to go all in. Tim quit his full time job as Airport Management in Seattle and shipped his motorcycle to London to begin a 6 month long motorcycle exploration of Europe. We got to speak to him over emails, where he gave us a good insight on how his trip has been so far and more…
Bhuvan Chowdhary: What made you do it?
Tim Burke: It had always been a dream of mine to ride my motorcycle in all different parts of the world. It was always just a fantasy though. I studied maps and gazed at pictures on the internet and on social media of various countries and cultures. But I would always come up with excuses for myself for why I shouldn’t do it – “I have a great job that I can’t throw away”, or “I have a house and too many belongings that I can’t sell”, or “It’s too expensive”, or “It’s scary to take a leap of faith”…
Eventually, my fantasy turned into an obsession and I was determined to make this dream come true. The only way to do this was by resigning from my job. I sold many of my belongings including my pickup truck and furniture and packed everything I’d need to live for 6 months that could fit on my motorcycle before shipping it to London.
BC: Where are you located right now?
TB: Currently I am in Hamburg, Germany, making my way south from the Arctic Ocean in Nordkapp, Norway. This is on the way towards my next destinations, Scotland and Ireland.
BC: When did you start and where have you been till now ?
TB: My journey started on April 6th from London, UK. From there I crossed into France and worked my way south into Spain, Portugal, even touching the tip of Africa at Morocco. After leaving Morocco, I traced the Mediterranean Sea towards Italy. From Italy, I headed off to explore Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. Then I crossed the Baltic Sea into Sweden and Norway and now I’m back in Germany! So far, I’ve traveled about 30,000miles (48,000km)
BC: Tell us about the bike you are riding and your reason to go with it
TB: For this trip I am using the BMW R 1200 GS. This particular motorcycle is my third GS motorcycle. The last two have been the Adventure version which has a larger fuel tanks and better suspension for off-road use. In total, I have well over 100,000 combined miles (160,000km) on GS motorcycles with no major maintenance issues. It allows me to go almost anywhere I want. The 1200 GS is great off-road, but it is also very comfortable on the highway for when I need to cover lots of miles quickly. Although there are many options of motorcycles on the market (and I’m never willing to ‘be that guy’ who argues which one is the best) the R1200GS just meets my needs and travel-style the most.
BC: How’s the GS been through this trip?
TB: It’s just been perfect. It hasn’t even made me worry once. I had one electrical issue in Greece with a fuse that blew, but it was my fault. I was charging too many devices (cellphone, iPod, GPS) off of one electrical outlet which caused the fuse to blow! Now I only charge one device at a time or use multiple electrical ports.
BC: Any difficulties / challenges that faced during your travels so far?
TB: There are always challenges along the way in every adventure. The biggest of this trip happened in Greece when I fractured a metatarsal bone in my right foot while riding a 50cc scooter without any protective gear (my fault)! I was told my a doctor that I had to sit still for two weeks to let my foot rest. I lasted 5 days before I wrapped my foot tightly and strapped crutches to my motorcycle and continued onward.
Some of the other issues have been theft. I had my tank bag stolen off my bike at a gas station in Marseille, France and an attempted theft of my cell phone in Stuttgart, Germany. Keeping all belongings safe and secure is challenging but with common sense, it’s manageable. The other major challenge (not complaining) is keeping myself on schedule so I can see everything on my to-do list. So many of these countries are so beautiful that it’s hard to leave!
BC: What travels are lined up here on?
TB: As for what the future holds, it’s largely up in the air. I leave mainland-Europe and cross back into the UK this week. I have until mid-September to explore Scotland and Ireland. Due to tourism and immigration laws, my time here in Europe is coming to an end in September. I catch a flight back to North America on September 16th. What happens after that is anybody’s guess. I have South America in my sights though!
BC: What’s been the most incredible riding adventure on this trip so far?
TB: Portugal is an motorcycle adventure’s heaven. Many dirt roads and unique villages make this country beautiful. I travelled Portugal from North to South, almost entirely off-road. That was just awesome!
BC: What was the most memorable country you visited during the trip?
TB: That’s always a difficult question to answer. I know it sounds cliché but every country is beautiful and memorable it their own ways. For me, I’ve always loved the countries that offer “hidden beauties.”…Countries that aren’t alway on the radar for mobs of tourists stuffed in tour busses.
Don’t get me wrong, the Alps are gorgeous, but they are very crowded! Many of the famous mountain passes are jam-packed with people. For this reason, Morocco really stood out to me. The people that live in that beautiful country are kind and honest. Also, there is so much to explore from the massive Atlas mountain range to beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, to the Sahara desert on the east side of the country. It’s affordable and safe.
Every country in the Balkans was really great from a motorcyclist’s point of view too. It’s really hard to narrow down just one!
BC: Anything else you’d like to add for the readers?
TB: Walt Disney said, “The key to getting started is to stop talking and start doing.” While I understand that family commitments or other obligations make a journey like this one impossible (at least very difficult bring to fruition) for many, I want more people to realise that everything we have can disappear in a flash.
We spend too much time being caught up in our daily rituals and comfort zones, we forget how to take risks and pursue adventure. You don’t get to take anything with you when you die, so now is the time to do that “one thing” that you’ve always wanted to do. Hope you see you on the road!
Tim posts routine updates and stories of his travels and experiences on his social media feeds which we highly recommend you follow. He also tries his best to answer all questions and messages that I receive. So be sure to follow him on Instagram and Facebook and keep up with his motorcycle adventures.
Today I begrudgingly left the Lofoten Islands of Norway. The enormity and beauty of these steep mountains and quant fishing villages cannot be captured properly by anything but the human eye. Hopefully, these few pictures serve just a little bit of justice to this slice of heaven. At times, the white sand beaches on some of the islands can trick you into thinking you’re in Hawaii. Other times, the snow capped peaks and glaciers remind you that you are still hours north of the Arctic Circle. These beautiful sights, the new friends on the ferry boat, and new friends via AirBNB will remain etched in my memory of this fairytale land.