A Motorcycle Adventure Along the Majestic Mekong River

Feb 2024

Embarking on a motorcycle journey through Northern Thailand offers a glimpse into a world of unparalleled beauty and adventure. But when your route traces the winding path of the mighty Mekong River, the experience transcends mere travel—it becomes a soul-stirring odyssey through landscapes of incomparable splendor.

As the engine roars to life, and the road unfolds beneath the wheels, the anticipation builds. The Mekong, a lifeline for countless communities, stretches out before me, its waters shimmering in the golden light of dawn. From its humble origins in the Tibetan Plateau to its journey through the heart of Southeast Asia, the river weaves a tapestry of stories and secrets along its banks.

Riding alongside the Mekong, I’m struck by the sheer grandeur of nature’s masterpiece. Towering cliffs rise from the water’s edge, their rugged faces carved by centuries of wind and rain. Lush greenery blankets the landscape, a testament to the river’s life-giving bounty. And in the distance, the mist-shrouded peaks of Laos beckon, their mystique adding to the allure of the journey.

As I navigate the twists and turns of the road, the rhythmic pulse of the Mekong serves as a constant companion. Its gentle murmur is a soothing melody, a reminder of the timeless flow of life. And with each passing mile, I’m reminded of the privilege of being able to witness such natural beauty up close.

But beyond the awe-inspiring scenery lies a deeper connection to the land and its people. Along the way, I encounter villages where time seems to stand still, their traditional way of life preserved in the face of modernity. Fishermen ply the waters in wooden boats, casting their nets in search of the day’s catch. Children play along the riverbanks, their laughter echoing across the water.

As I pause to take in the scene, a sense of gratitude washes over me. To be able to experience the Mekong in all its glory, to feel the wind on my face and the sun on my skin—it’s a privilege that I don’t take for granted. In a world that often feels chaotic and uncertain, moments like these remind me of the simple joys of existence.

As the day draws to a close and the sun dips below the horizon, I reluctantly bid farewell to the Mekong. But its memory will linger long after the journey is over, a reminder of the beauty that exists in the world and the power of the open road to awaken the soul.

In the end, it’s not just about the destination—it’s about the journey itself, and the moments of wonder and awe that await around every bend. And for those who dare to embark on a motorcycle adventure along the Mekong River, the rewards are as boundless as the waters themselves.

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Riding Through the Charms and Challenges: A Motorcycle Journey from Chiang Rai to Mae Sai

Feb 2024

The open road, the wind in your face, and the hum of the engine beneath you—it’s the epitome of freedom. For motorcycle enthusiasts, few experiences rival the thrill of exploring new landscapes astride their trusty steeds. And for those seeking an adventure off the beaten path, the scenic route from Chiang Rai to Mae Sai in Thailand promises an unforgettable ride.

Setting off from Chiang Rai, the journey unfolds with breathtaking scenery at every turn. The lush greenery of the countryside, punctuated by mist-covered mountains, creates a picturesque backdrop. But what truly captures the essence of rural Thailand is the sight of water buffalo leisurely grazing along the roadside. These gentle giants, seemingly oblivious to the passing traffic, add an authentic charm to the journey.

Yet, amidst the tranquility of the countryside, one cannot ignore the adrenaline-inducing chaos of Thai traffic. The driving style here is a unique blend of assertiveness and flexibility, where lanes are more of a suggestion than a rule. Negotiating through the bustling streets requires a keen sense of awareness and a healthy dose of patience. But for the intrepid traveler, it’s all part of the adventure.

As the road stretches onward, Mae Sai beckons with promises of vibrant markets and cultural treasures. Upon arrival, the bustling market scene captivates the senses. The air is filled with the aroma of exotic spices and sizzling street food, while colorful stalls overflow with textiles, handicrafts, and trinkets. Navigating through the maze of vendors, one can’t help but be drawn into the vibrant tapestry of sights, sounds, and flavors that define Mae Sai.

But as the day draws to a close, the journey home takes on a new dimension of challenge. Setting out once more, the fading light casts long shadows across the road. And in the final stretch, darkness descends, revealing the harsh reality of nighttime travel in rural Thailand. Not all vehicles are equipped with proper lights, and navigating through the darkness becomes a precarious endeavor.

For the weary traveler, each passing vehicle becomes a potential hazard, their dimly lit forms barely visible in the inky blackness. Yet, amidst the uncertainty, there’s a sense of exhilaration that comes with conquering the unknown. With every twist and turn, the road becomes a test of skill and nerve, as the headlights of oncoming traffic pierce the darkness like beacons in the night.

As the journey comes to an end, there’s a profound sense of accomplishment in having navigated the perils of the road. From the serene countryside to the chaotic streets, and finally to the darkened highways, the motorcycle journey from Chiang Rai to Mae Sai is a testament to the beauty and challenges of exploration. And for those who dare to embark on this unforgettable adventure, the memories forged along the way will last a lifetime.

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Riding Through the Twisty Mountains: Exploring Phu Sang Waterfall on Two Wheels

Feb 2024

Nestled amidst the rugged terrain of northern Thailand lies a hidden gem waiting to be discovered—the Phu Sang Waterfall. While the dry season may have tempered its flow, the beauty of this natural wonder remains undiminished. And what better way to experience it than on the back of a motorcycle, navigating the twisty mountain roads that lead to its tranquil embrace.

As I set out from the quaint village where I was staying, the anticipation of the journey ahead fills me with excitement. The morning sun casts a golden hue over the landscape, illuminating the verdant hills and winding roads that lie ahead. With each twist and turn of the throttle, I feel a sense of freedom and exhilaration wash over me.

Riding through twisty mountains is an experience like no other. The road unfurls before me like a ribbon, snaking its way through dense forests and sheer cliffs. Every curve presents a new challenge, a test of skill and concentration. But with each maneuver, there’s a thrill that comes from mastering the art of cornering, leaning into the curves with precision and control.

As I ascend higher into the mountains, the air grows cooler, and the scenery becomes more breathtaking. Towering limestone cliffs loom overhead, their jagged peaks reaching towards the sky. The lush vegetation that lines the roadside dances in the breeze, a symphony of greens and browns that stretches as far as the eye can see.

But amidst the natural splendor, there’s a sense of solitude that envelops me. The only sounds are the rumble of the engine and the occasional chirp of a bird in the distance. It’s a moment of quiet contemplation, a chance to reconnect with nature and leave the worries of the world behind.

Arriving at Phu Sang Waterfall, I’m greeted by a sight that takes my breath away. Though the water may be low, its beauty is undeniable. Cascading down from rocky outcrops above, the crystal-clear streams shimmer in the sunlight, casting rainbow-hued reflections on the surrounding rocks.

Taking a moment to soak in the serenity of the falls, I feel a sense of gratitude wash over me. Gratitude for the opportunity to explore such remote and untouched beauty. Gratitude for the freedom that comes from traveling on two wheels. And gratitude for the simple joys that nature provides, even in the midst of the dry season.

As I reluctantly make my way back to the village, the memory of the journey lingers in my mind. The twists and turns of the mountain roads, the awe-inspiring beauty of Phu Sang Waterfall—it’s an experience that will stay with me long after the journey is over. And for anyone seeking adventure off the beaten path, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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Delving into the Depths: Exploring the Mysteries of Tham Luang Cave

Nestled amidst the lush jungles of northern Thailand lies a natural wonder steeped in both beauty and mystery—the Tham Luang Cave. Carved over millennia by the relentless force of water, this sprawling underground labyrinth has captured the imaginations of adventurers and explorers from around the world. And as I embark on my own journey into its depths, I can’t help but feel a sense of excitement and trepidation at what lies ahead.

As I make my way through the dense foliage that surrounds the cave entrance, a sense of anticipation builds within me. The air is thick with the scent of earth and vegetation, and the sounds of the jungle seem to fade into the distance. Stepping into the cool darkness of the cave, I’m immediately struck by the otherworldly beauty that surrounds me. Stalactites and stalagmites stretch towards the ceiling like ancient sentinels, their intricate formations illuminated by the soft glow of my flashlight.

But as I venture deeper into the cave, I’m reminded of the harrowing ordeal that unfolded here not so long ago. In June 2018, twelve young boys and their soccer coach found themselves trapped deep within the labyrinthine passages of Tham Luang Cave, after heavy rains flooded its entrance. What followed was a remarkable display of international cooperation and heroism, as rescuers from around the world worked tirelessly to free the trapped boys. After an agonizing 18-day ordeal, all twelve boys and their coach were safely rescued, in a testament to the power of human resilience and compassion. The successful rescue mission captured the hearts of people around the globe, and serves as a poignant reminder of the inherent dangers that lie within the depths of Tham Luang Cave.

As I continue my own exploration of the cave, I’m filled with a profound sense of reverence for the resilience of the human spirit, and the beauty and majesty of the natural world. Tham Luang Cave is more than just a geological wonder—it’s a symbol of hope, courage, and the triumph of the human spirit in the face of adversity. And as I emerge from its depths into the warm embrace of the sunlit jungle, I carry with me a newfound appreciation for the wonders that lie beneath the surface, both within the cave and within ourselves.

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When Adventure Hits a Bump: A Tale of Resilience on the Roads of Northern Thailand

Embarking on a motorcycle adventure through the mountains of Northern Thailand promises thrills, breathtaking vistas, and moments of pure exhilaration. But as any seasoned rider knows, the open road can also present its fair share of challenges and unexpected twists. Such was the case on a recent journey through the rugged terrain, where a broken chain left me stranded at the side of the highway, with only the scorching sun and the swaying bamboo trees for company.

As the chain snapped with a sharp crack, my heart sank. The realization of being stranded in the midst of nowhere, under the sweltering heat of the Thai sun, threatened to dampen my spirits. Yet, as an experienced adventure motorcyclist, I knew that staying calm and focused was crucial in such situations. With a deep breath, I assessed the situation and began to formulate a plan.

My brother, my trusted riding companion, volunteered to make the long journey back home, over 45 minutes away, to retrieve a new chain and the necessary tools. Despite the inconvenience, there was no hesitation in his offer—just the determination to get us back on the road as soon as possible. Left alone by the roadside, I found solace in the knowledge that help was on the way, and that this was merely another chapter in the grand adventure of motorcycle travel.

As the minutes turned into hours, the heat intensified, and the stillness became almost unbearable at times. Yet, I remained undaunted, finding comfort in the resilience of the human spirit and the unwavering belief that everything would work out in the end. And true to my faith, my brother returned, we got to work on the chain only to find that the cutting tool he brought would not do the job. He was back on the road making a second trip, chain in hand to use his grinder back at home. Again I was alone on the roadside with nothing to do but wait and take a nap, until he retuned over an hour later.

With a new chain in hand, we set to work, determined to conquer the road ahead. Despite the delay and the unexpected challenges, there was a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose that bound us together. And as the engine roared to life once more, the sense of accomplishment was lifted my spirits—a testament to the power of perseverance and the spirit of the adventure.

As we resumed our journey through the mountains of Northern Thailand, the memory of that unexpected setback faded into the rearview mirror. In its place was a renewed sense of gratitude for the open road, and the countless adventures that await those willing to embrace its challenges and rewards. And though the journey may have been interrupted, the spirit of adventure burned brighter than ever before, illuminating the path ahead with endless possibilities.

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Where it all Began

Thirteen years ago, amidst the rugged beauty of Cambodia and Thailand, my brother and I embarked on a motorcycle adventure that would ignite a passion within me—a passion for exploration, adventure, and the open road. Little did I know then that this journey would shape the course of my life in ways I could never have imagined.

As the wind whipped through our hair and the sun beat down on our backs, my brother and I traversed the winding roads of Southeast Asia, soaking in the sights, sounds, and smells of these exotic lands. However, fate had different plans for us. While I returned to the familiar comforts of Canada, my brother chose to remain in Thailand, drawn by the allure of its vibrant culture and breathtaking landscapes.

It wasn’t long before the call of the road beckoned me once again. Eighteen months later, fueled by a desire for adventure and a thirst for discovery, I embarked on a solo motorcycle journey unlike any other—from the icy tundra of Alaska to the sun-kissed shores of Argentina. Each mile brought with it new challenges, new experiences, and new friendships, all of which left an indelible mark on my soul.

Fast forward to February 2024, and I find myself back in Thailand, reunited with my brother and retracing the very roads we once traveled together. As we navigate the dusty trails and lush landscapes of Northern Thailand, memories come flooding back—of laughter shared, obstacles overcome, and the unbreakable bond between brothers.

Our journey takes us along the border of Laos and Myanmar, following the mighty Mekong River as it winds its way through the rugged terrain. The scenery is as breathtaking as I remember—verdant jungles, cascading waterfalls, and ancient temples shrouded in mist. Each twist and turn reveals a new vista, a new opportunity for discovery.

But amidst the beauty lies a challenge—one that all motorcyclists are familiar with: the scorching heat of 35 degrees Celsius. As the sun beats down relentlessly, the asphalt radiates waves of heat, enveloping us in a suffocating embrace. Sweat drips down our brows, our clothes cling to our bodies, and every breath feels like inhaling fire. Yet, despite the discomfort, there’s a certain exhilaration that comes from conquering the elements, from pushing past your limits and embracing the adventure that lies beyond.

As the sun sets on another day of exploration, I can’t help but marvel at the journey that has brought me here—the twists and turns, the highs and lows, the moments of pure joy and profound introspection. For in the end, it’s not just about the destinations we reach, but the roads we travel, the memories we make, and the bonds that endure through time and distance.

So here I am, where it all began, reunited with my brother and reliving the magic of that first motorcycle adventure. And as I look ahead to the countless miles that still lie before us, I know that the road will always be my true home—the place where dreams are born, friendships forged, and adventures await around every bend.

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Africa Twin Rides in 2020

I bought a new motorcycle on January 31st 2019, it was is 2018 Honda Africa Twin. I was super excited to pick it up and have many adventures in 2019. Well that didn’t happen, I spent countless hours behind the corporate desk instead. When I finally looked up from the piles of work I found it was almost winter and time to put the bike away, with just over 2,000 kilometers on it. I vowed to ride more in 2020.
Well, 2020 had other plans. After spending the winter looking at possible motorcycle destinations, I had some great mini trips planned, lots of new destinations to see. Then as we all know, Covid hit, the world closed, and my motorcycle plans were on hold. “Essential Travel only” was the constant message on news and social media. “Essential” seemed to have many definitions depending on where you looked, but since the weather was so unpredictable, everything was closed and breathing too close to someone could apparently mean death, staying home didn’t seem like such a bad idea. “I need to ride for my mental health” was another common comment on some motorcycle sites. Somehow filling a tank full of highly a flammable liquid (gasoline), above a hot engine located under your crotch and riding fast with the potential of crashing and spilling the flammable liquid onto the hot engine didn’t seem like something the courts would see as a cure for mental health. So, the bike stayed parked.
After seeing every possible cat meme on Instagram, I had enough of quarantine and decided that I was going for a motorcycle ride. I managed to get out three times in May and did about 1,200 kilometers without venturing any further than Georgian Bay. Ontario is very beautiful and I think I will be seeing a lot more of it in 2020. When you get thrown a curve ball, adapt and overcome, and remember “sometimes you need to burn a tank of gas to get your head on straight”.

Later in June I’ll do a short review of the Africa Twin and hopefully have a few Ontario destinations of interest to share.

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Training with Navy Seals, and the Krav Maga Black Belt test

Five years ago, I put on some excess weight and wanted to do something rousing and encouraging to burn it off. Motivated by a Groupon post, I purchased a fitness boot camp class. I was on my way.

At least that’s what I thought. What I’d actually purchased was a Groupon for a dance class.

There I was, with an extra 20 lbs. around my gut, lost and alone in a whirlwind of tutus and ballet shoes. At 42 years old, there’s not a more humbling moment than showing up to take a class with a roomful of ballerinas. If laughter is indeed the best medicine, I was well medicated for the journey ahead of me. Without having to say a word, both the owner of the studio and I knew I was in the wrong place.

And so I began my search again, this time landing at Elite Martial Arts, a studio only ten minutes from my condo. Fueled by what I experienced on that first, introductory class, I signed up for an entire year. It was exhilarating to have discovered this form of exercise with an inspiring group of people.

I poured my heart, soul, sweat and tears into this hobby, which eventually became a way of life. Five years after I gave up a potential dance career and found martial arts, I got my Black Belt in Krav Maga. Yes, others have done it quicker, but at 47, this was a personal high.

Training with Navy Seals, and the Krav Maga Black Belt test

Spurred by this event and driven with a desire to do even more, I took on Sealfit, an integrated functional fitness program based on the Navy SEAL Hell Week. Sealfit is designed to not only increase physical strength and resilience, but also mental toughness and capacity. I was 47 years old.

What an experience.

Why are you here? I have no idea what time it is. 1am, 2am? There I stood, deep in the California desert, cold and dripping wet from ice baths I’d doused myself in. A Navy Seal is standing over me, demanding of me: “Powell, why are you here?”

Coach James was the soft spoken one. He was always calm – so calm it was intimidating as hell. With chaos engulfing us, he remained unfazed, unbothered, almost placid. But he wanted his answer – the real answer – and I knew he would see through any inauthentic, guarded or counterfeit answer. Despite my exhaustion, my confusion, and my nerves, I welcomed the break as I had just done 75 burpees in a row when Coach James approached me.

The full answer would make for a long story, one that would take me all night to properly explain. This wasn’t the time for a heart-to-heart, bartender-worthy, deep-secret soul purge. I knew he’d want me to cut to the chase.

“I know I can be better,” I finally responded. “I’m not living my purpose.”

He countered quickly. “What is your purpose, Powell?” With that, the pressure on me mounted.

“I don’t know, Coach,” I answered honestly. “But it’s not what I’m doing. I can have better personal relationships, a more fulfilling career. 2017 was rough and I need to get unstuck. I read the Unbeatable Mind and it resonated with me, so I signed up for 20X.”

His reply was kind, albeit short. “Okay. Good. We’ve all been there.” And then he walked away. And there was no time to think about or reflect on that brief interaction because we were right back to it, doing 85, 86, 115 burpees in a single round.

Once upon a time, as a kid from a small town and a family of humble beginnings, the idea of changing one’s life might have seemed impossible, a pipe dream. But what I’ve come to learn over the years is that it doesn’t matter if the glass is half full or half empty – it’s fillable either way. What’s important is that you do the things you’re scared to do, and you might just teach yourself some valuable things along the way.

Looking back over these events now that a few months have passed, there were five key take-aways that will stay with me forever.

  1. Find your purpose and take action

It sounds harsh, but I often find super positive people to not be very realistic. I think it’s because there’s usually not a plan in place – they think all you need to do is be positive and good things will happen. While I don’t disagree with the premise of positivity and an optimistic outlook, one needs to take action toward making positive things happen. Visualize yourself doing the things you need to do to be successful, and then visualize yourself winning.  Positive self-talk is crucial to success. Repeat affirmations like, “I am the strongest.” At Sealfit, they had us repeat this all the time. They challenged us with “If you’re not the strongest, who will be?” They recognized the power of positive self-encouragement.

Before each Krav Maga class, I would look at the rack of belts on the wall, from white to black. I would pause and focus on the black belt, knowing without doubt or disbelief that I would get there. After all, a black belt is a white belt that didn’t quit.

For me, considering my purpose in life was difficult, so I can appreciate those who struggle with this internal question. I only knew what it was not – it was not walking through the side door, it was not sitting at my desk not interacting with people, it was not talking endlessly with unappreciated people who expected an unreasonable amount of work completed in an unreasonable amount of time. It wasn’t having arguments with peers and friends about trivial things in life.

This hamster-wheel way of living changed after completing Sealfit and obtaining my Black Belt – I got a new job and advanced my career, and am infinitely happier and more confident. I’m respected in my office, amongst my peers, and thrive in my personal relationships.

Always move forward.  Focusing on past mistakes is unproductive, so own them, learn from them, and then move on.

  1. There are no excuses

Making excuses will get you nowhere. It’s unproductive to blame others. It’s best to take control – if something goes wrong at work or at home, set about fixing it, and then work on preventing it from happening again. And then move on.

Think you don’t have time? I’m calling BS. Here’s a tip: start tracking how much time you waste on unproductive tasks. Wake up early, and start knocking things off your to-do list. If something goes wrong – and it’s likely to – take responsibility if it’s your fault. Your life is your own, so be responsible for it.

There will always be someone better, faster, stronger than you. Learn from them everything you can. Just push on, stay focused, and grow. In Krav Maga, as I was often the oldest person in the room, these were the phrases of encouragement that became a part of my practice, and a part of me.

There are reasons, and there are excuses. Know the difference. Don’t say you’re late for work because of poor weather; you could have checked the forecast and left early. Don’t say you’re challenged by a difficult person in your work life and that’s why you’re doing a less-than-stellar job; you would do well to find common ground. Again, know the differences between reasons and excuses. You’ll soon find they’re mostly excuses.

  1. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

The more you practice and train for uncomfortable situations, the more you’ll be prepared for when things go sideways. Take inspiration from Coach James, who remained calm in the face of chaos. Challenged with the discomfort, distress and pains of 24 men and women, he stayed composed and unruffled.

I should have jumped in the freezing lakes of late September and October to prepare for the ice bath – I had no excuse not to. I live walking distance from Lake Ontario, and have a cottage on a lake in Muskoka – those freezing lakes were literally at my fingertips. I know now that the more you know you can handle, the calmer you will always be.

Expand your comfort zone.  Getting accustomed to doing difficult things just means they become easier, so when it really matters – like facing job loss, illness, or other bumps in the road – you’ll be ready. Life is full of discomfort, but it doesn’t have to take you down with it.

  1. Teamwork

Like our families, we don’t always get to choose our team members. They may not be people we would choose, but we often have to stay with them, even if only for the short term.

Remind yourself you have to be the strongest, the calmest. Lead by example. Build your team – show them they are strong, tell them they are strong. Team building often requires that people go through something difficult together, so they can come out on the other end stronger.

Log PT in Sealfit is a prime example of this – despite our personal feelings or initial judgments of one another, we all had to work together, pull our weight and strength at the same time without complaint or surrender. A 300 lb log isn’t so heavy when six people are working together, lifting it in unison. In the corporate world, and in my personal life where it’s been required, I’ve learned to share with my team what I’ve learned in my training thus far: visualizing the end game, breaking things down into smaller components, working as a team and focusing on the next step of your evolution so you get inspired, not overwhelmed. If you lead by example, remaining calm, unflustered and completely in control, the more confident your team will be in you – and in themselves.

Again, your team is your family. In Sealfit, we could never be more than six feet away from another member. If anyone ventured off on their own, our team as a whole was punished with burpees. After being punished a second time – and trust me, it never happened again – we never found ourselves more than six feet apart from each other.

But teamwork isn’t confined to formally assigned groups or colleagues who collect the same paycheck from the same organization. As an example, Krav Maga is very individual – it’s not a team sport. Krav is an infinitely difficult and uncomfortable sport – the Black Belt test took place over five hours, with only a 20-minute rest, a rotating roster of fresh attackers, and sent me to vomit twice. And although other Krav Maga practitioners began to see me differently because of the prestige of the belt, I always had consistent encouragement and praise.

So you see, your team is a part of you, and you a part of them. Be there for each other.

  1. Day to Day Discipline

There’s no excuse for making excuses. There are no legitimate reasons not to not do what is important every day. Today, I work out every morning before work – even if it’s for a mere 15 minutes – and always have a coffee with my wife before leaving for the day. While work and career are vastly important, good health and a happy marriage weigh far more.

One day last year, my iPhone told me that I spent an average of four hours and 37 minutes of screen time every day. I was shocked and appalled; it needed to change. I could have spent that time working out, learning something new or paying it forward.  The day-to-day discipline of knowing, prioritizing and doing what’s important gives us a feeling of accomplishment. Acknowledging what’s important at the start of the day makes us a winner on a daily basis. Without this kind of discipline, I may never have achieved my Black Belt.

No change of environment or circumstance should steer you off-course, either. In February of 2018, I flew to Thailand for my brother’s wedding, and still took time to train – I participated in Muay Thai (Thai boxing) classes, and when I came home, completed my blue shorts test. All of this was in preparation for my Black Belt and Sealfit. One never takes a vacation from self-improvement. Even when you’re in an exotic space like Thailand.

The next journey?

Be uncommon amongst uncommon people

This phrase resonated with me from the first time I heard David Goggins explain it on his YouTube channel. Be uncommon amongst uncommon people. Consider that.

How uncommon could I be? Could I even consider myself uncommon? Special?

Sealfit, for example, is only offered four times a year, allowing approximately 24 people per class. 30% of those 24 traditionally drop out. It’s uncommon to attempt Sealfit, and even more uncommon to complete it. I did Sealfit because I thought it was difficult to do. It was. And Krav Maga? It’s not a common sport, and for those who decide to take it on, only an average of 3% rise to Black Belt status.

Professionally, a CPA certification is uncommon. A CPA is a long process, with many dropping out along the way. Now, a CPA with an FCCA and CFE? More uncommon still.

The uncommon journey continues for me. And I’ll share with you what I intend on continuing to do, notes I hope you’ll keep for yourself: work harder than anyone else in the room. Don’t quit. Be positive, humble, low maintenance, a team player, and kind.

And kick ass. Life is tough, be tougher.

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Africa Twin – My new Bike

After 137,000 km I parted with my Varadero. I can’t tell you how much I loved that bike. The Varadero was amazing and it was not an easy decision to part ways with it, but I found it a new good home.

Two years ago I took the Africa Twin on a test ride and knew right away I had to buy one, it was the same with the Varadero. I want to take some new adventures and wanted a new bike to do it on and after the reading reviews, comparing bikes and especially after the test ride, I knew I had to get the Africa Twin. It was really just a matter of timing.

I finally broke down on January 31st 2019 and bought the AT. With all the snow and freezing temperatures, I haven’t actually taken physical possession of it yet and its still sitting on the show room floor.

Next will come the accessories, crash bars, lights, luggage racks. For now I’m only adding a center stand (surprised this is not standard) and I’ve also purchase more aggressive tires. I have to admit I was a little disappointed with the standard tires this bike came with, the are more of a street tire than an adventure tire, but I’m sure I will need them at some point (maybe for another Iron Butt ride).

Come on spring !!

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How my motorcycle adventure changed me as an accounting professional

It’s been seven years since I left on a motorcycle journey across two continents and six years since I returned to the corporate world.  When I turned 40 I decided to take a sabbatical from the corporate world and explore North, Central and South America by motorcycle. I would be gone 11 months, visit 14 different countries and cover of 65,000 kilometers. The experience changed my life exponentially on both a personal and professional level.   Upon reflection, after an already intensely taxing 2018, I often reflect how my adventure changed me professionally.

  1. My journey made me more resilient

Things don’t always go as planned.  That is just a given in our personal and professional lives. How we respond to challenges often define our careers. My plan was relatively simple, keep riding south until I reached the most southern city in the world, Ushuaia Argentina. At one point protestors in southern Chile impeded that plan, at least temporarily. While standing on the dock, watching the cargo ship that dropped me, my plan and my motorcycle in Puerto Chacabuco sail away,   I was informed that the road going south was blocked by protestors and nobody was allowed to pass. I was stuck there for almost a week. The ATM’s were empty, food in the stores and restaurants was running low and there was no alternate way out. It was a difficult and stressful situation. Fortunately there was no shortage of Chilean wine and new friends, so I made the best of a “bad” situation.  In the accounting profession we all know that year-end, system implementation (and for me a recent acquisition) rarely go as planned, they can become difficult and stressful quickly. Have a plan but be prepared to tough things out for just a little longer and have confidence that things will work out.  I learned that I just needed to keep focused on the goals, work smart and stay positive and the worst would soon be behind me, and it was.

  1. Travelling made me a more confident person

I feel that I was a confident person before I left on my motorcycle adventure, but confidence brings more confidence in yourself and others. With this epic adventure behind me, I have the confidence in the new adventures that lie ahead.   I don’t doubt that I will not reach my goal of riding to the four corners of the Americas. Now back in the office, with new managers, new co-workers and new opportunities I display an aura that I am confident enough to get things done and done right.

  1. Roaming made more resourceful

I had to find a welder in the middle of the Peruvian Andes, and not just any welder but one that could seal my aluminum rim. Start early, ask the right questions, explain clearly, be patient and think outside the box – that’s how you get a rim welded in a small town high in the Andes. Who knew that welding rods were sold next to paint supplies and children’s shoes? How would I have known the best welder in town (probably the only welder) was the cousin of the shop keeper who opened 15 minutes before everyone else? As accountants we have endless resources that tell us where the debits and credits go, but there is no Handbook for business problems, you have to arrive early, clear your head and think strategically and not be afraid to look where nobody else is looking.

  1. I am fundamentally rejuvenated from this “vacation” in a way “normal” vacations can’t offer.

Seven days off work at a beach resort in the Caribbean just doesn’t offer enough, especially when you receive text messages and emails poolside.  Often, you come back from vacation frustrated to find that even the simple things have not been taken care of in your absence. I needed to reset, I like many, felt burnt out and knew that something had to change. For almost a whole year I had no alarm clock, no last minute requests for information and most importantly no deadlines. The motorcycle adventure taught me to recognize what is important and to deal with stress before it becomes unmanageable. As a result, I have become a more productive employees in these past years than I was before my adventure, mainly because I know when it’s time to rejuvenate and prevent undue stress.

  1. My epic adventure made me a better manager

Growth comes from challenge. Inspiration comes from many sources and different sources from different people. I feel that it is my role as a manager to help my staff grow and become inspired. I grew in so many ways as a result of my adventure and was inspired mostly by tales of exploration. I remember getting caught in a snow storm high in the Andes, I had never ridden in snow before and knew it would be a challenge. By lowering the tire pressure and keeping my speed down I managed to ride out of the storm without incident.  I challenge my co-workers to do difficult or new things on a regular basis, “is there a way we can improve this?” is a common question I like to ask. Set a goal to improve, celebrate the small goals with them and provide the tools necessary to get the job done. My co-workers have amazed me. I have been told that my motorcycle adventure was inspirational to some people, I try to remain humble and give encouraging feedback with the hopes of inspiring others.  It seems to be working.

Although it may not be possible or even desirable for you to take a trip like mine I would encourage everyone to challenge themselves beyond what they think they are capable of, push your limits, stay focused and get into a  positive headspace. You will be forever changed for the better.

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