They say that as you get older, you get wiser – but no one’s told Chris Donaldson.
He left Belfast in 1979 at the age of 21 to ride to Australia on a completely inappropriate Moto Guzzi Le Mans, and although he never quite got there, the brilliant book he wrote on the trip, Going the Wrong Way, is a best-seller with over 300 five-star reviews on Amazon.
And now, four decades after he first set out, Chris plans to finish the job at 63, and on the same bike.
“When I left Belfast, my original plan was to ride to Australia, but I never made it, ending up in Argentina nearly two years later,” he said.
“I rode across the Sahara, then through Africa to Cape Town, where I hitched a ride on a yacht race back to Europe. I then went to the USA and rode from Canada south through Central America and South America to Buenos Aires.
“I’ve decided to finally complete the journey this year, 40 years after my return from South America, and take the same Moto Guzzi to Australia.
“I’ll be traveling with an old friend, Liam Lavery, and we’ll make the journey in stages, as we both have wives, children and jobs. If all goes well, we will continue to America and complete the round-the-world journey.
“Liam will be riding a new Moto Guzzi V85, and it will be interesting to see how the new bike compares with my 1977 Moto Guzzi Le Mans.
“Otherwise we’ll be totally unsupported in our journey across the world.
“We’ll travel down Europe to the Middle East, before heading east to Dubai. From there, we’ll cross Iran, Pakistan and India before making our way to the Far East and Australia.
“Along with the usual political and geographical challenges, we’ll have Covid-19 against us.
“Under the banner of Adventure before Dementia, we’ll be working with the British Heart foundation to raise money and health awareness, especially amongst the motorcycle community, of whom many are reaching advancing years and need to look after their health.
“We also want to remind the older generation that we should not stop our adventures just because we are reaching retirement. Mental health is a huge problem, especially for men as they give up work and other interests.
“We will also work with a number of local charities who are giving help in their communities that are being ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chris has worked in the family furniture business, property development, health and fitness, and mobile apps in Dubai for eight years.
Liam Lavery has run residential homes and day care centres, and has extensive experience with the elderly.
Chris’ website is chrisdonaldson.world, and as I said, his book is on Amazon and a cracking read. It’s £13.99 in paperback, or £3.99 on Kindle.