I have just joined the Market Engineering team having completed a BEng in Mechanical Engineering back in Australia. A recent motorcycle trip to the Ukraine taught me many life lessons, so I thought I would share some invaluable insight that people could apply to everyday life.
Step 1. Poor Sleep
Don’t sleep much the night before. Approaches to this may vary from overdosing on caffeine to blasting loud music through your headphones. I went with ‘extremely-cheap-and-suspect-accommodation-in-Odessa, Ukraine’ and a storm.
Step 2. Observe the Conditions
When you wake up on the day of the crash, make sure to take note of the heavy rain, flooding in the streets and the violent way in which the trees are moving. Note the flying debris and chaotic traffic. These are all excellent indicators of poor motorcycling conditions.
Step 3. Daily Bike Check
Often this is a mechanical inspection, but in Ukraine you must check to ensure that nobody in the surrounding apartment blocks has decided to permanently ‘borrow’ your bike. You must remember that while your bike wouldn’t get a second look in the west, it is a gorgeous specimen and tempting prospect in the east.
Step 4. Leave Anyway
At times like this it is important to make the worst decision possible with the information you have available.
Step 5. Spinal Adjustment
Become intimately acquainted with how truly awful the roads and drivers in rural Ukraine are. The Ukrainian definition of a ‘road’ may vary significantly from your country of origin. In Ukraine a road is only 20% tarmac and 80% pot-hole. It should take you many hours to cover short distances, do not be disappointed if you are overtaken by decrepit donkeys pulling heavily laden carts.
Step 6. Stop for Food
Remember to eat the other half of that exotic smelling pastry you bought yesterday. No need to drink water though, by this point you will have absorbed several litres through your skin.
Step 7. Evaluate and Record
You have now been riding for eight hours in a storm and made consistently poor decisions – ensure that your helmet camera is on and capturing your final moments.
Step 8. Borders Part 1
You have arrived at the Ukraine-Moldova border. Yes, that is the Moldova-Romania border you can see through the window of the checkpoint commander’s office. No, you may not just ride the 2km stretch of road without paying money to several very important people. Yes, the process to determine whether you will be a national threat in those 2km does take an absurd amount of consideration and time. They may stare with officious disdain as you uncontrollably shiver in their office, water draining from your boots.
Step 9. Borders Part 2
With your ‘special payments’ made, continue on your merry way for 2km before you reach the next border crossing. Yes, this one will take even longer. Ensure you chat to members of the long que and listen to their tales of border smuggling cheap Moldavian petrol. Hide your enthusiasm when the growing crowd of fuel smugglers suggest you ride to the front of the que. Ride to the front of the que.
Step 10. Remember Hypothermia is a Thing
You have now been riding or paying/arguing with border officials for over 12 hours. Your skin has absorbed so much moisture that even your wrinkles have wrinkles. Don’t worry though, your hands are on fire thanks to the heated grips which you are using to try and maintain your core temperature.
Step 11. Crash
Turn a blind corner and observe the slick, wet steel plates covering the road between a set of train track girders. Use your fatigue to react extremely slowly and ensure that the front wheel slips away from you. Embrace the sweet release of death.
Step 12. Still Alive
The gods did not hear your prayers and you are still alive, lying in the middle of the road at 9:30pm in rural Romania. Don’t worry though, you’re back in the EU. Relax in the middle of the road and contemplate all the potential reasons as to why you’re in agony. When a car finally does arrive and the driver just so happens to speak English, thank him for pointing out that it is a very dangerous area and that you are lucky he found you first.
Step 13. Keep Riding
Take a few moments to sit on the side of the road and chat with your rescuer about the futility of life and the tragic beauty of humanity’s struggle. Remember, even though you are now suffering indescribable pain and incapable of normal bodily functions, you are still half an hour from your accommodation. Once you make it there, using only second gear, extend your overnight stay to four days and thank the host when he brings you food and painkillers. Avoid seeing a medical professional and once able to hobble, continue riding… now is not the time to start making smart decisions.