Ask motorcycle tour guide Manuel Marabese what’s the best place he’s been on his bike and he’ll answer without hesitation: “Anywhere I haven’t been yet”.
His usual beat is the Alps, Tuscany, Southern Italy and Norway, but he’s happiest pointing his Tiger towards uncharted tracks or roads leading to who knows where?
“For me motorcycling is all about the new. The discovery is simply fabulous because travel creates knowledge,” he said.
Whether it’s the breeze of coastal roads, heat of the deserts, breathtaking curves of the mountains or sound of the motorbikes, Manuel is intoxicated by his job.
“The only thing that puts a downer on it are unhappy skies,” insists Manuel, one of the tour guides with Triumph’s official travel partner Edelweiss.
For many of us, roaring through dense jungles, the sun dappled on your back as secluded temples, caves and river dolphins pass by, sounds like the stuff of impossible dreams.
But philosophy graduate, diver, snowboarder, dog-sledder and, photographer Manuel insists the freedom of travel, oneness with nature and friendship are accessible to all… if they really want it.
Now 33 and into motorcycles since the age of 14, he is aware he has landed the perfect job: “Getting paid to see the wonders of the world is incredible.”
But he insists there is a more serious side to the role that puts the 10 months of travelling each year into sharp perspective.
“The safety of clients is paramount from dawn each day to the time the last person goes to bed, and that can take its toll psychologically,” he admitted.
“It’s the same when you are out on the bikes. We ensure every rider, whatever their competency, can enjoy the experience to the maximum so that they leave with unforgettable memories.”
This year’s menu includes getaways to Myanmar (formerly Burma), the Himalayas, the Isle of Mann, Wales and Scotland.
Two exciting new tours were added to the itinerary – a trip to Iceland, and Laos and Vietnam.
“All the destinations are very different and each trip we do is unique. I love the Triumph tours because we get to use the Tiger 800s and XCs, which are just made for this kind of ride,” said Manuel.
“We’ve had some people on the Triumph tours who ride other bikes, but after a week or two on the Tigers, the first thing they do when they get home is get rid of their old bike and buy one.”
He added: “We are often riding from 8am to 5pm and it’s a long, tough day, but the sitting position and comfort of the 800XC means riders of all ages often say they could carry on for longer.”
The new tour to Laos promises to be special for Manuel and his group because the larger engine Tigers are a rare sight there.
“It’s an incredible place. Because they don’t really have anything higher than 125cc bikes out there and because we go off the main tourist trail where they have often never seen a foreigner, it makes you the centre of attention,” said Manuel.
“The children just want to touch the bikes and sit on them, and it’s small interactions like this that make the trips so memorable.”
Manuel believes the power to torque ratio of the Tigers makes them the natural choice for all levels. Most are looking for an unforgettable life experience, some simply want to bond with a father or son and others are returning to a country they visited before.
Manuel said: “The Himalayas and South East Asia tours attract people from South America, mainland Europe and the UK, with the average age of people above their mid to late 30s, but we are seeing growing numbers of young riders signing up to the new tours in places like Iceland.
“Everyone makes friends for life because the groups all have a common bond. They always tell me I have the perfect job, but as I said it’s not that straightforward.”
But he added: “I am very lucky. There are a lot worse jobs than seeing this incredible world and getting paid to do it.”