Inspiration: Big Trip

Mark Holmes on his world motorcycle tour on a Triumph Rocket X

Round the world Rocket rider’s letter to himself

Triumph rider Mark Holmes’ letter to his heartbroken former self

The final part in Mark’s epic travel story. See part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4.

Dear Mark

You won’t believe what’s been happening to me. I can scarcely believe it myself. After a year and a half travelling the world on my beautiful Triumph Rocket X, I am a different person.

You might feel desolate right now – after 39 years of marriage your wife, best friend and soulmate Sue lost her brave fight with cancer and your three-decades-old business fell into administration – but trust me, you’ll be OK. If you doubt what you’re about to do – venture into the world, share your passions and love and ask this planet’s people to give you something in return – don’t. Just do it.

Halfway around my world: Uluru/Ayers Rock, Australia

Sue will always be with you on your trip and halfway through it you’ll even bungee jump from the bridge in New Zealand where your love affair truly started. Hard to believe in your current mood I know, but trust me.

You’ll change at least one person’s life – but I’ll tell you about that later – as well as climb to Everest base camp, dive the Great Barrier Reef, fish for piranha in the Amazon, fall in love with the Taj Mahal, be drenched by the spray from Iguazu Falls, feel the rhythm of Rio and find the people of Iran the most hospitable in the world.

You know from previous trips around the States that the Rocket attracts attention, so use it to help spread your message that smoking isn’t clever, but motorcycling definitely is. Oh, and don’t worry about being lonely because you’ll find you always have friends when you’re riding that beast because people want to stop, admire it and chat.

If language and time permits, they will ask you basic questions about the bike. How big is the engine? How many cylinders? How much fuel does the tank hold? Where are you from? Where are you going? Why are you travelling alone? What is your job?

When you tell them ‘I got on my bike and left the UK’ you’ll be thrilled by their expression as their eyes light up, their mouths open and their jaws hit the floor. Then watch as you see them trying to work out in their head how they could possibly have a similar adventure.

Even after leaving them a few minutes later, you’ll know for certain you’ve had an impact on their lives. They are still following, commenting and asking questions on social media now I’m back. The spark has turned into a dream and I know that will please you greatly knowing that you’ve changed lives.

One woman I mentioned earlier surpassed every other encounter. I stopped for breakfast in a small cafe in Auckland, New Zealand, and it was just her and I, dressed head to foot in black leather, with my helmet on the table. We started chatting, we were about the same age and within minutes we were both talking about the loss of our spouses, our eyes watering. She has struggled with her loss but seemed genuinely taken with my positivity and ambition to seek something else in the world. I gave her my card and left.

A few hours later I had a long email from her. ‘OMG Mark, you’ve changed my life. I’m going to do it. I’m going to learn how to ride and go on my own adventure.’ I referred her to the local Triumph dealer who I’d visited the day before. We kept in touch and she introduced me to her son who is a rider.

Mark Holmes outside the Ace Cafe, London

She went quiet on me for a while, then came the news that I had been hoping to receive. A photo of her and her test certificate. She passed! She has now bought a bike, plans to tour South Island New Zealand in the summer with her son and will then tour Europe on hired bikes next year. I couldn’t be happier for her.

It’s the people you’ll meet, and the conversations and engagements you’ll have that will make the journey so remarkable. They’ll help you come to terms with your grief and relearn what you knew all along… that the greatest thing in life is to learn to love, and be loved in return. 

You will be so proud of your journey and will commit to sharing and inspiring others to follow for many years to come. And it’s all been possible because the Rocket and I are such attention seekers.

All the best from your dear, revitalised friend.

Mark