It’s not traditional, average, or easy, but would you expect a “normal” family life from someone who spent five years traveling solo around the world on his motorcycle? What’s important is that it works for us. This is year six for this type of lifestyle and with Colette three months pregnant, it’s probably the last year we’ll be able to manage it.
When we’re not touring in southern Africa, we’re back in North America, promoting our motorcycle safaris and touring motorcycle shows. We usually do five Canadian shows—Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal. Last year we got a phone call from organizers of a trade show in Timonium, Maryland that historically has appealed to cruiser riders. The supporting dealers wanted to widen their reach to the adventure, non-cruiser market and invited me to part of that initiative. We saw that Progressive International Motorcycle Shows were taking place in Cleveland and Chicago on either side of the Timonium show and since the three shows fit into three weekends between our Canadian engagements, we added them to the 2015 tour.
People enjoy hearing my stories and meeting me, but above that, they enjoy meeting the guy who owns the company in person. We are interested to hear why they chose Renedian and what interested them in our company, so shows are important to us.
Everyone likes to see the odd-looking BMW I took around the world for 4 ½ years (with no sponsors and no support, on $25/day!) so it gets trailered to each show. If we didn’t bring the bike our life would be so much easier but it engages people in a fun way. It introduces them to my riding history, the round-the-world trip, my book The University of Gravel Roads, and our guided tours.
Last weekend we’ve finished our last dealer-speaking event at Bob’s BMW in Maryland and are now heading back to Edmonton, visiting dealers and riders along the way.
We try not to do too much driving in a day, so when we needed to drive 4000 kms in four days, I took the truck and trailer solo while Colette and Jacques took the train from Bellingham, Washington to Cleveland. Jacques loves trains and running up and down the aisles. Having a tiny room meant they could nap, eat, and arrive more relaxed.
Mostly we stay in hotels. As fun and energizing as shows are, they’re also long days after which I’m tired. I come back at 9 or 10 pm and need quiet time to unwind, prepare for the next day, and get a good night’s rest.
It’s kind of exciting for Jacques to have a new room every night. He goes in first and starts exploring, hitting the buttons on the air conditioner and checking out the accoutrements. He’s got his one bag of toys, his one bag of books, and that’s all. If a new toy comes in, it has to fit in the box or something else has to go.
The one thing I’m really happy about is that we spend almost all day together as a family. When I’m on tour in Africa, sometimes I don’t see them for up to two months depending on the tour schedule, so these days are quite precious.
Colette manages our family life like a star. One of the real challenges is eating healthy on the road but she prepares snacks and we have hot oats every morning. Routine health care takes a bit of planning and we’ve had to plan her pregnancy screenings months in advance.
It’s work burning off the energy of a 2-½ year old yet difficult for us to get our own exercise in. When we pull into a new place, Colette uses her iPad to locate the libraries, museums, and other attractions. Before we leave the hotel she’ll try and get Jacques out to a community pool for a swim or to a rec center where she can get a couple of hours of babysitting. She does the books for the company so that allows her to go to the treadmill or do some accounting work. By noon we’re on the road, he sleeps for a couple of hours, and we’re in the new hotel by 5 or 6 p.m.
This year we’re all going to Mongolia in mid-June, staying almost a month to run the last pre-trip on a tour that we will start offering in 2016 (more information coming in July on this tour!) Then we’ll fly directly to South Africa to begin tours in mid-July. Our baby is due at the end of August so I’ll stay until Christmas and Colette will stay until March before joining me in Edmonton.
It will be like this for another year or so and then we’ll have to make a change. It will morph into whatever’s most appropriate with the two children. It’s not an average life but it’s the one we love!