Born in Belfast at a very young age, Neil was brought up in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland. As (most) kids do he went to school. He then went to University of Ulster at Jordanstown where he studied Computing Science BSc(Hons) and went on to work as a software engineer specialising in database development in several organisations in the telecoms, pharmaceuticals and healthcare sectors. Neil lives in Bangor, Co. Down with his wife Helen. Outside work Neil has a keen interest in electronics, travel, alternative fuels and motorcycling…
Thus the project of a diesel motorcycle was born. Neil envisioned one project that would bring together all of his existing interests and skills into one machine. With no formal background in engineering the project was completed over the course of 3 years in what little spare time he has left. The bike is capable of 100mpg and has a theoretical tank range of 500 miles. Taking the machine on a long journey seemed the next illogical thing to do and hence a second undertaking – an overland journey from Belfast to Sydney on the diesel bike.
Follow Neil and Helen and share their journey at www.suckindiesel.com
Why is it when you have free reign to talk about yourself it’s difficult to know what to say?
I’ll start with motorcycling…Well I started riding my own bike 5 years ago now. I can’t tell you exactly why I started to take lessons but I was hooked after my first one! It all went pretty smoothly, I passed my test first time after about 10 lessons and went about getting myself a bike. Due to my vertically challenged stature (I’m 5ft 2”) I went for a Kawasaki GPZ 500s but I never truly got used to it and had several scary moments. These led to a bit of a break from motorcycling for about a year in which time I met Neil. A 125cc bike (ridden up the length of England by Neil ) and a lot of reassurance later, we found the BMW F650GS. After the insertion of some Kuba links I could get the balls of my feet to the floor and I felt great! The upright riding position gave me a lot more confidence and so we set about spending some time on the bikes and learning how to ride in tandem with each other. I’ve still got a lot to learn but let’s face it, if I’m not a good motorcyclist after riding overland to Australia there’s something wrong!
When it comes to the trip and the idea of riding overland to Australia, the idea came from Neil and I think he has talked about it since I first met him almost 4 years ago. We’ve been married now for just over 2 years and have been seriously talking about it since then. Of course for the last 3 years he has been building the diesel bike (I’ll let him tell you about that) and part of this dream was to take it around the world. The prospect of Neil leaving for anywhere up to a year, not wanting to ride pillion, the fact that the timing could coincide with the end of my training to be a GP and the massive personal challenge it would mean for me, led us to plan the journey together.
Of course I have many worries….will we get jobs when we get back? Will it be hard to settle back into ‘normal life’? This is in addition to all the worries specific to the trip ie bikes, visas, the difficulties certain countries may bring etc etc. There have been a lot of stresses and strains along the way and I’m sure there will be many to come, but the thought of everything we’re going to see and experience keeps us going.
Just have to get going now…