With this first post we introduce our new correspondent on the West Coast.
Yes, it is another Dutchman who has decided to explore the world beyond the dikes surrounding the Netherlands. A little while ago we presented Daan Staffhorst, who is residing on the East Coast, with a first report on his Alaskan adventure.
Being bitten by the motorcycle bug in Asia, our new reporter Koen Theeuwes became restless, paused his career and moved to the United States.
Currently residing in California, he has got plans to head South following the Pan American Highway.
We leave it up to him to introduce himself and his motivation for his trip.
About Koen Theeuwes
Let me start with a short introduction about myself, before we get to the important topics.
My name is Koen, a typical Dutch name, (I guess my parents never meant for me to go abroad) but still, as it means ‘brave’ it is a name I wear with pride. I was born and raised in the Netherlands. I studied Business and Finance, which I still love, but around 10 years ago I discovered my greatest interest: people and their different cultures.
Only one thing allows you to experience people and their cultures to its fullest; travelling. So this is what I decided to do. Now you may think to yourself: ‘I’m on a bloody motorcycle blog, what do I care about this guy loving people, I want the smell of gasoline and roaring engines’. Good thought, keep it, we’ll get there in a sec.
How was this dream born?
During my studies in Rotterdam, I did an exchange in Istanbul and an internship in Nigeria.
That fueled my ‘wanderlust’ (terrible term, I agree) even more. So before starting work in the Consulting sector, I traveled South-East Asia for 6 months and lived the life. This is where my love for two wheels began. After renting all motorbikes in Thailand, Malaysia, The Philippines, Myanmar and Indonesia I made it to Vietnam.
My Asian bikes
For $ 250 I bought a Chinese rip-off version of a Honda Win. No less than 110 ccs of pure power and beauty (..). Who needs a licence, insurance or lessons? Not me!
I rode it from Ho Chi Minh down the Mekong Delta and back up all the way to Hanoi. After these 4000 km / 2500 miles I was hooked.
The motorbike was going to be my means of transport to explore the world.
Back in Holland
In hindsight riding Vietnam without any preparation of course was rather irresponsible (sorry mom, we’ll talk about this later). So coming back home I came to my senses and decided to actually get a licence. Of course I got a bike as well. My second love was a custom Kawasaki CSR 305. It wasn’t fast, but it looked amazing and sounded even better.
While riding in Vietnam I promised myself I would make a big trip on a motorbike, before I turned 30. When I learned about the Pan-American Highway I instantly knew this was going to be the next one up.
Finding the right moment
But as with most dreams, regular life kind of got in the way. My career was going well and I really enjoyed what I did (after Consulting I worked for Kraft Heinz, who doesn’t like to sell Ketchup?). However, the itch for an adventure trip kept creeping up.
But when is the right time? One thing I learned: there is never a good time. You just have to go for it. I luckily did manage to find a slot that was less ‘bad’ than others. The actual planning started in February (2021), I informed my employer in April I needed a year off and decided on leaving in September.
I was finally going to do it! Maybe not finish before turning 30, but starting it, for sure!
In daily life I am very organized, but when traveling I like to go without a plan as much as possible.
There were a few things that required my attention:
1. COVID – needed to wait for vaccinations, hence my leave date in September. Otherwise I would have started in Alaska in July
2. Route – I wanted to make sure it was actually possible to ride my bike all the way. Turns out, it is not. But there’s solutions
3. Motorbike – was I able to legally ride a motorbike in all the countries on my route? With an American vehicle, yes. Any Latin / South American vehicle was probably going to raise questions of border officials at some point. This thus also concluded my starting country
4. Starting point – I have a good friend in Vancouver (Washington state, just North of Portland) who rides bikes as well. Figured it would be helpful to start somewhere where I had a ‘guide’
5. Other ‘trivialities’ – insurance, vaccinations, luggage, visas, other documents, etc. Will not go into the boring details here, but please find my contact details below if you have any questions.
In my next blog I will write about my arrival in the US and all the hoops I had to jump through to actually start riding. Sneak preview: it was a success, see my monster below. Stay tuned!
By popular demand.. :-) ..I started using Instagram.
Please feel free to follow @koentheeuwes
If you have any more specific questions you can reach out via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. (Happy to answer or help!)