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FEATURE: Interview with Sam Manicom - Part Five

Running out of space: Sam's panniers have certainly travelled the distance
Running out of space: Sam's panniers have certainly travelled the distance
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In the fifth and final part of our interview with Sam Manicom, Sam tells the MotorbikeTimes about HUBB UK and his chance encounter with someone on a New Delhi campsite, which made him decide to put pen to paper and chronicle his travels

Since returning from his eight-year mammoth journey, Sam has become one of the main organisers of HUBB UK, one of the world's largest adventure motorcycle travel meets, which is overseen by parent company Horizons Unlimited.

Established by Grant and Susan Johnson, who spent 11 years riding a motorcycle around the world, Horizons Unlimited came about following an influx of emails received from other travellers looking to do something similar, but were perturbed by issues including elusive border crossings and paperwork, as well as being unsure about riding conditions across lands less travelled. It was then that Grant and Susan decided to set up a small website, where they posted information during their own journey. "They did that and other people who were travelling would post more information up," says Sam. "It just grew from there."

He continues, "When I got back after the eight years I felt like a square peg in a round hole, and a friend had heard about these events and said I had to go, so I did."

Sam was instantly surrounded by people who shared the same passion: "I started going over a series of years and started to volunteer. Volunteering isn't done with a set group. Last year we had 130 volunteers. People were just doing small numbers of hours but working in teams. It's a brilliant way of breaking the ice," he concludes.

It didn't stop there though, and since being back in the UK, Sam has released a series of books detailing his travels across the globe.

"I'd never intended to write anything and had no idea I could write - it wasn't the object of the trip for me," says Sam modestly.

"The object was to have adventures, to go exploring and to learn from the different countries and the people in those countries; to get through the first year and learn how not to fall off my bike all the time," he laughs.

The writing aspect of Sam's adventure came as if by chance when discussing his adventures on a campsite in New Delhi. "One of the girls said to me one night that so many stupid things had happened to me, I should write some articles," he begins. "I thought, 'well I haven't got the talent, but hey, that'd be a new adventure', so I sat down and wrote three articles and then winged those off to every magazine in the UK that I could find an address for."

Motorcycle Sport and Leisure magazine wrote back and took all three articles submitted and, upon arriving back in the UK, editor, Peter Henshaw, asked Sam as to when his book was coming out. "What book I thought?" Sam says. "But then again, I thought, nothing ventured, nothing gained, lets have a go."

Pleasingly, Sam's books not only provide an insight into his experience at the hands of his R80G/S as he rides from one continent to another, but also gives the reader the opportunity to share his thoughts on the history, geography and politics of an array of different places visited - all in a lighthearted and enjoyable manner, which makes each book difficult to put down.

More recently, Sam has also released an audio adaptation of his first book, Into Africa, with the second audio book, Under Asian Skies set for release on 8 July.

"Most audio books are abridged," begins Sam. "They have big chunks cut out of them and I didn't want that to happen, so I sat on my hands for quite some time." It was then that the opportunity arose for Sam to record his work at Kite Studios in Cambridge and, true to form, it was here that Sam was able to record his complete story - warts and all.

"Fortunately I've got really good friends and they've helped me with websites and getting the books laid out," he says gratefully. "I've met some amazing people as a result of doing these books and forged some fantastic friendships."

And what of the bike that led Sam on his journeys? "I've still got the bike today. She's my only means of transport. She's got 275,000 miles on it," he says affectionately. "When you think of how she had to put up with an idiot riding it for at least the first year, and driving down Africa, it's quite a feat."

"I've only just had the gearbox replaced for the first time, 5,000 miles ago. It was beginning to hunt a little bit for first gear, but other than that she's fine. It was starting to get in the way of the ride. This bike was not made on a Monday morning or a Friday afternoon," he laughs.

Sam's books, Into Africa, Under Asian Skies, Distant Suns and Tortillas to Totems, are available for purchase on Amazon,in hard copy or on Kindle, Waterstones and other good book retailers, as well as on his own site which can be viewed here. The audio version of Into Africa is also available through the same channels, as well as iTunes, with his second audio installment due for release on 8 July.

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