I drove my first vehicle before I was 10. Granted it was a old tractor on the family farm and many an innocent animal was traumatized by the experience, it however set the tone for a life that gravitated toward things that made noise, had shiny paint and went too fast for my own good. My Petrol Head was born.
The early years were a blur of heavy equipment operating, coming in second (or not at all) in many motocross races, drifting pickup trucks (I may have been a redneck at some point) and working long hard days to pay for it all. You see back then the reason for working was to enable the passion for petrol powered contrivances of all sorts, and to pay for some pints at the end of the day while you shared the latest shenanigans with your like minded mates. Life revolved around going fast, looking cool and living to tell the tale. Petrol Head was in full control. Ahh to be young and dumb again.
Things do change however. I believe I lost my way and slowly silenced Petrol Head once I became involved in a career rather than just a job. A very adult thing to do and arguably, most people will gravitate toward this with their hobbies and passions occurring in spite of the work that now serves to pull you towards, promotions, mortgages and sensible transport. This transition left me with a particularly large self fulfillment void which, upon reflection, I can see was quenched with another newly developed passion. Travel. Travel for work. Travel for fun. Travel for no reason at all. "There is a project in Russia and no one will go." Da, Sign me up. Endless shifts on offshore oil drilling rigs? Point me to the Helicopter. Live-in position in Saudi Arabia? As Salaam Alakium my friends! Rotational Posting in the jungles of Angola? Give me that yellow fever shot and lets go. The list goes on for a while but you can see the point. The need for excitement and adventure born out of a passion for horse power and risk, may manifest in very interesting and prolific ways but the truth remains, you cannot kill Petrol Head.
A 'can do' attitude mixed with a good dose of not knowing any better, propelled me around the globe for a few years as I climbed the career ladder into the corporate suites. This landed me in a Sr. position, living in Dubai, single, good disposable income and NO winter driving conditions?! Petrol Head came crashing out of hibernation broke the door down, kicked the Travel Bug square in the nuts and shouted "Buy an Audi R8 you neglectful bastard!!" So I did. Smiles and many speeding fines ensued. Soon after this, Petrol Head was missing the thrill of motorized competition so he demanded, "Buy a Honda CRF 450 and start Motocross Racing again!" So I did. It was on about lap 3 of my first ride, just before vomiting from exhaustion, I started to realize a) I am extremely out of shape for my age and more to the point, b) Petrol Head was a bit of a dick. He would need to be on a shorter leash now that I was in my late 30's. After a brief conflict we settled on shelving the motocross dream and instead spending some time on the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi.
Life in Dubai was wonderful and over the next 6 years it again progressed slowly away from what began as an unrestricted indulgence in whatever Petrol Head demanded to a more balanced approach that included getting married = Trading in the R8 for His: Maserati Grand Turismo S, + Royal Enfield Custom Café Racer and Hers: Jaguar XKR Convertible. We then decided to start a family so the contrivances had to change yet again = His: Full Custom Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (Don't forget Petrol Head is a bit of a redneck) and Hers: Porsche Cayenne GTS. An amazing wife, best kid in the world, Petrol Head sedated and under control. All was well with the world. Until someone pulled the E-Brake.
If you have been following along you may have noted that I am in the Oil And Gas industry. Also unless you have been hiding in the jungle doing ayahuasca for the last two years, you will be aware that low oil prices have decimated the industry and entire economies, along with those who work in it. Being very Sr. and a long time employee I managed to make it by at least 3 rounds of cuts but in March of 2016, it became apparent there was not much use for the adventurous executive who builds businesses in a market that demands cut backs. The back tires locked up and we were headed for a crash. To complicate things more Dubai had become our only home. I no longer had a house in my country and my wife had been in Dubai for over 10 years so she was in the same boat. In a nut shell if you don't have a job in Dubai, you have to get out. Its sudden, harsh and extremely disruptive.
So there we sat. No home to go to, Me about to turn 40, My Wife with the better part of her adult life spent in Dubai, My Son just over 1 year old ....... and don't forget about Petrol Head. Sedated yes but he is no fool. Seeing the inevitable, he had already headed out to the garage to chain himself to the cars like a green peace activist on some endangered snails. My wife and I were left alone to decide and we saw only 3 options: 1) Crash = Feel sorry for ourselves, wallow in despair and tear our little family apart. 2) Counter Steer = Fight the situation, look for work and try to salvage the lifestyle to which we had become accustomed. 3) Cut the Cable = Sever the source of the skid, grab the wheel and steer to a new destination. After surprisingly little deliberation my beautiful wife handed me the side cutters (Petrol Head sobbing uncontrollably in the Garage) and we cut the cable.
Cars, bikes, furniture, clothing and even the plants. ALL GONE. We sold everything that we could and then some. Literally homeless with 3 suitcases and a bit of cash, we headed out on a year of adventure living on the road (with a 1 year old in tow but that's a whole other article). For 5 months we have eaten, drank and made our way through Australia, Indonesia, Greece, Spain and Portugal. Its been amazing. Petrol Head came along but mostly sulked in the back ground, mumbling how I used to be cool and something about a Porsche. Occasionally though, he would come out to have some fun. He was particularly fond of the Chinese Quad bike in Skopelos, Off-roading an Opel Frappuccino in Sierra Nevada and flogging an Astra Diesel Estate in the Douro Valley. None the less, its amazing that all of us are well and truly free for the first time in our lives.
That brings me to today. Sitting here in Bali, still actively unemployed, no final destination and no real plan to speak of. A path must be chosen otherwise we sit idle and rust away. I believe for the time being I will hijack the advice once given by Hunter S. Thompson to a dear friend of his, looking for direction in life; "A man must choose a path which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his DESIRES". Simple yet profound advice. In this spirit I have joined DriveTribe, become a Tribe Leader and here we go! I will spend my time travelling, writing, riding , driving and bringing you the stories of the cool and interesting people and contrivances I meet along the way. I will turn Petrol Head Loose. Welcome to the TPP (The Petrol Pride). I promise its going to be interesting.