Updated: Aug 18
I've been into adventure ever since I can remember. Those that know me will tell you that one of my big passions in life is adventure motorcycling. I have been privileged enough to turn my passion for adventure into a business, and as most of you know I've worked with and supplied tour backup for some of the big names in the business like Charley Boorman, Billy Ward and Claudio Von Planta. These have all been amazing experiences, but it was in 2016 while we were on a tour in South America that I first met Dylan, and I was immediately intrigued by his story.
Our crew had been on a motorcycle tour for a month with 20 clients, and Dylan was due to join our group in Lima, Peru. I had never heard of Dylan Wickrama before. All I knew was that he was from Sri Lanka and he'd ridden his BMW 1150 GS motorcycle around the world. So what, who cares, that Boorman guy and his actor friend took the Long Way Round, why is this Dylan guy's story any different I asked myself. Over the next three weeks, we got to know each other well. We travelled through Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. We even rode the famous Road of Death in Bolivia together. As we travelled I learnt a little more about his life and his adventure each day and it turns out my friend Dylan's story is a little different to anything you might have heard before, it goes something like this:
Dylan was born on the island of Sri Lanka. As a young boy he would play in the sea, and as all young boys do, daydreamed of someday going on an epic adventure. Life was tough for Dylan and his family. They didn't have much money and one day the unthinkable happened, Dylan's father was killed by a robber. Dylan had to grow up fast, helping to provide for his family, but this only motivated him more than ever to achieve his dream of travelling the world on a motorcycle.
Dylan worked hard and many years later, against all the odds, realised his dream and set off from Switzerland on his BMW 1150 GS motorcycle named "Bruce". He travelled more than 200,000 km through four continents over a period of three years. At this point, I started to be impressed with Dylan's tale, "Charley who?" I thought to myself. Turns out that was not even the impressive bit of the story. The real adventure begins when Dylan reached the Darién Gap between Panama and Colombia.
Dylan was riding the Pan-American Highway, America's main transport artery that stretches across the entire continent, North and South, from Alaska all the way to Tierra del Fuego. I've ridden quite a bit of this infamous route myself and it can be a very lonely place at times. Between Panama and Colombia, there is a famous gap in the highway known as the Darién Gap. It's an impenetrable jungle full of wild animals, drug traffickers and guerilla fighters. The only way around it is by boat. The road ends here. Or does it?
Stranded in Panama City Dylan decides to build a raft out of old oil drums and sail across the Pacific Ocean to Colombia. A journey of over 700 km. At this point, I'm hanging on to every word he is telling me. He continues the story, and it gets even more unbelievable, not only does he build the raft, but he attaches Bruce the motorcycle to it, bolts a propeller onto the driveshaft of the bike and now has what is essentially a BMW 1150 GS powered speed boat. I'm thinking to myself this guy must be crazy!
At this point, I know what you're thinking. Did the raft work? Did he make it to Colombia? How can you sail that across the Pacific Ocean? Well, I'm going to let Dylan tell you the rest of his amazing story. He has just released his full-length film that tells the true tale of the adventure Dylan was about to face being lost somewhere in the Pacific.
I watched the film last night and I can quite honestly say I was blown away. It's a tale of courage, determination and about never giving up. It's about always trying to find the positive in any situation you are faced with, much like many of us are facing right now with lockdowns and the COVID-19 virus.
Dylan's epic story is for everyone, you don't even have to own a motorcycle to enjoy it.
"I have learned to overcome my fears, to be patient and I learned more about my skills. When I look back, I can hardly believe that I did what I did. These six weeks were the hardest and, at the same time, the most beautiful of my life. We have to believe more in ourselves. We need to focus more on the good and have a positive attitude than dwell on the impossible." Dylan Wickrama.
If you enjoyed Dylan's story as much as I did, please share it with your friends and family across your social media sites. Till next time Stay Safe...