Success can be measured in many ways but after traveling for 125 days on his BMW F800GS, Hong Kong-based Australian, Morgan Parker was more satisfied than he had ever previously been. He had reached Brisbane, the city of his birth, after an adventure that took him through 10 countries over an amazing variety of terrains and climatic conditions.
For a man whose life had revolved around Asian property development and merchant banking this was a total and refreshing change. Gone was the comfortable lifestyle, to be replaced by the thrill of the unknown, the promise of adventure and the discovery of small communities living as they had for hundreds of years.
Morgan’s journey was not a flight of fancy but a decision based on his humanity, and an inner drive and passion to make a lasting contribution to the lives of those less well off than him. Like many, he had been inspired by the well-documented ‘Long Way Round’ and ‘Long Way Down’ GS-riding adventures of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. If they could do it so could he — and Wheel2Wheel was born.
He did his research into the living conditions and problems in each of the countries he was going to visit and chose 10 different charities that could benefit from not only a one-off donation but a long-term commitment. “The charities reflect their communities and they tackle such problems as animal cruelty, pollution, sanitation, women’s rights and children whose lives have been affected by conflict,” said Morgan.
Unlike Ewan and Charley, Morgan opted for the smaller but no less capable BMW F800GS, “I did not have a large amount of motorcycling experience and decided the nimble machine would be more practical for me considering the tough conditions I would encounter.”
BMW Concessionaires (Hong Kong) became interested in the project after speaking with Morgan and with their assistance the F800GS was set up for the journey. “It was not only the bike,” said Morgan, “Comfort and safety was also an important consideration in choosing rider wear and all the BMW Motorrad gear was fantastic.”
Starting out in Hong Kong, Morgan crossed the border into the Peoples Republic of China and in doing so became the first motorcyclist, traveling solo, to do so. Keeping to the road less traveled Morgan came in contact with people who live traditional lives and have had little or no contact with outsiders, especially those riding a large motorcycle.
“The F800GS was the passport to engagement and conversation. I would get off the bike and immediately it would help start up a friendly gathering. It transcended all cultural and even religious differences. If I had just been on foot or in a car I would not have had the same impact, nor would I have been as effective in raising awareness to work with the regional charities,” said Morgan.
Across China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, East Timor and finally arriving in Brisbane after crossing the Simpson Desert, Morgan put the F800GS through 15,500 miles (25,000 km) of tough riding. Rutted and twisting roads, sinuous mountain passes and mud so thick the front mudguard had to be removed just so the front wheel would turn… all this was part of Morgan’s philanthropic adventure.
“The F800GS was a delight to ride, and the further I went the more I appreciated its ability,” he said. “It became the central character in my journey of adventure and cultural exploration. It was relaxing to ride and even when it was submerged all the way up to the air-intakes in water it never missed a beat.”
At the end of the journey in Brisbane, Morgan was met by a welcoming crowd of well wishers but for the 36-year-old it signaled the start of a new adventure. Having financed the filming of the journey himself, which will be seen over 10 episodes on National Geographic television, he needs to now ensure the project is seen through to completion, as it all needs to be produced and packaged ready for early 2012. The television series will not only be great adventure television but also highlight the work of Morgan’s chosen charities and give them the opportunity to showcase their great work to a massive viewing audience.
“In the past I have just written out a check, and there is nothing wrong with that, but I wanted to create awareness and provide the potential for an on-going income stream.” For more information on Morgan Parker’s exciting adventure, please visit www.wheel2wheel.tv