David Atkins’ Motorcycle Adventures
Updated: May 20
My adventure began last March 2018 – I call it an adventure because boy has it been a roller coaster of a ride. When I was diagnosed with Mesothelioma last March it was a real shock as at the age of 74 I have been lucky enough never to have any serious illnesses. So having people fussing over me is not for me.
Before this problem arose, I was planning to go on a motorbike tour in India with my daughter and son in-law. so when I phoned my daughter to let her know about the diagnosis – I said bad news I have cancer – good news they are getting me ready to go to India!. This was my plan to get myself fit for India and the cancer was just a hurdle to get over.
I had my operation in Guys Hospital in September and my daughter wanted me to focus on getting well so designed a chart on the wall – called footsteps to India – i got a step closer to India every time i achieved goal in hospital – like walking the length of the ward – climbing the stairs. Many of my friends told me I was mad at my age and with my illness.... but nothing was going to stop me.
December came and I flew to Dehli with a group of bikers – 14 of us in total – we spent 3 days sightseeing and we saw the magnificent Taj Mahal. Then the excitement began – we flew to Siliguri (North East India) and took tut tuts to the hotel where our motorcycle where lined up ready and waiting. The first day had us riding up and up – up winding twisting roads to Darjeeling – this is a place I had always wanted to go to – I had watched many documentaries on the Darjeeling steam railway - I had made it and never thought I would – it was such an emotional feeling. Then i was surprised when they said we were going to ride on the steam train – a dream come true.
We rode for 10 days though the Himalayas rough roads, smooth roads and even up to 10,000 feet . I had to keep stopping and thinking this is real and I am really in India. So many of stories to tell including getting lost at the top of a mountain, riding in 1940s land rovers, eating lots of different curries. It was a trip of a lifetime.
I returned home after an amazing trip and then a few weeks later my son in law said – ‘Dave do you fancy a motorcycle tour in Columbia?’. It’s a place I had never even thought about going to but I thought why not?
Unfortunately in February this year, after a scan I got the news that the cancer was growing and I would need chemo, not the news that I wanted but I thought it is what it is - as long as it does not interfere with my trip. I had noticed that riding in India I had lost my upper body strength so I got a personal trainer to help me twice a week to build up my stamina. I also emailed my consultant and asked them to plan my chemo around my trip to Columbia and my other two holidays I had planned in my 1930’s vintage car.
In May, I had my chemo session and then a week later i was flying to Bogata. This time there were 8 of us on tour. We rode through a desert – boy was it hot and then smooth winding roads and then a day of off roading. We had to get the bikes onto a canoe and cross a fast river, then ten minutes later, over a very narrow bridge then riding through a river. The trip was amazing with a visit to a coffee plantation, up a volcano to feed the humming birds. I was tired every night but i was determined to ride every day. – what great memories we made.
I have had a boring September – with a few unplanned stays in hospital but we are talking about riding skidoos in Finland in February – so watch this space.
David Atkins Age 75 and a bit!!
Since this was written, David has sadly passed away. He was an inspiration to everyone he met and as you can see from the article, never let his illness get in the way of anything he wanted to achieve. His family ensured he had the send off he deserved and would have loved, arriving in style at the church in a motorbike and sidecar with a family entourage of vintage cars awaited by a church full of friends and family to celebrate the life of a truely remarkable man.