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THOMAS WOODROW

An Overlanding Inspiration

//ADVENTURERS INSPIRED - THOMAS WOODROW

THOMAS WOODROW:

Name: Tom Woodrow

Age: 36

Nationality: British
 

FOLLOW TOM : 

Website: www.adventurebiketv.com 

www.geekmedialtd.com 

Facebook: adventurebiketv

Instagram: @adventurebiketv

Books / Publications: Adventure Bike TV

TOM WOODROW : 

Track racing

 

GENERAL INTRO :

Countries Travelled :

France, Spain, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, South Africa, Lesotho, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

What inspired you to travel the way you do?

I have always liked to travel, but the idea of travelling on motorcycle was inspired by watching Long Way Down (I missed Long Way Around) but funds were always limiting. When I started filming I knew I wanted to make a travel film, so I found a trip, going down to the Gambia and joined.

How long do you travel for at a time (or are planning on)?

The longest has been a month, but now with a family I don’t like to be away for too long, I miss my family a lot and the enjoyment of the adventure start to wain the longer i’m away from them. I also don’t think it’s fair on them to be without their daddy for too long, So I now limit the time i’m away to a maximum of 2 weeks. Some people scoff at this, calling my trips and adventures holidays rather then travel, but I don’t agree, I discover the places I go in a way a tourist never would, and just because I only do it for 2 weeks, don’t make it any less of an adventure.

How did/do you plan your journey(s)?

In all honesty I don’t really, I have never done a motorcycle trip of any kind without filming it, this is the only way I can fund my travel bug. Part of being a cameraman is that I mostly follow other people, Graham Hoskins mostly, and they plan the route, I follow and film. Planning for me isn’t about the route, it's about how to pack my gear, how long will it be between places I can charge kit etc.

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TOM WOODROW : 

Desert Riding, Africa

VEHICLE :

 

Current Overland Vehicle / Mode of Travel :

At the moment I don’t have anything, I am very fortunate that if I am going off to film something I can normally get a manufacturer to lend me a motorbike, which is fun because I get to ride a wide range of bikes, but I do miss mavin one of my own, walking into the garage and seeing my own lovely bike sitting there.

Previous Overland Vehicle(s) / Mode of Travel :

I had Triumph Tiger 800xc which I loved and did a lot of work on, the bike took me to the arctic, I did the Stella Alpina on it, a few small off road events and even 2 Iron Butts (1000miles in 24 hours).

Before that I also owned a KTM 640 ADV and a BMW F650 Dakar

Why did you pick your latest overland vehicle to travel in?

I got the Triumph because they lent it to me to film a TV series and I loved it so much I bought it off them.

What’s the best thing about your previous vehicle set up?

For me it wasn’t any one thing, but it was mine, all the extras and improvements I had done meant that it felt like no other bike to ride and I felt comfortable on it, I knew it should feel under me, I knew its limits and could take it to the edge without going over.

 

What’s the worst thing about your previous vehicle set up?

I always struggle with seat hight, i’m short, but I now know tips and tricks so its not a big deal.

What would you change / add on to your vehicle if you could?

I’d still own it!

 

Have you broken down on your trip or had an accident? If so, how did you resolve the situation?

When travelling through Mauritania on 3 Yamaha Tenere’s I had some major clutch issues, it was a new bike, and was just one of those things, we ended up leaving it in the corner of a nightclub outside Dakar, and taking the radiator and fan off to fix problems on the other 2 bikes so we could ride down into the Gambia, 2 up. Then we came back and took a day to get this bike, with a slipping clutch and no way to cool itself, the 20 miles to the shipping office in Dakar.

How do you navigate? 

I always have a Satnav just in case, but as I'm the cameraman, I mostly follow, more important then Satnav for me is communication, so always have radios and headsets.

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TOM WOODROW : 

Tenere Riding in Mauritania

ACCOMMODATION  :

Do you stay in campsites / hotels / motels / airbnbs? 

I have stayed in all 4, variety is the spice of life!

How do you pick where you stay?

Usually budget or for filming something out of the ordinary always works best.

Name one of your favourite places you have stayed to date and can you explain why it was your favourite place?

Wild camping in a ex nuclear missile base was a highlight, surrounded by cold war buildings and everywhere had an eerie quietness.

What is your sleeping set up and why have you chosen this system? :

My budget usually limits me to a simple sleeping mat and bag arrangement, which works fine, but I can wake up achey. I have tried a friends Helinox bed and it was amazing, just out of my price range. I always try to have a down sleeping bag though, light, compact and regulates your temperature better.

 

Can you offer any advice to help travellers ensure they get a great nights sleep?

Go to bed early, get up early. In a tent you can’t stop the sun coming up and once it starts to get light, sleep becomes more fitful and disturbed, so try to have as much downtime in the darker hours.

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TOM WOODROW : 

Wandering around the Roman Ruins in Morocco!

CAREER & FINANCE :

What is your current / previous career?

I have a small production company that makes TV series about motorcycles.

Do you work on the road? 

When I travel, it is my work.

How do you fund and budget for your travels?

I am very lucky that when I travel it is funded by TV channels or Sponsors.

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TOM WOODROW : 

No rest for the wicked - editing his film footage whilst camping.

TRAVEL GEAR :

 

What are the most useful items whilst travelling?

My Phone, it’s a back up video camera, a stills camera, a satnav, a comms device, everything. Powerbanks, when it comes to filming, without power i’m screwed. Tape, lots and lots of tape. Magic Trick, I took a little magic trick (making coins disappear) simple but the local kids loved it, and diffused the odd strange situation.

What has been the most pointless item(s) you have taken with you travelling?

Not pointless but I always take way too many pairs of trousers and not enough socks. For 2 weeks when you spend most of the day in riding kit, 1 pair of shorts and 1 pair of trousers is enough (unless you plan to go somewhere fancy).

Which photography / video equipment do you take with you? 

My new compact film kit is a Sony A6500 (great little camera, 4K recording and also give you a great stills camera) with a Sony 18-200 lens. Always some sort of external mic, and the camera is small enough to use with a cheaper gimbal. The the DJI Mavic and my action camera of choice at the moment is the Garmin Ultra 30, mainly because it gives the best sound I have ever had on an action camera.

Do you have any luxury / unusual items you take with you travelling? 

I don’t currently but a friend always takes a memory foam travel pillow, its bigger then a normal travel pillow but not massively and makes a big difference, so on my next trip I will be taking one of them.

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TOM WOODROW : 

Filming Danny John Jules.

GENERAL TRAVEL  :

 

Describe a moment you felt most happiest when travelling :

In the Pyrenees, with 2 friends, no more filming to do for the day, sitting on my pannier next to a fire in a wild camping spot, just chatting rubbish and laughing. It’s the simple things.

Describe a time you felt nervous / uncomfortable / scared when travelling?

On my first big trip we were coming up to Mauritania and getting some very scary reports, I was new to all of it and didn’t know what to believe. It wasn’t helped by the other guys arguing a lot about which way to go, some wanting to just get through as quickly, others wanting to take ages riding off road and ‘hiding’ from the threat. Ultimately nothing happened and all was fine, but I was green to it all then, and I was scared.

How do you cope with situations which are difficult or could involve conflict when on the road?

I smile, always smile, offer and hand to shake, compliment the country you are in, stay calm, and don’t be stubborn, just go with it and keep smiling at them.

What do you miss about a regular not-on-the-road lifestyle?

Just my friends really, and riding, but for me I miss my family more when I’m away, then I miss riding when I’m home (sorry probably not what hardcore adventurers expect, but it’s true).

What has been the best experience you have had with locals when travelling?

In Morocco I went to some Roman ruins and there was a man there selling hats. I bought one, he was charging £2, I gave him £10 and asked him to show me around the place. He spoke no English so we used only sign language and for 2 hours he showed me around, giving some interesting gestures to explain why there was a penis on a bench. We became firm friends!

TOM WOODROW : 

Tom mingling with the locals in Morocco!

Which country / area would you love to revisit and why?

Nepal, it was lovely but I was only there for a day. People seemed nice, just liked the feel of the place.

What’s it like to travel with company?

I always travel with friends, mostly Graham Hoskins, and its great... but separate tents is a must.

Can you give any advice to those looking to travel with others / solo?

Be honest, don’t always try to be in control, or always just do what the other wants, compromise.

Name a couple of things you’ve learned on the road which you wouldn’t have ordinarily learned when at home?

I think that mothers are all the same, in any country, watching a Mother with a child in Gambia, and India and seeing so many of the same things I see when I watch my wife with our kids.

What skills would you like to learn to help you on your travels?

More Languages

Any recommended websites or resources which has helped you with your trip?

Cotswold Outdoor gave some great camping gear advice, did some adventure riding training at Trail Quest too.

Do you record your journey? If so, what advice can you offer others who are looking to do the same?

Everything I do is recorded on film. My main advice would be simply to ask yourself, do you really want to film the trip? As a cameraman I experience a trip in a very different way to most other travellers, I am more of a passive observer. When interesting stuff happens, I stand back and film, when the scenery is amazing, I look at it though a LED screen, when we meet interesting people, I stay silent while others chat and become friends in front of the camera. Then of course I have to be up first, to pack up my kit before the others, so I can film them doing the same, and once everyone goes to bed, I still have footage to back up and batteries to charge. However having said that, if you can put yourself through that, it can be very rewarding to see the end result. Also remember a simple rule, if something is happening, and it’s too manic to film, that's probably when you should pick up a camera and press record.

What are your favourite road tripping songs?

The song I sing to myself most as I ride is ‘Oh what a night’ with the words changed to ‘I need a wee’. Other than that, I like to listen to film scores, Hans Zimmer or John Williams, I find it exaggerates my feeling as I ride though amazing areas.

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TOM WOODROW : 

Showing the local kids the film footage!

HEALTH : 

What advice would you give to other travellers to help them stay mentally and physically healthy on the road:

My trips are short so it has never really come up. I have seen some horrible things, children dying in front of me in some very horrible hospitals, kids with burns to 90% of their bodies but still smiling. Like most people I won’t come home and change my whole life, but it stays with you and I find afterwards I appreciate what I have a bit more.

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FOOD :

What is your go to snack when travelling :

Skittles as a snack and if I cook, it's mostly pasta. I know everyone tends not to like them, but I LOVE boil in the bag breakfasts.

Do you have any cooking / eating out tips for those travelling?

I order local food, but always with a side of fries, then if I don’t like the food I can fill up on the fries.

What has been the best food you have had whilst travelling?

Best food I have had is either the HUGE fillet steaks in South Africa for about £8 or I had a Reindeer Steak in Finland which was amazing, until someone said I was eating Rudolf.

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WRAPPING UP :

Do you feel travelling has changed you? If so in what way?

A little, in terms of appreciating what I have, but if I’m honest travel wasn’t a life changing thing for me, I love it, but I’m not suddenly a hippy. Maybe because it's part of my job.

Best piece of advice you have been given for your travels?

Don’t try to control everything, it won’t work.

 

Worst piece of advice you have been given about your travels?

Don’t take a new bike, you are rubbing your wealth in their faces. I have done the same route through Africa twice, once on a Honda CD200 and once on a brand new Super Tenere and I wasn’t treated any differently. In fact the locals loved seeing something they never normally would, and getting to sit on it etc. Just like when I see a Ferrari go past, I don’t feel like they are rubbing their wealth in my face, I’m just excited to have see a cool car.

What is your next step travel wise?

Trips for Adventure Bike TV, trying to make films to inspire others

 

One piece of advice you would offer to wannabe travellers :

Do it the way you want to, short or long, solo or with friends, on a budget or no expense spared, do it your way and never regret.

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TOM WOODROW : 

Showing the local kids the film footage!

A big thank you goes out to our buddy Tom from the whole team at EXP52 for participating in this interview in 2018! We hope you enjoyed reading through their travel tales and worldly advice - don't forget to follow them to keep track of their latest adventures!

FOLLOW TOM : 

Website: www.adventurebiketv.com 

www.geekmedialtd.com 

Facebook: adventurebiketv

Instagram: @adventurebiketv

Books / Publications: Adventure Bike TV

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