This week calls for a bit of a celebration, as not only does it mark the release of my latest book - The Road to the East - but it also marks exactly ten years since I bought Kermit, my first TVR. Quite an ownership milestone, I’m sure you’ll agree. In those ten years, I’ve covered around 66,000 miles in the car, visiting 28 countries and living out of its boot on various camping and road trips, along with one big expedition, for around ten months. Or in other words, for 8.3% of the past decade, my home has been a fibreglass sports car made in a Blackpool shed.
Oh, and in case you were wondering how many serious breakdowns it’s suffered, the answer is zero. It’s been on a low-loader once (after a tyre blowout ten days after I'd bought it, sans spare), and has had the usual immobiliser and hot start issues which I’ve fixed, along with a few other minor issues, but a diet of preventative maintenance has generally kept it dependable.
However, the TVR is but one part of the adventurous road trip addiction on which I embarked fifteen years ago, when in the summer of 2006 I set course for Mongolia, in a classic Mini named Daisy. And as fifteen years is a vaguely round number, and as this week also sees the completion of my ‘Road Trip Trilogy’, a series of three books which documents this decade-and-a-half of my life, I figured it was a good excuse to bring together some rough stats from a decade and a half of dusty roads and distant horizons. Because everyone likes a good stat, right?
So, here you go – fifteen years of quirky driving adventures, in a format which would excite a statistician:
Total distance driven - Around 100,000 miles
Total time spent on the road - 2 full years
Different vehicles used - 14
Passports used - 4
Countries driven - Around 80
Border crossings - Over 200
Police checkpoints/stops - Too many to count
Breakdowns - 82
Most reliable car - TVR Chimaera
Least Reliable car - Fiat 126
Nights sleeping at the Costa Rican border - 7
Nurburgring visits - 3
Quickest drive - Mongol Rally (10,000 miles in 4 weeks)
Slowest drive - Iceland (850 miles in 24 days)
Punctures - About a dozen
Maoist uprisings - One
Magazine & newspaper articles - Over 100
Books written - Three
And here’s a list of the trips covered by the above stats, along with a map showing the roads driven:
2006 Mongol Rally Classic Mini 10,000 miles
2006/7 Arctic Fiat trip Fiat 126 4,000 miles
2007 Rickshaw Run Bajaj Auto-Rickshaw 2,000 miles
2007 El Naranjo Drive Classic Mini 2,800 miles
2007/8 Italian Job Classic Mini 4,000 miles
2008/9 AfricanPorsche Expedition Porsche 944 15,000 miles
2010 Iceland, The Hard Way GT Mountain bike 850 miles
2012 Baltic Ice Roads trip Jaguar XJ6/40 5,000 miles
2012 Morocco V8 Rover P6 3500 2,800 miles
2012 Brazil Bimble Fiat Uno 1,000 miles
2013 V8Nam Corvette C4 14,000 miles
2013 Vietnam Special 100cc Honda Win 1,200 miles
2016 The Slovenian Job Renault 4 2,000 miles
2016 Pub2Pub UK/NC500 Classic Fiat Panda 2,200 miles
2017/8 Pub2Pub Expedition TVR Chimaera 27,000 miles
2018/19 Pub2Pub Adventures trips TVR Chimaera 5,000 miles
Added to the above 98,850 miles are approximately 15 less notable European trips by Porsche 944, TVR, Volvo 850 T5, Volvo 240 and Nissan Micra K10, two stateside Mustang drives and a few other trips which must go unmentioned.
Here's a map of the routes followed by the bigger trips mentioned above:
So, with so much of the world already driven, what will the next fifteen years hold? Well, looking at the above map, and without wanting to sound like a Victorian colonist, there are certainly some enticing blank spaces left. Such as Canada, for instance. Or Australasia. And then there's Antarctica, and Japan, and most of Brazil, and...
Yes, with apologies to Winston Churchill, the completion of the Road Trip Trilogy isn't the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
Watch this space.