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 Motorcycles Interviews Wissam Al Jayyoussi
"Dubai To Londo on a Motorbike...."
June 2010

Meet Wissam Al Jayyoussi, a 36-year-old Jordanian on a mission: Dubai to London on a motorbike. His aim is to raise funds to build a dedicated school for physically challenged children in Gaza. Called the Goodwill Journey, Wissam will cover some 40,000 km across the Middle East and Europe, visiting thirty-six cities in seventy days.

This giant endeavour is in co-operation with Hope & Play, a UK-based charity that organises fund-raising initiatives to help people torn by war, famine and other perils.

On June 3, day number thirteen, and 6,000 km into the trip, Wissam arrived in Beirut. Bato Auto Moto met this passionate humanitarian and enthusiastic biker for an exclusive interview at the dinner reception in Hamra prepared by the Harley Owners Group Lebanon Chapter. Here is what he had to say:


A ride from Dubai to London through 36 cities certainly requires a lot of preparation. Tell us, briefly, how you prepared for this event technically, physically and mentally. Do you have a support team backing you up?

The support team is small, about four people. Preparation for the trip itself started 9 months ago.


The bike, a Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic®, was modified with a maintenance tool kit that includes spare parts, brakes pads, tire repair material, an on-board air compressor, a battery charger, a drive belt…the whole works. There are two GPS tracking systems; one for the map and another one that tracks me down to the smallest detail (including putting the kickstand up and down); an iPod, 4 on-board video cameras. Add to that a medical kit with first aid, pain killers, allergy medicines and a handful of energy bars.


I was trained by Harley-Davidson Dubai to do the bike maintenance. I went on a diet for 3 months to lose 17 kg since the recommended weight for the Ultra Classic® is 135 kg and the luggage accounts for 13 kg. I did 2 months of Pilates to train my legs, arms, and lower back muscles.

Tell us about the routing: did you choose the routing yourself and why those specific cities/destinations?

I initially chose the routing 6 months back but I had to re-route because 4 countries denied me visas: Saudi Arabia, Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia. The re-routing added an additional 3,200 km to the trip.  Every day I ride for 15 hours at an average distance of 1,200 km.


What kind of technology are you using on the ride? (GPS, on-board camera etc.), and how are you updating your followers (blog post, twitter etc.)?

In addition to the GPS tracking system and on-board cameras, there’s a Facebook group that is covering and updating every milestone.


You are traveling for 36 days; how did you manage to pack clothes on your bike?!

I changed my packing style 4 times! In my back pack I have the tools kit, over that, I have my hotel bag. The right saddlebag has my winter clothes while the left has my summer clothes. I have a waterproof bag in the rear with all the electronics inside. And since laundry is not an option, thank God for disposable clothes!


You’ve been a biker for 12 years; naturally such a trip requires a touring bike. Why did you choose a Harley-Davidson rather than many of the other touring bikes?

Because of the H.O.G. [Harley Owners Group]. No other bike gives you access to a worldwide club whose members are like family.

Lebanon and Dubai Chapters were my biggest support so far, with the Lebanon Chapter being the most organized. The Jordan Chapter was welcoming enough.

(H.O.G. Lebanon Chapter met with Wissam at the Masnaa border and escorted him to Beirut. They honored him with a dinner and presented him with a shield of recognition. They plan to escort him to the Arida border and co-ordinate his reception with the Harley riders in Syria. Harley-Davidson Lebanon gave Wissam’s bike a full inspection and some needed spare parts for free.)


What are some of the major challenges facing a biker on such a long and complex journey and what have you done to prepare for them?

Bike problems are my biggest challenge because these are the only obstacles that are out of control. Some countries have bad road conditions; others have no lights which made riding at night uncomfortable. Iran had no GPS or paper maps, so my trip was compass-based. One night in Iran I was followed by a pack of wolves, that was scary, so I decided to ride only during daytime in Iran. Accommodation is sometimes a problem considering I had to sleep in a sleeping bag and a tent since some borders where closed. Speaking of borders, unfortunately in some I was better off saying I am a tourist rather than riding for a [charity cause] since I was excessively interrogated about the reasons behind the ride and the beneficiary. 


What motivates you when you get physically and mentally tired?

Ali, the editor of the pictures and the videos on the blog told me upon leaving that if I ever get tired to remember that there is a mother and child praying for me. That is, by far, my biggest motivation. Plus, I happen to have a high tolerance level and a previous experience with such events. I’ve climbed the Himalayas for charity before raising $1 for every meter to educate women in Palestine. That event lasted one month and ten days and it surely was hard but you get to learn to appreciate every detail in life.


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