An Enfield Through Africa

Luke Gelmi fights impassible roads, hostile governments and gorillas on the adventure of a lifetime

"I have to pull over to walk off the shakes. That was too close... Helmet off, and it’s all quiet again.

Peaceful, calm, still and serene.

No one’s dying...

I’m side saddle on the bike, calming down and looking absently into the jungle, when the tree right behind me starts rustling. I turn in a snap to see what it is, but it stops...

Everything goes quiet again..."

Enfield Africa
While the Enfield is an unexpected choice for a trip like this, Luke says he wouldn't have it any other way.Luke Gemli

After losing two teeth, hitchhiking across the desert on an ore train, being robbed blind, confronting unfriendly wildlife and hostile foreign governments-- most of us would be ready to call it quits. Not for Luke. He quit his job and left his life at home, took the leap, and has been continuously enjoying his decision, despite the tough circumstance he may constantly be finding himself in.

Starting off on his Royal Enfield in Europe, the trip started to stretch into winter and temperatures started to decline. Where some riders may have turned their bike back towards home, Luke decided to head south to warmer weather. Over the next year or so, he would go through some of the most extreme conditions anywhere in the world. Riding alone, or meeting up with people on similar journeys, each day would be an adventure.

Enfield Africa
Hitchhiking on an ore train across the Sahara DesertLuke Gemli

Reading through some of Luke's stories, it's a challenge to even imagine what it must be like. Not only in a foreign land, totally alone and scrambling to reach new destinations everyday, but fighting through hostile land, governments that are far from accommodating, and wildlife that would love to have you for lunch. Days like that, with questions that can't be answered are the ones that define adventure. When you are alone and something goes wrong and you know you may have no way of getting out. Days that Luke keeps emerging from, stronger from it, without ever doubting whether or not he made the right decision by taking off. It's those moments of fighting through the jungle, where it feels like everything may be closing in around you, and then you open up into a gorgeous expanse where it's so apparent why you're doing what you are.

"I'm like Bambi on the edge of the meadow.

I wonder if we people only find beauty in contrasts. In music, it's the unexpected change in the sound that induces shivers up our spine...

As I crack on into the grasslands, letting the weight of the bike roll us down a decline, I’ve got my arms spread out, flying down the hill. I'm yelling into my helmet.

'This is what it's all about!! This is it!'

And it is...

This is why I wanted to go exploring; it's to be as thoroughly gobsmacked as this.

In an instant it feels like the whole journey has been vindicated, again."

enfield africa
Totally normal roads for AfricaLuke Gelmi

It's a rare breed that takes on an adventure like this one. Throwing all caution to the wind. Trusting in more than yourself and your bike to get you home, if you even have plans to get home-- I'm not totally sure that Luke does. As of a few days ago, he was riding through Gabon, just west of Congo on the coast of Africa.

Trying to tell his stories will hardly do them justice. If you have the time they are quick, easy to read, terrifying and hilarious all at once. In the latest one, he goes from having a shotgun waved in his face, to laying his bike down and having a confrontation with a gorilla all in one day. His writing style is light and fun, making it seem like you're sitting there with him getting the play-by-play from a slightly rattled but ecstatic friend.

Enfield Africa
Making friends with bikes that are a little more appropriate for the type of riding they'd be doingLuke Gelmi

The tone with which he refers to his bike is just about the most endearing I have heard. He refers to the bike and himself as "we," and it seems his adventure is shared with his bike, rather than the motorcycle being a tool or the means to an end. He constantly refers to the noise, the look, and the feel of his bike with such genuine love that that alone is starting to sell me on this Enfield. Especially noting that he left a BMW F800GS in the garage at home to take on this adventure.

You can follow along at, on his instagram @ShotsFromTheBar, and on his Facebook ShotsFromTheBar. He has recently released Part One of his three part book series: Oblivious, which is available HERE.