Let's start with an introduction of yourself.

Hello everyone, my name is Norman and I'm a student of mechanical engineering at the ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) of Zurich, Switzerland. I started riding when I was 16 and since then I've been riding all kind of motorbikes but now I just want to ride to see the world.

Norman Pedrini (101% No Limits).

What does an average day in your life look like?

Dreaming. Almost every day I dream and plan where I will go next with my bike. Then of course most of the time I'm busy with the school, with a job as research assistant and with Rugby: a passion that I've discovered 2 years ago.

Your approach to life seems to be in your name: 101% NO LIMITS. How do you balance all the passions in your life?

It's difficult, moreover in a country like Switzerland, where off-roading is illegal and there are almost no free gravel roads. I use my days to plan trips and as I'm independent, I can quit the country whenever I want for going all around with my motorbike: The longer the better.

Something most people wonder about: How have you funded your trip around the world?

First I'm lucky as I'm Swiss and I live in Switzerland: life is much easier. This is the land of opportunities and everyone is given the same: you are eligible to study at the ETH but you can't afford it? The state will help you. Compared to other countries I'm kind of rich but here in Switzerland I belong to the poor class.

Just to make a comparison: In a restaurant in Switzerland I would pay around 35 € for a meal and a drink (Disclaimer: This price is completely fine if you work in Switzerland), so you can easily understand how giving up to some things here allows me to travel.

Then I also give up to a lot of other stuff that are not necessary for me: I cut my hair by myself, I don't have a top-class smartphone (FYI: till 3 years ago I was still using an "old" Nokia phone, so I had no apps such as Telegram or WhatsApp) and I don't have any “nice” clothes.

What navigation tools do you use for long distance riding?

Garmin GPSMAP 60csx. Simple, cheap and reliable. Then it is about compromises, as I can't look at maps very well on it and downloading tracks and putting them directly into it (500 points per track maximum), so I reduce track to very few points and I add Waypoints for navigation. But I plan my trips in advance, so I have always an idea where I am and what is around me.

What goes into the route planning? Do you consider a bed necessary?

Norman Pedrini from Switzerland.I'm an engineer so I question myself about everything and I try to consider everything but in the end it is all about compromises. I always have a planned route of the trip, but it always ends up that I do things differently and I almost never have time constraints: they kill trips by putting stress on the rider. I always look at petrol prices to have cost estimation of petrol, I look on websites for averages prices of sleeping locations on the road so that I know if I should take my tent or not.

A bed is not necessary but it's better for many reason: it's more comfortable, gives you the possibility to dry your gear and yourself and you will meet local people and try talking to them (This is a big pro of looking for a bed and if you travel alone it helps fight the loneliness).

The more in a remote area you are, the more the people will most likely host you in their homes or help you with anything you need. Not taking camping stuff with you will also allow to travel light:

On my 6 weeks trip to Georgia I had 75 litres of luggage with, without the camping stuff I would have had only the 35 litres bag...I camped twice, so I shouldn’t have taken all the camping gear with me.

How did you route out the trip through the Silk Road? How did you find the off road routes in these foreign lands?

About the Passo Sella[ referring to the picture above], it was my first trip, I've just organized the first 2 days with a sort of road book (An A4 paper with [directions] written where to go at main crossroads). It worked in Italy, it was a pain in the ass in Croatia near Josipdol/Ogulin, just by staying on main road. I used google maps for organizing this part.

Then I had maps with me for the Balkans, I have drawn on them the route of Nekay from Wikiloc  and in some parts I took the track and I put it in a GPS map 60csx as on the map these roads were not marked, I had no idea how to use GPS, I had no map on it and I didn't know that it was possible to download them free online. So I ended up by guessing which waypoints of the track were useful and which not, so that I could get the longest way in the GPS (It worked well but GPS track only lasted for 4 days).

Many problems but it was just a short trip, I started very randomly. The TET in the Balkans is based mainly on the Balcanes Trail 2015 of Nachotrips.

Then I bought the XRV and everything changed. I've used it to the 6 weeks trip to Georgia (You can find daily reports on my blog). I was much more ready for that trip, I've got some tracks in Turkey from this guy, just for the south part.

In Georgia there is no need of looking for gravel roads as some big road are still gravel (from Ananuri to Shatili is 200 km there and back, almost all gravel but it's changing, pavement is coming!). Then I got in touch with Nachotrips and he shared with me his experience about Georgia (Like not having an insurance).

I planned this trip from February till July.

Zigana pass (Turkey).

 Do you prefer exploring cities or nature?

Anything that is beautiful is a valid point on my way: cities or nature.

What do you love most about your Africa Twin, the Beast?

It's cheap and reliable, the bike itself does not need any modification for being ridden also off-road well. It's very simple and trustworthy, does not have any strange behaviour which really makes it a very good bike for long range travels. Then it is all up to the rider because some people need more powerful motorbikes. The XRV 650 meets my requirements at the best.

Are there any challenges to travelling alone?

No. The main difference for me is that I'm completely free to do whatever I feel up to, on the other hand sometimes it would be nice to be with someone as there is less stress due to the loneliness. Travelling with someone is better but I can't find someone who meets my basic of not having time constraints.

Did you learn anything about yourselves on the journey?

Yes, when I did my first trip to the Balkans (September 2015), it changed me: It completely opened my mind. I had a lot of prejudices against people from the Balkans and when I found myself there, I realized I have always been completely wrong. People were so friendly!

I was not alone and I've realized that a companion must have my same purpose of travelling: seeing the world.

What do you like most about the Balkans?

I love the Balkans because they are so close and so different from Europe: As they were under the Ottoman Empire for a long time, the culture is very different from West Europe, so cities look different, etc.

Did you get to meet other world travellers on your journey?

Just a Turkish guy riding up the famous D915 with a moped. Otherwise I've never met any long way riders on my trips.

Name a country/ place where:

  • you would like to go to next:

Central Asia (Summer 2018)

  • you might think about migrating to:

 I'm already a nomad.

  • you think would be the cheapest for someone to go:

For Europeans, the Balkans (But not the famous ones).

  • you loved riding in the most:

Everywhere I've been so far.

What would you say to someone who wants to plan for a big adventure?

Imagination is your only limit and don't be afraid of trying things!

Passo sella.

You can reach out to him on Facebook or 101% NO LIMITS. He’s got some amazing pictures( like the ones above). You can also read about his journeys and passion for bikes on his blog.