As many of you will now already know on the 30th January 2007 Tom unexpectedly passed away while he was visiting Bombay with friends. His death came as a complete shock to everyone he knew and my heart goes out to all of his family and friends. I for one am still struggling to get my head around what has happened and it is with a real sense of disbelief that I write these few words. Tom was a warm, intelligent and wonderful person and will be sorely missed by all who knew him. We had the most amazing trip down to India and I know that Tom was proud and happy to have achieved what he did in face of the many obstacles and difficulties we faced and the fact that we reached India shows, to my mind, how strong a person he was; during his last few months here in India Tom was incredibly relaxed and was loving life, the people he met and the country he was in and we must take some consolation from that. For my part I could not have had a better travelling companion and friend with which to do what we did and the time we spent together since we left London merely strengthened the friendship we had developed in the years that I have passed since I first got to know him and made me see even more clearly the many qualities Tom had which made him such a good and loyal friend.
If anyone wants to ask me anything about Tom’s death or to pass any messages onto Tom’s family then they should please e-mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org
and I will contact you directly as soon as I can.
We had originally planned that the final entry on the website would be about something that had happened right at the very start of our trip, but we had not told anyone about owing to the fact that it would have been somewhat embarrassing to put as one of our first posts!. To my mind though it only seems right that I finish the website as he had wanted to finish it and so put the post on the site.
On the second day of our trip (6th June 2006 for those who have forgotten – I did!), and after having left the campsite we spent our first night away in, we were making good progress through Belgium with the intention of getting to either Holland or Germany by the end of the day; however, in what was to become a fairly common occurrence for the rest of the trip, disaster stuck. Riding at a speed in the fast lane of the E17, with Tom a few cars ahead of me, I happened to notice lying on the side of the motorway a metal box looking remarkably similar to Tom’s left hand pannier. As I shot past it I realized that in fact it was Tom’s pannier. Hastily cutting across the three lanes of traffic I pulled into the hard shoulder and leaving the bike I ran back just in time to see the pannier be hit by a car. The car was presumably OK as it carried on and seemed to have wavered little in its progress. The pannier had suffered a noticeably worse fate though as I saw Tom’s clothes scattered along the side of the motorway luckily remaining in the central reservation. After waiting for a gap in the traffic I ran across the road, grabbed as much of Tom’s stuff as I could and ran back to the relative safety of the hard shoulder. Getting back to my bike I was, at that moment, called by Tom who had pulled into the service station a few miles further along the motorway because another motorcyclist had pulled up next to him and pointed frantically at Tom’s bike. Tom had not felt anything when the pannier fell off and it was with some shock that, when looking at his bike at the service station, the puzzlement he felt when trying to work out what the other motorcyclist was pointing out was instantly answered by the sight of the gap on the left side of the bike.
He told me afterwards that his first thought when he realized what had happened was that the pannier had hit me and that something had happened to me, but when he saw that the traffic was still flowing he knew that was unlikely. After we had spoken he came back to meet me and just as he arrived the local police pulled up; it seems a passing motorist had called them out having been confused as to why a guy was sitting on the hard shoulder with a BMW bike, a bent metal box and a pile of clothes next to him.
The police helped us to get our things to the service station and once we had sorted ourselves out we were then faced with the problem of how to get out of this mess. In the end we managed to limp to the nearby town of Ghent and spent a few days there getting Tom’s pannier repaired so that we could carry on. The garage who eventually helped us, did manage to rig something together for us and when we got to Oulu we eventually got hold of a replacement pannier. It is amusing now to think that the pannier that fell off in Belgium and which was replaced was in fact the same pannier that was hit by my bike when we had our accident in Kazakhstan!Written by Peter