GALLERY: Go Behind The Scenes On Our 2002 Ducati 998 Film Shoot
Is it practical to ride an Italian sportbike from Amsterdam to Cape Town? Hardly. But if you have the mechanical know-how to improvise repairs on a Ducati 998 in the middle of the desert, the only thing holding you back from a continent-crossing adventure is the will to start one—at least according to Peter Muurman. He has some solid supporting evidence to back that up though, seeing as he’s taken his 998 through 54 countries and racked up nearly 100,000km in the process.
It takes a certain outlook on life to undertake journeys of such scale, and if you end up completing them, you’ll never see the world the same way again. Maybe that’s a little bit of a cliché, but how could it not be true? How could you maintain a specific outlook after traveling across and spending ample time in a continent vastly different from the one that formed that outlook in the first place? You won’t be a new person, but the pool of experiences that you’re made up will have filled up some more, at the very least.
In Peter’s case, taking the Ducati out for long rides in Western Europe for weeks at a time meant he never had to leave his comfort zone; living in the Netherlands and being no stranger to a motorcycle made a ride through Germany functionally very similar to a ride down to the local supermarket back home.
But Peter had long dreamed of a two-wheels trip to Africa, and after completing endurance rides through Eastern Europe and Asia (including a marathon of a route from Amsterdam to Tokyo), it was time to come up with a plan to make it happen. The aforementioned trips had broken Peter out of his comfort zone, but in doing so only instilled a desire to venture out even further. He knew the Africa dream had to become a reality somehow, even if he couldn’t afford to buy a bike more traditionally suited to the journey. His 998—a bike clearly designed for the smooth circuit side of the spectrum as opposed to roughing it in the desert scrub—would have to make do.
It’s one that meant a lot to him well before kilometer number one. In fact, the bike had racked up quite a few by the time Peter found it. Like many a male who saw the Ducati 916 in the early 1990s, Peter fell in love. He was a teenager back then, and years later, while Peter was finishing his degree and working as a parcel courier, Ducati had evolved the famous 916 sportbike into the 998.
One of Peter’s coworkers was into bikes too, and he’d found a 998 for sale that Peter could afford. It had been a rental, so the mileage was exceptionally high for its age, but while all that might have scared off most potential 998 customers, it made if affordable enough for Peter to count himself among them. It made him “happy as a baby” to own something that he’d imagined having to wait much longer for. He wasted no time enjoying it.
Which brings us back to the road trips. After growing very comfortable with both riding and wrenching on the 998, Peter found that his Ducati provided the financially feasible solution to his situation once again; rather than shelling out for something traditionally suited for the ride like a Honda Africa Twin and having no money left over to actually make the trip, Peter decided to do the Africa ride on his trusty Ducati.
“I decided to do it as an experiment, because so many people tend to have their ideas of ‘Ok, this is what they really want to do, I want to travel the world,’ but there’s no action. They always have arguments not to do it—they don’t have the right bike, the right money, the right job to get days off…”
Peter didn’t let any of that get in his way, and after a thorough going-through of the mechanicals —including modifying the cooling system with new radiators, oil coolers, and the “breather” holes in the bodywork—he rode from Amsterdam to a port in Greece where he took a boat to Israel and continued by bike all the way to Cape Town.
“I always struggle to get grounded again after a long trip, like a ghost that doesn’t want to go back into the bottle once it has felt freedom,” Peter reminisces as we talk about the adventures he’s checked off the list. It’s hard to imagine him not adding to that list, and the 998 is already on its second engine—Peter stresses it is not an extraordinarily reliable bike, but is still simple enough to fix in the desert if you know what you’re doing. And it’s not really about the equipment after all, as long as what you’ve got and what you know can combine to get you from one place to the next, the only thing holding you back is a lack of action.