Scout knew where he was going, he just didn’t know how he was going to get there.
Scout is Scott Sinan, owner/instructor of Studio Fit and Martial Arts USA in Petaluma. Scout is the name bestowed on him by a friend’s 4-year-old daughter who proclaimed to him as he was embarking to ride his motorcycle from Petaluma to Finland. “Not now, Scout,” she said.
With that, Sinan was off on the biggest adventure this far of an adventuresome life. He rode what proved to be a very trusty BMW F-800 across the northern United States into Canada; flew to Europe; toured Southern Europe on his bike; and finally ended with relatives in Finland. He covered more than 11,000 miles.
Sinan said he was inspired to make the journey by Ted Simon, who has written several books about his motorcycle journeys.
Being hooked on motorcycle traveling was one thing, riding from Petaluma to Finland is quite a bit different, but still there were things to consider — things like making sure his business was in good hands, how to handle travel expenses, what general route to follow. Spontaneous doesn’t just happen.
“I didn’t have many expectations.” he said. “I wanted to experience what it was like to be on my own — to just go.”
He left Petaluma in June and headed east.
Early on in his adventure, he was struck by the beauty of the high desert in Nevada and Utah.
A chance meeting with a man and his son taking an off-roading vacation led him to Utah. He wrote on his website: “If you haven’t been to Moab, Utah. My question is why the hell not!? This place has unparalleled beauty! California can be hard to leave because of the variety of terrain and climates, but if you step outside the lines for a while you’ll quickly realize you’ve been missing out! Utah has endless trails to nowhere and I can only describe it as breathtaking!”
He also spent some time exploring Wild Bill Hickok’s final home in Deadwood, South Dakota; swimming in the Missouri River; and waiting out a storm in a coffee shop in Minnesota.
He toured Chicago and continued northeast into Canada, ending the North American portion of his journey in Toronto.
He chose Toronto over New York for a practical reason — it was much cheaper to fly his bike to Europe via Air Canada than any U.S. carrier.
Before continuing to his ultimate destination to visit relatives in Finland, Sinan spent traveled through Europe. While in France and England, he concentrated on World War II historic sites.
In France, he had an enlightening conversation with one of his hosts at a bed and breakfast.
Talking to her about the differences between the French and Americans, Sinan reported on his website that the woman told him: “The French are like coconuts, hard on the outside, but soft on the inside. Once you crack their shell they are your friends forever. Americans are more like avocados, soft on the outside, but hard on the inside. They are very friendly, but can toss you aside rather quickly.”
“I can’t say that is wrong actually,” Sinan wrote. “If we were speaking generally there is some truth. We all judge different cultures and people off our initial experiences, and it doesn’t help when the media shapes your thinking, either.
With his emphasis on World War II, Sinan couldn’t miss Normandy. He wrote on his website after watching videos and visiting the museum, “In the video there were heavy feelings being on the beaches and seeing the monuments and names. Those heavy feelings of sorrow were followed by a sense of freedom, once you understand how they captured the beaches and towns. That feeling of sadness, yet joy, for them must have been unfathomable.”
After leaving France, Sinan toured England and even got invited to play for an Australian side in a rugby match in Wales.
He said some of the toughest of his European journeys were in Spain and Italy, where it was very hot. “It made traveling and sleeping almost impossible,” he said.
The adventures continued as he biked through Germany, Belgum and Sweden.
Finally, after ferry ride from Stockholm to Helsinki, he was within a short 100-mile ride to his cousin’s home near Lahti. But not everything goes according to plan, even if you don’t have an exact plan.
The motorcycle that had taken him across the United States and much of Europe without a hitch, managed to pick up a construction key that deflated a tire as he started the last, short leg of his journey.
He ended up being assisted by a friendly passerby who arranged for a van to pick up the American and his cycle. After more than 11,000 miles on his motorcycle, he finally arrived at his cousin’s home in a van.
Sinan said the logistics of the trip weren’t all that difficult. He stayed at bed and breakfasts, hostels, an occasional hotel, campgrounds and what he called “wild camps,” spending the night in the open.
“It was strange sleeping in a new place almost every night,” he said. “Sometimes I would wake up and not know where I was.”
He had planned to make the trip on $50 a day and ended up spending about $55.
“You think about it, and it really didn’t cost more than I spend at home,” he noted.
He said he always felt safe as he traveled through the different countries. “I felt the most danger in Chicago,” he said.
“Every country was different. The best part was when I connected with people.”