Frequent Flyer: Mick McDonald

This motorbike expedition leader loves life on two wheels.

Q Which body part gets the most punishment?

A The bum starts to give you trouble after a couple of hours, although a lambswool seat cover does help. On difficult terrain, such as in Mongolia or Patagonia, it's the arms and legs that take a beating as you're standing on the pegs all day, your body acting as a shock absorber.

Q You're leading motorbike tours from Melbourne. Where to?

A Darwin, riding the Birdsville Track, which everyone needs to experience at least once in their life. The journey's not all red rock and dust though, as we go via the Barossa Valley.

Q What do you always carry in panniers?

A Chain oil, tyre-repair kit, tools, wet-weather gear and a paper map.

Q What's in the support vehicle?

A A mobile kitchen, BMW spares, luggage and non-riders. The most unexpected thing a client ever brought with them was his jet. He flew from Monaco to Brazil, joined us on a Brazilian tour, had his pilot meet him and flew back to Monaco. We've had clients bring along a sleep apnoea CPAP machine on our South America rides, too.


Q Best travel advice you've ever received?

A Enjoy the world around you. If you want to race around at a hundred miles an hour, stay home; the scenery never changes, it's all a blur.

Q Best swerve to avoid an accident?

A In my previous life I drove B-doubles and road trains and never swerved for anything. Motorcycles will always come off second-best so I do all I can to get out of the way. While I was riding across Russia, an old Lada full of drunk Russians pulled out in front of me and I had to go bush, hit a dirt embankment and flew into the air, hands hanging on in a death grip. Eventually I thudded back to earth and myself and bike parted company. To their credit, the Russians came back to help, apologised profusely and tried to force vodka down my throat. Both bike and I were OK and we all continued on.

Compass Expeditions' tours to the Northern Territory begin in August. See