Hi, I’m Laurens. I”m 28 years old, grew up in Belgium and Indonesia.
I studied Computer Graphics in Belgium and graduated in 2009.
After that I worked for 2 years as a professor at university, teaching Computer Graphics.
I left my teaching job to move to London, UK, to work for a software company. I spent about one and a half years in the UK, until I decided it was time to move on.
In 2013 I moved to Stockholm, Sweden to work for a big software corporation. The corporate life took its toll on me, and combined with the end of a 4-year relationship, I decided it was time for a drastic change. In June 2015 I quit my job, sold my house, and have been on a journey ever since, trying to experience as much as I can in the hope I will find a new calling.
On this page I hope to show you my passions and the experiences that have shaped who I am.
I’ve been riding two-wheelers since I was 16 years old, so that’s 12 years by now.
My first moped, a 1982 Honda MB50 was very cheap and needed lots of repairs. The engine blew a few times and at 17 years old me and my grandfather rebuilt the whole engine to replace a broken big-end bearing. From then on I got quite into customizing and fixing up motorcycles. The MB50 was mainly used to go to and from highschool, any trips over 25km meant the reliability could become an issue!
My main motorcycle during the 25-kw period was a 35kw, 1986 Honda CB400N. It was quite reliable and looked decent, but I still had to replace the valve seals at one point, requiring the engine to come out and the cylinder head and camshafts to go off.
My CB400N was used to commute to university for about 3 years and the rear seat was comfortable enough to take young ladies along.
Once I could buy an unlimited bike, my father sponsored me in buying a second hand 2000 Suzuki Bandit 600S. It felt like such a beastly bike back then. Being fairly recent I was glad not to have to work on this bike a lot, only changing things like the exhaust and rear suspension. I commuted to work on this bike sometimes, but I mainly used it for biker gatherings and bigger trips in Belgium. This was the first bike I installed a GPS unit on, which marked a big milestone for me.
When I moved to England I decided I wanted something radically different, a really nice and modern bike with styling to envy. A 2009 KTM Duke 690 became my weapon of choice for the English country roads. I did many miles on this bike and still consider it one of my favorite bikes, I really regret selling it.
The supermoto style of the Duke opened the door for some more adventurous riding. I’d often go for the small, dirty country lanes and really enjoyed exploring all corners of the countryside with it.
In Sweden I decided it was time to take it a step further and I bought a 2007 BMW G650 X Moto. As I got more and more into adventure riding on unpaved roads, I decided to buy a set of 21- and 18-inch rims with Heidenau K60 tires. This bike set me off on a new path, showing me that there are so many more roads and places once you leave the asphalt. It even inspired me to write about this experience.
An unlucky turn of events lead me to purchasing another bike before the BMW’s time was truly up. A 2010 KTM 690 Enduro with Rally tank and fairing is my next step up in exploring all types of roads, good or bad!
Over the years I have attended a few training courses to improve my motorcycle skills, these include:
- Basic skills refreshers.
- Track days focused on correct technique rather than speed, so called “Knix” courses with the Swedish Motorcyclists Association.
- Several gravel-focused courses that included exercises on closed terrain as well as longer multiple day tours, also with the Swedish Motorcyclists Association.
I’m just an amateur mechanic, but my interest in how things work, as well as wanting to save money while furthering my skills, has lead me to take on more and more mechanical tasks over the past years. Here are some of the most recent ones.
Early this year in Sweden, I rebuilt and customized an old 1986 Yamaha SR250 motorcycle. I took it from it’s old, ugly original form and turned it into a retro street tracker, inspired by current trends seen on sites like Bike EXIF. This involved cutting and welding the frame, building a new seat and battery tray, rewiring large parts of the electric system, redoing the suspension as well as polishing and repainting most parts, even the engine. I really enjoyed doing this, learnt a lot along the way and am quite proud of the end result!
When volunteering on a farm in Norway, I was tasked with fixing most of the farm vehicles that had fallen into disrepair. These included an old Yamaha XT600, a 1952 Ferguson tractor and various power tools. The tractor was a very fun challenge; perished wiring meant I had to remake the whole wiring harness from scratch (thankfully there were only about 8 main wires). I also checked and replaced all fluids, as well as cleaned the fuel system. The tractor was running in the end!
In Australia, I bought a Toyota Hilux with some issues and had to spend some time fixing it. I worked on steering, brakes, bodywork and replaced the rear differential. So far it’s been running alright!
One of my first jobs was as a professor at the University College of West Flanders, where I had graduated before. While I didn’t teach anything practical or related to motorcycles (it was all computer-based), it did teach me some good skills and showed me that I do like working with people. I prepared and set-up courses, guided students and graded results. I’d often do presentations in front of an auditorium with up to 200 people. Additionally, my job involved a few work trips abroad during which I represented my university in Queretaro, Mexico and Shanghai, China.
Aside from my previous teaching job, I’ve engaged in some freelance and voluntary activities related to it:
- I authored a 3-part DVD-video series on 3D graphical techniques. The series was very in-depth and is still being sold today.
- Now and then I would personally mentor a promising “student”, someone I met online. I’d offer them the chance to transfer my knowledge and feedback their work, if they regularly reported back to me and followed along with exercises and challenges I set out for them. I did this a few times on topics of 3D graphics and programming.
- In my spare time I programmed some tools that I released to the public. I put a lot of effort into creating extensive documentation. I wrote help-files in which I tried to cover all problems and spent a lot of time providing support and help to people online.
I really like traveling. This world is so big and there’s so much to see, so I want to make sure I experience as much as possible in my lifetime. My preference is often to go off the beaten path, staying with locals, discovering hidden places and just putting up with all the weird and wonderful things I come across.
Here are some snippets from travels I’ve done. They show a progression from being merely a participant, to being for a large part organizer and driving force of the whole trip.
In July 2011 me, my ex-partner and her parents went on a 1000km, 4-day ride through Tuscany in Italy. While I didn’t plan much myself and it was on a rental G650GS, I still really enjoyed the freestyle-mode of traveling where we’d sort out accommodation by the evening itself only.
In 2012 we went for a more serious journey, where I rode almost 5000km from London, to Ghent and then down to the French, Italian and Swiss Alps. We ended up seeing highlights such as the Lac D’Annecy, the Matterhorn and Lausanne. By then I planned and sorted out the solo sections of the trip myself.
While I lived in the UK, I would go on motorcycle daytrips with my ex-partner. I researched the destination and planned the route, always trying to turn it into a complete experience for her. We visited old mansions, castles and gardens all over Kent and Sussex during these one and a half years.
In 2013 we went for a different kind of trip, heading to south-east Asia for nearly a month. We visited Singapore and most of Western Malaysia. This was a different kind of travel, with most things pre-booked and no own transport: we only used coaches to travel between cities. It made me realize I prefer at least the freedom of my own transport, being able to stop at will and take it all in.
In 2014 a good friend and I took our, by then adventure-ready, bikes on a 10 day tour through Latvia and Estonia. Our goal was to experience the influence of the Soviet Union by visiting strange cities and abandoned places. Planning and organizing it was a joint effort: we weren’t going to camp but still optimized our gear, planned our routes and prepared the bikes for some serious travel. We had some mechanical issues (oil leaks, flat tires) and had to improvise along the way, but did not let that influence our enjoyment at all.
In spring 2015 I quit my job and started traveling much more.
When I had sold my house in Stockholm, I strapped everything I had left to 690 Enduro, and took off back to my home country of Belgium. A friend from Sweden and his KTM 690 joined me on the boat to Riga, through Lithuania and then all the way down to Gdansk in Poland during a week. I organised and planned almost all of this trip, based on knowledge and experience from the Baltic trip I did the previous year. This part of the trip was much more about adventure riding, taking small trails and ending up in weird abandoned places again.
For the second part of the trip, I met up with my brother on his KTM 690 SMR on the island of Rugen in Germany. We then spent a week heading South to Luxembourg and back into Belgium. This part of the trip was more freestyle, me and my brother co-operated in planning routes and finding accomodation. The riding was much more asphalt-focused again compared to the previous part.
You can read about some of my other, less motorcycle-focused travels here:
- Volunteering on a Farm.
- Sailing on the Swedish East Coast.
- Pilgrimage to Mount Athos
- Australia Roadtrip (currently ongoing)
I took up photography as a hobby when I started working. I shot with consumer camera’s first and once I felt i started hitting those limitations, I moved on to DSLR cameras. Nowadays I only shoot with mirrorless cameras and am still quite happy with my aging Sony NEX5.
I especially like taking pictures in strange, otherworldly, abandoned places, like this old car cemetery in western Sweden. I think being disappointed and bored with the way society supposes us to live our lives, makes me seek out this kind of place.
Photography in return also gives me a reason to explore, I like the feeling of always being on the hunt for a great shot. Even when riding my motorcycle, I carry my camera in a pouch close by, so I can pull it out as quick as possible!