Paolo Cattaneo

Bikes People

Finding the meaning of life from the saddle of a motorbike.

There are famous explorers and adventurers we have all heard of, and we know their conquests and trips. Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Sir Edmund Hillary and Sir Michael Palin to name some, and when asked about their exploits and why they undertook the challenges, they all say “because it is there.”

Paolo Cattaneo shares the same sense of adventure but he decided to circumnavigate the world on his motorbike, not because it is there to be done, he wanted to answer a question of himself. What is his ‘meaning of life’?


I met up with Paolo on his brief visit to Britain, where he started in Scotland and then rode down south to London.

Paolo, Why are you doing this?

“I had pretty much a standard life ’til 4 years ago. I grew up near Milan and then went to University where I studied computer engineering. After getting my degree, I found a job but I was bored and wanted to travel. I quit, and moved to the States.”

Paolo then had several jobs in different countries but could never settle and was always restless. Getting bored with his jobs and life he started to ask himself what life was all about?

“I was tired to waste my life after a job, money, a possible mortgage, a future wife, kids and all the stuff that comes with it. It didn’t make sense to me. Why we are born, to live a life that is the same as everybody else’s? It didn’t make sense to me anymore so I decided to find my own way, to find my own meaning of being alive.”

Paolo decided to start to take a break from work and ride around his beloved Australia, which was a route of 20,000 miles. The first trip lasted eight months and he realised working didn’t make any sense anymore. He found out that it cost more to live in Sydney than live on the road like he was doing.

Paolo decided to ride around the world, so he shipped his motorcycle by boat to Chile. Once there he rode around South America for a year and a half, then crossed into Central before heading to North America. Canada was his last country on that continent, then he transferred the bike from Vancouver to Dublin by plane. From Ireland, he crossed over to Scotland then continued down to London.

What bike do you ride?

“My choice was the KTM 1190 Adventure S 2014 model. I did my research and believed this would be the best machine for the task. I purchased it in Australia second-hand with just 400 miles on it. It has been superb and totally gives me the confidence to tackle any surface or environment.”

Have you encountered any danger?
” I have ridden through snow blizzards a couple of times with regular tyres, through floods, hail, and 46 degrees heat. Then faced -12 degrees cold. A few riots were seen in Bolivia.”

The Amazon area in Brazil was one of his favourite locations and offered superb riding. From low-level along the Amazon valley, he climbed to a 5200m mountain pass in Peru and discovered a giant Salt Flat. He almost lost his life when nearly falling into the deepest canyon in the world in Peru…

Other memorable experiences so far have been when he got hosted by a biker gang in Australia, and they slept in an (ex-) mental institute. Back in South America, he tried Ayahuasca with a shaman in the jungle of Brazil. In North America, he rode along the USA’s most isolated road in Nevada and he had to sleep in a tent at -9 degrees at night near Area 51.

The riding has not been easy and he has crashed twice in Argentina at over 60 mph, and then one time in San Francisco near the golden gate bridge. 
He just laughs this off and says it adds to the experience.

So what funny experiences have you come across on your trip?

“I travel on a big adventure bike and I seem very tough in doing it, then I meet guys doing the same thing I am was, but with 100cc postie bikes, 125cc Bolivian/Chinese bikes, or people with 3 wheelers (TukTuk) that to me made me look hilarious!”

After I met Paolo, he crossed the English Channel and entered Belgium to do a tour of the lowlands. He will make his way down through Europe to Italy. From there, he will ride back to Australia via the Middle East and south-east Asia. Finally, when he gets to Indonesia (Timor), he will sail back to Darwin, Australia.


What an epic adventure, one which I would think a lot of bikers would like to do but for everyday life holding them back. Paolo didn’t want to conform to the norms and has truly experienced life. I have a feeling he won’t settle in Australia for too long before he starts another journey.

All the best to him and I hope he discovers the meaning of life.

“I have encountered many different kinds of experiences, but all positive. I have learnt a lot from my travels so far.”

Follow Paolo’s story on his Instagram account.