A Slovenian man whose motorcycle journey around the world was put on hold last month after his bike was stolen in Porter Creek has been reunited with his trusty ride.
Bostjan Skrlj has been to 41 countries since 2008 on his BMW GS-1200 adventure motorcycle. It was stolen on the evening of May 10, along with Skrlj’s passport and other important documents, which were inside its boxes.
Last Thursday afternoon, he received a call from someone who claimed to have found the bike, and wanted to verify its vehicle identification number. The person called back about an hour later, Skrlj said, and confirmed it was his bike.
The RCMP was also contacted and the bike, which was found “not far away” in Porter Creek, was eventually towed back to Skrlj’s home.
It was a bittersweet feeling to see the motorcycle again, Skrlj said on Monday morning.
“It’s hard to describe how I felt when I saw the bike because I was happy, but also angry because someone put their hands on something that I really care about,” he said.
“Especially when it’s clear they didn’t know what they were doing. I can’t accept that.”
The damage to the motorcycle is extensive, he said.
The body has been scratched, wires have been pulled out, the seat is ripped, lights are broken, and the computer system is damaged.
Someone tried to hot-wire it, Skrlj thinks, but was unsuccessful. Even the ignition switch is broken, preventing him from putting the key in.
But fortunately Skrlj knows the bike inside out, having worked on it for the past eight years throughout his journey.
In the month that the bike was missing, he said he never gave up hope of finding it again.
“The whole time I was really positive, thinking they’d give up and leave it somewhere because it’s a well-known bike,” he said.
“I was worried they might take it apart and sell the parts, because I have a really good suspension on it. But they didn’t touch it, which proves they really didn’t know what they were doing.”
Skrlj said he’s now waiting to hear back from the RCMP about whether the person will be charged with theft.
Considering he’s travelled through some much tougher countries in the past, he was surprised the bike was stolen here, he said.
In the past he’s had his keys stolen by children in Jordan, he said, but he knew they wouldn’t be able to get away because the bike is too heavy.
Then there was a scary incident in southern Lebanon when he got a bit too close to the Israeli border, and a few Hezbollah soldiers pointed their guns at him.
“My first reaction was to start laughing because it was like in a movie,” he said.
“They checked all my boxes and documents. But an hour later they invited me to go for drinks and food with them, so it turned out to be a great experience.”
For now, Skrlj plans on saving a bit more money and repairing his bike, piece by piece. He’s also waiting on his new passport, which he had to travel to the Slovenian embassy in Ottawa to apply for.
Someone started an online fundraiser for him back in May but he shut it down because he didn’t feel right taking money from people.
“It’s not who I am,” he said, “and I prefer that if people want to donate money, they do it to people who really need it. But I really want to thank everyone who has been so helpful and generous towards me so far.”
Skrlj said he wants to eventually complete his goal of traveling to every country on Earth. But first, he has to go back to Manitoba next spring and attempt to cross the sea ice of Hudson Bay over to Nunavut, after an unsuccessful attempt earlier this year.
Contact Myles Dolphin at