-- World Travelers
-- By Trevor Hedge
Long distance motorcycle touring has seemingly been done to death in recent years with no shortage of people riding the world for a cause or trying to cover vast distances in the shortest possible time. It has got to the point where many people’s eyes glaze over when details of yet another exploit hits the media.
This story though is a little different, as there is seemingly no end to the 10 plus years (and counting) adventure of UK couple, Simon and Lisa Thomas.
Their quest is to cover 122 countries, all seven continents and set five Guinness World Records. And unlike many of the other intrepid adventurers, they have no back up vehicles or film crews and have been completely self-sufficient throughout their 416,000km to date, journey.
And they have not chosen the easy way round.
From sub-zero temperatures in the Arctic Circle, surviving a disastrous drought in Africa, battling through numerous bouts of Malaria, Dengue Fever, not to mention the obligatory crashes on any adventure motorcycling journey, the duo has - almost - seen it all.
One of the most distressing experiences occurred in the Amazon Rain Forest. After a rotting bridge gave way under Simon and his BMW R 1150 GS the pair repaired the motorcycle before enduring a painful 23-day motorcycle journey to medical assistance. Investigation into Simon’s pain diagnosed a broken and dislocated neck prompting emergency surgery and a long recovery before they could continue their journey.
Australia is their 77th country and sixth continent and we recently caught up with the ‘40-somethings’ to discuss their journey.
How did the idea come about?
“When we first met neither of us knew the other rode motorcycles. Then, on our second wedding anniversary we both re-took our motorcycle tests which led to us taking as many trips as possible whenever we could.
“We talked for many years about taking a longer 'trip' and having a career-break. In one very bad year, Simon's mother was diagnosed with Cancer, Lisa's father underwent heart surgery and Simon was involved in a serious motorcycle accident which effectively took off his right foot and resulted five major operations, him being bed ridden for almost 2-years and then having to learn to walk again.
“It was all-in-all a massive wake-up call. We've come to realize that, we all have more time than we need, but less time than we think. It's better to regret the things we do, than regret the things we don't. One day we decided to stop the 'talking' and begin the 'doing'. “
How did their family respond to the plan?
“We had planned to travel for a maximum of 18-months and Lisa's family were not at all surprised. Lisa had travelled and lived abroad for many years with her parents and they had instilled in her a life of diversity and independence. Simon's family were a little more surprised but everyone was supportive. We are not too sure, however, what they would have said if we had said our journey would turn out to be 10-years plus in length!”
The place they can’t get enough of?
“A difficult one. If we are just talking about the fantastic riding we both would say deserts anywhere in the World, from the 'real' deserts of the Sahara and the Gobi to the high altitude deserts in the Altiplano of Bolivia.
“For a country we would say Mongolia as it’s stunning in its desolation and overwhelms with its raw natural beauty. Mongolians are wonderfully enthusiastic, proud and hospitable. It's the nomad way.”
Their favourite experience of Australia?
“Riding the 'the World’s longest shortcut!' From Winton (QLD) to Laverton (WA) was incredible. The colour and rugged beauty at the heart of this vast country easily made a 416,000km trip well worthwhile. We'll be washing out the red dirt and sand for months! Experiencing the true Outback beats just seeing it on TV.”
“Well....we never plan too far in advance! We saw in the New Year in Sydney but the only definite date coming up, apart from a few presentations, is that we are attending and presenting at the Adventure Film Festival which is taking place in February next year in Bright.
“We will then continue to New Zealand before heading to Alaska and our final 46 countries.”
To learn more about their adventures or support the charitable organisations they travel the world to support (World Water Aid / British Heart Foundation / CancerBACUP), visit their website, www.2ridetheworld.com. As all money raised goes directly to the charities, the couple has no idea exactly how much money has been raised thus far.
There are no direct financial sponsors that fund their trek, so to help fund their adventures they sell calendars showcasing their amazing photography skills. They also finance themselves through offering interactive presentations including a ‘Dusty Days of Freedom’ digital presentation to groups (often BMW dealerships) for a small fee, along with doing some freelance graphic design work where and when such opportunities arise. They sold off their belongings before starting the journey and had $48,000 to their name, ten years on and they are still going strong.
The duo are also on Facebook, Youtube and Twitter, none of which was invented before they started their journey. Think about that….
|- LATE BRAKING NEWS
- REVIEWS -