In a year where long distance motorcycle records are being broken and reset, some of which involve women riders, it’s interesting to take a moment and look back to the pioneers in many of these areas.
Our video pick for today features Elspeth Beard, one of a select band of bold women to ride a motorcycle around the world, and she was the first Englishwoman to do so.
Riding in eras that didn’t have smartphones, GPS, satellite tracking or the glamour, riders were taking on the monumental feat of a motorcycle trip around the world. This trip was taken on less advanced motorcycles requiring the rider to act as mechanic, guide and essentially a true adventurer.
Such is the case of Beard who achieved this feat thirty years ago, in the days before sat-nav, internet, email and mobile phones, and she did it mostly alone.
This isn’t to take away from what’s being done by the latest pioneers, but surely they would give a nod to these who rode before them with an acknowledgment of how much harder it must’ve been.
To top all this off, riders such as Elspeth Beard featured in the video below didn’t have social media or a multitude of sponsors to give support or encouragement.
An amazing video to watch.
By Bertrandbat - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
Because the video is more about the pioneering spirit rather than the details, here is a summary of that fateful trip.
Learning to ride a motorcycle on Salisbury Plain at the age of 16, Beard began her round the world journey in 1982, after the third year of her architect training course, using a BMW R60/6 motorcycle. Having shipped the bike from the United Kingdom she started in New York, rode through Canada, Mexico and Los Angeles before shipping her bike to Sydney.
In Sydney, she spent eleven months working as an architect, before heading back out on the road. On the way to Singapore, an accident put Beard in an Australian hospital for two weeks. After Singapore and in Thailand, she collided with a dog, and recuperated staying with a local family where ironically, the family fed her the remains of the dog that she had crashed into.
Taking the route of Pakistan, Turkey and through Europe, she arrived back in the United Kingdom in 1984, having travelled 48,000 miles. In doing so, she became the first Englishwoman to ride a motorcycle around the world.