Across the World

In 1997 I set off on the journey of a lifetime - literally a spur of the moment idea that became a reality when I set off to ride a motorcycle to India with my best friend Becky. We rode Thelma - a 1992 BMW R80GS. When we had originally come up with the idea to go on this bike ride, neither of us had a bike licence let alone a motorbike- in fact, Becky had never even sat on a bike before.


We went on a five day intensive training course - some refer to it as a crash course - "how to ride a bike for beginners", the first lesson being how to actually get on your bike- it was definitely aimed at our level and was on 125cc bikes, nice and manageable. To our amazement we both passed, next task - finding the bike for the journey.


Our criteria were that we wanted a bike that could carry both of us so that we could share the riding, keep costs down and simplify things by not being able to lose each other. Various suggestions were put forward with the favourite being the BMW GS model. It proved to be a tricky task to find a second-hand one, but we were eventually successful though it was a shock to find out that this glittering yellow and black bike was a hefty quarter tonne in weight, hmmm, our lack of bike experience meant that we had never even seen a GS before, perhaps we should have researched a bit more thoroughly.


We christened her Thelma and within 10 minutes we had each dropped her - this was going to be a lot harder than the 125's we had done our tests on, beginning with us trying to work out exactly how we were going to get our beloved bike upright once more.

Two months after getting Thelma we were on our way, pausing only to flog all my hair to a wigmaker and use the money to buy tyre levers (see the evidence in the D Day picture). And we were off, wobbling and dropping Thelma out of Brixton and through Europe; as we headed further east the road conditions deteriorated and gradually our riding skills improved. Turkey and then Iran where we hastily donned our chadors (black muslim robes) over our bike leathers at the border – bloody hot riding across deserts encased in what amounts to a black polyester tent. After five months we were celebrating our arrival in India, on a somewhat battered bike. A bit of rest and recuperation and we started wondering....

“We’ve made it this far, why don’t we see if we can reach Australia?”

Which is how nine months after leaving England we found ourselves on the other side of the world breaking through a violent picket line to liberate Thelma from the docks at Fremantle, and then facing a 2,500 mile virtually non-stop ride across this dry and empty continent.

This early journey was in the pre-internet era (for us anyway) so there is no on-line blog. I'm happy to answer questions you may have about the journey and hopefully at some point, there will be a book which will tell all about our exploits.

see the pictures.