Elspeth Beard - One of the Early Globetrotters

Elspeth Beard is one of a select band of bold women to ride a motorcycle around the world, and she was the first Englishwoman to do so. She achieved this feat a quarter of a century ago, in the days before sat-nav, internet, email and mobile phones, and sh

The bike she chose for the trip was a used 1974 R 60/6 flat-twin, for which she paid 900 ($1800) in 1980 - a substantial sum at the time, especially for a machine that already had 30,000 miles on the clock!

Elspeth used the bike for her first long solo rides to Scotland and to Ireland, then to mainland Europe and Corsica, racking up over 10,000 miles in her first two years of ownership. Then it was time for `The Big One'. Aged 24, Elspeth had finished the first three years of her architectural studies (it's a seven year training) and saved more than 1000 ($1900) working behind the bar at her local pub in Marylebone, central London in preparation for her round the world adventure.

She started the first stage of her journey in New York: "It cost 175 ($340) to send the bike and 99 ($197) for my own air fare," she recalls. From the Big Apple she rode up to Canada, then down Mexico way before reaching Los Angeles with another 5,000 miles under the Beemer's wheels. From LA she shipped the bike to Sydney, but stopped off to see New Zealand on foot while the bike was in transit.

Elspeth then spent seven months working in a Sydney architectural practice and living in a garage, gaining experience and replenishing her diminished funds. She spent weeks constructing her own lockable, top-box and panniers out of folded and riveted sheet aluminium before setting off on her travels once more. She rode all over Australia, and had her first big accident on a dirt road near Townsville, in Queensland. The R 60 cart-wheeled and she was left badly concussed, but mercifully with no broken bones. She still has the Bell `bone dome' helmet that she's convinced saved her life (and which she carried on wearing for the rest of the trip!).

Shaken but undaunted, Elspeth spent two weeks in hospital before continuing north up the east coast of Oz then through the outback to Ayers Rock, and finally across the Nullabor Plain to Perth, on the west coast. There, she loaded the BMW onto a boat to Singapore and explored Indonesia while the bike was afloat.

In Singapore she had a disaster of a different kind, when all her valuables were stolen, including her passport with all the visas in it for the countries she'd yet to visit, and the registration and shipping documents for her bike. After an enforced six week sojourn in the island state replacing all the lost documents she rode up the Thai-Malaysian peninsular to Bangkok and beyond to Chiang Mai and the Golden Triangle.

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