Ordinary people doing extraordinary things!
It was Saint Augustine who said: "the world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page." Ask any adventure motorcyclist and they will tell you exactly the same thing; after all, what else comes close to riding through a country, interacting with the local people, experiencing the rise and fall of the land, and learning about the environment through which you are travelling.
Buying one of BMW Motorrad's legendary GS motorcycles opens a door to a new world of overlanding opportunities and those who take these opportunities often find that their lives change beyond recognition. A good example of this are BMW riders Kevin and Julia Sanders, who are perhaps best known for their Guinness World Records for global endurance motorcycling (Kevin holds the record for the Fastest Circumnavigation of the World by Motorcycle and the Fastest Crossing of the Trans-Americas by Motorcycle - both achieved on BMW GS bikes with Julia as pillion).
The pair have covered around half a million kilometers on BMWs, visiting over 40 countries in the process, but it was while travelling through these countries that they decided it was an experience everyone should have the opportunity to participate in. They decided to share their love for and experience of adventure biking with other riders and this resulted in the formation of their GlobeBusters company, as well as plans being drawn up for a `motorcycle trip of a lifetime' called the Trans Americas Expedition.
Two years later in 2005, a multi-national team from Britain, Ireland, Germany, Australia and New Zealand started a 32,000-km journey from Prudhoe Bay in Alaska to Tierra del Fuego (`end of the earth') in Argentina. In all, they rode through 12 countries, including Alaska, Canada, USA, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, before they arrived at the most southerly city in the world five months later.
Such was the success of this journey that it created unprecedented demand from GS riders eager to share a similar experience, so a Trans Americas Expedition was planned for 2007. This sold out in no time at all and has attracted an interesting mix of 23 GS riders, all eager to ride from the top of the world to the bottom along 32,000 kilometers of exceptional roads, covering the best and most extreme landscapes that the Americas Continent has to offer. The 19-weeksTrans Americas Expedition leaves on 29 July and will finish on 9 December 2007.The journey will include the longest mountain range in the world, the driest desert, the deepest gorge, and an abundance of archaeological heritage and indigenous culture to explore along the way.
When they are not planning these epic journeys, Kevin and Julia also run BMW Motorrad UK's Rider Training facility, so are perfectly placed to encourage new riders to realize that the world is literally at their fingertips once they have passed their motorcycle test. And with double the number of participants as the 2005 trip, the latest expedition will be the longest group ride in the world with the biggest team taking part. They will journey from the richest country is the world (USA) through some of the poorest, such as Nicaragua and Honduras. All climate conditions will be encountered, from freezing cold to scorching desert, tropical rainforest to mountains and high plateaus.
As interesting as the countries they will visit are the people who will be making this unique journey - some of whom have only recently learned to ride with BMW. This year's participants include Steve and Lisa, a couple riding two-up the whole way on a R 1200 GS Adventure who have decided to get married en route in Tucson, Arizona. Lisa will also be learning to ride with BMW before she goes. A famous UK television actor - Eric Richard - will be joining the Trans Americas ride for the Mexico and Central American section, as will the wife of Dakar veteran Simon Pavey. It was Simon Pavey who taught Ewan McGregor to ride off-road in preparation for his Long Way Round odyssey as well as mentoring Charley Boorman throughout his Race To Dakar effort in 2006. Simon's wife Linley also trained with Kevin and Julia and only got her license last summer, so this will be her own `Dakar'.
From `zero to hero' is Michael Cannard, who had never even ridden a motorcycle until 12 months ago. He also trained and passed his test with BMW Rider Training and since then has ridden his bike every day to prepare for this trip. The proud owner of a new R 1200 GS Adventure, Michael will be taking a six-month sabbatical from his job as a chartered surveyor to ride the Trans Americas.
One of the oldest riders to participate is 64-year-old Dick Counsell, who is getting his whole family involved in Trans Americas 2007. Dick is doing the whole trip but will be joined by his daughter on the pillion seat in Mexico and Central America, while his wife will join him in Patagonia to ride to the end in Buenos Aires. Another family affair will be the father and son combination of John and Greg Bennett. Greg is only 21-years-old but has already completed all levels of the BMW Off-Road Skills course in South Wales under the expert instruction of Simon Pavey.
There are many more interesting riders who will be living their own dreams on this Trans Americas ride and will be joining Kevin and Julia Sanders in Alaska at the end of July. Kevin hasn't lost his love of overlanding and believes that in this world of budget travel and airport hopping, there's still no better way to experience different countries and cultures than on a motorcycle.
"Biking gives you freedom and independence," said the double Guinness World Record holder. "You never have to think about things like when the next bus is coming. You live the journey when you're on the bike; you experience the heat, the cold, the damp and the dust. When you're in a bus or a car it can be just like watching everything on TV. Those who have made the time to experience this journey will come back changed people - that's what happened to us and once you've had a taste of what's out there you always want to discover more. Fortunately, there's almost no limit to where you can go on a GS."
Interest in this trip has meant that the next Trans Americas ride - planned for 2009 - is filling up already, and a new National Geographic series about the expedition is planned for broadcast across Europe. Riders can register their interest in the 2009 expedition - which will take place from 26 July-6 December - at the www.globebusters.com website.