For most people, the idea of abandoning normal life to spend eight months traveling the world is just a daydream. But for two motorcyclists from Wales not only are these epic adventures a reality, they’re a way of life. Kevin Sanders, of GlobeBusters, organizes the cross-continent expeditions with wife Julia, and happily admits he has “the best job in the world.” Now, the pair are preparing to lead the biggest group endurance ride the world has ever seen. “Discover our Earth” covers 40,000 miles (65,000km) and five continents in just under 250 days, so Kevin says they have left no element of the journey to chance.
“We’ve spent the last 18 months planning the trip and pride ourselves on organization,” he explains. “Logistics alone are a huge task; when you’re away for 248 days you’re going to need at least 200 different hotels and you need to know whether you’ve paid a deposit, or if you can pay on credit card there, whether you need cash… each section of the trip has a file with a huge amount of information which we will take with us. Planning is the first thing Julia and I think about when we wake up and the last thing before we go to sleep at night.”
Kevin and Julia are veterans of awe-inspiring expeditions, having previously led motorcyclists on journeys including London to Beijing; through North America from Alaska to Panama, and Trans Americas from Alaska to Buenos Aires. This time, the round-the-world trip will take in Europe, Africa, Australia, and Asia. When covering such enormous distances, sometimes in incredibly remote locations, having a reliable bike is of paramount importance. Which is why, says Kevin, he would never use anything other than a BMW.
“We firmly believe BMW is the only bike for touring and we advise those who come on the trips to use BMW — the BMW R1200GS in particular — and 95 percent of them do. A lot of people will ask our advice and go out and buy a brand new bike especially for the trip,” he says. “When you’re in places like Tibet, Tajikistan or the Andes, there isn’t the same infrastructure and you don’t want a mechanical failure on the side of the road. You need a bike you can totally trust; I’ve never had any problems with my BMW R1200GS Adventure. People ask if I’d use any other bike and the answer is always no.”
As a husband and wife team, Kevin and Julia have racked up many hundreds of thousands of miles riding, spent around 10 months of the past 12 traveling, and back in 2002 and 2003 achieved two Guinness World Records™ for Fastest Circumnavigation of the World by Motorcycle and Trans Americas by Motorcycle. But the couple know this latest adventure will push them and the other riders further than ever before.
“We anticipate travel fatigue may be a difficulty for some of those traveling with us — it will be my job to help them make it through. If they get worn out, I’ll do whatever I can to pick them up and keep them going,” says Kevin. He explains that the group — some of whom have paid as much as $100,000 for the full eight months — have all met up in Austria already. There, they took part in a preparation event, designed to help them tackle anything that riding around the world may throw at them. The Austrian location is significant, as it is home to Edelweiss Bike Travel, with whom GlobeBusters are working on this project. It is also where the epic ride will eventually come to an end in July 2011 and no doubt there will be a lot of obstacles and challenges before they make it back.
For Kevin, positive thinking can be key to getting through even the toughest of times on the road. “I never think ‘we’re not going to get through this part of the journey’ because you can’t think like that,” he says. “There was a point on the London to Beijing journey where we had to get over a mountain pass. There was no road, just snow and ice and a track the bulldozers had cut. It took us seven hours to travel 40 miles and we counted about 30 bike drops between us.”
Kevin adds that all the GlobeBusters Support Crew, not just him, have loads of energy. “It’s important that they’re helping to keep people going, because the attitude of a guide affects the whole group. If you’re very positive and enthusiastic that’s going to rub off on everyone else.”
Many people preparing to embark on a voyage of this scale, never mind lead one, would be starting to panic by now. But not Kevin and Julia. “We’re not stressed out or worried, although we are very busy,” he says. “As for setting out again, well, while it is nice to be home in Wales, being on the road is my life now. I have my routines, a certain way I pack my bike — it’s more natural for me to be traveling than not.”
The Discover our Earth expedition will set off from Austria on November 21 and all 30 international riders taking part are no doubt getting very excited! Keep track of their travels through a blog on the GlobeBusters site, via Facebook or Twitter.