After spending eight-and-a-half months on the road, crossing five continents and covering 40,000 miles, the adventure is finally over for a group of ambitious travelers. Welsh motorbike expedition company GlobeBusters set off from Austria in November and guided a team of BMW motorcycle riders across Europe, Africa, South and Central America, Australia and Asia. They finally crossed the finish line – in Austria – at the end of July. While most people would take some time to themselves after such an expedition, Kevin and Julia Sanders, the husband and wife team behind GlobeBusters, are already planning the next adventure.
“Discover our Earth,” as the trip was called, has now established itself as the longest organized motorcycle tour ever undertaken and will be a hard act to follow,” says Kevin. “It has also put GlobeBusters at the top for motorcycle expeditions and I’m currently in communication with the Guinness World Records and they are looking at awarding us a record for this epic trip.”
Kevin took part in the entire expedition from start to finish, while Julia continued working from the company’s offices at home – although she did fly out to participate at various points, including the Australian leg. She was also there to greet her husband and his group at the end of the journey.
“The final day’s ride, day 246, was a 200-mile journey in Austria. We regrouped 40 miles from the hotel where we were concluding the trip and several riders came out to meet us – there were around 30 of us on the final 40-mile stretch. When we got there, a crowd of people were waiting for us with flags, party poppers and balloons.
“The first thing we did when we parked up was congratulate each other and there were tears of joy and big hugs. I also think I had tears of relief! We had lots of group pictures and I took part in a traditional beer tapping ceremony so we could have our first celebration drinks! Later that evening we had presentations and speeches and our final group meal with lots of wine. We finished the night with a single malt and a Cuban cigar.”
Throughout the incredible journey, Kevin says the bikes performed amazingly, never letting their riders down and managing to convert the few motorcyclists who were riding other brands.
“Over the course of the 40,000 miles, we experienced all conditions from -7°C [19°F] to more than 44°C [111°F]. We rode everywhere from deserts to mountains, and sea level to elevations of 4,000 meters [13,000 ft]. We had rain, heat, humidity, cold, dust, mud and river crossings. The bikes stood up to every challenge we threw at them. We had a mix of R1200GS machines and R1200GSAs, as well as R1150GS, F800GS and F650GS bikes. The majority of models were the R1200GSA – these always come out top when comparing any problems or fixes need on route, although the big GS is faultless. You just put fuel in, turn the key and away you go. Every bike made it home in one piece!
“We normally have a couple of non-BMW riders on our trips and once they experience first-hand how little maintenance the BMWs need compared to their bikes, I think they do return home with the thought to change brands.”
One of the things that makes GlobeBusters a success is the research they put into all their expeditions. However, the length of the Discover Our Earth journey made it important to keep a constant eye on political climates and Foreign Office advice over travel. Keeping the group safe meant making minor changes to the itinerary at some points.
Kevin says, ”On the first section of the trip, we initially planned to go down to Dakar, Senegal. But due to an increased risk of kidnapping and violence against foreigners, the Foreign Office advice changed and we decided it was too risky to go. We changed the route to an extended ride through Morocco and into Western Sahara, down to Dakla.
“Our other change was in Patagonia, as we headed to Tierra Del Fuego and Ushuaia, the most southern city in world. The border between Argentina and Chile was closed on the Chilean side due to demonstration and rioting about increases in fuel prices in the area. We returned to our previous hotel and went back to the border the next day, where we managed to cross the border and enter Tierra del Fuego. However, on our return we couldn’t visit Torres del Paine, Chile due to fresh violence and blockades, so I re-routed the group through areas of Patagonia, Argentina to bypass the troubled areas.”
Now back at home, Kevin and Julia have no plans to lead a trip until 2012. It will be the longest period they have spent at their UK home in more than two years. For Kevin, the trip’s end means he has some well-earned time to himself. However, he will be available to provide presentations or talks about the trips GlobeBusters offer to any interested groups, clubs, or motorcycle dealerships. Anyone interested in booking a presentation, or in securing a place on Discover Our Earth 2012, visit: www.globebusters.com for more information.