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Meet the Fearless Woman Who Made History Riding Round the World

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Published on 03.05.2018

Riding around the world was a little different 36 years ago. There were few choices for long-range dual sport motorcycles. No email, no GPS, no internet. No reliable maps in some parts of the world. And if you got yourself into a jam, there were no cell phones or SPOT messengers to get you out, only your own resourcefulness.

In 1982, a time when it was unusual for women to travel long-distances by motorcycle, Elspeth Beard set off on a bold solo journey around the world at the age of 23. In this engaging video animation, Elspeth tells her story of what it was like riding the world during those times. She recalls how people used to assume she was a man and how they treated her like an alien just walked through the door when she took off her helmet.

Adventure Motorcycle Elspeth Beard First British Woman to Ride Around the World
© Courtesy of Elspeth Beard

Her determined spirit got her through everything from war zones to mechanical failures and two big accidents that took weeks to recover from. Even bouts of Hepatitis and Dysentery didn’t stop her from continuing. After two years riding her 1974 BMW R60/6 more than 35,000 miles across 20 countries, Elspeth would become the first British woman to ride around the world on a motorcycle.

Elspeth Beard’s fearlessness reminds us how much easier it is now to travel around the world on a motorcycle, and encourages us all to pursue our own audacious journeys. It’s also a solemn reminder that the world gets smaller every year as globalization takes hold. She recounts how some of her best experiences occurred while getting lost and that opportunities for discovery no longer exist when you are following a red line on a screen. The golden age of exploring ‘truly’ foreign lands may be coming to a close, but we still have plenty of opportunities for adventure today. Let’s hope it stays that way for another 36 years.

To read more about Elspeth’s travels, check out her website and her book Lone Rider that chronicles her journey.

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