After 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometres), eight countries and one rescued passport,
a group of 30 intrepid motorcyclists are now a quarter of a way through their
epic 40,000 mile round-the-world adventure.
The international riders, led by official BMW Motorrad travel partner Globebusters
(which organised the trip for Edelweiss travel) have just left the Chilean
city of Santiago and are now headed to Los Angeles in the same country. Since
setting off on November 21, they have been battered by freezing temperatures
in Europe, travelled desert roads in Africa, been whipped by extreme winds
in Patagonia, endured torrential rain in Argentina and, finally, felt the sun
on their backs in the 30 degree climes of South America.
on schedule, although we did have some problems in Patagonia which almost put
us behind," says Kevin Sanders, who is leading the expedition. "There were
general strikes in Chile (over rising gas prices) which affected borders and
ferries – I had to adjust the route slightly to avoid the protests and that
meant we got more time on the gravel roads of Ruta 40 in Argentina. The wind
on that road tries its best to push you off and into the deep piles of gravel
– this year they were the strongest I've ever experienced. It caught a few
riders off guard, and they ended up picking the stones out of their motorcycle
The group of riders, some of whom have paid up to $100,000 for the full eight
months, have all settled in well according to Kevin. "It always takes a bit
of time to get ‘bike fit'," he says. "The most common thing is that people
bring too much and we soon see them sending unused items home. People's riding
experience varies and although most have done one or two smaller tours before,
this is the biggest ride any of them have ever done. Some found the gravel
roads in Patagonia a challenge. Most riders have a similar story – they're
here because they've worked hard all their lives and now's their time to enjoy
things. It's taken them a while to realise they don't need to rush around any
more, they should slow down and smell the roses."
Kevin says each day's riding is planned to appeal across the group: "Some
days are tougher than others. We have a good mix of roads to keep everyone
happy and have our fair share of difficult conditions. The extreme rain in
Argentina caused a few riders to crash as the roads were really slippery,"
he says. So far, highlights have included the "superb twisties" and coast roads
of the Atlas Mountains, with dramatic views of the Atlantic Ocean and medieval
coastal cities. Morocco and the hustle of the souks and narrow streets of Marrakech
also provided participants with a great introduction to their globe-crossing
"Riding through Morocco and completing the first section of the trip was a
real highlight – for a lot of the group it was their first time in that part
of the world and they were really impressed with the riding and how friendly
the locals are," says Kevin. "There are five sections, so completing the first
was a milestone. Our second milestone was reaching Ushuaia, Argentina – the
most southerly city in the world. It was my seventh time there and it has a
special place in my heart and I know for a lot of the riders it was a dream
to ride to the ‘end of the world'."
Almost all of those taking part in the epic ride are using BMW GS motorcycles
and according to Kevin their performance has been "faultless". "We have a mixture
of BMW GS models and the BMW dealer has taken good care of us. We've just had
them all serviced and we're ready to start clocking up more miles. Morocco
and Patagonia are perfect playgrounds for the GS, and with the whole trip being
more than 40,000 miles long (65,000km) it will be a good test for both the
bikes and their riders," he says.
Expert planning and years of experience by Kevin and wife Julia, who run Globebusters
as a team, mean the mission has all gone smoothly – the only narrowly-avoided
hiccup so far came courtesy of one group member who accidentally left his passport
at a border crossing. Thankfully, Kevin discovered it purely by chance when
filling out a customs form at the same crossing an hour later.
Next on the itinerary for the explorers is the biggest culture shock so far,
as they leave behind the European feel of the countries they've visited so
far. "We head over the Andes Mountains next, before we enter Bolivia and then
Peru. This will be especially interesting for the group, as things really change
when we get there. We'll also have altitudes of up to 4,000 m to deal with.
We're all excited about what comes next."