Ian Coates (70) rode his Honda Africa Twin round the world. He set off in 1999 and travelled for 14 years, coming home finally in January 2013. He covered about 400,000km all told. He will be with The Zebra on stand 3C64 at Motorcycle Live, 23 November to 1 December. Come and meet him.
He has loads of great stories to tell you but this is the cut-down version of his adventure, in his own words:
I left my home in England in 1999 and finished my ride round the world in January 2013. I left my home in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, England, in 1999 and flew to Johannesburg, South Africa, to be a mechanic for a Land Rover that was going back to England. It was an old 101 ex-British Army Land Rover with a trailer. There were some passengers.
When I got to Kenya I could not get visas for Ethiopia and the Sudan. They were having a war – not with each other; they found some one else to fight with. So I had to turn round and drive back to Johannesburg. The passengers had to fly back to England.
I phoned my wife up and asked her to send my 1991 Honda Africa Twin to me in Johannesburg. I told her I would ride back home to Hebden Bridge. When I got my bike in Johannesburg, I rode to the most southernmost point in South Africa, then rode back home to Hebden Bridge. It took me one year. These are the countries I rode round on my way back home
- South Africa
- Tanzania and Zanzibar
- back home to Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, England.
That was one year. Then I shipped my bike to Melbourne, Australia, and rode my bike round the coast of Australia. I rode down to Alice Springs. I rode about nine weeks round the centre of Australia and then Tasmania. From Australia, I shipped my bike to New Zealand and rode round the north and the south island.
From there, in 2003, I shipped my bike to Argentina and rode to the southernmost point, Ushuaia. From there, I rode round:
- Trinidad and Tobago
In Trinidad and Tobago I put my bike on a tall sailing ship 150 feet long and 450 tons – a big sailing ship. It was on its maiden voyage from Grimsby, England, to New Zealand and it was anchored at Trinidad with no engineer. I said I would be the engineer for free if they would take me and my bike through the Panama Canal. I would leave the ship at Panama City. But when we got through the Panama Canal they asked me to stay on the ship as the engineer to New Zealand, so I did, visiting these islands:
- Dutch Antilles
- Galapagos Islands
- Bora Bora
- Hiva Hoa
- Most of the French Polonaise islands
I cannot remember them all.
When we got to New Zealand I shipped my bike back to Panama, where I was going to leave the ship when I got on it in Trinidad. From there I rode round:
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
- Canada and Vancouver Island
I got to Deadhorse at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, in 2009. It had only taken six years to ride from Ushuaia.
From there I went to Vladivostok and visited:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Czech Republic
- Italy (also the island of Sicily)
- Back home to England
There are more countries but I have forgotten them – I need a map to remember all of them.
I travel alone with no GPS, and in all kinds of weather. I was 70 In June have now been riding round the world for 14 years. I still enjoy every day just as much as I did 14 years ago when I set off for a ride.
I hope to leave on my next trip next year, after the winter. And when my hip and shoulder are OK. I am leaving my old 1991 Honda Africa Twin at home. It would go round the world again but I do not want to use it on the next trip, as one day they will make a film about my 14 years riding round the world on my motorbike and they can use my bike in the film.
I have bought another Honda Africa Twin – a 1990 that has been in a smash – and I am getting it ready for my next trip to Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia and then South Korea and India. I do not know what country I am going to after that.