At 24 years old, Elspeth became the first Englishwoman to ride a motorcycle around the world, a journey spanning 3 years and 54,000 km in 1980.
With her 1974 BMW R60 that she had saved up to buy while working in a London pub, she began her journey in New York City, having shipped the bike from England.
After traveling through Canada, Mexico and California, Elspeth shipped her bike to Sydney, then to Singapore and Thailand where she had an accident and recuperated with a local family that took her in. She forged a permit to get into Pakistan, before riding back into Europe via Turkey. Elspeth is my breed of adventurer, and I think you’ll find she speaks our language when it comes to her idea of traveling:
“For me the journey isn’t riding a bike,” she told VCC in a filmed interview with the womenswear motorsports brand. “The journey is what happens, the experiences, the people you meet, the locals you meet. If you’re fixed on following this blue or pink line on a screen … you don’t have to stop and ask people the way…”
“I [used to] have some great times where I would to stop and ask locals and then they’d ask me in for a cup of tea and then I’d end up staying the night. Those kind of things don’t happen to you if you’re fixating on following a line to a hotel that you’ve booked on a bloody phone.”
Before she set off on her journey, Elspeth had tried to get some interest from the bike press world, but was met with chauvinism, skepticism and disinterest in her endeavor. It’s only recently that her incredible story has even become public knowledge, thanks to her decision to write a book about her journey.