Tag Archives: ted Simon

Going round the world – is it easy?

Going round the world, anyone can do it now… said the 81-year-old Ted Simon in a recent interview on BBC Radio Four (FF to 41 mins). In 1973 when he set off on his Triumph he (admittedly mistakenly) thought it’d never been done before. That honour may go to Carl Stearns Clancy and his 7-hp Henderson Four, some sixty years earlier.

It may have just been a throwaway comment extracted from a long interview, but it made me wonder: is it so? What is the difference between the eras of Clancy, Simon and today’s RTW rider? The machine has existed for well over a century and the human urge to explore is of course ancient.

Anyone can do it now because it’s seen as a less unpredictable endeavour, thanks largely to more sophisticated technology and greater access to information. Just as with sailing across that Atlantic, you can be pretty sure you won’t tip off the edge of the world. Anyone could ride around the world at any time in the last century, but before WWII it would have taken the wealth most commonly gained from a comparatively privileged background to pull it off, as was the case with many adventurous journeys completed in that era.

Because of a number of factors that might be summed up as greater social mobility, many more of us can do and become so many things that we couldn’t do fifty- or a hundred years ago; there’s far more opportunity. Perhaps what Ted Simon really means is that while more do set off to ride RTW than ever, few are managing to articulate it with the values he admires. With its popularity ‘adventure motorcycling’ has become a form of tourism and some think that diminishes the enterprise.

But however you do it, around the clock in 21 days or over several years spending months parked up in one place, especially alone and off your own back, it still takes a form of commitment, endurance and dedication that’s far from commonplace. It’s the same debate about the Age of Exploration being over. Not for me it isn’t.


Overland Expo 2012 ~ Flagstaff AZ

Just recovering from talking myself hoarse at last weekend’s Overland Expo, a few miles east of Flagstaff. Now in its third year, OX is an event similar to the Horizons’ rallies with talks, round table discussions and panels, but covering trucks as well as bikes and with an Adventure Film Festival hosted by Austin Vince plus rider training, ride-outs and even a GS rodeo laid on by Rawhyde.

Most would agree the new location was a great improvement over last year’s scorching, dusty venue near the Mexican border, but it didn’t stop strong winds on Friday giving some of the rigging a good work out. The weekend weather itself was about right if you’ve just come out of a Brit winter (or Phoenix at nearly 40 degrees for that matter) and was even topped off by an annular eclipse just as the climactic barbie kicked off.

Between talks I was supposed to spend my time at the authors’ and film makers tent, flogging some books and vids alongside fellow motards Gaurav Jani, Ted Simon, Rene Cormier and Carla King who every so often was spotted power sliding a Ural outfit while small children clung on for dear life. Other names I can drop include Tiffany Coates, the enigmatic Andy Goldfine from Aerostich, as well as Aussie outback legends Ron and Viv Moon who do not ride motorcycles.

Austin and I took Ken and Carol Duval’s aged 800 GS out for a spin and wondered how they managed to ride that thing RTW for 16 years; it exhibited some very unnerving steering characteristics.

I may well be there next year flogging the new AMH and talking some talks. Until then here are a few pics sent from my iPad so the layout’s a bit basic.

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They came from the four corners of North America.

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One of the only Teneres in the US – a Brit reg’d XT owned by US resident, Paul. He’s been asked hundreds of times if he wants to sell it.

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Standing room only at the moto end of the show.

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Getting some air during the GS rodeo.

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Austin Vince, Gaurav Jani and Mike prepare to face the inquisition of the curious.

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Ted Simon addresses the throng at the US launch of the foundation which carries his name.

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Meanwhile just down the track Al Jesse launches his Big Ass range alongside a Triumph Explorer.

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This hefty old luggage suite caught my eye on a GS twin. The Airhawk seat strikes a chord too…

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Still standing room only.

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A GS gets put through its paces by the Rawhyde posse.

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It’s him again demonstrating the optional BBQ attachment on the Jesse Big Ass cases.

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About half the 150+ bikes at the expo were GS twins.

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The overland paps turn on Ted Simon and travelling pet guru Lorraine Chittock.

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AV signs in and snatches another quick buck.

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The eclipse begins as the expo draws to a close.