When it comes to long distance motorcycle expeditions, there are few people better placed to give tips and advice than Kevin and Julia Sanders of GlobeBusters.
With tens of thousands of miles under their belts, years of experience, and a World Record to boot, the husband and wife team have a regular column in RiDE Magazine, and this month they have been writing about the challenges and rewards of riding in large groups on an overland journey.
Setting off from Alaska, in ten weeks they led a group of riders over 10,000 miles all the way to the sweltering heat of Panama City. As they reached one of the main parts of the city, the riders parked their bikes up, shook hands and gathered for photographs with the Balboa Monument behind them – all smiles and laughter, but it wasn’t always that way.
With plenty of experience leading long distance guided rides, Kevin and Julia both know that riding with others can be difficult. Every rider has an opinion, whether it be on speed, distance, style, breaks, hotels, money or food and drink.
The GlobeBusters duo have often found that the most fundamental split is between those who use their bikes as a tool to interact with a country, and those who use the country as a playground.
The latter take the ultimate pleasure from the ride – they don’t want to stop and look at the wonderful ruins en-route, or take a short break for a coffee – they want to ride hard and get to their destination.
The other distinct class of rider want to use their bike to see what is around them. Bikes can be a great way to get locals interested – a chance to test your language skills, get some pictures and experience the atmosphere. These are the kinds of riders who will roll up at the hotel after dark, having taken the whole day to cover the chosen route.
The divisions don’t stop when you’re off the bikes either. You have riders on different budgets, those who wake up early, and those who stay out all night.
GlobeBusters always adopt a staggered riding formation, with a lead rider in the centre of the road, changing lines for the corners when required. You’ll always get one rider who sticks close to the kerb, and one who likes to overtake the group and sit up front – but a few supportive words usually help them to see the benefits of slotting in with other riders.
On the flip side, these long trips just wouldn’t be as interesting on your own. The rewards of a shared experience, along with the support and camaraderie of it all breeds lifelong friendships – and that’s what being on two wheels is all about!
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