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GlobeBusters 20th Anniversary of Trans Americas BEGINS! [Part One]

Celebrating two decades as a business seems a reasonable excuse to repeat an adventure that kickstarted the venture in the first place ...

Selfie in Anchorage
Selfie with the group together in Anchorage

On September 22, 2003 Kevin and Julia Sanders rode into Ushuiaia on the southern tip of Argentina, 35 days after leaving Deadhorse in Alaska. The British couple had covered 16,974 miles in 35 days, setting a new Guinness World Record and knocking 12 days off the previous record in the process.

They founded GlobeBusters the following year, to help other riders enjoy overland expeditions on a motorcycle, and in 2005 led their first Trans-Americas tour. This July, 20 years after their record-breaking ride, Kevin and Julia set off leading a total of 40 riders on this challenge, the largest and most diverse group to date, from as far afield as Australia, Canada and South Africa. And, to make the anniversary really special, they are joined by Kevin's son, Rhys Lawrey, himself a double Guinness World Record Holder (Youngest Person to Circumnavigate the World by Motorcycle, and Most Consecutive Capital Cities Visited by Motorcycle), who will be the support van driver and tour manager. First let's look at the route, and that initial recordbreaking

ride ...

The Record

Guinness World Records set out very strict rules to ensure that all records are verifiable and repeatable. In the case of Trans-Americas, the journey must start at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, and finish in Ushuaia, Argentina. You are allowed to fly over the Darien Gap that connects North and South America, because there is no road through it, but the clock continues to

run. As well as maintaining a log book, signed daily by witnesses, the same rider must ride the same bike throughout, without any traffic offences (GWR can't be seen to encourage speeding).

Kevin and Julia's epic journey started on August 18, 2003, when they left Prudhoe Bay on their BMW GS1150 Adventure. They rode up to 1000 miles a day, through every type of weather imaginable, while coping with unexpected obstacles en route. They had to resort to bribery at border crossings, and follow local guides across mountain roads in Columbia, to avoid bandits, who are renowned for kidnapping foreigners. In Ecuador striking truckers blocked roads in every town and village, but again friendly locals came to the rescue, manoeuvring the bike through the tightest of gaps. Perhaps the toughest moment came when they crossed 1600 miles of desert on the approach to Chile, the monotonous, sandy scenery

becoming dangerously hypnotic.

On reaching their final destination of Ushuaia in Tierra de! Fuego, arriving around lunch time on September 22, there was no fanfare or reception committee. Just the satisfaction that they'd broken another world record - the previous year they'd set the fastest time to circumnavigate the world by motorcycle.

The Route

Covering 22,000 miles, through 12 countries, the Trans-Americas expedition is often described as the ultimate motorcycle adventure. The longest mountain range in the world; the deepest canyon; the driest desert; glaciers; salt lakes; national parks; tropical rainforest; you name it, this journey will take you through it. Not to mention an abundance of world heritage and indigenous culture to discover on the way. Taking 142 days to complete, there's time to enjoy the sights and relax on regular days off, and the first five weeks will be spent in North America.

From Anchorage it's a ride along the infamous dirt of the Dalton Highway into the Arctic Circle and Prudhoe Bay, the most northerly point accessible by road. This is the official start point and from there riders turn south down the Alaska Highway, followed by the incredible Top of the World Highway. Crossing into Canada, turquoise lakes and endless forests line the route through the Yukon. In British Columbia, the Stewart Cassiar Highway leads to Bear Glacier and Hyder, where bears can be seen feeding at Fish Creek. There are glaciers and waterfalls to wonder at in the National Parks, before entering the USA. The 'Going to the Sun' Road takes your breath away as you cross the Continental Divide at Logans Pass. Then it's a litany of famous places - Yellowstone's bubbling volcanic mud pools and a chance to ride out on Beartooth Pass and Chief Joseph Highway, possibly the best motorcycle rides in the world. There are unpaved roads to enjoy on the Shafer Trail, and the striking red monoliths of Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley. Then it's the Grand Canyon and a rest (if that's the right word) in Las Vegas, before the journey to Mexico and Central America. At Copper Canyon riders follow the narrow road

that winds its way to the colonial heartland of Zacatecas, the centre of silver mining production. Next, there's a climb high into the steamy cloud forests and descent to the Caribbean coast, followed by Chiapas Province, home to the breathtaking Mayan ruins of Palenque. Independence Day is celebrated in Guatemala City, before heading to the border with Honduras. This country only takes a day to cross, so riders deviate from the Pan-American Highway to see local life in smaller villages. Nicaragua is next, then Costa Rica and the Arena! Volcano. Panama is reached by following a coastal route used by banana traders for 100 years, riding over the Bridge of the Americas into the city, with views of the Panama Canal. From Panama, riders and bikes will be freighted across the Darien Gap to Bogota in Chile. Then, heading north through the Chicamocha Canyon, plains are crossed to the UNESCO-listed town of

Mompox, riding through coffee plantations, sugar cane fields and lush green mountains into the Andes. Colombia is so different from its reputation. Cartagena, on the Caribbean Coast, is arguably the best preserved and most picturesque colonial town in South America. Medellin, in the mountains, may be the former stomping ground of Pablo Escobar, but is now a popular tourist destination.

Ecuador is the next country and presents a major milestone - the Equator! Having straddled the North/ South divide with your bike, there is a cracking ride through the heart of the Andes to UNESCO-listed Cuenca. Then into Peru via a quiet border. Here, riders experience the Sechura Desert and travel the superb mountain road of Canyon de! Pato, back into the high Andes, before dropping back to the coast to visit Chincha in the pisco-making region, and then heading up into the Andes again, on some of the best roads you've ridden to the highland towns of Ayacucho and Abancay. From there it's a short ride to the Sacred Valley, where you can explore the great Inca fortress and the ancient Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu, followed by a high-altitude ride across the altiplano to the edge of Lake Titicaca and on to the White City of Arequipa. Over the border into Northern Chile, the magnificent Atacama Desert and the deserted Pacific Coast Road south offer unrivalled motorcycling. Inland to San Pedro de Atacama there'll be options to ride into the Valley of the Moon, head up to the Tatio Geysers or even do a bit of stargazing in the world's clearest night skies! From there things get even more sensational, crossing into Argentina via the mighty Paso de Jama, at 4200m high, where you can also ride on the shimmering salt flats of Salinas Gran des. Twisty roads through the cloud forest of the Valle de! Tafi lead to a dramatic change in scenery, with the red rocks and canyons en route to Villa Union. Crossing the Andes will bring you to Chile's modern, bustling, cosmopolitan capital, Santiago. From there, the group heads to the Pacific Coast, then travels inland to Villarrica, in the Chilean Lake District, and over the border to Argentina. The Seven Lakes Road could be mistaken for Switzerland!

Back into Chile to ride the Carretera Austral, an incredible dirt road nestling between the ocean and the mountains - the going can be challenging, but the region is pristine and stunning. Then it's the most infamous road in South America - Ruta 40. A gravel road through the heart of Patagonia where the strong crosswinds will fight for your bikes! It'll be worth it to

reach the ice colossus of the Peri to Moreno Glacier. Returning to Chile, you'll board a ferry to traverse the Strait of Magellan to Tierra de! Fuego. Then ride the final pass - the Garibaldi - before dropping into Ushuaia on the Beagle Channel. Having reached Ushuaia, you'll need to get home, with the most direct way being via Punta Arenas (Chile), where the bikes can be freighted back home. You can get a flavour of the expedition by watching the National Geographic Adventure Channel documentary in 2007 - 'THE RIDE - ALASKA TO PATAGONIA'.

PART TWO: Update from the expedition as we reach Las Vegas.


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