Monday, December 08, 2008

The Eternal Biker

Surely the most interesting character I met on my recent trip to Belize was a bloke called Ian - a retired Yorkshireman who has been systematically riding through almost every country in the world on a Honda motorbike since 1999.

Having done Africa the hard way - as opposed to the "poofs'" way favoured by certain celebrity poseurs - he arrived in Tierra del Fuego back in 2003 and is, as I write, heading for that detached northerly state led by a certain moose-hunting/hard-shopping Governor.

He had predictable horror stories about a recent pit-stop in Guatemala, where mechanics had insisted on fitting the only Honda shock-absorbers they could get their hands on, even though they clearly knew they weren't the right ones for his bike. More fun was had, he reported, treating the dusty road around the edge of Flores as a speedway track before biking around the whole of the lake itself.

Ian also had some great tales from Chávez's Venezuela and related how former-SAS soldiers now act as private mobile security units down in Jo'Burg, which means police responding to burglar alarms (a little more slowly...) tend to find the robbers stretched out cold when they arrive on scene. I believe the BBC braodcast a Louis Theroux programme this week on this very topic so I will have to look it up on iPlayer.

I asked him how his wife was taking this incredible hobby of his. "She has grandchildren to look after now," was his cleverly guarded response to this little probe.

From Alaska he will start to traverse the great land Sarah Palin can see from her window before turning south and commencing an extended tour of South-East Asia. It seems he really has no idea when he'll be back home in the Dales.

Here are some more commentary from Ian's drive north through Belize after he left Placencia.

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