Steph Jeavons - round the world biker
PUBLISHED: 17:07 10 April 2014 | UPDATED: 17:07 10 April 2014
Steph Jeavons is about to leave her home for a motorcycle trip around the world
How does a woman remove her crash helmet but at the same time keep her hair covered?
It’s the kind of quandary you’re unlikely to encounter, unless you are a lone woman, motorcycling through Iran.
Immodest behaviour, such as showing her hair, could provoke an angry local to throw a stone at her, says Steph Jeavons, as she contemplates the challenges of her two-year circumnavigation of the globe.
‘Otherwise, I’m really looking forward to Iran, because from what I hear from people who’ve travelled through, it is one of the most hospitable places, and so many people want to help you and look after you,’ says Steph.
She takes an equally upbeat view of the legendarily scary roads of India.
‘I love the hustle and bustle, when there’s no rules on the road...or there doesn’t seem to be,’ says Steph. ‘It will probably be the worst place I’ve ever ridden, so I’m looking forward to it, but I’m nervous.’
There will be a different set of challenges when Steph stops and takes off her crash helmet in India.
‘People will be so interested in me, as a woman travelling on my own, that I’m going to draw crowds,’ she says.
Adventure biking has boomed in popularity since actor Ewan McGregor and his mate Charley Boorman did their Long Way Round motorcycle circumnavigation in 2004. But unlike that pair, Steph won’t have a support crew, a big budget and a hefty BMW motorcycle. She will be on her own, with a £5-per-day budget for food, spending most of her nights in the tent, and she will be riding a comparatively modest Honda CRF 250L motorcycle.
‘I wanted a nice light non-intimidating bike which, when I drop it, I can pick it up, take it off-road without any worries and get it into a hotel with me if I’m worried about it,’ she explains.
‘I want to take this slowly and enjoy it, take everything in.’
Along the way, Steph would like to hitch a ride to Antarctica on a research vessel, thus touching seven continents on her circumnavigation and making her the first British biker to achieve that feat. Failing that, she hopes to be the first British woman to bike round the world hitting six continents.
The mission began in earnest a year ago when Steph, founder of RedMoto Adventures - a travel agency for motorcycle adventures - drew a line around the globe. Her globe-trotting spirit had been stoked in 2008 by a charity ride across South Africa. Before that, Steph, who lives in Old Colwyn, had been working as a mortgage advisor. Then she ran an off-road school for Honda and worked with renowned motorcycle adventurer Nick Sanders, driving a support vehicle when Nick took biking parties coast to coast across the USA.
But bikes had long been in Steph’s blood. Her grandmother delivered post on a motorbike during the Second World War. Her parents Peter and Linda, who live near Llanberis, are both bikers, and Steph recalls on sunny days being taken to school, aged six or seven, on the pillion of her mum’s bike.
She is single, but has a 20-year-old son Nathan, an electrician whose partner is expecting their first child. And so, around the time Steph, aged 38, is crossing Iran, she will become a grandmother.
Her trip begins from bikers’ mecca the Ace Cafe in London on March 23. In the course of the next 15 months to two years, Steph will ride through the extremes of torrid temperatures in India, and chilly mountainous routes through South America. She has had 13 jabs, including rabies, yellow fever and two types of hepatitis, to prepare for the voyage, and will be stocking up on malaria tablets as she goes.
A network of adventure bikers around the world have already offered Steph a bed for the night on her travels. And she knows, from reading other accounts of round-the-world travellers, that she is embarking on a trip likely to change her, emotionally, forever. Is she prepared for that?
‘I hope it does,’ she says. ‘It can only be a good thing, surely. It will broaden my horizons, it will make me more tolerant, but I doubt it will calm me down. I thought initially, maybe I would settle down in a farm in the Welsh hills when I’ve finished this, but I think it will probably only make me want to do more.’
More about Steph Jeavons’s trip at www.stephmoto-adventurebikeblog.com. She hopes the trip will raise awareness and funds for the charity Rally4Life, which provides safe water, sanitation, education and shelter to families in need around the world.