Elspeth Beard–RTW Adventurer, Architect and WOMAN!

Photo Credit Peter Orme

Every now and again, I find something on the web that completely fascinates me and that’s what I found in this post from facebook! Among all the amazing photographs was this shot of Elspeth and it spoke volumes. Here is a woman who is studying to become an architect who drops everything to travel solo around the globe! 1980’s were certainly a time rife with change for women, but a woman traveling solo on a motorcycle was still quite the unusual occurrence. Elspeth still a student, became the first Englishwoman to succeed circumnavigation.

Her journey began by buying a second-hand 1974 BMW R60/6 flat twin, bought for £900. Her desire was to stag the start in NYC, which meant she needed to spend an additional $340 to ship the bike and another $197 for her own airfare. She rode up through Canada then traveled south through Mexico looping back to Los Angeles. From LA she shipped her bike to Sydney and herself to New Zealand. After the bike arrived, she found herself out of money and needing a way to replenish the coffers. She spend the next seven months apprenticing in an architectural practice and living in a garage. Her time off was spend touring the entire continent of Australia.

In Australia she suffered an bad spill, which put her in hospital for a couple of weeks. Recovered and ready she shipped the BMW by boat to Singapore and again while awaiting arrival she explored Indonesia. Her next setback was in Singapore when she was robbed of all her valuables and paperwork, including her passport and motorcycle registration. It was another six weeks of waiting to replace all the missing documents. She made it through several mishaps as she traversed the globe, but finally arrived safely back in London after being away for 3 years and covering 43,000 miles. She tore apart her beemer and rebuilt the engine, and once that was complete, she finished her studies and purchased a derelict Victorian water tower then transformed it into a unique and gorgeous home, while working full time in London and bringing up a son on her own.

Munstead Water Tower, an old Victorian tower

After Elspeth worked her magic!

Elspeth is still a BMW enthusiast and rider. Initially working from her water tower, she gradually established her own architectural practice and now has many awards to her credit. Her work has been featured on British television and in several magazines.

Elspeth…you are a force and one amazing woman!

Read about her entire journey on Motorcyclist Online dot com.

3 Responses to “Elspeth Beard–RTW Adventurer, Architect and WOMAN!”

  1. Eric Tessier-Lavigne says:

    What I love about this post is that it provides, in its own small yet hopefully concentrically radiating way, a counterweight to the hideousness of what is often associated with motorcycling – especially in HD-dominated North America.
    By which I obviously mean nasty, violent, territorial, drug-and-alcohol-fuelled blokes with dodgy Prussian moustaches, pudding basin helmets, portraying themselves as some mythical, oh-so-righteous, and anti-regulatory so-called “rebel yell” – when in fact they’re but stereotypical small-minded crooks hooked on “bling”.
    But that is what is force-fed to the viewing public on both the airwaves and on a sunny downtown afternoon: pathetic steroid-inflated baby boys with toys.

    And then there’s Elspeth Beard – wow!!!

    It makes one wonder if Charlie Boorman and Ewen MacGregor had ever heard of her, and if they hadn’t yet, whether letting them know might prompt them to retrace her steps, or rather her wheel ruts and treads…

    Thanks for bringing her to my/our attention!

    Ride safe the noo,

  2. Geoff says:

    Great story, great find, Donna.

  3. Donna Rees says:

    Hello Eric and Geoff!
    I have to agree with you Eric, but it is getting better and better for female riders especially in Europe. We still have a ways to go here. I always love it when I say that I ride and am asked, “do you ride a Harley”. It seems to be the synonymous brand applied to female riders. I try not to sound disillusioned, but I have to admit it’s sometimes hard not to. I mean, come on there are other brands!

    I was super impressed with Elspeth. I aspire to her cojones. 😉

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