In an age before sat-nav, internet, email and mobile phones – and in an age when women hardly ever traveled alone to adventurous countries – Elspeth Elspeth achieved something that is still remarkable today. In 1982, Beard embarked on a two-year solo journey that would take her around the world on her beloved motorbike – the first British woman to do so. From the outback of Australia to the mountains of Nepal, Beard has traveled through some fascinating places. The great stories behind these places and her achievement as a solo rider have been turned into a brilliant book, Lone Rider, in 2017.
“When I set off to ride my motorbike around the world in 1982 I never imagined that my story would be published,” she said of her book. “On my return, in 1984, I put all my journals, tapes and photos in a cardboard box in the back of a cupboard where they remained for over thirty years.”
Beard learned to ride a motorcycle on Salisbury Plain at the age of 16. She began her round the world journey in 1982, after the third year of her architect training course, using a BMW R60/6 motorcycle. Beard added soft panniers, a tank bag and an extra bag lashed to the pillion seat before she embarked on the trip.
In October 1982, Beard shipped her beloved BMW to New York and arrived at Heathrow with a tent and a few belongings. “I was very nervous but I was also excited and felt a tingle of freedom.” When she arrived in New York, she got on her motorbike and rode to Canada, then south to Mexico and back north to Los Angeles.