2morrorider – Rhys Lawrey rides the world.
"Live what you want to do now, rather than keep dreaming of it for the future. Just jump in and watch it all unfold."
These are not the words of a wise sage who has benefited from years of knowledge and experience. Rather they came from a 23-year-old Brit out of Huntingdon, UK, by the name of Rhys Lawrey, and jump in he has!
Rhys’s dream was to ride around the world on a motorcycle, and he is currently in the midst of what may be the biggest adventure of his life. I was fortunate to run into the man at the end of November and ride with him up the California Coast to San Francisco along arguably one of the most scenic stretches of road in the state—Highway 1 from Morro Bay to Big Sur.
Rhys had planned a quick side trip up the coast to meet with one of his sponsors in the Bay Area and was appreciative of a little company. We met at a little gas station just off Highway 1 in Morro Bay. He had been riding for a little over three hours from Los Angeles, so after a quick refuel we headed down to the harbor for some coffee and a light breakfast. Immediately the Triumph Tiger with luggage and UK plates had locals stopping to ask questions.
The story began on May 2, 2014, when Rhys picked up a new Triumph Tiger 800 XC at the factory in Hinckley, UK. The next day the trip officially started at the Ace Café in London; from there he turned east and travelled through Europe, Turkey, Central Asia, China and Thailand before shipping the bike to Australia and riding from Perth to Sydney by way of Townsville on the northern part of the east coast. Then it was on to New Zealand where, after riding the islands, the bike was packed up again and shipped to Los Angeles.
From the harbor in Morro Bay, Rhys and I headed north along the coast, stopping briefly to view the elephant seals at Piedras Blancas, a small beach just north of Hearst Castle at San Simeon. The elephant seals are always a must-see, especially when you have a guest from out of town. After strolling along the walkway for a few pictures, we prepared to saddle back up and continue our ride. To our utter amazement, while we were gearing up we both turned to see a red Triumph Tiger 800XC with UK plates heading south on Highway 1 in front of us.
The couple riding the bike apparently had the same idea and also also pulled into the parking lot to see the seals. Coincidence has always been fascinating to me; two or three minutes more and we would have been on the road, giving them “the wave” as we passed each other going different directions. It turns out that on this particular day we had run into Steve and Janette Douglas of Goring on Thames in South Oxfordshire, UK, heading south down the coast from Anchorage, Alaska, where their trip had started. They too were also on the adventure of a lifetime, travelling the world in their own time and leisure, with no particular plan.
Before they set out on their adventure, the Douglas' posted the following message on their travel blog, http://www.tiger800rtw.com: “We have no idea how long this will take us. We plan to travel slowly and take in as much as possible along the way. We’ll only be forced to move on due to impending inclement winter weather, expiring visas, famine, flood, war or because we simply don’t like the place. It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out.”
Rhys, and Steve and Janette are from different demographics and are doing the trip for different reasons. Ewan McGregor’s Long Way Around inspired Steve and Janette. Steve quit his job of 18 years, and Janette hers of 30, to make this trip a reality. Rhys found inspiration from his father, Kevin Saunders, who holds two Guinness world records—the fastest circumnavigation of the world by motorcycle and the fastest trans-Americas trip by motorcycle. He is also riding for The Prince’s Trust charity to benefit youth in the UK and inspire up-and-coming riders. Along the way, Rhys is also targeting two new world records—the youngest to ever complete such a trip and the Guinness consecutive capital city record. There seems to be a trend in his family.
“I wanted to do more to get young riders into the sport and inspire people to get out and do what they want to do,” Rhys explained.
So in the parking lot of Piedras Blancas, I listened intently to the conversation among these world travelers as they swapped stories, shared gear tips and gave each other suggestions on places to go and the best way to get there. Since I was also riding a Triumph Tiger 800, I was intrigued by the gear they each carried to make their respective trips and also slightly embarrassed when I realized that I had packed almost as much for my two-day trip as they had for their international travels. Here’s a list of what both riders packed for their respective trips:
"Unbeleivable" Rhys remarked about this chance encounter with Steve and Janette.
“To travel the amount of time they have and to have done just Alaska, Canada and the western US makes you realize, there are different ways to go about the same goal, you can very easily keep on traveling and not stop
Rhys and I continued up the coast, stopping along the way at various scenic overlooks for photo ops and to take in the breathtaking views that seem to be around every corner for the better part of 100 miles, before finally parting ways close to San Francisco.
Rhys continued on from the trip to the Bay Area, ending his short stay in the U.S. in Arizona before heading south to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador and Columbia.
His South America trip will end in Argentina before the bike is shipped to South Africa for the northward leg back to Europe, with a projected arrival back in the UK in June of this year.
Before we parted, I asked Rhys a few questions about his choice of bike, what he’s learned from this experience, and what he has planned once he reaches his final destination.
“I am British, so I wanted to keep it British. I also love the Triumph brand; it’s a very iconic brand that I think is cool, not mention the reliability of their engines”.
What has Rhys learned from this trip?
“So many things, it’s hard to list them all. At 22/23 years old, I have learnt things I would never have learnt if I had gone down the university path. I have learnt proper life and people skills, survival and navigation. I have learnt things I never knew you had to learn. The best moments are meeting local people, spending time with them, riding and going out with them. Meeting people on the road is the best part!”
Does he have any regrets?
“No, I don’t regret anything. Perhaps the only thing would be not spending more time in some of the places I’ve visited, but I have a list of countries I will revisit.”
And what is in store for him when the trip finally concludes?
“Many things. I want to keep pushing the younger riders and working along side The Prince’s Trust charity. The trip has also created so many contacts and opportunities for a bright future. I’d like to keep working with Triumph and doing more with them. What that is, you’ll have to find out when it happens ☺.”
“As a young person I WANT to share with other young people that if they have a strong desire to do something, then they should, not to follow what’s expected of us in Western Society today, but follow your heart, and do what you want to do!”
You can follow along with Rhys’s journey on Facebook