In this world there are dreamers and there are those who are actually living out their dreams. Henry Crew happens to be from that small percentage of people who had a wild idea and actually made it happen. Henry is currently attempting to set a Guinness World Record for being the youngest person to circumnavigate the world on a motorcycle. He set out on his solo journey in early 2018 at the age of 22. Now 10 months and over 40,000 miles later, Henry stopped by Beach Moto to chat with me about his experience. Planning an adventure like Henry’s seems impossible. I mean, where do you even begin??
Henry was inspired to take a leap of faith, quit his job and set out on the road after reading an article about another rider who set the same record at the age of 24. “I read an article about the guy who currently holds the record and I’ve seen his trip before in some photos but never realized his age or what the record was. He was 24 and as I read that, I was instantly just like ‘I’m doing that’.” Although the decision to go on this journey was quick, the planning was not. “It took ten months to plan it. I started e-mailing people that evening trying to make it work and met Ben from Movember a couple of weeks later and that’s when things came together.” Movember is a charity foundation that raises proceeds for men’s mental health and cancer research. Henry decided to raise money for the cause on his journey.
As if planning such a journey isn’t difficult enough, about two months into the planning Henry had a big setback when he lost the motorcycle he was planning to use on the trip. “I crashed the bike I was initially planning to do the trip on. I was riding a Kawasaki W800 back in the UK and riding home from work in the rain, someone cut me off and I cracked the engine in half.” Not deterred by this incident, Henry moved forward with the planning and Ben from Movember stepped in to help. Ben connected Henry with his contacts at Ducati and Henry was able to secure a new bike for the trip, a 2018 Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled. Not a traditional “adventure” bike but Henry prefers it this way. “I didn’t want to do it on an adventure bike because I don’t think they are necessary. I wanted to ride something I’d ride back home every day and kinda show that it does not matter what bike you want to do an adventure or a trip on as long as it has an engine and two wheels.”
So now that the bike was secured, there is the small matter of planning the actual journey and figuring out how to fund it. Because Henry would have to quit his job to go, he wouldn’t have any consistent income. But Henry claims a trip like this is “Not as expensive as you’d think it would be. It is cheaper for me to do this for a year than it is to live in London.” To start saving up for the trip, Henry gave up his London house and moved in with his parents. He also sent out hundreds of e-mails trying to find sponsors to help him with the trip. His efforts paid off and he was able to get support from nearly 20 companies who were all willing to somehow pitch in to help him on his journey. What surprised me most is the support Henry received from complete strangers. Through connections Henry made on Instagram, he was able to secure boarding in many countries completely free of charge. People literally let him crash on their couch. “Once you stay with one or two people, they’ll put you in touch with more people and you kind of just end up couch surfing your way across a country. “ The trip is costing Henry about $20-25k for the year, a lot less than I’d imagine a trip like this to be.
Additional planning of a trip of this caliber involves many trips to embassies to secure visas, six months of injections and vaccines, tons of research on where you can and cannot ride, what documents each country requires, obtaining customs paperwork for shipping the bike between continents, planning out the routes and making sure they are open and rideable during all season, making sure these places are safe for tourists (especially tourists traveling alone), planning to meet all Guinness World Record requirements, the list goes on and on and on. But Henry says, you absolutely cannot plan for everything. “No matter how many questions you ask, you’re going into it blind because you don’t know the unknown until it presents itself to you. All of the questions I asked (about this trip) were probably pretty irrelevant. People could be planning for years and as soon as you step out the front door, that plan’s out the window.”
So what is it like doing a trip like this alone? I get lonely at times walking from my bed to the fridge, I cannot even fathom doing something like this solo. None of Henry’s friends back in the UK ride, so doing this trip with someone other than himself never even crossed his mind. Henry actually wanted a bit of an escape. “Something that I look for in motorcycles on a daily basis, even if it’s an hour or half an hour riding, is running away from normality and just being focused on that one thing. So for me it was doing what I’ve always wanted to do in the most extreme way I could do it.” Being an introvert, Henry must’ve found the solitude he experienced on his trip pretty comfortable. But he says your personality has to be a balance. “You have to be ok with being on your own and ok with solitude and maybe not interacting with people at all. But then you have to be able to interact with people when you need to and be outgoing to make connections to further the trip and make sure you get what you need along the way. So there’s a real balance.” Not having a riding partner does mean you get to do whatever you want, whenever you want, and there is a lot of value in that. Henry rode with a few riders he connected with on Instagram and it was difficult for him, “You start compromising. It’s such a selfish thing to do this trip, it’s a selfish adventure but that’s ok.”
Through his journey between 33 countries, I figured Henry must’ve encounter several sketchy situations, especially in parts of the world that are rumored to be highly dangerous. But to my surprise, other than a pair of stolen boots and a stolen helmet, Henry has not encountered any dangerous situations. “I’ve been quiet lucky. I haven’t really had any bad experiences with people. I think especially living in London, people are very much in their lane with blinkers on, not looking to help other people. So it’s really easy to become pessimistic about people in general. And when you do a trip like this, you are completely out of that environment and people have been so helpful. I wouldn’t have gotten this far without all of the people I ran into along the way.” As many world travelers have said before, Henry confirms that the world is a much friendlier place than we are led to believe and those who have the least, always give the most.
It was so much fun to talk to Henry and learn that a trip around the world on a motorcycle is not as far out of reach as many of us believe. Where there is a will, there is a way and with some strong determination and a whole lot of passion for adventures, many more people could be circumnavigate the world on a motorcycle or doing whatever other type of adventure they always wanted to do. We could be posting our own story on social media instead of spending hours looking at someone else’s. And what is the scariest part of Henry’s trip? Finishing it because a regular life after a life like this just ain’t gonna cut it and you might be “forced” to keep doing cool, adventurous shit for the rest of your life.
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by Kate A May 21, 2021
by Kate A December 23, 2020