If you circumnavigated the world in a perfect circle, you would end up traveling over 40,000 kilometers (nearly 25,000 miles) to get back where you started. Although very few people can brag about such an accomplishment, the desire to see the world has been planted in the hearts of many adventurous people. And there are certainly many ways to go about seeing the world: boat, private jet, and commercial airliner are just a few of the ways.
But have you ever considered traveling across every continent on a motorbike? Steph Jeavons can claim not only the dream of doing it, but the accomplishment of pulling off that amazing feat! From 2014-2018, she rode across every single continent on the back of a simple Honda CRF250L. When all was said and done (including tigers in the wild, breathtaking sunsets, scary nights and welcoming strangers), she covered almost 130,000 kilometers (80,000 miles), and visited about 50 countries. Do the math, and it is clear that she basically circled the globe over three times! Throughout her time traveling, she usually spent about six hours a day on the bike.
This trip of a lifetime was 20 years in the making. But not only was the road across the continents on a motorbike fraught with challenges, but even the road to GET to the starting point was difficult. Jeavons needed grit just to get to the beginning of this amazing ride. Twenty years earlier, Steph Jeavons was sitting in a prison cell, having been incarcerated before the age of 20 for a few bad choices along the way. “I got myself in a bit of a mess. But I had an epiphany in that prison cell, and I was determined to see the world and make up for lost time,” she said. And boy did she make good on that promise to herself!
As a biker, the perfect way to see the world turned out to be on a single cylinder Honda bike. “It’s quite a liberating feeling, I felt like I was alive,” Jeavons said. She used that feeling to fuel the journey of a lifetime.
Jeavons came by biking honestly, starting out as a young girl in Wales on the back of a bike. While most kids were riding a two-wheeler, she used to sit behind her mom on her motorcycle, and eventually on the back of her boyfriend’s bike. In fact, her mom only recently gave up riding because every time she went out it ended up raining.
It wasn’t long until Jeavons got her own bike and started riding herself. “I had to be in control,” she said.
After her time in jail, Jeavons came out with a vivid dream of seeing the world, and gained control of her journey, owning several houses and an off-road motorbike school. She was giving tours to people on bikes and taking little trips with groups to see special parts of the world.
But that dream of seeing the entire world from the motorbike kept nudging her. She eventually sold everything she had, including her house and business, and prepared for one heck of a sightseeing trip!
Though well-planned, her journey was a rugged one. She expected it to take 18 months to ride across every continent, and that is all she had the money for, but it ended up lasting 4 years.
The sheer scope of the trip was dizzying. In 2014, she started the trip at the Ace Cafe in London, crossed through Europe and Asia on her bike, and then made her way to Australia. After riding through the Land Down Under, she and her bike were shipped by air to Buenos Aires. She took a little boat to Antarctica, one of the most arduous parts of the trip, then back across the Drake passage, back to Argentina, and up through the US to Canada. From Canada she made it to Africa, down through Angola and then Egypt and Italy, finally making it back to the Ace Cafe in London where she started and then ending up back home in Wales.
As a woman traveling alone on a motorbike, there were plenty of times to be afraid. To save money, she spent many nights camping in the wild. “It takes a bit of getting used to. My first wild camping night, I was terrified. But I survived, and you get used to it.” She used her earbuds to block out a lot of the wild noises so she didn’t have to think about it. But to see the natural beauty of the world, animals in their natural habitats, and beautiful sunsets made it all worthwhile.
What was more amazing than the beautiful world, were the spirited people she met along the way. And when she needed to lean on other people to help her, they most often came through. “Everywhere I went, people were amazingly helpful. They can’t hide their astonishment at what you are doing. And you start to learn to accept help without suspicion. Human kind is really good.” When traveling so far around the world, she definitely met all sorts of people with different customs, and they definitely renewed her faith in humanity.
Along with the kindness of strangers who took her in and housed and fed her, she relied on sponsors to finance her trip. Honda not only sponsored her trip, but when she ran low on money they donated a motorbike for her to raffle off to make spending money. She also ended up doing some public speaking and inspirational talks, especially in America, so that she could continue her ride. The public speaking gigs have continued, and she has a great message of courage and perseverance to share with her listeners.
So how did her bike hold up across 130,000 kilometers? It turns out that the bike was a sturdy and stable companion. She rode a simple Honda because it was a no fuss bike and would be easy to fix. Throughout the four year journey, she really only had to do general maintenance and upkeep throughout most of her trip, and she found that parts were easy to get around the globe. She only really had one major problem, when the starter relay went out in Tanzania, but she was able to get it solved quickly and get on her way.
After four years on the road, Jeavons returned to the Ace Cafe in London almost four years to the day of when she left. The end of a journey such as this was a bit bittersweet. When she returned to her home in Wales, she definitely returned with a positive attitude after her amazing journey, but there was also a time of adjustment. After planning and executing the trip of a lifetime, it was natural for her to wonder what was next.
She lived in her caravan for a while, which was definitely a step up from her motorbike. She was surprised with how much time she needed to heal her tired body, and it took several months for her back and shoulders to settle down from four straight years of riding. She admits to being a bit restless for a while after her return. After a successful journey like she had, and some much-needed rest, it wasn’t long before she focused on turning back around to help the next person.
Today she is busy trying to inspire women’s groups and troubled teens, telling them that if they set their mind to it, they can achieve anything they want. She recently guided a group of women on bikes in Tibet to the base camp of Mt. Everest. She was there to get them through the hard parts, and she got to experience another one of the world’s most beautiful places. Jeavons also recently completed a 1000 kilometer walk.
So what is next for this adventuring biker? “I have a bunch of mini-adventures planned. I want to go back to Africa, and I have been busy guiding other groups while mulling my next solo adventure.” After a journey of four years, she is ready to refine her search and see places she missed the first time around.
When she is not speaking to groups and inspiring others, she enjoys hiking and running, and hanging out with her collie Chui. She recently bought a house off the coast of North Wales and is enjoying settling in.
Her book, Home by Seven, was released on September 3, 2020, and tells the story of her journey across the continents on her motorbike. Although she didn’t really make it home by seven, she followed through on her goal of seeing the world, and the lessons she learned throughout her journey will stay with her for a lifetime, along with her desire for more adventures!
This story was told by Kathryne Bradesca