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Facebook Live chat #5 with Elspeth Beard and Nora from Adventurism, two women motorcycling around the world


Elspeth Beard, the first British woman to motorcycle solo around the world, in conversation with Nora Nijkamp about their motorcycling adventures

For our fifth Facebook Live travel chat, we invited Nora Nijkamp to interview Elspeth Beard, the first British woman to motorcycle solo around the world.

The result was a wide-ranging conversation about shared experiences that went much deeper than places and comparisons.

If you missed the chat, catch up now on the Thelma & Louise Facebook Page.

We first heard of Elspeth Beard three weeks ago when travel writer Kate Wills told us all about her during this very Facebook Live chat. But in truth, we should have been all over this woman much earlier!
In 1982, at the age of 23, Elspeth set off from London to ride her motorbike around the world. Two years later, with 35,000 miles and more than her fair share of life experience now tucked under her belt, she returned – she was the first British woman to motorcycle solo around the world.


She did this in the time before email, smartphones and sat nav. For much of her trip, it was just her, her bike and her sense of adventure. Elspeth rode her trusty 1974 BMW the length of North America, through the Australian outback, across Asia from Singapore and back to Europe, via Thailand and Malaysia, India, Nepal and Pakistan – remember this was in the time of the assassination of Mrs Gandhi, the then-Prime Minister of India – and across post-revolution Iran and through Turkey.

It was only recently that Elspeth wrote Lone Rider about her round-the-world trip. She pieced together the book from the diaries, letters and micro-cassette tapes she had made on her journey, and left forgotten in a cupboard for more than 30 years.

And surely Nora has a book in her too!

We’ve been following Nora Nijkamp’s overland adventures since 2016, when she appeared in this Thelma & Louise podcast. At the time she was in Kyrgyzstan, half way through her first major overland trip, motorcycling from Amsterdam to Bali. Since then, she’s biked from Norway’s North Cape all the way to the southern tip of Africa in 2018, amassing a glut of amazing stories and more than 36,000 fans on her YouTube channel, and building an inspiring website, Adventurism.

While Elspeth and Nora are both big in the motorcycling community, and while their bikes are a big part of their adventures, it’s their indomitable attitude to travel and exploration that most strikes a chord with us here at Thelma & Louise – their balls at leaving it all behind to explore the world on their terms. Plus of course, that while they enjoyed their solo travel time, it was when they found a travel buddy that they felt more able to relax and really enjoy themselves.

There are fascinating parallels to their stories too. They’ve both ridden the same route through Asia, both met and fallen in love with a fellow long-distance motorcyclist on their travels, and they’ve both dealt hammerblows to chauvinistic views of women in the male-dominated worlds of motorcycling and adventure travel. What’s not to love about these two?!

Throughout their chat, they regaled us with tales of their travels, shared the life lessons they learned along the way and delved deeper into their shared experiences, which happened more than 30 years apart.


If you missed the chat, catch up now on the Thelma & Louise Facebook Page.


Read Elspeth’s book Lone Rider and follow Nora’s adventures on YouTube.