Bike bonanza: "I'm on my way home"
Hebden Bridge Ian's global tour goes on!
Ten years ago Hebden Bridge mechanic Ian Coates set off on a four month motorcycle trip around Australia. Ten years later he's still going! This two-wheeled traveller now promises he's on his way home. Well, he's in Colorado anyway...
"I didn't really know that I'd go around the world," admits Ian while taking a few moments off his bike to speak to BBC Radio Leeds from somewhere in Colorado. "I just went off for four months and then it got to a year and I thought I'd better keep going. So it just snowballed into a trip around the world."
Colorado: Ian's current location
And what a trip it's been for Ian, especially taking into account he never actually intended to leave Hebden Bridge behind for such a long time. An Australian odyssey as member of a bike club was where he started his journey, but that was just a start as the countries and continents started to roll under the wheels of his trusty motorcycle.
Travelling solo on his vintage Honda bike, taking only his tent and a few clothes with him, Ian's certainly been around a bit. As well as Australia, he's also spent time touring Africa, New Zealand, South America and the United States.
Ian has been back to West Yorkshire since 1999 - just the once, though: "I came back three years ago because my grandchildren had forgotten what I looked like. And I needed some pistons and a cam chain for my motorbike and I had to renew my driving licence. Then I went back to New Zealand...and my wife came back with me!"
Ah yes, Ian has a wife too. She's called Judith and she's been waiting patiently for her biker husband ever since he first left Hebden Bridge way back in what was, of course, the 20th century! Nine years into the 21st century, Ian says he thinks Judith's putting up well with his somewhat eccentric itinerary: "She's all right. She comes out now and again to look at me. I've seen her six times now since '99. She's all right is Judith. She's sound as a pound."
Ian says his epic journey actually costs very little money as he camps everywhere in his tent and he works in return for food and somewhere to sleep. In South America, for example, he worked as a gaucho - a sort of cowboy - herding cattle in return for bed and board. He says he makes friends everywhere he goes, and attracts plenty of media attention. He was even recently featured on TV in Denver as, you've guessed it, an 'eccentric Brit'. (Click on the weblink below to watch the clip)
Now, Ian's looking forward to meeting up with long-suffering wife Judith again sometime before his final return to Blighty: "I think she'll see me again before I do the Big One - Siberia and Mongolia - hoping I'll come out the other end. It's a big place!"
Meanwhile, Ian admits that he is taking his time on his round-the-world trip so he can get a real taste of each place he visits. After all, it's a once in a lifetime journey: "I do it right. I don't miss owt!"
Hebden Bridge: Final destination!
Though he's in Colorado at the moment, Ian does at least claim to be pointing in the 'right' direction for his homeward journey to Hebden Bridge now: "I only have to get to Alaska and then across the Bering Straits to Siberia and then that land goes right to France. So I can ride right to Calais and then get the ferry across to Dover and then up north to Hebden Bridge and I'm finished!"
And then what? What will well-travelled mechanic Ian do once he's back in Blighty? Simple, he says: "I've got a lot of work to catch up with, haven't I? I'll have been away for 'teens' of years so all that work's banking up there. I might be over 100-years-old by the time I get through all of the work that's waiting for me!"
Listen to Andrew and Georgey on BBC Radio Leeds on Friday 5th June between 6am and 9am to hear their live interview with Judith Coates. Tune in to 92.4 FM or 774 MW to find out what Judith thinks of Ian's exploits...and when she's expecting him back!
last updated: 04/06/2009 at 10:12