Almost exactly a year ago two novice motorcycle riders set off in a moped and sidecar combination to circumnavigate the globe in a world first.
Last Thursday, October 18, was Anti-Slavery Day, which raises awareness of modern day slavery and human trafficking and is the reason Matt Bishop and Reece Gilkes, both from Banbury, decided to take on the 40,000-mile, 50-country journey.
To date they have travelled 26,000 miles through four continents and visited 27 countries on their Honda SH300i scooter and a home-made sidecar.
Reece said: “We’re doing it to raise awareness of modern slavery and human trafficking. There are currently estimated to be 40 million people living in modern slavery around the world.
"That’s enough people to fill Wembley Stadium over 500 times and more than double what there was at the peak of the transatlantic slave trade. They’re in every country globally, including the UK.”
The final leg of the journey will involve facing the harsh Siberian winter and will see them drive from Vladivostok back to the UK across Russia and Mongolia.
Temperatures can drop as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius.
Matt said: “It’s definitely our biggest challenge yet. The scooter is going to struggle and so are we, but it will be an adventure and hopefully it will help raise awareness of this important issue.”
The pair have already more than quadrupled the current world record for the longest journey by scooter and sidecar but it hasn’t been easy.
Reece said: “Travelling by scooter and sidecar has its challenges. The scooter simply isn’t designed for the amount of weight it’s pulling or for driving through some of the world’s toughest environments. It’s not been all plain sailing and we’ve been learning a lot on the road.”
En-route the pair have been meeting organisations that are fighting modern day slavery in order to raise awareness of just how global the issue is and have documented their trip on their website www.AsSeenFromTheSidecar.org.
The novice riders knew nothing about bikes before they set off and only learnt about bearings when trying to change one on the side of the road in the Sahara.
After driving across Africa and the Americas they’ve learnt how to plug a puncture or two and even had to rebuild their clutch in Ethiopia, using YouTube tutorials.
Matt said: “We had absolutely no experience with motorbikes whatsoever. We didn’t even know how they worked, let alone how to ride one.”
To sponsor the pair visit www.AsSeenFromTheSidecar.org/donate.