When I received the instruction that this issue was to feature The Craziest Trip of the Year, I knew there was only one person for the job. It had to be Ed March and his C90 adventures. Infamous among motorcycle travellers, Ed’s insane escapades over the last few years have provided a welcome antidote to the army of identikit GS riders ploughing the same old routes. If you’re not familiar with his crazy world, here we go...
An engineer from Devon, in 2011 Ed, aged 24, bought himself a Honda C90 for £150, strapped a supermarket shopping basket on the front as luggage, and rode it 14,500 miles from Malaysia back to the UK. His short films made along the way (including him riding the C90 while playing Always on My Mind on an electronic keyboard strapped to the handlebars) propelled him to cult hero status. Apart from that, he is best known for his arse-baring pictures taken in various locations around the world – yes, this is how to become an internet sensation. He is currently making his way from Alaska to Argentina which so far has included him riding across snowbound Canada during the winter in temperatures of -40. I caught up with Ed while he was in Ecuador...
So how’s the year gone so far Ed?
Well, I started in Guatemala with Rachel (Ed’s girlfriend, featured Bike, December 2016. She set off with Ed on his Trans-America trip but sensibly decided to go it alone! – LP). We spent Christmas night in the Roman themed room of a Guatemalan Love Hotel then I rode through Central America. In Panama, like all overland travellers, I had to get around the Darien Gap – the roadless section of jungle between Panama and Colombia.
Most people fly their bikes or put them on a boat. What was your solution to the problem?
I wanted to take the boat. The cost per person for a ticket is about $600, and the cost for a bike is about $600 too. That’s way too expensive for my budget. However, the cost for excess baggage is zero, so I got sneaky. I broke my bike down into pieces, bought two large sports holdalls, crammed the bike inside them, and pretended my large bags were heavy camping equipment. The two bags weighed 50kg each and the captain kept asking me what was inside them. ‘Just my belongings, camping equipment, and a special er... folding bike,’ I said.
Did he believe you?
Hey, I wasn’t lying. The total cost for the boat ticket was $550 and included three days on the tropical San Blas Islands, so not too bad at all. I had no problems with customs, after all I arrived in Colombia with excess baggage and not a motorcycle. I rebuilt the bike in the garden of the hostel I was staying at, pushed the now complete bike to the customs office and said: ‘you’ll never guess what, I just found an English motorcycle in my luggage. Please temporarily import it for me!’
Sounds like a customs paperwork nightmare!
Getting it through customs took me a day, but I had made it into Colombia, I’d crossed the Darien Gap, saved $600 and confused or impressed every person who dared ask me what I was doing. All the hallmarks of a good idea if you ask me.
So what else has been happening?
I rode around Colombia for a bit and met up with Rachel – we played paintball at Pablo Escobar’s house (Colombia’s infamous drug lord). Then I flew to Vietnam where I guided a C90 tour and now I’m back in South America.