What were you up to when you were 21? Hankering after a Kawasaki KR1-S, and trying to find a decent job? Nipping away for weekends when you had enough money to pull a tank of petrol and a sleeping bag together? Yeah, us too.
But that’s not the plan of 21-year-old Ben King, who is attempting to become the youngest-ever rider to ride around the world solo by a motorcycle.
The wannabe adventurer set off from the Honda-backed Adventure Travel Film Festival in London on Sunday to a round of applause at Mill Hill School, London, where the festival is held.
He was waved off on his modified Honda CRF250L by renowned world traveller Austin Vince who has been helping Ben King prepare for his trip with a recent training trip to the Pyrenees.
Austin himself set off on his legendary Mondo Enduro trip with his pals from the same venue some twenty years ago, as did female adventurer Steph Jeavons, also using a Honda CRF250L.
Ben King told us: “I’m terrified to be honest, the nerves have finally kicked in after two years of planning, but I’m sure when I get on the road it will all ease, off, but it’s an amazing feeling to be here, finally.”
He added: “I’d never ridden off-road before a recent trip down to the Pyrenees with Austin. It was amazing to be in the mountains, off the beaten track. I came off the bike 22-times and had to have my leg X-rayed, but thankfully everything was fine. I learnt a lot!” The race to be the youngest person to circumnavigate the world solo by motorcycle hotted-up as it was announced by Triumph that 23-year-old British rider Kane Avellano just completed a 32,000 mile, eight-month trip around the world on a Triumph Bonneville. He’s now the current record holder.
But Ben isn’t feeling the pressure and says it may take him four or five years to circle the world and, if he finds somewhere he likes, he may stay a while.
Deciding what kit to pack and take on any adventure motorcycle trip is often a stressful experience, but Ben’s bike is actually fairly standard. He took a regular Honda CRF250L trail bike and fitted a Givi top box for some lockable storage, soft panniers, a tank bag for a map, GPS and electricals items and a handlebar mount for a GPS. There’s a bigger bashplate, the mirror stalks were changed for Ram mounts, and there’s a screen from Baja Works.
Speaking when Ben left London at the festival on Sunday, Austin Vince said: “I had the pleasure of working with Ben over the last eight months. I only met him eight months ago, he was 20 then, and it’s so nice when there’s such a short time to someone saying they’re going to do it to them actually doing it. He might get only as far as Chatham (jokes), but at least with the pressure of all of these people having seen him leave, there’s now the added pressure for him to actually go for it.”
Follow Ben’s adventure on Facebook at: @benkingontheroad