Henry Crew is the youngest person to attempt to circumnavigate the world on a motorcycle, beginning his journey to breaking the record at just 22 years old. His mission? To raise £35,000 for The Movember Foundation. Here’s his story so far…
Firstly, what got you interested in motorcycles and when did you start riding?
I have been drawn to motorcycles for as long as I can remember. No one in my family rides, so for a long time it was just knowing that one day I’d ride. My dad is really into cycling so I guess that started my love of two wheels, but I always thought it would be much better if I didn’t have to pedal, so I took my bike test at 19, the earliest I could ride a bike with decent power. I sold my car to buy my first bike and it’s been my sole mode of transport for 365 days a year ever since.
You were only 22 when deciding to attempt to circumnavigate the world and break the record. What made you want to do that?
I’d planned a lot of smaller trips that never happened as I was working so much which became really frustrating. I’d never really thought about any adventure riding – more just touring and travelling with a bike. Then, it was a kind of perfect storm, with issues at work and my rent finishing at the time, I read an article about the record and realised I could beat it. I decided to make the leap instantly and over the next ten months managed to make it happen!
So, what bike have you chosen to do the journey on?
Originally I’d planned to ride my Kawasaki W800 but I wrote it off two months into planning the trip. I wanted to do the trip on a bike that I’d ride back home, something that wasn’t necessarily made for the job but would prove you didn’t need a big GS and all of this other expensive kit to get it done. I met with The Movember Foundation and we talked through a few possible bike options, and eventually settled on the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled, and luckily they lent me one! I love it because it’s fun and easy to ride, looks great, it’s light and can sure take a kicking!
What piece of kit has impressed you most on your trip?
My Malle bags. They’re the only things that haven’t broken, even in the slightest. They’re so well made, with high quality materials. Who would have thought that a set of simple but well engineered waxed canvas bags would take such abuse and still look amazing? I’m also very impressed with my RevIt adventure suit – I’ve never had such practical gear before.
Aside from these bits, my essential recommendations for any lengthy bike trip are ear plugs and visor cleaner, they are a must if you want to make your journey a lot more comfortable.
Where in the world are you currently, and how long have you got left to go?
I’m in California having done a few thousand miles in America over the last two months. I have about six weeks left to get home to the UK.
So are you on track for breaking the world record?
Yes, I’ll be home in April and will break the record!
What has been the best riding experience on the journey so far?
The Himalayas would be my choice if I could only ever do one trip again. Australia was also amazing. But, it’s been the people everywhere I’ve travelled that have really made the trip (especially bike communities!).
What’s been the highest ‘high’ and the lowest ‘low’?
Getting to Australia felt really triumphant. Having ridden across such a large amount of continuous land through all sorts of cultures and environments. There have been so many amazing highs though, and it’s normally the unplanned and the subtle ones that have really blown me away.
The low would be flying out from Australia to Chile, it was my first culture shock and I had become so accustomed and happy in Australia that it made it twice as hard as normal. I was struggling to get food with the language barrier, and getting my bike out of customs among other things – it’s one of the only times that I’ve questioned myself about continuing. But as soon as I got my bike out of the airport and got on the road all of that disappeared. There have been a lot of tough times but I wouldn’t say they are “lows”. I’m grateful for the chance to prove myself and I’m actually surprised at how well I’ve handled some less than desirable situations!
Finally, as part of your journey you’re raising money for The Movember Foundation. Tell us more about that.
When I started to plan the journey I knew I wanted to raise money for The Movember Foundation and promote their work. I have had my own issues with mental health and motorcycling is something that’s really helped me – I think a lot of bikers can relate to that. I’d been aware of Movember for a while but really started to take notice when I began riding annually in the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride which benefits Movember (raising millions every year!).
It’s been a huge learning curve for me having to talk about my experience with mental health but it’s been hugely rewarding and I’m glad I’ve been forced to do it. Movember raises money for prostate cancer and testicular cancer research, as well as men’s mental health and suicide prevention. The statistics on suicide are crazy – it’s the biggest killer of men under 45 in many places, and 75% of all suicides are male. I’m hoping – and I’ve had a really positive response so far – that by talking about my experience and raising awareness, other people will feel comfortable doing so. We are attempting to raise £35,000 for Movember, one pound for ever mile I originally estimated, although I’m now at 43,000+ miles!
If you’d like to donate you can head to my website where you’ll find the donation page, or there is a store where you can buy a t-shirt or postcard from which all profits go to Movember.
Follow Henry’s journey on Instagram by following @henrycrew.