The woman who wants to be the youngest to travel the world by motorcycle

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(CNN) — Bridget McCutchen was born into a family of motorcyclists and was able to experience firsthand the thrills that motorcycling can bring at an early age.

The 22-year-old, who grew up in northern Wisconsin, got her first bike when she was about 19 and was soon traveling to places including Baltimore and New York.

But the thought of circumnavigating the world had never crossed her mind until her older brother pointed out that she was still young enough to break the record for the youngest person to circumnavigate the world on a motorcycle.

McCutchen, whose longest road trip had been from Wisconsin to Washington, said she initially dismissed the idea but kept coming back to it.

“After a while I thought, ‘Why not?’ The only reason I didn’t think I would do it was because I was scared of doing it,” she told CNN Travel. “I said to myself, ‘no.’ And then I decided to say to myself, ‘Yes.’ So here we are.”

record challenge

Bridget McCutchen is trying to break the record for the youngest person to circumnavigate the world on a motorcycle.

Courtesy of Bridget McCutchen

McCutchen spent about a year planning her route, seeking advice from Henry Crew, who was 23 when he completed a round-the-world motorcycle tour in 2019, and others who had previously attempted the challenge. Kane Avellano, who achieved this feat the day before his 24th birthday in 2017, is currently listed as the record holder on the Guinness World Records website.

To become the new record holder, McCutchen must adhere to a list of specifications, including using the same bike for the entire trip and avoiding staying in one place for more than two weeks.

McCutchen must also make at least one cross-equator overland journey of at least 24,900 miles (40,075 kilometers) to qualify.

After saving as much money as possible, McCutchen hit the road in August and spent her first few weeks “hopping across the States” before heading to Baja and taking the ferry across to mainland Mexico.

She travels with her riding partner Kiva, who she met on this leg of the journey a few months ago, and says they often cause a stir when they arrive in a new place and take off their helmets.

“People are often very surprised,” she says. “As if they would expect men to ride these bikes.”

By attempting to break this particular record, McCutchen, who chronicled her trips on her Instagram account, hopes to “represent the new generation of riders” and emphasizes that there is a big difference, the world seen on trips by car instead of motorbike.

“In a car, you move through the world in a bubble,” she says. “But on a motorcycle you are exposed to everything, good and bad. Sights, smells, sounds. Everything is more important to you.

“You’re exposed to everything and it’s so much more compelling. It’s more intimate.”

Complicated passage

McCutcheon is currently driving from Mexico to South America as part of the first leg of her trip.

McCutcheon is currently driving from Mexico to South America as part of the first leg of her trip.

Courtesy of Bridget McCutchen

McCutchen, who has just left Mexico City, plans to slowly make her way to South America, traveling through Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay before flying to Europe.

“There are fewer plans here,” she explains. “Because I need to find a place to ship my motorcycle to by boat, which will take about two months.”

Once both McCutchen and her bike have reached Europe, ideally via Spain, McCutchen hopes to travel through Britain, Ireland and across to Turkey, which straddles Europe and Asia, and “turn up on the Caspian Sea”.

At this point, she has a limited number of route options to advance further into Asia, each of which comes with quite a few challenges.

McCutchen originally planned to enter Russia, but that may not be possible due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

“The situation is very complicated,” she says. “I still believe that Russia is my best option.”

Once she successfully completes the Asian leg of her trip, McCutchen plans to have her bike shipped back to Mexico, from where she will cycle back to the US.

Right now she’s focused on getting through the first leg and was thrilled to be in Mexico for Día de los Muertos, also known as the Day of the Dead, which spans the first two days of November.

Of course, traveling by motorcycle on unfamiliar roads comes with its perils, and McCutchen sometimes found it difficult to navigate some off-road sections of the country.

She’s fallen off her bike onto the sand a few times and had a few “tight calls with trucks around blind corners.”

“The most difficult thing so far has been mountain passes,” she says. “Because we avoided the toll roads.”

McCutchen says she had to learn to slow down and enjoy her surroundings instead of rushing from place to place.

conversation starter

McCutchen with the Los Renecidos biker group in the Mexican village of Bernal.

McCutchen with the Los Renecidos biker group in the Mexican village of Bernal.

Courtesy of Bridget McCutchen

“Usually I was somewhere on a motorcycle tour and I didn’t have much time,” she explains. “And now I have a lot of time.”

McCutchen has chosen to offload some of her gear along the way to keep things as manageable as possible and is currently carrying two pairs of pants, two shirts, a tiny air compressor, an extra fuel bottle, a camping stove, a tent, sleeping bag, camera gear and laptop .

“Some of it can be hard, but it’s really just super easy stuff,” she says.

Although she had saved some money before starting the trip, she quickly found that it wouldn’t be anywhere near enough to cover all of her expenses.

She has been able to raise funds by selling stickers she designed herself and has a GoFundMe for her followers to donate to.

“At first I was like, ‘How am I going to pay for this?'” she admits. “Because not being able to stay anywhere for more than two weeks limits my ability to work on the go.”

McCutchen is immensely grateful to those who have offered their support and/or donated to her fund, and acknowledges that the generosity of others “was pretty much the main reason I was able to do this.”

She particularly enjoyed interacting with locals along the way and explains that the bike, a Kawasaki Versys X 300, proved to be a great conversation starter.

“People think motorcycles are cool and come up to you to talk to you,” she says. “It’s like a bridge to more people. They become more approachable.”

Overcome obstacles

McCutchen, who comes from a family of motorcyclists, got her first bike when she was 19.

McCutchen, who comes from a family of motorcyclists, got her first bike when she was 19.

Courtesy of Bridget McCutchen

While she was aware of the dangers she could potentially face riding a motorcycle in unfamiliar lands before beginning the trip, McCutchen says her past experiences have helped put her at ease.

“You hear a lot about the world being very dangerous and you should stay where it’s safe,” she says.

“Part of it is true. There is no way around risking my life if I do this. But there is also so much in the world that is very kind and amazing. And I think that far outweighs the very scary parts. “

Although the journey has been relatively smooth so far, McCutchen doesn’t take anything for granted and says she is well aware that her attempt at the challenge could be thwarted for reasons beyond her control.

“I’m definitely a bit concerned that I can’t continue because something is happening,” she admits. “Like the bike breaks or things get worse in the world.”

Of course, if she manages to break that particular record, it’s likely that someone even younger will come along and set a new record one day.

McCutchen isn’t worried about that at all, though. In fact, she says she’s happy to help anyone who’s interested, even if it means they forestall her.

“I want to get other people to do things like that,” she says. “Maybe not necessarily to that skill because not everyone has the time.

“But if someone came up to me and said, ‘I want to break this record,’ and they broke it before me. That would be alright.”

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