The woman who wants to be the youngest to travel the world on a motorcycle

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(CNN) — Born into a family of motorcyclists, Bridget McCutchen witnessed the excitement that motorcycling could bring from an early age.

The 22-year-old, who grew up in Northern Wisconsin, got her first bike when she was around 19 and soon embarked on trips to the likes of Baltimore and New York.

But the idea of ​​riding around the world had never occurred to her 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, says she rejected the idea at first, but it kept coming back to her mind.

“After a while I was like ‘why not?’ The only reason I didn’t think I would do it was because I was afraid of 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.

Thanks to Bridget McCutchen

McCutchen spent about a year planning her route, seeking advice from Henry Crew, who was 23 when he toured the world by motorcycle in 2019, and others who had previously accepted the challenge. Kane Avellano, who achieved this feat a 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, which includes using the same motorcycle for the entire trip and avoiding staying in one location for more than two weeks.

McCutchen will also have to cross the equator by land at least once, while the journey must be at least 24,900 miles (40,075 kilometers) to qualify.

After saving as much money as possible, McCutchen left in August, where she spent her first few weeks “bouncing around the United States”, before heading to Baja and ferrying across to mainland Mexico.

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

“A lot of times people are very surprised,” she says. “Like they expect men to ride these motorcycles.”

In trying to beat this particular record, McCutchen, who chronicled her travels on her Instagram account, hopes to “represent the new generation of riders,” emphasizing that there’s a huge difference between seeing the world while traveling by car versus on a motorcycle.

“In a car, you’re in a bubble moving through the world,” she says. “But on a motorcycle you are subject to everything, for better or for worse. Sights, smells, sounds. Everything is more important to you.

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

Complicated passage

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

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

Thanks to Bridget McCutchen

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

“There’s less of a plan here,” she explains. “Because I need to find a place to transport my bike 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 the UK, Ireland and into Turkey, which straddles Europe and Asia, and “comes to the Caspian Sea”.

At this stage, she has a limited number of route options for moving further into Asia, all of which present some pretty significant challenges.

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

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

Once, or if, she can successfully complete the Asia portion of her journey, McCutchen wants to have her bike shipped back to Mexico where she will ride back to the US.

For now, she’s focused on making it to stage one and was thrilled to be in Mexico for Día de los Muertos, also known as Day of the Dead, which spans the first two days of November.

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

She’s fallen off her bike into the dirt a few times and has had some “close calls with trucks in blind spots.”

“The hardest part so far has been the 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 motorcycling group Los Renecidos in the Mexican village of Bernal.

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

Thanks to Bridget McCutchen

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

McCutchen has opted to unload some of her equipment along the way to keep things as organized as possible, and currently carries two pairs of pants, two shirts, a small air compressor, an extra fuel bottle, a camping stove, a tent, a sleeping bag , camera equipment and a laptop.

“Some of it might be heavy, but it’s really just super basic stuff,” she says.

Although she had saved some money before embarking on the trip, she soon realized that it would not be nearly enough to cover all her expenses.

She has been able to raise money by selling stickers she designed herself, and has a GoFundMe that her followers can donate to.

“In the beginning I was like ‘how am I going to pay for it?'” she admits. “Because I can’t stay anywhere for more than two weeks, my ability to work on the road becomes a bit limited.”

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

She particularly enjoyed interacting with the locals while out and about, explaining that the motorcycle, a Kawasaki Versys X 300, has proven to be a great conversation starter.

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

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.

Thanks to Bridget McCutchen

While she was wary of the dangers she could potentially encounter while riding a motorcycle in unfamiliar countries before embarking on the journey, McCutchen says her experiences so far have helped put her mind at ease.

“You hear a lot of things about how the world is very dangerous, and you have to stay where you’re safe,” she says.

“Part of that is true. I can’t help but risk my life doing this. But there’s also so much of the world that’s really nice and amazing. And I think that far outweighs the very scary parts.”

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

“I’m definitely a little worried that I can’t move on because something is happening,” she admits. “Like the bike breaking down, or things in the world getting worse.”

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

However, McCutchen is not concerned about this at all. In fact, she says she’s happy to help anyone who wants to, even if it means getting ahead of her.

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

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

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