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42,000 Miles – Arctic to Antarctica by Motorcycle!

Leslie Holgate

42,000 Miles – Arctic to Antarctica by Motorcycle!

Leslie Holgate

ExpeditionTrips’ clients, Wade Stubbs and Philip Atkinson of Bergalia County, Australia, successfully reached the end of the road on their extraordinary motorcycle journey from the Arctic Circle to the Antarctic Circle, raising money to support the Make-a-Wish Foundation. In total, their adventure spanned 8 months, 42,000 miles, 16 countries, and 31 border crossings. Plus they raised over $14,366 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation International.

View the photo gallery of the Bergalia Boys’ adventures.

We caught up with the Bergalia Boys before they embarked for the finale of the epic Circle to Circle journey. Here’s what they had to say about their 42,000 miles on motorbikes:

1. What have been the stand-out moments and write-home-about highlights of Circle to Circle? What was the most exciting moment for you?

Crossing the Arctic Circle was a big moment for me. This isn't just another trip that has been talked about, and then left forgotten in the back of the closet, never to be started. There we were, astride the Arctic Circle. One down, one to go!

Speed week at Bonneville. Simply mind blowing, and the top of my events’ list. To be able to walk through the pits and chat to the drivers and teams, then stand and watch people pull off the start line on their way to breaking land speed records, brilliant. Plus, the salt flats themselves are so unique, bloody good fun! Camping on the salt was pretty special, creating some lasting memories!

Mexico had some great riding, particularly in Baja and the Silent Zone. Then crossing into Guatemala using small traditional canoes was a real blast! Spanish school in Antigua, Guatemala was an experience. We met 15 other adventure riders who by sheer chance all ended up in the same town at the same time. Most were riding in 2's or 3's, so it was pretty amazing to get so many groups randomly converging in Antigua.

Columbia was brilliant! It was our favorite country due to the friendliest people on earth, some extreme riding and paragliding. You just gotta do it!

Machu Picchu, Peru was the best 'touristy' destination I have ever been to. Traveling South America and not going is like drinking non-alcoholic wine. In both cases I think you're missing the point a little bit and just not getting the most out of what's on offer!

Reed beds, Lake Titicaca was fantastic, but do yourself a favor and stay a night with the Uros People on the islands. This was a marvelous experience. While you're there, post a letter from the world’s only floating international post office. I did!

Mines at Potosi, Bolivia. To sit in the tunnels next to a guy making dynamite sticks ready for the next major offensive on the rock face was actually pretty moving. Here was a guy 35-years-old, killing himself a little each day so his kids could go to university and not have to endure the mines as he has done. He knows he has only two years left working before his lungs are destroyed by silicosis, yet he is the proudest, happiest man. Because of his efforts, his son will not do this.

Skydiving in Chile. Awesome!! Nothing like the fear of death to make you feel REALLY alive!!!

Torres Del Paine. Met with my parents in the park and did a fantastic horse ride. Loved it, and it was so cool to meet with mum, dad and my uncle and aunt, Rob and Lurl.

Argentina. Great wine!! Also, it was fantastic riding with Hugh Sinclair, a client of ExpeditionTrips, which is how we met.

2. If you were to do this journey again, is there anything you would do differently?
Yeah, start off with waterproof boots! We had seven weeks (yep, 50 straight days) of rain. Rain. Every day. We eventually found waterproof socks, but not after wearing two garbage bags on each foot for a few months. Not cool!

Also, not have a deadline to finish. It really creates a lot of pressure. For the last two weeks my thoughts were mugged by a few bad scenarios. "Passport, where is my bloody passport? Aarrgghhh, I can't find it!"

"Mate, it's in your documents folder, where it has been for the last eight months."

"Oh, OK. Cool, thanks Stubbsie."

And crash. Please, please don’t let me crash! Before it didn't matter, but at the end there was no time for a new passport, new side case for the engine, or a new leg for me should I happen to break one. So yeah, to finish on such a deadline, made me nervous!

3. You’ve met people across North and South America. What lessons have you learned about people and the world that you’ll take with you on future travels and in life?
Lesson 1: Wade and I are lucky buggers! To do what we have done, very few people will ever have the chance, no matter how hard they work or how much they want it. It simply is out of their reach for social and economic reasons. Having said that, the harder you work, the luckier you seem to get. We have both worked hard for this!

Lesson 2: Get out there and experience how other people live. It just may give you a greater appreciation for what you have at home.

4. What advice do you have for other travelers dreaming of a long-term travel experience? How did you make it possible to step away from day-to-day routines for nearly a year?
Easy. Make a plan, make a date. Leave on that date! There will always be a million reasons not to go, and every one of them the perfect excuse to postpone or cancel. We set a departure date for June 2011 the very first time we spoke about the trip. Two and a half years later, we met at Heathrow Airport on June 1, 2011.

My serious advice is this: Traveling is very expensive and for most people it will take a consorted, conscious effort to save the money. Make a separate bank account, have periodic goals for how much money you want to accumulate by a certain period, and be disciplined. Perhaps you can only go out Saturday nights once a month for a year instead of three times a week. It will be worth it! Believe me.

The work situation varies for each person. However, through personal experience and much discussion with other travelers it seems that most employers will embrace you and your efforts to experience the world. Let your boss know early of your plans, and often times you'll find your job waiting for you on the other side of your big adventure.

As for stepping away from daily routines, no worries! Throw your watch in the bin. Eat when you are hungry and sleep when you are tired. Experience everything the world has to offer for the rest of the time.

It helps that in our 'normal' job, which is crewing luxury yachts around the world, we have no routine. We are lucky if we know what port we will be in that evening, let alone where we will be and what we will be doing in a week’s time!

I imagine it is much harder to leave your white picket fence, Freddy the dog, and Tiger the cat behind, along with your 9 to 5 job, than it is to leave a yacht. I mean, at work we are already traveling.

So leaving is hard yes, impossible no. Traveling, you will NEVER regret it!

5. Was there a moment during your travels when the whole trip came together and you knew Antarctica was on the horizon? Likewise, was there a moment (s) when there were doubts?
Never any doubts! With these bikes, we are super heroes and totally invincible! I am already sad about taking off my 'cape' at the end of the trip. I will lose my super powers and be like everybody else. Bugger!

6. How have you stayed in touch and shared the journey along the way (technology, etc.)?
We stayed in touch mainly through our website by posting photos, blogs, and locations. Also, Facebook has been a great tool. We don’t have the time to write to friends individually. We both have iPhones and computers. Internet was amazing in Central America, possibly the best thing about the place! So, it was easy to get on the net.

We used a Spot Tracker. Fantastic device. It lets friends and family know where you are, and if you are in trouble you can send for help anywhere in the world.

7. What is your travel philosophy or motto?
Let's do it! Really, how bad can it be??
Try absolutely everything on offer, no matter what it is.

8. Antarctica Bound: What are you most looking forward to in Antarctica, and why? How would you describe Antarctica’s role as the final conclusion piece in Circle to Circle?
Antarctica is pivotal as the final conclusion to Circle to Circle. Obviously, we can't cross both circles without it, but it's more than that. To experience everything Antarctica has to offer in the company of both our parents is better than a dream. Everyone I have spoken to after they have been has said it's a life changing experience. I like my life, but a little change is always welcome.

A lot of people end the trip in Ushuaia, Argentina, and to be honest it can feel a bit of a letdown. A bit like, "well, here we are. We made it. Now what?"

For us the trip ends on a big bang with an explosion large enough to remember for a lifetime of travel.

9. Finally, what’s next for the Bergalia Boys after Antarctica?
Sleep! A lot of it! Then we’ll work, so we can do it all again in a few years. Hmmm, Russia to Ireland sounds good!

Circle to Circle: Read on for highlights from The Bergalia Boys crossing of the Antarctic Circle aboard the Expedition.