As motorcyclists, we tend to fancy ourselves as the adventurous types. Between the iron butt rides, the ‘I took the long way home’ full tank of gas excursions, all the way to the ‘Ride 700-miles in one direction just because that restaurant has the best slice of pie. We all make excuses to get out and ride. And then you have guys like Bruce Smart, a total lunatic.
Ummmm… I don’t think you are supposed to do that. I mean, sure, if you were on a BMW 1200GS, or a Honda Africa Twin, then maybe. But a GSX-R1000!? What kind of Maniac does that on a Supersport!? 70,000-miles around the globe on a…. GSX-R!?
My head is still reeling over the fact that one man, Bruce Smart from the UK, managed to travel around the globe on his track focused machine. Plenty of people have managed a journey like this, but they typically choose bikes built with this kind of rigor in mind. Even still, the man and his machine conquered 53 countries and a total of 74,000-miles all in the name of adventure. The total trip lasted 442 days, meaning Bruce averaged roughly 168-miles a day. And yet it all started with a promise he made to his dying Mother.
“The real point of no return was making a promise to my mum before she passed away,” Bruce said. “She had been fighting cancer for almost a decade, and in her last year, she came to stay with me in my London flat. We’d spend a lot of time just chatting away. When I was off work we’d sit on the couch and chat; put the world to rights. One day on the couch, a repeat of Long Way Round came on the telly and I started to moan like everyone else: ‘It’s easy for Ewan McGregor to head off and do this, him being an A-list celeb. He’s got all the money.’ Blah, blah, blah. My mum turned round to me and said, ‘You’ve always wanted to do a trip like this. Don’t get to my stage in life and regret what you’ve not accomplished. We only get once chance that we know of, so live your life.'”
With every promise comes great responsibility. It was time to plan his journey. Bruce went for a ‘Long Way Round’ with a different flavor approach. He wanted to get rid of the specific touring bikes and go with something few had ever done, a Sportbike. It also happened to be the easiest route, as he already owned the GSX-R1000 used for the trip. With the idea firmly in his mind, it took 3-years of diligent planning and hard work before he could set off. And while Bruce had big dreams of riding off into the sunset before returning a world traveler, reality would strike. And boy does it strike hard.
See, the world isn’t always the kindest place, and some places are much rougher than others. For Bruce, he ended up experiencing the worst right out of the gate, something that truly tested his resolve. Bruce started his journey traveling south, shooting for Africa as his maiden voyage. His words will describe what happened next better than mine, but the gist is this. Upon entering the first leg of his journey Bruce encountered a mine field, homicidal truck drivers, and an encounter with an African gang that could have easily killed him. With all of these happenings coming in such a short period Bruce was forced to abandon his trip before it really began. This sent him home empty handed with his head slung low, they way dashed dreams leave us all.
Thankfully this story has a happy ending. Once home Bruce was able to continue with his Bridgestone sponsorship, which led him to meet the CEO of an oil company while presenting at a motorcycle expo. The two hit it off immediately, resulting in the CEO funding the return to his journey. And with that second wind, Bruce set off, completing his promise to his mother and have the journey of many lifetimes. It’s an inspiring story. Bruce Smart may be an absolute lunatic, but he is the exact kind of lunatic all motorcyclist strive to be, sometimes we just have to take the leap.
Click here to visit Bruces Youtube channel where he documented his entire trip.