July 20, 2024

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Couple visited 39 countries during record-setting 589-day motorbike trip

7 min read

(CNN) — They first traveled long distance by motorcycle just a few years ago, but this couple now hold the title of youngest duo to circumnavigate the globe on a motorbike, two up.

Lavi Scholl and Ollie Gamblin, now aged 32 and 34, visited 39 different countries, including Morocco, Argentina, and Mongolia, during their record setting 589-day motorbike trip and even found time to squeeze in a quick wedding.

“It was quite an endeavor to set out and say, ‘Right, we’re going to do this,’” Gamblin, from the UK, tells CNN Travel.

“We didn’t really know how long it was going to take. We didn’t know whether we’d get to the end.”


Record-setting journey

The couple, who tied the knot while riding through Las Vegas last year, first met while they were both working on a farm in Australia in 2017 and began traveling together soon after.

“I had a campervan at the time,” adds Gamblin, explaining that Scholl had been camping in tents while traveling in her car.

“And Lavi thought it would be a good upgrade to join me in the camper van.”

After departing Australia, Scholl and Gamblin spent around five and a half months hiking around New Zealand.

“We realized that we both have a passion for overland (travel),” says Scholl, from Germany.

Keen to take things further, the couple began planning a cycling trip around the world. However, after going on a short test run, they decided that it’d be too “exhausting” and would “probably take years and years and years.”

“So we decided the best form of travel would be a motorcycle,” says Gamblin, who has had a motorcycle license since he was 17. “And that was the first time either of us have traveled overland or anything on a motorcycle.”

After a friend made an attempt to become the youngest male to circumnavigate the globe by motorcycle, the pair got in touch with Guinness World Records to see if they could set the record for the youngest pair to circumnavigate the globe by motorcycle (riding pillion).

They had to meet certain requirements, which included beginning and starting their trip at the same location, traveling in one direction continuously and traveling through two antipodal points.

The couple, known as “Lavi and Ollie” were loaned a Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT by UK dealership Motorcycle World, and Gamblin says he fell over while riding out of the parking lot.


Unsteady start

“I couldn’t handle the weight of the bike on my leg with no gear and Lavi wasn’t even on the bike,” he says.

After going on a test ride to the Peak District in central England, the couple marked out a route around the world on Google Maps and got together as much money as they could to fund the trip and purchase all the gear they’d need on the road.

“We’ve never done this before,” explains Gamblin. “So we had to buy everything from scratch.”

Their trip was delayed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the pair were eventually able to set off in April 2022, starting from the Ace Cafe, a popular motorcyclist hangout in northwest London.

“Not all international borders were open at the time,” says Gamblin. “But we figured that, as we were going along, it would sort of open up. And luckily it did.”

When planning their route, they looked into countries that did not require a Carnet De Passage, a passport for a car or motorbike, in order to save on costs.

“The countries we chose didn’t need a Carnet De Passage, and we’d already researched all the visas to make sure that we could get those along the way,” adds Gamblin.

“Or if we needed them in advance, we knew which ones to get.”

In order to keep costs down, they opted to wild camp as much as they could and avoid eating out.

“We always cook our own food,” says Scholl. “This was a really good way to save some money. And also, we didn’t drink or party.”

While the couple had planned to travel eastwards, they were forced to rethink due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, instead heading south and west across France, Spain and then onto Morocco.

“In the first few months we fell over many, many times on dirt roads, gravel,” says Gamblin. “Any difficult terrain, we just fell over.”

Scholl, who rode pillion for the duration of the trip, describes those initial months as a “steep, steep learning curve.”

While they eventually got into a solid groove, the journey, which saw them travel nearly 47,000 miles (76,000 kilometers,) wasn’t without its difficulties.

Once they arrived in Senegal, Scholl and Gamblin shipped the bike, which they nicknamed “Bumblebee” to Brazil.

But the shipping container was temporarily “lost” en route, which delayed them by around seven weeks and had them seriously questioning whether they’d be able to complete the journey.

“That was really, really challenging for me,” Scholl says. “When the bike made it to Brazil, (and) we could get it, it was the happiest day of my life, I think.”

Once they were reunited with Bumblebee, the pair were able to continue on through South America, traveling through Brazil, Bolivia and Peru.

“The whole continent of South America really left some marks on me,” says Scholl. “Every country is very unique.”


Ride of their lives

The couple experienced some “difficult moments” during this section of the trip, particularly while riding through the Andes Mountains.

“That was quite tough for us, because of the altitude,” says Gamblin, explaining that they both experienced altitude sickness.

“We  had to ride through snow storms and a lightning storm.. So we had some tough conditions…

“And we were at altitude for more than a month, I think. So there were some really physically tough days, and it took its toll on us.”

Scholl and Gamblin rode all the way down to Argentina, before heading back up to Chile, and riding through Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.

From here, they flew their bike into Panama and entered North America, stopping off in Las Vegas for four days to get married “by Elvis.”

“We had been engaged for six years and had always said that if we got to Las Vegas ever on our travels, we would get married there by Elvis,” the couple told CNN via email.

“And on this trip that’s exactly what we did. Quick four-day stop and then back on the road. Nothing like a honeymoon of riding thousands of miles.”

They then headed to Canada, before sending their bike to Seoul, South Korea via air freight. Once they’d collected it, the newlyweds continued on, heading to Vladivostok, Russia by boat and then on to Mongolia.

Gamblin found riding through Mongolia particularly challenging, explaining that he broke his rib after falling off the bike.

“Although it was probably the most difficult (place) to ride in, Mongolia was absolutely spectacular for me,” he says. “It was like riding in a National Geographic documentary.

“The roads are very challenging. We fell off loads of times… So it was challenging, but it was really rewarding.”

Despite this, the pair say that they very much enjoyed their time in the country, and loved wild camping there.

“There was an amazing local culture with everybody living in gers (circular, domed tent-style dwellings) and herds of wild animals all over the place,” adds Gamblin.

“So it really felt exactly what I imagined Mongolia to be like in my head.”

Once they crossed over to Central Asia, the couple were able to re-energize in Kazakhstan and go on to finish the final leg of the trip, which saw them ride back towards Europe and on to the UK.


Triumphant finish

Gamblin and Scholl were joined by several other riders for the last section of the trip, from the southeastern UK port of Dover to London, including some of those who’d been following their adventure via their YouTube and Instagram accounts.

“There were lots and lots of riders that came,” says Gamblin. “We didn’t know any of them. But they all came to support us and we have this massive convoy heading from Dover to London.”

The group were greeted by a huge celebration when they arrived back in London on November 19 of last year.

“It was very surreal,” admits Gamblin. “Because we came back to the Ace Cafe, where we started, same place.

“And we sat at the same table that we started out at before we left on the trip… You have the same people that have been there at the beginning. So it’s sort of like nothing actually happened.”

After submitting all of the proof required by Guinness World Records, the couple, who has since returned Bumblebee to the dealership, were informed that they’d officially set the record for the youngest pair to circumnavigate the world on a motorcycle (riding pillion.)

“They came back to us about two weeks ago, and approved the records,” says Gamblin. “So it’s official now.”

Currently based in the UK, Scholl and Gamblin say that they’re still processing their incredible feat while trying to get used to being in one place at a time.

“The funny thing is, we never had a flat (apartment), or a house or like this sort of situation together (before),” says Scholl, who recently obtained her motorbike license.

Both stress that they have no intention of settling down, and are already planning their next adventure.

They plan to head off on a UK-based riding trip so that Scholl can improve her motorcycle skills.

“Later in the year, we want to go abroad and start a new trip, but on two separate bikes instead of one,” adds Gamblin.

Scholl and Gamblin are hugely proud of their achievement and hope that their story will show others that you don’t necessarily need to “do endless amounts of preparation to do something” as “sometimes the best way is to just learn by doing.”

“A lot of people find a lot of reasons not to do something,” says Gamblin. “And they think they have to be ultimately prepared in every single way…

“We didn’t have everything worked out on the way, but we did manage to work it out as we went along.”


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