Ed’s March across Canada – the prequel, part 1

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Englishman, Ed March, along with his girlfriend Rachel are embarking on a truly remarkable trip – to ride from Alaska and all the way across Canada to the east coast (and ultimately onwards and southwards). This unto itself is not so remarkable but the duo is doing this on a pair of Honda C90s … in winter!

Ed is no stranger to life on a C90, having already ridden his faithful Honda C90 from Malaysia to the UK over eight months and 14,500 miles. This was followed by a six-week ride through the European Arctic circle in winter, which gave him the ice-riding bug for this trip.

But that’s a lot of riding to catch up on, so Ed’s conveniently made a 15 minute video of his exploits to date which you can view here …

Oh Canada

Ed-Rachel-in-Canada
Ed and Rachel ready for the Canadian winter

To date, Ed and Rachel have managed to get to Vancouver and plan to start their cross-Canada leg next week. Allowing for three to four months to complete it, they will be submitting biweekly articles to Canada Moto Guide outlining their advance and experiences along the way.

If all goes to plan we should get our first “from the road” update just after Christmas, but we’re going to kick off with an article from Ed, updating us on what got them to this point.

We’re also going to take this opportunity as a rallying call to Canadian motorcyclists to show Ed and Rachel some prime Canadian hospitality and activities – if you are east of Vancouver and would like to offer coffee or a couch, please email a grateful Ed here. Over to Ed …

TRIP #1 – Malaysia to UK and the beauty of the C90 Cub

Petronas-towers
Me in front of the Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Hello Canadians!

My name is Ed March, I’m English, I’m 27 and my girlfriend Rachel Lasham and myself are currently riding our two Honda C90s from Alaska to Argentina, albeit via a rather elongated route. Over the coming months I will be telling the story of our adventures to Canadian riders on CanadaMotoGuide.com as we wobble through 16 countries and put about 30,000 miles on our eight horsepower steeds.

But why has this fine website chosen me to write for them? After all, we’ve only just started the trip, how do they know if I will have any stories to tell? What if it’s really boring? Well based on my previous trips, they’ve decided to take the risk. So I’ll do a quick recap here now, and see if you take it too.

In 2011 I freighted my faithful 1989 Honda C90 to Malaysia with the goal of riding her home … because someone dared me to do it. That may seem like an odd reason, but as we all know, the best things happen when you’re dared.

It’s worth noting that this was the first time I’d ever left Europe. To say I didn’t plan anything much would be an understatement – I organized visas and vaccinations and that was it, I thought I’d leave the rest to fate. Oh and what else did I leave? Ah yes, I left the keys to my C90 in England.

Getting new ignition barrel, steering lock and 3 spare keys for $5.
Getting new ignition barrel, steering lock and 3 spare keys for $5.

Normally I wouldn’t share this story, but it serves two purposes; the first is to show how stupid I can be, but the second is to show how the humble C90 is perfect for travelling.

There I was, 14,500 miles from my keys. If I were on a big adventure bike with electronically coded keys, it’d be doing a lot of pushing and a lot of waiting for FedEx. But a third of motorbikes on planet Earth are Honda Cubs – I was on the world’s most popular motorcycle. So I got a new set of locks, three keys as well as fitting for a mere $5.

This would be the first of countless moments where my C90 proved to be the best bike for the job. I took it on passenger ferries with no vehicle ramps (they simply hand carried it up ladders); new tires were $15, and I saved thousands in shipping fees because it was so small.

Southeast Asia

guns
Even the Cambodian Army were ‘accommodating’ to me.

But there was a much larger benefit that I got from riding a small rusty bike: people’s attitudes towards me. In South East Asia when I pulled up at a set of traffic lights next to 10 other C90s, I was equal to the locals. They’d look at my bike and smile. Some even dragged me into their garages to show me their bike and tell me their dreams of travelling.

Border guards were never hostile......just confused
Border guards were never hostile……just confused

Countless people confessed that they never thought they could do a big journey, because they simply couldn’t afford a big bike. And there I was, riding around the world on a bike in worse condition than theirs.

The police and border guards never asked me for bribes, instead they would ask me into the office for a cup of tea and a chat. I appeared humble, and I was.

I had the time of my life.

It’s my personal view that a $20,000 motorcycle can leave you alienated in poorer countries because you’re riding a bike that is worth five times their yearly wage. It’s the same feeling us westerners can have towards a Ferrari owner driving around in five years of our salary. I’m sure the Ferrari driver is a nice guy, but I’d rather talk to a guy in a beat-up Volkswagen camper-van.

Riding through the Himalayas in Nepal.
Riding through the Himalayas in Nepal.

In that way I bumbled around the world, chipping away at the many miles over many months and having a truly amazing time. There is no terrain a little C90 can’t handle.

So what else happened? Oh too much to write here but I did experience some impressive Indian driving. 

Iran

iran-grass
Iran is a must-do

Everywhere C90 and I rode together was awe-inspiring, my mind was overflowing with new experiences. I was seeing the world as it really was; a friendly, hospitable and amazing place – not the same place the news cast on about.

iran-signThe best example of this was my ride through Iran.

I have discovered an almost fool-proof way to find out if someone’s been to Iran: ask them what the country is like. If they say it’s the friendliest place on Earth, you know they’ve been. If they say you will get shot in the face or beaten to death in the first five seconds of being there, you know they watch too much western news.

Before I left I watched the news as well, and was very weary of riding through Iran myself. But now I’ve been there and I learned a very important lesson: don’t believe everything you hear on the news or otherwise – especially where money and politics are involved.

iran-mosqueIran was simply remarkable and is my favourite country I’ve been to so far – I can’t think of a way that a country could be friendlier (sorry Canada but you’ll have to be number two).

I was invited into random houses so many times for tea I lost count. I even had a petrol station owner say “Welcome to Iran my guest” before giving me my tank of fuel for free. I was walking around the streets of Tehran alone at night and I’d hear random carpet sellers in dark alleys shout, “Hey friend, come in for some tea”, and I’d happily follow the voice into the dark to accept a gift from a stranger. I’m sure my Mum got a cold shudder back home every time I did this, but I felt safer than I ever had in Europe.

Iran-orange
My Iranian motorway orange 🙂

My favourite moment from Iran occurred while I was riding on the highway into Tehran. A truck pulled alongside me and honked his horn. I looked up and he leaned out, and offered me an orange. As I took the orange from his outstretched hand, at 70 km/h side by side on the highway, he called, “Welcome to Iran!” then wound up his window and drove off.

I think the only things I’ve received on a highway in the UK are speeding tickets and the finger.

Europe

russia
Russia!

Of course, visa restrictions mean you have to keep moving and eventually my little C90 and myself left Asia and entered Europe.

Everest
No, that’s not the Alps, that’s Everest.

I’ve toured Europe quite a few times on bikes of all sizes, but nothing beats doing it on a small bike. Europeans are very friendly towards riders on small bikes, but for different reasons than in Asia.

Everyone in Asia thinks I’m down to earth, and everyone in Europe thinks I’m crazy. This works to my advantage though, as they like talking to crazy people, and are willing to bend the rules for them a bit. The best example of this is being allowed to ride around the Nurburgring in Germany on a 90cc bike, wearing sneakers.

Once I finished the European leg and rolled off the ferry onto English soil, I went to a pub, sat down with a beer and proceeded to get very confused. My faithful little Honda and I had ridden through Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal, India, Dubai, Abu-Dhabi, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Belgium, France and eventually the land of tea and rain … England.

mongolia
How are you supposed to slot back into society after Mongolia?

Everyone thought I was mad and said it couldn’t be done, but not only did we do it, but we did it with ease and had an amazing time in the process. I’d now seen the light, I was fully addicted to small bike travel and my life would never be the same again.

The problem was reality. I’d now run out of savings and needed to work again.

Society and the government wanted me to get a job, a mortgage and work until I die. And I was now at the crossroads. Which way should I turn? Go back to work forever, live the ‘normal’ life and buy shiny things in the hope they make me happy? Or work as many 60-hour weeks as my sanity would allow and then go travelling again?

You’ve likely surmised me decision…. More on that soon.

If not, here’s a clue from 6 months later in the Arctic Circle.
If not, here’s a clue from 6 months later in the Arctic Circle.

 


GALLERY

Check out all the pics that go with this story! Click on the main sized pic to transition to the next or just press play to show in a slideshow.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Great Trip!!!! Inspiring !!!
    Watching you lick the lamp post hurt me as much as it hurt you……………..well maybe a little less.
    Keep the greasy side down .

  2. Hi Ed and Rachel, if you pass through Saint John, New Brunswick (I’m about an hour from the US border, and two hours from “Arris’ place), we have a spare room and a garage you’re welcome to use. Loved the Malaysia to the UK video, made me laugh, a lot.

  3. brilliant little video, I’m also biased as Austen is my nephew, its true about never having left England i think he had never left Cornwall, looking forward to the next episode, im also a c90/125 owner, my favourite bike after my V50 guzzi….lol

    • Hi Paul,

      Austen was awesome on the trip…his bike however…haha. The mix of people was perfect, and I have Austen and his bike to thank for most of the material in my Mongolia presentation haha

  4. Ed, looks like an epic trip. You guys have a free meal, shop for repairs and a bed if you need one in western NB. I tried the link to email you but it didn’t work so if you can get mine from Arris out of the comment section or is there another blog or site, I’ll put the invite there?

  5. This is gonna be good!! Ed, once you and and Rachel wind up on Canada’s eastern seaboard, a good way to get to down to Argentina would be through Connecticut, a ferry to Long Island, then NYC, and south. The ferry ride is on me!! As is the free room and board! Good luck you two!

    • Hi Tom,

      Thanks for the offer! 🙂 Rach and I are currently looking at our route for that bit. We’re going to ride back across America on the Trans America Trail which starts in Tennessee, so we might be taking you up on the ferry offer. Thanks dude 🙂

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