Rolling back the years for motorcycle globe trotters: Pair retrace steps for charity

Thirty-five years after friends Max Wiseberg, 65 and Mark Galer, 64, circumnavigated the globe the pair reunited for an US ride on big bad Harleys raising thousands for charity.

The last ride, on a pair of BMW R80GSs, took them two years covering around 20,000 miles. The air-cooled, 800cc machines weigh around 190kg soaking wet and produce 50bhp.

Max said: “We always meant to something else, but on our way around the world last time Mark met his wife and he is in Australia and I am in the UK so we never quite got it together.

“As we are approaching old age, Mark said ‘we have to do this before we can’t’ and so he was the drive behind making this happen.”

This time they took a more leisurely eight days to travel from the Sin City, through Death Valley and across to Yosemite before heading down the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) to LA.

Max gets his footboard down

The bike of choice, naturally, was a Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail, weighing in at almost double that of the Beemer and a twice the capacity, it was initially a concern for the riders.

“The first challenge was riding a Harley because we are used to European light bikes that handle, so riding a great big heavy Harley, we weren’t sure how that was going to be,” said Max.

“We got the floorboards down on occasion. You have to go a long way down to get the boards. I was under the impression Harleys touched as soon as you went around any sort of a corner but actually we were giving them some wellie by the end of it.” 

The route was almost an exact mirror image of the ride they took in the 80s and brought back fond memories as well as making new ones.

“There were certain points that brought it all back,” said Max. “The Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is one of the best biking roads in the world. 

“There is nothing on Earth like Death Valley. And there is such a contrast. You travel a few miles up the road and you are at Yosemite, which is all green and beautiful. It’s all amazing, with incredibly boring bits in between.”

It was while riding the PCH that the pair had one of the more memorable experiences as they got to grips with the Harleys.

“We were riding kind of carefully and sticking within speed limits and then on the PCH we were hanging back behind a couple of cars and we had been riding like a couple of old men,” explained Max.

Mark and Max discuss a day's riding

“Suddenly something snapped in Mark and he came roaring past me and overtook the two cars and I thought ‘here we go’ this is more like it and from then we had a lot of fun and rode like you are supposed to.”

Self-funded with the help of sponsors Wontancraft bags and Sony Australia the pair have raised £10k of a £15k target for War Child a charity which supports war children across the globe.

Max said: “We wanted to do it for the children in Ukraine, but when I started researching charities I felt that War Child has a much broader remit and does support children in Ukraine.

“A horrifying statistic I found on their website is that 1 in 6 children are affected by war. That’s incredibly high.” 

After eight days and 1135 miles of fine riding the pair gave back the rented Harleys that Max admits he “grew a fondness for”.

“I wouldn’t say I fell in love with it, but I have a certain fondness for it,” said Max. “Once we had ridden them for six days or so we were absolutely comfortable with them, but I don’t think I am about to buy one in the UK.” 

At 65, Max is still not hanging up his leathers and hopes to get the R80 out more over the next few years.

“The trip has lit my fire a bit. I am meeting a guy down the pub who wants to do a similar ride. I’m not sure if he wants to do it with me or on his own but if he wants to do it with me I am quite excited about that,” said Max. To donate to War Child go to Max’s and Mark’s JustGiving page.

Friends reunited! Pair saddle up for US charity adventure 34 years on from round-the-world epic

First published on 2 September 2022 by Dan Sutherland

Wiseberg and Galer back in the day

Two biking friends, who spent 22 months riding round the world together in the 1980s, are joining forces for a trip from Vegas to LA in aid of charity War Child.

Max Wiseberg and Mark Galer previously raised £20,000 for Save the Children and The Downs Syndrome Association between 1986 and 1988 – riding across Europe, Asia, and Australia, before hitching a ride on a container ship to America to continue their adventure.

“This ride is much shorter,” Bedfordshire-based Wiseberg told MCN. “It’s one of those things on the bucket list and we’re going from Vegas to Los Angeles via Death Valley, San Francisco, and Route One on the Pacific Coast Highway to LA.

“It was kind of motivated by Ukraine,” the 64-year-old business owner said. “But then we thought we need to take care of the kids.”

Max Wiseberg today

Wiseberg and Galer are hoping to raise £7500 from the trip, but despite them not leaving the UK until September 27, their Just Giving page has already sailed past the £5600 milestone, with more donations arriving all the time.

Galer, a professional photographer, is now based in Australia but will fly out for the start of the adventure.

“We are hiring Harleys for the trip this time,” Wiseberg added. “If you’re going across America, it makes sense to do it on a Harley.

“The main thing I’m looking forward to though is being back on a bike with Mark, riding down the road. Death Valley will be fantastic and we are going to see some great things, but actually one of the best things about the last trip was being on the bikes together.”

To donate to the cause, visit this Just Giving page.