Trip of a lifetime: Riding to Kazakhstan and back

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MCN reader and #ride5000miles member Phil Harris is currently on the trip of a lifetime, riding his BMW R1200GS along the ‘European route E40’ – a road stretching from Calais, France to Ridder, Kazakhstan, near the border with Russia and China.

Phil, 59, and from Grantham, began riding bikes in 1982, before hanging up
his leathers in 1985. He then returned to two wheels in 2013, before undertaking this adventure.

A barrister and trademark attorney by trade, he first discovered the route 10 years ago and claims part of the inspiration for the trip was the R5K campaign.

“It’s a pledge to ride 5000 miles, so it seemed like a sign. I came across the route on Wikipedia about 10 years ago. It takes you through lots of exotic places over around 5000 miles, so it would have been rude not to go.

“There’s a whole list of people that I had to convince about the trip before leaving and I may face many years of payback, yet,” Phil said.

As MCN went to press, he’d just passed the 3500-mile marker and been through six countries, with around 2000 miles remaining on the outbound leg. Phil then plans to ride the 3500 miles of the return leg through Russia – “assuming the bike survives!”

Although surviving this far relatively unscathed, the trip has not been without incident, with Phil posting regular updates to the R5K Facebook page.

The most recent came last Wednesday (May 16), when the bike got a cracked rim and flat tyre, leaving Phil stranded on a desert road near Beyneu in Kazakhstan. Thankfully, with the help of some resourceful locals, the wheel was welded and a new inner tube installed, allowing him to continue on his way.

Tempting fate, Phil joked: “Two botched welds and an inner tube later, off we go again. What could possibly go wrong…?”

What is R5K?

MCN’s campaign aims to encourage riders to cover 5000 miles in a year.

How do I do it?

Make a note of your mileage at the start of your biking year. Take a photo at the start and end of the challenge.

Five reasons to sign up

1. It’ll make you a better rider.

 2. You’ll know your bike better than ever, and enjoy it more.

3. It’ll make you ride to places you’ve never been before.

4. Be part of a top biking community.

5. Share tips on where to ride and what kit can go the distance.

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