Kevin Chow: Blogger, motorbiker and globetrotter

A worldwide motorcycling explorer shares some tales from the road

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Kevin Chow sits beside his girlfriend, Claire Newbolt, in Bryce Canyon in Utah.

Kevin Chow sits beside his girlfriend, Claire Newbolt, in Bryce Canyon in Utah. — Photo courtesy Kevin Chow

In order to traverse the world via motorcycle, you’ll need a bike, a passport and a git ’er done attitude. “It’s not the motorcycle or the gear, it all boils down to the mindset that you’re in,” said Kevin Chow, who is currently on a two-wheeled worldwide expedition. “It’s all attitude. Just go.”

Of course, it helps to have a bit of cash to fund the adventure. “If you got money, you can make decisions,” Chow said. “If you don’t, then you can’t go.”

 

Born to ride

Chow, who grew up in Quesnel and now lives in Maple Ridge, has always longed to explore beyond mountainous B.C. to see what lies beyond its borders. “I decided when I was a little kid that I wanted to go around the planet—just travel,” he said. “Anybody that knows me will say, ‘Yeah, Kev’s been planning this his whole life.’ ”

From the time Chow got his first dirt bike at age eight, he has been testing out touring trips via backpacking, hiking and bicycling, coming to the conclusion that motorcycles are the way to go.

“You can move quickly, be safe, pack just enough gear, food and water—and it’s relatively easy,” he said. “As long as you got a good motorcycle, you can go.”

 

The catalyst for crossing continents

As far as the worldwide odyssey goes, Chow drew inspiration from the 2004 TV series Long Way Round, which stars Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman as they travel east from London to New York on motorbikes. “That connected a lot of the dots for myself and everyone else on the planet,” Chow said. “That was the year that I started a bank account and said, ‘I’m going to do this. I don’t know when, but I’m going to do this.’ ”

Kevin Chow is a world traveller aficionado.

Kevin Chow is a world traveller aficionado. — Photo courtesy Kevin Chow

Chow was able to build up a stockpile of savings as a marketer for several Harley-Davidson dealerships and as an investor in real estate. Surprisingly, one of the biggest challenges Chow had when embarking on his trip wasn’t about money, homesickness or safety, it was leaving his job. “Quitting an eight-year marketing career with Harley-Davidson was the hardest thing,” he said. But, even so, it was well worth it for the adventure of traversing the Earth on two wheels. “It’s been better than being at work everyday, I can tell you that,” Chow said.

 

A monkey wrench in the gears

Thus far, Chow has already completed the North and South American leg of his tour, riding from Chicken, Alaska, to Ushuaia, Argentina, on his 2010 BMW R1200 GS. Along the way, Chow encountered a situation that he couldn’t foresee, causing him to detour and alter where he went next. “When I left, I was in the moment,” he said. “Then I met Claire and that kind of (messed) everything up, ha ha!”

Meeting Claire Newbolt disrupted Kevin Chow’s journey—in a good way.

Meeting Claire Newbolt disrupted Kevin Chow’s journey—in a good way. — Photo courtesy Kevin Chow

Chow was heading south through Palenkay in southern Mexico when he crossed paths with Claire Newbolt, an English woman now residing in Australia. “Meeting Claire . . . that was something special,” said Chow. “We hit it off in about five minutes. When we’re riding together, it takes the fun to a whole ’nother level. It just got better and better.”

Newbolt was travelling the same trip as Chow except in reverse, going from Argentina to Alaska. The pair spent two weeks together in Mexico and then split up to go to their respective destinations on the opposite ends of each American continent. A few days after the separation, the duo decided they needed to spend more time together and travel the continental divide more thoroughly. “It wasn’t expected for either of us,” Chow said. “She had her trip in her mind planned and I had mine.”

Eventually, they parted to continue on with their original courses. The time away from one another has been challenging for the couple but it’s led to a whole new adventure that’s coming up quickly for Chow. “We were trying to figure out what to do and she said, ‘Just move to Australia,’ and I’m like, ‘It’s not that easy,’ ” said Chow. “I flew to Australia for Christmas just to check it out. It went well, that’s why I’m going back. We’ll be in Australia for however long until we get bored. We’ll continue the trip together if things work out with us. If they don’t, I’ll just fly back and continue on my own.”

 

Take the plunge

If you’re planning to go on a trip like this, expect some resistance from others—and maybe even yourself. “Selling your house and buying a 20-foot shipping container that you drop off at your parents’ house and put all your belongings in it—that’s not a normal thing to do!” Chow said. “My good friends supported it but people who were acquaintances that don’t really understand the exploration side of (me) were like, ‘You’re crazy, Kevin. What are you doing? That’s just a waste of money.’ Well, I gotta try it. If I don’t go, then I’m going to regret it. I don’t want to live with regrets.”

To keep up with Chow and his adventures, check out his website, World Overland. Chow also has some valuable advice and entertaining stories worth reading here on RidersWest


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