Life in the Fast Lane

Life_in_the_fast_lane_Alaska_Motorcycle_RideLife in the Fast Lane

Meet Rotarian Nigel Tailyour and wife Sharyn who completed an amazing 20,000-mile motorbike journey from Argentina to Alaska along the Pan-American Highway.

Emsworth is a picturesque village nestling on the Hampshire/Sussex border. With Chichester Harbour lapping at its shores, it’s a popular place for boaties and those seeking a quiet, relaxing life.

Not so Nigel and Sharyn Tailyour, whose home looks out on a pontoon lined with yachts. Now in their sixties, this adventurous couple definitely like living life in the fast lane.

Nigel, 68, along with wife Sharyn, 66, have just completed the latest leg of an epic road trip – a 20,000-mile motorbike journey along the Pan-American Highway from Argentina to Alaska.

The six-month scramble took in nine countries along the world’s longest ‘motorable’ road.

“It was our biggest challenge so far, but we loved it,” explained Nigel, who is a member of Havant Rotary Club.

“People thought we were crazy pensioners, but it was an amazing experience witnessing so much contrast in landscape, culture and the people we met.”

When it comes to mad-cap motorbike escapades, Nigel and Sharyn have got form. They’ve biked to Nordkapp in northern Norway, travelling the furthest north you can go without needing a visa.

Merzouga, a small Moroccan town in the Sahara Desert near the Algerian border, was their destination when the Hampshire bikers tried to repeat the feat in a southerly direction, and the Ukrainian town of Chernobyl was the end-point of their westward non-visa challenge.


“It was our biggest challenge so far, but we loved it!”


To complete the set, in 2014 Nigel and Sharyn completed a gruelling 18,000-mile round the world motorbike trip via Denmark, Estonia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Korea, Canada and then America.

“Why do we do it?” asked Sharyn. “For starters it’s fantastic fun and it’s a chance to travel the world and meet other people.

“You hear about so much horrible stuff going on in parts of the world where we’ve travelled, but when you get to these countries, you find that people all over the world have similar dreams and aspirations, doing their best for their families.”

For the Pan-American trip, Nigel and Sharyn travelled aboard a formidable BMW R1200 GS Adventure, which they bought from an Austrian biker and which already had 81,000 miles on the clock.

They picked it up in the Brazilian city of Recife before driving 4,000 miles south to Ushuaia in Argentina, the southernmost city in the world and the starting point of their journey last March.

“At that time of the year it’s autumn in Ushuaia, so we had to be out of there before April when the snow arrives,” explained Sharyn.

“We also knew we had to reach Alaska by October for exactly the same reason.”


“It’s fantastic fun and it’s a chance to travel the world
and meet other people.”


For their epic journey they carried a tent, two sleeping bags, airbeds, and a cooking stove. They were restricted to two sets of clothes, a swimming costume and a fleece. It was the tightest of packing for the pannier boxes to cope for a variety of conditions from snow to 47 degree desert heat.

What about luxuries? “I packed lipstick and mascara, and for Nigel it was quality chocolate,” added Sharyn. “Or maybe a whisky!” They carried with them a Sat Nav as well as a mobile phone to keep in touch with news from home.

Theirs was a journey of enormous contrast and an ever-changing landscape taking in Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, crossing the Andes and into the Atacama desert.

From Panama City, the route took them through Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, San Salvador and Mexico, before withering in the Arizona heat, easing through California and into Canada via British Colombia and the Yukon before finishing the journey in the Alaskan town of Haines in July.

In South America, Nigel and Sharyn stayed in hostels, but opted to camp once they had reached America.

The couple used the trip to highlight the Samaritans, for whom Nigel serves as a volunteer in Portsmouth.

They managed to visit a couple of Rotary clubs, including the Rotary Club of Ushuaia, who begin their meetings by singing the national anthem and then hosting three flags on poles the size of a wine bottle representing Argentina, Ushuaia and Rotary.


“The hospitality of people was an abiding memory, in direct proportion to their wealth -
the less they have the more they welcomed you.”


And they called in on two clubs in San Clemente, California. “We tried to hitch up with the International Fellowship of Motorcycling Rotarians,” said Nigel. “They had a big meeting near the border with Uruguay, but the timing didn’t work for us. We would have loved to have visited more clubs.”

Despite the scale of the trip, the bike suffered just one breakdown in Peru, which required a replacement drive-shaft, and they incurred just one $10 speeding ticket in Nicaragua!

“We met some fabulous people who showed us wonderful hospitality,” said Sharyn. “We didn’t feel threatened or scared. In Central America, there are a lot of armed guards and checkpoints which tested my comfort zones, but you just have to be careful and not stray off the main routes.”

Nigel added: “The brilliant thing about being on a bike is that people want to talk to you. The hospitality of people was an abiding memory, in direct proportion to their wealth – the less they have the more they welcomed you.”

“The one thing we learnt is that even at our age we are quite resilient. Always remember that nothing is too bad which can’t be overcome.”


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Sarah Bosomworth, Rotary Club of Knaresborough
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