LEXINGTON, Ohio — When Simon and Lisa Thomas set out on their world motorcycle adventure in 2003, they anticipated a journey of 16 months. They are still on the road.
The Thomases shared their adventures during an hour-long seminar on Friday during AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, featuring Riders of Kawasaki at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
They escorted their audience through the vast Sahara, along "the longest shortcut in the world" across Australia, high into the Bolivian mountains and through the thick, red mud of the Amazon. They shared their fear during a hail storm in the Himilayas and their bravery when a bridge failed, dumping Simon into a river bed, causing partial paralysis and blurred vision — the symptoms of a broken neck that went undiagnosed until the couple reached a hospital three weeks after the crash.
All their adventures are logged on their website 2RideTheWorld.com and in the books they have written.
And through all their travels, they have had no support team. It's the two of them, visiting new places and meeting new people.
They have covered a half-million miles and visited 100 countries. Their next excursion will be to eastern Canada.
"It's the people that keep us going," Simon told the audience. "We are meeting people who otherwise we would have known only through TV."
Lisa said that the struggles they sometimes face haven't blunted their enthusiasm.
"If the positives didn't outweigh the negatives, we would have stopped a long time ago," she said.
The keys to their success on the road: Don't make decisions based on fear. Don't plan a trip like this relaxing in bed on a Sunday morning when it all sounds so easy. And be willing to interact with the people you encounter.
"Motorcycles make friends," Simon said. "Everybody wants to sit on the bike and get their photo taken.
"All you've got to do is ride a bike and say, 'Hello.""
For a complete schedule of events at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, featuring Riders of Kawasaki, visit www.vintagemotorcycledays.com.