Helge Pedersen GlobeRiders Interview
Adventure motorcycling legend Helge Pedersen is an extremely well-travelled rider and founder of the GlobeRiders adventure touring company. Here is an interview with him from 2015. Stay tuned for more adventures including the Himalayan Expeditions at GlobeRiders.com
In 2015, adventure motorcycle touring icon Helge Pedersen embarked upon two more challenging and exciting rides with GlobeRiders. In January, Pedersen brought his 2015 BMW R1200GS Adventure into the TouratechUSA headquarters and had it fully equipped with everything needed to traverse the famous Silk Road route and span the Himalayas including dynamic Plug and Travel Suspension.
Pedersen has motorcycled just about everywhere on the planet, but this year he’ll ride in a few places even he hasn’t been. I caught up with him as he prepared to begin the Silk Road tour in May, and we talked about the upcoming year.
In May, you’ll be leading riders along the 56-day Silk Road tour. How many times have you ridden it and are there any changes to the route this year?
The first time was a scouting ride that I did by myself in 2004. The following year was our first official GlobeRiders Silk Road Adventure, so this year’s will be the fifth for me. We always try to refine the route and this year we’re very
excited to include Iran and Tajikistan as part of the journey. There will also be possibilities for day rides into Armenia and later, a day ride into Afghanistan.
How receptive is the Chinese government to western travelers?
I did my first ride in China in 1996 and find it a fascinating country to travel through by motorcycle. There are many regulations and lots of red tape that must be arranged ahead of any journey by motorcycle to China. For that reason it’s also costly. If you can overcome those obstacles you’ll be well rewarded.
What are the greatest challenges in leading a group ride on an international tour?
Most of the riders who sign up for any GlobeRiders Adventure are eager to learn and discover all about the places the journey takes us. We normally start an online forum up to a year ahead of any tour. This way we get to know each other and the team building has begun before the actual start date.
As the guide for a group of riders, the preparations are crucial and during the journey communication with the group is just as important. The toughest challenge is always when we have an accident. This is a very stressful experience and the thing I fear most of all. It’s so very sad to have to send a wounded rider back home.
How do you decide which parts of the world you will tour each year?
It’s based on various factors, but a major one is demand. I look at the email requests and see if we can justify publicizing that tour. A good example is the sold-out Silk Road Adventure 2015. And for some reason we’ve received unprecedented interest for 2016 and are already signing up participants.
In September, you’re leading the Himalaya Expedition. What’s the route and have you ridden it before?
The GlobeRiders Himalaya Expedition 2015 is our newest tour project and since we’ve not done this particular journey before, we have created an expedition with a small group of riders. This way we can explore and decide if this will be a journey that is feasible for a larger group. I have done some of the countries we’ll be visiting, but many places will be new for me. We will start and end the tour in Bangkok, Thailand. The journey includes: Laos, China, Tibet, Nepal, India, Bhutan, and Myanmar. If all goes well we’ll offer this journey as a GlobeRiders Himalayan Adventure in 2016.
How long did it take to plan the ride through the Himalayas?
I have been planning the Himalaya Expedition for more than three years now. Lots of emails, Skype and phone calls.
Is there any special physical training that needs to take place before the Himalaya Expedition?
On any of GlobeRiders’ motorcycle tours we highly recommend that all participating riders get in good physical shape so they are able to deal with difficult terrain, technical riding conditions, heat and cold and as in this case high altitude. We do not focus on any particular physical training program. Personally, I have over the years settled on doing yoga and running on a regular basis. Yoga for flexibility, running for stamina. GlobeRiders.com
This story first appeared in the Sept./Oct. 2015 edition of Adventure Motorcycle Magazine.