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Ian Coates was well known to people in Hebden Bridge for many years as the mechanic at his garage near Whitelea Arches. He has been travelling around the world for the past few years, and he or the people he meets keeps Hebden Bridge Web informed from time to time.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Ian Coates talks on camera

Ian Coates Interview Part 1: Ian Coates talks about his incredible adventures on his 14 year motorbike tour around the world.

Ian Coates Interview Part 2:Ian Coates takes us round the globe, from the very start of his 14 year trip in South Africa.

Ian Coates Interview Part 3: Ian continues his full length interview, recounting anecdotes from his 14 year trip round the world on his Honda Africa Twin Motorbike.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Ian Coates

Ian Coates rides back into Hebden Bridge on his Honda, after leaving to travel round the world in 1999. The HebWeb has been following his travels for the past 12 years and our feature helped to make his incredible trip famous worldwide.

Ian Coates

Photos above: Howard Holmes

Update: Saturday, 29 December 2012

Spain, France, Switzerland, Italy and Germany

I left Portugal and arrived in Spain on 19th May 2012, leaving for France around the middle of July.

On 21st August, I reached Switzerland and arrived in Italy on 6th September in time to feature in a film for the Italian TV at Bobbio.

In late October, I travelled to Germany, returning through Switzerland again.

By the time I left Germany at the end of October, it was raining, snowing and freezing and my tent got lots of water in it.

I am writing this from Luxembourg with lots of rain and cold - just like home up Blackshaw Head, so thats ok for me.

Since starting this message, I have travelled to a small town called Haan Gruiten near Duesseldorf.

I was on my way to the border of Germany and Denmark to meet 2 bikers that live there. I met them in Alaska in 2009 but the weather is bad up there as well so I will stay round here.

I am thinking to get the ferry from Rotterdam to Hull.

Saint Bernardino Pass, Switzerland

On top of Saint Bernardino Pass, Switzerland
on my way to Italy to be in a TV film


Ian Coates' bike

Camping in Germany, freezing all night and it had just started to snow

Just entering France

Just entering France

Barcelona Harley Day

Update: Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Spain and Portugal

I got to Spain on 12th February and I rode all round and  up to the north west till there was no more land only sea. So then I road south  into the north of Portugal. Got there on the 2nd March, rode from the north of Portugal to the south riding from one side to the other (zig zaging)

I left Portugal on 19th May now in Spain riding round the south,  the Sierra Nevada's one of the best places I have been riding round for a long time,  lots of very high mountains.

Twenty days ago, it was snowing in the mountain vilage where I was staying. It is called Trevelez. The roads are very good and no traffic on them. Now I am about 25 miles From  Alicante and the sea the town where I am now is called Ibi  and it is very hot.

I am now riding to France.

Ian Coates

This photo got me very confused. I know I get lost a lot but did not think I had got to Canada. I thought I was still in Spain. I was north of Madrid on the mountain pass - 16th feb 2012

Ian Coates

Leaving Portugal and entering Spain

Ian Coates

Riding in the Low Lands in the Sierra Nevada, Spain

Ian Coates

Riding in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Spain


Update: Friday, 3 February 2012

Snowed in, east of Milan

A lot of people all round the world that I have met now know where Hebden Bridge is . . . I am now snowed in east of Milan, Italy riding to Madrid, Spain.

Ian Coates

I left my home in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, England in 1999 and flew to Johannesburg, South Africa to be a mechanic and driver of a Landrover that was going back to England.   There were  2 other people that was organising the trip the owner and is friend on the Landrover but, after about 3 weeks they  left the Landrover so I had to be driver and  the mechanic. It was a old 101 ex British army Landrover with a Trailer. There were also some passengers.

When I Got To Kenya I could not get visas for Ethiopia and the Sudan so I had turn round and drive back to Johanasburg, South Africa. The passengers had to fly back to England. I phoned my wife up and asked her to send my Honda Africa Twin to me in Johannesburg. I told her I will ride back home to Hebden Bridge,  England  which she did.

When I got my bike in Johanasburg. I rode to the most southern point in South Africa. Then road back home to Hebden Bridge. It took me 1 year. These are the countries I rode round on my way back home:

1 South Africa; 2 Swaziland; 3 Mozambique; 4 Botswana; 5 Namibia; 6 Zimbabwe; 7 Zambia;8 Malawi; 9 Tanzania And Zanzibar; 10 Kenya; 11 Uganda; 12 Ethiopia; 13 Sudan; 14 Egypt; 15 Cyprus; 16 Greece; 17 Italy; 18 France. Then  back home to Hebden Bridge.

That was 1 year. Then I shipped my bike to Australia to Melbourne and then I rode my bike round the coast of Australia. I rode down to Alice Springs and rode about 9 weeks round the centre of Australia.  And then Tasmania. From Australia I shipped my bike to New Zealand and rode round the North and the South Island. From there I shipped my bike to Argentina and rode to the most southern point, Ushuia. From there I rode round:

1 Argentina; 2 Chile; 3 Uruguay; 4 Brazil; 5 Paraguay; 6 Bolivia; 7 Peru; 8 Ecuador; 9 Colombia; 10 Venezuela; 11 Trinidad And Tobago.

From Trinidad and Tobago I put my bike on a tall sailing ship 150 feet long and 450 tons, big sailing ship. It was on its maiden voyage from Grimsby England to New Zeland. And it was at anchored at Trinidad with no engineer I said I would be the engineer free if they take me and my bike through the Panama Canal. I would leave the ship at Panama  City. But when we got through the Panama Canal they asked me to stay on the ship as the engineer to New Zeland so I did, visiting these islands:

1 Dutch Antilles; 2 Galapagos. Islands; 3 Tahiti; 4 Bora Bora; 5 Hiva Hoa; 6 Tonga; 7 Most Of The French Polynesia Islands; 8 Fiji. I cannot remember them all.

When  we got to  New Zealand  I shipped my bike back to Panama where I was going to leave the ship when I got on it in Trinidad. From there I rode round:

1 Panama; 2 Costa Rica; 3 Honduras; 4 El  Salvador. 5 Guatemala; 6 Belize; 7 Mexico; 8 USA; 9 Canada And Vancouver Island; 10 Alaska; 11 Russia; 12 Ukraine; 13 Moldavia; 14 Romania; 15 Bulgaria; 16 Turkey; 17 Greece; 18 Albania; 19 Montenegro; 20 Macedonia; 21 Kosovo; 22 Serbia; 23 Bosnia And Herzegovina; 24 Croatia; 25 Hungary; 26 Slovenia; 27 Slovakia; 28 Czech Republic; 29 Austria; 30 Italy (also the island of Sicily)

And now near Milan Italy, waiting for the snow to clear off the roads then I will ride to Madrid Spain. There are more countries but I have forgotten them, I need a map to remember all of them. I travel alone with no GPS. In 4 months I will be 69 years old and been riding my 1991 Honda Africa Twin round the world for 13 years 

Yours sincerely 
Ian Coates.

Update: Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Ian Coates may finally return in 2012

Ian Coates

Sorry for the late greetings but I would like thank my family and ?all the people and friends and well wishers that have helped me so far on my ride round the world ?hope you all had a Merry Christmas and have a happy and healthy new year.

I am a bit late but have just come in from the wilderness.? I have been riding round Sicily and now I am in the mountains in the south of Italy there is snow on? the roads on ?some of them. I have now been riding round the world for 13 years but I think i will get back home this year. ?

All the best to you all
Ian Coates.

Update: Monday, 31 October 2011

double decker bus

I am still in the Czech Republic. I am travelling around here for 3 weeks repairing the 1959 London double decker bus. It is visiting deaf and dumb schools and deaf and dumb clubs all round the Czech Republic.

They have found out all about me and that there is a man here that is travelling round with us that can speak English and use hand language so I am giving talks to them all. They are all very pleased with me for giving them live talks. They can even ask me questions. It means so much to them that I am giving them talks.

When the bus trip is over, if the deaf and dumb people want me to go back to them on my bike and talk to them it will it means so much to them.

double decker bus

Met Ian in Czech Republic last week where he is staying for 4 weeks before setting off to Italy. His bike was on display at the 2011 Model Hobby Show in Prague (30/9 to 2/10/11). Ian is fine and presently seeing some of the Czech Republic from a London Routemaster bus!

Mike Holloway
October 10, 2011

Friday 9th September 2011

I was, during the annual motorcycle rally European Harley Davidson at Faaker See in Austria, and I had the honor and the pleasure of meeting Ian Coates, we exchanged a few words (I am Italian and I live near Venice) because I do not speak English very well, but we understood everything.

Sending a few photo taken at the meeting to document the movement of Ian as he requested. (See above). A very big welcome to the greatest traveler of the world.

A very big hug from Gianni and Barbara

Update: Monday, 1 August 2011 - from the Balkans

Ian Coates


This is where I have been riding round since I left Greece. I am nearly home now, I think. From Greece, I rode round Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Albania again, Macedonia again, Serbia, Kosovo, Serbia again, Bosnia and Croatia.

Ian Coates

I am now in Slovenia. I'm in the mountains staying at a farm with Mitja and Nives Biteznik. I met them at bike meeting on Brac Ireland in Croatia. There was with a young girl. She was also writing a bike and from Slovenia. Her name is Andreja.

Ian Coates

I was riding up on the mountains in Bosnia and Croatia. There were signs on trees that I never stopped to read them. I went in the woods for a walk round and have a pee. On the way out of the woods, there was a sign on a tree so I read it. It was telling you that there were land mines. Good job I have small feet ? only size 12.

Now you can see why it has taken me 12 years so far to ride round the world and 300,000 km. I just get lost nearly every day and meet good people.

All the best

Ian Coates

Update: April 2011

I have been riding round Greece and some of the islands now for about 3 months. I have been helping David Gittings? to restore some of his old British motor-bikes. When I was a lad I had bikes like these so I know how to repair them they are all late 40s? Royal Enfield model G,? Arial Square 4,?Norton? ES2.?? BSA? A7,? SUNBEAM S8, ?and 2 BSA M20 .??.

On Sunday?10th April, I set off for home Blackshaw Head, Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire. I hope to get back this year. ?These are the countries I will be riding round on my way home - Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania,?Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia &?Herzgovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, France, Belgium, Holland and any other countries I can find.

I am now at?kotor in Montenegro when I was riding over the mountain to Lake Ohrid in Macedonia from Greece?Late on Wednesday 13th April. It was snowing and it was snowing at Lake Ohrid. When I got there, it was just like being up Blackshaw? Head.?I fitted a new rear tyre when I got to Greece. Now I need another one; its getting bald.

Update: December 2010


I got to Vladivostok Russia in the Far East in April this year and rode all round Russia, Far East, Lake Bycal and the island on Lake Bycal, then Siberia. Then there are mountains all around Ukraine and the Crimean mountains round Moldavia, Romania. Now in Bulgaria from the Crimea (Ukraine).

It has been raining, snowing,freezing high winds, freezing fog and rain. I did not mind that slid off my bike and got knocked of it by a wagon on the black ice roads. I did not mind that. But now very pissed off. Now I am somewhere next to the Black Sea in Bulgaria on my way to Turkey to look at Neil Warrington. He is from Heptonstall. And then on to Greece to look at Henry McDonald from Hebden Bridge and my bike has broken down. No spark at the plugs. It's given frost and snow here this weekend and my bike is in the yard of a ship yard. Good lads but outside. My 1991 Honda Africa Twin as now done about 167,000 miles since 1999. Yes, nearly 12 years riding round the world. Sold lots of Honda bikes for Honda and got no help from Honda.

Been on the TV all round the world. Newspapers and magazines on the TV 17 times in Russia. I am a hero there and 6 times in the Ukraine. But hell I do need honda to help me now. I need to finish my ride round the world on my Honda. It would be good for Honda.

My wife as been very ill but doing ok at the moment so now I am trying to get home as soon as I can. The weather does not bother me. I ride in any weather. I have now been riding round the world for nearly 12 years. I have not got nota once of fat on me. I am like a greyhound and as fit as a butcher's dog.I am 67 but feel 27.

If anyone wants to get fit and younger they should come out here to me and ride back to England. I guarantee by the time they get back to England. They would be 10 years younger. I mean that. But still enjoying every minute of my trip.All the best, Ian Coates

Update: Saturday, 28 August 2010 - Not in Kazakastan

I travel where there is bad roads and no roads, or electricity, email connection, hotels, petrol stations, shops, hotels, people, just in the wild. I like that.

I am Ian Coates (from Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, England, well I was 11 years ago when I left for a ride on my bike) riding my 1991 Honda Africa Twin round the world by myself and only support I have is my wife Judith. She is a good lass. Dee and Brent in Mississippi USA. Doug he lent me his pick-up in Canada. Bluewing Honda and Robert Kean in New Zealand. Jon Pasket and Lorraine Hutchinson. Jon helped me get my bike ready in Canada. Neville and Michelle in Canada. It's been a long and hard ride through Russia but I enjoyed it. It was wild.

Ian and Judith Coates

Ian and Judith Coates - click image to enlarge

I am now in the Ukraine at Balaklava. It’s near to Sevastopol on the Black Sea. I left Vladivostok in April in the snow. With just 5 days left on my extended Russian visa I applied for my Kazakhstan visa in Omsk on the 20 July, not far from the border of Kazakhstan I was turned down. They would not give me a visa as my passport runs out on the 15th January 2011.

So I rang the British Embassy up in Moscow and they said I have to leave Russia before my visa runs out even if it means leaving my motor bike, and fly out. I did not like that idea of leaving my motor bike so I asked them where was the nearest country to me that I did not need a visa and they said the Ukraine and that was about 2500 miles from me. That’s if I do not get lost and I had just ridden 1500 miles in the last few days so I put my new rear tyre on that I had fetched with me from the USA. I was going to service my bike in the 5 days I had left on my Russian visa but had no time. I had to get out of Russia and into the Ukraine. I had done just over 7000 miles since I had last changed my engine oil but it still felt OK. I am using amsoil full synthetic oil from USA so the next day I set off for the Ukraine riding on very bad roads and trying not to get lost.

I rode till it got dark then just pulled off the road and went to sleep next to my bike till daybreak, then set of again. When I was over halfway there I put my tent up at night. I got into the Ukraine from Russia at the north then rode nonstop to the south to a big motor bike rally on at Sevastopol on the Black Sea.

Ian and Judith Coates

Ian and Judith Coates - click image to enlarge

I was knackered when I got there and I am still there resting. On my way from Omsk I damaged my right arm, got stung by wasps on my left and right eyes. It was so hot I was riding without my gloves on and got a blister on my right hand and damaged my kidney riding on the bad roads for so long without resting. But I am OK now, need a new front tyre and new disc pads.

From here I think I have to go to Poland. My wife Judith has arrived from England and has fetched me some parts for my 1991 Honda Africa Twin which has now done about 160,000 miles on this trip.

I thought I was going to kill it riding across Russia but it did better than me. I have now seen my wife 7 times since I set off from home in 1999. My wedding anniversary is on the 2nd September 2010. I have been married 43 years and it will be 12 years since we have been together on our wedding anniversary. I have been on the TV about 12 times and in lots of newspapers in Russia and now in Ukraine.

I am now 67 but feel 27. There is only a few people that can understand the enjoyment of just riding and no fixed destination, just riding and meeting people but I think you understand. I told my wife I was going for 4 months in 1999 and I am still riding but I think I will have to get home next year. I enjoy every second of my travels. Even the bad times are good. When Judith was at Manchester Airport she was looking for the airline she was flying with and asked the security man where the Luftwafa airline desk was. The man said I think you mean Lufthansa. She said do they fly to Munich and he said they do. This is true. What a girl. I bet he pissed himself and told all his mates.

Update: Wednesday, 4 August 2010

I am now in Balaklava. It’s near to Sevastopol on the Black Sea, with just 5 days left on my extended Russian visa.

I applied for my Kazakhstan visa in Omsk on the 20 July, not far from the border of Kazakhstan. I was turned down. They would not give me a visa as my passport runs out on the 15 January 2011 so I rang the British Embassy up in Moscow and they said I have to leave Russia before my visa runs out, even if it means leaving my motor bike, and fly out.

I did not like that idea leaving my motor bike so I asked where was the nearest country to me that I did not need a visa and they said the Ukraine and that was about 2500 miles from me. That’s if I do not get lost and I had just ridden 1500 miles in the last few days so I put my new rear tyre on that I had fetched with me from the USA. I was going to service my bike in the 5 days I had left on my Russian visa but had no time I had to get out of Russia and into the Ukraine.

I had done just over 7000 miles since I had last changed my engine oil but it still felt ok. I am you using amsoil full synthetic oil from USA so the next day I set off for the Ukraine riding on very bad roads and trying not to get lost.

I rode till it got dark then just pulled off the road and went to sleep next to my bike till daybreak then set of again. When I was over halfway there I put my tent up at night. I got into the Ukraine from Russia at the north then road non-stop to the south to a big motor bike rally on at Sevastopol on the Black Sea. I was knackered when I got there and I am still there resting on my way from Omsk.

I damaged my right arm got stung by wasps on my left and ight eyes. It was so hot I was riding without my gloves on and got a blister on my right hand and damaged my kidney riding on the bad roads for so long without resting. But I am OK now. Need a new front tyre and new disc pads. From here I think I have to go to Poland.

Update: Friday, 30 July 2010

A HebWeb Forum correspondent informs us that Ian has phoned home — from the Ukraine.

Update: Thursday, 15 July 2010

No contact from Ian for over 6 weeks. His wife Judith has said, "Sometimes Ian goes a few weeks without emailing or phoning. But this is a long time now and I am getting worried"

See Courier article and HebWeb Forum thread

Update: Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Russian ‘hero’

I have been visiting a lot of bike clubs. I am a hero in Russia. They have never seen anyone that has been riding for 11 years on a old 1991 Honda Africa Twin and visited as many countries as me and when I take my helmet off and they see I am not a young lad and I tell them I am 67 and riding alone they are very surprised.

I have been on the TV in every town I have been stopping at, sometimes there is 2 and 3 TV companies trying to interview me at the same time.

Get your map out. Left Vladivostok and road up to Khabarousk. Then went south to Lesozavodsk then south again to Kamen Rybolov to look at Andrew R Betts. He is an English lad running a big farm there then back up to Khabarovsk then on to Kyhayp then on to Blagovescensk. China is just across the river there and its not too wide, you can swim across. In winter you can drive across when the river is frozen over. Wagons drive across. From there I went to Belogorsk then on to Shimanovsk where I am now.

It’s stopped snowing now, just raining but fine at the moment.

Update: Thursday, 8 April 2010

I am now leaving Jasper in the Canadian Rocky Mountains on a Greyhound bus to go to Vancouver. I fly out of there next Wednesday the 14th April to Seoul, Korea. I then get a flight from Seoul to Vladivostok, Russia. Do not know how long I have to wait for a flight from there. They say at least 24 hours but it will be longer.

My motor bike left Everett its near Seattle, USA. (I took it there last month) on the 4th March and should get to Vladivostok at the end of the month (I hope) then I will ride back home to Blackshaw Head, Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, England.

I will be riding round Siberia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and all the other Stans I can find on my way to Turkey. The only other country I know I will be riding round so far is the Czech Republic on my way back home. I will only know the countries when I get to them.

There is a lot of snow in Mongolia and thousands of animals have been buried in the snow and are now dead. At the end of June when they expect the snow to have started to melt the United Nations are going to pay the farmers there to bury their own dead animals to stop diseases and also it will give the farmers some money to buy some more animals and start farming again. The UN will be there watching this job. I think this is a very good idea. Well I will be riding through Mongolia at the end of May and most of June so I am going to get a big shovel to take with me to clear the snow on the tracks I will be riding on. It will be just like living up Blackshaw Head in a bad winter.

Update: 20 February 2010

I am still in Bragg Creek which is near Banff in the Canadian Rocky Mountains miles from anywhere, just how I like it. The bike is now read for road testing but there is too much snow and ice here. I got my flight for Siberia. Thought I had got my visa as well but it is only my letter of introduction so still on with my visa.

Update: Wednesday, 16 December 2009

I have left Vancouver Island and I am now at Bragg Creek. It is in the Canadian Rocky Mountains between Banff and Calgary.

Bragg Creek

Bragg Creek

There was a lot of snow and ice on the mountain roads between Vancouver Island and here and I had to get a lift on 4x4 pick ups on the way and it was very cold. Good job I come from Blackshaw Head. I used to repair snow ploughs and gritters back home but we never got to -40C like it was over the mountains on my way to Bragg Creek.

I am geting my bike ready for Siberia here. Yesterday it was -34C here and the water heater in the garage froze up where I am working on my motorbike.

Honda have not offered to help me so I am doing everything myself. I have to get all my parts from England for my bike and have got good people fetching me parts out. And I need a lot of parts. I am only replacing the most important parts and hope the rest will last till I get back to Hebden Bridge.

My Honda Africa Twin is a 1991 one and I have done 150,000 miles since I left home. I am trying to get a visa for Russia. I need at least a 3 month one. I would like a 1 year multiple entry visa but they are hard to get. I am finding it very difficult getting all my visas as I am doing everything myself; even getting my bike ready. I have not got a support crew. There is only me. Well to all my friends and old customers I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Bragg Creek

Bragg Creek

Update: Monday, 2 November 2009



Hello everyone. When I left Alaska I road down to Vancouver riding all over. I did not ride straight down but when I got to Vancouver I went to Vancouver Island where I was riding round there for 4 weeks. I then went to the Olympic Peninsula in northern Washington state USA for about 6 days then on to Whidbey Island in the gulf south of Vancouver.

When I left Whidbey Island USA on Saturday 17th October 2009 for Vancouver it rained all the way and was very misty most of the way. The rest of the way my visor was all misted up. I got wet through, got all my documents wet at the customs (going back into Canada) but I enjoyed every minute of it. Now trying to sort out shipping my motor bike to Siberia and sorting my visas out as its going to be a long job.

I have recently been visiting a friend in Jasper, Alberta after leaving the bike on Vancouver Island and just made my way down to see another friend, Nevil Stow in Canmore in the Canadian Rockies near Banff. We’re dealing with snow and ice at the moment. Nevil is also from England (from the south) and is also a biker. I first met Nevil in Canmore back in the summer at a petrol station in Canmore. When I was on my way up to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska (the most northern part of the USA), I met nevil again by accident at whitehorse in the yukon and we rode together to dawson city and spent a few days there. nevil returned home from this point and i carried on to Alaska and Prudhoe Bay to complete my goal.

I then spent about 4 weeks exploring Alaska by motorcycle before heading south to southern British Columbia and Vancouver.

it’s now taken me 6 years to go from Ushiaia, the most southern point in South America to Prudhoe, Bay Alaska, the most northerly point by road in the USA. Please enjoy the photos!




Yukon bike trip, July 2009

Tierra del Fuego

Tierra del Fuego 2003
The furthest point south in South America

Update: Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Alaska — preparing for Siberia

Hi All. Well I have done it. I am now back in in Fairbanks Alaska USA I went through the most northernmost customs in the USA from Canada it was very small one and they give me 6 months visa right away with no trouble. I think they was pleased to see someone . I rode up to the top of Alaska to Prudhoe Bay. Now I have ridden my motor bike from the most southern point in South America to the most northern point in North America and only taken 6 years and I have ridden round all the countries in between. I will now make my way to Vancouver my 1992 Honda Africa Twin as now done 142,645 miles and most parts are original and hope now Honda can help me to get the bike ready for Siberia and the final part of my trip home. I have already ridden my motor bike from the most southern point in Africa back to England and all round the coast of Iceland and Australia and from the top of the north island to the bottom of the south island of New Zealand.

Ian Coates me right away he spent two weeks at our home in Edmonton. It was great to see Ian after 40 years and show him around Edmonton. We wish Ian the best on his future travels!!

Robert Parker, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
25th July, 2009

Update: Wednesday, 1 July 2009

New pictures from Canada. It was snowing when I left Medicine Hat. I was 66 on 5th June on my way to Calgary. I am now at Edmonton, Alberta at Robert and Susan Parker’s house. Robert and Susan are from Heptonstall.



Update: Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Update from Cheryl, Olds, Alberta

Ian and Cheryl

Ian Coates worldwide motorcycle traveler met up with some locals from Olds in the province of Alberta, Canada, Cheryl Grant and Murray Schimke of Kitchens Etc. Ltd. Pictured above are Ian and Cheryl. Ian was camped on a grassy spot with his Honda motorcycle laden with stickers from his travels and was breaking down his camp when Murray and Cheryl stopped to say hello and ask how his journey is coming along. Ian was in Olds with a group of bikers participating in the charitable Ride For Sight. The event was stationed in Olds and was attended by hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts. Ian won two prizes at the rally: one for The Best Touring Bike and one for The Furthest Travelled to The Ride For Sight.

Ian, Murray and Cheryl started chatting about his journeys and to the fact that he was heading to Alaska. Ian asked if there was anywhere that he could use the phone to ring his wife up in Hebden Bridge, U.K. Cheryl offered their phone as they live right around the corner on 50th Avenue. He took them up on the offer and they spent the afternoon chatting. He successfully called his wife, Judith, whom was back home in Hebden Bridge and who had just interviewed with the BBC last week regarding Ian’s long motorcycle road trip that is now going on it’s 11th year.

He thought Keith and Melanie Moss who used to live in Hebeden Bridge was living in Edmonton but Judith told him they now live in Winnipeg, Manitoba and gave Ian the phone number. So Ian also rang up Keith and Melanie and they said that they were coming to Red Deer which is very close to Olds and only 2 hours south of Edmonton where Keith and Melanie’s son lives. Ian said he will stay around the area in order to meet up with friends and complete his central Alberta tour by going North to Edmonton, East to Loughheed and area and then West to Banff where he will continue to Jasper and then northward to Alaska.

Riding round the world on a Honda
Ian and Judith Coates talk on TV

See video

Update: Friday, 5 June 2009

BBC Radio Leeds saw this Hebden Bridge Web feature on Hebden Bridge’s Ian Coates and, with our help, were able to get in touch with Ian and his wife, Judith.

This morning, they were both interviewed on Radio Leeds

Radio interview with Ian Coates

Radio Interview with Judith Coates

BBC Bradford webpage

Ian Coates

Update: Friday, 29 May 2009

Ian Coates in Denver, Colorado

The Hebden Bridge Web has just received this message from Denver which includes a link to this remarkable video news item on Ian Coates, "truly, truly an amazing Brit".

Ian Coates

Message from Chris Wham

I just met Ian Coates today in Denver, Colorado. He’ll be in town for the weekend before heading towards Alaska. He’s definitely a character… !

Here’s a Denver newspaper article about his stop in town.

There is also a story on the local TV news website under the "Top Video" tab with the title "Round-the-world biker rides through Denver".

Good luck Ian, Ride Safe… !

Update: Sunday, 22 February 2009

Eleven weeks ago, the 2nd day in Mexico out of Belize I had a accident but managed to ride my bike to a good hotel and stayed there for a week I made tempery repairs to my bike and myself. After one week I was able to ride my bike again but only a few hours a day and road up to my friend’s house in Mississippi, USA where I repaired my bike and I rested. Now I have repaired my bike and I am 75% fit and getting fitter every day. I am now in Daytona Florida USA for Bike Week. I will be leaving USA for Canada and Alaska on 15th May.

Update: Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Hi all. I am now in Leakesville, Mississippi, USA at a friends house. My wife has come from England and is going to stay with me here in the USA for the winter. I got knocked off my motor bike about 5 weeks ago on the 2nd day in Mexico from Belize but after a week resting but with a damaged left hand, right shoulder, right side of my chest and my neck, I managed to make my bike so I could ride it, but only for a few hours a day and rode up to meet my wife in Mississippi. As I had been in an accident, I got there 5 days late and this is only the 6th time I have seen her since I left England in 1999.

I am now repairing my motor bike. I am going to ask Honda if they can help me with getting new parts for my motor bike so I can repair it. I am only half way around the world after 10 years and am now on my way to Alaska. From Alaska I will go to Siberia then I can ride back to England and only the English Channel to cross. I have now been on the television and in the newspapers in most of the countries. I have been to lots of motor bike clubs and given talks about my travels and talks about my 1992 Honda Africa Twin which has now done 130,000 miles. I tell them how reliable it is and because it is so good I can do what I am doing at 65 years old and I ride on unsealed roads when I can.

I will tour the USA with my wife in an old RV I have bought to travel in until my bike is repaired. If anyone wants me to to see them or wants me to give talks about my 10 years on the road just send me an email.

Update: Saturday, 29 November 2008, Belize

I am leaving for Mexico and Alaska in the morning

Update: October 2008

Hi all. After 7 weeks waiting for a new rear shock absorber for my motor bike I got it on Monday, 29th September and fit it at Honda here in Guatemala. Got the wrong one from Honda USA 6 weeks ago. Then they fitted it but I said it will not do so they sent it back to the USA for them to make it like my old one and when it came back they fitted it again and I told them it would still not do.

That is when I sent a email to Honda England with the part number of the one that Honda in Guatemala had got from Honda USA and found out it was the wrong shock absorber that Honda in Guatemala had orderd. So I told Honda in England to send me the right one. it took me 1 hour to take the wrong one that Honda had fitted and to fit the right one from England. Honda was going to charge me 200 us to fit the shock absorber.

The old shock absorber was 16 years old and 130,000 miles mostly off road. So I hope the new one lasts as long. The old shock absorber lost all the oil out on the mountain track on the boarder of Honduras and El Salvador. There was no customs at the border of Honduras and El Salvador so I did not get my passport stamped out of Honduras and into El Salvador.

Also I did not get a travel permit for my motorbike for El Salvador so when I was leaving El Salvador I had to do a lot of talking but after a few hours they let me out. When I was at the immigrations and customs in Guatemala they were not very keen on letting me and the bike in to Guatemala as I had not been officially in El Salvador but after a few hours they let me and my bike in but said i could stay for 3 months and the bike for 1 month. In all the confusion they forgot to stamp my passport into Guatemala. I only found out when I was applying for a extension on my motor bike permit. They do not know I will sort it out when I am leaving Guatemala for Belize.

Three weeks ago, I got my wallet stolen and my driving licence, visa credit cad and a lot of cash was in it. I have been travelling round Guatemala with a friend I met here and helping on a farm in the mountains. It is the rainy time of year here and the tracks gets very bad to ride on but it is warm rain.

I am leaving for belize on the Saturday, 4th October on my way up to Alaska. I left England to ride my 1992 Honda Africa Twin round the world in 1999 and still riding.

Update: Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Guatamala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and a collapsed rear monoblock suspension

Ian Coates

I am now in Guatemala, I am waiting here for a new monoblock suspension assembling coming from USA.

When I was in Honduras from the 28th July to 7th August I was in a small village called Villa de San Francisco in the mountains at Hotel Macris 6 USD a night, it was ok. It was a sealed road to the village but a really bad road leading out of the village. It was not sealed and lots of big pot holes mud and rocks and water. I did a lot of riding on roads and tracks round the village. I road to Valle de Angeles via San Juan de Flores

The road from valle de San Francisco to San Juan de Flores was very bad but from San Juan de Flores to Valle de los Angeles was sealed and good. From Valle de los Angeles back to Villa de San Francisco I went on a very bad track over the mountains. You could not drive a 4 by 4 over it, it was that bad and no-one goes that way even in motorbikes. It was very steep with lots of loose gravel and deep water channels, mud and water crossings but a wonderfull ride and scenary I only fell off 4 times and no damage to me and the bike.

When I was near to the border of El Salvador, I stayed the last night in a small village called Macala on 9th August. Once again sealed road leading to the village but a really bad road leading out of the village and over the mountains to the Salvador. It was very steep lots of graval. It was like riding on ball bearings and lots of mud and deep water channels.

When I was going down the mountain there was a police checkpoint. I asked him if this was the right road to the El Salvador, and he said I was already in El Salvador.

About half an hour after I have left the hotel in Marcala, Honduras, my rear monoblock suspension unit had collapsed and leaked all the oil out of it, so I had no rear suspention only the coil spring. I had a contact in Antigua in Guatemala, Mario González, so I decided to ride straight there the same day, and only stopping for petrol.


When I was leaving the El Salvador, the immigration and customs did not know what to do with me, as I had not been stamped into El Salvador, with my passport and no travel permit for my motorbike. This had happen to me, because, I did not passed by any immigration border coming from Honduras in the mountains to El Salvador. But after a couple of hours, they told me to go to Guatemala but they did not stamp my passport.

Ian Coates at Guatemala

When I go to Guatemalas border customs and immigration, they asked where have I come from and I said from El Salvador, but I had no stamp in or out from El Salvador in my passport, and no travel permit from El Salvador, for my bike but after a couple of hours they stamp my passport to enter Guatemala and a travel permit for my motorbike.

When I was entering Guatemala city, there was a lot of traffic and the TV Guatevision was filming the traffic there. When they saw me, they wave me to stop and intervewed me and filmed me in live on television. When they were finished, I asked them where was the main Honda garage was and they told me to follow them, to show me, and I did and my bike is there now waiting for new parts.

Update: Friday, 11 April 2008

Ian has just sent us these pictures, saying he is in Panama on his way to Alaska — Costa Rica’s next.

Ian Cotes in Panama

Update: Sunday, 23 March 2008 - with thanks to Christine

Still riding his bike. Just left my home after six weeks with his wife. They are in Mobile Alabama at moment after leaving us all in Florida. On march 27th Judith his wife will be heading home to UK. Ian is off to Panama to pick up his bike that’s been shipped there from Australia. From there, he will travel north through many US States to get to Alaska. He is just riding the wind and loves every minute of it. I am in Florida and had a great time with them for the past 6 weeks. We are all old friends. From Alaska, he will be on his way to Mongolia. Ian has already seen over 60 countries. Now aint that the life! All the best to Hebden Bridge and old friends there. Christine (Shoulder, Blackshawhead).

Update: Thursday, 9 August 2007

Just an update. Still in New Zealand riding round. It is winter here but like a summer day in Blackshawhead. Now been hear 6 months. Running out of new roads to ride on. Been round north and south islands 4 times. I now hope to be leaving for Panama in about 8 weeks. All the best, Ian Coates

Update: Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I left Trinidad on 25th April as the 2nd engineer on SY Jaguar, a 150 foot x 450 ton 3 mast tall sailing ship sailing for New Zealand visiting Coracao, Aruba. Then through the Panama Canal and on to the Galapagos Islands, Easter Islands, Pitcairn, Tahiti, Society Island, Bora Bora, Cook Islands, Rarotonga, Palmerston, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu. Then to Bay of Islands in New Zealand. And end in Auckland, New Zealand in November O6. I have just sailed through the Panama Canal and the Captain is leaving the ship so the owner and his wife are on the ship looking for a new captain.

Some crew have left and they are looking for someone to replace them as well. We are anchored just off Panama City. I am doing work in the engine room that did not get done when they were refitting the ship in Grimsby, England before they left last year. I was going to get off the ship in Panama and then ride my bike up to Alaska, but I might as well stay on the ship to New Zealand, then ship my bike back to Panama. I will fly back or if you know of any ships sailing from New Zealand to Panama that I can go on with my bike can you let me know. I will work as a engineer if they want. I can then ride up to Alaska.

My bike is having a good rest down inside the ship. It is nearly 3 years since I left New Zealand for South America. The countres I have ridden my motor bike round in South America in the last 3 years are Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brasil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and in the Carabean Trinidad and Tobago.

Monday, March 20, 2006

From Ian Coates

9th September 2005 – Crossed from Ecuador to Colombia, stayed the first night in a small motel at El Bordo. The next day I set for Bogota.

When I was about 200km (120miles) from Bogota I was stung in my face while I was riding my bike. My face swelled up like a balloon and my left eye closed up. As I was going over the mountains and it was getting dark I had to keep going because there are bandits on this road at night. Before long it was dark, the road had lots of bends and steep hills. Although it was very dark the road surface was good. I got to Bogota on 10th September late into the night and went to the first hotel I could find. I could tell it was a good hotel because it cost a lot of money! The breakfast was so small it would not have filled a mouse. It was very posh hotel and there was more staff than guests but they were ok.

The next day I found my friend Danny Scott-Lea; he is from England but lives now in Bogota where he works. I first met him in Mancora, Peru where I also met Dan Walsh who was riding a BMW and is a writer for an English motorbike magazine. I fitted new rear wheel bearings and repaired his rear brake master cylinder. Dan Walsh can drink more beer than a bus full of Irish Navies and still walk home. He is a good lad. Danny Scott-Lea took me back to his house then to the hospital. They were very good. I got an injection and some tablets to take and I had to go back the next day. Danny’s grandfather was a double Isle Man TT winner by default.

Danny looked after me at his house in Bogota very well. When my face and eye was better I set off for Medellin on 21st October 2005. On the road from Bogota to Madellin I left the main road at a town called Honda and went on the country road to Medellin and over the mountains.

Just as I left Honda my clutch cable broke. It was the original cable and never been oiled. My bike is a 1992 and done about 100,000 miles from new when it broke. As I was not riding in traffic I could ride ok without any clutch and change gears. The only trouble was that when I had to stop at army checkpoints and there are a lot of them I had to get them to push me off so I could get the bike in gear with the engine running so it did not do any damage to the gearbox. Once I was going I could change gear ok.

Once or twice when I had to stop in villages and towns I had to get the locals to give me a push they all thought it was funny and had a good laugh; they were all very good and helpful. When I was about 20 miles from Medellin it started to go dark and rain very hard and a lot of traffic on now the busy main road. I had been given the address and telephone number of a motorbike sales garage and the owner is a long distance motorbiker as well. The name of the garage is Route 40. I gave them a call but they only sold bikes. They got another garage to give me a call. The other garage’s name is Moto Angel, the owners are Carlo Mesa (Engine Head) and Hector A. Angel. I told them that my clutch cable had broken on my 1992 Honda Africa Twin and told them where I was and about half an hour later two mechanics on a motorbike arrived with a new universal inner cable with a solderless nipple for the clutch arm end. It took them about half an hour to fit it then they said I had to follow them back to their garage in Medellin.

When I got there it was dark and raining very hard. They said I could leave my motorbike there and one of the men took me to guesthouse in Medellin called Casa Kiwi. The owner’s mother is from New Zealand. The owner is also a long distance motorbike rider and his motorbike was at the same garage as mine. It was being serviced and many other jobs were being done on it.

There were other long distance riders staying at the guesthouse. There was some round the world motorbikers’ motorbikes in the same garage as mine being repaired, some with major engine and gearbox repairs. When I went back the next day they said they would put my spare genuine Honda clutch cable on and could take the universal one they fitted with me as a spare. I said that’s ok. As the broken clutch cable had lasted 14 years and about 100,000 miles if the new one lasted that long I am 62 now I would be 76 when the new one might break and another 100,00 miles and I would still have the temporary universal one.

So I left my bike with them for a few days. When they told me that my bike was ready I went back to there garage and they had serviced my bike, stripped my front brake callipers and cleaned them up and lots of other jobs. And at the weekend took me for long rides in the mountains and countryside, I went with Carlos Mesa (Engine Head).

As I am a mechanic on 4x4s, wagons and excavators I can tell when I watch another mechanic work if they are ok. Carlos Mesa and his partner Hector A. Angel and all the mechanics at Moto Angel are very good, the workshop and equipment are good also. It is one of the best motorbike bike garages I have seen. The other one was Mc Iver and Veitch’s in Dunedin, New Zealand. When I was in the workshop of Moto Angel I met Juan Carlos Posada who owns La Revista De Motos, it is a motorbike magazine in Medellin, Colombia. He said that he and one of his reporters whose name is Daniel would take me for a ride and show me around. He also took photos of me and wrote a story about me in his motor bike magazine. All the time I was in Colombia I had no trouble at all.

The Customs, Immigration, Army, Police and the people were all very good, helpful and kind. I enjoyed myself all the time I was there.

From Colombia I rode to Venezuela. I got there on 1st October and stayed at Merida, the main town in this part of Venezuela the first night and rode around there for 5 days. Then I rode up to Aricagua it is high in the mountains the road from Merida to Aricagua turns into a track after 1 hour as it goes zig-zang up and down the steep mountains and follows the river deep in the narrow valley bottom.

The track gets blocked with land slides or just gets swept away by the landslides down the steep mountain sides and this happens often in the rainy season and it was the rainy season when I was there in the rainy season, it can take from 4hours up to days to get from Merida to the small village of Aricagua although it is a small village it is the only one in this area for all the small farms that are spread all over this mountain region. When I was there it rained nearly everyday for about 4 hours mostly only lightly but sometime all day and very hard thunder storms and lots of lightening that’s when there was lots of landslides.

When it rains hard the electricity goes off and can be off for 1 hour or up to 5 or 6 days, when it goes off for a long time there is no water in the village. The 4x4 that they all use in this region are Toyotas but they will not get to all the small farm so they use mules, donkeys and horses or just walk. A lot of the tracks are too bad for my bike so I had to do a lot of walking I went all over this region when I was there. I was in Aricagua for 53 days from 6th October to 27th November. I enjoyed all the time I was there. It was very wild and beautiful. All the people were very kind and helpful while I was staying there. I stayed in a small motel attached to the school and run by the school it was very basic but clean and the family who ran it were very good to me. From Aricagua I went back to Merida. It only took me 5hr as the track was not too bad only blocked a bit in one place and I could ride over it just.

On 2nd December, from Merida I rode south to find where the river Orinoco starts in Venezuela, I rode through Barinas then to the Pantinal which is 20 miles west of Mantecal it was swampy flat area with lots of snakes, birds, cats. Then on to San Fernando de Apure. Puerto Ayacucho then Venado which is on the border of Colombia and where the river Orianoco starts in Venezuela. I then followed the river Orianoco east to Caicara Del Orianco. Ciudad Boliva then to Pto Ordaz. I then rang the ferry office up at Guiria to find when the ferry leaves Guira Venezuela for Trinidad & Tobago and if it can take my motorbike and me. They said they could and it leaves every Wednesday and it was Wednesday today and I was 2 days from Guiria so instead of waiting in Guiria for the next ferry I rode south to the border of Brazil to Santa Elena de Vairen which is the last town in Venezuela.

I did not go into Brazil I rode west along the boarder of Brazil over the mountains to a small village called El Pauji. There was lots of washed out bridges and the river crossing the track was very wet and muddy. I then rode around this area there are goldmines and they go panning for gold as well.

When I left el Pauji I rode back up to Pto Ordaz then stopped following the river Orinoco and rode north to Maturin and finally Guiria to get the ferry for Trinidad and Tobago.

I went to get the ferry to Trinidad and Tobago but my motorbike could not go on it. The captain said he only carries passengers. The ferry office said they had a cargo boat going to Trinidad and Tobago on Friday. My bike and I could go on it. I was told to be at the cargo boat in the industrial docks at 1 am but first at 9 pm. I was taken to the dock security gates by the captain of the boat and he told them that I will be on the motor bike and let me in at 1 am and then he took me and showed me where the boat was. He said that we were sailing for Trinidad and Tobago at 2.a.m. I got to the docks security gates at 12:30am and went straight to the boat just when I got there. There was a thunderstorm and a lot of rain, also lightening. Then all the lights in the docks and town went off. The crew of six started to arrive at the boat at 1:30am and the last one got there at 2:15am with the captain. I was still outside with my bike no shelter from the rain until 3:30am. When they started to load my bike on the boat I finished roping my bike on the deck at 4a.m. I had been in the rain for 3 and a half hours.

We set off at 4:15 am and I did not go to immigration to get my passport stamped out of Venezuela and my Carni De Passage for my motorbike. When I entered Venezuela they stamped my passport and my Carni De Passage at San Antonio on the 1/10/05 when I got there from Cucuta Colombia and been stopped by over 20 army checkpoints and just showed them my passport, my bike English registration document v5 and they let me ride on, but when I tried to get my Carni de Passage exit stamped in Guira the customs said I should have a permit to ride my motor bike in Venezuela so I asked them when did this law start, they said about 10th October. I told them I was already in the country. They did not know what to do. I was in their office for 3 days and they would not stamp my Carni de Passage for my motorbike to leave Venezuela so I left there having not been stamped out with my passport and my Carni de Passage.

It took 8hrs to get to Trinidad and Tobago and very rough crossing. I got there on 23rd December. I went to immigration and got my passport stamped into Trinidad and Tobago for 3 months ok but they would not stamp my Carni de Passage for my motorbike although Trinidad & Tobago are listed in the countries that I can use my Carni de Passage in. The customs would not let me take my bike out of the dock compound, so I put my tent up next to my bike in the compound. They said I have to go to the transport commissioner and get a permit and give it to them and pay them a bond of 300TT dollars which I would get back when I leave Trinidad and Tobago but as it was too late to go to the transport commissioner that day and it was the start of the Christmas holidays. I could not go till after the holidays.

When I when to the transport commissioner he was very helpful. He told me I had to get a temporary new number plate and he gave me the new number, also bike insurance then he would give me a permit. I did this and he gave me a 3 month permit. I took this back to the customs. When I gave it to the customs they said it could take them up to 3 months to process my paperwork, my permit was only for 3 months. But they said if I pay them 760TT dollars and import my motorbike into Trinidad and Tobago they would do the paperwork right away and I could ride my bike on the road and leave the dock compound, so I had to pay them 760TT dollars and they did the paperwork, there and then. Now I can take my bike out of the dock compound and use it on the road. I went straight back to the compound and packed my tent away and rode off on my bike.

I got to Trinidad and Tobago on 23rd December and got my documents from customs to ride my bike in Trinidad and Tobago on the 5th January this year. It had taken 15 days. Now I am in Tobago.

From Ian, August 2005

My wife came from England with spares for my motor bike to Ecuador. The last time I had seen hear was 3 years ago in New Zealand. When she got to Ecuador we went to Brazil for 2 months and when we came back to Ecuador they give me a 90 day visa. I was in Ecuador for 14 days then I went to Peru for 10 days on the bus with my wife. When I returned to Ecuador the customs would not give me a entery stamp on my pasport and refused me entry. I told them I had still got 66 days left on my visa. They said I had been in Ecuador more than 6 months in one year. This is the first time they had said this to me. I have been in and out of Ecuador 5 times in the last year. I was in Brazil for 2 months, so I had to hide on the bus to get through the customs to get back into Ecuador as my wife was with me and she flies back to england from Ecuador and my motor bike was there and I am on my way to Alaska. Now it will be difficult to leave as I am in Ecuador illegally. I am going to try to leave by boat from Coca down the River Napo to Iquitos in Peru then down the Amazon River to Manaus in Brazil. Well that’s my plan but anything can happen.

From Ian, May 2004

I arrived in Buenos Aires Argentina 30 June 2003 from New Zealand. When my motor bike arrived I rode across Argentina over the Andies to Chile then back to the coast of Argentina. I kept doing this zig zaging my way to Tierra Del Fuego and to the southermost town in South America, Ushuaia. I then turned round and set off for Alaska. So far I have ridden through Argentina, Chile. Uruguay. Paraguay, Brasil and now going into Bolivia.

Previously on HebWeb

June to October 2003 — after 15 months in New Zealand, Ian ships his bike to South America

From Hebweb guestbook

June 2001, Alice Springs:

I have been looking at the Hebden Bridge website because we have a traveller staying with us at the moment from Hebden Bridge. His name is Ian Coates and he owns the Whitley Arches Garage. His son-in-law David Woodhead has the butcher shop. We are enjoying having Ian stay with us (even if he does talk funny — ha ha ha). Love the website — Hebden Bridge looks like a lovely place and we can’t wait to visit one day. (very different to dry Alice Springs). Ian has been travelling around Australia on his motorbike (Africa Twin) and is enjoying himself immensely. He has been from Melbourne – Adelaide – across to Perth, up the West Coast to Darwin and now down to Alice Springs. His future plans involve a trip out to the Simpson Desert, Ayers Rock and then up to Cairns (Queensland) to travel back down the East Coast to Sydney. It is a delight to have Ian staying with us.

Samantha Higgins
Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia — Tuesday, June 26, 2001

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