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The riding Scotsman

Thursday, 26th July, 2018

Maurice McDonald with his bike, both of which have been to numerous countries around the world. PICTURE: Emily Ferguson Maurice McDonald with his bike, both of which have been to numerous countries around the world. PICTURE: Emily Ferguson

By Emily Ferguson

A fifty-year-old Scotsman by the name of Maurice McDonald has just passed through Broken Hill, one of the stops on his solo motorbike journey around the world.

Maurice has travelled to numerous countries, so many that he was unable to provide a total number.

Maurice is a photojournalist, who has worked for publications all over the world.

“Looking through the lens of a camera, I was watching everyone else have a good time and I thought it was time I had a good time,” he said.

At the age of 20, Maurice worked at a newspaper in the United States. Whilst there he revamped an old bike which he rode around America for eight months. Since then the bike has flown from country to country. 

Maurice decided he wanted to see Australia so the bike was delivered from Vancouver to Sydney and the trip took route from there.

The underlying reason for his trip was to “get back my sense of humour,” that he felt he had lost over the years, being so invested in his career. 

“Everyone in each country I’ve been to has bent over backwards to help me out, it’s been absolutely phenomenal,” said Maurice.

“Each country is the same, everybody gets on no matter who you are, where you come from or what religion you are, and when a traveller needs help they give it to you.

“Every time I jump on the bike weird and wonderful things happen, I’m using the bike to meet people.

“Every month I’m in a different country.”

Although his time in Broken Hill is brief, he was hoping to make the most of his time here, exploring the city and visiting the sites yesterday. From Broken Hill he will head towards the centre of Australia en route to Uluru.

“When you’re on the road every day you’re gonna be in bizarre scenarios.”

As a testament to this statement, Maurice shared the story of a time when he was almost struck by lightning in Virginia, USA.

“They say lightning doesn’t strike twice but I think it does.”

Maurice was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 38 and since then must inject himself with insulin six times a day. He is the first diabetic to bike around the world solo.

“You just have to deal with that situation as you go,” Maurice said.

“I hope it’s a bit of inspiration to those who think it’s a death sentence getting diagnosed, it’s very much a mental thing as well.” 

When he reached the rural areas of outback Australia, Maurice was instantly reminded of Africa. The amount of roadkill on the outback roads was astounding to him: “You can’t smell it in a car but you can on a bike.”

Maurice said he doesn’t like to plan out his trips, he prefers to “wing it.”

“Each country has been unbelievable. The hospitality is great, I haven’t been stranded for more than five minutes before someone comes out of the woodwork.”

So far during this trip Maurice is onto his second set of tyres, fifth oil change, has lost items left, right and centre, braved a few hail storms, copped a heap of sunburn, his motorcycle boots are falling apart and he has even experienced hypothermia.

No matter the country or town, when people see the UK number plate at the rear of his bike they instantly want to converse with him about his travels.

Maurice shared that after hearing about his adventure people always say how much they want to do the same sort of thing.

“My immediate response is ‘what’s stopping you? The only thing that is stopping you is you,’ as the American expression goes, go big or go home,” said Maurice. “They say travel broadens horizons, that’s a very true expression.

“Everybody should have a world trip, it’s a weird experience.

“You’ve got to have stuff to remember and enjoy.”

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