Markus Mayer: A Vespa can do more than you think.

23.08.2018

Around the world in 80 days. It might sound like it’s all been done before, but it is still a massive challenge, especially when you’re doing it on a Vespa. Rider and world traveller Markus Mayer tells us all about it. We linked up with him by video as he was disembarking from a ferry in Seoul, South Korea.

 

 

 

Markus Mayer: A Vespa can do more than you think.

How did you come up with the idea?

 

Well, in 1962 Antonio Veciana and Santiago Guillen rode around the world on a Vespa in 79 days. Some time ago I became friends with Antonio and he told me all these stories about the trip, so I decided to do the same and ride (as much as possible) on a Vespa. I chose to do it in 80 days because I didn’t want to compete with them. The biggest difference was that they rode with two guys on one Vespa whereas I’m on my own. No support truck, nothing.

 

Why a Vespa?

 

Because I’ve always been a big Vespa fan. I have seven of them and I’ve been having lots of great adventures with them for years, all around the world. People usually think the scooter is a little bike for the city but when the Vespa first was developed it was actually meant for cross-country riding and family trips to the Italian Alps. I also kind of wanted to make a point – that  you can do a lot with some quite basic tools. Plus I like to stick it to these cross-country riders on their big fat BMW GS1100 adventure bikes, who I meet so often. They have it so easy and comfortable, but you can do all that on a Vespa too.

 

 

 

Markus Mayer: A Vespa can do more than you think.

Tell us about your Vespa.

 

The Vespa that I’m riding now is actually an Indian copy of a Bajaj Chetak Classic. It’s a 150cc bike but during this trip I had to change the cylinder twice so it was also a 125cc and a 170cc at certain points. It’s a good bike for this trip because I can travel pretty fast, up to 110 km/h, although it’s a little slower now with the cargo.

 

Speaking of cargo, you have no support of any kind. How much can you carry on your Vespa?

 

I carry all my camping gear, around five litres of petrol (because the Vespa only has a 7 litre tank) and a lot of spare parts because I often do all my repairs in the middle of nowhere with no extra parts available.

 

 

 

Markus Mayer: A Vespa can do more than you think.

How would you sum up this trip so far, and how far do you have left to go?

 

It’s been tough. So far, I’ve done fourteen countries (Spain, France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Russia) and 18,800 kilometres on my scooter. I still have around 9,000 more to go. Next I’m crossing to San Diego, where my second Vespa is awaiting me. This one stays here and after I cross the US, I will travel to Spain where I have my third scooter waiting for me to arrive in Madrid.

 

 

What’s been the biggest challenge of this epic trip so far?

 

The roads and other road users have been the hardest, especially in Russia. There are holes in the road that could swallow my entire scooter, and some drivers also make some silly and potentially lethal manoeuvres. Every day on the road in Russia, I feared for my life several times a day. In Kazakhstan it was the heat that was especially hard. 46°C is just too much.

 

 

 

Markus Mayer: A Vespa can do more than you think.

And what’s been your favourite moment?

 

That was actually a few days ago. After crossing two continents I arrived in Vladivostok and saw the ocean again. It was an emotional moment, and I was so relieved that I actually shed a few tears. Especially after a super tough day on the road, doing 630 kilometres in one day and almost being killed three times. I was so happy that was behind me. 

 

You can follow Markus and his adventures on: http://la-vida-vespa.com/ and via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LaVidaVespa

 

 

 

Markus Mayer: A Vespa can do more than you think.
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