Updated: Jan 6
Bridget McCutchen, a 22-year-old from the greater Bayfield, Wisconsin area, is attempting to set a world record as the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe by motorcycle. I first became aware of Bridget at a Lake Superior Tall Ship meeting, where the non-profit board spoke about her as a model sea scout - someone who seeks out adventure and has the attitude and spirit to make it all fun. After seeing her work ethic around town, including cleaning vacation rentals, doing yard work, and working on the ferry boats, it became clear to me that Bridget has the determination and drive to succeed in her quest. Even if she doesn't ultimately break the record, the fact that she has undertaken this challenge has left an impact on history already and is a testament to her character and determination. As a modern-day explorer, she serves as a great example for others to follow their dreams and overcome their fears.
Born into a family of motorcyclists, McCutchen got her first bike when she was around 19 and has since taken trips to places like Baltimore and New York. However, it wasn't until her older brother pointed out that she was young enough to beat the current record that the idea of riding around the world occurred to her.
After spending a year planning her route and seeking advice from those who have attempted the challenge before, McCutchen set off on her journey in August. In order to qualify for the record, she must use the same motorcycle for the entire journey, avoid staying in one location for more than two weeks, ride overland across the Equator at least once, and travel a minimum of 24,900 miles (40,075 kilometers).
Accompanied by her riding partner, Kiva, McCutchen began by "bouncing around the States" before heading to Baja and crossing over to mainland Mexico by ferry. From there, she plans to slowly make her way to South America, traveling through Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. After shipping her motorcycle to Europe via boat, McCutchen will continue her journey through the continent and on to Asia, eventually making her way back to the United States.
McCutchen has been chronicling her travels on Instagram (@bike.will.travel), where she shares her experiences and the challenges she faces along the way. One of the biggest challenges she has encountered so far has been navigating the bureaucracy and paperwork involved in crossing international borders with a motorcycle. In addition, she has had to deal with the physical and mental challenges of riding a motorcycle for such a long distance, including enduring harsh weather conditions and being away from home for an extended period of time.
Despite the difficulties, McCutchen is determined to see her journey through to the end and become the youngest person to circumnavigate the world by motorcycle. She hopes to "represent the new generation of riders" and inspire others to pursue their dreams, no matter how daunting they may seem. Through her journey, she also hopes to show the unique perspective and intimacy that traveling by motorcycle can bring.
"In a car, you're in a bubble moving through the world," McCutchen says. "But on a motorcycle, you are subjected to everything, for better or worse. Sights, smells, sounds. Everything matters to you more. You are exposed to everything, and it's so much more engaging. It's more intimate."
As she continues on her journey, McCutchen is sure to face many more challenges and obstacles. But with determination, perseverance, and the support of her family and followers, she is well on her way to achieving her goal and making history. In our minds she already has.