About the Vespa360 Project

Name: Sean Jordan
Hometown: Chatham, Ontario, Canada
Age: 33
Email: sean.jordan1@gmail.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SeanCJordan

BRIEF BIO: I’d been living and working in Budapest for the better part of eight years when I decided to pack it in and attempt to circumnagivate the globe on my most prized possession, a Vespa P200E I’d bought in Germany. It used to be green, but now it is a delicious cream colour.

And now, some answers to some commonly posed inquiries:

Why do this on a Vespa, and not a proper overland bike like a KTM or TransAlp?
Because my Vespa is awesome. Granted, as two-wheeled conveyances go, it’s more for heading down to the corner store than for traversing continents. I won’t be able to do much off-roading and my route will very much depend on where the bearable roads are to be found. But a Vespa does have a few things going for it. For one, it’s simple — primitive, really — and when things go wrong, they’re not that hard or expensive to fix. I’ll also be spending a good deal of my time in areas of the world that are well-supplied with Vespa parts, which wouldn’t be the case with a big touring bike. The P200 engine, too, is famous for being able to take a beating, day after day, without complaining. But I’d say the greatest advantage to a Vespa is that everywhere I go, people are amused with what I’m doing. There’s nothing intimidating about it, as might be the case with some dude dressed like a cosmonaut, rocking up to the local village on a $20,000 BMW GS bristling with all the latest tech. The Vespa opens all kinds of doors with the locals.

All in all, though, doing this on a Vespa is simply harder. Which is why I think that doing it on a proper bike is basically cheating. Take that, Ewan McGregor.

Why do you love Vespas so much?
It’s hard to say for sure. I remember developing a sudden interest in them way back when in Montreal, without ever having seen one in the flesh. I was casting around for an interesting and different way to see Europe, because I had a hunch that all those kids with Eurail passes were seeing the exact same prepackaged thing, and I wanted to see the ‘real’ Europe. I made with the googling, and was hooked. A short time later I was in France, the proud owner of a shiny red PX, and I did manage to see the ‘real’ Europe, much of which was cold and rainy and industrial and hideous. Anyway, there isn’t the space here for a full accounting of what’s so great about Vespas, other than that I love the way two-stroke engine oil smells, and no two Vespas are alike. They all have different personalities.

Are you, like, one of those mod people — into ska music and the like?
Nope. Not at all.

How fast does your Vespa go?
If there’s no headwind and the road is perfectly flat and I do my tightest Speedracer tuck position, I can do 104km/h (GPS confirmed.) I once hit 124 km/h while going down a very steep hill. That felt too fast.

Are you doing this alone, and if so, isn’t that going to suck?
More or less, and not really. I’ve made a tremendous effort here to track down old friends and make new ones around the world, and I’ve now got a list as long as my arm of friendly faces to look up along the way. Some buddies of mine are also joining me for visits here and there. But those stretches of solitude will be a good thing, I think, because it affords me all kinds of time for things like reading and thinking — neither of which I’ve been doing much of lately. And when that gets old, well, I’ll have to sack up and try and strike up meaningful relationships with complete strangers. Good times.

So you’re basically all alone here, with no recourse if things go wrong with the bike.
Nope, not at all. I’ve got some of the world’s finest remote tech support in the form of my friend Joern in Hamburg (pictured at left), who tirelessly analyzes any technical snafus I encounter over the internet. Sometimes I send him pictures and he diagnoses problems that way. By the time this thing is done, I’m going to owe him a lot of beer.

Where will you sleep?
Guesthouses, cheap hotels, friends’ places, and I’ve got a tent with me as back-up. Also, I’m going to see what this Couchsurfing’s all about. I’ve met some Couchsurfing folks for drinks here and there in Eastern Europe, and that’s been great, but as of the first few weeks of this tour I’ve never actually surfed a couch. Time to do something about that.

How are you paying for this? Is there fundraising involved?
The trip is self-funded, but in the meantime I encourage you to take a look at Kiva.org – loans that change lives.

Aren’t you scared? Those are some pretty hairy places you’re going through.
My biggest fear is falling off the bike and breaking something and having to quit, which is something that’s just as easy to do in my parents’ laneway as it is in, say, the Punjab. My second biggest fear is getting my Vespa stolen. Bringing up the rear, there’s my fear of the Balochistan desert in western Pakistan, which some people say is sheer madness. (I recently had lunch with a Slovenian girl who went across it on her bicycle back in 2003, and she said it was no big woop. We’ll see.) Part of the impetus for this trip was my realization, years ago, that even the more war-battered parts of the former Yugoslavia are perfectly reasonable and very interesting places to go on a road trip. Those tourist advisories issued by your local embassy are usually overblown, if not total bullshit, and when travelling we’d all do well to calm down and stop being afraid.

Having said all that, I ain’t going to no Iraq or Afghanistan or Somalia or the like.

And you’ll be updating this blog along the way?
That’s the idea. I’ve got it in my head to never let it go more than three days without an update. You heard it here first.

I hope you enjoy the blog! Any words of encouragement are greatly appreciated.

Signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours,

Sean C. Jordan
Ramblin’ Man