|Born||28 April 1959|
|Awards||Royal Institute of British Architects Award|
|Practice||Elspeth Beard Architects|
|Projects||One of the first English women to ride a motorcycle around the world|
Elspeth Beard (born 28 April 1959) is an architect and motorcyclist, who is noted for being one of the first English women to ride a motorcycle around the world.[a] Later on, she redesigned Munstead Tower in Godalming, winning the 1994 Royal Institute of British Architects award for South East England. Beard now owns an architectural firm based in a converted stable in Godalming.
She currently runs the Elspeth Beard Architects practice in Godalming, and received her pilot's licence in 1991. She has never married, and she has a son.
Beard learned to ride a motorcycle on Salisbury Plain at the age of 16. She began her round the world journey in 1982, after the third year of her architect training course, using a BMW R60/6 motorcycle. Beard added soft panniers, a tank bag and an extra bag lashed to the pillion seat before she embarked on the trip. She began her journey in New York City, US, having shipped the bike from the United Kingdom. From there, she motorcycled to Canada and Mexico and back to the US before shipping her bike to Sydney.
In Sydney, she spent eleven months working as an architect, before motorcycling across Australia. In Townsville, Queensland, she had an accident which left her hospitalised for two weeks. After Australia, she travelled to Singapore, where she spent 6 weeks replacing important documents and gear after they were all stolen, and then she travelled into Asia. In Thailand, she collided with a dog, and recuperated staying with a local family; the family fed her the remains of the dog that she had crashed into. At the time of the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi the entire Punjab state was closed. Beard forged the necessary permit to get out of the Punjab region, and travelled into Pakistan, before riding back into Europe via Turkey; She arrived back in the United Kingdom in 1984, having travelled 35,000 miles (56,000 km) in doing so, she became the first Englishwoman to motorcycle around the world.[a] When Beard returned from the trip there was a lack of interest for what she had accomplished, as she stated in an interview; "After I got back and nobody was interested in what I'd done I just shoved everything into the back of the garage. I just kind of moved on with my life."
After her motorcycling feat, Beard bought the derelict Munstead Tower in Godalming, a 130-foot (40 m) former water-tower built in 1898. Over the course of five years, she renovated and converted it into a habitable house. The renovated tower was featured on a 1995 episode of Home Front, and in 1994, the tower won the Royal Institute of British Architects award for South East England. In 2019 Beard and the tower were featured in the Season 3 episode 1 of Ride with Norman Reedus.
- Lone Rider: The First British Woman to Motorcycle Around the World, Autobiography, 2017, ISBN 9781782438045
- Some sources say she was the first British women to ride a motorcycle around the world.
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- "Encounter Extract: Elspeth Beard". Overland Magazine. Archived from the original on 5 May 2016. Retrieved 18 April 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
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- Long, David (May 2015). Bizarre England: Discover the Country's Secrets and Surprises. Michael O'Mara Books. ISBN 978-1782433767. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
- Smith, Paul H. "Book Review: Lone Rider". Adventure Motorcycle Magazine. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
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- Marsden, Liam (11 July 2017). "Elspeth Beard Lone Rider book launch at Vines of Guildford". Motor Cycle News. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
- Foxe, Ken (25 July 2017). "First woman to travel the world on a motorbike". Lonely Planet News. Lonely Planet. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
- Gillian, Lesley (17 June 1995). "Towering over all their neighbours". The Independent. Retrieved 18 April 2016.