Inspiration: Big Trip

Danell Lynn breaks world record

Riding into the record books

Danell Lynn and her Bonnie

FTR Bio:, Trip Data

Trip length: 19 September 2014 – returned 27 September 2015 (373 days)

Crashes: 1 (slow speed on ice)

Punctures: 2 (both rear)

Standing bike dump: Pavement 1

Bike dump on dirt: 1

Speeding tickets: 0

States visited: All 50 and Canada

Tyres: front: 4; rear: 8

Most expensive fuel: $5.99 (Death Valley, California)

Cheapest fuel: $1.75 (Soso, Mississippi)

After travelling more than 78,000km on her Bonneville she’s now featured in the 2018 Guinness World Records book. Danell Lynn insists on keeping the number of countries she’s explored well above her age, so at 36 years old it’s important to keep on moving.

Let’s cut to the chase. What were the most memorable moments?

There are so many. There was the perfect weather of Highway 1 in California, the clouds parting to provide sunny views of Mount Rainier National Park in Washington and the power going out in Carlsbad Caverns – when I was the only one walking through! Learning to fly fish in Washington state with my brother was another highlight. Also, visiting family and friends I haven’t seen in years. Camping in Death Valley National Park in California sticks in the mind, as does sledding down the White Sand Dunes in New Mexico.

I rode with friends from France through the Keys and with my dad home to Arizona for a surprise visit at Christmas. Taking on the Dalton Highway in Alaska, outrunning tornados by 30 miles, riding the Tail of the Dragon with my uncle, a solo 1,000+ mile Iron Butt (endurance motorcycle event) ride to make it to Canada before the snow – the list goes on.

Danell Lynn Guinness World Record holder

Swimming with manatees in the wild was amazing. These gentle giants are more like puppies. They can’t see very well and come right up to you if you just float and stay still, and they feel your face with their whiskers – a manatee kiss. It was wondrous and then they come back for more as you reach out slowly and pet them. If you’re really lucky they roll over for a belly rub.

Other best moments include camping and kayaking in the Everglades National Park, visiting Graceland in Tennessee, taking on the Natchez Trace Parkway, experiencing new foods local to the areas I visited, like fried pickles and grits. The highlights are vast and endless and keep me wanting more.

Watch out world – give a girl two wheels and the open road…

Tell us about the specific record…

I am the first solo woman motorcyclist to hold this record and that feels good, but breaking the previous Guinness World Record by such a large margin (insert margin) was even better. Just for the sake of history, the record-breaking part of my ride ended as I crossed into Canada, but I continued to ride through all 50 states, riding Alaska and then flying to Hawaii to ride Amelia through Honolulu.

Why this one though?

About two years before the journey I started saving for an extended adventure – a year on a motorcycle in my home country. I’d been to all 50 states as a child and teenager and wanted to experience it again in my 30s and on a motorcycle.

I don’t believe in regrets and knew if I didn’t go I’d regret it, so I wrote to my family to let them know that in two years’ time I’d be putting all my stuff in storage and heading out to experience the back roads and scenic routes of the US and Canada. As time passed I started looking into the Guinness World Records, a book I’d flipped through each new year as a child, and I got to thinking ‘this has to be a record of some kind’.

I got in touch and they told me I could do a record attempt and I thought about it for a couple of days and actually sat on Amelia and asked her what she thought. Just sitting with her made up my mind.

How did you get into riding?

I was first on a bike in my mother’s tummy alongside my dad. Then we didn’t have bikes again for many years until I was 21 and I got into pillion riding. Six or seven years ago, I decided I wanted to take journeys on my own. All my family ride – my father, mother, brothers, grandpa and uncles – so it’s in the blood.

Tell about your other travels?

I took my first solo adventure in Costa Rica: rented a bike, grabbed a map and went out to explore the country. I’ve ridden throughout North America, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Cambodia, Pakistan… yet there’s so much of the world still to ride.

Danell Lynn Guinness World Record holder

I’ve always travelled. It was a great way to grow up and continue to live. I’ve been to more than 46 countries and counting because I like to keep the number above my age, so I’m still in line with my goal. I spent part of my youth growing up in England and traveling through lots of Europe, but even as a child in the US we travelled every summer.

Travel has been a part of my soul for as long as I can remember. I’ve been an addict for many years, it’s my drug of choice. The euphoria travel exerts is unlike any other and the moment I return home I am ready for my next fix.

Why the Bonneville? Why Triumph?

I went with my heart and picked a 2006 Bonnie, called her Amelia and took off to ride around my native country and into Canada. Another bike never really entered the picture for me. It was between the Scrambler and the Bonneville and came down to the Bonnie because I found the perfect bike that I bought outright on the day I tested it. I’ve always loved Triumph, and for such a journey I knew it was the perfect fit.

Danell Lynn Guinness World Record holder

As a child I was drawn to Triumph based on the cool factor – the badass look when Steve McQueen rode one. As an adult, I still see it as a beautiful ‘badass’ bike, sexy with great curves. I have no deep explanation of what my draw is to the Triumph. It’s like any physical attraction. The bike just connects with my mind and makes sense. Maybe it’s the years living in England or the vintage look and the curves, not sure, but as an artist and painter, when I see the lines of the Bonneville it just speaks to me.

When I selected Amelia for this trip people said I was crazy. “She’s not meant for that”, “it’s a city bike”, “you need an adventure bike like a Tiger”… so many ways to say you can’t do it on that, which for me means ‘go do it on that to show, yes you can’.

Any essential kit?

A Camelbak water bladder I put in my jacket in the back-pad pocket. I am a big water drinker and even in colder weather this is one of my ‘could not do without’.

Next would be my Moto Skivvies padded underwear – these allowed me to hop right off the bike after a long day’s ride.

Danell Lynn Guinness World Record holder

Was it difficult to do?

The time frame was my selection. It was what I saved for and had the funds to be on the road for a year… the Guinness World Records does not have a time limit for this record. It was a distance ride. If I could have stayed on the road for two years, I would have.

Danell Lynn Guinness World Record holder

What did you learn?

To embrace living outside the box. Go out of your comfort zone and do grand things with your life, and when you accomplish them, plan the next ones. I now do talks in schools about my experience I didn’t foresee the impact it would have on youth and the inspiration some of my school visits would give to young girls and boys alike. I will never forget one of my first visits. As I pulled into the long road towards the entrance, the students ran along the fence line to welcome me. I wish there had been a film crew to capture that moment but it’s forever in my memory and one I hold dear.

Visit Danell’s website for more about the trip.