Inspiration: Big Trip

Rocket man: Part 1

Mark Holmes’ mission of love

Inspired by love and a fascination in the small planet we call home, Mark Holmes is on the first leg of an epic adventure with two messages for the world.

A widower nudging 60 with the same sense of adventure he had as a 20-year-old, he will tell anyone who’ll listen to “please stop smoking” and to “ride a motorcycle because it’s so much fun”.

He admits it will be a journey of discovery, deflating lows and soaring emotional highs as he heads across Europe to Turkey on his 2015 Rocket X, with wife Sue constantly in his thoughts.

Mark Holmes outside the Ace Cafe, London
All set for the off: Mark and his Rocket at London’s Ace Cafe

Her passing from cancer, her love of shared but shorter adventures on a previous Rocket, the knowledge that ‘she’d be looking on jealously’ and a business collapse have all prompted Londoner Mark to take the plunge.

Inspired by Triumph ambassador Charley Boorman and lectures at the Royal Geographical Society, he is taking in Turkey, Iran, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia and Australasia before crossing South America, heading south to Antartica and then north in a zigzag to Alaska.

Ride a motorcycle – it’s so much fun

“This is not purely a self-indulgent adventure. Far from it. The older you get the more you realise that it’s important to hear the views of others as well as to share your views with them. I will take two main messages with me – ride a motorcycle because it’s so much fun and please stop smoking,” he says.

“I will find more love in the world than I expect from good people and I will be let down by others. I also think that some people will surprise me in the places I least expect to be surprised.”

Mark said the end of previous trips with his wife between 2006 and 2011 always left him wanting more on the Rocket because ‘it’s comfortable, easy, has a large road presence, makes me feel safe, eats up potholes and always draws big crowds every time you stop’.

Mark and wife Sue in Las Vegas
Mark and wife Sue in Vegas

Mark left the Bike Shed in London at the start of April to become the first man in the world to ride the 2.3-litre bike – the world’s largest capacity production motorcycle – around the world for 18 months. He started with a trial run through Ireland ‘to iron out any issues and check I hadn’t forgotten something’.

He will be armed with ‘plenty of love to share’ and goodwill from these organisations.

  • The Ted Simon Foundation

“I was at the inaugural meeting in 2011 and share their belief that individuals moving among foreign cultures and opening themselves up to the beliefs and customs of strangers with goodwill can play a big in promoting world understanding, especially if they communicate it.

“I want to try to understand more about the beauties, mysteries and tragedies of our world through my adventure, and fuel my passion for people, places and history. The Ted Simon Foundation appoints and supports Jupiter’s Travellers to achieve these goals.”

Mark Holmes and Sue on the Bonneville Salt Flats with their Triumph Rocket
The couple shared magical memories on the salt
  • The Royal Geographical Society 

“Founded in 1830, this is the UK’s learned society and professional body for geography. They are world leaders in promoting the importance of geography and work with a wide range of public audiences to raise awareness of geography and how it’s relevant to our lives. They aim to inspire people to become more informed about our changing world and the challenges it faces.”

  • Triumph Motorcycles

“Just by riding such a visually amazing bike I’ll be taking the distinctive Triumph Motorcycle brand wherever I go, engaging with motorcyclists and would-be riders, as well as dreaming adventurers. Whether I’m on the side of a road surrounded by people shouting ‘wow!’, at a motorcycle dealership, at an event, or in an auditorium, I have passion to share.”

Mark Holmes' Triumph Rocket 2015 X in Chelsea
The Rocket: Parked up near Chelsea Marina
  • Chelsea Football Club

“Football engages and unites huge audiences around the world because it’s a universal language. From youth football’s ability to unite communities to the first team’s ability to unite the world, I want to share my passion and create advocates. I’m taking 100 Chelsea FC pin badges to give out to sides I see on my travels.

“I am a club member and have lived near Stamford Bridge for years. I’m looking forward to seeing some of the great stadia, such as Barcelona’s Camp Nou and San Siro, home to AC and Inter Milan in Italy.”

On my travels

“As I travel, I’ll be in touch with publications that cover motorcycling, travel, geography, football and cancer charities. I’m looking forward to covering every one of the American states – I’m going to fly from Alaska to Hawaii – and visiting the Taj Mahal in India, Antarctica and the temple monuments at Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Mark Holmes' wife Sue in Vegas posing with their Triumph Rocket 2015 X


“My overarching aim is to learn how to live a different life, how to be a good widower but above all to be a good person. For Sue and for me.”

Read more of Mark’s story in Rocket Man: Part 2