FOURTEEN years after telling his wife that he was going on a four-month trip, a Calder Valley biker has finally returned home.
During the world tour, Blackshaw Head resident Ian Coates was nearly killed in a sand storm in Sudan and met Elvis Presley’s first girl friend.
Mr Coates, 69, said: “It’s great to be back. It felt very strange, but I’m looking forward to spending time with my family - especially my great grandchildren.”
Ian has covered 260,000 miles on his 1991 Honda Africa Twin motorcycle and visited almost every country in the world, except China - he was refused entry because he refused to pay for a tour guide and other associated costs .
On the back of the trip, he has developed world-wide fame, appearing on various television and radio shows, and in magazines.
As a fully-qualified mechanic, Ian said he funded the expedition by fixing machinery for farmers in exchange for food and stuck to a very strict – and cheep – diet of sandwiches, baked beans and bananas. He also primarily stayed in a tent on the roadside.
In the last decade and a half Ian has returned home on very few occasions – one being when he rushed home to see his wife Judith when she was seriously ill in 2010 - and communicated with his family via telephone and the internet.
During that time, he has missed his grandchildren – Gemma, Rebecca, Scott, Bradley and Victoria – growing up, as well as the births of his great grandchildren – Ellie-Mae, Mia-Rose and Alfie-Jack.
Judith, 68, has visited her husband on six occasions to take part in his world journey – in South America, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, the US and twice in new Zealand.
So how does she feel about having her husband back in the Calder Valley once again?
“It was a bit strange when he arrived back,” she said. “I got used to him being away. I have had all my family around me and I help out on the phones for my son Jason at his garage – BRG Plant Hire. But it’s good to have him back now – even if it is for a short while.”
Ian will shortly be embarking on a trip to Portugal and in April will be going on a tour of Mongolia and Kazakhstan. He also wants to go to Russia and South Korea at some point and said he will continue travelling until he is 80. Then he will go back to work as a mechanic.
“i’m nearly 70, but I’m 21 in body and mind. I’m as fit as a butcher’s dog and that’s all down to the trip.”
Ian said the highlight of the trip – and the scariest moment - was getting out of Sudan to avoid a sand storm, having not had food or drink for three days.
“If I didn’t get out of there, I would have died,” he added.