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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Biker Blazes Trail For the Disabled

Some may see motorcycle travel in a romantic vein, but sliding off icy Siberian byways, braving rowdy nomads on a lonely stretch of the Sahara and breaking down in Venezuela probably would not strike anybody as the high points of a road trip.


But for Dave Barr, 41, a disabled veteran who has made a habit of criss-crossing continents by motorcycle, it is all in a day's journey.


The world traveller's history is somewhat convulted. Reluctant to talk about his past, Barr, who is American by birth but a permanent resident of South Africa, will only say he lost both legs stumbling over a landmine in Angola in 1981 while serving in the South Afrian army. He is quick to dispense with both talk of the past or of the difficulties his disability has caused him, preferring to focus instead on what he thinks his trip will mean for disabled people worlwide.


"One of my goals is that people with disabilities worldwide can take an example from me for their own personal inspiration and better their lives", he said at a news conference this week in Moscow, where he is staying for two weeks after a voyage that took him from Peking to the steppes of Siberia and Mongolia by way of the Gobi desert "And for anyone without a disability, if one day they lose the privilege of good health, because that's what it is, they can have an example to look back on "


Two years ago, Barr had a "crazy dream" to embark on a round-the-world tour using his favorite form of transport: a 1972 Harley Davidson motorcycle, which has been specially adapted for his disabilty, including a modified foot brake.


Now, in mid-trip, Barr has a simple explanation for his unusual calling.


"I like to go to extremes", he said. Along the way, Barr says he has developed a real fondness for his specially outfitted bike.


"I call it my wife", he said, pointing at photos of a dusty bundle-laden vehicle with exotic scenery in the background, from a snow-capped mountain in the Yukon to the Amazon rain forest. Barr says he has ridden the bike over 85, 000 kilometers and through 39 countries.


Indeed, Barr's past itineraries attest to his penchant for heading off in all directions. One trip began in Johannesburg, which he calls "more or less home", and ended in Algeria. Another commenced near Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, the northernmost point of North America, and ended south of Tierra del Fuego, the southern-most point of South America.


Despite a minor run-in with some drunken rowdies in Irkutsk, Barr is very upbeat on his travels across Russia.


"The trip across Russia has been very rewarding", he said. "I've had the chance to look at the mainstream of Russian society and the landscape".


Barr has financed the bulk of his trips with personal savings. and if he has any regrets about his ambitious journeys, they seem few and far between.


But while Barr seems to savor his status as something of a role model, he also says he has a more selfish motive with his round-the-world trip.


"I do love an adventure and I'd like to be the first man in the world to do this on a motorcycle", he said.


Barr seems to be well on his way. The next trip will take him to Murmansk, Scandinavia, Britain and Australia. After that, it is on to Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, China and Hong Kong.