Motorcycling Adventure Travel Experts Debunk Five Myths
Top Misconception? It’s Unsafe for Women Riding Solo
When you think of adventure travel on a motorcycle, whatc omes to mind? That it’s unsafe, especiallyif you’re female? That it costs more money and time than you have? That your current bike won’t do? Six well-known adventure motorcyclists went on the record in ATV Moto magazine to debunk these and other myths they say keep motorcyclists from putting the “adventure” in their motorcycle journeys.
Myth No. 1 – Adventure travel is unsafe – especially for women riding solo
Not so, said all six experts, including Steph Jeavons, a British woman who has ridden her 250cc Honda more than 50,000 miles.
“I am a solo female rider and have ridden on all seven continents through 50 countries in my time as a biker. I love it and I have always been treated with respect wherever I go. In my experience people lookout for you even more so as a solo rider,” Jeavons said.
Guided, group riding, like the first all-womandual-sport motorcycle ride in Colorado, July 23-30, 2017, is a great way to learn the ropes before setting off on a solo adventure. The ride will take 10 women motorcyclists over some of the highest roads in the nation at 12,000 feet.
Solo riders tend to bring out the “protective side” of locals, who often go out of their way to welcome the rider, offer shelter or ameal, and share their knowledge of the area, said well-known adventure travel rider Sam Manicom, whose home base is in the United Kingdom.
“By travelling solo you are more approachable. This brings out the caring nature in people. The vast majority of people a solo traveler meets want the traveler to enjoy and to learn about where they are. Travelling in a group can actually form a social or cultural barrier, which may actually make a traveler more vulnerable,” he said.
All of the experts said riders – whether riding alone or not– do need to know some basic “rules of survival,” use common sense and respect the limits of their own abilities.
Basic rules of adventure riding include avoiding crime-prone areas (ask the locals or use the internet to research your route and destination),respecting wildlife (stay away from it), and being alert and prepared if you venture into areas known for extreme weather. Common sense would include knowing how to do basic maintenance on your bike, going through a pre-ride safety check before you take off every day, and knowing your skill and physical limits. This includes stopping when you’re tired, and getting off and pushing if the off-road terrain is too bad.
“If you use common sense, adventure travel is as safe or unsafe as riding around your home country,” said Bea and Helmut, a German couple who go by first names only, and who have been crisscrossing the world by motorcycle since 2011.
“During our time on the road we´ve been to many supposed unsafe countries like Colombia, Russia or East Timor. Despite this, we never had any problems because we talked to the locals, asked about the current situation and trusted our common sense,” they said.
Myth No. 2 –Adventure travel is too expensive
All motorcycling begins with the expense of the bike, gear and gas. Beyond that, the experts said money isn’t a big obstacle to adventure travel if you stay open to travel choices. This could involve staying in local campgrounds, taking advantage of hostels, or just taking the backroads to a weekend destination.
“Some funds are of course necessary, but once you’re out there, who knows what wonderful opportunities will come your way. There are always ways to make more money, but no ones worked out yet how to make more time! So don’t wait or over-plan,” advised Simon and Lisa Thomas, who claim the unofficial new world record for the longest continuous journey by a motorcycle team.
Engaging people you meet along the way can open up more travel choices, Manicom said.
“Travel is as expensive as you want to make it. With a good tent, sleeping bag and eagerness to engage all types of people, your travel costs can be minimal.
“Asking for places to put your tent up gives you protection, decreases your costs and gives you the chance to learn about where you are. Travelling on a small budget can actually be advantageous and offer experiences which can’t be bought,” he said.
Even travel in foreign countries can be inexpensive once you get there, Manicom said.
“You could decide that you want to spend a year visiting five neighboring countries in the developing world. That you’ll wild camp or stay in the cheapest of local hotels. That you’ll bargain for food in the markets or cook basic meals for yourself. You may also decide to ban beer, bearing in mind that in many countries a beer costs the same as food for three meals. If your bike is in good condition, doesn’t consume a lot of gas and you are happy travelling gently, then you could have a very low priced adventure on two wheels.”
Myth # 3 – Adventure motorcycling means traveling to an exotic location
Adventure riding can begin the moment you leave your driveway if you have the right attitude, the experts agreed.
“Different challenges and learning new things are the key elements of an adventure,” said Manicom.“The beauty of motorcycling is that we are beginning a new adventure every time we throw a leg over the saddle and press the starter button. What begins is a tale of the unexpected, every time.”
Manu Torres and Ivana Colakovska, a Spanish and Macedonian couple with a goal of traveling the globe by motorcycle, agreed. The couple, who travel tandem on a dual sport Yamaha XT660Z tenere, said they don’t like long rides.
“Our favorite riding is … when every few kilometers there is something that grabs our attention and makes us stop to talk to the people, take pictures, or just enjoy the landscapes. We don´t mind that at the end of the day we only covered 50 or 60miles,” they said.
“Adventure is everywhere. Adventure is a state of mind. If you look for it, you will find it!”said Jeavons.
Myth #4 Traveling off-road is more dangerous thanon-road.
On-road and off-road motorcycling present their own kinds of challenges and require different skillsets. That said, common sense and riding within your capabilities are paramount to riding safely on either blacktop or dirt, the experts noted. A huge advantage of off-roading is not having to deal with traffic, they stressed.
“Riding off-road is great fun and has fewer moving obstacles to hit. You may fall off more often but it is generally at slower speeds and usually worth a great photo or giggle! You also get to see the part of the world a majority of people do not reach,” Jeavons said.
Torres said he and his riding partner feel more comfortable riding off-road because they can ridetwo-up and go relatively slowly.
“Many times Ivana had to start walking when road conditions became really bad, so we try to enjoy the ride and overcome obstacles one by one. After more than three years on the road, we feel safer on the small dirt roads than on the busy freeways with a lot high-speed traffic,” he said.
But if you have an accident in a remote location, the consequences can be more dangerous due to the lack of available assistance, he noted.
“In our case, when we fell in the famous “Carretera Austral” of Chile, a road that takes you along the Andes, it took us two days and over 300km of riding to get needed surgery when Ivana broke her leg,” Torres said.
The Thomases say they like the control they have when they are off-road. The British couple has traveled over 320,000 miles in their 12 years on the road. Lisa is considered the world’s foremost female adventurer rider, having ridden 450,000miles, unsupported through 78 countries and across six continents.
“Off-road you’re in control; your decisions and skill define your safety and success. On the road, well, that’s a different matter, with a thousand obstacles coming towards you, away from you and circling you. With that many variables in play, there is no control. Your job on the road is to survive,” they said.
Myth # 5 – I need the perfect bike or vehicle for my adventure
First off, there’s no such thing as a “perfect bike” for adventure travel, the experts stressed, noting the choice of motorcycle is what the rider is comfortable with, as longas it’s suitable for the journey. For today’s adventure riding, that usually means a dualsport motorcycle. But not necessarily.
“If it’s in good mechanical condition and you like riding it, regardless of what make, style or cc it is, then it could well be the perfect bike for you. The only other perfection key I’d add is the importance of working out what sort of trip you want to have. Off-road? Mostly on road? Off the beaten track where spares will be hard to find? These sorts of considerations will help you to make the bike that is as perfect for your dream as possible,” said Manicom.
Jeavons added, “Whatever you take, you will fall in love with. It’s like a successful marriage. You willforgive the shortcomings and be grateful for the days when you don’t fall out!”