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, whatcomes to mind? That it’s unsafe, especiallyif you’re female? That it costs more money and time than you have? That yourcurrent bike won’t do? Six well-known adventure motorcyclists went on therecord in ATVMoto magazine to debunk these and other myths they say keepmotorcyclists from putting the “adventure” in their motorcycle journeys.
Myth No. 1 – Adventuretravel is unsafe – especially for women riding solo
Not so, said all six experts, including Steph Jeavons, aBritish woman who has ridden her 250cc Honda more than 50,000 miles.
“I am a solo female rider and have ridden on all sevencontinents through 50 countries in my time as a biker. I love it and I havealways 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 agreat way to learn the ropes before setting off on a solo adventure. The ridewill take 10 women motorcyclists over some of the highest roads in the nationat 12,000 feet.
Solo riders tend to bring out the “protective side” oflocals, 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 travelrider Sam Manicom, whose home base is in the United Kingdom.
“By travelling solo you are more approachable. This bringsout the caring nature in people. The vast majority of people a solo travelermeets want the traveler to enjoy and to learn about where they are. Travellingin a group can actually form a social or cultural barrier, which may actuallymake 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 respectthe limits of their own abilities.
Basic rules of adventure riding include avoiding crime-proneareas (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 youventure into areas known for extreme weather. Common sense would include knowinghow to do basic maintenance on your bike, going through a pre-ride safety checkbefore you take off every day, and knowing your skill and physical limits. Thisincludes stopping when you’re tired, and getting off and pushing if theoff-road terrain is too bad.
“If you use common sense, adventure travel is as safe orunsafe as riding around your home country,” said Bea and Helmut, a Germancouple who go by first names only, and who have been crisscrossing the world bymotorcycle since 2011.
“During our time on the road we´ve been to many supposedunsafe countries like Colombia, Russia or East Timor. Despite this, we neverhad any problems because we talked to the locals, asked about the currentsituation and trusted our common sense,” they said.
Myth No. 2 –Adventure travel is too expensive
All motorcycling begins with the expense of the bike, gearand gas. Beyond that, the experts said money isn’t a big obstacle to adventuretravel if you stay open to travel choices. This could involve staying in localcampgrounds, taking advantage of hostels, or just taking the backroads to aweekend destination.
“Some funds are of course necessary, but once youre out there, who knowswhat wonderful opportunities will come your way. There are always ways to makemore money, but no ones worked out yet how to make more time! So dont wait orover-plan,” advised Simon and Lisa Thomas, who claim the unofficial new worldrecord for the longest continuous journey by a motorcycle team.
Engaging people you meet along the way can open up more travelchoices, Manicom said.
“Travel is as expensive as you want to make it. With a goodtent, sleeping bag and eagerness to engage all types of people, your travelcosts 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 experienceswhich can’t be bought,” he said.
Even travel in foreign countries can be inexpensive once youget there, Manicom said.
“You could decide that you want to spend a year visitingfive neighboring countries in the developing world. That you’ll wild camp orstay in the cheapest of local hotels. That you’ll bargain for food in themarkets 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 threemeals. If your bike is in good condition, doesn’t consume a lot of gas and youare happy travelling gently, then you could have a very low priced adventure ontwo wheels.”
Myth # 3 – Adventure motorcycling means traveling to anexotic location
Adventure riding canbegin the moment you leave your driveway if you have the right attitude, theexperts agreed.
“Differentchallenges 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 timewe throw a leg over the saddle and press the starter button. What begins is atale of the unexpected, every time.”
Manu TorresandIvana 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 ridingis … when every few kilometers there is something that grabs our attention andmakes us stop to talk to the people, take pictures, or just enjoy thelandscapes. We don´t mind that at the end of the day we only covered 50 or 60miles,” they said.
“Adventure iseverywhere. 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-roadmotorcycling present their own kinds of challenges and require different skillsets. That said, common sense and riding within your capabilities are paramountto riding safely on either blacktop or dirt, the experts noted. A huge advantageof 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 oftenbut 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,” Jeavonssaid.
Torres said he andhis riding partner feel more comfortable riding off-road because they can ridetwo-up and go relatively slowly.
“Many times Ivanahad to start walking when road conditions became really bad, so we try to enjoythe ride and overcome obstacles one by one. After more than three years on theroad, we feel safer on the small dirt roads than on the busy freeways with alot high-speed traffic,” he said.
But if you have an accidentin a remote location, the consequences can be more dangerous due to the lack ofavailable assistance, he noted.
“In our case, whenwe fell in the famous “Carretera Austral” of Chile, a road that takesyou along the Andes, it took us two days and over 300km of riding to get neededsurgery when Ivana broke her leg,” Torres said.
The Thomases say they like the control they have when they are off-road. The Britishcouple has traveled over 320,000 miles in their 12 years on the road. Lisa isconsidered the world’s foremost female adventurer rider, having ridden 450,000miles, unsupported through 78 countries and across six continents.
“Off-road you’re incontrol; 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 nocontrol. Your job on the road is to survive,” they said.
Myth # 5 – I need the perfect bike or vehicle for myadventure
First off, there’sno 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 usuallymeans a dualsport motorcycle. But not necessarily.
“If it’s in good mechanical condition and you like riding it, regardless ofwhat 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 whatsort of trip you want to have. Off-road? Mostly on road? Off the beaten trackwhere spares will be hard to find? These sorts of considerations will helpyou to make the bike that is as perfect for your dream as possible,” saidManicom.
Jeavons added, “Whateveryou 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!”