| My current motorcycle:
A 2008 KLR 650 (Kawasaki)
My former motorcycle:
Number of US & Canadian states I've been to on a
motorcycle of my own:
Number of countries I've toured on a motorcycle of my own:
Number of countries I've toured on the back of a
International trips by motorcycle
Trips riding my own motorcycle
personal Twitter account
Professional Twitter account
| I love traveling. And I really
love traveling by motorcycle.
I enjoy riding through beautiful vistas, I love how connected I feel to my surroundings on a bike, I love the focus on the road and the landscape and places other than what I know and live in most days, I love the opportunity to not think about my professional work or cleaning my house or all my many obligations and responsibilities for a while, and I really love meeting people - people are happy to walk up and start talking to a couple on motorcycles. I see far more than I do when I travel by car, and I see things in a very different way. I sleep better at night, whether in a tent or in a hotel - all that focus on the road and new experiences and what not makes me exhausted, in a great way. I feel like a winning gladiator when I finish a trip, and I also lose a few pounds on a two-week motorcycle trip!
I have a personal essay about why traveling, in general, is not only wonderful, but important to your life, and why women's excuses to avoid traveling are really just words. But I wanted a section of my web site to be about traveling by motorcycle specifically. And specifically focused on women.
I don't travel by myself by motorcycle, but many women do. I'm fine traveling by myself in a car, but not by motorcycle - I'm just too afraid of something horrible happening and me being totally on my own. But I link to stories by women who do travel by motorcycle by themselves, because they have great stories and advice.
Is it scary sometimes to travel by motorcycle? Absolutely. If you are a motorcycle rider and don't feel that way, good for you, but for me - yeah, there are times I'm scared. In June 2014, I had my first wreck, on the notorious Shafer switchbacks in Utah, and it was very scary. But, lucky for me, three days later, I was fine both mentally and physically and got on my motorcycle and continued my trip all the way back to Oregon and had a great time the entire way except for two days of horrible gusting wind and two truckers who I hope are impotent and sad for the rest of their lives. I also dropped my bike on the way to Silver City, Idaho from Jordan Valley, Oregon, on a single track road that challenged me in every way - I was fine, as was the bike, but I was so happy not to be alone - I've no idea what I would have done in that scenario. I loathe riding in strong wind gusts, and I had two days not only of wind gusts on that aforementioned 2014 trip that almost made me quit riding right then and there but also dust devils (mini tornadoes), and pretty much the same thing happened for two days in 2015, when I rode all the way from Oregon up to the Yukon via the Stewart-Cassiar Highway, and back down via the Alaska Highway - this time, the worst day was the last day, in the Columbia Gorge. Honestly, if it was that way for every trip I have taken, I'd give up riding a motorcycle. Thankfully, it's not.
So, yeah, wind gusts get to me so much, as does riding on a
high road where there is a sharp drop off on the side, with no
guardrail, and riding on roads with very steep ascents or
descents, especially when I don't know where or when I'm going
to find level ground to stop. Canadian road 3B to Rossland is my
nightmare come true - steepest road I have ever been on. I'm
also particularly bad at starting on a hill or turning from a
stop on a hill. Ugh. Oh, to be taller...
But still, I travel by motorcycle. Still, I crave it. And love
it. Because when it's good, which is most of the time, it's
wonderful. It's soul-feeding. Sometimes, it's exhilarating and,
sometimes, it's calming. It's always interesting. I think
motorcycle riding has a lot of the same benefits as EMDR for
people who have experienced trauma.
As of September 2016, I've ridden more than 20,905 miles / 33,643 km on my KLR since buying it in the Fall of 2011, and more than 31,905 miles (51,346 km) on motorcycles since starting to ride in 2009. But I still consider myself an intermediate rider, in terms of skill level - being short (5' 4"), I have to be vigilant before every stop, making sure I can put my foot down and still hold the bike up - and that's not easy on steep ascents or descents, let alone in cities where there are pot holes at many intersections. And I've already outlined what I find challenging while riding, and it's a lot.
I have a dual sport, a KLR (Kawasaki). It's a motorcycle meant for off-road riding. It could probably do the Dakar Rally (modified somewhat, of course - and I doubt it would win). People take KLRs on dirt roads just a few feet wide, straight uphill, covered in rocks. They stand in the foot pegs. They wear helmet cams and make videos for YouTube. They drop the bike and laugh and pick it up and ride right on. It's a fearless bike, and most people that ride it are, apparently, fearless.
husband, Stefan Dietz, an experienced adventure motorcycle
travelers, designs and sells aluminum top boxes and
side panniers. They are tough, light-weight, and affordable.
They are German-designed and made in the USA! All
in custom sizes.
This small top box is 20 liter (5.3 gallon)
400 x 250 x 200 mm
1.6 mm (1?16") thick aluminum
All top boxes and panniers:
I don't do most of that on my KLR. I'm not fearless. I have this bike for that 10 miles of gravel and dirt between me and a historic old mining town. Or for touring City of Rocks. I know that makes a lot of other dual sport riders roll their eyes, that I don't do all that's possible on a KLR. Sometimes, because I don't even ride 10% dirt and gravel on a trip, it makes me feel unworthy of this bike. I sometimes have to ask my husband to turn my bike around in a challenging scenario - the side of a mountain or a parking lot, for instance. I accepted long ago that I'll never be an expert rider and that I have to ask for help sometimes and I won't look smooth and confident on the bike at all times. But I don't let those limits keep me from riding - I build my trips with those limits in mind. I'm much better on dirt and gravel than I was when I started, and while I'm no Charlie Boorman (hi, Charlie!) - hey, I've done okay. I've seen a lot of beautiful places because of this bike. This bike never lets me down on those dirt and gravel roads I dare to do in pursuit of some incredible place - when there's a failure, it's all mine. I really do love this bike. She even has a name. No, I'm not going to tell you - it's personal between her and me.If you want to travel with others by motorcycle, the Internet makes it much easier to find traveling companions, via online communities for women motorcyclists (easy to find on a Google search, and via online communities focused on motorcycle travelers). ADVRider is a great place to meet other people who travel by motorcycle - not just adventure motorcyclists who travel off-road, to exotic vistas, but also people who like to stick to riding on pavement around where you live. You can also try Horizons Unlimited, though their membership is primarily hard core motorcycle travelers to foreign countries. But always ride your own ride; if the people you are riding with go significantly faster than you, and you can't go that fast, find another group. Don't apologize for wanting to go the speed limit, or not wanting to take a chance the others do. Again: always ride your own ride.
Here are my resources for women who travel by motorcycle (or want to) that I hope you will find helpful:
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The personal opinions expressed on this page are solely those of Ms. Cravens, unless otherwise noted.