Her Story. A series of blog posts telling the stories of 'women who ride' from all corners of the globe. We hope that by sharing these stories we can help encourage other women to build their confidence, learn from others and inspire others.
This month we have a story from Jessica Zahra who lives worldwide! Since getting her licence about 5yrs ago Jessica has been living life to the fullest with long distance moto adventures from Europe through to Morocco, and then America, Australia, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka.
Her first documentary will be dropping shortly. She is also the founder of OpenRoad Rally (a 3-day adventure motorcycle event in Vic, Australia), and... hosting a 35 day, free tour of India in November – where anyone can join! WOW!
We hope you enjoy her story.
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My name is Jessica Zahra, I am 28 and I live…nowhere. I’m from Melbourne originally, but these days I spend most of time travelling long distance on motorcycles around the world.
I grew up on an acre of land on the outskirts of Melbourne. My dad had a white dirt bike and I used to perch on the back fender. Together we would ride around in the bush, sometimes collecting blackberries to make a pie. I desperately wanted to learn to ride. My dad always said no. I was about six years old.
When I was 23 I dated a guy who had a bike. I sat on the back of his motorbike and we would go for rides around Melbourne city. I found it – boring. But the cogs started turning. I planned to buy a bike of my own and get my licence. We broke up. I needed a change. I put the plan in action.
I got my P’s and I met at the time, a guy (who I thought) was the love of my life. He sailed competitively overseas. With a solid three months experience riding a Honda 125 under my belt, I flew to Europe, somehow bought a BMW 650GS Funduro and started riding to his races.
I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t realise how heavy my bike was. I dropped it outside the shop – before I had even paid for it!
My BMW took me around almost every country in Europe over two years. Germany, Scandinavia, the Baltics, Eastern Europe, Italy, France, United Kingdom, Spain – too many to name – all the way to Morocco.
Then I started riding down Africa. And, my personal life was turned upside down.
A family member passed away and my partner cheated. Grief was hard on the road alone. For the first time in two years, I felt lonely — even though previously I had spent up to three weeks camping and riding alone in the wild, and had never felt this way.
So, I turned home.
Things went from bad to worse. On my way to the airport to return home, I slipped on an oil spill at 100kmph. I picked myself up, fixed my bike and carried on. I found out later that I had fractured my back. It’s important to always cry after, not before, you fix the problem. One of the many lessons I learned the hard way during those years.
Since then, I have ridden America, Australia, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka.
These days, you can still find me riding around the world — documenting my experiences with Royal Enfield on Instagram, pushing my limits on extreme terrain with my Himalayan or leading guided tours through my business www.openroads.cc.
Finishing off this year, I have my first documentary coming out in September, OpenRoads Rally in October and I am hosting a 35 day, free tour of India in November – where anyone can join!
Next year, I am returning to lead tours in a new area of Nepal, and have the opportunity to lead tours in Colombia, Mongolia, Canada, Kenya, India and Vietnam. And somehow, in between all of this, I will start preparing to enter the rally racing circuit in Europe.
My main goal for the future is to build www.openroads.cc into a thriving, self-sustaining business to help more people take up motorcycle travel. I love helping others and being part of a community – so the more the merrier!
If you’re reading this and you want to start riding, but you don’t know where to start, message me! The best way to get involved is to feel like you’re welcome. And the best way to feel welcome, is to have a friend. This is especially true for us females, because it is a male dominated sport.
A couple of tips for newbies:
1. Buy inexpensive gear and an inexpensive bike — just see if you like it. Then ramp things up.
2. Keep a toolkit under your seat. If you don’t know how to use it, you will figure it out when you need to.
3. Find your tribe. Figure out what part of motorcycling you love, or which you find interesting, and do more of that. If you like adventure, take a trip. If you like community, join a group. If you like the thrill, try competing.
4. Don’t try to think your way into doing something. Just yell ‘f#$@ it’ and jump off the edge. Do first, think later.
5. Fall often! And laugh when you do. Falling doesn’t hurt as much as you think it will. Like everything in life, the more you relax, the less it hurts.
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