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 Kylie Day, age 37, from Sydney Australia. Kylie is not afraid to tackle an adventure and talk about the good along with the bad.
We hope you enjoy her story.
- - - - -
"Growing up in a country town with a quarter acre backyard meant there were motorbikes around for as long as I remember. My brother, sister and I all learnt to ride, although through a lot of trials, crashes and laughs! Looking back on these times are some my fondest childhood memories. Long days spent out by the river riding bikes with my younger brother as dad collected firewood and mum stoked an unnecessarily large campfire, over which we cooked (cremated) lunch.
After I moved to the city, I forgot about riding and the feeling of freedom it had given me as a child. All of that changed one summer as I watched The Long Way Round and proclaimed, I will ride around the world one day! Wanting to be just like Charley Boorman, I purchased a BMW 650GS online before I even had my learners licence. Like all dreams, it has started, stopped, stalled and started again. I sold my BMW as it wasn’t the right bike for me at the time in the middle of Sydney. I down sized to a Honda VTR250, who I named Clowny, as it felt like one of the bikes you see over-sized clowns riding on in the circus!
Clowny and I and spent many hours learning the ropes from my brother, a very accomplished rider, who now was my instructor. He would ride 12-hour round trips to the city on weekends to teach me in the carpark. Even now, when I put on my helmet I can hear his voice and advice as though it is still coming through the intercom. I think that is the thing that has really drawn me to riding motorcycles, it has a way of bringing people together. When you remove yourself from your comfort zone you instinctively look for others to share, help and enhance this amazing experience of freedom on the open road.
Last November after a pretty trying time in my life I realised it was time to get away from it all. The first thing that came to my mind was a motorcycling adventure. I had two criteria as I searched the internet, I had to be able to get there in time for my birthday, in 10 days’ time, and it needed to be far enough away to give me the perspective I needed, as travel usually does. Without a second thought I picked up the phone to enquire about going to the Himalayas in Nepal. After a moment of silence from Rex at Himalayan Heroes when he realised I wanted to go in a week, it was done. To the mountains of Nepal for my birthday. No preparation, no time to think and even less time to pack properly which has never been my strong point!
Six months have passed, and I still can’t find the words to explain the profound impact this last minute decision has had on my life. To say it was hard out there on the dusty, rough and often scary mountain roads of Nepal would be an understatement. I struggled. I dropped the bike, many times. I woke every morning with genuine fear of what roads lay ahead that day, even though I knew I could get off the bike at any time and retreat to the safety of the support van. This was my Everest (no we didn’t ride to Everest!).
I knew I was never going to give up, not even after 8 hours of crawling up an impossible road, crashing into and over enormous boulders what seemed like every 100 metres. The crew there helping me, picking up my poor beaten Royal Enfield, Ellenoar, asking if I was ok. Yes, lets just get this done would be my response. I rolled into camp as the light was fading to see my fellow riders outside in the cold cheering for me as I rode through the gates. Even though there was still one more days ride to get to the top of the mountain, in my mind, I had made.
The Himalayas are spectacular and overwhelming. It was exactly what I had hoped it would be, a place you can go to be reminded of how small we really are in this world, something I always seek on my travels.
As my phone rang and went unanswered on my birthday (I had told everyone I was away on a silent yoga retreat!) I was the freest I have ever been in my life. Did it matter that I wasn’t out there alone, instead, with a tour? A crew and fellow riders to help me? No, not at all. It was still my journey, my experience, so many lessons learnt. It gave me the confidence and inspiration I needed to feel like I could really follow my dream. Instead of feeling like I had taken the ‘easy’ option I realised I had taken the right option for me. One that got me over my fears, one that inspired me.
I would love to say that it was all smooth sailing from there, but that would be boring! With my confidence boosted, I booked my flight to Europe in the airport stopover on my way home from Kathmandu. After a few weeks being back in Australia, I once again made a snap decision to travel over Christmas. I would try out my navigation and planning on the fly with a south to north ride of Vietnam! What could possibly go wrong? I have ridden there before, it will be a cake walk compared to the adventures of Nepal. How wrong I was!
Vietnam is a beautiful country. Riding through endless plantations of coffee, tea, corn and so much more day after day, you start to feel like you somehow fit in with the locals. Unfortunately, I fit in a little too well, eating at one of the many roadside cafes for lunch. I completely forgot my golden rule of never eating salad in a developing country.
Getting back on the road after a 2-day bout of food poisoning, I found myself on a very unexpected unsealed road, the sun beating down and some dodgy straps holding my luggage in place all of which culminated in me losing all my possessions, passport included, somewhere in the middle of a Vietnamese national park. With not another soul in sight and spending 3 hours searching in the scorching heat with no water, it was time to admit that my bags were gone. I had to keep moving and get out of there. With the sun starting to go down and the road not improving, I pushed on, stopping to check the route only to find I was going the wrong way!! Against every fibre of my being I turned the bike around and headed back in the direction I had come from, this time knowing what lay ahead, dreading every rock, sand trap and steep hill to come.
After 10 hours in the saddle I was dehydrated, exhausted and on a particularly challenging climb the bike and I went down. Luckily, I got up uninjured, the bike did not fare so well. Now in the pitch black with no clue what was wrong with the bike or where to even start to try and fix it, a good Samaritan appeared from seemingly nowhere. With his lack of English and my lack of Vietnamese the international language of miming was in full force until it was agreed the bike was going nowhere tonight and a truck was called. After a slow, very bumpy ride for both the bike and I to the nearest town, neither my rescuer or the truck driver wanted anything for their help. It was a much-needed reminder of the endless generosity of strangers when you travel.
Now with several international motorcycling trips under my belt, I am 2 months away from really beginning my big adventure. This time I feel like my dream is finally happening as I plan to cross Europe on my own with the goal to meet the amazing crew from Himalayan Heroes once again, this time in Mongolia, to join them on a tour in my ultimate biking destination.
When I thought about writing this post I wondered what it is that I could possibly share of any interest or value. It dawned on me as I undertook my morning ritual of scrolling Instagram to see where fellow adventurer riders were in the world, how they were travelling, how inspiring their journeys are. I no longer need to look outside for inspiration anymore. It is time to look inwards and draw on my own experiences of getting out there and doing it, my way. If I were to give my fellow women riders reading this some advice it would be this…
All too often we follow, read and watch others effortlessly (so it appears) living our dream, all the while thinking they are somehow different to us. Surely, they must be braver, stronger, more prepared and experienced than me? How can I set off on a round the world trip not having spent 12 months planning? Without having all the latest adventure gear? Possessing average (at best!) off-road skills? The answer is surprisingly simple. Do it, your own way. If your adventure is riding by yourself to a town 2 hours from home, joining a group tour somewhere more exotic or selling everything you own to set off into the unknown, don’t compare yourself or your adventures to anyone else’s. Be inspired by your own dream and take whatever path is right for you to follow it."
To follow the journey find me @not.lost_touring
Photo credits: Mike Vandergriff Photography
- - - - -Thank you to Kylie for sharing her story and if you would like to share your story with us simply go to the GET IN TOUCH page of the website and fill in the form and we will gladly be in touch.