Women on the Road: What are the three things a woman should consider if she's thinking of a solo bike trip?
Carla King: 1) What culture most interests you? 2) What bike are you most comfortable on, for that terrain? 3) That a gazillion people will have done this before, by foot, bicycle, horseback. You're going to be fine.
WOTR: How much of an expert do you have to be to take off on a long solo trip?
Carla: It depends on where you're going and for how long, really. If you're on a RTW trip, then it would be great to know how to take your bike apart and put it back together again, so riding a bike that's uncomplicated is key.
WOTR: What about safety issues?
Carla: Be really careful on the bike, don't rush, just keep your eye out for road obstacles and driving habits.
WOTR: Where do you sleep when you travel by motorcycle?
Carla: I love camping at campsites. You get to meet people, and it's more safe than hotels because everyone is outside, aware, and taking and taking care of one other.
WOTR: How do you prepare yourself for a long motorcycle trip?
Carla: Don't rely on the news and corporate media for your impression of a place. Get advice from Horizons Unlimited and ADV Rider. Another great "travel" magazine that covers places that corporate media doesn't is - The Economist! I'd also say trust your instincts implicitly, even when it doesn't make sense. We're all animals - you've probably had your hackles go up, and knew to back off, even if your intellect hadn't caught up yet, right?
WOTR: What type of bike would you recommend?
Carla: Whatever 1) you are comfortable with and 2) is good for the terrain. The smaller the better. Don't be caught up thinking you need a BMW GS 1200 Adventure Bike. People have done round-the-world trips on a 250 Yamaha. Oh, and hey, bicycles, too, of course!
WOTR: What about attitudes towards women on bikes, for example in Muslim countries?
Carla: I never felt that religion had anything to do with people liking me or not. It's cultural differences that niggle, how a culture treats women. I've been more frightened in parts of Texas than I ever was anywhere in Morocco.
We need to start thinking in terms of fundamentalists and zealots instead of individual religions... fundamentalist Christians are just as scary as fundamentalist Muslims if not more. I think everyone sees travelers passing by as interesting.
WOTR: What about clothes?
Carla: I was bicycling in West Africa where everyone went around topless (nursing babies) but knees were, you know, like the forbidden zone. Not a religious thing, but traditional clothing just covered that part, so it had become a mystery. So while I didn't worry about strappy little tops and cleavage, I took great care to wear knee-covering skirts and sarongs.
WOTR: What are the best - and the worst - destinations for motorcycle travel?
Carla: There is no best or worst in general apart from war zones, and even that's up for debate! If you're interested, fascinated, and want to take part in a culture, go for it.