6 Women Adventure Riders Who Ride The World Solo – Part 2
Think men are the only ones that ride round the world solo? Think again!
Contrary to perceptions, many of the most accomplished long-distance riders are women. We featured some of these amazing women riders previously (see Part 1), who have traveled the world solo and piled up incredible miles on their Adventure Motorcycles in search of epic journeys.
But there are many more stories of women riders who have discarded the comfort of home and career to chase horizons and see what’s beyond the next rise, state or border. Each of their stories is inspiring in their own way but they all share the message that gender should not limit your dreams of adventure.
Below are six more women riders who have taken the big leap and traveled the world solo. Get ready to be inspired!
1. Benka Pulko
Benka Pulko’s story starts in a way many riders can relate to: One day in 1997, while laying in bed and pondering turning 30, she decided that life was short and she needed to get on a motorcycle and travel the world. The trouble was she didn’t own a motorcycle, and didn’t know how to ride. But those were just details for Benka.
Five months later, she set off from her hometown of Ptuj, Slovenia on what she thought would be a two-year journey. She returned home after five and a half years, having ridden all seven continents (first woman motorcyclist to do so continously), 75 countries and 111,856 miles on her BMW F650. Her marathon ride landed her in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest solo motorcycle journey by a female in both time and distance. In the process, she became the first woman motorcyclist to reach Antarctica. Benka also has other notable achievements under her belt, including being the first woman to ride solo across Saudi Arabia.
Of course there were challenges along the way. Pulko hit her head in Ecuador riding a horse, not a motorcycle, which landed her in the hospital for 10 days. She ate grasshoppers, scorpions, hamsters and the occasional dog along the way when necessary. She also married her one constant companion, the BMW, in Pakistan because she needed a ready answer to the persistent question about traveling without a spouse.
Since the trip, Pulko has become a celebrated author and motivational speaker, and has even written a children’s book.
Read more about Pulko’s travels on her website.
2. Sherri Jo Wilkins
Sherri Jo Wilkins’ life started out normally enough. Born and raised in Indianapolis, she went to college and then started working in the family business six days a week. On Sundays she cleaned her house and watched the Travel Channel, virtually visiting places she’d always wanted to go.
When an offer to crew a sailboat in the South Pacific came along, she jumped at it. And the experience changed her life. The boat stopped in Australia and she fell in love with the country, eventually moving there, becoming a citizen, and landing a good job. When it came time for a career change, an idea popped into her head: ride a motorcycle around the world instead. In the U.S. she’d ridden cruisers, but had no real experience riding off road.
Six months later, Wilkins was packed and on the road with her KTM 690 Enduro. She left Australia in 2010, riding 86,000 miles through 49 countries in three and one-half years solo on what she called the “Because I Can World Tour.”
She learned what she needed to know about dirt riding by fording streams and negotiating muddy roads in Russia. While there, she had to fly home because her father passed away, then returned to face Mongolia, a country she feared because it was so remote. At times she would have to talk herself into continuing through the country. “If I just took these little baby steps and got myself out there, then the rest of the way was OK,” she said in an Adventure Rider Radio interview.
Wilkins made sure to immerse herself in local experiences along the way. She spent three months in Tuscany house sitting, took a side trip to the Galapagos Islands, and even met up with a team or riders trying to set a record for riding a motorcycle at elevation in South America.
Since returning, Wilkins has spent her riding time exploring her adopted country on her new bike, a Triumph Tiger 800 XC.
For more information on Wilkins’ adventures, check her website.
3. Linda Bootherstone-Bick
If you’re looking for an excuse not to do a trip, avoid reading about Linda Bootherstone-Bick. Though she’s been riding and exploring all her life, Bootherstone-Bick didn’t even start on her longest continuous adventure until she was almost 60 years old.
She was born in England, and developed a taste for motorcycles at age 17 when she met a boy who rode one. A crash while on the back of that bike convinced her that riding a bike, rather than being a passenger, was the way to go. Her first bike was a BSA 250. Her next bike was a Triumph Tiger Cub that had a tendency to break down. Eventually she moved to Australia and bought a new BMW R60/5, which she rode over that country with two friends. She was in her 20s at the time and the trio’s travels ultimately became the book Three Wondering Poms.
In 1974, Bootherstone-Bick bought a 1957 BMW and set off on it for a solo tour of Africa. The suspension broke, the engine died and she caught malaria, but none of that deterred her. The 15-month trip is the basis of her book Into Africa With a Smile.
Her book Where Angels Fear to Tread is the story of 18 years living in Spain, time she spent riding a 1978 BMW around Europe and North Africa. In 2005, she took off on a Suzuki DR650 for her longest single trip, a 21-month ride from Spain to Darwin, Australia. She celebrated her 60th birthday in India on that trip. And she’s still riding, these days mostly around Australia on a Kawasaki Super Sherpa 250.
Read more about Bootherstone-Bick’s travels and books on her site.