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ADV VideosPakistani Woman Breaks Barriers Riding Solo Across Country

Pakistani Woman Breaks Barriers Riding Solo Across Country

 Zenith Irfan won't let cultural norms stop her from fulfilling her father's dream.

Published on 06.18.2016

Zenith Irfan’s father always wanted to take a motorcycle journey around the world. Unfortunately, he died before he could do it. In his honor, his oldest child Zenith took the trip he didn’t, seeing and learning about the world as he would have.

And if that were all there was to Zenith Irfan’s story, it would be enough. But it turns out that this courageous, 21-year-old rider has captured the imagination of thousands not only for why she rides, but also for where she rides.


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Zenith Irfan Riding Solo Across Pakistan

Irfan lives in Lahore, Pakistan, a conservative Muslim country where it is often considered taboo for women to venture out by themselves, let alone travel on a motorcycle. She learned to ride in 2013 on a Honda C70 that her family bought to run errands.

After conquering the lawless streets of Lahore, where red lights are ignored, donkey carts jostle with trucks for space, and congestion is the rule, she took off for the stunning Azad Kashmir region of northeastern Pakistan. Its lush green valleys, deep forests, wild rivers and soaring mountains make it the perfect adventure destination.

Zenith Irfan Riding Solo Across Pakistan
“I have no words to describe how I felt when I finally made it to the heart of Misgar. I couldn’t stop grinning under my helmet.” – Zenith Irfan

That six-day, 700-mile trip opened her eyes. “When I was on the road, it was like a coming together of my mind, body and soul,” she told CNN’s Travel website. “I felt free.”

The success of that trip inspired her to spend 20 days and 1,980 miles on the road in August, 2015. She rode north from Lahore to the Khunjerab pass on the Chinese border. The trip took her through the Deosai Plains, one of the highest in the world, and to a village where the locals are known to throw rocks at strangers. She wore bulky clothes and tucked her hair into her helmet to conceal her gender, but when she had to ask for directions her secret was out. “They just stood there with their mouths open and didn’t know how to respond,” she told CNN.

Zenith Irfan Riding Solo Across Pakistan

While she was on the road only one person told her women shouldn’t ride motorcycles. It was only after she started posting her trips on her Facebook page that the commenters turned nasty, with some calling her a disgrace to Islam.

Nonetheless, she has no plans to stop riding. Her plans include a trip to the Swat Valley, known as the Switzerland of Pakistan, and a ride to Dubai where she was born.

Author: Bob Whitby

Bob has been riding motorcycles since age 19 and working as a journalist since he was 24, which was a long time ago, let’s put it that way. He quit for the better part of a decade to raise a family, then rediscovered adventure, dual sport and enduro riding in the early 2000s. He lives in Arkansas, America’s best-kept secret when it comes to riding destinations, and travels far and wide in search of dirt roads and trails.

Author: Bob Whitby
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