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ADV RidesFemale Rider Sells Everything to Ride The World Solo on a Himalayan

Female Rider Sells Everything to Ride The World Solo on a Himalayan

 Dutch adventurer quits job and sells everything to follow RTW dream.

Published on 04.14.2019
Following her dream of traveling the world, Noraly Schoenmaker quit her job, sold all her possessions and hit the road solo on her trusty Royal Enfield Himalayan last December. Since she set off, Noraly has been on a continuous journey covering over 16,000 km through 7 countries with no plans to stop.

The 31-year-old Hollander is no stranger to solo adventure travel, having spent two years backpacking around the world in her 20’s. A professional geochemist, she tells us that just out of college she made good money working in the gold mining industry, which allowed her to support her free spirit as she traveled the world on two feet. After going broke on the road, she returned to the Netherlands homeless and took a new job to save money in hopes of one day returning to being a full-time explorer.

Noraly Schoenmaker Riding the world on a Royal Enfield Himalayan

Noraly Schoenmaker joined the tribe of two wheels during her work stint in the Netherlands, with a purchase of a Ducati Monster 796. “I was absolutely crazy about it,” she says, but it wasn’t until a trip to India where she spent three weeks on a rented Royal Enfield Himalayan that everything came together. “I loved riding that bike so much,” she says, “and was so devastated when I had to return it that the seed was planted for something bigger. Why not buy a motorbike in India and start riding it towards South-East Asia?”


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With that she returned to the Netherlands, quit her job of five years, and proceeded to sell her house and all her belongings, including the Ducati. Once free of her material life there, she bought a one-way ticket to Delhi and purchased her 2018 Royal Enfield Himalayan. While waiting in India to get permanent plates and registration for the Enfield, Noraly spent time learning how to perform basic maintenance and repairs on the bike.

Noraly Schoenmaker: Riding the world on a Royal Enfield Himalayan

“I like that it’s very cheap,” she says about the 411cc Himalayan, “especially when you buy it in India. It’s very light and easy to steer…it’s great for off-roading and it has relatively easy mechanics.”

Kitting out the Himalayan

Noraly says she’s “pimped” her Himalayan bit-by-bit as she travels, so far installing a leather seat cover, several custom-made protection parts (for headlight, brake fluid, side-stand, oil-cooler), a Powertronic ECU unit with a switch to choose between two maps, two 5-liter jerry cans, handlebar risers, Garmin GPS, Acerbis hand guards, engine guards, extra lights, a loud Gursewak exhaust “for me, the thrill of a riding a motorbike is in the sound,” and a horn that “sounds like a truck.”

Riding the world on a Royal Enfield Himalayan

Her factory-installed panniers are loaded with tools and oodles of spare OE parts, including a full clutch assembly. “Better to be prepared,” she says of her extensive kit, “because no matter what country you’re in you’ll always find a mechanic but you’re not likely to find spare parts.”

No plan is a good plan

Noraly set off with nothing pre-determined. “I had nothing planned and I still don’t. I’ve traveled solo for many years and I prefer it. Along the way you meet so many people that it’s hard to be lonely and I love to be able to decide on whatever it is I want to do.”

Noraly Schoenmaker - Riding the world on a Royal Enfield Himalayan
“The plains around Bagan were once dotted with 10,000 Buddhist temples, all built in the 11th and 13th century. Today some 2000 temples remain and exploring them by motorbike was the best. Small little sandy trails, leading to overgrown ancient temples – and not a single soul around!” – Noraly Schoenmaker

After departing India in December of 2018, Noraly has so far traveled through Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Oman, UAE and was in Iran when we caught up with her, awaiting news of a visa for Turkmenistan. “I just plan and organize everything on the road,” she says of her loose travel style. “And because my route is not set, I can easily change it according to circumstances.” If allowed into Turkmenistan she intends to ride through Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and then onto Europe.

Noraly has gained many unforgettable memories throughout her journey, but her most memorable experience so far is riding alone in the desert. “I’ve never done that before and on this journey I’ve already encountered two long stretches of desert: in Oman and Iran. There is just something about the endless sands stretching until the horizon and nobody else but you and your motorbike. I don’t think I will ever forget that feeling of my desert rides,” she says.

Riding the world on a Royal Enfield Himalayan

This newbie RTW-rider is keeping the world up to date on her adventures via her blog itchyboots.com and her YouTube channel.

Noraly also offers us a huge dose of get-over-yourself inspiration: “Don’t worry too much about the motorcycle or the right gear,” she advises. “You don’t necessarily need a huge, expensive bike to take an adventure like this. I met a traveller who rode all the way from Europe to Asia on a 125cc Honda Grom. The most important thing is: JUST GO!”

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Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

Author: Jamie Elvidge
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17 thoughts on “Female Rider Sells Everything to Ride The World Solo on a Himalayan

  1. Noraly’s positive attitude is infectious and Royal Enfield should be paying her for her exploits. Check out her youtube channel–you’l be glad you did.

  2. Noraly makes the best moto travel videos on YT and everyone else should watch what she makes and learn. Her attitude and personality makes her travels so much more enjoyable than most others. RE will sell a LOT of Himilayan’s to people who watch her channel. Now I want one too and I have too many bikes already.

    • I am enjoying watching Noraly tackle all the difficulties that arise- always with a smile for the camera. One of the nicest things is the lovely way she interacts with the people she meets. When she spent a night with an Iranian family she didn’t record the inside of their home – as a sign of respect! That tells us a lot about Noraly’s personality. Another reason why her videos are so good to watch – we like her!

  3. After having successfully operating our retail store for 9 years. My wife and I sold 2 homes, 2 cars, and everything we owned. We ended up with a 37 foot boat, and the cloths on our backs. Oh yes lots of spare and repair parts. We sailed from Annapolis MD. to Venezuela and back. We moved very slowly. So many places so many people. You heart wonders and I honor you and your adventure. May the wind be at you back and the road as smooth as possible.

  4. She is truly an inspiration to all aspiring riders, more so, ladies, who encounter numerous obstacles/impediments by way of family, lack of self confidence. I follow her videos through her YouTube channel. Yes, all of us, even non bikers can learn a thing or 2 from her. Her positive demeanour regardless of the problems at hand, her humility when interacting with locals in different countries & her indefatigable spirit.
    Royal Enfield should feel blessed in having her as their unamed/unofficial Brand Ambassador & should give her Royalty for all her videos headlining the Himalyan!!
    Proud to be a lady who rides the same bike as her!!

  5. I’m proud to be a man who ride the same bike as she does.
    Could I only experience the World in the humble way as she does.
    A little late unfortunately, but enjoying the smaller routes I am content and happy

  6. itchyboots on Youtube is a great channel. Noraly has an infectious personality and is a joy to watch, not to mention an inspiration to travel the world.

  7. Hi there, really enjoy Noraly on YouTube. Infectious smile! As we know she uploads a video every 2 days but 5 days have now elapsed. I do hope she is safe and well. Does anyone know?

  8. Noraly , You girl are a true inspiration . I love your wonderful free spirit. After 15 years of not riding I bought a new Indian Vintage motorcycle. The feeling of freedom and living when riding, is second to none. When you make it to the states, make sure to ride through “Sedona Arizona” and up the switchbacks of Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff. Awesome ride. My wife and I are located in Dallas Texas and we do have a spare room if you need it. There is Royal Enfield support here as well. Anyway, lots of love your way. Safe travels . Shari and Chris. Dallas Tx.

  9. Great read and such a cool person to write about. As always love to see someone doing it their way and proving its about the adventure and not the money spent on the bike and gear. Thanks Jamie Elvidge for a great view of her world