Madeleine Velazquez (aka – Missrider) describes herself as adventurous, free spirited, and outgoing, and as you read her interview you understand why! She has ridden her 2009 Triumph Bonneville in 9 countries and in 3 short New England summer seasons, she has accrued over 46,000 miles/75,000 kilometers on that bike, covering Canada, the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama, most of it solo riding!
On to the interview!
When did you start riding a bike?
About 25 years or so ago, when my son was around 9 years old, he wanted a dirt bike. I bought him a small bike and he taught me how to ride it in the trails and sand. Soon after, I purchased my own starter bike a Honda 100 (4 stroke), then onto a Susuki 125 (2 stroke). My son got older and joined the Marines and I was left alone with no riding partner in the trails. It is not advisable for a woman to ride alone in the trails in my part of the world. So, I purchased a street bike and from there on, life has been an amazing journey. I hope to someday purchase a dirt bike because I love motocross.
How did you decide to go on an overland motorcycle trip?
I had been riding my beloved Ducati Monster around New England for many years and was getting bored. A friend invited me to join his motorcycle touring association. The boys taught me the art of riding extreme distances. They loved the company of a female riding her own bike just like the big boys. Riding 500-600 mile a day rides was tiresome on my Ducati Monster, so I purchased my beloved Triumph Bonneville and that bike handles the highways so well, it changed my life. During the winter months of 2011, I was bored again, (yes, Missrider gets bored very fast), so I decided to do something different. I shipped my Bonneville to my friend in Los Angeles, flew out to ride with her in California then rode back to the Boston area alone. Riding alone was exhilarating meeting people along the way. It is the people that I met that made my rides successful. I was bored again during the winter of 2012, so I was invited by a group of Latin cowboys to ride with them to Central America. They met me at the Mexican border to accompany me to the Panama Canal and back. I accomplished a personal goal of 15,065 miles/42,428 kilometers in 60 days. I share most of the experience on my blog.
Once you made the decision to go, how did you prepare for the trip?
For both of my longer rides, I did not prepare the route. I prepared the gear and ensured my bike would be able to handle the distance. I like to just take off and not commit to deadlines. Just ride and take it day by day. For the ride to Newfoundland I plan on changing things a little because I will have to schedule the ferry ride to the island. That will be the only preplanning effort for that ride coming up in June 2013.
What advice would you give a newbie rider planning on their first trip?
I recommend riding their motorcycle every day if possible. Get as much experience on highways, gravel and sand. Stay in shape by riding a bicycle because it helps keep the leg muscles strong and good endurance training. Maintain your bike, become one with your bike. Listen to your bike and all the little sounds it makes because when you are riding the distance alone, you must be in tune with your best friend, your bike!!!
What do you know now that you wish you had known then?
Along the way, I learned that it is a good idea to have multiple ways of access to money. While traveling in Central America, I only brought one credit card and the bank shut it down even though I had communicated with them I would be traveling. As a result, I was without cash for a while and had to borrow some money from the cowboys.
What was your best experience?
Riding my Triumph Bonneville 15,065 miles/42,428 kilometers in 60 days has not quenched my thirst to meet more people. It is the people that I meet along the way that make my rides the best experience. It is amazing when I am thousands of miles from home, getting gas and women and men run over to meet me and ask me where I am from. They see a woman riding alone with her bike loaded with gear and their curiosity gets the best of them. They talk with me and I never feel alone. So, my best experiences are always meeting wonderful people.
How about the worst one?
Besides having the bank cancel my credit card, the other bad experience was when one of the cowboys rear-ended his motorcycle into an SUV on our way to the border in Mexico. He was around 100 yards in front of me and I saw him bounce off the rear of that vehicle. My heart dropped with fear that he was seriously injured. He was riding a large Honda Goldwing, so the bike absorbed the impact and he escaped with minor injury. This occurred in Monterrey Mexico and my motorcycle was in serious need of new chain and sprockets. The bike was loosing power while it skipped links. I rode my broken bike alone 947 kilometers through various deserts with the fear of getting stranded. It all worked out well at the end because I was very lucky that a Triumph dealership opened their doors on a Sunday to service my bike in Fort Worth Texas.
Your favorite thing about overland motorcycle travel?
Overland motorcycle travel offers the excitement of seeing amazing places. The adventure of what the next town will offer is wonderful. The challenge of taking care of yourself and your bike makes it more appealing. The fresh air, the smells, the mountain views, meeting people and cultures, finding amazing roads that many can only dream of riding. I love riding to a new city and meeting the local people and asking them what their city/town has to offer. I always get wonderful feedback and ride to explore the places they tell me.
What is the longest you have gone without a shower?
Showering has not been a problem during all my years of riding my motorcycle. For some reason, people have always been willing to share their homes with me. A woman riding her motorcycle alone has an advantage, for some reason, people are more willing to help and offer what little they have. While in Central America, the people allowed me to stay in their homes. In the United States, Facebook followers offered their homes and when I showed up, a woman slept on the floor because she wanted me to get a good night rest to continue the next day. She also had a nice hot tub waiting for me to relax in the safety of her home. That is another example of how I feel that my rides are successful because of the people I meet along the way.
Did you have a supportive environment or did people tell you were crazy and that you would be better off at home worrying about a career and a family? How did that influence you (or did it)?
My family has always been supportive of my decisions to ride my motorcycle. They worry about my safety but know that I am always careful of my surroundings. When I tell people what I have done and/or planning a long distance ride, their response is, “are you crazy?” They are amazed at the distances I ride my motorcycle. They ask me if I get tired and do not believe that I can ride my motorcycle such long distances. Once I start riding, I wear my SPOT device and they track me and are fascinated that I am actually riding the distance.
What was your favorite place to visit?
I loved riding in some of the mountains in Costa Rica/Panama. We took the Pan American highway via the mountains and it offered spectacular mountain fresh jungle air with very little traffic. The boys did not like it because it was cold for them, but as a New England girl that is accustomed to that weather, I loved it. I also loved riding in the Black Hills in South Dakota, such beauty. Utah is another state that I plan to ride again but next time off road to experience the farms and seeing the horses running wild. Mexico is another country that I would love to visit again. The southern part of Mexico in the Oaxaca area has the most challenging beautiful mountain roads that I would love to ride again. The best part of Mexico was the fruit and fire-grilled corn on the side of the roads.
What will your first thought be when you had learned that you won a lottery?
Oh yes, the lottery, I am always dreaming that I will someday win it. My first thoughts are to quit my teaching job, donate some money to my school to build them a new computer room. I would like to become debt free and have enough money to ride my motorcycle around every coastline beach in the world for the rest of my life. I would also like to give my family some money.
If you were a god what would you do to the world?
As a Goddess, I would clean up our dirty polluted world to save endangered species. I would enable humans to be nice to each other and to our environment.
Who would win a battle between a ninja and a pirate?
Tricky question because it would determine on choice of weapons used. If it is a one-on-one battle, I bet on the ninja winning because of the fighting discipline he/she might have.
Anything else you would like to add?
Yes, I would like to say to the ladies, “get out and ride a motorcycle, follow your dreams, don’t allow others to tell you cannot do it.” Riding a motorcycle alone, even if it is a short distance in your own town is a fascinating experience of freedom. The motorcycle gives you an opportunity to create your own story when you go out and meet people. Feel the power the machine offers and enjoy the freedom.
Do you have a website or how can people contact you?
I have my own blog style website, at http://www.missrider.com/
I am also reachable via Twitter @MVELAZQUEZ57 and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/missrider.madeleine
My email address is mmv11 at verizon.net