Overland Rider Chloe Granger: From The Jungles of Cambodia To Riding The Americas

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Before I start with Chloe’s interview I want to post the last thing she wrote, which I believe 100% and wish the whole world followed it. If you do nothing else but read this paragraph and check out some of her awesome photos,(or her blog at Buenos Aries to Vancouver) you are already ahead of the game. Let her inspire you the way she inspired me! (The drawback of this series, it makes me want to jump back on a motorcycle and ride away again!)

Human beings are capable of doing much more than we often give ourselves credit for. When planning a trip, think big. Or, at least as big as you are able to financially. Most people we have met who have taken a 6 month or even a year’s sabbatical, say they wish they had longer. The best thing we did was to quit our jobs and therefore not have the pressure of returning to work looming over us all the time.  People are their own bosses – you can do anything if you put your mind to it – if something inspires you and you’d like to try your hand at it, don’t be put off by your own mundane excuses like, ‘I don’t know how’, ‘I have a mortgage’, ‘I can’t leave my job’, etc etc. Everything can be overcome with a little effort. We didn’t know how to ride motorbikes, so we learned. We have a house and a mortgage, so we rented the house out to cover the mortgage. We had great jobs and were quite high up on the career ladder, but we quit because this was a once in a life time opportunity. The career will still be there when you get back, and six months/ one year or even two years off is nothing in a lifetime.

Now onto the interview!

When did you start riding a bike?

We decided we wanted to travel on motorbikes before we had our bike licenses, so obviously part of our ‘preparation’ was to take lessons and pass our tests. Chris got his license six months before we left, and I got mine four months before we left. After that, it was learning on the road!

How did you decide to go on an overland motorcycle trip?

For our honeymoon the year before, we went to Cambodia. Chris had stumbled upon a 3-day guided tour of the jungle on motorbikes and somehow persuaded me that this would be a good idea. A few months before the wedding, we went on a one-day bike training course (CBT). Three months later I was struggling to remember how to change gear on a Honda 250, in the middle of the jungle, knee deep in mud trying not to drop the damn thing every 30 seconds. At the time, it seemed it was one of the worst things Chris could have ever put me through, but it was also one of the best things I had ever done! Once we got home, we started planning our ‘big trip’, and from then on, motorcycles seemed the most inspiring mode of transport.

What advice would you give a newbie rider planning on their first trip?

Do your research into bike travel, but don’t get bogged down with too much technicality. On the road, people are amazingly helpful. You don’t need to carry every single possible spare part with you, nor do you need a whole garage worth of tools. Keep it simple. If you have a problem on the road, people will stop and help you. Mechanics and welders are aplenty, even in the smallest of villages because this is how they live, repairing and fixing things themselves.
Don’t plan too much because it will undoubtedly change. The best thing to be is flexible and easy. This goes for everything from the route, down to what to pack. The only thing that you need to be strict about is all your documentation for yourself and the bike – get copies laminated, and keep them safe. Everything else is easy!

Your favorite thing about overland motorcycle travel?

By far and away the best thing about motorcycle travelling is that you can go anywhere, anytime, anyhow. Our inspiration was definitely our 3-day tour in Cambodia – we were following cattle tracks through the jungle to long-lost temples and remote villages that not even a 4-wheel drive would have gotten to. Now, being on our current Americas trip, we have obviously encountered hundreds of backpackers who have to rely on buses or hitchhiking, who have to stick to prescribed routes and times, and who generally miss the best bits because they are sleeping on a long-haul coach. On a motorcycle you are never sleeping while travelling, (at least I hope not!), so you are always looking around you to appreciate the scenery and you can stop to admire the view wherever and whenever you want. We generally stay off the main ‘Gringo Trail’ and the Pan American Highway, instead opting for the smaller roads through villages and countryside. This way you get a much better feel for the country you are travelling through, and not just the big cities and tarmac between.

What is the longest you have gone without a shower?

Probably about four or five days…. You really appreciate it once you get one though!

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)?

At first my family was a bit concerned about the big career break, and were also worried about us riding motorcycles, but after they realized we were really serious about it, they were very supportive. Friends thought we were a little bit crazy – wasn’t it time to settle down and have families?! – but again, they all thought it was a great thing that we were doing!  My boss and some clients were less than supportive, calling our trip ‘Career Suicide’. The only influence this had on me was to make me more determined than ever to go through with it and prove them wrong!

Which ancient place would you like to go?

We absolutely loved Cambodia and all its lost temples. Similarly, on this trip, we are looking forward to Guatemala and Belize for their Mayan complexes hidden in the jungle. After this trip, I would love to spend more time in Asia – Cambodia (again!), Laos, Thailand, China. There is so much to explore and so many ancient sites that are relatively undiscovered over there, unlike South America which we have found to be much more ‘touristy’ than we previously imagined!

Who would win a battle between a ninja and a pirate?

Definitely the pirate! Pirates are so much more adventurous, unpredictable and exciting! Ninjas are too straight for my liking!

You can follow Chloe and Chris over at Buenos Aries to Vancouver!

You are a female overland motorcycle traveller? You have an interesting story to tell? You want to inspire other travellers? This is your chance. Please drop us an email or leave a comment, we have a series of questions that we would send you to fill out, and of course links, pictures, etc. are welcome! Thanks and safe travels!

About Sherrie

Sherrie was born and raised in Newfoundland, has her home base in Germany, and at any given time can be found just about anywhere in the world. Addicted to books, travel, chocolate and motorcycles, a perfect day for her is riding her bike followed by drinking good coffee and reading a good book or writing one.

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