The Rider

“Lorraine’s Way Round” by Leta Bernhoeft Aug 2011

(I’ve included this article in my blog as I think Leta did a fantastic job  writing it. )

Growing up in South Africa, Lorraine learnt to ride road bikes but stopped once she could afford a car. 20 years on, and living in Switzerland, she’s back on bikes and has completed the trip of a lifetime…

Ideas for her adventure blossomed in November 2009 when backpacking Peru, after reading Lois Pryce’s “Lois on the loose” (Pryce took a solo trip from Alaska to Ushuaia on her Yamaha.) Already a passionate traveller, Lorraine could now think of no better way to see the world than by bike; her ambitious plan was already beginning to take shape. Although still only the beginnings of an idea, by December 2010 Lorraine was certain she still wanted to give it a try, or in her words: “damn, I really do want to start adventure motorcycling!”

Motorbike licence still valid, she could jump straight in with no worries about passing a modern bike test (a good job as your average cruiser and tar roads just don’t cut it for Lorraine, they’re no way adventurous enough!) Instead she decided to take an off-road motorbike course to see if she liked it, since her idea of adventure motorcycling was riding totally off the beaten track. 30 minutes in and Lorraine was hooked: “I thought, I haven’t had this much fun since I first learnt to snowboard 7 years ago- and I really love snowboarding” a passion for off-road riding had truly begun.

Back in South Africa, she took a 5 day adventure motorcycling course, covering both the theory and practical side of motorcycle travelling. After those 5 days, her heart was set on taking a trans- continent trip.  On returning to Switzerland, Lorraine discussed taking 6 months unpaid leave in order to take the trip with her boss, “He agreed to it and said he thinks everyone should take a career break at some point in their life: I obviously have a great boss!”

So she started researching and learning as much as she could about adventure motorcycling: reading books, trawling the internet and most importantly speaking to people who had already had a go. From this she began to work out just what it was she wanted to do and how to go about doing it. Lorraine decided that alongside planning she wanted to carry on doing some trail riding so as to improve her off-road skills.

Little did she know that this would become almost as big a focus as her trans- continent trip…

So what’s up next for Lorraine? Other than taking as many trail riding trips as she can possibly afford and as many weekend road trips on her KLR, her plans are moving ahead for the next ambitious trans- continent trip.

Lorraine’s love of biking is as strong as ever and for her, age is in no way a limitation (now in 2024 at 54) “Yes, it may be a little harder to pick up a fallen bike, but you learn the technique  and getting the right bike is really important, just a little bit of research and a number of test rides soon helped me make up my mind. I honestly think that if I can do this anyone can, as long as they have some adventurous spirit tucked inside them that wants to come out.”

Proof that all it takes is a bit of ambition and a lot of drive.