Halfway around the world, CNN recently followed the story of a young single Pakistani woman who heard the call of the road. Braving a culture that frowned on such things, twenty-one year old Zenith Irfan took a solo bike journey on the back roads for 3200 kilometers, finding inspiration within herself and planting it in others. Turns out, there’s an American version of her, and I was fortunate enough to meet her.
On a recent road trip in Utah, I had a schedule that required a conference call. I’d already planned to be on the road and would be in an area with few options for internet coverage. However, I found a MacDonald’s restaurant realizing this would be a good option to use their Wi-Fi / internet. I arrived early, ordered a coffee and set up my mobile shop at window table away from the hustle and bustle of the front counter.
I was a few minutes into the call when a biker rolled into the parking space outside my window. As the helmet came off the rider I smiled. It was an attractive young woman who seemed wonderfully out-of-place on that black and chrome machine. Alone on the road, no less!
After she had come in and settled into a nearby table, I put my conference call on mute and snuck away to say hello. We exchanged a few words, smiles, and our contact details. I asked her permission to snap a few photos and if she’d mind if I did an article about her. She kindly approved, and a couple of weeks later, we connected again as she shared her story .
At one time I too was a biker and rode a Virago 920. Seeing her and reading her story whispered the call of the open road in my ear again. For anyone, her story is inspiring. Let it remind you that there are no boundaries, only the ones you allow to contain you. I hope you enjoy her story. May it resonate within you and awaken new possibilities.
Amanda Schik: Motorcycles, Passion, and Gratitude
I fell in love with motorcycles years ago before I even really knew what they were. I loved the chrome on the pipes, the sound of the exhaust, the smell and the look of old classic motorcycles that ran the streets of Toronto (Ontario, Canada – where I’m from) in the summer months.
I never thought it was possible for me though as I always thought motorcycles were for boys and men, and not a small girl like myself. I quickly abandoned the dream and continued with my life working as an actor for film and television while bartending on the side. My boyfriend at the time also did not endorse my motorcycle dreams.
Everything changed when one of my close friends bought a Royal Enfield, a 500 cc classic motorcycle, and took me for a ride on it the very same night he got it. Everything about the bike felt instinctual to me. The way it moved, the connection with the road, the way it sounded. I fell in love with the exhilarating sensation of riding a motorcycle. Within a week, I had my license, and I saved up slowly until I could buy my first bike.
I remember the first time I rode my motorcycle. I was scared, unsure of myself, and yet I wanted so badly to learn how to shift gears, work the clutch, and roll the throttle. That motorcycle was more than just a bike to me. It was a physical manifestation of my goals and dreams; a reminder that even the seemingly impossible is possible.
The Four Corners of the United States
I’ve done a ton of long distance trips on my motorcycle since then. On my most recent road trip, I rode solo through the Four Corners of the United States. From San Francisco through Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona totalling 2,800 miles.
With each hundred miles I put on the odometer; I grew in confidence and empowerment. I grew to trust my instincts, impulses, and my gut. And perhaps most importantly my sense of faith grew.
My trip was not without challenges. I rode through storms in Utah and an extreme heat wave in Arizona where I almost passed out from heat and fatigue on my motorcycle on the freeway.
There were challenges that were both physical and mental that I had to overcome on my trip, and being completely alone forces you to be the best version of yourself…the problem-solving, resourceful self and not the panicked or frightened self.
On my trip, I dropped my motorcycle and snapped off the clutch lever which was necessary for shifting gears and operating the bike. I was in the middle of a desert with no resources for about a hundred miles out. I couldn’t afford a tow and didn’t want to end my adventure. I was lucky enough to meet a fellow motorcycle rider who offered to hitch me a ride to the nearest town. I found a welder who fixed my broken clutch, and within the day, my bike and I were on our way.
It’s situations like this that made me grow even more grateful for my life, for people that I meet, and the willingness of others to help me. My faith in humanity and the general good has definitely been strengthened. I have never felt more alive, more blessed, and more invigorated by life than I have since riding motorcycles. Motorcycles have changed me, and I live my life now with even more passion and gratitude than I ever have before.
Blog by Linda Allen “Ms. Career Girl”; Photos by Amanda Schik
An afterthought from Linda: Ready for a solo bike journey?
Even if you’re not thinking you’d like to have a similar adventure, there’s a great message here. Everywhere we go, we brush with so many untold stories. Reaching out and connecting with those we meet on our path enriches both us and them. Let’s make this a summer of new connections.