Small fortune: Interview with Lois Pryce of Bike Magazine

Lois “on the loose” Pryce is a legend in the adventure motorbiking world. She’s biked around the world, authored 3 books, writes an adventure travel column for Bike Magazine (UK), and has fabulous red hair. Lois caught wind of my big adventures on little bikes, and asked to interview me for the June 2019 issue of Bike. The story is not online so I’ll share the interview here.

Small Fortune

Some might say we make our own luck in this world. Ulrike Rodrigues, however, has learned Honda’s diminutive Cub improves your chances…

Where are you right now?
I’m home in Vancouver, staring at maps.

You’ve done some big rides on a very small bike! Tell us more…
Because the bikes were so small and I think of myself as a novice, my goal for both trips was to go slow on quiet back roads during the day, and aim for natural parks to camp in at night.

In 2014 I loaded my 100cc Symba Honda Cub with camping gear and headed east out of Vancouver to a Horizons Unlimited meet-up in the mountain village of Nakusp, British Columbia. That was 2000km over three weeks. It cost less than $60CAD in fuel (4-litre tank) for the entire trip.

In 2017 I flew to Australia and bought a 1997 250cc Honda Rebel on Gumtree. I borrowed some camping gear and pointed the bike towards the south coast and the Great Ocean Road. After Melbourne, I rode into the Grampians, along the Murray River, through a few vineyards, and then back into Adelaide. I sold the bike to another woman and returned to Vancouver. That was 3250km over four weeks.

 

Why did you choose to ride a Honda Cub for your Canada trip? What are the upsides and downsides of using such a small bike in a big country!? 
First, I wanted a small bike that I—as a shorter, newer rider—would feel totally confidant on. I also wanted a bike that is versatile, and the Honda Cub has that legacy—people around the world ride a Cub weighed down with all kinds of loads and on all kinds of road surfaces. Finally, Charley Boorman filled a Cub with chip grease and dropped it off a building and–it still ran. That is one tough, novice-friendly, travel-ready motorbike!

Hilariously, the bike is also a dude-magnet. Grizzled Harley Davidson riders have literally run up to me and shouted, “I love your bike!” On my BC tour, a Harley biker invited me and my little Cub to a big Harley camp-out jamboree complete with a gang, er, clubhouse.

Had you ever done anything like this before?
I’m a car-free bicycle commuter and traveller. I came to the motorcycle as a cyclist, not a car driver.

My first bike was a 1981 Honda CB400 but it was too big. Not horsepower, but seat height. I was terrified each time I got on it. Years later, I heard the legendary Honda Cub was re-issued as a Symba. I found one on Craigslist and riding this little bike really boosted my confidence. And once my fear of the machine itself faded, I could focus on the joy and ease of the ride. And bonus: my street smarts from riding a bicycle all those years transferred magically to the motorcycle.

My inspiration for the trips was: if I can load a bunch of camping gear on a bicycle and travel the world with leg power, it should be even easier on a bike with horsepower. I guess for me, curiosity and stubbornness are the real source of power.

What was the best moment of your journey?
Being alone and absolutely blissed-out in nature usually does it. In Australia, I spent a weekend in the bush of Little Desert National Park. I walked, breathed, watched, listened, inhaled, and sipped wine. I took it all in with delight and all by myself. And then I laughed at myself for being such a geek.

Later people asked me, “But weren’t you afraid of the spiders and snakes?!”
“Hell no!” I replied. “In Canada we have cougars and bears.”

And the worst?
Being a woman in an empty campground when a strange man decides to park right next to you. Dropping your fully-loaded bike on a deserted forestry road. And yet overcoming and resolving solo travel’s challenges becomes the most satisfying moments on a trip.

What have you learned from your trip?
Ride side roads, stock up on village pies, select a campsite near a couple of friendly caravan retirees, sip a cold beer as you put up your tent; and then go say hi.

Find out about Ulrike’s adventures here:
Go to ulrike.ca/blogs for A solo moto-camping adventure in Australia, Symba the Honda Cub Travels, and more travelogues about two-wheeled adventure.

June 2019 issue of Bike Magazine (UK) with images and text of the Lois Pryce interview.

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