OFF-ROAD THERAPY (PART. 5/5)

Nota Bene:
This text was written by Annie, one of our road sisters who joined our first tour in Nepal, in 2022.
It was translated as close as possible from the original French text in order to keep the essence of her story.

Last Day: Bhaktapur

The concept of overcoming fear is quite familiar to me.

I connected with my adventurous soul back in 2009, at the dawn of my thirties, while backpacking for a year. At that time, nothing was holding me in my Parisian life. No interesting job, no husband, no children. I just wanted to break away from this mundane and gray daily routine to plunge into the unknown, the wilderness. My friends were getting married and having children, and there I was, leaving…

 

On September 7, 2009, I was taken by a strong emotion when setting foot on Australian soil. I had never felt again this  almost mystical feeling of freedom I had experienced back then wandering the streets of Adelaide. 

Would the motorcycle connect me with that lost feeling?

Would it help me shatter my internal limits and invite me to conquer an internal territory that was unknown to me until then?

In a way, yes, precisely at that moment.

off road therapy

Our last riding day. 

We leave Kathmandu to go to Bhaktapur. Before arriving at this historical and utterly unreal city, we rode mountain roads. During an ascent, there was a car coming down in the opposite direction. Trying to leave enough safety space, I slowed down too much, and as I stopped, I lost balance, and my motorcycle fell. 

Sushant came to me. He asked me to focus or else I had the option to get into the car. The journey is coming to an end, and it’s normal to make sure we are in condition to ride as much as at the beginning, as overconfidence at the end can be dangerous. I was embarrassed by my fall, but I told Sushant that I was ready to continue.

We arrived at a small village to enjoy delicious meat skewers. Alison was collecting the feelings of the road sisters about the journey at that moment. My mind was preoccupied because I didn’t want to end the trip with a fall. For this last trip leading us to Bhaktapur, I wanted to give my best. We left the small village, and after some mountainous roads, we were back on off-road trails.

 

I was determined. I gave my all at that moment… a bit out of revenge. I brushed off my fear to let my determined side express itself. I didn’t want to let go.

  

Sushant and Bishal were on the same motorcycle, Raju and Sandrine on another. We were following each other. While we were waiting for the rest of the team that we had lost sight of, the Nepalese team congratulated me with a small gesture. I was proud of myself, and I could brush off that vexing fall that I probably could have avoided.

At the same time, that day, I discovered a facet of my personality that was buried within me. I was so proud to park my motorcycle at the entrance of Bhaktapur. I felt serene, ready to discover the other world that awaited us at the end of the ramp, tracing its path to the entrance of one of the most beautiful wonders of the world.

off road therapy

Having travelled in Asia before, I was used to seeing Buddhist temples; however, Nepal is mainly Hindu. A religion I am not familiar with but I was in awe in front of the architectural and artistic remnants of Bhaktapur. This city was founded in the 12th century and had its glory days in the 14th and 16th centuries. The Durbar Square, brimming with remnants from another world, is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

 

While I was being captivated by the beauty of its monuments, the revving of motorcycles enlivened the city, and they weren’t ours. Motorcyclists were parading in front of us, waking up our ears with honks to accentuate their presence. Were they celebrating the festival of two wheels? Once again, we stopped where life was at its peak, encouraging this joyful procession with cheers and applause. What a stroke of luck to have had such a beautiful end to the trip!

A memorable souvenir!

And God created women…

I have long loved the sound of my suitcase wheels on the pavement because it meant a new start for me. This time, it was replaced by motorcycle revving. After travelling alone or in pairs with a backpack for a long time, I felt that this way of traveling was coming to an end and that I needed something new. 

Alison, the creator of this adventure, brought this renewal to me.

She founded FreeW in 2020, to support women’s emancipation through motorcycling worldwide. The concept of the journey resonated with me. A trip off the beaten path for adventurous women seeking to reconnect with themselves and their sisterhood. 

My instinct told me, “Go for it,'” while my reason said, “Are you sure?”.

I preferred to follow my instinct…

 

off road therapy

Through this journey, we were proud to have contributed to the development of three social organizations: 7 Women, Community Homestay, and Nepal’s Women’s International Motorcycle Association. We creates a significant impact and a strong social message, both for the Nepalese communities and the road sisters.

It must be said that the theme ‘Meet the women of Nepal’ is a celebration of femininity worldwide, and the motorcycle, a fantastic vehicle to reveal femininities seeking to express themselves. 

A woman on a motorcycle inevitably intrigues in a predominantly male environment.

So, a group of women on motorcycles…

Don’t even mention it.

  

In my opinion, it’s this rarity that allows femininity to express itself. For example, I feel more ‘feminine’ while riding a motorcycle than wearing a pair of high heels and a skirt at a party. It’s strange, indeed, but that’s how it is. The motorcycle has always been a symbol of freedom, and freedom, to me, is being as liberated as possible from social norms. Choosing not to conform at all costs to what society expects of us in order to chart one’s own path.

For me, the motorcycle is the definition of that chosen freedom.

Being a female motorcyclist today is a nice defiance against reducing and discriminatory social codes.

The sisterhood transmitted by Alison throughout this journey is not a reaction to the predominantly male group of bikers but a genuine celebration of feminine essences.

Epilogue

Life is short.

Let’s make the most of every moment to fulfill our dreams.

Certainly, these are words we hear all the time, and at the same time, how many people actually take action to dig in what they have in their hearts?

I achieved one of my dreams, which was to travel on a motorcycle off-road. During this trip, I noticed that I quite liked the mud, the rocks, the dust, and the little rivers. Off-roading provided me with emotions and sensations that I had never felt before on a motorcycle. On these terrains, the difficulty is managed meter by meter and constitutes a fantastic analogy with my situation.

When we are faced with a challenge in life, we must learn to manage the difficulty day by day to get through it because it’s impossible to anticipate the future. Then, one day when we look back on the path we have travelled, we often realize that our imagination is only a projection of our deepest fears and that all the situations we anticipated in our minds rarely happen in reality.

So, how many people have refused to fulfill their dreams in life, lulled and deceived by their fear?

I know a lot…

off road therapy

One day, a friend told me, “I don’t like it when you say the word cancer; it’s ugly, can’t you find another term?”

Without thinking, I told him: “Yes… seashell.” My family and friends had all naturally adopted this word. It was very touching. I especially noticed that it could help to lighten the seriousness of the illness. I still don’t know why the word ‘seashell’ came to my mind so instinctively. All I know is that seashells produce pearls.

 

This trip in Nepal is definitely one of the pearls that this ‘seashell’ has created.

 

 

Annie