Got 2 Go

Born and raised in Munich, Lea Rieck was an editor of an architecture, art and design magazine. Now she is riding the world with Cleo, her Triumph Tiger 800 XCA.

Two and a half years ago Lea got her motorcycle license. When she was little her father used to tell her the stories of the time he travelled through Australia on his motorcycle, way back in the 1970’s. She grew up, curious about his stories. When she grew older she wondered if she also would become so bike-addicted. And yes, she did! And how. 

Although she had always been an enthusiastic traveller, her new passion for motorbikes fire-started the idea of a world trip.

“In the beginning it was only an idea. I thought it would be very nice to go on a journey like this at least once in a lifetime. But as the months passed it became more and more obvious that now was the right time for me to realise this dream and not in a few years.”

“I still had lots of doubts though. What if my saved money would not be enough to finance this trip? What if something unpredictable happened? What about my parents, my friends and my life at home? I could really get my mind around it. But all of a sudden I decided: I’ll do it. And from then on my doubts disappeared.”

Lea decided to travel, four months ago. She quit everything, said goodbye to everyone and embarked on a one-year round world trip. 

Making the right decision wasn’t her biggest challenge. What gave her the headaches were the paperwork and bureaucracy she had to deal with before taking off. Quitting contracts and insurances and applying for visas and permits for Asia. “A real pain in the *** ” she says.

Now she has been riding all the way from Germany overland to Myanmar, crossing Turkey, Georgia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kirgizstan, Pakistan, India and Nepal. And apart from a big crash at 50 km/h that destroyed her windshield, bent the complete handlebar and probably gave her a small concussion and two days in bed, the trip has been very pleasurable; she has never doubted her decision to leave, not even for a second.

“After fixing Cleo I was feeling a lot better myself too.”

She enjoys traveling alone and has been doing so for many years. But she also enjoys joining likeminded people. Her trip has been a mixture of solo and group travelling; in some countries, like Myanmar and China, you are not allowed to enter without a guide.

“For those countries I joined forces with other overland travellers; we shared costs because it’s just too expensive to do it alone.”

When travelling she prefers the countryside and nature to city life. She believes that the only thing that can compete with breath-taking views is to meet locals, see their curiosity and smiles. When asked to recommend a country or a place, she sighs.

“That’s really hard. They are all so different and all worth discovering. Uzbekistan for it’s beautiful ancient cities, Kirgizstan for it’s lush green mountains, Pakistan for it’s breath-taking nature, India for it’s lively and colourful culture, Myanmar for it’s temples and pagodas. And, of course, in every country you meet very friendly locals.”

“Pamir Highway in Tajikistan and Karakorum Highway in Pakistan were my favourite areas thus far. In the Pamir mountains you find a lot of nice gravel and off-road tracks, situated at an altitude of 4.000 meters; Karakorum Highway is at least in some stretches perfectly paved and makes traveling as comfortable as beautiful. Both mountain ranges are just breath-taking – otherworldly.”

Lea isn’t inspired by anyone. She believes that everybody has to find his or her own way to travel. But she advises you to read about other people’s experiences as it might come in handy when planning a trip of this magnitude.

And what can we learn from her experience already?

“Pack less. I already sent home some of my stuff two times because I just did not use it. You don’t need much to go around the world on a bike as you are mostly wearing your same motorcycle suit and boots every day. And I would probably reconsider my route. These days it gets more and more difficult to enter countries like Thailand.”

“And I want to encourage other female riders not to be scared of traveling alone and show that it is very possible to do a trip like this even though you are a woman. The most important thing is to always listen to your gut feeling. Most people are very helpful and will be even more protective when they realise that you are a woman traveling all by yourself. Don’t fear traveling alone. It will bring you to places and develop your personality in ways that you will never have expected.”

Lea is now in Australia. From there she will jump to South America and ride all the way up to the USA.

Keep on following her journey here.

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