EGLE GERULAITYTE Riding round the world two-up, with little previous motorcycling experience and no fixed return date?Yes, please: Deborah and Daryl, an adventurous couple from Malta, have been on the road for over five months now traveling from Europe to Australia on their bike.
We caught up with Deborah in India and had a chat about the nomad life, being a pillion, and daring to explore.
I confess, I’ve never interviewed anyone from Malta! 🙂 Tell me a bit about your country?
Malta is a very small sunny island in the Mediterranean Sea with a population of around half a million people. Despite its size, it is a beautiful country rich in history, culture and wonderful landscape. The biker community is special in Malta. We have this tradition of morning Sunday rides and all the bikers meet up in mainly two places. You see all kinds of people, both men and women with all types of bikes – and it’s such an amazing vibe. I used to love going out with Daryl and see hundreds of bikes in one place, everyone drinking a cuppa or a beer and having a laugh.
Your blog is called Wild Feathers. What does it mean?
We came up with this name over two bottles of wine! Wild resembles the free spirit beings that we are…and how we started to plan this trip after such a short time of getting to know each other. A feather for both of us means freedom and that’s how we joined the two words to give the adventure a name.
You’ve ridden across Europe and Asia now. What has been the most challenging so far?
This kind of trip presents various daily challenges that we must overcome, even since as a couple, we are spending continuous days and nights together. But if I had to choose one major challenge on the road, it would be riding the Shimshal valley in the north of Pakistan. We experienced narrow winding off roads, deep sand, ice and loose gravel.
After two hours of riding in, I got a weak moment and looking at the heights next to me freaked me out. For a moment, I was caught up in between succumbing to my fears and beg Daryl to turn back and wanting to hang in there, to support Daryl in this adrenaline thumping adventure, so that we complete this together. As an adventurer, I had promised myself that I would never allow myself to settle in a comfort zone and I got my shit together and we got to the village after 6 hours of riding.
Riding back out, at one point, I was in ice water up to my knees, to help Daryl pick the bike up after it slipped because of all the ice. In the end – this was one of the most amazing experiences we’ve been through so far.
Do you ever feel tempted to get your own bike?
This passion that I am growing towards riding is new to me. Before I met Daryl, I had never got on a big bike and after only 2 months of dating, he had shared this big dream with me of riding from home to Australia on two wheels and I had immediately told him that I would happily join him anytime. It didn’t take long after we left before I wanted to start riding myself and the only thing that is keeping me at this point is money, logistics and the trip itself. We have decided to make this happen as soon as the time is right. Until then, I’ll continue learning as much as I can as a happy pillion.
Some pillions I’ve interviewed have said that they sometimes felt like other women riders look down on them in a sense. Have you ever experienced this “pillion prejudice”?
I have felt it slightly once, but to be honest, it is not something that I am conscious of or that affects me. We are a team, and as long as I make the most of my role – it is enough. Being a pillion on such an adventure is not about hopping on the bike and simply enjoying the ride. It requires a different kind of strength and I feel it is my duty to support Daryl in whatever the scenario. If I can be a second pair of eyes on the road, I try my best to do so…if we get stuck somewhere, my help counts and if Daryl is fixing something with the bike, even though all of this is new to me, I am the extra pair of hands when he needs them.
When we were riding through the Maranjab desert in Iran, he was riding through a small dune and since the bike was fully loaded, I got off, so he can manage it easier. At one point through the Bluetooth, I heard him shouting for my help and I had to somehow lift the bike because his foot was twisted and stuck under the pannier. There was no one around and I had to gather my strength and just do it.
Who writes the Wild Feathers blog – you or Daryl?
We manage the blog and our Social Media pages together. I am a Marketing Exec by profession and have started experimenting with video editing, and Daryl is a photographer and we are each other’s biggest supporters and critics. I love writing and I have decided to share my true offhand experience with all the thoughts and emotions I go through on the road. I was very happy when I had shared my first diary post expressing my feelings as a woman on the road and had got amazing response from various women around the world.
How is being on a motorcycle different than backpacking?
I used to love backpacking but to be honest, after experiencing the bike, even though its more challenging, I cannot imagine travelling in any other way. The places you end up riding through in nature and remote villages, the feeling that you get on an open road, the conversations that we have whilst riding – it is hard to explain in words how special this has become for me.
What happens once you get to Australia?
Once we get to Australia, our main aim will be working hard to earn good money to make up for our expenditure as well as sustain our future travels. Moreover, Australia is amazing, and we look forward to continuing exploring there as well!
Before you left, what was your biggest fear or anxiety? Did it turn out to be true on the road?
I never dreaded anything in particular. It was a big mix of curiosity and excitement of embarking on such an adventure. I was also curious about how going through this would change and build me as a person and us as a couple. And so far, I can honestly say that it has been what I had imagined – many different moments; challenges, arguments, laughs, good times that make it a truly worthwhile experience. This is helping me grow…travelling broadens your perspective in many ways and that is what matters the most.
Follow Deb and Daryl on their journey round the world two-up: Wild Feathers