Riding Round The World: Aida’s Big Adventure
BY EGLE GERULAITYTE
Meeting Aida Valenti is like being hit by a crazy energy bomb. She’s loud. She’s from Long Island.
She’s tiny, but she’s someone you really, really don’t want to piss off. And at the same time, she’s someone who’ll be the first to help you get your bike back up.
Aida is now on her way to riding round the world on her Suzuki DR650 with her friend and fellow New Yorker, Paul Arcaria. Having met Paul a year ago, Aida’s decided to join him on a three-year motorcycle adventure in the Americas, Australia, Asia, Europe and possibly, beyond.
Aida, do you feel ready to take on the world?
Are we ever really ready for anything huge in our lives to happen? I guess I’m as ready as I can be. Paul and I have listened and taken note of what others who have been on similar trips have done. We have taken as many precautions as we can. From tools to spare parts, and medications to camping gear, we have tried to prepare for everything. Unfortunately, it’s the one thing that we didn’t see coming that will probably happen.
Throughout the years I have been on several one, two or three-week road trips, so I’ve done some “mini-adventures”. The biggest difference is going to be the amount of time on the road and the type of road itself. Most of my trips have been on asphalt. I’m actually looking forward to the challenges that dirt will bring.
You’re leaving your 13 year-old daughter behind for two years. How are you coping with this?
Leaving my daughter is going to be the hardest part of this whole trip. I’m a pretty strong person both physically and mentally. I have the ability to push myself farther and farther in anything I do, but I’m not sure how I’ll get past not being around her. It will break my heart every day. I’m just thankful that we have computers and internet. I’m counting on that to get me through the tough times.
My daughter is staying with my husband (her father). She is very proud of the fact that I am pursuing a dream and supports my decision to go. Both she and my husband Chris will have chances to travel and meet me along the way, giving them the opportunity to see the world, too. My son Michael is now 23 and lives on his own.
As far as for leaving now as opposed to waiting, that is a question I’m asked quite often. I will miss my family regardless of when I leave. Leea is thirteen and clearly not a baby anymore, but at the same time not an adult either. She still needs her mother, but we always need our mothers in some measure. Life changes, things happen and we can’t control everything. I have the opportunity to go on this adventure now, so, I’m seizing the moment. I’m setting an example for both of my children to not give up on something just because it’s difficult.
Can’t help but ask the most common question RTW travelers are asked: how can you afford this?
I am paying for this trip with some money I’ve saved throughout the years. My piggy bank, so to speak. I also sold things that I didn’t use anymore: Camera equipment, old jewelry, one of my motorcycles. In order to keep costs low, I reached out and secured some product sponsorships. My partner and I will be camping and and couch-surfing as much as possible. The idea is to go out into the world to experience and explore. That is something you can’t do from inside a hotel room.
Do you have any anxieties about certain countries or regions of the world?
– The only anxiety I really have is of the Middle East and Africa. For the most part Paul and I will avoid those regions. As far as “bad” people are concerned, I live in New York, where there are assholes everywhere!
I am leaving a family behind to go on this adventure. There is only so much terrain we can cover in three years. I don’t want to rush everywhere, as that would take away from the whole experience. Just because we don’t plan on going there today doesn’t mean we won’t still go there. As you know, life on the road isn’t set in stone.
Is the traveling or the motorcycling a more important part for you?
– I love to travel and I love to be on two wheels, so they are equally important. The third element of this trip is going to be culture. To experience different cultures and immerse myself, is really going to be exciting. Sharing that part of the trip through my photography is going to tie it all together.
What’s your definition of adventure?
Adventure for me is pushing myself beyond my comfort zone. Seeing, feeling, tasting, listening, smelling, doing something new or different. Doing without overthinking. Going for it.
Do you expect this trip to change you as a rider, as a traveler, as a person?
I’m sure this trip will change me in many ways. I hope to become a better rider and learn more of the mechanical side of the bike. To be able to fix anything would be a plus. I hope to be able to relax a little. Living on Long Island I am always on the go. I would like to be able to look around and take things in a little more.
Follow Aida and Paul’s adventures: Life Unloaded RTW