Fear of the unknown is the biggest enemy of adventure according to Lois Pryce, who has twice ridden a motorbike across Iran by herself.
She’s also made solo trips from Alaska to the southernmost town in the world, at the tip of Argentina and a 10,000 km journey across the Sahara through Africa.
Pryce says her travels have taught her that everything works out in the end. “It made me realise that a lot of the fear we about entering the unknown or leaving our comfort zones or going to these places that sound scary places like Iran or Colombia or El Salvador, when you get there it’s just people.”
Pryce has written books about her travels and started the Adventure Travel Film Festival.
It all started in 2003 when she gave up her job in the music department of the BBC. “It could have been the best job in the world but I just wanted to get out. I can’t blame the BBC it was just that I would stare out the window and wish I was somewhere else.”
When she set off on her first adventure, she left the GPS and gadgets at home. “If you have a GPS you look at the screen in front of you and know where you are meant to be all the time,” Pryce says. “Some of the most fun experiences happen when you get lost and you have to ask people for directions”.
The start of her first solo motorbike journey from Alaska to Argentina did not go smoothly. Mounties in Canada stopped her and discovered she had no insurance and impounded her bike. “Two weeks into my grand adventure and I’m standing there paying a large amount of money to get my bike back.”
In Mexico, Pryce discovered the value of having a fake wedding ring as a woman travelling alone when she came across a protest that blocked the road. “I said my husband was waiting for me on the other side and we were on our honeymoon” Pryce says. “They got teary eyed and said ‘go on let her through.”
Despite the confidence from talking her way around roadblocks in Mexico and adventures in Africa, Pryce says she was nervous about making a solo motorbike trip across Iran. Once she got there, that all melted away.
“I realised the government and the people are two completely separate entities. There were so excited to see me and so welcoming. You can’t move for people offering you tea and food and places to stay.”
At one point, a truck tried to run her off the road.
“The drivers jumped out of the truck and I could see they were carrying bags of fruit. They were chasing me for miles to give me fruit.”
Pryce says traveling alone on a motorbike will yield many lessons. Among them, vulnerability makes you stronger. “We are conditioned to feel that people are out to get us and that’s just not the case at all”.
Listen to Lois Pryce talk to Jesse Mulligan about her adventures.