Weekly Feature: Janneke Visser of Gravel for Breakfast
I am Dutch, 33 years old and during my office life I work as a Packaging Designer. I love to go for a run or do a sweaty workout in the gym. Holidays only last a couple of weeks which can make it impossible to do all the things you want to do. So, I parked all that for a 7 month sabbatical to take off on an epic overland journey from Amsterdam to Kathmandu.
I am riding a 20 year old iconic motorbike, the Honda Africa Twin. Not only because of its indestructible character, but mostly because I love the round headlights that gives it his retro look.
I am taking this adventure together with my boyfriend, because I learned that sharing experiences is important for me. Sharing tough moments and laughing together with the guy I love, is a reason that makes this journey so rewarding.
Who or what inspired you to choose independent vehicle travel as your mode or transportation?
I never really cared much about motorcycles, or riders! To me it was all the same and fitted the unhealthy, leather-ish and rough character that I created in my mind. Until I met my boyfriend. Yes, he was also the ‘go fast, go Rossi’ type, but he did like to travel too, and he was a true gentlemen! After a two-up vacation, we figured out we could literally go anywhere on a motorbike! Exploring the more remote parts of the world suddenly becomes accessible, and really cool!
I only had to get my license.
Dig deeper in the adventure riders culture I learned that there is a quite a big world I did not know about. And it doesn’t have to be bulky or full of leather, it is possible to create my own style.
Everyone always asks a traveler what their favourite country is. Do you have a favourite country? If not, what is a place that is special to you?
The Pamirs in Tajikistan are something special. Getting to the country by land is already a challenge itself. When you arrive, the majestic feeling of those mountains is overwhelming, you feel so small. Driving along the Afghanistan border taught me the realization of ‘satisfriction’.
What is your favourite quote?
It is not a quote, but I love to write our own created word at this place: Satisfriction. 'A satisfying experience, in hindsight, created by significant moments of friction’. It phrases exactly how I feel sometimes. We encountered this when we rode the Wakhan Valley, along the Afghanistan border. Snow in our faces, will the bike last, what to expect at the end of this track, don’t forget to enjoy, why am I doing this?! Only later to find out that these moments turned into such a satisfying experience.
I’m a badass woman because ....
I just did it!
What do you think is the biggest challenge for women overlanders?
I only experienced this with my boyfriend on my side, so maybe it is different when you are a solo traveler. In some countries I passed, I got pretty much ignored. Directions, petrol, negotiations, small talk, I couldn’t make it work. People looked right passed me and started to talk to my boyfriend, perhaps because that is the respectful thing to do in their culture. I appreciate that every culture has different norms and values, but sometimes you just want it all to go away and join the conversation.
Traveling has taught me ....
That traveling is a privilege. I am lucky to be here on my motorbike, sleep and eat where and what I want. To be able to experience that the world is bigger than the street I sit and sell my fruits. And yes, I do need to work on my anger management if somethings work out other as planned.
Overlanding sucks sometimes because...
Everything is possible, but nothing goes as planned. You can Excel the shit out every possible situation, but you know it will probably go different when the moment is there.
What is a simple life hack that you’ve discovered while on the road?
I spend several days thinking about this question, but honestly, I think I geared up too good!