Lona Marais and her KTM 990.
Lona Marais and her KTM 990.
Crossing the wide open spaces of South America on a BMW F800
Crossing the wide open spaces of South America on a BMW F800
Battling through a disaster zone in Namibia.
Battling through a disaster zone in Namibia.
With husband, mechanic and portable bike crane Roelof.
With husband, mechanic and portable bike crane Roelof.
Roadside repair in the middle of nowhere.
Roadside repair in the middle of nowhere.

Cape Town - We kicked off Women's Month with a feature on women involved in motorcycle racing at Killarney and have had a number of responses from women riders with their own stories to tell. This one is from adventure tourer Lona Marais, who says it's always heart-warming to hear about strong women out there.

But that applies just as much to her - and we'll let her tell it in her own words:

I’m not a motorcycle racer, but I've been an ‘adventure tourer’ since the early 1990’s, touring through Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi….most of southern Africa, many times, and Namibia by far the favourite.

A highlight was joining an expedition touring through South America (Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Bolivia) on BMW F800’s, crossing the Andes mountains in mid-winter, and riding in minus 14 degrees Celsius weather! Of course it’s not always easy – you fall hard in sand, mud, and tough off-road conditions – the weather can be extreme to either side – you sleep where you can find a spot – and I couldn’t do any of it without my long suffering husband always picking my heavy bike off the ground & dusting me off, haha. 

Favourite bike 

The most reliable, and my favourite bike of the four I've owned (Yamaha XT600, Cagiva Elefant 750, Africa Twin 750) was by far the KTM990. It was such a huge jump in power and ability from what I was used to, it took me a few months to really get the hang of it – even after more than 20 years of experience on a bike…… if you open the throttle just a bit too much on dirt roads it will throw you off pronto.

But once I adapted to it, my skill levels also took a huge jump, you have no choice but to concentrate hard and live fully in the moment, it’s the most fun you can have going from A to B!

Disaster zone

A highlight on the KTM was a trip from Cape Town to the Kaokoland in northern Namibia. The weather turned against us and we battled through a declared disaster zone, getting through rivers rising in minutes, through lots of mud, and ended up stranded at Epupa Falls for a few days.

It sounds like a holiday-gone-wrong, but on a motorbike it really was heaven! We have met and stayed friends not only with the locals on some of our trips, but with many adventure bikers from all over the world.

It’s great being a part of this special bunch, making every holiday an adventure, always having time to stop and help each other or discuss the condition of the roads, and staying in touch for who-knows what the future might bring.

* Are you a woman biker? We'd love to see you and your bike. Send your pictures to [email protected] and we might publish it.

IOL Motoring

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