Living her dream: motorcyclist Rosie Gabrielle rides solo around the world

Camera in hand, she does it with eyes wide open to new places, people and beautiful experiences

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A woman and a dog behind the motorcycle handlebars.

Rosie Gabrielle wasn’t entirely alone on her B.C. to California trip; her dog Winston also logged some 5,000 kilometres in 23 days on a 1983 Honda Shadow. — Rosie Gabrielle photo

Two years ago, Rosie Gabrielle was stuck in a rut—working long hours in a demanding career, and for what? Health problems that were going from bad to worse? So, she packed up her bags and started living her dream.

“I had been telling myself for years, all I want to do is ride a motorcycle around the world,” said Gabrielle.

Since then, she’s ridden solo through the Arab country of Oman, twice, and has gone from Vancouver, B.C., to Yosemite National Park, California.

Right now, she’s in Africa.

How it all began

Gabrielle was first exposed to two-wheeled travel while on a backpacking trip in Southeast Asia some 12 years ago. She ended up logging 12,000 kilometres across Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos on a motorcycle. 

“That sparked a love for riding and exploring,” she said.

The now 31-year-old has travelled extensively over the years while operating a photography business in the Middle East. Every summer, however, it’s British Columbia that beckons her back home.

“I love the riding near Nakusp,” she said,” and I’d love to explore more on my bike when I get home.”

At home in Delta, Gabrielle owns a 1983 Honda Shadow but overseas, she’s been on a variety of different bikes—from KLRs to Royal Enfields. Her dream bike?

“I would love a Triumph Scrambler,” she said. “I want to get one and ride it to South America.”

Rosie Gabrielle paragliding in Cape Town.

From cage diving with crocodiles to paragliding above Cape Town, South Africa, Rosie Gabrielle has taken in a variety of adventures. — Rosie Gabrielle photo

Alone but not lonely

Travelling solo, especially in a foreign country, strikes fear into the hearts of many, but Gabrielle has learned to trust her gut and go with the flow.

“There’s not one ounce of fear, anxiety or anything that would make me not want to do it alone,” she said. “And I’m not mechanically inclined. I know the basics, but I just learn through my experiences.”

For example, a fuel line that came apart while she was on her Canada to California trip forced her to backtrack to the nearest town. Unfortunately, the local mechanic's shop was already closed so she spent the night in a campground. Next to her site was a group of adventure riders from the Czech Republic. One of the riders happened to be a bike mechanic who helped Gabrielle get back on the road.

Every experience she’s had, even while travelling through the Middle East, has been positive.

A nomadic couple helping Rosie Gabrielle get her bike unstuck.

Rosie Gabrielle has met so many incredible people along the way—including this Bedouin couple who came to her aid when she got stuck in the sand in Oman. — Rosie Gabrielle photo

“People are just so intrigued and shocked that I’m on my own,” she said. “Their first reaction is to take care of me and ask me if I need anything . . . So I’ve never had any negative experiences over there as a female. In fact, I think it’s better because people are less afraid of you. They’re less intimidated because if a man approached the woman over there, they wouldn’t be so open.”

Gabrielle loves the scenery and said that each country has its own unique qualities, but it’s the people who leave a lasting impression on her heart.

“The riding community, especially in South Africa, has been pretty incredible,” she said.

The support from those who follow her on social media is overwhelming as well. Her beautifully self-timed photos and openhearted posts have inspired many to reach out.

Rosie Gabrielle sitting in front of a tent with her bike.

Rarely does she seek shelter in a hotel or a even a campground. Gabrielle prefers the freedom and solitude of wildland camping. — Rosie Gabrielle photo

The road ahead

Although planning is kept to a minimum, Gabrielle’s route through Africa will take her through 10 countries and it won’t be until August that she returns home to B.C. After that, who knows where the open road, with its adventures untold, will take her.

Looking back on her decision to leave the hustle and bustle of daily life behind, she said, “So many of us are not living for the moment. Time is really short, so I’m going to get as much out of this short little life as I can.”

Rosie Gabrielle motorcycling in Africa.

You can follow her journey on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram @rosiegabrielle. — Rosie Gabrielle photo

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