Grace McDonald – BikeHedonia Interview

Many of us have dreamed of taking our motorcycle (or car, or plane) and simply leaving to explore the world. At the age of 28, Grace McDonald did just that. In February 2017 she resigned from her career as a corporate lawyer and set off from Sydney, Australia, with a motorcycle, a dream and very little else.

Tell us how did you get into motorcycling?

When I was a child when had small motorbikes to ride around my parents’ 200 acre property, but my family saw motorcycles more as a (hazardous) means of transport than a passion. At the age of 23 I got my road licence and commenced a beautiful obsession with speed, motorcycles and freedom.

What made you decide to ride around the world?

I spent ten years becoming a corporate lawyer in Sydney, and quickly discovered that this was not the way to a happy life. Eventually I reached the end of my tether and decided that I just wanted to ride away on my motorcycle and not come back. Six months later I’d made that a reality as I rode out of town on my KTM 690 Enduro with all my worldly possessions strapped to the back.

Did you have a schedule?

I had no schedule; but I thought that I would ride to Paris from Australia and that it would take me 18 months. I was completely wrong. Along the way, I fell in love with people and places; someone would invite me to take a side trip and I’d always say yes; someone would recommend meeting a person or seeing a place two or three thousand kilometres away, and I’d always go. If you plan your trip and keep on schedule, you will only discover the things you already imagined.

How long have you been on the road now? Do you get tired?

It’s been nearly five and half years on the road and yes, you do get tired sometimes. But that’s the beauty of not being on a schedule. You can stop and rest and take in your surroundings whenever you need. I spent so long in Indonesia and Thailand that I now speaks some Indonesian and some Thai. Of course that’s just a recipe for staying longer still – because once you speak the language, suddenly all of the nuances of a place become available to you.

What did you do during Covid?

I was in Thailand when the music stopped and the borders closed. About three years into my trip, I suddenly found myself unable to travel and unable to make my funds stretch any further. It was initially a low time for me, but then I discovered enduro. I’d never ridden much serious off road before – just dirt and gravel tracks – and suddenly I was immersed in the glorious jungle single track of Northern Thailand. I made friends, learnt new skills and started a new business – HiVolt Moto Tours.

So are you still riding around the world or have you found a home in Thailand?

Both. I’ve got a home base and a business near Chiang Mai, where I run enduro and road tours mostly during the months of November to February. But during the other months of the year? That’s for me to travel the world. I still have my KTM 690 Enduro and I’m waiting for Myanmar to reopen so I can head through India, Pakistan and Iran.

Have you had any difficulties on the way?

For sure. I’ve had mechanical problems, money problems, and the odd crazy-machete-wielding man problem. What I’ve learnt is that there’s always a solution. Sometimes you have to find new skills and courage within yourself, other times you are set to be humbled and amazed by the generosity of ordinary people. And still other times – you just have to find another machete.

What’s your advice to anyone wanting to travel around the world like this?

There are a thousand ways to make your journey – everyone travels differently. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, just start. Starting is the hardest part. You’ll figure out the rest.

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