January 9, 2012

Interview with Loretta Henderson, part 2

This is the second part of Loretta Henderson's email interview ... if you missed the first section, click here to read it: Loretta Henderson, part 1. (Also, Lorettta sent two new photos, and I have rearranged them a bit. Click back to the first part for a great river crossing photo.) The more I follow her trip, the more compelling her story becomes. Don't miss Skalatitude, her blog. It is full of adventure, resources, photos, stories ... and fun!

Help close at hand
What do you experience as the biggest advantages and disadvantages of solo cycling?
I get asked this quite a bit, in my most popular article Solo Female Bicycle Touring Is It Safe To Be Pack’in Estrogen, I normally get so much help I wonder why solo female travel is considered unsafe. It’s a worldwide estrogen extravaganza you see, after all the men of the world love estrogen.

Actually, I wasn't thinking so much about women cycling solo (though we could have a conversation about that, since we both do cycle solo, and I think we understand it pretty similarly) as the differences between cycling solo and cycling with other people...what you see as advantages or disadvantages of both.
Advantages and Disadvantages? I'm a solo female bicycle tourist, I rarely bicycle tour with others. Solo female bicycle touring isn’t a better or a worst experience, it is just a different experience ... which is why I have been encouraged to write and share about it.

Tibetan Nomad
Does anything stand out that you discovered, either about the world itself, or about life on a bike, or both, that you want to pass on?
Pedal out the door. Go with what you got. People have been pedaling up mountains on one speed bicycles with nothing but flip flops on their feet for a very long time.

A few practical questions: food and water, how much do you carry?
Water? I seem to never have enough, although my large water bag/shower that was given to me by a sponsor has come in very handy.

What do you do for maps, paper or otherwise?
In order to stretch out the generous donations I have gotten through my donate button I sometimes draw maps instead of buying them. In a lot of countries maps aren’t available and in Asia there is often only one road.

Sandstorm in China
How do you handle not knowing languages, and if you learn a few basic words or more, how?
In the article I wrote called InSANDnity I was belted by sandstorms in the Taklimakan desert, China. That’s a funny question because I am not sure a foreign languages are required for hand gesturing sandstorms and hiding under the road covered with sand.

Will you talk a little about bicycle ambulances?
A bicycle ambulance is a bicycle with an attached cart that is used to transport the ill and birthing mothers to nearby medical facilities. Child and women mortality rates have been drastically reduced by this simple community based solution. The profits from the Be The Adventures t-shirts on sale through Skalatitude.com will go towards the purchase of a bicycle ambulance when I arrive by bicycle in Namibia. Shopping at Amazon.com through my website will also support the bicycle ambulance project.

Has your trip changed the way you understand the world?
I like to joke that I might just lose the other half of my mid pretty soon, but I am just joking. There are so many harsh realities for women and people around the world.

The bicycle ambulance project will address high maternal and child death rates for a village in rural Africa.  I have become extremely grateful for everything and everyone around me. I even say thank-you to dogs for not biting me while I cycle by.

Anything else you'd share with us?
I just started a Girly Girl Gear for Guys Too section on the website. I would love to hear from all of you about what works and what doesn’t.  Send skalatitude@gmail.com your pick for favorite article of outdoor gear and why. It will appear in the next Roll’in With My Homies, Tips on Adventure Travel newsletter.

Loretta, thank you so much for taking the time to share your world with us through these emails! 

Back to Part One 

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